Category Archives: autism

Does ‘Brain Training’ Work For Children With Autism or ADHD? We look at the Evidence.

I was recently chatting to an expert in the field of autism and ADHD in children and the topic of ‘brain training’ came up.  This is a very ‘hot’ topic in the USA right now because its results are unclear and the costs for parents can be high.  Often, what catches on in the USA makes its way to our shores too.  So I was looking at some informed discussion that I found in NBC News and I am presenting it here for your consideration.

NBC News noticed that families have reorganized their lives and spent thousands of dollars to enroll in intensive after-school “brain training” programs that offer the promise of permanent changes to the human mind.

The programs are part of a fast-growing industry that’s based on the premise that targeted games and exercises can rewire the brain to boost memory, sharpen thinking or decrease the challenges associated with anxiety, autism, ADHD and other disorders. Brick-and-mortar training centers like Brain Balance Achievement Centers, which Izak attends, and LearningRx, Kyle’s program, are just one piece of a $2 billion global brain technology market that is increasingly going around the medical industry and marketing directly to consumers.

But the premise behind the programs has faced significant criticism from doctors and scientists who warn that some are making dubious claims. These personalized programs can cost $12,000 or more for six months of training, three days a week. Families have gone into debt or turned to crowdfunding sites to pay for them.

“They’re selling hope,” said Eric Rossen, the director of professional development and standards for the National Association of School Psychologists. “These organizations are not necessarily predatory, but they are definitely there and almost chasing the parents who are desperate, who are overwhelmed and who feel that they have no recourse.”

As the number of children diagnosed with ADHD and autism surges in the U.S., according to federal data, and as parents become exasperated with treatments that don’t work or involve medications that carry the risk of side effects, neurotechnology industry analysts predict the demand for programs like these will only grow.

NBC News spoke with more than a dozen scientists and experts who said that while there’s promise in some forms of brain training, the field is so new that many companies are making claims that go far beyond what they can prove.

That hasn’t stopped families from enrolling. NBCNews spoke to 22 parents of children who enrolled in Brain Balance or LearningRx, two of the largest one-on-one training programs, and many described positive results.

“LearningRx makes you use your brain in a different way than you do in school,” said Kyle’s mother, Alana Gregory, who says her son is focusing better and is less likely to hit other children than he was before he started the program in August. “It’s giving him skills to help when he is frustrated. And when he’s not as frustrated, we don’t have behavior issues.”

But other parents say they’ve seen only minor improvements — if any — despite months of hard work and high bills.

“The whole thing is a hoax,” said Atheer Sabti, who took out a $12,500 loan in 2017 to pay for a six-month Brain Balance program in Plano, Texas, to help his then 12-year-old son, who was getting into trouble and struggling to focus in school.

“They took my money,” Sabti said, “and my son was the same.”

Much of the growth in brain training is in apps and games that people use at home or in school, said Alvaro Fernandez, CEO of SharpBrains, a research firm that tracks the neurotechnology industry. The global market for direct-to-consumer technology grew from $475 million in 2012 to $1.9 billion last year, Fernandez said.

Those numbers don’t include franchises like Brain Balance or LearningRX, which Fernandez says are more difficult to track financially. But these centers are now in most major U.S. cities. Brain Balance has 108 locations and said it brought in $51.3 million last year. LearningRx has 70 centers in the U.S. as well as 85 centers called BrainRx around the globe. The company declined to provide revenue numbers but says it hopes to add eight U.S. centers and 20 international centers next year.

Other companies include Neurocore Brain Performance Centers, which made headlines in 2017 when U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos disclosed that she and her husband are major shareholders.

Groups that advocate for people with autism and ADHD, including Autism Speaks and Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, or CHADD, warn parents to be wary of companies like these that claim to address a long list of disorders without much scientific proof.

“We want science to drive treatment and intervention, not just anecdotes,” said Max Wiznitzer, a pediatric neurologist in Cleveland and the co-chair of CHADD’s professional advisory board.

Brain training companies are careful to comply with federal advertising laws, avoiding phrases like “treat” or “cure.” But some companies have run into trouble. LearningRx paid $200,000 in 2016 to settle charges by the Federal Trade Commission about deceptive claims.

LearningRx maintained that the FTC had unfairly applied medical standards to an educational company, but decided that fighting in court would have been too expensive.

Neurocore, a program that blends diet, exercise, clinical talk therapy and an intervention called neurofeedback that involves attaching electrodes to people’s heads, last year agreed to alter its marketing when an advertising review board objected to ads promoting cures for a host of disorders. But just last month, Neurocore was the subject of a complaintfiled with the FTC by the ad watchdog Truth in Advertising.

“They’ve continued to market in a really inappropriate way,” said Bonnie Patten, Truth in Advertising’s executive director. “They’re marketing unapproved medical devices as being able to treat ailments such as ADHD, anxiety, depression, migraines and memory loss when there’s no reliable scientific evidence.”

Neurocore CEO Mark Murrison points to research showing that neurofeedback works, though scientists say it has not been fully proven. He says Patten’s organization has never reached out to him and he doesn’t believe she understands his program.

His company has encountered skeptics, but “that’s to be expected when you offer an alternative to the status quo,” he said.

The FTC declined to comment.

Brain Balance centers are colorful, cheerfully decorated places, often located in shopping centers in affluent neighborhoods. They each have a cognitive room where students play video games that target memory or brain function and a sensory motor room filled with mats, balance beams and monkey bars.

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On a recent afternoon at the Brain Balance in Oxford, about 40 miles north of Detroit, classical music played softly as coaches guided students through exercises designed to stimulate the left or the right side of their brains.

The Brain Balance program is demanding, calling on families to reduce children’s screen time and to cut most sugar, gluten and dairy from their diets. But what has raised eyebrows among mainstream scientists are some unproven theories that drive the one-on-one training.

One of those theories is the popular notion that the right and left side of the brain have different influences on personality. Brain Balance claims that a right brain weakness can cause impulsivity and anxiety, while a left brain weakness can lead to poor math or reading skills. That’s why kids remove just one sock: Brain Balance believes that as a bare foot makes contact with the floor, the opposite side of the brain will get more stimulation. Metronomes and shakers are placed on the same side as the bare foot.

Another Brain Balance theory has to do with primitive infant reflexes, which are the instincts babies are born with to help them survive. The rooting reflex, for example, supports nursing by leading babies to turn toward objects that touch their cheeks. The moro reflex, which likely evolved to help infants cling to their mothers, causes babies to extend their arms and legs when startled.

Doctors say that most people outgrow these reflexes by the time they start preschool. Robert Melillo, a chiropractor and author who founded Brain Balance in 2006, asserted that children who retain reflexes face academic and behavioral struggles. Brain Balance tests children for eight primitive reflexes and has exercises that target each one. The one that targets the moro reflex has children stretch their arms and legs, then curl into a ball.

Other exercises, such as standing on one foot, target balance and coordination to promote “connectivity” in the brain, said Rebecca Jackson, Brain Balance’s vice president of programs and outreach. “I always like to tell the kids that it’s kind of like a workout for your brain,” she said. “We all have strong muscles and weak muscles, and it’s the same thing with the brain.”

George Anderson, a senior research scientist in the Child Study Center at Yale University, is doubtful of this approach. He is among several university-affiliated experts and medical professionals who reviewed the research on the company’s website and saw little proof to support the program’s theories.

There is evidence that people with neurological issues like ADHD and autism are, in fact, more likely to retain primitive reflexes than their peers, Anderson said. But that doesn’t mean that the Brain Balance exercises can eliminate retained reflexes, or that eliminating those reflexes would permanently reduce challenging behaviors.

“There’s just a lack of foundation for what they’re doing,” he said. “There are things that they really need to show, and I’m surprised they’re in business and have 100 centers if they haven’t shown that. Actually, I’m not surprised they’re in business if they can get $12,000 for doing this. It’s a way to make money. I’m surprised they don’t view this as unethical.”

Daniel Simons, a University of Illinois psychology professor who has scrutinized 130 papers cited by brain training programs, said there is “zero evidence” to support the Brain Balance theory about problems being caused by a weakness on one side of the brain. “This is pseudoscience at best,” he said.

Brain Balance CEO Dominick Fedele says science supports the program’s components, including the benefits of exercise for the brain. But he acknowledged that the company had not, until recently, attempted a comprehensive study comparing lasting outcomes for children who came through the program to a control group that did not. The company is now helping to fund such a study by a Harvard researcher.

“We know there are skeptics out there and we suspect there will continue to be, but we want to be able to show that this is a program that truly makes a difference,” Fedele said.

The company rejected the notion that selling an intervention that hasn’t been fully proven is unethical. Many families report positive results and the activities aren’t harmful, said Jackson, the Brain Balance vice president.

Asked about downsides, Jackson replied, “the downside is there is cost … or time and money involved.”

Melillo, who sold most of his stake in the company to a private equity firm several years ago, told NBC News that he honed the program over 10 years of working with children before he started charging for it.

“The idea that we always have to wait to make sure we have absolute proof makes no sense,” he said. “The only way you know it works is by using it.”

Parents who say the program doesn’t work resent the thousands of dollars they spent to test it out.

Srikanth Mamidi was so angry about not seeing lasting benefits for his autistic son after six months in a Brain Balance program in Cary, North Carolina, that he tracked Melillo down at a ribbon cutting for another center and confronted him.

“It was a time waster, an energy waster and a money waster,” Mamidi said.

The program had seemed “wacky” to him, but he and his wife were determined to avoid giving medication to their son, who was 11 at the time and was struggling to make friends and pay attention in class, he said. They were hopeful when they paid $10,000 for the program and committed to driving 40 minutes each way for the training sessions.

But Mamidi said the small changes they saw in the beginning, such as a slight improvement in their son’s ability to communicate, faded quickly.

When Mamidi confronted Melillo in 2016, the company founder just walked away, Mamidi said. “They are interested in making money rather than improving people’s lives,” he said.

Melillo said he did not recall the confrontation but notes that Mamidi is just one disgruntled parent among thousands who swear by the results.

Most Brain Balance reviews posted on Google and Yelp are glowing. Many franchise owners, including the couple who own the Oxford center, are former clients who tell moving stories about the relief they felt when they walked through the door after an overwhelming quest to help their children.

Izak’s mom, Patty Lopez, says her son is a different child than he was when he started Brain Balance last spring. Back then, he was prone to daily tantrums that would last for an hour or more. When he was briefly in kindergarten last year, he trashed the classroom so many times that a teacher described him as the “worst student that she had ever had in 18 years,” Lopez said.

The family has made sacrifices to adopt the program’s strict dietary and screen-time guidelines and make the hourlong drive to trainings. But it’s all been worth it, she said.

After seven months of Brain Balance, Lopez said Izak is doing well in school and now rarely has meltdowns, and she and her husband have been able to avoid giving him the medication that doctors wanted to prescribe. “It’s a huge change,” she said. “It’s more relaxed. We can play. We can have conversations with him now.”

Why do some families see benefits from brain training programs while others don’t?

Experts say there could be lots of reasons — all interventions, including medicine, affect children differently. Also, parents spending large sums of money can fuel the placebo effect, the belief that a treatment is working even if it’s not.

Children in the Brain Balance program are doing regular exercise and eating better than they may have been before, which can lead to better sleep. Many spend less time watching TV or staring at a phone. They’re getting lots of personal attention from Brain Balance’s coaches. And they’re developing and maturing.

“At the end of the year, they’re better and many times they would have gotten better on their own,” said Rossen, of the National Association of School Psychologists.

Many variables affect children’s lives — new teachers, new schools, new milestones. It can be difficult to know what accounts for behavioral changes.

Ben Forbush, 19, a freshman at Michigan State University, said Brain Balance helped him with depression and anxiety when he enrolled as a high school senior.

He started eating breakfast and getting more exercise. He significantly curtailed the time he spent on his phone, and slept much better.

“It might have been that the program enabled me to take care of myself a lot more than I had before,” he said. “I’ll never know which aspect it was. There’s a chance it could have been any of them. If it works, it works. It definitely helped me a lot.”

Crystal Hoshaw, a California mother, believes Brain Balance helped her son Noah, 7, with reducing repetitive behaviors related to autism and anxiety, such as sucking on his hands, that had been exacerbated by his parents’ separation and a move to a new home.

She credits Brain Balance with Noah’s improvements because his tics were related to the nervous system, which the program targets. Noah also may have benefited from the extra time he and his mother spent together during the 45-minute drive to Brain Balance in San Francisco. The two stopped for burgers in what became “little special dates,” she said. To Hoshaw, the exact source of Noah’s progress matters less than the results.

“It doesn’t have to be a hard line — a good or a bad or a magic bullet or snake oil. It doesn’t have to be so polarized,” she said. “It can just be one part of a holistic, well-rounded approach to helping a kid.”

The LearningRX training center in Colorado Springs buzzed with activity on a recent afternoon as seven students and their trainers worked together at small tables. The noise level is intentionally loud to train clients to tune out distractions.

One child bounced on a mini-trampoline as she tried to recall all 45 U.S. presidents. Another child tossed a ball with his trainer as they took turns reciting the alphabet in time with a metronome, an exercise designed to help him multitask.

Many of LearningRx’s brain games are similar to exercises that psychologists use to conduct IQ tests, including recalling numbers or shapes. They’re given easy tasks to start and are rewarded with high fives from their coaches and points they can save up to buy prizes. When they can recite all of the presidents, their picture is posted on the wall.

LearningRX, which was founded in 2003 by an optometrist, initially as a vision therapy program, says it has always done research to show that the program can, for example, help the 29 percent of clients who have ADHD. The company has made a greater effort to publish that research since the FTC charges.

In the past three years, the company has published 11 peer-reviewed studies, said Amy Moore, an educational psychologist and research director of the LearningRx’s research arm, the Gibson Institute of Cognitive Research. Among them is a small clinical trial published in a neuropsychiatry journal that found statistically significant improvements in a group of seven clients who had ADHD compared to a control group of six people with ADHD who did not attend LearningRx.

“‘Prove’ is not in our language, but we have a convergence of evidence that shows that the program changes test results,” Moore said. “It changes connectivity in the brain and it changes real life.”

But questions persist.

“I would want a lot more evidence,” said Thomas Redick, a psychology professor at Purdue University who has reviewed hundreds of brain training studies. He was among several experts who spoke with NBC News who noted that the peer-reviewed controlled trials and other studies touted on LearningRx’s website were fairly small or lacked methodological rigor, such as measures to control for the placebo effect.

Redick added that he doesn’t doubt that LearningRx clients do better on IQ tests after months of training, but he questioned whether the benefits translate to other settings. He is skeptical of LearningRx’s claims that its clients have improved at school.

“You can learn mnemonic strategies that are effective but that only works for those materials,” he said. “It’s not changing whether or not you have ADHD.”

Still, Alana Gregory, Kyle’s mom, said LearningRx has built confidence in her son, which has improved his behavior.

“There is no magic pill,” she said, “but you have to find out what works for your individual child and go with it.”

So, my question to you, the disabilitymatch community here in the UK is are these programmes a ‘hoax’ or do they offer the promise of a pre-emptive strike against childhood anxiety, autism and ADHD?    My own sympathies lie with Thomas Redick who feels there is still a very long way to go before professionals can whol-heartedly endorse the efficacy of these ‘brain-training’ therapies.

This content was originally published here.

Autistic adults thought they were ‘bad people’

Although we often think of Autism as being something spotted early on in childhood, many people on the spectrum as not disagnosed until much later in life.  Indees, many amongst us were just considered as ‘a bit odd’ during gtheir adolescence and working life and then one day they realise that they were, in fact, autistic.


Researchers from Anglia Ruskin University interviewed nine adults about their experiences of being diagnosed with autism in their 50s. The participants were aged between 52 and 54.

As children, some participants recounted having no friends and being isolated from others, and as adults they could not understand why people treated them differently. Several had been treated for anxiety and depression.

Participants also highlighted the lack of support available to adults with a new diagnosis.

It is thought to be the first study of its kind that examines the phenomenon of receiving a diagnosis exclusively in middle age.

It is thought to be the first study of its kind that examines the phenomenon of receiving a diagnosis exclusively in middle age. The image is in the public domain.

Dr Steven Stagg, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) and lead author of the study, said: “One aspect of the research I found heart-wrenching was that the participants had grown up believing they were bad people. They referred to themselves as ‘alien’ and ‘non human’.

“The research also suggests that receiving a diagnosis in middle age can be positive. The participants often described it as a eureka moment that brought relief into their lives. It allowed them to understand why others had reacted negatively towards them.

“Clinicians and health workers need to be aware of the possible signs of autism. Often people are diagnosed with depression, anxiety or other mental health conditions and the autism is missed. More work also needs to be done to support older people after they receive a diagnosis.”

Living with autism without knowing: receiving a diagnosis in later life

Increasingly adults over the age of 50 are receiving a diagnosis of autism spectrum condition. Growing up in a time when autism was poorly recognised, these adults have lived unknowingly with the condition and face readjustment. This paper reports the first study to investigate this population. Nine adults over the age of 50, who had recently been diagnosed with ASC, were interviewed, and thematic analysis was used to analyse the transcripts. Results showed that the participants had received treatment for anxiety and depression. They reported ASC behaviours in their childhood and growing up they felt isolated and alien. Receiving a diagnosis was seen as a positive step and allowed for a reconfiguration of self and an appreciation of individual needs. Given the positive aspects of receiving a late diagnosis, more work is needed to identify older adults with undiagnosed ASC.

This is obviously an impoertant research area that needs to be developed and could give much peace an reassurance to middle aged people who had never really understood fully why they saw the world differently
from their peers.

Autistic children disproportionately affected by chronic pain


Here at disabilitymatch we are always concerned about autism since many of our users are on ‘the spectrum’ . We are pleased to highlight recent studies that deal with the way autistic children exoperience pain differently to their peers.

Children with autism are about twice as likely as their typical peers to experience chronic or repeated pain, according to a large study. Those with co-occurring developmental conditions, such as or intellectual disability, are even more likely to have chronic pain1.

Several studies have suggested that people with autism may experience pain differently than neurotypical people do. Their pain may also be compounded by the sensory sensitivities and gastrointestinal problems frequently associated with autism. But the topic remains understudied, experts say.

The new study reveals that pain is “a really common experience for kids with autism,” says study investigator Danielle Shapiro, assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. “They’re experiencing physical pain, even though it’s not typically thought of as a core feature of [autism].”

Shapiro and a colleague used data from the 2016-2017 U.S. National Survey of Children’s Health, a questionnaire that asks parents about their children’s medical diagnoses and whether the children experienced chronic or repeated pain over the previous year. Their analysis included 50,063 children aged 6 to 17 years, including 1,472 with autism.

Detecting distress:

About 16 percent of children with autism experienced chronic or repeated pain in the previous year, the team found. For autistic children with co-occurring conditions, that figure is just under 20 percent. By comparison, only about 8 percent of typical children experienced frequent pain, according to their parents. (About 800 of the nearly 49,000 children in this control group have epilepsy, intellectual disability or cerebral palsy.) The findings appeared 28 October in JAMA Pediatrics.

“It doesn’t surprise me at all to see that the prevalence of general pain complaints is elevated [in this population],” says David Moore, senior lecturer in psychology at Liverpool John Moores University in the United Kingdom, who was not involved in the work. “This is an important public-health issue for this group that we need to do a better job of addressing.”

However, the analysis is based on parent reports, which don’t always tell the whole story, experts caution. This is especially true for autistic children, who may have difficulty communicating that they are in pain.

“A parent’s report of pain is sort of a proxy,” says Micah Mazurek, associate professor of human services at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, who was not involved in the research. “Pain is an internal experience,” she says. “For very young children, and for those who don’t have language, it’s hard to assess that directly.”

The study’s findings should urge doctors to be especially vigilant about identifying pain in people with autism, Mazurek says.

Shapiro hopes the study will be a “springboard” for pain research, including work that looks at the sources of autistic children’s pain.

“That would serve as a pathway to help us think about how to address pain in kids with autism,” she says.

We welcome input here on the blog or on our Facebook page if you wish to give us feedback on this post and the whole subject area of autism.

 

This content was originally published here.

First evidence of immune response targeting brain cells in autism

brain
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Autism spectrum disorders affect one in 59 American children by age eight. With no known quantitative biological features, autism diagnoses are currently based on expert assessments of behavioral symptoms, including impaired social skills and communication, repetitive behaviors and restricted interests.

In a paper published in Annals of Neurology, Matthew P. Anderson, MD, Ph.D., a physician-scientist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), and colleagues report the presence of cellular features consistent with an targeting specialized in more than two thirds of autistic brains analyzed postmortem. These cellular characteristics—not previously observed in autism—lend critical new insight into autism’s origins and could pave the way to improved diagnosis and treatment for people with this disorder.

“While further research is needed, determining the neuropathology of autism is an important first step to understanding both its causes and potential treatment,” said Anderson, who is Chief of Neuropathology in the Department of Pathology at BIDMC and an Associate Professor of Pathology at Harvard Medical School. “Investigators typically aim potential treatments at specific pathologies in , such as the tangles and plaques that characterize Alzheimer’s disease and the Lewy bodies seen in Parkinson’s. Until now, we have not had a promising target like that in autism.”

Anderson was examining brains donated to Autism BrainNet, a non-profit tissue bank, when he noticed the presence of perivascular lymphocyte cuffs—an accumulation of immune cells surrounding blood vessels in the . He also noted mysterious bubbles or blisters that scientists call blebs accumulating around these cuffed blood vessels. Anderson and colleagues subsequently found these blebs contained debris from a subset of brain cells called astrocytes.

Not previously linked to autism, perivascular lymphocyte cuffing is a well-known indicator of chronic inflammation in the brain. Lymphocyte cuffs in the brain are telltale signs of viral infections or autoimmune . But the pattern Anderson observed did not match any previously documented infection or autoimmune disorder of the brain. In the brains Anderson examined, the cuffs were subtle but distinct. “I’ve seen enough brains to know you shouldn’t see that,” he said.

To find out if the perivascular lymphocyte cuffs in this sample of autistic brains were linked to autism spectrum disorder, Anderson and colleagues compared 25 brains from donors diagnosed with the disorder to 30 brains from neurotypical brain donors. These neurotypical control cases were selected to approximate the age range and medical histories of the autism group. Present in more than two-thirds of the autistic brains, perivascular lymphocyte cuffing significantly surpassed that in the control cases.

In a second set of experiments, Anderson’s team determined that the perivascular cuffs were made up of killer T-cells, a subset of immune cells responsible for attacking and killing damaged, infected or cancerous cells or normal cells in autoimmune diseases. With no apparent evidence of viruses known to infect the brain, the presence of these tissue-attacking immune cells throughout the autistic brains suggested one of two scenarios, explained Anderson. Either the T-cells are reacting normally to a pathogen such as a virus, or they are reacting abnormally to normal tissue—the definition of an autoimmune disorder.

“With this new research, we haven’t proved causality, but this is one clue in support of the idea that autism might be an autoimmune disorder, just like multiple sclerosis is thought to be,” said Anderson.

In future research, Anderson and colleagues will work to develop a genetically-engineered animal model of this T-lymphocyte cuffing neuropathology in which to conduct studies to determine mechanism as well as cause and effect. The team also plans to search for biomarkers—a measurable diagnostic signature in patients’ urine or blood or other tissues—that may be used to identify these newly-documented cellular features in living patients. In turn, these biomarkers could one day assist clinicians in the diagnosis and long-term care of people with .

More information: Marcello M. DiStasio et al, T‐lymphocytes and Cytotoxic Astrocyte Blebs Correlate Across Autism Brains, Annals of Neurology (2019). DOI: 10.1002/ana.25610

Journal information: Annals of Neurology
Citation: First evidence of immune response targeting brain cells in autism (2019, October 18) retrieved 18 October 2019 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2019-10-evidence-immune-response-brain-cells.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

This content was originally published here.

Vaccination Does Not Cause Autism – New Study Shows.

A study looking at more than 650,000 kids is further debunking any link between autism and the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine.

Researchers in Denmark conducted a nationwide study of all children born to Danish mothers between 1999 and 2010. Using a population registry, they tracked 657,461 children for a decade finding that 6,517 of the kids were ultimately diagnosed with autism.

Children who received the MMR vaccine were no more likely to have autism than those who did not get the immunization, according to findings published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Similarly, the study found no evidence that the vaccine triggered autism in kids that were at higher risk for the developmental disorder due to environmental risk factors or family history. And, the results showed that there was no clustering of autism cases following vaccination.

“Autism occurred just as frequently among the children who had been MMR-vaccinated as it did among the 31,619 children who had not been vaccinated. Therefore we can conclude that the MMR vaccine does not increase the risk of developing autism,” said Anders Hviid of the Statens Serum Institut in Copenhagen who worked on the study.

The findings come amid heightened concerns about people forgoing vaccination with the World Health Organization recently naming vaccine hesitancy to its list of top 10 threats to global health in 2019.

Already this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported six measles outbreaks in New York, Texas, Illinois and Washington state. A U.S. Senate committee is expected to discuss the issue on Tuesday.

Also this week, the American Academy of Pediatrics wrote to Facebook, Google and Pinterest calling for the companies to do more to prevent the spread of misinformation about vaccines on their platforms.

Fears about a link between autism and the MMR vaccine largely emerged out of a 1998 study that was retracted in 2010.

autism with disabilitymatch.co.uk

Autism and Romantic Relationships.

We seem to have more and more members joining the site who are on the autistic spectrum.  This is great since, by definition, these are the very members of the disabled community who need help in navigating the tricky dating footpath.  So I was very excited when the leading autism resource ambitiousaboutautism  to contribute an article about dating and autism.   I would encourage you to read it and share it with your friends and anyone who you feel might benefit from my comments.

autism with disabilitymatch.co.uk

I write for a quite a few of the main disability sites and if you check out the latest print version of Posability magazine you will find a piece from me on disabled holidays.  The article will appear in online format very soon.  I will then tweet it out and mention it her on the blog.  I am just editing our next podcast which has same great stuff on it and I will be writing to you when it is ready to download.

 

 

3rd Episode of disabilitymatch Podcast

Very happy that we have released our 3rd podcast episode!  I am getting into the flow of things now, also we are getting great guests agreeing to be interviwed because they like our style.  We are upbeat and communicative.  Anyway you judge for yourselves

 

We have almost 100 downloads on our first day and we have high hopes of reaching 300 downloads by the end of the week.  We have great guests on the show and our twitter following is amazingly supportive.  We depend on you to share our podcast links and help get it widely known on all social media.  Disabilitymatch is a vibrant community and we are thrilled to be able to help you get the most from it.

 

 

Rebranding the Term ‘Carer’

I was reading a great article by Melanie Reid in today’s times newspaper.   She is an insprational columnist and worth following.  She is in a wheelchair following an accident and comes at the problems of spinal injusry from an interesting angle.  Her article on rebranding the term ‘carer’ is a case oin point.  I quote:

‘…

We need a new name for these people. A strong, proud word that will demand respect.

A rebranding. They need to be able to declare themselves minders, guardians, protectors, special forces. Not unsung heroes, because that’s sentimental, which is the last thing the job is, nor are they champions or buddies. Attendant is too close to lavatory, and personal assistant makes their caree sound like an aspiring CEO.

Care worker is diligent but dull, like sex worker, and while caregiver is popular in the States, I think I’d prefer a caretaker. In brown overalls with a spanner. How about floor manager? Concierge? Gofer? We could hijack the word caddy from golf, and start paying carers 5-10 per cent of our income.

Or get sponsorship for the profession from Apple or YouTube: create an iNeed or an iHelp; a YouMind or a YouVital.

Or how about a Selfish Pig? A few years ago Hugh Marriott wrote a magnificently mordant book called The Selfish Pig’s Guide to Caring, in which he blew apart the myth that carers are saintly, compassionate people and declared that it was perfectly normal to get guilty, angry and frustrated, and understandable to have murderous thoughts about the person you look after. Especially if you are one of the six million who do it unpaid, for a loved one, friend or neighbour, but even if you’re one of the one million-plus who toil in the adult care sector employed on the minimum wage.

I think this sets the case very clearly and I would welcome any suggestions from my blog readers on other terms to describe someone who finds themselves in this role – not through choice as a ‘devotee’ but through circumstance.

Have a great day

Young Literary Characters on the Autistic Spectrum

There is something wonderfully satisfying for young people who are autistic to find characters in books that share the same challenges that they do.   i especially like the book ‘Delightfully Different ‘ by D.S Walker which is about a girl with Aspergers  and sensory processing disorder. Ms. Walker found a delightfully different approach to portray the struggles of a young girl and those of her family arising from raising a child with special needs. Mia, the daughter, is partially based on the author’s child. While all the characters in her book exist only in the author’s imagination, Walker’s YA novel brings them so well to life that any parent, teacher, or young girl, dealing with the same issues can relate, learn and find hope.

The book ‘Screaming Quietly’ which I grabbed on Amazon is written by Evan Jacob.  Screaming Quietly features a character with autism and his older sibling who has difficulty at first to accept the challenging behaviors of his autistic brother. Tweens and teens who have a sibling with any special need will be able to relate to Evan Jacobs’ novel for kids in grades 7 to 10.

Finally i would recommend a comic book called ‘Melting down that i was lucky enough to read the other week.

Melting Down is the 61 page fictional story of a young boy, Benjamin, with Asperger’s disorder and other additional challenging behavior. Benjamin tells his readers that whenever there was a change he got upset, he also had trouble getting along with the other kids his age, and he never understood the rules of their games. Then we follow Benjamin and his mom as they visits many doctors and therapists.

Nathan Lueth did an excellent job with the illustrations. The language used is easy for all kids to understand and with the true-to-life illustrations most children, tweens, and teens will understand Benjamin’s story and be encouraged by it.Youth with the same problems as Benjamin should be able to relate to Benjamin as he struggles with school, side effects of medication, and his uncontrollable meltdowns. These comic books are also helpful for all kids so they can understand what some of their classmates are going through. Understanding often leads to compassion and hopefully to less bullying.

 

Ref:

Five Young Adults Fiction Books Featuring Characters with Autism

http://www.disabilitynow.org.uk/article/curious-incidence-autistics-fiction