Join CafeMom Today! Autism Spectrum Disorder: Treatments: November 2009

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Risk, Risky, Riskier ... or Not

Autism Recovery Revisited: Tell the Chicago Tribune They Are Wrong

Blind eye The Chicago Tribune is running another series of articles stating that "risky" treatments are of little use to children/people with autism (HERE). (Meanwhile, the American Academy of Pediatrics, in their backyard, will tell parents to use powerful psychiatric drugs with little to know knowledge of how they work or their long term effects on kids. Talk about risky.) We'll be sharing more info with you about the interview process these journalists followed and what did and did not make their final article. In the meantime, we invite you to send Patrician Callahan (, Trine Tsouderos ( and Editor Gerould Kern ( a polite email sharing how treatments have improved your child's life. When you send your email, include a copy in our comments, please.

We beg to differ with the slant the Tribune is taking. Children can make tremendous progress and we will share stories with you from our recovery category. Start with this little girl, who is using speech for the first time. If you ever figure out why people with autism are NOT supposed to see improvement or, God forbid, recover, let us know. The anger, skepticism and outright denial of medical care for autism is stunning.

[FULL ARTICLE: Autism Recovery Revisited: Tell the Chicago Tribune They Are Wrong]

Abilify (Aripiprazole) for Autism?

Aripiprazole (Abilify, Abilify Discmelt) is an atypical antipsychotic and antidepressant used in the treatment of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and clinical depression. It was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for schizophrenia on November 15, 2002, for acute manic and mixed episodes associated with bipolar disorder on October 1, 2004, and as an adjunct for major depressive disorder on November 20, 2007.[Wikipedia]

FDA OKs Abilify for autism-linked irritability

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved top-selling Abilify as a treatment for autism-related irritability in children from the ages of 6 to 17, drug maker Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. said Friday.

Bristol-Myers and Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co., based in Tokyo, are collaborators on the development and distribution of Abilify in the U.S. and Europe.

Abilify is Bristol-Myers' second-biggest revenue generator, with $2.2 billion in 2008 sales.

The FDA's latest approval allows the drug to be used to treat symptoms associated with autism such as aggression toward others, deliberate infliction of self-injury, tempter tantrums and moodiness.

The companies said in a statement that it was intended to be used as part of a more comprehensive treatment program that includes educational, psychological and social aspects.


Opposing View: Risky alternative therapies have little basis in science --

Autism treatments: Risky alternative therapies have little basis in science --

Posted using ShareThis

Monday, November 16, 2009

Respen-A as Autism Treatment?

Study: Respen-A medication appears to normalize brain function in autistic children

A new treatment for autism appears to normalize brain function, according to Nashville physician Fred S. Starr, MD, FAACAP, BCIA-EEG.

In addition to high serotonin levels, autistic children have a characteristically common "u" EEG pattern reflecting impaired brain function, particularly in areas of the brain responsible for social interaction, communication, speech and bonding.

However, Quantitative EEG's conducted by Dr. Starr on autistic children after three weeks on the medication Respen-A showed that the children's brain patterning changed to "normal" patterning. Starr says that behavioral improvement was also "evident". "Speech, interaction and social skills improved markedly in patients using Respen-A, and displays of frustration and anger markedly diminished," Starr said.

The theory behind the use of Respen-A was developed by private researcher Elaine DeLack, Stanwood, WA. Unlike theories that center on negative reaction to vaccinations, DeLack looked at exposure to a commonly used drug used during delivery, and at brain enzymes that affect the brain both at birth, and again as the child enters childhood.

DeLack's hypothesis (which can be viewed in slide show format at connects autism to the use of epidurals during childbirth. Epidurals were introduced into this country in the 1960's. By the mid-80's, 22 percent of women received an epidural during delivery. In the mid-90's, the number grew to 67%. Today, nearly 90% of women receive an epidural during pregnancy.

However, DeLack contends that it may not be the epidural procedure, but the drugs given in conjunction with the procedure, particularly the drug Pitocin, that has contributed to increasing numbers in autism.

Pitocin crosses the placenta to the infant's system during childbirth. The drug requires adequate production of an enzyme found in the liver (CYP 3A4) in order to rid it from the body. If the infant has a genetic inadequacy of the CYP 3A4 enzyme (found more often to be lacking statistically in boys than girls), the drug's intensity could become elevated in the infant's system, and build with another naturally occurring neurotransmitter that plays a key role in brain development: the hormone Oxytocin.

Oxytocin builds naturally in the brain during the first 7 - 10 days of life, ensuring that nerve patterning develops as it should in the brain. Once Oxytocin levels reach a naturally predetermined level, the development of the brain's nerve system (HNS system) ceases.

DeLack theorizes that the addition of Pitocin into the bloodstream of infants without adequate CYP 3A4 genetic enzymes, causes brain development to "shut off" early, stunting crucial neuro-development.

DeLack hypothesizes that a second enzyme may explain why autism shows up in many children around the age of three. The enzyme MAO-A is essential in regulating serotonin levels in the brain. In the first years of life, MAO-A levels remain high, assisting brain function. The impact of MAO-A may, in fact, cover symptoms of brain impairment in infants and toddlers.

MAO-A levels diminish as the child ages - allowing serotonin levels to rise, impacting the areas of the brain associated with communication, speech, emotion and bonding. Respen-A curbs the level of serotonin in the autistic brain.

"We see promise in all of this," DeLack says. "Further study will determine if simple modification during childbirth could be all that is needed to stem the surging tide of autism," states DeLack. And for those who have autism? "Respen-A could give them a quality of life that they - and their parents - deserve."


Applied Affectionate Behavior Analysis (AABA)

Great resource for dads, How To Connect With An Autistic Child.

For fathers coming home from work and find it impossible to connect with their autistic child, it can typically be the straw that breaks the family's back. Now an autism expert and parent shares tips of how to develop affection in autistic children.

Where most children will greet Daddy with a hug or a smile, many autistic children aren’t capable of the normal affectionate interactions that keep a family intact. As Dad walks in, his son is busy lining up his toys or engrossed in the spinning wheels of an overturned toy truck. Dad calls his name over and over in hopes of those bright eyes and wide mouth to come running to him with open arms, but to no avail. He even gets down on his knees in a desperate attempt for some eye contact, but his son turns away and even pushes off his father's touch with disturbing grunts.

Emerson B. Donnell III lived that experience every day, decided to do something about it, and his research and experience has delivered results that no one could ever have thought possible. Specific strategies designed to elicit proper emotion have blossomed back into true affection. Today, Donnell’s son will greet him at the door with hugs, kisses and an engaging smile. The strategies to bring their world together has also helped his son's speech increase exponentially.

Donnell, author of Dads And Autism, Learn How To Stay In The Game from Altruist Publishing ( said that without the proper tools, developing a loving connection can be a monumental if not seemingly impossible task. But getting that toe hold is the seed towards healing not only the child, but the family as a whole.

“One of the greatest disappointments about children with autism is their inability to connect with other people,” Donnell said. “This is especially heartbreaking for the parent child relationship. Parents yearn to reach their child who is right in front of them, yet they have no idea how to go about it. Parents confronted with autism experience grief and loneliness at their inability to connect with their child and it can tear a marriage apart at frightening speed. As a matter of fact it's probably the greatest contributing factor to why dads leave and the widely accepted 80% divorce rate.”

Donnell’s approach combines strategies and tactics from a variety of proven sources, meshed with his own personal experiences. The result is a systematic program that enables fathers (and mothers) to bond and develop affection in their autistic child with specific tactics and strategies that can be exercised in the comfort of their homes.

“The new therapy that I’ve applied is called Applied Affectionate Behavior Analysis (AABA),” he said. “I have also coined the term Discrete Affectionate Trials (DATs). These are specific exercises designed to elicit and develop proper emotion and affection in autistic children.”



Chewing Gum as a Treatment for Rumination in a Child with Autism

Center for Autism and Related Disorders' Research Study Finds Chewing Gum an Effective Treatment for Children with Autism

According to new research conducted by the Center for Autism and Related Disorders, Inc. (CARD), the “Chewing Gum as a Treatment for Rumination in a Child with Autism” study reveals the challenging behavior of rumination can be treated effectively by using chewing gum as a replacement behavior. The study is published in the current issue of the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis.

Rumination involves regurgitation of previously ingested food, re-chewing the food, and re-swallowing it. The study examined a child with autism who displayed chronic rumination for approximately one year, resulting in the decay and subsequent removal of several teeth. After several treatments failed, including thickened liquids and starch satiation, the child was taught to chew gum. His rumination decreased significantly when gum was made available.



Methyl-B12 Lolipops

Absorbing vitamin MB12 in your body is not easy. Until now.

Developed by a father who recovered from symptoms of ADHD and Irritable Bowel and whose child recovered from autism, ReVitaPop offers a simple, convenient and easy way to effectively replenish your body with methylcobalamin (MB12). MB12 is the only neurologically active version of vitamin B12. MB12 is a very unique vitamin and deficiency can affect vision, intestinal function, the ability to protect against infections and toxins, nerve functioning, and DNA replication. This lollipop administration and its unique blend of ingredients are designed to provide a unique oral absorption. Most multivitamin pills do not contain M'B12 and oral absorption is often problematic.

{More ...}

Medicare covers $8k Dynavox, not $300 iPhone

OK, let's see. Medicare will cover an $8,000 talking device, but not a $300, because you might play games on it. It sure seems like someone might be missing the point.
For voiceless, gadgets speak but insurers balk


SAN FRANCISCO — Kara Lynn has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which
has attacked the muscles around her mouth and throat, removing her
ability to speak. A couple of years ago, she spent more than $8,000 to
buy a computer, approved by Medicare, that turns typed words into
speech that her family, friends and doctors can hear.

Under government insurance requirements, the maker of the PC,
which ran Microsoft Windows software, had to block any nonspeech
functions, such as sending e-mail or browsing the Web.

Dismayed by the PC's limitations and clunky design, Lynn turned to
a $300 iPhone 3G from Apple running $150 text-to-speech software. Lynn,
who is 48 and lives in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., said it worked better and
let her "wear her voice" around her neck while snuggling with her
5-year-old son, Aiden, who has Down syndrome.

Medicare and private health insurers decline to cover devices such
as iPhones and netbook PCs that can help people with speech
impairments, despite their usefulness and lower cost. Instead, public
and private insurers say that if Lynn and others like her want
insurance to pay, they must spend 10 to 20 times as much for dedicated,
proprietary devices that can do far less.

The logic: Insurance is supposed to cover medical devices, and
smartphones and PCs can be used for nonmedical purposes, such as
playing video games or browsing the Web.

"We would not cover the iPhones and netbooks with
speech-generating software capabilities because they are useful in the
absence of an illness or injury," said Peter Ashkenaz, a spokesman for
the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Private insurers
tend to follow the government's lead.

Two years ago, iPhones and netbooks barely existed, so it may not
be surprising that the industry has yet to consider their role as
medical devices.


Monday, November 9, 2009

Autism: The Masgutova Method

Mother inspired to raise awareness of autism treatment method

Kerrianne Bouchard felt hopeless when her son Daegan, now 6, was diagnosed in Feburary 2006 with autism.

“You are told, here is the diagnosis and about an early intervention therapy which we chose to do for 15 months, but beyond that you are left hopeless and you wondering what to do? And left wondering what services are out there?” Bouchard recalled.

She added that, “There are many mothers out there who are desperate and are searching for a solution for their child so I do feel there is a need in the community to help.”

“My son didn’t talk until he was four years old so that is very frustrating when a child can’t communicate but after seven months of using a new method he literally woke up one day and started speaking.”

Bouchard a mother of three from West Kelowna got lucky when her son’s physiotherapist happened to be studying the Masgutova Neurosensory Motor Reflex Intergration or MNRI method which helps children with autism.



Marijuana and Autism: The Ultimate HERBal Remedy?

Putting the "herb" back in herbal remedy ...

The ultimate herbal remedy: Can cannabis improve autism?

The debate over its risks has split political and scientific opinion in Britain. But American mother Marie Myung-Ok Lee says cannabis isn't only safe enough for her autistic son - it's dramatically improved his condition

My son, J, has autism. He's also had two serious operations for a spinal cord tumour and has an inflammatory bowel condition, all of which may be causing him pain, if he could tell us. He can say words, but many of them - "duck in the water, duck in the water", for instance - don't convey what he means. For a time, anti-inflammatory medication seemed to control his pain. But in the last year, it stopped working. He began to bite and to smack the glasses off my face. If you were in that much pain, you'd probably want to hit someone, too.

J's school called my husband and me in for a meeting about J's tantrums, which were affecting his ability to learn. The teachers were wearing Tae Kwon Do arm pads to protect themselves against his biting. Their solution was to hand us a list of child psychiatrists. As autistic children can't exactly do talk therapy, this meant using sedating, antipsychotic drugs like Risperdal.

Last year, Risperdal was prescribed for more than 389,000 children in the US - 240,000 of them under the age of 12 - for bipolar disorder, ADHD, autism and other disorders. Yet the drug has never been tested for long-term safety in children and carries a severe warning of side-effects. From 2000 to 2004, Risperdal, or one of five other popular drugs also classified as "atypical antipsychotics", was the "primary suspect" in 45 paediatric deaths, according to a review of US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) data by USA Today. When I canvassed parents of autistic children who take Risperdal, I didn't hear a single story of an improvement that seemed worth the risks. A 2002 study on the use of Risperdal for autism, in The New England Journal of Medicine, showed moderate improvements in "autistic irritation" - but the study followed only 49 children over eight weeks, which limits the inferences that can be drawn from it.

We met with J's doctor, who'd read the studies and agreed: No Risperdal or its kin. The school called us in again. What were we going to do, they asked. As an occasional health writer and blogger, I was intrigued when a homeopath suggested medical marijuana. Cannabis has long-documented effects as an analgesic and an anxiety modulator. Best of all, it is safe. The homeopath referred me to a publication by the Autism Research Institute describing cases of reduced aggression, with no permanent side- effects. Rats given 40 times the psychoactive level merely fall sleep. Dr Lester Grinspoon, an emeritus professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School who has been researching cannabis for 40 years, says he has yet to encounter a case of marijuana causing a death, even from lung cancer.

A prescription drug called Marinol, which contains a synthetic cannabinoid, seemed mainstream enough to bring up with J's doctor. I cannot say that with a few little pills everything turned around. But after about a week of fiddling with the dosage, J began garnering a few glowing school reports: "J was a pleasure have in speech class," instead of "J had 300 aggressions today."

But J tends to build tolerance to synthetics, and in a few months we could see the aggressive behaviour coming back. One night, I went to the meeting of a medical marijuana patient advocacy group on the campus of the college where I teach. The patients told me that Marinol couldn't compare to marijuana, the plant, which has at least 60 cannabinoids to Marinol's one.

[FULL ARTICLE here. The Independent: The ultimate herbal remedy: Can cannabis improve autism?]


Friday, November 6, 2009

Dynavox - Mobile Activity Player

DynaVox Mayer-Johnson's New Mobile Activity Player Supports Learning in Class, After School, and at Home PITTSBURGH, Nov 05, 2009 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ --

DynaVox Mayer-Johnson, the world's leading provider of communication and education products for individuals with significant speech, language and learning disabilities, announces the Mobile Activity Player. Using a small, portable touch screen computer with wireless connectivity, the Mobile Activity Player lets students experience interactive learning in virtually any environment.

The Mobile Activity Player provides a portable platform that allows students to access interactive educational activities created with Boardmaker Plus! This engaging new tool provides a fun experience for students and encourages their participation in the learning process. Educators, speech-language pathologists and parents can use the Mobile Activity Player to: -- Deliver individualized activities to each student or client regardless of whether staff is stationary, itinerant or mobile.

-- Download free interactive activities from

-- Motivate students to demonstrate new skills by making learning fun.

-- Expose a learner's hidden potential.

-- Continue the learning process at home, during school breaks, or when a learner must be absent from the classroom.

-- Jump-start learning with the Curriculum Companions included with each purchase.

"With desktop computers, it's often difficult for staff to integrate technology into the daily activities," said Barbara Chwierut, speech-language pathologist and assistive technology coordinator at AERO Special Education Cooperative in Burbank, IL. "The Mobile Activity Player made it easy for staff to integrate technology across all areas of the curriculum. The students were highly motivated to work when given the Mobile Activity Player, and often demonstrated skills that were not previously recognized."Thousands of free interactive lessons and activities are available at, and a variety of ready-to-use curricular content is available for purchase at Mayer-Johnson's online store or through

A fully-functioning Windows computer, the Mobile Activity Player can run any software compatible with the XP Home operating system. Its integrated keyboard also aids in literacy activities.

The Mobile Activity Player costs $749, and includes Boardmaker Plus Player and three titles from Mayer-Johnson's library of Curriculum Companions. Discounts are available for multiple unit purchases. Volume discounts on Curriculum Companions are also available when purchasing the Mobile Activity Player.

About DynaVox Mayer-JohnsonDynaVox Mayer-Johnson is the world's leading developer and provider of speech communication and education solutions designed to help children and adults challenged by significant speech, language and learning disabilities make meaningful connections and participate in the home, classroom and the community. The company's DynaVox line of speech communication devices gives a voice to the millions of people who are unable to use speech as their primary means of communication due to the effects of conditions such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig's Disease), stroke, traumatic brain injury, cerebral palsy, Parkinson's disease, autism and intellectual disabilities. The Mayer-Johnson line of print-based and on-screen education products engage students in the learning process and support academic achievement. Driven by a strong entrepreneurial culture, the company develops technology-based products and offers an extensive customer support program to assist individuals as well as their families and support professionals. For more information about DynaVox Mayer-Johnson, visit

SOURCE DynaVox Mayer-Johnson

Teaching Children with Autism to read!

Teaching Reading to Children with ASD. What’s The Best Way?

There is no one way to teach reading to children with ASD. Learning styles vary between children so a range of strategies should be tried. Some children find reading remarkably easy, and very quickly learn to read far beyond their ability to understand the words they are reading (this is called hyperlexia), while others find it much more difficult to learn to read.

One approach is to use phonics, which means learning the letter sounds and blending them together to decipher words. Another approach is to learn to read whole words, and to be able to recognize them on sight.

I have found that, on the whole, teaching phonics can be more difficult than is normally the case with typically developing children. Many young children with autism have little or no language, and may not be able to repeat the letter sounds accurately or at all. It is a task all in itself to get some children just to repeat something when directed to. For you to be able to teach them to not only repeat those sounds but to use them as a decoding strategy in reading can be a big task indeed.

Some children learn the letter sounds quite easily, but find it much more difficult to use their knowledge of these sounds to blend them into words when reading. However, strategies that you would use with other children may still be useful even though they may take a bit longer: such strategies might include developing an awareness of the initial letter sounds of words, and playing with rhyming and alliteration.

Many children have a learning style based on their visual strengths, and may find it easier (especially at first) to learn that words are meaningful, and are useful in getting their needs met. Such children may benefit from being taught to learn to read a core vocabulary of words by sight. Your child may already have noticed the print in the environment, especially in areas in which they have a particular interest.

Once a child has learnt that words are meaningful, you can then increase their sight vocabulary by including other words that are of less direct interest to the child, but are nonetheless important for them to learn.

Motivation is everything ... [More]


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