Join CafeMom Today! Autism Spectrum Disorder: Treatments: February 2010

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Dr. Scott Faber's Clean Room - Detoxing Autism?

If anyone has newer information on this study, please forward to me.

Doctor plans novel treatment for autism
Dr. Scott Faber talks about the plan for an environmental pediatric room at the Children's Institute in Squirrel Hill.

With childhood autism cases skyrocketing and no cure in sight, doctors at the Children's Institute in Squirrel Hill are planning on a Hail Mary pass approach to the mysterious disorder -- housing young patients for weeks at a time in a pollutant-free "clean room," in an attempt to detoxify their bodies.

No cause for autism has been found, and debates rage as to whether the brain development disorder is purely genetic or caused in part by environmental factors, including air and food-borne chemicals.

With roots in autism treatment theories that until now have lived mostly on the Internet, the pediatric clean room plan would be the first of its kind in a mainstream American hospital environment.

The Children Institute's Scott Faber, a pediatrician with several hundred autistic patients and a waiting list six months long, is one of the believers in toxic causes, and the institute is trying to back him with a multimillion dollar test of the novel theory.

Under the plans -- developed with help from Duquesne University -- autistic patients would live for more than six weeks in a 1,000-square-foot room kept mostly free of harmful chemicals and pollutants, using special air-filtering systems, ultraviolet lights and air locks on doorways.

Furniture, paints, toys and floor coverings would be designed to be toxin-free, and food, clothing and water organic and clean. Doctors would seek to rid patients' bodies of chemicals and boost their immune systems through natural means such as nutritional supplements and dietary changes.

Basically, it would be pushing a "reset" button on the child's body, with the hope of wiping autistic symptoms away.

"What we would like to do is have kids live in this wonderful environment where they are exposed to almost none of the Industrial Revolution. And we wonder, if the chemicals come out and the heavy metals come out, will the children start improving?" Dr. Faber said.

"Will they start showing signs of clinical improvement, such as language improvement and socialization improvement? Will they become less obsessive? Less fascinated?"

Autism is one of a group of developmental disabilities disorders that cause substantial impairments in social interaction and communication and are characterized by unusual behaviors and interests. Many people with these disorders also have unusual ways of learning, paying attention and reacting to sensation. Rates have greatly increased in recent years, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, though some of the rise may be due to changes in reporting and diagnosing the disorder.

Planning and fund-raising for the "Environmental Pediatric Room" is in the early stages, with the Alcoa Foundation awarding an initial $200,000 grant April 28. It will require an estimated $500,000 to fully design and at least $1 million in yearly operating support its first three years.

The 106-year-old Children's Institute (formerly called the Rehabilitation Institute) plans to fund the room through the $30 million capital campaign it launched in 2005, after buying out its Shady Avenue site from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. It completed an expansion last year that doubled its building space and its capacity, from 39 to 82 beds. Almost $24 million of the campaign total has been raised, with fund-raising for the clean room and other programs ongoing.

A fringe movement

Clean rooms are common in high-tech manufacturing and research environments and have been used in hospital settings for patients struggling with infectious diseases and transplants. They have also been used to treat children with autism, but only in patients' homes, largely in work by Virginia researcher and nutritionist Karen Slimak.

Dr. Faber noted that Ms. Slimak's clean room work -- like much of the research on toxicity in autism -- "hasn't been written for the main [scientific] literature" but instead has been written mostly for the Internet. The Children's Institute plan would be taking what is arguably a fringe movement into the mainstream: It would be the first autism treatment of this kind staged in an American hospital setting. It will be matched with scientific analysis, sensors and video cameras to study the real impacts of detoxification. The data and findings will be shared openly, he said.

With so many doubts -- and so few answers -- about effective autism treatments among the growing community of families affected by the condition, the institute said openness is vital to the experimental method's success.

"We're not saying this is the full cause" of autism and related illnesses, Dr. Faber said. "Obviously there are multiple causes, and there are going to be found many genetic causes, many environmental causes and many genetic-environmental interactions. But we wonder -- we speculate -- that it's possible if we have children living in a unique environment that has not [previously] been created scientifically that we can make a difference.

Read more:


Dolphin Therapy for Autism Revisited

I'm not really a fan of Dolphin Therapy and have written in the past about the fact that it can be dangerous. Dangerous or not, it's popularity continues to grow.

Special to The Washington Post

Do you or does your child suffer from cerebral palsy? Down syndrome? Autism? A knee injury? General ennui?

If you do -- and you have a week or two and a few thousand dollars to spare -- a growing and controversial group of global entrepreneurs claims it can help you feel better by putting you in close contact with dolphins.

The strategy is known as dolphin-assisted therapy, and the basic idea is that even brief exposure to these charismatic creatures -- swimming around with them, petting and kissing them, watching them do tricks and hearing their clicking calls in tanks, lagoons or the open ocean -- is so uniquely rewarding that it produces benefits all by itself and/or jump-starts a patient's receptiveness to more-conventional therapy.

Emory University neuroscientist Lori Marino, who has spent more than a decade tracking the trend, estimates there are now more than 100 organizations offering therapy with dolphins. They're found in such widely scattered places as Florida, Hawaii, Mexico, Israel, Australia and Ukraine, and a study cited in 2007 by the international Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society said a typical charge was $2,600 for five 40-minute sessions.

Their approaches vary widely: At one end are relatively conservative nonprofits such as Island Dolphin Care, which operates programs for "special needs" children out of a $2 million facility in the Florida Keys; its Web site acknowledges that "there is no scientific proof that [dolphins] heal nor is there proof that they do not heal" and attributes most children's progress to being in "an environment that is highly motivating."

At the other end are more imaginative operations, such as the Dolphin Connection, based in the small Hawaiian town of Kealakekua, where Joan Ocean, described on her Web site as a "psychologist, shaman, and authority on the subject of Dolphin Tel-Empathic Communication," charges $1,995 for week-long swim-with-dolphin programs offering "cellular communication and healing" and "intergalactic journeying."

The dolphin-therapy business has been booming, fueled in part by the rapid growth in diagnoses of childhood mental disorders such as autism. Desperate parents in search of cures have flown to the facilities, as if to a seaside Lourdes, when all else has failed.

The practice, however, is fiercely criticized by researchers and marine mammal conservationists, including the educational anthropologist widely credited with having invented it, retired Florida International University researcher Betsy Smith. These critics charge that it is no more effective and considerably more expensive than skillful conventional treatment, while potentially harmful to the humans and the animals.

Smith, who was originally inspired by watching a dolphin interact with her mentally disabled brother in the 1970s, offered the therapy free of charge for more than a decade, before abandoning the work out of ethical concerns in the 1990s. She now maintains that dolphin therapy boils down to "the exploitation of vulnerable people and vulnerable dolphins."

"When I started this whole thing, I had no idea what we were unleashing," she said in a telephone interview.

Even Ric O'Barry, who won fame in the 1960s as the trainer of TV's Flipper, has since become what he describes as a "dolphin abolitionist," opposed to all forms of dolphin captivity and domination, and leading efforts to end dolphin hunting and return captive specimens to the wild.

"It's a fascinating paradox," said Marino, who along with two colleagues described concerns about dolphins in a presentation they made in San Diego Sunday at the American Association for the Advancement of Science convention. "People are wacky about dolphins, and yet they're becoming the most abused of animals."

Dolphin therapy is not regulated by any U.S. government authority overseeing health and safety standards for either humans or dolphins.

The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society has urged that the therapy be abandoned, citing reports of serious injuries to people who swim with dolphins, including bites and broken ribs, and the potential for disease transmission and stress for captive dolphins that are obliged to interact with a continuous stream of strangers and may be scratched by fingernails and jewelry.

FULL STORY: WASHINGTON POST - Dolphin therapy is booming despite concerns about efficacy and animal cruelty


Monday, February 15, 2010

Presidents Day Wish: Autism Czar per President Obama's campaign promise

Presidents Day: Still no AUTISM CZAR

Posted using ShareThis

Presidents Day: Still no AUTISM CZAR

Presidents Day: Still no AUTISM CZAR

Posted using ShareThis

Presidents Day: Still no AUTISM CZAR

Presidents Day: Still no AUTISM CZAR

Posted using ShareThis

Presidents Day: Still no AUTISM CZAR

Presidents Day: Still no AUTISM CZAR

Posted using ShareThis

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Respen-A: Autism Therapy

Respen-A therapy in Autism

I mentioned on my blog before that we were interested in starting the new therapy called Respen A. Since we were actively fighting clostridia through the use of flagyl and also using diflucan to avoid a yeast flare as a result, I decided to wait for about a week until we were all done with flagyl and diflucan was going well and behavior was stabilized. We started on the first day of winter break, 2 weeks ago yesterday. I also wanted to try this over the break so that I could monitor any possible negative reactions instead of having him go through these at school/therapy/etc.

By day 2 we noticed increased affection and attention to members of our family.


Saturday, February 13, 2010

Oxytocin Nasal spray gives hope on autism

Nasal spray gives hope on autism - Times Online

Scientists have found that some symptoms of autism can be alleviated by a nasal spray containing oxytocin, the “bonding” hormone.

People with autism who inhaled the spray altered their behaviour temporarily, becoming more sociable and trusting.

Autism and Asperger’s, a related syndrome, impede the ability to communicate or form relationships. Many people with the conditions find it difficult even to meet someone else’s eye.

The research, which has been peer-reviewed, was carried out on 13 patients with high-functioning autism, defined as those of normal or above-normal intelligence.

After inhaling the hormone, the patients rapidly became more open.

“Under oxytocin, patients with high-functioning autism respond more strongly to others and exhibit more appropriate social behaviour,” wrote Elissar Andari, of the Institut des Sciences Cognitives, a French government centre for neuroscience research, in a summary of a recent conference presentation.

Such a therapy would be a key breakthrough, if proven. About 500,000 Britons have autism or Asperger’s syndrome, with many suffering exclusion from school and long-term unemployment because of the associated behavioural problems.

In a summary of her presentation to the Mediterranean Conference of Neuroscience, held in Egypt, Andari said the results “suggested a therapeutic potential of oxytocin through its action on a core dimension of autism”.

The researchers point out that the effects of the nasal spray are transient and the findings do not mean that a therapy is imminent.

Any proposed medication would have to undergo extensive testing, which could take years.

FULL ARTICLE :Nasal spray gives hope on autism - Times Online



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