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

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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Treating Autism UK: Useful Documents

Treating Autism UK: Useful Documents


Q: What is iPrompts®?

A: iPrompts is a software application for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. It is designed for caregivers of those with special needs. iPrompts® allows parents, therapists, and special educators to configure and present picture-based prompts (no audio prompts or voice output) to help language and behaviorally challenged individuals stay on task, transition between activities, and communicate their needs.

HandHeld Adaptive: iPrompts Website

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Athletics 4 Autism: Yoga, Cheerleading, Taekwondo and Wrestling

Yoga, Cheerleading, Taekwondo and Wrestling. I am not so sure I want to teach my kid the last two. I have visions of being pinned to the ground in Walmart after a meltdown.

Athletics big boost for kids with autism

At a track meet the other day, 13-year-old Mason Quinn looked like any other competitor.

"He's as coachable as any kid we've ever had," said coach and teacher Tom Thompson of Lakota Plains Junior School, where Mason is in seventh grade. "Great attitude. Makes you smile every day.

"We don't treat him any different, and he doesn't expect us to."

But Mason is different. At age 5, he was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder.

Parents Mark and Lisa Quinn of West Chester Township say Mason has benefited from sports in a variety of ways, from easing his acceptance by peers to teaching that success comes from hard work. They hope that by telling their story, other children with autism and their parents might be encouraged to explore athletics.

That's also the goal of Heath and Fitness for Autism Weekend, a first-of-its-kind event sponsored by Families with ASD, a local non-profit organization for families affected by autism. Nine free clinics Saturday and Sunday in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky will offer young people an introduction to activities such as yoga, cheerleading, taekwondo and wrestling.

About 1 in 110 children are diagnosed with autism, a developmental disability that affects a person's ability to communicate and interact with others. It's considered a "spectrum disorder" because it affects individuals differently and to varying degrees. Asperger's is a mild form of autism.

"It's always bothered me that kids with autism were not more involved in sports," said Doug Blecher, board president of Families with ASD and organizer of the weekend clinics.

He's a therapist trained in applied behavior analysis, one of a number of therapies used to improve the lives of children with autism. He believes athletic activities complement those therapies, and he's not alone.

Geraldine Dawson and Michael Rosanoff are the chief science officer and assistant director of research and public health, respectively, for Autism Speaks, a national advocacy group. On the organization's Web site, they write:

"Besides improving fitness, motor function, and behavior in individuals with autism, among the most important advantages of physical activity are the social implications of participating in sports and exercise."

More than half of children with autism are either overweight or at risk of it, Dawson and Rosanoff say.

But participation in physical activities can be especially challenging for such children for reasons that include limited motor function, lack of motivation, and the potential for sensory overload.

"People look at people with autism and see the deficits," said Blecher. "They don't really see what they're capable of."

Mason has shown what he's capable of, even though he, too, struggles with social and communication skills.


Saturday, April 3, 2010

Disco Therapy for Autism?

Disco Therapy

How disco helped my autistic son

Autism left Jimmy Hobley unable to read, write or make much sense of the world. But then his mum, Sheila, came across dancing classes for children

Before Jimmy Hobley discovered disco, he was desperate. He couldn't read, couldn't write, couldn't make head or tail of the world. Then he began dancing. Jimmy is one of Sheila Hobley's three boys, all of them autistic. It would be nice to be able to say that once he learned to swing those hips, the family never looked back, but the world is rarely as simple as that.

The family home is eerily calm as his parents talk about the havoc their children have wreaked upon it. Alex is 16, and the twins, George and Jimmy, are 10. When Alex was born, Sheila's life was turned upside down. She was 26, didn't know anything about autism, and was expected to bring up a boy who bit and scratched and tore his hair out, who had epilepsy, who found everything hard to learn, and had a number of obsessive compulsive disorders. It wasn't easy, and Sheila and Alex's father split up.

A while later, she got together with Andy. They both wanted children, and Sheila didn't want to worry Andy by suggesting they might be autistic, too. Anyway, the experts said the chances were minimal – she was told there was a 1 in 1,000 chance of having another autistic child, figures that have nowadays been revised to between one in 80 and one in 100.

But, sure enough, the twins were autistic. Like Alex, they were born early, were dramatically underweight, and didn't meet any of their developmental goals. The one thing they were good at was fighting. "They both had terrible screaming fits, and they were biters," Sheila says. "And when you left, they'd just hold on to your leg like a dog mating, and you'd be trying to walk away and they'd be on it with their teeth, biting through your jeans. They didn't sleep. Absolutely exhausted, we were."

It got worse. "Even my childminder said she'd seen nothing like it. They were three to four months old, rolling around on the floor, holding on to each other's hair, screaming." Soon it was impossible to get childminders, and Sheila and Andy couldn't go out socially together. How did it affect their relationship? "We've had rocky times," Sheila says. "It made our relationship quite volatile at times, because the whole family setup was." They both think it's a considerable achievement that they've stayed together for 11 years.

When Sheila told doctors that she was convinced the twins were also autistic, they told her she was an over-anxious mum. But soon they were forced to admit they had been wrong.



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