What Causes Autism What causes Autism is something every doctor hears when they tell a parent their child is Autistic. There is not one definite answer to this question. There are several thoughts on what causes Autism. Some of the causes of Autism are thought to be genetic. Doctors think there are several genes that cause Autism, but have yet to locate them. They now feel that some people are born with the predisposition to be Autistic. Then they have some type of environmental trigger and they become Autistic. Autism is more common in boys that girls. Some studies show a connection to environmental factors and Autism. They think that the pollution and toxins in the air can contribute to a child having Autism. Studies have shown small towns with high cases of Autism. The towns had one thing in common, a high pollution source. Usually the source is a factory of some sort that release a lot of toxins, and chemicals into the air. A majority of people believe Autism was caused by the Mercury, or Thimersal in vaccinations. This was due to the fact that Autism was first diagnosed about the same time as vaccinations were given. There has been a lot of studies an research about vaccines causing a child to become Autistic. So far there has been no evidence to suggest the connection between vaccinating your child and Autism. There could be more risks from not having the vaccinations. Some studies have shown children being exposed to high levels of Mercury were more likely to have Autism. This was a fear with the vaccinations, but the majority of shots these days do not contain any mercury or Thimersal. If they do contain Thimersal it is in very trace amounts. High levels of Mercury can be contributed to eating a lot of fish, and industrial emissions. Researchers think there could be a connection to pregnant women being exposed to Mercury and their children having Autism. There are new studies testing pregnant women to see how much Mercury is in their systems and testing the babies at birth. They can then monitor the babies with high Mercury levels and see if they have any problems later on. There are theories that Autism is caused from an underlying health issue. Certain diseases make a child more likely to develop Autism. Some of these diseases include Fragile X syndrome, and congenital Rubella. Others believe Autism is caused by a metabolic imbalance. It used to be thought that Autism was caused from an early emotional trauma. They also thought bad parenting was to blame. Doctors tried to blame mothers for not giving their children enough attention and love. These theories have been found untrue. Much more research is needed to identify the true cause or causes of Autism. Until a definite answer is found no one will know what cause a child to be Autistic. These theories are all just that, theories. Someday hopefully doctors will understand what causes a child to be Autistic, and they can work on a way to prevent, or cure it. How Autism is Diagnosed The signs and levels of Autism vary in each child. This can make getting a diagnosis difficult. Children on the higher level of the Autism spectrum may go years without being diagnosed. There are may factors that go into an Autism diagnosis. We will go over some of the criteria being used to diagnose a child with Autism. Doctors have a checklist that must be met before the possibility of Autism is suspected. Some of the signs on the checklist include, poor relationships with friends, focusing on one thing for very long periods of time, poor communications skills, and insisting on certain routines, or rituals. When these signs are shown in a child the doctor will want to evaluate the child further. The doctor will question the child's parents, or any other people that have close contact with the child. They may send home a form for you and the child's teacher to fill out. Once the doctor has the forms back they will compare the forms and look for similar results. If the results all are pointing to something being wrong further testing will be considered. Children also develop at their own rate. So a parent having concerns about their child not reaching developmental milestones on time may question the doctor for further testing. The doctor will ask a series of questions to the parent. If the answers match the criteria for Autism the doctor will order further evaluations to be completed. Remember each child grows and matures at their own rate so they may just be a late bloomer. There is not one test that can say definitely the child has Autism. It will require several appointments with different health professionals to rule out other conditions that could be causing the problems in your child. Often a child who is late to talk is suspected of having a hearing issue first. After this is checked then the doctor can move onto evaluating for Autism. Several health conditions can mimic the symptoms of Autism. Children always need to be evaluated for any other medical conditions that could cause the same symptoms as Autism first. To receive an Autism diagnosis the child will be evaluated by a team of medical professionals. They will include the doctor, a psychologist, a speech therapist, a neurologist, and a psychiatrist. Once the child is evaluated by the team they will meet and compare their findings. Then they will have a meeting with the parents to discuss their findings . If the diagnosis of Autism is made a treatment plan will be set in place. Each child will show different symptoms of Autism, and the levels they experience it will be different. So it may take longer to get a diagnoses of Autism in some children. Once you have the diagnoses the most important thing is to start a treatment plan. The treatment plan will help make the life of your Autistic child better. While there is no cure for Autism, the treatments available can help to lesson the symptoms. Know Your Rights: Laws and Autism If you or your child has autism, some of the most basic things you can study and learn are your rights. Every American citizen is protected under the constitution, and there are special laws that have been passed to help protect people with autism and other disabilities. By knowing the laws that protect you or your autistic loved ones, you can live in a world that provides better opportunities to everyone, regardless of not only disability, but also race, gender, and ethnicity. This is simply the first step to creating a more tolerant world in general. The first law with which you should become acquainted is I.D.E.A., or the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. The I.D.E.A. covers children ages 3 to 21 and provides autistic children with the special educational programs they need. The I.D.E.A. gives parents the right to be involved with education decisions concerning their child made by the school. Your child first needs to be assessed to qualify under the I.D.E.A., and this is best done by a private professional. In the end, your child has the right by law to receive a free public education that is appropriate for his or her skill level. If your public school has no such program, they are required to find one or create one at no cost to you. Also become familiar with and knowledgeable about the American Disabilities Act. Under this act, discrimination due to disability is prohibited in the workforce, as well as with state and local government, public accommodations, the United States Congress, public transportation, and telecommunications. For example, if you are autistic, but have the skills to do a certain job, you cannot be refused the job because of your autism. Other laws provide rights for people with autism so that they are constitutionally equal to others. One such law says that people with autism have the right to vote, and accommodations must be made so that this is possible. Another says that autistic individuals cannot be refused housing based on disability. Others provide equal rights in all other aspects of life, and these should especially be studied if your loved one with autism is in a health care institution. By knowing the law and how it applies to yourself or others with autism, you can be sure that justice is upheld. If you have questions, local law officials should be ready and willing to answer you or provide you with material to answer your own questions. Remember that ignorance of the law is not a valid excuse for anyone, so be an advocate for yourself or others with autism to prevent mistreatment. Is my Child Autistic Autism is a popular topic in the news right now. Several celebrities have came out and told the world about their Autistic children. This is causing more people to be aware of Autism, and to question whether their child is Autistic. Nobody wants to think that something could be wrong with their child. Then they watch a news report, or hear someone talking about a child that has Autism and they start to question their own child. The symptoms of Autism are many, and they vary in each child. Just because you see some symptoms of Autism in your child does not mean they are Autistic. There are other medical conditions that have the same symptoms. Some children are late on their developmental milestones. Each child develops at their own rate. Just because your child is not talking by the time they are one does not mean for certain they have Autism. If you have concerns about your child's development speak to their healthcare provider. They can tell you if further testing should be considered. A lot of parents try to self diagnoses their children. This can be a big mistake. It takes several qualified medical professionals to diagnose a child with Autism. This will not be done with one appointment at the pediatrician. You will have a team of health care providers evaluating your child. The earlier you have your child evaluated the better the chances of treatment helping the child. Try not to compare your child with other children. Each child is an individual. They grow and develop at their own rate. While they may be late at some milestones, they may excel at others. Sometimes a parent has a gut instinct that tells them there is something wrong. If you feel that your child is having problems and the doctor does not agree, get a second opinion. Parents have to be the voice for their child. Finding out if your child is Autistic can take time. It can be a life changing experience for both the child and the parent. Once you find out if your child is Autistic you can begin the process of treatment, or finding out what is causing your child's problems if it is not Autism. Signs that your child needs to be evaluated further include: 1. No eye contact 2. No communication. This can be sounds, or words. 3. Shows no emotions. 4. Does not pretend play. 5. Uses repetitive movements. 6. Have a hard time with schedule changes. 7. Do not respond to you when you are talking to them. This can be with looks or words. 8. Does things over and over again. 9. Loses skills they knew. 10. Develops an attachment to a certain food, or smell. These are sensory issues. If you see these signs in your child talk to the doctor about them. Getting a diagnosis and treatment plan are very important. At the same time do not worry over every little thing. Some children just take a little longer to reach their milestones. Bad Apples on the Family Tree The news that a child in the family is autistic is most often met with a number of reactions. While all family members, even extended, would be supportive in an ideal world, the sad truth is that many are disgusted or disappointed. Does a family member scold the autistic child often? Does he or she look at your autistic child unfairly? Does this family member insist on treating your autistic child the same way he or she treats all the other children in your family, even when it is inappropriate? These are signs that this relative is not receptive to either your autistic child or the situation. This may often be the case when discovering a child is autistic, so as a parent, be aware and prepared for this to happen. Often, unreceptive relatives simply do not understand what autism is or what it means for your child and your immediate family. Though many see autism as a mental retardation, many autistic children and adults are highly intelligent; they are just unable to communicate this in the same ways that others would. Try explaining what autism means to this family member, and have him or her spend some time with you and your autistic child. Allow them to see the effects of autism and the methods you can use to cope. If the family member continues to be unsupportive or refuses your explanation, ask why this family member is so unreceptive to the situation. Are they scared of hurting the child? Are they worried about the added responsibility when spending time with the child? Perhaps they feel guilty or are embarrassed. If you can pinpoint why a family member is unreceptive, you can better address the issue and hopefully help him or her overcome their original perceptions. Perhaps no amount of talking or spending time together will help this family member overcome their prejudice. If this person has stubbornly made up his or her mind, you will never be able to show him or her how beautiful your son or daughter is-autism and all. If this is the case, eliminating this person from your life may be difficult, but it will also rid you and your child of this family member's negative energy and personality. In this developing situation, you need the best positive support available. Remember that other family members have been supportive; that your children are adjusting well and are a source of strength for you. Strengthen your support network by participating in parent support groups for autistic children. And remember that you can surround yourself with those who do accept and love your child-family or not. Signs of Autism With all the recent publicity of Autism in the news you might be wondering what are the signs of Autism. Here are a list of signs that can be associated to Autism. If you see these signs in your child speak to their doctor about having them evaluated. The sooner that Autism is discovered the better the chances are at treating it. 1. Does not reach developmental milestones on time. Each child develops differently. Some children will crawl at four months while others will not until they are several months older. This can be perfectly normal. The problem starts when every milestone is much later than usual. If your child is not meeting the developmental stages talk with their doctor. 2. Child does not talk. Children learn to talk at different ages. Some will start talking very young while others will just start blurting out whole sentences one day. This can be very normal. However if your child does not have any babbling type talk by the age of one this could be a cause for concern. Most children will says some words by the time they are sixteen months. If your child is not ask their doctor if they think an evaluation is necessary. 3. No eye contact. Most babies and children will look at you when you are talking to them. Autistic children will often not give you eye contact. It will appear they are looking off into a daze instead of paying attention to you. They will not point to objects. They will not look at something you are trying to show them. Instead they look past it. 4. Child does not show emotion. Autistic children often do not show any emotion. They do not smile back when a person smiles at them. They do not show any cares when someone around them is expressing pain, or crying. The Autistic child does not usually like to be held or cuddled. They will not reach up for their parents to hold them. 5. Likes to play by their self. The Autistic child usually will play alone. They feel more comfortable being by them self. They have a hard time making friends. They do not know how to relate to other kids. They do not understand when another child is joking with them. They take everything said to them literally. 6. The child loses skills the knew. The child may have learned to talk and then it seems as if they forgot how. They can learn a new skill and then a week later have no idea how to do it. Autistic children often lose skills they have learned. These are just a few of the signs of Autism. If you notice any of them in your children talk to their doctor. All children with Autism will not have every sign. Getting them diagnosed as soon as possible will allow treatment to begin sooner. Getting your child evaluated as soon as you suspect a problem is very important. Even if there is nothing wrong it is better to be safe. The earlier treatment can be started the better for the child. Sibling Rivalry: How Brothers and Sisters can Cope with Autistic Family Members When a family member is diagnosed with autism, there is a vast amount of information teaching parents how to cope with an autistic child, and there is also information for parents about dealing with an autistic child's different behaviors. However, there are fewer learning tools for those who have an autistic sibling, even though this is a very stressful situation for brothers and sisters of an autistic child. The following tips can help children cope with an autistic sibling. Sometimes parents are so involved in preparing themselves and their autistic child for the transition ahead that they forget that their other children must also deal with the new situation. Often, siblings of an autistic child may feel the new situation acutely. They may feel neglected by parents or jealous of the autistic child who is now receiving more attention. Also, they may find their peers constantly teasing them about having an autistic sibling, which can lead to more stress. This may lead to behavioral issues, with the sibling acting out and becoming a "problem child" to receive attention. In some cases, the sibling may even try to hurt the autistic brother or sister in an attempt to remove him from the family environment. However, this is not always the case. Sometimes, having an autistic sibling forces one to "grow up" and become responsible. There can be a strong emotional attachment to the autistic sibling and a keen desire to keep him or her safe in all situations. Furthermore, living with an autistic sibling can teach one to be more open about another person's differences. In this way, having an autistic sibling is a life-enriching experience that pushes individuals to be emotionally and mentally stronger and to be more tolerant towards others in life One tip for siblings to cope with their autistic brother or sister is to find a support group. There should be resources available at the local chapter of the Autism Society of America. This is especially important in helping siblings feel that they are not alone and isolated in this unfolding situation-others are dealing with the same sorts of problems. Also, try to increase family interaction. Schedule a regular family day or family night each week, where all children can spend time with parents or other family members and share their day or week experiences and any problems. The best thing to remember is to be open about how you are feeling. If children feel that their parents are neglecting some aspect of their life, simply asking them for a moment of their time is often the best solution. It is important for parents to be understanding towards their children's needs for attention, whether they are autistic or not. Communication is the key to helping the entire family run smoothly. Dietary Concerns: Glutton and Casein Autism is a disorder that must be treated with a variety of methods since there is no effective way to completely cure it. One of the ways you can help keep the symptoms of autism under control is by studying diet. Parents of children with autism have reported that by controlling diet, they see a significant difference in their child's behavior. Two of the main dietary concerns are glutton and casein. Glutton is a substance found in many common food products, with wheat, rye, and oaks being the main culprits. Casein is found in dairy products, such as milk. If you or your child with autism eats many foods with these products in them, such as breads or cheeses, you may be able to better control autistic behavior by decreasing consumption of such foods. The difficulty in digesting both glutton and casein comes from an inability to digestively handle the peptides in these substances. Since they are not broken down as in a normal body, these extra peptides are absorbed into the blood stream. Elevated levels of peptides disrupt major brain functions, contributing to the effects of autism. By cutting foods containing glutton and casein out of you or your child's diet, you can help the body with the process of breaking down the peptides present in the body. To see if you or your child has a high absorption rate of these peptides, your doctor can administer a simple urine test. Speak to a nutritionist or doctor before making any major changes in your diet. When you decide to cut glutton and casein from your diet, do not attempt to do this all at once. Cutting anything from your diet suddenly is unhealthy, and your body could go into withdrawal. Instead, slowly begin reducing the amounts of breads, grains, and milk products until you are eating none. You doctor can provide you with a complete list of all the foods containing glutton and casein if you truly want to cut them all from your diet. However, it may be necessary to get the nutrients that you find in glutton and casein products in another way, such as with dietary supplements. Again, your doctor can help in this decision. Overall, maintaining a balanced diet is the healthiest thing to do. Leaving glutton and casein products out of your or your child's diet may help control autistic behavior, so it is an option that should be considered, but eating a healthy diet altogether is the best way to keep you and your family healthy. Dealing with Asperger Syndrome Asperger Syndrome is a relatively mild form of autism that effects people in different ways than regular autism. Because it usually does not affect language, many people with Asperger Syndrome go undiagnosed. This is the one form of autism that is usually not caught at an early age and is instead a disorder that develops later in life. Asperger Syndrome, however, can be a very difficult condition to have, so as soon as you suspect yourself or your child of having communication and social behavior problems, see your family doctor. Many famous and successful people were diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome. Historians even suggest that Einstein and Mozart each suffered from this disorder. It is important to note that no form of autism is a form of mental retardation. In fact, most people with Asperger Syndrome are very intelligent. Asperger Syndrome does not dictate mental ability, but rather makes it difficult for people to communicate in social settings, much in the same way a typical autistic child has trouble with behavior in groups. When this disorder goes undiagnosed, children do not get the help they need, leading to problems in school such as bullying. Most children are relieved to find out they have Asperger Syndrome instead of just thinking they are less of a person. By getting diagnosed, not only can you or your child put a name to the problems, but it is then also possible to get treated to improve your overall situation. Some symptoms to watch out for if you suspect Asperger Syndrome are some of the same symptoms that people with full-blown autism experience. This includes social confusion, first and foremost. Many people with Asperger Syndrome find it very difficult to deal with transition or change, wanting everything to stay the same. A quickly changing environment is especially confusing. People with Asperger Syndrome also may say rude or inappropriate things when they don't mean to do so, and may not be able to understand others' thought processes. Another common trait they share with autistic individuals is fixation, although people with Asperger Syndrome usually have more control over their fixations, which take the form of highly focused interests. If you suspect yourself or a loved one of this disorder, these are just a few of the signs for which you should be watching. You doctor should be able to answer further questions and provide both reading material and treatment for this disorder. Treatments for Aspergers Syndrome There is not one set treatment for Aspergers syndrome. You will not find a medication that will cure a child with Aspergers. Instead you will find several treatments to help with the problems associated with Aspergers syndrome. Here we will examine some of the treatments used with Aspergers syndrome. Social Skills Training Children with Aspergers syndrome have a hard time understanding facial expressions, and tone of voice. They tend to take everything said to them very literally. They do not know when a person is joking with them. Children can be taught to recognize changes in peoples voice, and what different facial expressions mean. They also need to be taught how to use better eye contact. This type of training can help the child to make friends. They are taught how to act around other people. Some children with Aspergers want to be around other kids, they just do not know how to act with them. They can be taught how to act when out shopping, or at a restaurant. Cognitive behavior Therapy This type of therapy teaches the child with Aspergers syndrome to find ways to cope. They are taught ways to reduce anxiety. They learn how to spot a situation that can cause them trouble. Then they learn techniques to cope when they are in that situation. Aspergers children often have a lot of anxiety. They have a hard time in social settings. They can have anxiety attacks, or complete meltdowns. The Cognitive therapy teaches them ways to stop the meltdowns from occurring. This therapy will teach a child with Aspergers that when they feel an unwanted behavior coming on something they can do to stop it. They are taught how to remove them selves from a situation that makes them uneasy. Medication There is no medication that will treat Aspergers. However there is medication to help with some of the symptoms of Aspergers. Many children with Aspergers have anxiety and depression. There are medications that can help relieve these problems. Relieving the anxiety can help the child feel more comfortable in social settings. Medications like these can have side effects. You will need to monitor your child's behavior while they are on the medication. Some children with Aspergers have a hard time sleeping. There are medications to help the child sleep. Parenting Education There is training for the parents of Aspergers children. This training consists of ways you can deal with behaviors. Learning things that can help to calm your child down when they are having a meltdown, or anxiety attack. Parents are taught ways of using reward systems to control behavior problems. They are taught how to deal with the behaviors in the home. This helps them to deal with behaviors in other places too. With these treatments the life of an Aspergers child can be easier. If no treatment is given children with Aspergers can have trouble with depression, and anxiety. They have such a hard time dealing with people socially they might turn to alcohol, or drugs to relax them. Getting a treatment plan that works is a number one priority for your Aspergers child. Gluten Free Diet The Gluten free diet consists of removing any foods from your Autistic child's diet that contain Gluten. This can seem hard at first because so many foods do have Gluten in them. Gluten is found in most prepared foods. Foods containing wheat, barley ,oats, or rye need to be eliminated from the diet. Gluten can also be found in some vinegars and sauces. Artificial flavorings often contain Gluten. When using the Gluten free diet you have to be careful and read all labels on foods. Gluten can be in foods you would not think of, like spices. The theory behind removing Gluten from an Autistic child's diet is that when the child eats a food with Gluten it causes their body to react differently than a child without Autism. The Gluten free diet can be expensive to follow. Most Gluten free products are sold in specialty, or health stores. These stores usually charge a much higher price. Some major grocery stores are now carrying Gluten free products. You can find Gluten free flour, pancake mix, waffles, cookies, snacks, and many other foods. Most parents find out it is cheaper to make their own Gluten free food. Recipes can be found on the internet, or in Gluten free cookbooks. Some parents go together with another family following the Gluten free diet and buy in bulk. Then they share the foods. This can help lower the costs of the Gluten free items. Autistic children following a Gluten free diet can eat meat, fish, fruits, vegetables, nut, eggs, and products made with gluten free ingredients. It can be hard to keep a child from eating their favorite snacks, and treats. Some of these can be made by using Gluten free products. Muffins and cookies can be made from Gluten free flour. It just takes some getting used to the new way of eating. Often people following a Gluten free diet will remove all dairy (Casein) products from their diet as well. You can find out if your Autistic child has an allergy to a certain food by having allergy testing done. The doctor can arrange for this testing. If you are going to try the Gluten free diet with your child you have to be prepared to follow it for several months to tell if it is going to make any difference. Gluten remains in the body for a long time. Most people do not give the diet a long enough chance to work. Trying it for a week or two will not give the body enough time to remove any remaining Gluten from its system. Some people do however see improvements right away in their Autistic child. If you want to find more information about Gluten free dieting there are several books available. Visit your local library, or book store to find one. To find Gluten free recipes try searching online using your favorite search engine. The Gluten free diet will not work with every autistic child. The majority of the children that show improvement had a sensitivity to the gluten to begin with. The Gluten free diet is not a cure for Autism. It is used to help lesson the symptoms of Autism. Dairy Free Diet to Treat Autism Parents are turning to their child's diet to when treating Autism. Some believe that Autistic children have a food sensitivity. They believe dairy, also known as Casein, is one of the foods to cause problems with Autistic children. Removing all dairy from your child's diet can at first seem very difficult to do. Most kids love cheese and ice cream. Most people following a dairy free diet also remove Gluten from the diet. The ingredient in dairy that it thought to cause problems is Casein. Casein is a protein found in dairy products such as milk, cheese, yogurt, butter, and some hotdogs. It is very important to read all labels on food the child will be eating. If you are going to try the dairy free diet with your child you will need to make sure they are getting enough calcium. This can be done with vitamin supplements, or milk substitutes. Many types of food are including calcium. It is thought that the Casein reacts in the Autistic child's body causing the unwanted behaviors. They think if the dairy products are removed some of the behaviors will leave. It should take a few months to know if the diet is working for your child. If you are considering removing Gluten from the diet too it is advised to try removing dairy first. The dairy is removed from the body much faster than the Gluten. Gluten can take ten months or more to be completely removed from the body. Following a Casein free diet can be expensive. Most milk replacements cost double the price of regular milk. Not all stores will carry the dairy free products. They can usually be found at specialty, or health food stores. You can find Casein free products on the internet for mail order. There are also lots of Casein free recipes available online. To save on the cost of Casein free foods some families find another family in their area using the same diet, and share the cost of ingredients by buying in bulk. They then split the foods. If you choose to try a Casein (dairy) free diet with your Autistic child remember to allow enough time to see if the diet is helping. It can be helpful to keep a journal while trying the diet. Keep a record of behaviors your Autistic child has. Then you can see if the number of behaviors is dropping. If you have not removed Gluten from your child's diet you may want to consider this if your child is not improving from the dairy free diet. To find out if your Autistic child has a sensitivity to dairy (Casein) have them allergy tested. This will tell you if you should remove any other foods from the diet. If you are wanting more information about Casein free diets visit your local library. You can find many books that deal with dairy free living. The internet is also a great source of information. A Casein free diet might be helpful in treating your child's Autism. It is not a cure for Autism though. It will only help treat some of the symptoms. Self-Injury: How to Stop this Dangerous Practice Many wonder why anyone would practice self-injury, as it is painful and dangerous. However, with autistic children, self-injury occurs more often than not. There are several theories as to why this practice can be prevalent in autistic children, and there are some methods you can use to help ease this distressing practice. Because autistic children are unable to communicate through language the way that others can, they often feel frustrated at not being understood or at not getting what they need or want. Thus, autistic children may commit self-injury, by banging their heads or biting themselves (among other tactics), to release some of that frustration that cannot be communicated through words. Also, self-injury is a way of getting attention. An autistic child's frustration goes hand-in-hand with wanting attention. For instance, by scratching oneself until one bleeds, the autistic child will immediately get someone's attention, and this person will work to understand what the child wants or needs. This theory of frustration and attention has been the sole thinking for quite some time. Recently, however, studies have shown that self-injury can have a biochemical component that relieves some of the pain and frustration one feels by releasing endorphins, or "happy hormones," into one's system. The endorphins also provide a release for the autistic child, allowing him or her to temporarily forget about his or her frustration and pain. Furthermore, it is believed that if one practices self-injury enough, the endorphins will begin to help mask any pain associated with such behavior, making it an addictive action. While some professionals say that ignoring the autistic child's self-injurious behavior is an acceptable method of treating such practice, this can obviously be very difficult. Others have suggested that communication therapy and drugs may help an autistic child by providing him or her with another method of communication. There are drugs that will help stem the addictive behavior of releasing endorphins into the system, and thus help stop such behavior. There are also nutritional solutions available; vitamin B6 and calcium have been said to help many families with an autistic child. For the family members involved, communication training to learn how to communicate with an autistic child is also extremely important. Because normal adults, and even children and teenagers, are so accustomed to communicating through easily recognizable words or body language, they have to learn that communicating with an autistic child requires a completely different process. By looking for solutions for both the family and the autistic child involved in self-injurious behavior, one may be able to overcome this distressing practice. Robotic Hugs: How a Hug Can Help Your Autistic Child Autistic children and adults often seek pressure in a variety of ways to calm themselves and cope with sensory overload. Oftentimes, hugs and squeezes from other people can cause more distress because autistic children or adults are often unable to communicate their needs by indicating a particular amount or length of pressure. This is both frustrating and ineffective for both the autistic person and whoever is hugging or squeezing them. The hug machine was created to help relive this frustration, putting autistic individuals in control of their situation. Both children and adults who suffer from autism sometimes crave pressure to help calm anxiety. Because of this, one woman with autism developed the hug machine, also known as a hug box or a squeeze machine. The hug machine has two padded sideboards connected near the bottom of the boards to form a V-shape. A lever helps push the sideboards together to create pressure; the lever also allows the autistic child or adult the ability to control the amount and length of pressure. Studies are still being conducted to find out why those with autism respond to pressure and how it can produce a calming effect. The hug machine may affect the heightened sensory perceptions of those with autism who often feels disruptive or distressing behavior. By applying pressure, perhaps the autistic child or adult moves his or her focus to a single feeling-the pressure-which in turn produces a calming effect. For many autistic children and adults, anxiety can be completely incapacitating. Not being able to function with the anxiety is frustrating, and so appropriate social behavior is even more difficult. Sometimes, the only release from such anxiety is through pressure. To this day, the hug machine is used by several programs and researchers studying autism as well as therapy programs. Remember that hugging or squeezing an autistic child may not help him or her. You may, in fact, increase their senses and cause more anxiety. Though you may not be able to purchase a hug machine, you may be able to create a similar object. Try wrapping the autistic child or adult in a blanket, where they can control how much pressure to apply. You can also look into buying padded boards that more closely simulate the hug machine's side-boards and perhaps tie or tape some heavy-duty yarn to each side to allow the autistic child or adult control over how much pressure to apply and for how long. Contact your child's school to see if there has been any interest in purchasing a community hug-machine. This may not be a cure to all your child's problems, but it works well to help many autistic individuals cope with the world. Alternative Treatments for Autism Usually the first treatment mentioned for Autism is medication. This is changing. More people are open to trying alternative treatments. Medications can have terrible side effects, so more people are looking for natural products. Here are some alternative treatments used for Autism. Nutritional There are several diets that can be used when treating Autism. They range from eating Gluten free products to eliminating dairy from the diet. Some Autistic children have a sensitivity to certain ingredients in food. These ingredients will contribute to behavioral problems, or meltdowns when eaten. Omega 3's Omega 3 has been found to be helpful in treating Autism, as well as many other disorders. People using the Omega 3 have found better sleep patterns, social interaction, and over all health of their child. People wanting to try this alternative treatment can add fish oil to their children's diet. Fish oil can be found in capsule for or liquid. Some children have trouble swallowing the capsule. The liquid form can be found in a flavorless type that is mixed in a drink. Music Therapy Several studies have found music therapy to be very beneficial to the Autistic child. Sometimes an Autistic child will sing along with music while they will not speak. This is one way of working on the child's speech. The music can be soothing to an Autistic child. It can relax them enough to take part in an activity with other people. Sensory Integration Children with Autism can be very sensitive to noises, tastes, textures, and smells. Sensory integration therapy helps the child to deal with whatever it is causing them problems. It can also be used to calm a child with something like a certain smell or texture. Speech Therapy Speech therapy is a must for any child with Autism. Children with Autism usually misuse words. They often have a hard time understanding the meanings of words like few or many. Speech therapists can help teach gestures and communication skills to nonverbal children. They can help the child to learn how to read other people's body language. Play Therapy Play therapy can be very useful when treating an Autistic child. Play therapy allows the child to relax and focus on things they enjoy. A therapist working with an autistic child will play on the floor with the child. They will give the child various toys and see if the child takes a liking to one of them. If the child begins to play the therapist will then try to interact with the child. After the therapist has formed a relationship with the child they might bring another child into play therapy. This can be a great way to get the Autistic child to play with other kids. Usually a therapist does the play therapy, however the parent can do the therapy after they have learned the techniques used. These are just a few of the many alternative treatments available for Autism. Medication does not have to be a first resort. These can also be combined with medication for a better treatment plan. Achieving Self-control with Autism Self-discipline is a skill that most autistic children have trouble acquiring. This includes not only inappropriate outbursts, but also habits that can be potentially dangerous, such as being aggressive towards others or causing harm to themselves, such as banging their heads off walls. To prevent these and other behaviors, one technique parents and educators can use to control autistic tendencies is self-management. Giving the child power over him- or herself is often the key to keeping control over violent situations and may be a positive step towards learning other behaviors as well. Self-management works because the child is no longer fully controlled by others. By teaching self-management during specific times of day, such as while the child is at school or therapy, the child will be more likely to continue to practicing self-control during all times of the day. The key is to implement a program in which he or she monitors his or her own behavior and activities. Begin with short amounts of time, and continue to monitor the child from a more passive standpoint. Every ten to fifteen minutes remind the child that he or she is in control and needs to monitor and be aware of good and bad behavior. This monitoring is a form of self-evaluation. When a child is in control, he or she may think more closely about behavior in the past and present. Set clear goals with the child-for example, an afternoon with no aggression towards others or a day at school with no self-injury. Every fifteen minutes ask the child how he or she is doing. Is the goal being met? If the answer is no, perhaps the child is not ready for self-management, or perhaps the goals are too unattainable. You want to make sure that the goals are easy to reach at first, and then move the child towards more difficult goals in the future. When a child is successful at self-monitoring, he or she will have a more positive attitude towards the experience. Of course, an important part of self-management is a rewards system. Have the child come up with his or her own reward, depending on interest. Reinforcement will make these good behavior goals more clearly marked in the child's mind, and by choosing and rewarding him- or herself, the child will feel completely in control of the self-management system. Choose simple rewards to start, such as smiley faces for every goal met and sad faces for every goal not met, and work up to a larger goal, such as a special activity or new toy when a certain amount of smiley faces has been attained. These types of programs do not develop overnight, so it is important that you and the child have enough time to devote to a self-management experience. By reinforcing good behavior with rewards, as determined by the child instead of by an adult, he or she will be more likely to carry this on even when not participating in the program. If your autistic child is mature enough, this could be a good treatment program to try. Autistic Children Need Schedules Schedules are an important part of every child's life. This is especially true when dealing with a child of special needs like Autism. Having a schedule will help the Autistic child feel a sense of structure. Children with Autism often have anxiety issue they are dealing with. Having a schedule helps the levels of anxiety to drop. They know what to expect on a daily basis. They know at a certain time of the day what they will be doing. If there is no schedule or structure in an Autistic child's daily life things will be very hectic. An Autistic child has lots of doctors and therapist appointments. Sometimes there will be more than one appointment a day. Keeping a schedule can help you and your child to make sure they do not miss any appointments. Some Autistic children have trouble with reading. You can use a visual schedule. Have pictures for all the daily activities. This allows them to see what is coming next. Having a schedule for your Autistic child will help avoid some breakdowns. Keep the schedule posted where your child can see it. If you have to change the schedule explain the changes to your child. Autistic children like routines, and a change could throw their whole day out of whack. Schedules can be a help when trying to get the child to do something they do not want to do. Simply show them that after they do this they will get to move onto something else. Tell them they cannot move on until this activity is completed. There will always be things that come up. Try to stick to the schedule as much as possible. When things come up try to get back on schedule as soon as you can. This includes weekends . If your child is used to getting up at seven in the morning continue to do so. Keep their bedtimes close to the same time each night. Your Autistic child will be happier when they have had enough sleep. Schedules will make life much easier you and your Autistic child. Keep them posted for your child to see, and stick to the schedule the best you can. An example of a schedule you can use if found below. 7 AM Wake up, get dressed and ready for the day 8 AM Breakfast 9 AM Therapy Appointment at home 11 AM Free time/ Play time 12 PM Lunch 1 PM Outdoor Play 2 PM Arts and Crafts 3 PM Free Time 5 PM Dinner 6 PM TV time 7 PM Bath time 8 PM Bed Time This allows the child to know what is going on during the day. Include doctors, or therapy appointments on the schedule. An older child can still benefit from a schedule. It has to be adjusted for school time, and any extra curricular activities. You can include homework time, and chores into the chart. Once you start using a chart for your Autistic child you will see a improvement in the flow of your day. This also leaves little time for boredom. There is always something planned to do. Autistic Children and the Strain on Marriage Unfortunately, in modern times, many marriages end in divorce or separation. This statistic rises even higher when you mix in an autistic child. No matter how loving and understanding you both may be towards your child, the truth is that autism is a very difficult matter, and strain on the marriage is not uncommon. By trying to stay positive about your situation, and by working to keep your marriage healthy, you and your spouse can avoid marital problems and hopefully survive the trying times of raising an autistic child. Why did you marry your husband or wife? By asking yourself this question often, you can focus on the good things in your marriage. Raising a child with autism is stressful, and if you are stressed, you have a tendency to snap at another person for the smallest missteps. Instead of focusing on these bad qualities, take some time to enjoy one another the way you did at the beginning of the relationship. This may include spending some time apart from your children. When you find out that your child is autistic, it is beneficial to make sure that you and your spouse are not the only two people with whom your child will respond. A grandparent, aunt or uncle, mature sibling, or nanny are good people to have in your child's life in the most intimate way possible. This way, alone time with your spouse is possible. Work together with your spouse to help you child, instead of fighting with one another. It is very likely that you will have different ideas about what to do in certain situations, so be prepared to compromise and always seek professional consultations before making any medical decisions for your child. By working together, remember that you are giving your child the best opportunities. Try to set apart time every week to spend together as a family, especially if one parent or the other is the primary caregiver. Lastly, seek help when you need it. Part of any successful marriage is spending some time apart to focus on individual needs, and it is no different when you have an autistic child. However, if you find that you and your spouse are not happy unless you are spending time alone, it is time to reevaluate the situation. A family or marriage counselor can help you and your spouse get back on the right track to a happy life together. It might also be beneficial to meet other couples raising autistic children. You are not alone, and it is never easy. By making an effort to keep your marriage happy, even when you are stressed with the task of raising an autistic child, you and your spouse can ensure that your marriage does not end in a messy divorce. What is Leaky Gut Syndrome? Leaky gut syndrome in conjunction with autism is still being researched; a number of studies and research are under way to better understand how the syndrome starts, why it can be prevalent in autistic children, and how to treat it. Simply, leaky guy syndrome is the inability of the intestinal wall to keep out large, unwanted molecules. This symptom of autism most often signifies that the intestinal wall has been altered to become permeable. Leaky gut syndrome in autistic children may occur because of increased sensitivity or allergies. Leaky gut syndrome is problematic for one's health because it allows molecules and substances (such as proteins) that are normally filtered out of the intestinal tract into the intestines. Because these molecules are not usually allowed inside the gut, the body misinterprets these non-harmful substances as a virus or infection and begins to produce antibodies to attack them. In turn, this creates a process where one's body recognizes certain foods, as well as any of the body's regular molecules that are similar to these foods, as harmful, causing an auto-immune disease where the body attacks itself. These are merely two possible outcomes with leaky gut syndrome. Others include the transportation of bacteria normally found within the intestinal tract to move into the bloodstream and cause an infection anywhere in the body as well as a weakening of the liver, which causes more toxins to circulate throughout the body, leading to a number of medical problems. What can cause leaky gut syndrome? Researchers are still working to more fully understand the causes, but current medical diagnoses suggest that a diet high in alcohol and caffeine intake, certain drugs like ibuprofen and antacids, or a diet high in carbohydrates can decrease the thickness of the intestinal wall as well as other possible reasons. These are just a few possible reasons, and ways to treat leaky gut syndrome are just as uncertain as the reasons. Because of the sensitivity of the digestive system with leaky gut syndrome, many parents of autistic children find that putting their child on gluten- and casein-free diets can help. Both gluten and casein are proteins, and a diet with these proteins may irritate and inflame a leaky gut syndrome -- though at the moment, researchers are still studying this. You may also treat leaky gut syndrome by avoiding alcohol, caffeine, ibuprofen, or spicy foods -- all of which can cause irritation in the intestines. Understanding leaky gut syndrome is an ongoing process, for parents with autistic children, doctors, and researchers, but this does not mean that there is nothing you can do to treat it. Simply being aware that your autistic child may have leaky gut syndrome will help you to better understand and improve his or her life. What are the Signs of Aspergers Syndrome Aspergers is a form of Autism. People with Aspergers syndrome are on the higher end of the spectrum. They usually have normal language skills. Their main problem is dealing with people socially. Usually these problems are first noticed when a child begins school. The child can have all the signs of Aspergers, or only a few. Here are some of the common signs of Aspergers syndrome. 1. Have a hard time talking to other kids. Kids with Aspergers syndrome have a hard time going up to someone and starting a conversation. 2. Speak in words that are very advanced for their age. The Asperger's child may use words that adults would use. 3. Have trouble understanding when someone is joking, or being sarcastic. Children with Aspergers have a hard time understanding tones of people's voices. They tend to take everything said seriously. 4. Have very limited interests. A child with Aspergers syndrome may only want to focus on one thing. They may take a liking to puzzles, and only want to do puzzles all the time. They will often learn everything they can about one subject. That will be all they focus on. 5. Have a hard time with changes in their routine. This can be hard for a child starting school. They had a routine at home and now that is being changed. The same thing can happen during breaks during the school year. This is a common problem of Autistic children. 6. Talking a lot. Children with Aspergers usually talk a lot. They often say whatever they are thinking whether it is appropriate or not. Most of the conversations they have are one sided. While it looks like the child is talking to you, they are really talking at you. 7. Problems making friends. Kids with Aspergers have trouble making friends due to their inability to relate to the other children. They sometimes try to hard to make friends and scare the other kids away. 8. No eye contact. Children with Aspergers usually will not look you in the eye when speaking. This is another common trait of an Autistic child. 9. Using repetitive movements. This can be a movement like spinning around, or bouncing back and forth while sitting. These movements are calming to the Aspergers child. 10. Problems with speaking. The Aspergers child may speak really fast. They usually do not stop to see if the person they are talking to is paying attention. Their tone of voice is flat and does not change to show emotions. 11. Problems with movement. Children with Aspergers often have trouble with their coordination skills. They may always be tripping or stumbling over their own feet. They may take a long time to learn how to ride a bike. Asperger children have the most positive outcome on the Autism spectrum. They have high intelligence and language skills. They can often be taught the social skills they need to get by. If you notice any of these signs in your child mention them to the doctor. Traveling With an Autistic Child Daily life with an Autistic child can be a challenge to say the least. What should you do if you are traveling for vacation, or another purpose? Lets look at some things a parent can do when traveling with their Autistic child. 1. Plan ahead. If at all possible plan trips far in advance. This gives you time to talk with your child and get them used to the idea of traveling. You can explain to them where they will be going, and some of the things they will be doing while away. 2. Bring items from home that your Autistic child likes. Bring their favorite toys. Bring along their pillow and blanket they use each night. Try and keep as many items that are familiar to your child with you while traveling. This can help your child to relax in their new environment. 3. Bring all their necessary medications. You do not want to be away from home and not have their medicine. Get the prescriptions refilled before the trip to make sure you do not run out. 4. Try and keep a schedule while traveling. If possible keep some of the schedule you use while at home. Try to get up and go to bed at the same time each day. Autistic children needs their schedules to feel safe. 5. Do not overload your child. If your child has a lot of sensory issues do not over load them while traveling. If you see your child getting overwhelmed go back to your hotel for a break. Warn your child if the place you are going has loud noises, or bright lights if these are issues. 6. Do not force your child to do something they are not comfortable doing. For example do not make them go to a amusement park if they do not like loud noises and lots of people. Consider bringing a qualified person to watch your child while you visit the park. They could do an activity that your child would like instead. 7. Make sure your child has something with them that has your name, and phone number where you can be reached incase the child gets lost. If your child is verbal make sure they know how to tell someone they are lost. This can be very hard for an Autistic child. They have hard time dealing with people anyway. 8. If you have to travel for an emergency try to stay calm. If you are stressed about the trip your Autistic child will pick up on this and become stressed their selves. 9. Take lots of activities the child enjoys to keep them occupied while traveling. This could be hand held games, or a portable DVD player. This can help keep your child from becoming overly bored. It can also give them something to focus on if they start to feel uneasy. 10. Notify the place where you are staying that your child is Autistic. This is very important if your child likes to wander on their own. The staff at the hotel will know if they see the child and you are not with them to contact you right away. Traveling with an Autistic child will take some extra planning, but it can be done. Just try and keep as much structure to the trip as possible. It will make the trip more enjoyable for you and your child. How to Cope as a Parent of an Autistic Child Having an Autistic child can be very hard, and rewarding at the same time. Some days will go according to plan, and others will make you want to climb back in bed. You will need a way to cope to stay strong for you child. Here are some ways of coping when you have a child with Autism. Support Group Find a local support group in your area for parents with Autistic children. They will understand what you are going through. They have been there or are going through the same things you are. Sometimes having someone to talk to that understands can make a huge difference. They may have suggestions that can help in your daily routines. Sometimes it is just nice to have someone to talk to other than a doctor or therapist. Journals Writing in a journal can be a great coping mechanism. It allows you to express your feelings and thoughts. This journal can be a place to let out all of your frustrations as a parent of an autistic child. No one else has to read the journal. It can be a private place to vent. Sometimes just writing can help relieve stress and anxiety you might be feeling. Your journal can also be a place to keep track of behaviors your child has on a day to day basis. Get away Everyone needs time to their self. This is true whether you are dealing with an Autistic child, or any other medical problem. Find a qualified care giver for your child and get out. Have a date night with your spouse, or just get away for some alone time. Go watch that movie you wanted to see. Run some errands that are hard to take your child along too. Just give your self some away time. If you cannot leave the house make some time after your child has gone to bed for a relaxing bath. Just give yourself some time to unwind. It will make things better for you and your child. Ask for help Every mom tries to be a super mom. They do not want to ask for help because that means they cannot do it alone. Forget this attitude. Having a child with Autism requires help. If you are becoming stressed and overwhelmed it is not good for you or your child. Sometimes we all need help. If you are trying a treatment and it is not improving things with your Autistic child ask the doctor for another way. Ask someone such as your spouse to help with the errands. Sometimes it is too hard to take your Autistic child out without some sort of struggle. Getting someone to do simple tasks for you can save time and frustrations. If you need help ask. No one can read your mind, you have to tell them you need help. Having an Autistic child is a hard job. Having ways to cope will make your job easier. It will also make things better for your child by having you calm and stress free.
How PDD-NOS is Diagnosed PDD-NOS is a diagnosis given when a child does not meet all the criteria for Autism, but they show several of the signs. PDD-NOS or Persuasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified is diagnosed with several different types of assessments. We will look at these different types of assessments needed for PDD-NOS. Medical Assessment The medical assessment will examine the child completely to rule out any health conditions that could be causing the symptoms the child is experiencing. Some health conditions can cause similar symptoms as those in Persuasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. Educational Assessment The child will be tested in several different educational areas. They will be assessed on what skills they have appropriate for their age. They will be assessed on daily living skills. These skills include dressing, bathing, eating, etc. These skills can be assessed by testing, or interviewing the parents, and teachers. Interviews with Child's Parents, Teachers Children with Persuasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified can have different symptoms at different times or places. Interviewing the child's parents and teachers gives a better picture of the child. A child in school is with the teachers for several hours a day. They can add very important information to the child's assessment. The same can be said for anyone that spends a lot of time with the child. This might be a daycare provider, or grandma. Psychological Assessment The child will be assessed by a Psychologist to rule out any mental disorders that could be causing the problems. The child will be examined for delays in several areas like cognitive, or social. They will be evaluated for anxiety, or problems with depression. Behavior Observation Assessment The doctor assessing the child for PDD-NOS might want to observe the child in a natural setting. This can be done in the child's home. This gives the doctor a better view of symptoms a child is having. They can see how the child acts with their family. Communication Assessment The child will have their communication skills tested. This will be done with testing and by talking to the child's parents. The child will be assessed for their ability to understand others, and their ability to use their words. The doctor will want to know if the child understands body language, and facial expressions. Occupational Assessment The occupational assessment will check how well the child can use their fine motor skills. They will also check for any sensory issues the child may be dealing with. An example of a sensory issue would be a child that only likes certain textures. This can make choosing clothing difficult. After all of the assessments are complete the team will meet and decide if the child has met the criteria for a diagnosis of Persuasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. If the child is found to have PDD-NOS a treatment plan will be created. Getting treatment for the child is very important. The treatments can help a child with Persuasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified to be able to communicate better. They can learn how to act in social settings. Overall treatment can make their life easier. How Autism is Treated Once you find out your child is Autistic you will then want to begin some type of treatment plan. There are many different treatments for Autism. Many worry that they will have to use medications that can be dangerous to their child. This is not the case. While some children need medication not all children do. There are a lot of other treatments available to the Autistic child besides prescription medication. Some people will go with the standard type of treatment plan, while others will try an alternative, natural plan. We will look at some different types of treatment for Autism. Medication There are many types of medications used in treating Autism. These medications can be for different problems associated with Autism. Some are used to help with anxiety that is often found in Autistic children. Autistic children sometimes have problems with falling asleep. Medication can be used to help with this. Antipsychotic drugs are often used in children dealing with behavioral problems. These medications will not cure the Autism. Medications can have terrible side effects. The child needs to be monitored closely while on any medication. Occupational Therapy Occupational therapy helps to teach the Autistic child to be independent. They learn daily skills they need like dressing, or taking a bath. They will work on fine motor skills. They also teach the child to use any devices they may have to help them function in daily life. They will be taught safety measures. This could be safety when outside, or dangers in the house. Physical Therapy Many Autistic children require physical therapy. This type of therapy can help children with low muscle tone. They also work with young children on basic motor skills. This can include walking, standing, and rolling. Many Autistic children can have other health problems. These problems can benefit from physical therapy too. Behavioral Therapy Behavioral therapy will concentrate on teaching the Autistic child appropriate behaviors. Usually this will include some form of a reward system. They are taught how to act in social settings. This therapy is often done in the child's home setting. The parents are taught ways to deal with the child's unwanted behaviors. Usually an Autistic child will learn they will be rewarded for good behaviors, and they will stop some of the bad behavior. Speech Therapy Autistic children often have a hard time communicating. They have problems understanding non verbal cues. Some Autistic children do not speak at all, so they have to be taught ways to communicate with others. Children with Autism need to be taught about body language. Some children with Autism that do not speak are taught to communicate by signing, or with the use of pictures. The speech therapist will work on getting a non verbal child to speak. These are just a few of the many treatments available to a child with Autism. Not all children will require all of the treatments. The most important factor is to find a treatment plan that works for your child. With proper treatment your Autistic child can thrive. Potty Training an Autistic Child Potty training a normal, healthy child can be hard work. What do you do when that child is Autistic? Maybe they do not even understand what it means to use the potty. Here are some helpful suggestion when potty training and Autistic child. 1. Make sure the child is ready to be potty trained. Just because all the books says they need to be trained at two does not mean your Autistic child has the ability to do so. Do they know when they are wet or have a dirty diaper? Do they have a dry diaper all night? 2. Does your Autistic child have the skills to undress and redress. If not this can making potty training harder unless you intend to let them run around naked for the next few months. This can also make for a lot of time spent scrubbing carpets. It is best to wait to potty train until your child can easily undress and redress them selves. 3. Use a reward system when potty training. If they use the potty, or attempt to use it give them some type of reward. This can be a treat or a toy. Make sure that anyone working with the child knows they are to be rewarded for their potty efforts. 4. Do not punish the child for accidents. If your child has an accident remind them that is what the potty is for. Make sure everyone working with the child knows this too. Mixed messages will not help. 5. Find out what your child's schedule is. It does not take long to do this. When during the day are your child's diapers dirty? Use these times to sit the child on the potty. You can keep a journal of the day to see a pattern in potty time. Then you will know the times to focus on potty training the most. 6. Do not give up. If your child does not catch on right away do not give up. It takes a few weeks for a new skill to be learned. If you keep switching from diapers to the potty this will just confuse the child even more. Consistency will be a key factor when potty training. This goes for any child not just Autistic children. 7. Do not make your child feel stressed about potty training. If they think they have to use the potty they may immediately turn against it. Let your child see the potty and get familiar with it before they are made to sit there. Place the potty out in an area for them to examine it for a few days . This will let them become comfortable with the idea. Remember Autistic children can take longer to catch on to a new skill. Do not stress out about the potty training. It will happen when the child is ready. If you are stressed the child will feel that, and they will have a much harder time relaxing to use the potty. It could make them avoid potty training all together. Just relax, your Autistic child will not be in diapers forever. Melatonin Helps Autistic Children Sleep Our bodies naturally produce Melatonin. In Autistic children the amount of Melatonin produced is not enough. They have problems falling asleep at night. Night after night of too little sleep can really take a toll on an Autistic child. They can have more unwanted behaviors. If a child is not sleeping, most of the time the parent is not sleeping either. This can make for a terribly grouchy child and parent. Starting out the day tired can ruin the entire day. The child will not want to cooperate with you or anyone else. This can make therapy or doctors appointments very unpleasant. If your Autistic child is having problems sleeping you might want to try giving them Melatonin supplements. They can be found at most pharmacies, or health food stores. Melatonin is a safer approach than using prescription medication. Prescription medications can make the child dependant on them to sleep. The Melatonin is naturally produced in our bodies. The supplement just helps to make sure the body has enough to allow the child to fall asleep. Melatonin should be given to the child about thirty minutes before their bed time. The dosage should be the lowest that still is effective. Most Autistic children do well on a dose of one to three milligrams. Always start with the lowest dose. Too high of a dose can make waking the child hard. It can also give the child nightmares. If too high a dose is given the child can still be tired and groggy the next day. This is not the desired effect. You want the child to feel rested and energized. Melatonin usually does not lose it's effectiveness. The Melatonin should not stop working with continuous use. If by some slight chance it does stop taking it for a few days, or a week. Then when you restart the Melatonin it should work fine. Melatonin taken in Autistic kids is found to have other benefits as well. The children who take Melatonin are found to be more alert the next day. Melatonin has also been found to help with some anxiety and depression. This can be a way to avoid medications that sometimes have harmful side effects. If your Autistic child is having problem sleeping Melatonin might be the answer. Your child needs a good nights rest. If they are on any medications to help them sleep consult the doctor before trying Melatonin. Melatonin should only be given to the child once a day before bed time. If given in the middle of the night it could interrupt the child's internal clock. This could cause more problems than the lack of sleep. If your doctor suggest a sleeping medication be used for your Autistic child consider using Melatonin. It does not have any side effects. The child will not become dependant on the Melatonin to help them sleep. It is all natural, and our bodies produce the Melatonin. Some times our bodies just do not produce enough. The Melatonin supplement adds the extra amount needed to fall asleep, and stay asleep for a good nights rest. Bottles of Pills: Medication Options for Autistic Patients As with any illness, disease, or disorder, there are a number of medicine options available to help control these symptoms. It is important to remember that none of these medications will "cure" autism; they simply help control some of the effects of the disorder. There are advantages and disadvantages to each drug, as they all have side effects as well as benefits. When choosing medicines to effectively treat autism, your doctor can make recommendations, but since autism is a disorder which varies from person to person, you should use drugs very carefully, watching to see how the body reacts to the treatments. First, consider the safety of the drug. Some cannot be used in children or in people under a certain weight. Make sure the dosage is easy to understand and before you choose one medicine or another find out how it is administered (pills, injections, liquid, etc). This is important if you are not comfortable with certain methods, such as injecting yourself or your child. Also find out how safe the drug is to individuals who do not suffer from autism. If you have small children in the house, you'll want to be sure that the drug is not lethal if it gets into the wrong hands. Find out what to do in case this happens, just to be on the safe side. Also consider the side effects of the drugs you are considering. While they may be very good at controlling aggression, responsiveness, hyperactivity, or other autistic tendencies, they may also cause sedation or other side effects such as nausea or dizziness. Weigh your options carefully before beginning one of these treatments, or you could find yourself with ten bottles of pills, each taken to counteract the side effects of another. Also remember that medications may have long-term effects. Will you or your child become dependent on the drug? Will you be tolerant? How else will it affect the body over time? These are all important questions to ask your doctor before beginning any medication. You can research the many studies on these drugs at your local library or on the Internet. Publications such as journals and healthcare magazines are probably most current and most reliable, whereas you may get some altered information on the World Wide Web, so be careful about following advice you find without first consulting your doctor. He or she may also be able to provide you with literature about the medication options available for autistic patients. Do your researching on the many choices before making any decisions, and you'll be able to better control your health. Can Autism be Cured This is a question that every parent of an Autistic child will ask at some point. The answer is no. There is no cure for Autism. While you may see ads for books, or products that promise a cure for Autism, they are misleading you. Autism has no cure. There are lots of treatments that can make living with Autism easier. Here are some of the treatments that help with Autism: Therapies There are several types of therapies that can help with the treatment of Autism. Occupational, physical, behavioral, speech, music, sensory, drug, play, and many other types of therapy can make a big difference in the life of an Autistic child. The therapies will not cure your child's Autism. They will just help teach them different ways of coping with it. Alternative Treatments Natural and alternative treatments are on the rise. These can include the use of herbs instead of prescription medications. The herbs do not have the side effects found in traditional medicines. Vitamin and mineral supplements are being found to help in treating Autism. Always notify the doctor of any natural products you are using with your child. Some herbs can have interactions with prescription medications. Remember again these herbs and vitamins are not cures. They are just to help with some of the symptoms of Autism. Nutritional Methods Some people turn to the diet when treating Autism. They eliminate certain foods that could cause sensitivities. Some of the foods the remove from the diet are Gluten, dairy, and artificial dyes. The idea behind this method is that removing the foods that cause sensitivities will remove the behavior problems. You can have your child tested for food allergies. Ask your child's doctor about allergy testing. This will let you know if your child could be having behaviors due to a food allergy. It will also give you an idea of which foods to eliminate from their diet. There is no cure for Autism, but there are lots of treatments that can help with some of the symptoms. When trying a new treatment only try one at a time. This will let you know if it is helping or not. Allow enough time for the treatment to work. Usually two or three months is enough time to tell if a new treatment is working. There will be no miracle treatments that give immediate results. If you are using a herbal or vitamin treatment inform the doctor. They need to be aware of the things you are trying. Herbs and vitamins can cause reactions with other medicines. It is important that the treatment team be kept informed and on the same page. This will make your child's outcome a more positive one. Do not waste your money on products that claim to cure Autism. If there was a cure available it would be told to you by your doctor, instead of some guy on a late night infomercial. Continue to help your child by treating the symptoms of Autism. This will help your child have a better life. Busting the Autism Stereotypes As with anyone with a physical or mental disorder, autistic people deal with a wide range of reactions from others, from full support to uncaring ignorance. Unfortunately, even those who support autistic family members, co-workers, and friends may not understand autism very well. This leads to stereotypes, which can result in hatred, embarrassment, or other unhappy situations. By becoming educated about autism, you can help others in your community cope with this disorder. It is most important to note that not all autistic people are the same. Other diseases and disorders have their own sets of rules, but autism is such a complex medical condition, that everyone reacts differently to it. Autistic people are usually rated on a functional scale, with high-functioning people being able to hold jobs and low-functioning people needing 24-hour-a-day care. Symptoms include behavioral challenges, uncontrollable movements, speech and communication difficulties, and emotional inadequacies. Some show all symptoms, while other show few, and still others may have most under control to the point where you cannot tell they have autism at all. Because every person is different, no one thing can be said about autism and be true overall. However, most autistic people have trouble communicating emotions. This does not mean that an autistic person does not feel. He or she simply cannot express this feeling. It also does not mean strong relationship bonds are not possible. On the contrary, many autistic people are happily married and in love. Forming relationships is more difficult for most, but can be accomplished over time. Many people believe that being autistic coincides with being a genius in some aspect. While it is true that some autistic individuals have extraordinary math, music, and art skills, this number is nowhere near the majority-in fact, relatively few autistic people function outside of the normal range in any skill. This stereotype is perpetuated in the movies and on television, because the story of a talented person fighting disadvantages (such as autism) makes a good plot. However, this is not the norm, so nothing more than the best they can personally do should be expected from an autistic person. However, it is important to note that autism is not a form of mental retardation. Some autistic people are mentally retarded as well, but most are not and should not be treated as such. In the end, the most important lesson to take away from your studies on autism is one of tolerance. You will probably need to be patient when dealing with autistic people, but by understanding a little more about the disorder, perhaps this will be easier. Learn what you can and spread the knowledge to those you know to help create a more tolerant setting for autistic individuals in your community. Autistic Forms of Teaching and Tolerance Understanding how autistic children learn is key to teaching them with the same intensity as you teach other children. This may seem like a straightforward idea, but autistic children learn so differently that understanding autism itself is a must when you teach autistic children. By becoming educated in the disorder, teachers can effectively learn to deal with autistic children and adults both in and out of the classroom, creating a more understanding world for everyone Autistic children are often visual thinkers. Thus teaching by speaking will not be entirely effective. Teachers should combine pictures with words for the autistic child to fully comprehend the lesson. For instance, if you are teaching about the animals of the world, you should have a flash card with the word "mouse," say the word aloud slowly and clearly, and show the child a picture of a mouse. Perhaps even bring a live mouse in for show and tell. Nouns may be easier to teach autistic children since verbs require action and can be more difficult in illustrating. If you are teaching autistic children words such as "sit" or "stand," you should complete these actions when you teach the word. Also, because of the tendency to be visual, autistic children are often unable to follow long sentences. They cannot decipher the sequence and become confused. Thus, writing instructions can be very helpful when proctoring tests or quizzes. As visual thinkers, autistic children can often fixate on a particular object or picture. If this is the case, try incorporating that object or picture into lesson plans. If the child likes planes, try using planes for visuals wherever you can in the lesson. For example, when teaching math, create word problems about planes to interest the child. Autistic children also tend to be artistic or musical, producing highly original drawings and showing above average abilities with instruments or voice. Set aside time in the day for the arts and encourage activities that the children enjoy. Autistic children may also have trouble writing because of the control over their hands and movement. This is frustrating for both the child and the teacher. To reduce frustration, allow the child to use a computer. If you can do this, make sure that the keyboard and monitor are close together as the child may have difficulty remembering what he or she has typed recently. By being open to teaching an autistic child to the best of your ability, you are not only giving him or her the best opportunities in life, but you are also being a good role model to the other children in the class. Do not allow an autistic child to ruin the learning experience for others, but rather incorporate his or her oddities into your lessons as much as possible. Creating a more prejudice-free classroom is the best gift you can give this child. Finding What Works: Dealing with Autism When dealing with autism, just as in most other disorders, you will be faced with a number of treatment options for yourself or your child. These include treatments that are educational, behavioral, biomedical, nutritional, and sensory. Unfortunately, for patients who are not affluent or who do not have good medical insurance, the cost of these treatments can be pricier than what they can afford. One way to ensure that you or your child receives the best possible treatment for autism is to carefully monitor the effects a treatment has over time. By finding out which treatments work and which do not, you can stop paying for the ineffective methods and put more of your money into those which are creating a positive difference. First, evaluate the abilities of the autistic individual before treatment begins. To do this, many services and organizations, including the Autism Research Institute, provide a checklist of evaluation points that focus on behavior and illnesses associated with autism. Autistic individuals tend to have increasing functionality as they mature, so remember that some of the positive effects in his or her life are simply due to the natural growth process. However, after two months fill out the checklist once again and compare it to the first. Are there any sharp positive increases in behavior characteristics? If so, this is more likely due to the treatment. It is important to begin only one treatment method at a time. If you try everything at once instead, good and bad effects may cancel one another out, or even if the effect is totally positive, you will not know which treatment method is causing it and which are not doing anything. Of course, past studies can help you choose which methods to use, but because autism is an extremely complicated and individual disorder, these studies are not always helpful. Also, some treatments are so new that the studies done are only on short-term effects, which is usually unhelpful. Instead, it is a process of trial and error. Two months is a good amount of time to study the differences within an autistic individual trying a new treatment. After two months, if you do not see positive improvement, you can discontinue your use of that particular method and better invest your money in treatment options that work. Remember that you do not always have to wait two months to make choices about whether to continue or discontinue a treatment method. If the side effects of a medication, for example, are interfering with the patient's life in an unbearable way, then you should discontinue the treatment. You can also make continual treatments based on immediate good reactions-just remember to continually monitor the various methods. Autistic individuals grow and mature just like everyone else, so treatments may stop working after time. Before trying anything new, consult your doctor to make sure you are being as safe and healthy as possible. Eliminating the Source: What Causes Autism Many parents hope that in finding a source of autism, this disorder can be cured or prevented. Unfortunately, scientists have yet to find one single reason why children develop autism. It is possible that someday autism will be linked to a specific gene abnormality, but the more likely source is not one thing, but a number of factors in a child's world. Autism cannot be prevented or cured, so the best we can do to help autistic children and adults is be understanding and willing to compromise to make the world comfortable for them and ourselves. First off, there are certain things that do not cause autism, and these myths should be laid to rest immediately. Most importantly, bad parenting does not cause autism. In the past, mothers were blamed for traumatizing their children with cold parenting techniques, which was thought to lead to autism. This is simple not true. Autism is also not caused by malnutrition, although food allergies occur in my autistic children and some autistic children do benefit from taking daily vitamins. There are many links between autism and the brain. Most people with autism have larger brains and they are "wired" differently than a typical brain. Differences occur in many parts of the brain, so it cannot be targeted to one specific brain malfunction overall, but rather a brain malfunction in general. Autistic children also show signs of an immune deficiency. Evidence in this study is not yet strong, but research is still being done. Many autistic individuals have other health problems related to immune deficiencies. Overall, these things all seem to point to genetics. Although autism is not the parents' fault, it is most likely that autism was found elsewhere on your family tree, and it is not uncommon for parents to raise more than one autistic child. Autism may also be linked to vaccinations, although this is still being highly studied. The benefits of vaccinations greatly outweigh the risks of them causing autism, so you should not deprive your child simply because you are fearful. Talk to you doctor if you have concerns about vaccinations. Nobody knows what causes autism. Therefore, we can do nothing to prevent and cure it, but rather we can simply treat the autistic people in our lives with the best of our ability. Becoming educated in autism is the key-the more you know about the disorder, the better you can help individuals who suffer from it. Autism is a complex problem, and as researchers develop new understandings of the way it affects the body, better treatment options will become available, with the hope that someday we will be able to cure this disease. Medicine Used to Treat Autism There are many types of medications used to treat Autism. These medications will fall into different categories based on the type of problem that is being dealt with. Medication will not cure the Autism, it just helps with some of the problems associated with it. Here are some of the medications used when treating an Autistic child. Antipsychotic This type of medication is used to treat behavior problems in children with Autism. They can also be used to treat insomnia, and aggression. This type of medication should be used if behavior therapy is not working. Some times an Autistic child will try to harm their selves. Antipsychotic medicines can help control this. Anticonvulsant Some Autistic children have seizures. This type of medication is used in controlling or preventing the seizures. Depression and Anxiety Medications A large portion of Autistic children deal with depression and anxiety. They need medication to help control these feelings. These medications are found to cause suicidal thoughts in some kids. Watch for changes in your child's behavior. Sedatives Children with Autism sometimes have a hard time falling asleep at night. They are given a sedative to help them sleep. There are natural alternatives that can be used in place of sedatives. They will not make your child dependant on them to fall asleep. Stimulant Stimulants are used in treating kids with hyperactivity. They are also used in children that have a hard time paying attention or concentrating. These medicines can help the child focus longer. This can be useful for a school age child who is having problems paying attention in school. They can help a child who is having trouble staying focused on their school work. This can mean a difference in passing or failing. Medications can help treat the problems found in Autistic children. Parents need to be careful when using any medications with their children. Some of these medications can have terrible side effects. Each child will react differently to the medicine. If you notice the medicine is not helping consult your child's doctor. Medications need to be combined with other types of therapy to successfully work in treating Autism. Always use the lowest effective dose of the medications. Do not start or stop a medication without talking to your child's doctor first. Some Autistic children do not speak so it is important to watch for changes in their behavior. If they begin acting strange they could be having a reaction to the medicine, and need to see the doctor. Medication should be a last resort when treating Autism. If it must be used, combine the medication with other forms of therapy for better results. Remember the medicine is not a cure for Autism. The medicine just helps to lesson some of the symptoms the child is experiencing. Always be sure of the correct dosage of medication to give your child. Talk to the doctor about any long terms side effects caused by the prescription. Also make sure to ask about any interactions with other medications your child is taking. Sometimes medication will be the only thing that helps your Autistic child. Just make sure the child is monitored for any side effects. Let Your Autistic Child be a Kid Many parents with Autistic children are afraid to let their child be a kid. They get so wrapped up in their child's treatment they forget to let them have fun. They focus on keeping them safe, and become to protective. The child's life becomes full of doctors, or therapy appointments. They get little time to just be a kid. While it is important to keep your child safe it is also important to give them time to do things they like. Here are some things you can do to make sure your child gets to be a kid. 1. Give your Autistic child a certain time each day to do whatever they want to. If they have a toy or game they like to play let them. Everyone needs a break from doctors appointments and such. 2. Arrange activities for your child that they like. This could be something like a trip to the park once a week, or a meal at their favorite restaurant. Let the child pick the activity. Maybe they would like some time to spend with grandma, or grandpa. 3. Let them run and play like the other kids. Kids like to run and play in the dirt. This will not hurt them. Let them be a kid and have fun. Keeping them sheltered will not help them. It will make them more afraid of being around other kids. If they show an interest let them play with the other children. Let the get dirty. They will come clean with a bath. 4. Do not teach your child to be a victim. Just because they are Autistic does not mean they can not have a normal life. They need to be taught to not let their condition stop them in life. Teach your Autistic child they can do anything they set out to do. 5. Do not let your child's diagnosis of Autism become an excuse. Give your child consequences if they do something wrong. Do not let them get away with things simply because they are Autistic. Children learn pretty quick that the excuse of their condition can get them special treatment. This will not help them later on in life. 6. Give your Autistic child chores. Make sure they are chores the child is capable of doing. This will give the child the pride of knowing they can accomplish something. Give them rewards for completing the chores. The chores could be as simple as making their bed, or picking up their toys. 7. Do not lower your expectations for your Autistic child. Teach them to always do their best. Having a medical condition should not give them a reason to not try. If they do not try they will never know their full potential. Kids get hurt. They get dirty. That is all a part of being a kid. They will be much happier. Do your part and watch over them, but allow them to have some freedom. Even though your child has special needs allow them the chance to be a child. Autism and the School System Autistic children will have special needs when it comes to schooling. Many children with Autism go to public school and do just fine with some special modifications. There are laws pertaining to kids with disabilities. Here are some of the things you will need to know about Autism and school. The Individuals With Disabilities Act The Individuals with Disabilities act was passed to make sure all children receive a free and appropriate public education that meets their needs. The act requires children with special needs to have special education service as long as they meet the requirements. Autism meets that requirement. Free and Appropriate Education This is an education that meets the special needs of your child. It is one that allows them to make progress learning. Least Restrictive Learning Environment This means that your child will be placed in an educational setting that is right for their special needs while allowing them to socialize with kids that do not have a disability. The school will do what it can to meet the needs of your Autistic child while keeping them in regular classrooms. To figure out what special needs your child will need the school will evaluate your child. This evaluation can be requested by the school or the parent. If you think there is a problem write a letter to the school asking them to evaluate your child. They will send a paper home for you to sign that gives permission for the evaluation to take place. During the evaluation your child will be tested for learning disabilities along with any mental, or behavioral problems. After the evaluation is complete the school will have a meeting with you to discuss their findings, and what can be done to help your child. IEP An IEP is used when a child has a need for special education services. The group that evaluated the child will be part of the team that creates the IEP. The parents will also have a say in what is included in the IEP. An IEP will state the needs the child has to get an appropriate education. They will also list the services the child is going to receive in the IEP. The IEP can be evaluated at any time if the services are not working for the child. An example of some services that might be included in an IEP are extra time when completing class work, have tests read aloud to the child, or an aide is provided for the child. Each IEP will be different for each child. The IEP will be evaluated on a yearly basis unless the parents request it sooner. The parents have the right to be at every IEP meeting held. You are your child's best advocate when dealing with the school system. Some schools will try to give you the run around. They will do whatever they can to keep your child from having any special services in school. You have to be the one to stand up for your child. You are their voice. If you do not feel comfortable dealing with the school alone there are lawyers and advocates that are there to help. Are We There Yet? Family Vacations with Autistic Children Although planning a family vacation with children may make any parents pull out his or her hair, it can be a rewarding experience for everyone in the end. It is no different if you have an autistic child in the family. The important thing to remember is that you need to be prepared for whatever life throws your way. To an autistic child, vacations can be scary and confusing, or they can be a great learning experience, leaving behind wonderful memories the entire family can enjoy. First, choose your location based on your autistic child's needs. For example, if he or she is sensitive to sound, an amusement park is probably not the best idea. Quieter vacations are possible at small beaches and by going camping. Overall, you should be able to find a location that everyone in the family enjoys. Once there, plan out your days accordingly. For example, you may want to see attractions very early or late in the day to avoid crowds. You also might want to consider taking your vacation during the off-season, if you children's school work will not be disrupted. These gives your autistic child more comfort if he or she is nervous in crowded situations, and provides you with piece of mind. When choosing a location, also note how far it is from you home. How will you get there? If you have to deal with an airport, remember that security may have to touch your child and be prepared for this. Choose a location and activities that everyone can enjoy, but also that provide learning and social interaction opportunities for your autistic child. For example, a child that does not like touch sensations may enjoy the soft sands of a beach, and the waves can provide a very different kind of feeling for him or her. Being outside, a beach is also a great place for your child to yell without disrupting others. Children who are normally non-responsive may benefit from a museum , where they can ask questions and you can ask questions of them. Remember that most people on vacation at the location you choose will have never dealt with autism before. Try to be understanding of their ignorance-but also stick up for your child if he or she is being treated unfairly. Know your child's constitutional laws, and also be willing to compromise. For example, if a restaurant is reluctant to serve you after your child caused a scene there last night, explain the situation and ask if it would be possible to take your food to go, even if this is normally not done. Try not to be rude to people; staring often happens, but instead of snide comments or mean looks, ignore them as much as possible and focus on having a good time with your family. What is Persuasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified Persuasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified is also known as PDD-NOS. This is where a child only shows some of the signs of Autism. They may not show these signs at all times, or in all places. Usually PDD-NOS is first seen in children three or four years of age. Yet some children show signs while still an infant. There are different areas that the signs could be present. We will look at two of these. Social Interaction The developmental delays in social interaction can often be seen when the child is a baby. They may not look you in the eyes, or smile when you are interacting with them. They do not hold their arms up for you to pick them up. They might play off by their self. Some of the children with PDD-NOS may enjoy being cuddled on occasion. They might enjoy rough housing with their older sibling or parent. These PDD-NOS children usually do not have problems with separation from their parents. They also do not have issues with strangers. They may run right up to a stranger like they would their parents. When the child is older they will usually become close to their parents or other adults. They have a hard time making friends. They do not like participating in games with other kids. Some children with mild PDD-NOS will want to make friends, but since they have a hard time dealing with other people socially this will be hard for them. Communication Impairments The impairments of communication in children with Persuasive Developmental Disorder Not Other Specified can start while in infancy. The child will not babble or try to talk like other children do. They may pick up a word and repeat it over and over again. Some PDD-NOS children pick up speech easy, but they have problems using the right words in the right situation. They have trouble understanding the tone in someone's voice when they are joking or using sarcasm. If someone tells them something they take it literally. For example if the child was told it is raining cats and dogs they would most likely go look out the window and expect to see cats and dogs falling from the sky. Persuasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified children may only talk about subjects they are interested in. It may seem that they are talking at you instead of with you. Children with Persuasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified have a hard time with emotions. They usually experience emotions, but to the extreme. If they are mad they have temper tantrums that last much loner than a normal child. This is the same for fears, or sadness. They may have extremely happy times. They usually will not show facial expressions that go along with the emotion. These are just two of the many signs of a child with Persuasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. If you see these signs in your child speak to their doctor about your concerns. They can examine the child to see if further testing in necessary. Tips for Getting your Autistic Child Photographed The needs of an Autistic child can be photographing them very difficult. They can have a hard time sitting in one position, or have sensory issues with bright lights. Here are some tips for getting the perfect picture of your Autistic child. 1. If you are going to a photographer make sure you let them know ahead of time your child is Autistic. Let them know of any issues with bright lights, or problems sitting still. This will give them time to make some changes if need be. 2. Take pictures of your Autistic child at home, or on outings. A picture does not have to be taken by a professional to be good. If your child has a hard time sitting still get a picture of them while they are sleeping. 3. Take our child to get their picture taken during good times of the day. If you know that afternoons are usually filled with temper tantrums ad meltdowns make the appointment for first thing in the morning, or another time your child is more relaxed. 4. If your child has a special toy that helps them feel relaxed take it along to the photo session. It might help the child to remain calm while having their picture done. If your child insists on holding the toy ask the photographer to include it. If your child does not like to look directly at the camera have their picture taken while they are looking up. 5. Have a photographer come to the house if you do not feel comfortable taking the pictures. They can capture your Autistic child in their natural setting. This might make your child feel more relaxed. Consider taking the pictures outdoors. 6. If your child can not sit still for a picture allow them to stand, or lay down if they choose. Do not try to force them into a position they are uncomfortable with. This could lead to a meltdown. Allow them to direct the photo shoot. If the photographer does not want to cooperate find someone else that will. 7. Ask around. Find out where other parents have taken their Autistic children. They may know someone who has experience with special children. 8. Wear comfortable clothes for pictures. There are no rules that say every picture must feature your child in formal wear. Uncomfortable clothing can really bother an Autistic child with sensory issues. 9. Do not push so hard for a perfect picture. Pictures of children laughing and playing can be just as good as them sitting posed. If you keep pushing for a perfect picture you might upset the child to the point of getting no pictures. 10. Give the Autistic child time to warm up to the camera. Let them see how it works if they have not had their picture taken before. This can make them more relaxed and calm. Try and make the experience as calm and relaxing as possible. This will allow your child to feel at ease. The pictures will turn out better by letting your child e themselves. Tips for Celebrating Holidays with Your Autistic Child The holidays are all about being with family and enjoying the festivities. This can be very difficult for a child with Autism. This does not mean the holidays are ruined, it just means that as a parent you will have to take some precautions. Here are some tips for celebrating the holidays with your Autistic child. 1. Plan visits with family and friends for short time periods. If you plan short visits your child is less likely to get over tired, or overwhelmed. Keep the visitors to a few at time. 2. Do not force your child to participate in activities they do not like. If you are having a family dinner and your Autistic child does not want to sit at the table with a lot of people let them sit where they are comfortable. 3. Keep your child's schedule. If bed time is at eight in the evening, stick to it. Explain to visitors that your child's needs come first, and they need their sleep. Taking a sleepy child somewhere will be asking for trouble. If there is something that requires them staying up later in the evening try to get a nap in the afternoon. This will help the child enjoy the activity later in the day. 4. Spread holiday activities out over a few days. This way your child does not become too overwhelmed. There is no rule stating that you have to visit all the family in one day. They would much rather see your child in a happy mood than in the midst of a meltdown. 5. Leave your child home while Christmas shopping. If your Autistic child does not like crowds do not take them Christmas shopping. Leave them home with your spouse, or other responsible care giver. It is hard enough to deal with the crowded stores alone. It could be miserable bringing an unhappy child along. 6. Consider opening a few presents at a time. Opening Christmas presents is very exciting to a child. To a Autistic child the excitement can become overwhelming. An autistic child often has issues with over stimulation. By opening a few presents at a time the child does become to overwhelmed, and can enjoy their gifts. 7. If you have your child on a special diet make sure friends and family know this. You do not want other people feeding your child things that could ruin the progress you have made. Some people might not agree with your choices about your child's diet. Be strong and stick to your beliefs. 8. Remember the reason for the holidays. They are meant to be spent with family and loved ones. Enjoy the holiday with your Autistic child. Be thankful for all you have in your life. 9. Reward your child for their good behavior while visiting others. This will help with unwanted behaviors. The child will know they can earn a prize so they will work harder on behaving. 10. Relax. If your child senses stress or anxiety from you they will become uneasy. The holidays with an Autistic child can be a wonderful time with a little extra planning. Forget about the daily problems and struggles you have. Remember all the good things you have. Most of all enjoy the holidays with your Autistic child. The Unfortunate Epidemic: Sexual Abuse in the Autistic World One of the most perverse problems in an autistic individual's life is the threat of sexual abuse. This can come in the form of rape or simply be in an abusive relationship. Because autistic people spend much of their lives feeling different and left out, they often enjoy sexual experiences for one reason: it puts then on a playing field equal to others. It is very easy for this to become a controlling part of a relationship. The most important thing to remember is that autistic people experience sexuality in much of the same way that others do, no matter how highly functioning they may be. Parents should teach their child about sexuality from an early age in order to prevent sexual abuse from happening. The most valuable command that anyone can learn in relationship to sexuality is "No." Teaching this to even children can be very useful. In this respect, treat your autistic child as no different than you would another child-teach him or her the parts of the body from a young age and be very clear, as the child matures, about what happens during puberty and what kinds of behaviors are appropriate and inappropriate. Be sure that your child understands the differences between good touches and bad touches. This can be extremely difficult for autistic children who are sensitive to touch in general. It may be helpful to label "zones" on the body where no one should touch without permission. Also make sure that as your autistic child grows into an adult, he or she understands what rape is and what to do if this happens. As many autistic children are hands-on learners, it may be best to role-play some potentially dangerous situations. If your child communicates non-verbally, teach him or her clear signs to show a person to stop what they are doing. Autistic people can often not understand that others have their own thoughts and emotions-they believe that everyone thinks and feels what they do. Because of this, many are shocked to find that "bad" people in the world will take advantage of sexual situations. You may need to explain to an autistic individual what kinds of dress and conduct are appropriate in public so that he or she is not unknowingly attracting sexual attention. You child should learn to respect his or her body and understand that others need to respect it as well. This is only possible if parents and educators teach autistic children about their bodies from a young age. By learning how to stop sexual abuse, you can keep you children, autistic or not, safe from predators. The Terrible Teens -- Dealing with Autistic Teenagers For most parents, one of the most trying times in their lives is during their child's teenage years. When puberty hits, young adults go through serious changes in their bodies and minds, and parents have little or no control over many situations. In an autistic child, puberty is no different. Although your autistic child is not experiencing puberty in quite the same ways as others his or her age, major hormonal changes still occur in the body. This can lead to extreme results, and this can be either good or bad depending on how your child reacts to the new hormone levels. One of the scariest side effects of changes in an autistic person's body is the onset of seizures. Many autistic individuals experience seizures from birth to adulthood, but even if your child does not suffer from these episodes, he or she may begin to experience seizures during puberty and afterwards, due to the new levels of hormones in the body. Strange as it may sound, violent shaking seizures are not necessarily a bad thing. Almost a quarter of autistic children experience seizures, but many go undetected because they are not textbook versions of seizures. If you recognize that your child is experiencing a seizure, you can do something about it, and doctors will be able to better treat your child. However, if the seizures are subconsciously happening, you and your child may not realize it. The result of these small hidden seizures can be a loss in function, which can be devastating, especially if you child was improving before puberty. Regular check-ups during puberty, therefore, are extremely important. The changes might not necessarily be a bad thing. New hormone levels in the body and the other changes associated with puberty might help your autistic child grow and succeed in areas in which he or she normally had no skill or interest. Many parents report that their child's behavior improved, and that learning in social settings was easier. The important thing about puberty is to learn to monitor the changes in your child very carefully and to ask your doctor lots of questions. Remember that puberty is a difficult experience for any young adult, and so it will be even more difficult for someone with autism. Try to practice patience and understanding with your teen, and be careful to regulate his or her autism so that the transition from child to adult will go more smoothly. The Power of Music -- Musical Therapy to Treat Autism Musical therapy is a relatively new treatment method for autism patients, but one that should not be overlooking when discussing options. Patients who receive musical therapy often should great improvement in temperament and learning skills. Music connects to the non-verbal part of our brains, making it a perfect therapy for disorders in which the patient has trouble communicating, such as autism. Research this innovative treatment method if you are looking for some help with autism and haven't had much luck in the past. Musical therapy is effective because it can be used in conjunction with learning social skills. Music is a very non-threatening medium for patients, and many games can be played using music to help improve social and behavioral skills. By encouraging eye contact while singing or using instruments that need to get close to the face, musical therapy can help autistic individuals break social barriers. The number one way that musical therapy can help children, as well as older autistic patients, is by helping with the development of speech skills. Music is a way to connect the verbal and non-verbal functions in the brain. Autistic individuals may have various forms of speech problems. Some can only hum, grunt, or make other non-word noises, while others babble nonsensical phrases or cries. Still others gain the capability to put together phrases and sentences to communicate with the world, although these usually lack emotion. Autistic people are known for monotone voices. However, no matter how skilled the individual is with speech, he or she can participate in musical therapy by clapping rhythms, humming along, or doing simple echoing songs. Autistic individuals are commonly found to be particularly good at music. Some, for instance, have perfect pitch. Others can play a particular instrument very well, with little instruction. Even if he or she shows no genius musical ability by normal standards, you may find that a particularly hard to deal with autistic person has abilities in music that exceed his or her other abilities. A musical therapist can use music as a way to link this kind of learning with other kinds of learning, not only as speech development and social behavioral development as previously discussed, but also as a way to communicate emotions and develop memory. By using all of these techniques in conjunction with one another, musical therapy can work wonders with people who are autistic. Trained professionals can use music to teach children and others how to communicate in nonverbal ways, making it easier for patients to learn. Research the musical therapy option to provide you or your child with another choice when treating autism. Sounding Off: How Auditory Stimulation Helps an Hurts and Autistic Child Sounds are a part of our everyday life, and so when dealing with an autistic child who has sensory problems, sound is one of the first things you should learn to control, especially in a learning environment. Sound can both be hurtful and helpful for an autistic child. Because each autistic individual is different, you must closely observe him or her to find out what types of reactions you can expect from auditory sensory stimulation. Loud or frightening sounds may be the most difficult type of sensory stimulation in an autistic child's life. Many of our routine daily activities include such sounds, hurting the growth process. Autistic children can not and will not learn if they are frightened. For example, parents often find that they have a difficult time toilet training their autistic children. This may be due to the scary sound of the toilet flushing; witch could be overpowering to and autistic child. Instead, try using a potty seat away from the actual toilet until they get used to the idea. Another example is loud or crunchy foods. If your autistic child is a picky eater, try to notice specifically which foods he or she blatantly refuses to eat. Sometimes, food simply sounds too loud when crunching in an autistic child's mouth, and these loud noises can hurt his or her ears. If this is the case with your child, provide alternative soft foods instead of crunchy carrots, apples, or potato chips. Other loud sounds, such as a vacuum cleaner, may hurt your child's ears. Try to do these activities when he or she is not in the room, or consider providing your child with earplugs that he or she can use if the world gets too loud. Sounds can also cause fixation. Some children, for example, constantly hum and seem fixated on the sights and sounds of lawn mowers. Use this fixation to be beneficial. For example, read stories about lawn mowers or use the humming in conjunction with a song. Music is a great way in which autistic individuals can learn, because sound is a form of nonverbal communication. Teachers and parents should use this tool in learning environments. The key is to make sound work for you and your child. Autism is a difficult disorder to handle, so by being sensitive to your child's specific needs, you can help him or her learn to deal with the sounds of everyday life. Smooth Transitions: School to Work One of the most major transitions in any person's life is that from school to work. In high school or college, many people lead a protected life and are still helped financially and otherwise by their parents. After school, these ties are often cut, leaving the recent graduate to fend for his- or herself. This transition is scary for anyone, but even more so for an individual with autism. Because school is a time to learn to live with peers in a controlled environment, the work force is a difficult concept for autistic people because one must often deal with new situations daily rather than have the comfort of a set living situation. One of the main things autistic graduates need to learn is how to deal with people in a business world. This includes proper grooming, something that may not have been such a big deal in high school or college. Proper grooming, such as brushing your teeth, wearing appropriate clothing, using deodorant, and combing your hair probably comes natural for most people, but an autistic person needs help with these tasks-he or she may not realize that they are being inappropriate. By this stage in life, many autistic individuals who have gone through schooling are at a maturity level where they can do the task assigned with no problem and avoid outbursts in most situations. In fact, it has been shown that some autistic individuals are highly skilled at tasks involving things such as math or music. Learning a new job in the work force is not the problem-relating to others in a social situation is. These relationship problems also, unfortunately, help people take advantage of autistic individuals. Most people who suffer from autism believe that all people are like themselves, and inherently good. In business, it is sadly very common to come across companies and business people who do not practice ethically. This often shocks autistic individuals, who may have no idea how to handle this sort of situation. Others in the work force may also not be skilled to deal with autism, leading to bad relationships among employees. By hiring an autistic individual, employers must not only teach them their new job, but also provide direction for others who have to work with him or her. Intolerance in the work force is common, and autistic individuals need to be prepared for this. Overall, it is important for people with autism to realize that there will be a major change between life in high school or college and life in the work force. It is probably very beneficial for these individuals to seek help in the transition from therapists, family members, or mentors. Going from school to work is difficult, but with a little motivation and hard work anyone, autistic or not, can succeed. Signs of Persuasive Developmental Disorder Children with Persuasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS) show different signs at different times. This is one of the reasons they are not classified as fully Autistic. Lets look at one of the signs associated with PDD-NOS. Unusual Behaviors Children with Persuasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified often exhibit unusual behaviors. Some of these behaviors can include repetitive actions. The repetitive actions can include hand flapping or movements of their fingers. They may insist on eating the same food for every meal. They may become focused on one topic and learn everything they can about that topic. For example they may take a liking to baseball. They then will learn everything they can about baseball. They might be able to tell you all the stats for their favorite team. Children with PDD-NOS often have a hard time with change. They want their routine to be the same everyday. The littlest change can set them up for a meltdown. They may arrange their toys a certain way and if someone disturbs them it can be devastating to the child. Teaching them new skills can be very hard to do. They do not want to change their routine to allow time to learn the new skill. They may also not want to learn a new skill just because it is different. They like doing the same things, and learning something new changes that. Some children with Persuasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified will develop an attachment to some object. They may like the way the object feels in their hand. Children with PDD-NOS usually like a certain texture. They will keep switching objects until they find one that makes them feel comfortable. The object could be something unusual like a rubber band, or a piece of fabric. When they find an object they like it may be hard to take the object from the child. They can also have an attachment to a smell, or taste. If their mother was to change her perfume it could upset the child. If their clothes were to be washed in a new detergent they may not want to wear them. Something as simple as using a different type of soap could trigger an uneasy feeling for a child with Persuasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. Sensory issues are often found in children with PDD-NOS. They might not want a parent to hug or cuddle them, but they like to rough house. Kids with Persuasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified might like the way a certain food feels in their mouth. They will only want to eat this food for each meal. This can make getting the proper nutrition difficult. Sometimes loud sounds can bother these children, or they ignore them completely. This makes the parents question a hearing problem when really it is PDD-NOS. Unusual behaviors are just one sign of Persuasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. There are many other signs. If you see signs like this in your child mention it to their doctor. They can tell you if it is something to be concerned about. Doctors and Diagnosing Autism When a doctor first suggests that your child has autism, your immediate reaction might be disbelief and the urge to seek a second, third, or even fourth opinion. Because autism is so different in every child, it is a tricky disorder to diagnose. However, there are a few key ways in which doctors can efficiently identify autism in children, and if your infant or toddler is showing any of these signs of autism, you should visit your pediatrician immediately to express your concerns. Autism occurs at a young age, rather than being a disorder an older child might develop. It is usually detected before the age of three, and many times much earlier. The first signs or autism are usually delays or regression in speech communication. Another early sign is abnormal behavior in group play situations and other social situations. The first step to diagnosing autism is a thorough physical examination as well as a review of family history by a specialist. Although your regular pediatrician will be able to spot unusual behavior, you'll want your child to be examined by a professional who specializes in autism and other similar diseases to make sure your child is properly diagnosed. The next step includes hearing tests. Sine language and social skill delays could be due to inadequate auditory sensations. There are two types of auditory tests, one of which records the tones a child can hear and the other of which requires sedation and measures the brain response to certain tones. Of course, the first method is preferred, since it does not require any use of a sedative. After auditory testing, your doctor may encourage testing your child for Fragile X syndrome, which often times goes hand in hand with autism. Metabolism can also be evaluated. To do this, your doctor will need a blood or urine sample to analyze DNA. An MRI or CAT scan can also be helpful in diagnosing autism. The important thing is to work with doctors you trust. Second opinions can be very helpful, but when your child has been diagnosed, stick with one doctor so that treatment is uniform and so that your child will get used to this person. Autism is difficult to diagnose and even more difficult to treat, so remember that you should begin to learn as much as possible about the disorder as soon as your doctor identifies it. If you have yet to speak with your doctor about abnormal behavior in your child, do so immediately. By detecting autism early, you give your child a better chance at becoming a high-functioning individual with much more opportunities in life. Accepting the Diagnosis of Autism Receiving a diagnosis of Autism can seem overwhelming. You may be left with a lot of unanswered questions about the diagnosis. You might be thinking the diagnosis is wrong. This cannot be happening to your child. There are different feelings and emotions you will experience when dealing with a diagnosis of Autism. Here are some of the ways you might be feeling, and ways to come to terms with the diagnosis. Denial Denial is a common feeling when dealing with any medical problem. Sometimes it is easier to deny that there is even a problem. Some parents do not want to consider that there could be something wrong with their child. So they pretend like there is nothing wrong. The doctor was wrong, their child is perfectly normal. Being in denial about the diagnosis will not help anything. The sooner that you accept that your child is Autistic the better both of you will be. The condition will not go away if you ignore it. Accepting the diagnosis and moving on will be a huge step for you as a parent to take. The quicker this is done the sooner you can start looking into treatment options. Anger Anger is one of the emotions you might feel when you get a diagnosis of Autism. You might be angry with yourself, or angry with God. Why is your child Autistic. You might be angry with other parents that have healthy children. This is a normal feeling to experience. Remember while you are feeling angry to think of all the great things about your child. Share your feelings with others. Keeping anger bottled up can be a bad thing. Grief Sometimes when a parent gets a diagnosis of Autism they go though a grieving period. They are sad that their child has something wrong with them. They may be feeling sad that the dreams they had for their child may have to change. They might be sad over the way the world will treat their child, and the hardships they will face. Grief is a normal emotion to go through. The key is to get through the grief, and on to the acceptance. Try not to look at the things that are wrong. There will have to be some adjustments made to your plans for your child's future. That is what life is all about , change. If you find yourself unable to move past the grieving stage you might need to talk to someone. It might help having a few therapy sessions to deal with the feelings you are experiencing. Acceptance Finally coming to terms with the diagnosis of Autism can take awhile. Some people are just glad to have an answer to what is wrong with their child. Others have a hard time accepting their child is different from other kids. Eventually you will accept that your child is different, and that is okay. Once you have accepted the diagnosis of Autism you can start to help your child. Do all the research you can on Autism. Think about how hard it is for your child. They need you to be behind them in their treatments one hundred percent. The first step to doing this is acceptance. A Gift of Sight: Visual Perception Treatment for Autistic Children Autism effects every child differently, so it is difficult to find the exact treatments your child needs to cope with his or her symptoms. One thing that effects some autistic children (though, not all) is problems with visual perception. By using some standardized methods to help improve visual perception, you can give your child the ability to see the world more clearly, making learning and comprehension easier and possibly curbing some behavior problems as well. Autistic children mainly have problems with sensory overload and distortion. These are some of the same problems many people not suffering from the disorder develop, and so many treatment options have become available. Individuals with autism often find, however, that the sensory overload of the world due to light, colors, contrast, shapes, and patterns, is too much to handle, causing them to act out or shut down in general. This is sometimes a genetic condition that is simply enhanced by the autism, so if the child's parents have trouble with reading or have been otherwise treated for visual perceptive problems, there is a good chance that the child needs help as well. The Irene Method is one effective way to treat visual perception disorders. This method uses color to create a more harmonized world. You may have heard of these methods if anyone has ever suggested using a color filter over the page when reading to be able to read better and more quickly. This method is proven to work, and if your autistic child is at the maturity level of reading, you may want to try these color filters to see if there is a difference in speed and comprehension. However, it is more likely that your autistic child will benefit from color filters during the entire day, not just when reading. Special glasses have been made using colored lenses to conquer this problem. Not every child responds the same way to every color, so it is a process of trial and error to find out which color is the one blocking the harmful light. You can also choose to use colored light bulbs in your home to help autistic individuals with their visual perception problems. This method mainly helps children in 4 areas: depth perception, social interaction, learning, and physical well being. The colors help the child determine how far he or she is from an object, and the world becomes more three-dimensional, helping depth perception. Social interaction also improves because the child feels as though he or she is in a calmer world and can more clearly see and interpret facial expressions. The colors make it possible to learn, especially when reading, and overall, the child will feel better, because it helps reduce headaches and dizziness. By testing this technique and others to help visual perception problems, you can help your child better cope with the world and his or her autism.
InfoBank Intro | Main Page | Usenet Forums | Search The RockSite/The Web