Refrigerator Mothers or Aging Fathers?

 

Back in the 1950′s, scientists were certain that autism and schizophrenia were caused by mothers who were emotionally frigid.  Scientists coined the phrase “refrigerator mothers” to describe how the lack of warmth  by mothers affected their children.  There were even movies made about this symptom:  a PBS Point of View, the trailer which is found above.

Scientist now accept that autism is the result of genetics.  A study released by Nature highlights the link between paternal age and autism.

As the New York Times reported in August, as men age, they are more likely to father a child who develops autism or schizophrenia.

The study finds support for the argument that the surging rates of autism are partly caused by the increased average age of fathers.  It has long been known that having a baby when a woman is older increases the rate at which a child is born with Downs’ Syndrome.  Surprisingly, no correlation  has been found between the age a woman gives birth and higher rates of autism and schizophrenia.

Clearly, more research is needed.

More Research Needed for Teen Autism Treatments

Most of the research in autism treatment and prevention is aimed at young children. Early intervention is best and most helpful, but as the autism population ages, so must treatment solutions be aimed at older children and young adults.

As the Huffington Post points out, a new government report confirms that there is little scientific evidence that any of the treatments or interventions used in older children or young adults have any efficacy.

The lead author found there was a “dramatic lack of evidence for any kind of interventions.”  In my reading, however, the study did not say the interventions did not work, only that there was no evidence.

More research needs to be done.  We need to know if the interventions currently being used to help young adults enter the work force are effective, and if not, how we can help those young adults become productive members of society.

Breaking Out of Autism Through Technology

In this amazing video, Carly, lost in an autistic world, unable to speak or express herself,comes out of her shell at age 11 when she gained access to a computer.

 

After 11 years of constant therapy, after a diagnosis of moderate retardation, no one believed that she could write, or think at such a high level at the age of ten.

Through tough love, it took months to get Carly to communicate regularly through the written word, but once she did, she fluently expressed what it was like to engage in ritual behavior such as head-banging and rocking, and how she felt about being trapped inside her autistic brain.

I urge you, if you do nothing else today, to watch this video.

Will New Autism Definition Affect Your Child’s Services?

Although the American Psychiatric Association has been working on its revision of the DSM (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) for several years, a new study by world-renowned expert on childhood mental disorders, Dr. Fred Volkmar, has brought the concerns expressed by the autism community back to the forefront of discussion.

At issue are proposed changes to the definition of autism.  According to the New York Times, many experts expect that the criteria for a diagnosis of autism will be narrower, but it is an open question as to how sharply.

Dr. Volkmar, the director of the Child Study Center at the Yale School of Medicine, believes the definition is going to narrow the diagnosis  so much that it will adversely impact many high-functioning autistic persons.  This in turn, may very well affect the ability of many highly functioning autistic people to get the services needed in schools and other settings.

Differing Viewpoints

According to many news source, including Long Island’s own Newsday, the panel of experts charged with revising the guidelines strongly disagree with Dr. Volkmar’s analysis. Additionally, two other field trials, one at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Mass., and one at Stanford University in California, also found that the new definition won’t greatly change the volume of autism diagnoses.

The Washington Post interviewed Geraldine Dawson, chief science officer of Autism Speaks, a national advocacy organization.  While you can read the full interview here, she recommends waiting until the full DSM changes are released, and even then, she advises that we will be unable to see how these changes will affect those seeking diagnosis until it has been in effect for a while.

I believe this is the best approach.  As Dawson states, the DSM needs amending.  There are far too many distinctions among different autism types, with very little difference in treatments.  All will now fall under the umbrella of autism spectrum disorders.

 

Tweet Support #YouMightBeAnAutismParentIf

Twitter?  Isn’t that where everyone talks about what they had for breakfast?  That’s the reaction I often get whenever I mention Twitter as a great support system for parents of children with autism.

 

A twitter hashtag (#) is a way to find tweets that have a common subject, in this case, #autism.  Anyone who searches for #autism will find a whole community on Twitter interested in the same subject matter.  You’ll find humor, resources and sharing.

 

According to this article in the Washington Times, the YouMightBeAnAutismParentIf hashtag became popular several weeks ago, and is still going strong, with tweets both funny and heartfelt.

 

Check it out!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Autism: Tips for the Holidays

Just a very quick post to direct my readers to this page at Autism Speaks.  There are more links on that page  to websites that have tips for helping families and their loved ones with autism have a happy holiday, found here at Autism Services Foundation, and for reducing holiday stress found here at Autism Spectrum Therapies.

 

Above all, have a happy and safe holiday!

Special Needs Radio features Dr. Lynda Geller, Spectrum Services

 

Tune in this evening at 6:30 to 1240 AM WGBB or on the web at www.am1240wgbb.com to hear our interview with Dr. Lynda Geller, Found of Spectrum Services.   Dr. Geller founded Spectrum Services, a cooperative of independent practices and organizations specializing in Asperger Syndrome and related conditions.

 

Special Needs Long Island is a weekly radio program dedicated to the special needs community on Long Island.  The program is co-hosted by Jeff Silverman, Director of Special Needs Planning for the Center of Wealth Preservation in Syosset, NY, and by Ellen Victor, Victor Law Firm, P.C.  Jeff can  be reached by email at SpecialNeedsLI@gmail.com or at (516) 682-3363.  I  can be reached at ellen@victorlawfirm.com or (516) 223-4800.

 

 

Special Needs Long Island Radio Show

I’ve got a new gig!

 

I’m pleased to announce I am now co-hosting Special Needs Long Island, a weekly radio program dedicated to the special needs community on Long Island.  My co-host is Jeffrey Silverman, Director of Special Needs Planning for the Center for Wealth Preservation in Syosset, New York.

 

Every Monday night, from 6:30 to 7PM, we feature guests from special needs organizations, professionals practicing in the field and individuals with special needs.

 

Please tune in 1240 AM WGBB or on the web at www.am1240wgbb.com (click on Listen Live)

Broadway Roars: Autism Friendly Performance at Lion King

Broadway is becoming autism friendly!  The Theater Development Fund (TDF) has started a new program known as the Autism Theater Initiative  to make theater more accessible to children and adults on the autism spectrum and their families.

 

The Lion King has been chosen as the first ever Broadway autism-friendly play with a special performance and reduced prices for its October 2 matinee.  The show sold out quickly, but we can expect if the results are good, that it will be repeated.  You can sign up for information on future performances here.

 

According to the NY Times, some of the modifications made for this special performance include less strobe lighting and softening of the sound in some places.  Many autistic persons are sensitive to light and sound.

 

The entire theater has been bought out for this performance.  Although many Broadway productions have the ability to modify shows for hearing and sight impaired people, those modifications are made during regular performances.  According to Lisa Carling, T.D.F.’s director of accessibility programs:

 

“We wanted to create an environment that was welcoming to children and their parents so they could come in and not be afraid of judgment from other theatergoers who might not understand why a child is doing repetitive movements, or rocking back and forth, or why a child might need to wear headphones or get up in the middle of a song and take a time out in the lobby.”

 

What a wonderful idea.  Let’s hope that more shows follow, and that The Lion King has much success.