An opinion piece in the Dominion Post, a New Zealand newspaper, recently put forth Simon Baron-Cohen’s theory that children with autism are the result of “geeks” having children together (http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/comment/6044577/Scientists-baffled-at-rise-in-autism). Citing a San Francisco psychologist, it was suggested that “a lot of geeks do not make eye contact… and they don’t have a lot of social understanding.” Difficulties with social skills is an integral part of autism. The author went on to say that most children with autism are a “problem” who are often dependent into their adulthood, but that some people with autism have particular talents, such as being able to multiply large numbers, draw in extreme detail, and having great visual acuity. He then suggested that somewhere in the middle are a group of people with autism who are “adept at spotting recurring patterns in large sets of data and don’t forget things,” making such individuals perfect for work in information technology and engineering. The author concludes by saying that the incidence of autism has increased greatly over the last few decades and that “older parenting accounts for some of the rise (in rates of autism).” He goes on to state that “changing diagnostic criteria and greater awareness of the condition account for more of the increase but nearly 50 percent of the rise remains unexplained.”
CARD will host CARD Virginia School Open House events in the months of February and March for families of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). An Open House will be held on February 9, 14, and 27 from 9:00 am to 11:00 am and 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm, and on March 8, 14, 20, and 26 from 9:00 am to 11:00 am and 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm. The CARD Virginia School is located at 5400 Shawnee Road, Ste. 208 in Alexandria. Light refreshments will be served and families will have the opportunity to tour the school and meet with managing staff and teachers.
What are the typical signs and characteristics of feeding disorders in children?
Feeding disorders are classified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM IV-TR) officially as Feeding Disorder of Infancy or Early Childhood. Official diagnosis requires:
Feeding disturbance as manifested by persistent failure to eat adequately with significant failure to gain weight or significant loss of weight over at least one month.
The disturbance is not due to an associated gastrointestinal or other general medical condition (e.g., esophageal reflux).
The disturbance is not better accounted for by another mental disorder (e.g., rumination disorder) or by lack of available food.
The onset is before the age of 6 years.
The Los Angeles Times is doing a four-part series on autism called “Discovering Autism”. The first part of the series can be found here: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/autism/la-me-autism-day-one-html,0,1218038.htmlstory
As part of the series, they have a video section titled “Living with Autism”, which features people who are on the autism spectrum.
Among them is Justin Marroquin, a former client of CARD who is featured in the story. Justin recovered from autism in 2008.
For a while now, bullying has been making headlines despite numerouspublic campaigns against it. This year alone, many people have spoken out about bullying and advocate d on behalf of victims. Bullying a child with special needs takes this matter to a whole different level when it is done by teachers, whom our children look up to as role models!
“Our teachers are nothing less than the best in the field. They are Board Certified Behavior Analysts and certified teachers who have had years of experience treating and teaching children with autism.” says Mary Ann Cassell, CARD VA Managing Supervisor. “With the use of applied behavior analysis (ABA), we are confident that the unique needs of each student can be met.”
In a recent study, Dr. Lucina Uddin and colleagues found magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans to accurately differentiate children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) from children with typical development based on volumes of gray matter in specific regions of the brain. While previous MRI studies have identified differences in the brain scans of children with ASD and children with typical development, there has been no real consensus regarding which distinctive neurological features can serve as reliable biological markers in the detection of ASD. This may stem from the fact that ASD is a heterogeneous disorder that likely affects the development of many areas of the brain. For this reason, Dr. Uddin and colleagues used MRI scans in an attempt to identify brain regions that together may differentiate children with ASD from children with typical development.
A recent study conducted by Dr. Flatscher-Bader and colleagues may shed light on why children with older fathers face an increased risk of autism spectrum disorders (ASD). A significant body of research has revealed that offspring of older fathers are at a greater risk of developing disorders such ASD and schizophrenia; however, the underlying cause of this occurrence is not well understood. For this reason, Dr. Flatscher-Bader and colleagues used a rodent model to investigate the effects of paternal age on offspring’s genes.
Participants were identified via the Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program in Northern California. A total of 298 children with ASD and 1,507 children with typical development were included in the study. Pharmacy records were used to determine maternal antidepressant usage during the year prior to delivery (i.e., the 3 months prior to conception and throughout the gestational period). Antidepressants were classified into three groups: SSRIs, dual-action antidepressants, and tri-cyclic antidepressants.
According to Dr. Brugha and colleagues, these findings suggest that the increased prevalence of ASD seen today may not be the result of increased incidence of ASD, but rather under-diagnosis of ASD across previous generations. While further research is needed to replicate these findings, the results of this study offer preliminary evidence that incidence of ASD may have remained more or less stable over time and that improved screening and diagnostic practices may account for the greater rate of ASD diagnoses today.