The Benefits of Animal Therapy for Autism

Posted in Health & Fitness on January 29th, 2008

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Tips for Coping with Aggression in your Autistic Child

Posted in Health & Fitness on January 23rd, 2008

One of the common symptoms in children with autism is aggressive behavior. Aggression can occur in many different ways.  Physical aggression can be directed toward you, other children, the child him or herself, or even toward inanimate objects.  Furthermore, aggression in autistic children isn’t limited to physical behaviors but also extends to verbal aggression too. 

Whether physical or verbal, aggression in an autistic child can be very upsetting and potentially dangerous.  For this reason, autistic children who display aggressive symptoms require more supervision in order to prevent them from injuring others or themselves.

Naturally, parents don’t want to simply let this aggression continue and have to deal with it as it occurs.  Therefore, efforts are being made on many levels to discover different ways to cope with aggression in autistic children and to decrease or at least curb its incidence.

Often, the first options to reduce aggression suggested by doctors is medication – particularly if the aggressive episodes seem especially hazardous to the child or those around him or her.  Keep in mind that the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not yet approved any medication that specifically treats autism.  However, success has been witnessed in using drugs designated for other conditions in order to lessen the aggressive symptoms of autism.

It should be noted, though, that every individual reacts differently to medications, and while some children may respond very well to a certain dose of a drug, others will have a completely different reaction.  The process is highly individualized and takes careful observation, measurement, and work with a health care professional in order to avoid any of the potential side effects or interactions.

Recently, it has been the anti-psychotic medications – specifically those which have been approved for schizophrenia treatments – that have produced the most favorable results in autism aggression reduction.  For example, a 2002 study called “Risperidone in Children with Autism and Serious Behavioral Problems” (McCracken, J.T, M.D., McGough, J, M.D, et al.), published in the New England Journal of Medicine, examined the impact of Risperdal (Risperidone) on aggression in children with autism.  At the end of this 8 week study, 69 percent of the children given Risperdal were said to have either “much improved” or “very much improved”, in comparison to only 12 percent within the placebo group.

However, many parents do not wish to medicate – or further medicate – their children with anti-psychotic drugs.  These drugs do come with potential negative side effects and can be dangerous if overdosed.  Therefore, alternatives are often sought.  Working with your child’s doctor can be very important in this process.  To try to alter behavior, parents should pay very close attention to exactly what is happening before and during an aggressive episode.   It is important to try and identify trends that lead to an outburst of aggression.

For example, some parents find that their children will suddenly become upset while having their teeth brushed.  There are many activities that go on during tooth brushing and each should be considered when assessing what caused the aggressive reaction. Is it opening the mouth wide?  Is it the feeling of bristles against the teeth, gums, cheek, roof of the mouth, or tongue?  Has the toothbrush gone in too far and hit the gag reflex? Is saliva pooling near the back of the mouth (causing a drowning sensation)?  Is it drooling?  Is it the smell, texture, or taste of the toothpaste?  Is it the foaming of the toothpaste?  Is it the sensation of spitting or swallowing saliva and toothpaste? 

Every element needs to be examined and tested to see if the situation can be improved.  For example, trying different kinds of toothbrushes with softer bristles, a different shaped head, or different textured bristles, or different flavors of toothpaste or gels.  Different brushing techniques should also be tried to avoid various sensations, and saliva levels in the mouth should be carefully monitored.

Similarly, other children react not to a sensory sensitivity, but as a result of feeling upset or frustrated from something that they cannot verbalize.  For example, a child who tries to tie his or her shoes but who has not yet developed the skills with which to do so might feel very frustrated and become unable to express the root of the frustration and instead react aggressively. When under stress, speaking clearly can be a huge challenge for autistic children and they often revert to the behaviors of younger children instead of saying what they want.

It should also be considered that if aggression has suddenly developed or worsened, there might be an allergic reaction to foods, environmental conditions, medications or a change in home or school environment.  Drugs may have potential side effects including aggression.  They may also interact with other drugs being taken by the child.  Furthermore, seasonal allergies or food allergies may cause discomforts in an autistic child to which he or she is very sensitive and cannot properly verbalize, leading to aggressive behaviors.  It is important to examine all possibilities to root out the problem.

The most important thing to remember once your child has become aggressive is for you and those around you to stay calm and talk quietly.

If appropriate, remove objects that your child could hurt themselves or others with. Ask other people present to leave the room or give your child space, but make sure you or another responsible adult stays. Never leave your child alone.

Should your child be in an appropriate environment try to avoid saying anything as this can be inflammatory and can prolong the aggressive behavior. By staying calm and quiet your child may stop their behavior more quickly.

Of course, it is also possible for a child to be displaying autistic symptoms and traits without truly being autistic at all.  It is important to make certain that a misdiagnosis has not occurred by considering alternative mental disorders that can present with the same or similar behaviors.

Grab your free copy of Rachel Evans’ brand new Autism Newsletter - Overflowing with easy to implement methods to help you and your family find out about autism aggressive behavior and for information on other autism symptoms please visit The Essential Guide To Autism

Solving Sleeping Challenges with Autistic Children

Posted in Health & Fitness on January 23rd, 2008

Parents of autistic children often struggle to get them to sleep, and therefore struggle with their own sleep as well.  However, we all know the importance of ensuring children get the sleep that they need in order to get the most out of the various therapies and efforts being made to improve their symptoms.  However, it can be easier said than done!

Over-sensitivity to stimuli can be a frustrating challenge for both autistic children and their parents. Over-reaction to various sounds in the child’s environment, as well as smells, lights, or any other sensations may make it difficult for a child to fall asleep or stay asleep.  Many autistic children have sensory issues within their sleep environment.  This can make it difficult for them to relax enough to fall asleep or to find a comfortable position in which to sleep. 

In Siegal’s book The World of the Autistic Child, it was suggested that the sleep problems faced by autistic children may also be a result of the way autistic neurotransmitters in the brain function.  It stated that about 56 percent of autistic children struggle with sleep-related issues that they will rarely “grow out of”.

So one of the first steps for remedying the lack of sleep is to try to identify what is causing your child to struggle to sleep.  Is it anxiety, sensory issues, medical issues, attention seeking, or something in the bedroom itself?

The following tips are for parents to help their autistic children get to sleep and stay that way until morning:

- Set a bedtime and stick to it, including the routines that occur before bedtime.  This allows the child to experience a degree of consistency and predictability, which is often vital to an autistic child’s proper functioning.

- Provide your autistic child with visual rules that indicate the rule for staying in one’s room or bed at night.  These visual rules should be posted in various visible areas of the bedroom.

- Pair the bedtime rules and routines that you create with social stories that can help to speak to your autistic child’s sleep-related anxieties.

- Change the bedroom environment to make it more appealing to your autistic child.  While some autistic children respond well to having a nightlight, others require total darkness with a black out blind over the window for blocking the exterior light as well.  Many autistic children sleep better when their bed is pushed up against the wall, as they feel more secure; a corner is even better. To block out any sounds that may be distressing your child, use a white noise machine or run a fan in your child’s bedroom.

- If you usually sleep in the same bed as your autistic child and he or she is struggling to sleep alone, “replace” yourself with a sleeping bag or body pillow to mimic the pressure that would usually exist if you were lying in the bed.

- Use layers for your child’s pajamas and tuck him or her in well so that any tactile sensitivity will be minimized.

By rooting out any disturbances causing your child not to sleep and by introducing routines and an effective sleeping environment, your autistic child should be able to enjoy a great deal more sleep – as will you.


Grab your free copy of Rachel Evans’ brand new Autism Newsletter - Overflowing with easy to implement methods to help you and your family find autism sleeping help and for information on overcoming other autism characteristics please visit The Essential Guide To Autism

10 Great Activities for Autistic Children

Posted in Recreation & Hobbies on January 17th, 2008

Maintaining Your Weight Loss for Long Term Heartburn Acid Reflux Relief

Posted in Health & Fitness on January 15th, 2008

Heartburn acid reflux causes isn’t the only reason that you should regularly exercise and maintain your weight-friendly diet, but it is – surprisingly enough – an important motivator.  It may not seem this way at first, but as you develop your habits and learn to maintain your weight loss, you’ll find that the exercise you include in your lifestyle change for improving your heartburn acid reflux symptom leaves you feeling energized and very positive.  This is because exercise releases endorphins, which are chemicals that allow you to feel better and happier.  Furthermore, endorphins help with digestion and minimize the sensation of pain, meaning that exercise will directly benefit the reduction of symptoms. 

That being said, heartburn acid reflux sufferers should be aware that not every exercise is right for them.  It is important that low impact exercises be selected in order to avoid stimulating reflux.  Timing is also important for your exercising, as heightened activity too soon after eating can also encourage reflux.  The best exercises are those that allow you to remain somewhat upright, as opposed to reclining too much.  For example, weight lifting that requires you to lie on your back will create a larger risk of acid reflux than bicep curls. Similarly, cyclists riding stationary bikes are at a lower risk than those who ride street bikes or mountain bikes as they are not jostled around from the bumps in the road or trail.  The same thing goes for any kind of exercise that causes you to bounce around, including running.  Similarly, many people find that weight machines are much more acid reflux-friendly than free weights.

When you know you will be exercising, build a habit of eating an especially light meal ahead of time, and waiting a little while before you get started.  The food that you choose before exercising should be quite low in fats and proteins.  High carbohydrate foods eaten two or more hours in advance should help you to avoid discomfort as you work out.  Furthermore, though you likely already know that drinking water is crucial to healthy exercise, it is especially important to you if you suffer from heartburn acid reflux, as it will allow you to remain hydrated, and will help to neutralize any acids that happen to be in your stomach as you exercise.  If you want something a little different on occasion, try watering down sports drinks to add a bit of flavor to your hydration.

Speak to your doctor to help choose the right exercises and timing for you.  You will likely receive recommendations for toning, stretching, aerobics, and rest.  Take each of these elements seriously and follow the suggested activities carefully.  Keep in mind that everybody has their own reaction to different foods and activities, so what may work for someone else may not work for you.  With that in mind, don’t let heartburn acid reflux keep you from exercising.  Always remind yourself of the importance of exercise to keeping your weight down, your body healthy, and your GERD symptoms under control.  Should you be unsuccessful with one kind of exercise, have your doctor suggest an alternative.

If you can’t seem to find an exercise that will agree with you yet, you may wish to speak to your doctor about taking over-the-counter antacids before you exercise, to avoid the risk of exercise-induced acid reflux symptoms. This may be the advantage you need to get your weight down to a point where you may find that you don’t need antacids anymore when you increase your activity level. The more you maintain a good weight and exercise level, the more you may find that your heartburn acid reflux decreases to a much more manageable degree.

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A Look at Both Sides of the Chelation and Autism Debate

Posted in Health & Fitness on January 14th, 2008

Perhaps one of the hardest aspects of an autism diagnosis is the uncertainty over the cause and the lack of a guaranteed cure. As a result there are many theories regarding the cause and one theory that seems to have taken hold is autism may be the result of heavy metal poisoning or the body’s inability to process eliminate heavy metals effectively. This theory has lead to many debates about the effective of Chelation and autism symptom improvements.

Because of the belief that excess heavy metals in the body may contribute to autism symptoms, a process called Chelation, which removes excess toxic metals from the body, has gained in popularity.

Chelation is carried out using a series of drugs that aim to cleanse the body of excess metals in the hope that this will lead to an improvement in symptoms and in some cases, reverse the effects of autism.

This process has it’s detractors who argue that it is a flawed theory that does not work, and even worse, that there can be many harmful side effects when carried out.

In 2005 a child near Pittsburgh, PA died at age five as a result of an injection of EDTA (ethylenediamminetetraacetate), as part of the Chelation process. The official cause of death was cardiac arrest after this drug was administered. The doctor involved was charged with involuntary manslaughter earlier this year. This has raised some red flags to those wondering if Chelation is safe and effective.

Chelation is not a recognized treatment for autistic children and adults. Though the US Food and Drug Administration have approved Chelation for heavy metal poisonings, it has not been officially approved as a treatment for autism. This therapy option supports the belief that mercury is the reason for autism.

On the flip side of the coin, there are many who say that Chelation has been effective in reducing their children’s autism symptoms and they remain convinced that heavy metal poisoning is the root cause of autism in their child.

Though Chelation can be carried out intravenously, as was the case with the child who died, most practitioners chose to use oral doses or a cream that can be rubbed into the skin. 2,3-dimercaptosuccinic acid (DMSA) and is taken orally and is the drug of choice in America for heavy metal poisoning offering the best safety and effectiveness record.

The drugs used in the process wrap around the excess metals in the body and they are then excreted. Due to their sulphurous nature the urine generally has an unpleasant smell. There are also some potential side effects including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and skin rashes. There is also the risk of liver or bone marrow damage from prolonged treatment so careful monitoring is required.

This is a procedure that works well for heavy metal poisoning, but until it is not yet been studied and approved as a treatment to tackle autism.

If you are interested in knowing more about Chelation and autism speak to your doctor for a referral to a medical professional experienced in this procedure.

Grab your free copy of Rachel Evans’ brand new Autism Newsletter - Overflowing with easy to implement methods to help you and your family find out about aba autism and for information on autism treatment please visit The Essential Guide To Autism.

How to Overcome Acid Reflux, IBS and other GI Problems

Posted in Health & Fitness on January 13th, 2008

Acid Reflux Weight Loss – Part 4 Kick off Your Acid Reflux Disease Diet and Weight Loss Program

Posted in Health & Fitness on January 13th, 2008

Have You Tried the Acid Reflux Banana Treatment?

Posted in Health & Fitness on January 1st, 2008

There are different ways to treat acid reflux symptoms, regardless of the cause.   While some treatments involve the use of medications, other treatments take a more natural approach such as the acid reflux banana treatment.

Aside from being a really tasty and nutritious fruit high in vitamins and minerals, bananas contain virtually no fat, sodium, or cholesterol.  For this reason, bananas are not only an integral part of a healthy diet, they can be used as a natural remedy to treat and prevent a number of health issues including, insomnia, depression, anemia, hypertension, and heartburn.

How exactly can a banana help with heartburn?  Bananas have a natural antacid effect on the body.  They primarily suppress acid secretion in the stomach by coating and protecting the stomach from acid, which helps against the formation of stomach ulcers and ulcer damage.

There are two ways in which the antacid property of a banana helps suppress acid:

Firstly, bananas contain a substance that encourages the activation of the cells that make up the lining of the stomach.  As a result, a thicker mucus barrier is formed to provide the stomach with more protection against acid.

Secondly, bananas feature compounds called “protease inhibitors”, which help to eliminate certain bacteria within the stomach that have been found to contribute to the development of stomach ulcers.

How can I add bananas to my diet?  If you would like to help prevent heartburn by incorporating bananas, try eating a banana a half-hour before a meal, or directly after a meal.   Some GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) sufferers also find eating a banana during a meal or half a banana before and after a meal beneficial.  It’s also a good idea to eat a banana when heartburn symptoms appear.

If the idea of eating a plain banana doesn’t thrill you, there are more fun and tasty ways you can add bananas to your diet.  The following are some suggestions:

Eat dried banana or mashed banana as a snack
Cut up a fresh banana or use dried banana pieces and add it to cereal, yogurt, and salads
Make a banana smoothie with live cultured yoghurt
Banana shake (if you are allergic to milk and milk products, substitute with soy milk)
Banana split – go easy on the ice cream
Banana bread
Banana muffins
Banana cake
Fruit bowl (excluding citrus fruits)
Banana sandwich with cinnamon

Here are a few other facts to keep in mind when making banana recipes:
Bananas with green tips are best used for cooking or should be left to ripen before eating.
Bananas with yellow tips are best for eating
Bananas that are browning or have dark brown or black specks are ideal for baking (Note: the more ripe the banana, the sweeter it will be because the starch has turned to sugar, making it better for baking)

Bananas are the most popular fruit in America, are available all year round, and are low in cost, so it shouldn’t be too difficult for you to make acid reflux banana remedies part of your regular diet.  However, it is important that you eat bananas according to your lifestyle requirement.  Keep in mind that Bananas are high in sugar.  Thus, if you are eating more than one banana per day, you do need to burn off the energy you are providing your body to maintain a healthy body weight.  Also, refrain from eating bananas close to bedtime because acid reflux can still occur when you are sleeping as the lower esophagus sphincter relaxes.
Grab your free copy of Kathryn Whittaker’s brand new Acid Reflux & GERD Newsletter - Overflowing with easy to implement methods to help you find out about the Acid Reflux Banana remedy and for information on acid reflux diets please visit Stop Acid Reflux Now.

Causes Of Gout That You May Not Know About

Posted in Health & Fitness on December 15th, 2007

Your diagnosis of gout may come with information and warnings about the foods you eat and what you can do to prevent further attacks. You may be told your condition is hereditary in many cases, and that you should follow certain steps to get rid of your pain when you have an attack. However, there are other causes of gout of which you may not be aware.

This means you could have gout when no one else in your family has been diagnosed, and it can also mean there are steps you can take to help with the pain and discomfort associated with this condition.

Heredity alone will not indicate that you will develop gout. There are other factors that can make a difference in whether or not you go on to develop gout.

Some studies suggest that a person with insulin resistance is more likely to have gout than those without. Insulin resistance occurs when the body produces too much insulin because it is not recognizing the existing levels. Eventually this situation can lead to diabetes if left uncontrolled. Insulin resistance may also be a risk factor in developing gout for some people. Getting insulin resistance under control can help lower this risk.

When it comes to why gout attacks happen despite your best attempts at following a low purine good diet, there are a number of factors outside of your control that can come into play. One example might be an injury to a joint. Sustaining an injury to any joint in your body makes that joint more susceptible to the build up of uric acid crystals that are associated with gout and bring you so much pain.

However, you don’t have to sustain a joint injury to have a flare up of gout. Just having an inordinately high amount of stress on any joint can leave it susceptible to an attack. If you have hip wear and tear, you are at risk of having a problem with gout in your hips. The same can be said if you have had stress on any other joints. What you may think of as a flare up of pain associated with an injury may in fact be a new area in your body where uric acid crystals have started to form. Although this is a fairly rare cause of gout, it may be a real possibility for some sufferers.

One gout risk factor that can be out of your control is temperature. For gout sufferers who live in cool climates where winters are cold, gout attacks can increase over the winter months. It is important to ensure you keep the joints that are susceptible to gout attacks warm. If its your feet that tend to feel the brunt of gout attacks then investing in some good quality, water proof shoes and thick socks may help to keep cold-related gout at bay.

All of these uncommon causes of gout attacks are factors that are difficult to control, but knowledge that they can contribute to your flare-ups can help you more accurately take care of the pain. When any joint in the body is compromised in any way, it is more susceptible to being a new place where uric acid crystals form.

Grab your free copy of Lisa McDowell’s brand new Gout Newsletter - Overflowing with easy to implement methods to help you find out about gout joint symptom and for information on gout symptom please visit Cure Gout Now.