Sunday, March 15, 2009

Avoiding Dairy: A Benefit to Autistic Children?

Parents of autistic children will do whatever they can do decrease the condition’s hold on their kids. For many of them, this means eliminating certain foods from the child’s diet. Most may have heard of getting rid of the gluten, but another sensitivity Autistic children may have is Casein – which is present in pretty much all dairy foods. While this seems a difficult task, it’s entirely possible if the parents are committed and dedicated.

Where to Find Casein Free Foods –

If you are considering placing your child on the casein-free diet, you should know that at first, it will be difficult to adjust. Purchasing casein-free foods can also be more expensive than purchasing regular foods as well. However, it has been proven on several occasions and with many Autistic children that the casein-free diet really helps the symptoms of Autism.

You can find foods with no casein in health food stores and online. You simply need to perform a search for ‘casein-free foods.’ Although a bit of dedication and effort is required for this diet, the payoff can be extreme. Parents have reported a significant reduction in Autism symptoms after a few months on the casein-free and gluten-free diets.

How Long to Remain on the Diet –

This is not a typical diet, so results will probably not be seen within a few weeks or even a month. It is suggested that if you’re considering this type of diet for your Autistic child, to try it for at least 3 months. By this time, you should be able to determine whether it is making a difference in the symptoms of Autism or not. It may help to slowly replace your dairy foods with casein-free products, especially if your child is having a difficult time adjusting to the new types of foods.

Helpful Resources –

Because this can be a challenging change in your life and the life of your child, any resources available can be a great help to you. You can find casein-free recipes online and in cookbooks created specifically for the purpose – those can be found in your local library or bookstore. Many parents use a journal to document the food changes and behavior changes they make so that they can connect the two to determine what is working and what is not.

If you are in any sort of support group for parents of Autistic children or if you are close friends with any – you may consider splitting the costs. If you both decide to place your children on this type of diet, buying foods in bulk and splitting the cost can be a great way to save money and pool resources.

Although the casein-free diet is not a cure for Autism, it can be a great way to help treat the symptoms your child suffers with. Remember that this will be a difficult change – much like any other major change. It takes a strong will, determination and dedication to pull it off. However, as time passes, the transition will be much easier and the payoff can be very well worth it.

Photo: jscreationzs

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Can I Find a Cure for Autism?

Parents of children who have just been diagnosed with Autism usually have a pretty difficult time adjusting to the diagnosis. There are so many questions and thoughts running through your head that it can be difficult to focus. You may even wonder whether or not you can find a cure for your child. If you’re asking yourself, ‘Can I find a cure for Autism,’ you should know that there is no specific cure. However, this should also not discourage you too much, as there are many wonderful treatments for this condition available. Let’s take a look at some of those treatments.

Prescription Medications

Your doctor will most likely let you know the most popular and common prescription medications for autism. Ask questions if you don’t understand – your doctor will not mind explaining what each type of medicine actually is and what affects it will have on your child. The prescriptions that are most commonly given to autistic children do not cure autism. They simply help your child deal with the symptoms of autism and to function more normally than he or she would be able to without the prescriptions. You should know that there are always concerns with side-effects or potentially dangerous reactions to these prescriptions.

Going Gluten Free –

Since many parents feel that their Autistic child has sensitivities to foods that may trigger more symptoms of the condition, many have gone to the diet in order to treat their children. Gluten is one of those foods that most often trigger Autistic symptoms, so this is also one of the most popular treatments. Taking gluten out of your child’s diet can be difficult – however, it can also be very helpful. Visit your local health food store to find gluten-free ingredients and snacks. You can also get some great recipes online and through your local library or book store. Know that you must try your child on the gluten-free diet for a few months in order to see a significant difference, so a few weeks with no results may not mean anything.

Different Forms of Therapy –

There are many different forms of therapy that you can employ to help your child reduce the symptoms of autism. For instance, autistic children typically respond well to sensory therapy – such as noise, textures and smells. This is a great way to calm your child and open them up to be more responsive. Music therapy is a great choice as well. Music has a very calming affect on children and can be a great aid in helping your child to learn behavioral and social skills that are necessary. Speak with your pediatrician about recommendations for different types of therapy.

Although your first thought may be, ‘can I find a cure for autism,’ you should know that there are many different choices and options when it comes to treatment. Although the options above are very popular, there are many more. You will want to do some research so that you’ll be fully prepared to help your child cope with his or her autism.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Parents of Autistic Children: Avoiding Dangerous Treatments

For quite some time, Autistic children have been treated with certain prescription medications. While some of them may have improved many children’s symptoms, awareness is increasing of dangerous side effects and potential reactions to those medications. For parents who want to avoid the dangers of prescriptions and chemicals, there are many alternative treatments for Autism. Below, you will find some more information on avoiding dangerous treatments for Autism.

Cutting Out Certain Foods –

One method that is becoming more popular for parents of autistic children is cutting out certain foods. It is believed that some children with Autism experience sensitivity to certain foods – mainly those containing gluten and casein. These ingredients are most often found in wheat and dairy foods, although gluten can also be found in some spices and artificial flavorings.

Many parents have found that cutting these foods out of their Autistic child’s diet results in reduced symptoms, behavioral problems and other issues. If you want to start your child on a gluten and casein free diet, there are many recipes available – both on the internet and in specialized cook books. Although transitioning to this kind of diet can be difficult, it can also pay off in the long run.

Adding Foods or Vitamins –

Other research has linked reduced symptoms of Autism to certain foods, such as Omega 3’s and Vitamin B-12. This is a treatment parents can try without fearing adverse affects or side-effects from these vitamins. You can get Omega 3’s in fresh fish or you can choose to give your child a fish oil tablet to increase Omega 3’s. Vitamin B-12 is also available in a tablet form so your child can take it quickly and easily.

Vitamin B-12 can be found in foods such as lean meats and fish, seafood, eggs and yogurt. Since these foods are among favorites of children, most parents have no problem giving extra vitamins in this way. However, you will need to research or read labels closely if your child is also on a restrictive diet – such as the casein or gluten free diet.

Play Therapy – Play therapy is becoming more popular as well – and involves only playtime for your child, which makes you feel better. Typically, the play therapy will be watched over by the therapist or the parents of the autistic child and can be a wonderful way to strengthen certain skills and behaviors.

Basically, as the child plays, the parent or therapist learns what the child’s favorite toys and games are. They will play with the child and (in the case of a therapist – build a bond) use different toys and games to introduce new concepts to the child and teach him or her important skills.

The above treatments are a great way for the parents of autistic children to provide help to their children without risking their health with dangerous or potentially fatal side-effects. Do some research and learn what alternative treatments you can use to help your child and make sure to speak with your physician before starting or stopping any type of treatment with your Autistic child.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Diagnosis: Autism

If your child has been diagnosed with autism, you’re probably a little in shock. This is perfectly normal – as are being angry, not believing it at first and being very saddened by the news. You are probably wondering, ‘why MY child,’ and you may even feel like all the dreams you’ve had for your child are shattering around your feet.

What you should know is that your child CAN have a great life – and Autism may be life-altering, but it’s not life-ending. Below, you will find some important information about what steps to take next when your child has been given the diagnosis: Autism.

Speak First with Your Doctor –

As stated above, many parents simply don’t believe that this is happening to their child. If this is the case with you, you may seek a second opinion. If you do, and the diagnosis comes back the same – it’s time to accept the facts. Realize that this is not as bad as it could be and that there are many resources for children with Autism. Talk about possible treatment options with your doctor and what options are available to your child.

Explain the Diagnosis to Your Child –

If your child is at the age where he or she can understand, it’s important to explain to them what is going on. You want to include your child in the loop and let them know that they are going to be alright, but that you will probably need to take very special care of him or her. Don’t make your child feel like a victim or dwell on his or her handicap – just put the diagnosis in terms that he or she can understand and accept. By doing this, your child will learn to trust you more. Being open with your child is important and will help prepare them for some of the coming changes.

Do Some Research on Your Own –

While it is important to speak with your doctor, it’s also important to do some research on your own. This will allow you to get more than one doctor’s educated opinion. In fact, there are many different things you may learn through your own research – such as:

- How important it is to put your autistic child on a schedule.
- What kind of alternative treatment options you have.
- How to take care of yourself while taking care of your child.
- The importance of ‘me’ time.
- How to handle fits, bad behavior and meltdowns.
- And much more.

You can easily research Autism online, but it’s important to use your own common sense as well. While there are many great informative sites about Autism online, there are also some sources that probably shouldn’t be trusted. Take your findings to your child’s doctor and ask for his or her opinion.

Start Making Plans –

Your child’s school will need to be informed of the situation so that they can adequately meet his or her needs. You will probably need to schedule several different appointments and consider starting treatment with your child. You will probably also want to create a daily schedule for your child. There are many things to be done, so start planning now.

Accepting a diagnosis of Autism can be very difficult. However, by following the advice above about what to do next, you can get your child on the path to treatment and a better future. Good luck.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

PDD-NOS in Depth

Often, doctors will diagnose a child with PP-NOS (Persuasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified) if they show many different signs of Autism, but there are not enough signs to officially diagnose the child as Autistic. As a parent, it can be difficult to understand exactly what this is and what it means. Below you will find more information on PDD-NOS that may help you understand it a little more and the implications is has on you and your child.

How Children Are Tested –

Typically, children are tested in various ways, including physically, academically, psychologically and more. This is to try and identify other factors that are causing the child to behave in a particular way.

Physical Testing –

Doctors will typically ensure that no physical problems are causing the symptoms that your child is experiencing. This may include a physical and in-depth assessment to determine the physical health of the child. You may be asked questions about the child’s normal routine, family history and other factors which may come into play concerning the child’s behavior.

Academic Testing –

A lot of academic testing performed by doctors will include obtaining information from the parents of the child, the teachers, childcare givers or others who are in continuous contact with the child. They may determine whether the child is able to do normal daily tasks including feeding themselves, putting their clothes on, taking a bath, etc. Other information may be obtained which concerns your child’s individual behavior or issues.

Psychological Testing –

Psychological testing is a large aspect of a PDD-NOS diagnosis. Typically, children will be examined for any sort of issues regarding cognitive or social functioning as well as other psychological issues – such as depression, anxiety and more. Often times a child with behavioral or developmental problems will be suffering from some form of psychological condition.

Other areas of the child’s life may be looked at as well – including watching the way the child plays or behaves while he or she is engaged in normal daily activity. All of these factors help doctors and physicians rule out other conditions to eventually reach a PDD-NOS diagnosis.

If this diagnosis is reached, physicians and doctors will work closely with parents, caregivers and teachers to determine a method of treatment to ensure that the child is being given optimum care. While PDD-NOS is not actually a form of Autism, the behaviors are often very similar and may require similar treatments of those that autistic children are given.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

4 Secrets to Help Parents of Autistic Children to Cope

Being the parent of an Autistic child is amazing and rewarding, but at times it can also be difficult and frustrating. On those days when things have gone all wrong, you may feel like you’re juggling 50 flaming torches and all you feel like doing is letting them all drop wherever they want. Learning to cope will keep you juggling until the frustration passes and the sun comes back out. Here are 4 secrets to help parents of Autistic children to cope.

1. You Can’t Do It Alone –

Sometimes, mothers and fathers feel as if they should be doing everything alone. Well, at some point it’s time to wake up and realize that you are only human and although super powers would be appreciated, you just don’t have them. Learn how to ask for help. Whether you have your spouse watch your child while you run errands or leave your child with a trusted and responsible sitter for an evening – it’s nice to be able to rely on others at times. When you’re able to get rest and a little time away, it can help you cope much better. Then, you will be refreshed and ready to take on a new day with your child!

2. Get Support –

When you have others around you who just ‘get’ what you’re going through, it can be a huge source of support, tips and advice. This is why so many parents of autistic children join local support groups. Chances are there’s one in your area as well. Even if the idea of getting to know a crowd of people you’re not familiar with makes you apprehensive – it will be a rewarding and fun experience. It’s a great way to learn how to cope and you can get lots of great information and tips.

3. Create a Journal –

Even if you’ve never written in a journal before, it’s important that you try. Being able to get your frustrations out through the written word is very cleansing – and it’s just for your eyes so you don’t have to worry about what other people say or think. Simply write whatever you feel and allow yourself to get your frustrations, worries, fears and other thoughts off your chest. This is a very cleansing and helpful process that can be used for almost anything – and it works wonderfully for parents of autistic children.

4. Talk about Your Needs –

Your family and friends can be your biggest source of support and help when it comes to raising your autistic child. Don’t be afraid to voice your needs – if you need someone to pick something up for you or if you need a sitter for a weekend night. Chances are, your family and friends already admire you for being such a devoted and wonderful parent – they won’t mind helping you out from time to time. If no one knows what you need, you certainly can’t expect them to offer it, right?

Parents of autistic children often feel as if they are learning the largest and most important lessons of their lives as they raise their children – and learning to cope is a wonderful way to ensure that you are prepared to learn each of those little lessons.

Photo: Michelle Meiklejohn

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Benefits of Schedules for Autistic Children

Any parent knows that getting their children on a good schedule is beneficial and helpful to the child. However, this is especially true for children with Autism. Having a schedule gives the child something he or she can rely on – without fail and this is a very big help in every way! By placing your Autistic child on a reliable schedule, he or she will be able to anticipate and count on their daily routines. Below, you will find more information on why schedules are beneficial for Autistic children.

Keeping Up with Appointments –

When your child is on a regular daily schedule, it will become easier for you to keep up with their doctor and other appointments. This helps keep you from missing appointments and eliminates the need to continuously reschedule those appointments. You can also inform your child of what will be happening throughout his or her day. This way, if they really want to do something, you can show them when they will have time to do it and what they must do before they’re able to do the fun things they want. This is a great parent’s helper and will keep you organized!

Informing Your Child –

One great thing to do when placing your child on a schedule is to get him or her involved. You may use words or pictures to help them understand the different things they will be doing throughout the day. Create a large daily calendar you can change and add words or pictures. For instance, you may have lunch at 12:00 and you can write ‘lunch’ or draw a picture of a place setting with food on the plate. This is a wonderful way to get your child accustomed to the routine and to help them understand the different things you will be doing throughout the day.

Avoiding Boredom –

As you go throughout your day with no planned schedule, it’s easy for your Autistic child to get bored and restless. With many children who have Autism, this can lead to disaster. When you have a schedule, you can avoid these problems by ensuring that there is always something to keep your child occupied and happy. Try splitting playtime up into smaller times throughout the day. This will help keep your child from getting bored and possibly reacting badly.

For instance, you might schedule 30 minutes of time for your child to create something artistically between lunch and something else. Then, schedule another 30 minutes for your child to enjoy his or her favorite toy before the bedtime routine starts. This will help eliminate boredom and keep your child happy.

Schedules can truly benefit any child; however they are especially wonderful for children with Autism. Try a schedule with your child today. Create one for tomorrow and explain to your child what you’re doing. It may help to get them excited about the schedule if you allow them to help create it! Good luck.