Friday, September 19, 2008

Walk Now For Autism

We are doing the autism walk tomorrow through Autism Speaks. I didn't have the time or energy to form my own team and do fundraising, but I am walking with my brother Joe, who is also autistic. Joe is now 28 and he was diagnosed when he was in 5th grade. My dad will be walking and a coworker of my dad may be coming with his son who is also autistic. It's a small world. One thing I wanted to do with my blog is to have information about autism and the various treatments and summaries of the extensive research that I have done in the past 9 months or so. I just don't have much time or energy nowdays. But in honor of the autism walk we are doing tomorrow, here are some autism facts that you may not be aware of:

Autism is a neurobiological brain disorder

1 in 150 children are currently diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder

Autism is 4 times more common in boys, but tends to be more severe in girls

Autism impairs a person’s ability to communicate and relate to others

Autism is associated with rigid routines and repetitive behaviors

Many people think of “Rain Man” when they think of autism. In reality there is a whole
spectrum of autism and symptoms can range from very mild to quite severe.

A high percentage of kids with autism have gastrointestinal issues that may be affected by
diet and/or food allergies and sensitivities.

There is some evidence that autism is related to immune/autoimmune diseases

A tidbit about Minnesota and the autism rates: We have a large population of Somali in Minnesota. The rates of autism in the Minnesota Somali population are much higher than the general population. They tend to be much more severe cases. And these children are ones who were born here, not in Somalia. They do not know why. But in my opinion, this could very well be a good clue to the huge increase in rates of autism. I hope that they can figure it out soon.

Most research today indicates that the level of mercury that used to be in vaccines has not led to the increased rates of autism, though many still believe that vaccines have something to do with it. (My belief is that, in most cases (as there are always exceptions to the rules), vaccines had nothing to do with it. It just happens that the timing of the vaccines coincides with the timing of autism symptoms. Even some kids later diagnosed with autism, that were never immunized, showed a regression at that age. I do not think that the vaccines cause it. However, I would also like to see more research on a large scale, double-blind studies to examine other aspects of the onset and increase in rates of autism and how they might otherwise relate to vaccines. If nothing else, to rule out the possibility that there is a connection. As a microbiologist, I understand how horrible the diseases were that we now immunize for and honestly even if there was a clear connection with vaccines and autism, I would still immunize. But I do think that there needs to be more research.


Thomas has been improving so much lately. I'm just loving it. One of the tricks we have learned along the way is to help him anticipate what is about to happen. When we give warnings he does so much better. For example, about 5 minutes before bedtime, we warn him that it's almost time for bed. And when it is finally time, we do a little countdown "5-4-3-2-1-all done. Time for Bed". It makes it nice and smooth. He anticipates the change, and when we do the countdown, he stops what he's doing and gets into bed. We also were advised by the various therapists to get him used to common phrases, like "ready-set-go!" and "1-2-3-go!). It has worked really well and he will count with us. Not very clearly, and not every number every time, and sometimes he won't do it at all, but it's progress. So anyway, a couple days ago, we were getting ready in the morning and he started counting his toys! He only did up to three, but that is such a big step for him!!! I am so excited! Not only did he count on his own, he has transfered the idea and words of 1-2-3-go to a number of objects. That is a huge example of how far his expressive and receptive language has come. Six months ago, I wasn't sure he understood more than a couple words of what I said. And now he is making such leaps. I am just so proud!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Colorado Pictures

I finally down loaded some pictures from our trip. These are some of the highlights.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Thomas's Pre-school Evaluation

We had Thomas’s evaluation (or at least part of it) yesterday morning. It went really well. Everyone kept remarking how much progress he made over the summer. He really has made so much progress. I’m extremely proud of him. I know it was probably the timing and the combination of all the therapy, but ever since L from Kidspeak started ST with him, he has just flourished. It was nice to hear that it was obvious to everyone else though too. During the questioning I also explained that both M from the Play Project and L from Kidspeak say he has motor planning issues with his speech (possible apraxia) and I gave them a couple examples (really studying how you are moving your mouth when you talk and when he starts getting the mouth movement it is very deliberate with a lot of concentration and often doesn’t have any sound with it). Also, this week’s session with M was at the park which was really fun and enlightening. She noticed that when he first gets of the twisty slide, or off the swing, or after holding him and swinging him around (which he loves), he falls down over and over. He’ll fall 5 or 6 times before finally getting his balance. It may just be that it was so exciting he was moving too fast, but she thinks it is a vestibular balance thing. It got better the longer we played. But that is an OT/PT thing. The OT was very interested in hearing that. She’ll be doing the OT evaluation next week so I hope that these things make a difference in her recommendation. I didn’t really like her last year as an OT, but someone else will be doing the actual therapy this year. Until he starts the preschool program that is. Then it will be part of that program or they may have the on site OT pull him out every now and then. When I told them L’s name (from Kidspeak) they all knew her and liked her so the fact that she said that he has motor planning issues may make a difference to them. Anyway, the eval went well. I have a bunch of paperwork to fill out. Our IEP meeting is Oct 20th, so it is looking like the end of October before he starts. I’m just glad that we were able to get him into the program.

Work has been really frustrating lately. I don’t know if it’s just me or what, but it seems that all the projects I work on have issues. They are not working and finding reasons is difficult. Irritating anyway.

Thomas is going to spend the weekend with Grandma and Grandpa. I’m really looking forward to it. Sam has to work, so I’ll be able to get some time to myself. I’m also going to try to clean and organize and paint the living room. I’m looking forward to it. It’s hard when Thomas follows me around as I clean and “uncleans” it for me.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Someone else to clean the house

We finally decided to hire someone to clean the house. Sam and I are both messy by nature and the house has been overwhelmingly horrible. We’ve completely lost control over it and it’s impossible to start cleaning because it’s so overwhelming. I know that our entire life has been so hectic and overwhelming lately and having a house in chaos makes it worse. So we found a college student to clean. She cleaned for five hours last Thursday. I was hoping that more would get done but the house was just horrible. I’m so embarrassed of how bad we let it get. She really did a good job and just by the look of her when I got home I could see she worked her butt off. I already feel more relaxed and I feel like being more productive. It’s great. It is expensive to have her come and clean, but really, we need it. I can’t spend all my free time cleaning the house. I need to spend that time with my son and husband. And now I can. Totally worth it to me.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Cell Phones and Lakes Don't Mix

Sam and I have been needing new cell phones for a long time. Mine finally completely died and I had to switch to one that used to be my moms. They were the free ones and several years old. So we finally got new cell phones last weekend. I was so excited. I didn’t like the free one so I picked on that was $40 after the rebate. It was red and really pretty. And then this weekend we went up north and Sam was fishing on the dock while I was taking a nap. He had my cell phone in his pocket so he knew what time it was (he’d forgotten to charge his). And then it fell out of his pocket and into the lake. I made him try to find it with the net and we dredged the bottom for it but never found it. So I had a really nice new cell phone for one week. And of course I didn’t purchase the insurance plan. The insurance plan is really expensive however, so I am going to try finding one on craigslist. It’s going to take a while for Sam to live this down. It’s kind of funny though.