Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Is a Blood Test for Autism Necessary?

I ran across an article about the Autism Genome Project. The article is from the middle of 2007. Dr. James Sutcliffe is one of the doctors working on DNA samples from families with two or more members with autism. At the time they were hoping to be able to come up with a blood test that could predict IF a child would have autism. The article talks about the families’ urgency in developing this test.

It reminds me of the mothers who come into our office. In the past few years we have had several mothers who come in who are pregnant and have been told their child will have Down Syndrome. They have been offered an abortion. We give them information. In at least a couple of instances the mother’s have called months later and did not have a baby with Down Syndrome. I guess that is my first concern. That in the effort to know we will in effect throw the baby out with the bath water.

My second concern is about getting rid of all of the people in the world who are different. I have realized now and in years past that my experience with my daughter with autism is different. I enjoy the differences. Yes we still have the bad times. The barking that went on for almost a year. The evenings spent holding her head so she could not slam it on the floor.

Anyway I did experience all of these things, but I also experienced joy. The joy of seeing her do things that took her years to do compared to other children. The fun of figuring out the way she thought about things. The joy of seeing her face light up.

I am the woman I am today because of her. My concern is that if we had a blood test for the possibility of autism, we would miss those things and become a further intolerant society. So what might be next? A blood test for people who might have asthma or how about diabetes……

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Autism Symptoms?

I have heard many people over the past twenty years ask about ‘autism symptoms’. At different times the question has struck me differently. I suppose most people are expecting me to come out with a list of five things they can use to look at whether a person has autism or not. If only it were that easy.

Most people do not realize that the symptoms of autism can vary widely across children and adults. The symptoms also change depending on other characteristics of the child or adult we are talking about. Usually we are looking at three main areas concerning autism: social interactions, relationships, and behavior. Unfortunately it is not even that simple, as the severity of each of these areas can be different.

Relationship problems are talking about the ability to connect. To connect with parents, siblings, and friends is what seems to be sometimes the most disturbing part of autism. At least at first, that is what I and other parents I know have experienced. Social interactions or communication is an on going autism symptom that is particularly troubling as time goes on. My daughter got speech therapy all through school and sometimes besides what she got at school. It was hugely important in our family that she be able to communicate on whatever level she could. Then the behaviors, this is probably the biggest autism symptom I hear about once a family gets over the initial surprise at the problems with connecting.

Of course each one of these areas can be involved in various degrees. I hear professionals who are usually not parents talk about mild, moderate, severe, and profound as the levels of severity. At first I suppose I was a little offended but these four levels at least give you a frame of reference.

This description is probably just the start of all the things that come to my mind when I hear someone ask about the autism symptoms. Some other areas I will try to cover at a later date are the ages you might see symptoms, the different characteristics which will make a difference, why it is good to talk about autism symptoms, and why you might not want to wait for a doctor to identify autism.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Update on Breaking the Car

I really do have a good relationship with the provider company that supplies my daughter's DSP/PCA. They have agreed to pay for a psychological and the psychologists time to help with a behavior plan. The state system to get the psychological has not done one since 1997. They are also so backed up right now. Did I mention that the provider company is so good!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Autism Symptoms and Technology

Autism is one of the harder disabilities in which you can identify technology. So I have a list of different types of technology that seem to help in some way. Or at least seem to help mitigate one or more of the autism symptoms.

A piece of information that I have run across lately is a different type of keyboard. It isn’t exactly a keyboard. It is more like a video game controller. The person with autism uses it to cut out the confusion that people with autism feel looking at a typical keyboard. It is also used by people with physical disabilities.

This piece of equipment is called an OrbiTouch keyboard. A human-factors engineer named Pete McAlindon of a company called BlueOrb developed it. You can look at the article here

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Brain Stuff and Autism Symptoms

I keep reading interesting articles like this one
http://www.newkerala.com/nkfullnews-1-102815.html . The articles talk about different areas of the brain that do or do not ‘light up’ when different situations presents itself. Usually the situations that are looked at are situations which highlight one of the many autism symptoms. This one in particular is about personal space and the different part of the brain, in this case the amygdala, which work. The amygdala works quicker when another person gets close, close enough to make us uncomfortable. In people with autism this does not happen. Even when people get nose to nose too close.

I keep reading articles like this and find them interesting for a couple of reasons. The first one being that we can tell which areas of the brain are used in different behaviors. I just find that interesting. The second reason I keep reading being that if we can tell which areas of the brain are not responding, when will we be able to use the information to make a diagnosis?

I remember years ago thinking that there must be more to it than this. You go to a doctor, they ask you a few questions about when or if your child does things, they look at a list of autism symptoms and then the doctor tells you a diagnosis. It just seemed like there should be more to it than that. But there wasn’t. There was no blood test or anything else. Of course they took blood but that wasn’t it. Anyway I keep reading these types of articles and trying to understand…

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner