Category Archives: General

Truths About Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorder

autism and autism spectrum disorderAutism or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a complex disorder which causes problems with the development of social and communication skills. Get the facts about the signs and symptoms of autism.

What is autism?

Autism is a complex disorder which affects a person’s ability to interact with the world around them. Commonly referred to as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), autism has wide-ranging levels of severity.

This complex neurobiological disorder typically lasts throughout a person’s lifetime and, typically, people with ASD have problems with social and communication skills. Many people with ASD also have unusual ways of learning, paying attention or reacting to sensations.

People with autism often have a restricted range of interests, and have repetitive or stereotyped behaviours. A person with autism has difficulties in some areas of their development, but other skills may develop typically.

In 2007, a three-year study commissioned by the Australian Advisory Board on Autism Spectrum Disorders into the prevalence of autism, led by Perth paediatrician Dr John Wray, concluded that one in 160 Australian children aged between six and 12 years have an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) – which equates to more than 10,000 Australian children in that age group.

ASD describes a group of closely related disorders, which all belong to the same diagnostic category and share the same core symptoms. These disorders include:

Asperger’s Syndrome
Pervasive Developmental Disorder

Because autism is a ‘spectrum disorder’, there is a wide variation in the way it affects people.

Every individual on the autism spectrum has problems to some degree with:

social skills
flexible behaviour

The level of disability and the combination of symptoms varies greatly from person to person. Classic autism, or autistic disorder, is the most severe of the autism spectrum disorder.

Milder variants are Asperger’s Syndrome, sometimes called high-functioning autism, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder, or atypical autism.

According to the Autism Spectrum Resource Center (USA), only 20 percent of people on the autism spectrum have classic autism. The overwhelming majority fall somewhere on the milder range of the spectrum.

Asperger’s Syndrome

Asperger’s Syndrome and High-functioning Autism (HFA) are both part of the ‘autism spectrum’. The main difference between the two is thought to be in language development: people with Asperger’s Syndrome, typically, will not have delayed language development when younger. You can find an examination of the reasoning behind the existence of the two separate terms here.

Causes of autism

The cause of autism is unknown, but evidence points to physiological causes, such as neurological abnormalities in certain areas of the brain. Autism is less common in girls. On average, four out of every five children diagnosed with ASD will be boys.

This may be because of genetic differences between the sexes, or that the criteria used to diagnose autism are based on the characteristics of male behaviour, but results are inconclusive.

Recent studies have found potential links to ASD with a mother’s levels of some hormones during pregnancy, including testosterone and the stress hormone cortisol, however study authors say the research results do not justify prenatal testing for the hormones that may be linked to autism.

Another recent study indicates that the offspring of ageing dads may have a higher risk of having autism and psychiatric disorders. The results are attributed to sperm-producing cells not copying a man’s DNA as effectively as men get older.

In the last decade, there has been increased theorising about the role of environmental toxins and vaccinations, but there is no convincing evidence that ASD is caused by either of these. With or without the use of the preservative thiomersal (known as thimerosal in the US), there are numerous scientific studies showing no association between vaccines and ASD. Moreover, there is not one scientific study that has shown a causal link.

In 2012, the ABC’s Four Corners program aired a controversial Canadian documentary called The Autism Enigma, which suggested a link between gut bacteria and autism. At this stage, this link is theoretical and, as Andrew Whitehouse, Associate Professor, Telethon Institute for Child Health Research at the University of Western Australia explains here further research is required.

Symptoms of autism

Signs of autism include poor language development, unusual or repetitive behaviours, and a diminished interest in other people. Typically, there are significant concerns about the person’s social interaction, communication or behaviour before a diagnosis of autism is made.

It is worth noting that autism usually manifests in the first year of life and its onset is not later than three years.

Parents can use developmental landmarks as a guide to gauge a child’s development. Early signs may include a child who, at 12 months:

Does not pay attention to or is frightened of new faces
Does not smile or follow moving objects with eyes
Does not babble or laugh
Has no words
Does not push down on legs when feet placed on firm surface
Does not show affection to primary care-giver, dislikes being cuddled
Does not point
Does not  imitate others’ actions
Does not respond to name
By 36 months if a child has very limited speech, little interest in other children, difficulty in manipulating small objects and frequently falls, parents should speak to their doctor.

There is a full list of expected developmental milestones and some of the things that might suggest early signs of autism here.

Other symptoms that may be linked to autism include:

rituals and routines
sensory sensitivities
restricted or obsessed behaviour
stereotypical body movements such as flapping and toe walking
isolated, predictable play

In her book Could It Be Autism? A Parent’s Guide to the First Signs and Next Steps, author Nancy D. Wiseman notes: “Many of the danger signs are the very ones that often trouble parents months or years before a child is formally diagnosed with a developmental delay disorder.”

If you are concerned about your child’s development, see your doctor immediately.

Steps to diagnosis of autism

A diagnosis of ASD in children generally occurs after a thorough assessment by a team of health professionals. Because many of the behaviours associated with ASD are also present in other disorders, a medical assessment is important so that other possible causes (such as a hearing problem) can be ruled out. An assessment team is usually made up of a paediatrician, a psychologist or psychiatrist and a speech pathologist. The diagnostic criteria for ASD are set out in the Diagnostic and Statistic Manual Fourth Edition (DSMIV).

In 2014, researchers at Melbourne’s La Trobe University developed a test consisting of five early signs or “markers” of autism to help pick up the condition in infants aged 12, 18 and 24 months. “Red flag” markers for children at age 12 months are a lack of pointing, eye contact, waving bye bye, responding to their name and imitating others’ actions. Two further early markers, at 18 and 24 months, are deficits in showing toys or objects to other people and in engaging in pretend play. The benefits of early detection are huge, as autistic children are able to greatly benefit from early behavioural intervention programs.

In 2012, Science Daily reported that researchers at Harvard Medical School have discovered a highly accurate strategy to reduce the time it takes to detect autism in young children. The test, involving algorithms and associated deployment mechanisms, combines a small set of questions and a short home video of the subject to enable rapid online assessments. More information about the survey here. The video project is undergoing revisions. Research into the strategy is ongoing.

Researchers from Boston Children’s Hospital are investigating a blood test diagnosis for autism. A study published in the journal PLOS ONE describes a new experimental test to detect ASD, based on the differences in gene expression between kids with ASD and those without the condition. The blood-based test appears to predict autism relatively accurately, at least among boys. Clinicial trials for the test were to begin in early 2013.

Early Intervention

There is a significant amount of research indicating that early intervention maximizes outcomes and gives people with autism the best possible chance of developing appropriate skills.

Early intervention involves intensive educational and behavioural therapies, which have produced positive outcomes for children with autism.

These programs focus on skill development, building relationships and development of social emotional capacities, sensory motor development and managing the characteristics of autism.

Music Intervention Therapy and Family Based Therapy have also had positive outcomes. There is little supporting evidence for other kinds of programs, or for medical or drug treatment.

For more information and contact information for autism associations in Australia, visit the original article here.

For more parenting articles like this, visit

Original: The Truth About Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorder

Related Continuing Education Courses for Mental Health Professionals

Autism Movement Therapy is a 2-hour video CE course. Autism Movement Therapy® is an emerging therapy that combines movement and music with positive behavior support strategies to assist individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in meeting and achieving their speech and language, social and academic goals. Its purpose is to connect left and right hemisphere brain functioning by combining patterning, visual movement calculation, audile receptive processing, rhythm and sequencing into a “whole brain” cognitive thinking approach that can significantly improve behavioral, emotional, academic, social, and speech and language skills. This course is presented in two parts. Part 1 summarizes what is known about the brain functioning of individuals with ASD and illustrates how participation in dance, music and the arts can render the brain more amenable to learning social and language skills. Part 2 is a documentary created by Joanne Lara – Generation A: Portraits of Autism and the Arts, which spotlights – from a strikingly positive perspective – the challenges and accomplishments of eight individuals with ASD. Course #20-82 | 2014 | 106 minute video | 14 posttest questions 

Autism: The New Spectrum of Diagnostics, Treatment & Nutrition is a 4-hour online CE course. The first section of this course traces the history of the diagnostic concept of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), culminating in the revised criteria of the 2013 version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the DSM-5, with specific focus on the shift from five subtypes to a single spectrum diagnosis. It also aims to provide epidemiological prevalence estimates, identify factors that may play a role in causing ASD, and list the components of a core assessment battery. It also includes brief descriptions of some of the major intervention models that have some empirical support. Section two describes common GI problems and feeding difficulties in autism, exploring the empirical data and/or lack thereof regarding any links between GI disorders and autism. Sections on feeding difficulties offer interventions and behavior change techniques. A final section on nutritional considerations discusses evaluation of nutritional status, supplementation, and dietary modifications with an objective look at the science and theory behind a variety of nutrition interventions. Other theoretical interventions are also reviewed.  Course #40-38 | 2013 | 50 pages | 30 posttest questions

Early Childhood Music Therapy and Autism Spectrum Disorders is a 6-hour test-only CE course. This CE test is based on the book “Early Childhood Music Therapy and Autism Spectrum Disorders: Developing Potential in Young Children and their Families” (2012, 304 pages). This text includes the work of many researchers and practitioners from music therapy and related disciplines brought together to provide a comprehensive overview of music therapy practice with young children who present with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The authors present an overview of ASD including core characteristics, early warning signs, prevalence rates, research and theories, screening and evaluation.  The book explores treatment approaches and strategies as applied in music therapy to the treatment of ASD. The authors present a wealth of practical applications and strategies for implementation of music therapy within multi-disciplinary teams, school environments and in family-centered practice. Course #60-97 | 42 posttest questions 

Professional Development Resources is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to sponsor continuing education for psychologists; the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC ACEP #5590);  the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB Provider #1046, ACE Program); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA Provider #3159); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR Provider #PR001); the CaliforniaBoard of Behavioral Sciences (#PCE1625); the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy (#BAP346), Psychology & School Psychology (#50-1635), Dietetics & Nutrition (#50-1635), and Occupational Therapy Practice (#34); theOhio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board (#RCST100501); the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs (#193); and the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists (#114) and State Board of Social Worker Examiners (#5678).

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Posted by on August 15, 2014 in General


How Temperamental Differences Affect Young Children

How Temperamental Differences Affect Young Children is a 2-hour video-based CE course presented by Lauren Ehrenreich, MSSA, LISW-S. Temperament plays a significant role in a child’s development, experience, relationships, and behaviors. Children often need supportive intervention to allow them to function in healthy ways and reach their potential.

How Temperamental Differences Affect Young ChildrenThis video course will include a discussion of normal early childhood development and the range of normal functioning as it is impacted by temperament. The purpose of this course is to help participants understand the role that temperament plays in the trajectory of normal child development including inner experience, relationships, and behavior and learn effective, supportive interventions.

It is intended for all types of therapists who work with children or their parents, as well as for school-based personnel and classroom teachers.

Course #20-83 | 2014 | 14 posttest questions.

Learning Level: Introductory
CE Credit: 2 Hours
Introductory Price: $59 (reg $79)

These online video streaming courses provide instant access to the course videos, course handouts and CE test. Successful completion of the online CE test (80% required to pass, 3 chances to take) and course evaluation are required to earn a certificate of completion. You can print the test (download test from My Courses tab of your account) and mark your answers on while viewing the video. Then submit online when ready to receive credit.

Professional Development Resources is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA); the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC ACEP #5590); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWBProvider #1046, ACE Program); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA Provider #3159); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR Provider #PR001); the California Board of Behavioral Sciences (#PCE1625); the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy (#BAP346), Psychology & School Psychology (#50-1635), Dietetics & Nutrition (#50-1635), and Occupational Therapy Practice (#34); the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board (#RCST100501); the South CarolinaBoard of Professional Counselors & MFTs (#193); and the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists (#114) and State Board of Social Worker Examiners (#5678).


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Posted by on July 31, 2014 in General


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Dog Days of Summer CE Sale with $25 Instant Rebate at PDResources

Enjoy the Dog Days of Summer with a $25 Instant Rebate on Your Continuing Education Credits

Whether you’re staying cool by the pool or blasting the AC indoors, there’s no denying the dog days of summer are here! So why not get caught up (or a head start!) on your continuing education requirements?

To help, we are offering a $25 Instant Rebate when you spend $100 or more on CE @ during these sultry days of summer.

Dog Days of Summer at PDResources

$25 Instant Rebate will automatically apply at checkout when your order total equals $100 or more after coupons. Sale ends July 31, 2014!

Dog Days of Summer

Enjoy your summer and the convenience of earning CE from your own home…or iPad on the beach. :)

Stay hydrated out there!

Your friends @ PDR,
Gina, Carmen & Leo

Sale effective Thursday, July 24 through Thursday, July 31, 2014.
Offer valid on future orders only.

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Posted by on July 24, 2014 in Continuing Education, General


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Florida Psychologists CE Requirements and License Renewal Information

Psychologists licensed in the state of Florida have a license renewal every two years with a May 31st deadline, even years. Forty (40) continuing education hours are required to renew a license. Out of the forty hours, the following courses are required:

Three (3) hours of Florida Psychology Ethics and Law are required at each renewal.

Two (2) hours of Preventing Medical Errors in Behavioral Health are required at each renewal.

Two (2) hours of Domestic Violence are required every third renewal.

There are no limits on home study if APA approved.

The completion of continuing education ensures the top possible standards for the psychology profession. All licensees are required to obtain continuing education as a condition of licensing.

Professional Development Resources is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Professional Development Resources maintains responsibility for all programs and content. Professional Development Resources is also approved by the Florida Board of Psychology and Office of School Psychology (CE Broker Provider #50-1635).

Continuing Education Requirements

Psychologists licensed in the state of Florida have a biennial license renewal with a May 31st deadline, even years. Forty (40) continuing education hours are required for license renewal. Out of the forty hours, the following courses are required:

Three (3) hours of Florida Psychology Ethics and Law are required at each renewal.

Two (2) hours of Preventing Medical Errors in Behavioral Health are required at each renewal.

Two (2) hours of Domestic Violence are required every third renewal.

There are no limits on home study if APA approved.

Information gathered from the Florida Board of Psychology on January 9, 2014.

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Posted by on January 9, 2014 in General


Celebrating our 20th Birthday!

Professional Development Resources has now been providing accredited continuing education courses to psychologists, social workers, counselors, speech-language pathologists, registered dietitians and occupational therapists is celebrating it's 20th birthdayWe have now been providing accredited continuing education courses to psychologists, social workers, counselors, speech-language pathologists, registered dietitians and occupational therapists for 20 continuous years! Our company, which started as one person presenting a single live seminar to small groups in selected Florida cities, is now an established entity in the world of continuing education featuring over 170 CE courses that are available online 24/7 anywhere in the world.

We have earned formal recognition as a provider of continuing education by major professional boards, including the American Psychological Association (APA), the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB), the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC), the National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC), the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), and the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND). In addition, we are recognized by professional boards in Florida, California, Ohio, Illinois, South Carolina, and Texas.

“It is really hard to believe we have been doing this for 20 years,” says Leo Christie, PhD, licensed marriage and family therapist and president of Professional Development Resources. “It is gratifying to look around us today and see where we are now, as compared with the early years. We are squarely in the digital world, with all of our continuing education courses available via the Internet and nearly all of our procedures completely paperless. As opposed to offering live seminars to small select audiences as we did when we started, we can now make our CE curriculum available to professionals anywhere in the world.”

It has not always been easy according to Christie. There were hard times, as one would expect in any business that has persisted for 20 years. “There were times I was not at all sure we were going to make it. When we transitioned from presenting live seminars to offering home study courses, it was a major transformation that required re-purposing our entire curriculum. Presenting material in written format is fundamentally different from doing so in live settings. Suddenly we had an urgent need for more topics and more courses. We had gotten along well with five or six topics in live seminars, but that was far too few to offer for self-study. Our most pressing and challenging task was curriculum development.”

Today, we have over 170 online continuing education courses covering a very wide variety of clinical topics such as domestic violence, professional ethics and boundaries, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), autism, Alzheimer’s, alternative therapies, mindfulness, multicultural issues, substance abuse and addiction, gender identity, preventing medical errors, ADHD, psychopharmacology, brain injury, eliminating self-defeating behaviors, overeating and obesity, treating chronic pain, and anxiety management. There are even a few unexpected and non-traditional courses, like Animal Assisted Therapy and Electronic Media and Youth Violence (Cyber-Bullying).

As a 20th birthday present to ourselves and all of our loyal customers, we are poised to launch a  new and revolutionary website platform, which will feature a wide array of user engagement tools we hope will propel us into the next 20 years.

About Professional Development Resources, Inc.

Professional Development Resources is a Florida nonprofit educational corporation founded in 1992 by licensed marriage and family therapist Leo Christie, PhD. The company, which is accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA), the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB), the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC), the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), and the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) – as well as many other national and state boards – has focused its efforts on making continuing education courses more cost-effective and widely accessible to health professionals by offering online home study coursework. Its current expanded curriculum includes a wide variety of clinical topics intended to equip health professionals to offer state-of-the art services to their clients.


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Would You Do It All Over Again?


Would You Do It All Over Again?It’s a rather abstract question isn’t it? But give it a fair chance.

A few weeks ago I got into an interesting conversation with a fine gentleman about career paths and life in general. He was a retired pilot who seemed to have enjoyed every moment of his flying career. As I was telling him about what I did in my professional life he simply looked me in the eye and asked “Would you do it all over again?”

For a moment his question completely startled me. Would I, I wondered. And then there was a silent pause in my ever rushing mind. I didn’t know. Maybe I would. Maybe I wouldn’t.

Being the right brain dominant person that I am, I noticed my mind contemplate endless possibilities as it tried to come to a conclusion for this gentleman. But alas, all decision making algorithms and techniques failed miserably in my moment of distress.

This made me wonder if this decision was for the mind in the first place. The answer to his question had to be out of pure instincts, either an instantaneous screaming “Yes, in a heartbeat” or an unappetizing uncertainty where a lot is revealed in the silence itself.

As I pondered over this in more detail I realised that this question could be applied to every single aspect of our lives and even beyond. Would we do the things we are currently doing if we were given a second chance? Most of our responses will vary from an absolute yes to a maybe and even abrupt no’s depending on the situation itself.

But think about it, if we wouldn’t want to do something again, what is our excuse to continue doing it in the first place?

As you ask yourself this, I’m certain that a never ending list of excuses will pop into your mind. Only if things were different or if you had less responsibilities, only if someone else didn’t treat you this way, only if something hadn’t happened…. The list is endless and the more you let yourself indulge in it the stronger and more encapsulating the web becomes.

Just like the quote says:

“You can either have a good excuse or a good result.”

Which one do you have?

Could we possibly dare to consider a new day as a second chance? A chance to start all over again and do things how you’d always wished you did. Another chance to have the courage to turn around? A chance to be true to yourself before you satisfy others expectations?

Sometimes we continue to do things simply because we feel obligated to the decisions we made or the paths we choose. We associate ourselves to our successes and our failures and subconsciously hold them tight.

For example, consider how we introduce ourselves to a new acquaintance. “Hi I’m Adam, Marketing director of ABC Corp and a Harvard graduate.” Now what if Adam feels unfulfilled in his marketing profession? Letting go of his job would almost mean letting go of his identity. We continue to work in unfulfilling careers because we feel obligated to our investment in the education we obtained.

From careers to relationships and materialistic possessions, somehow instead of things adding to our identity they become our identity.

Why should a failure prevent you from an upcoming success and why should a success that adds no meaning to your life anymore hold you from venturing out and trying something different?

Though we might blame external sources for our current state, in reality it is nothing else but our own self imposed restrictions that hinder our ability to create change. The key here is to accept responsibilities of your choices and allow yourself to alter the ones that don’t make you smile anymore.

So…..would you do it all over again?




Psychological Abuse: Common & Harmful

Psychological abuse — including demeaning, bullying and humiliating — may be the most prevalent form of child maltreatment. Yet it’s among the hardest to identify or to treat.

Psychological Abuse: More Common, as Harmful as Other Child Maltreatment It may be the most common kind of child abuse — and the most challenging to deal with. But psychological abuse, or emotional abuse, rarely gets the kind of attention that sexual or physical abuse receives.

That’s the message of a trio of pediatricians, who write this week in the journal Pediatrics with a clarion call to other family doctors and child specialists: stay alert to the signs of psychological maltreatment. Its effects can be every bit as devastating as those of other abuse.

Psychological maltreatment can include terrorizing, belittling or neglecting a child, the pediatrician authors say.

“We are talking about extremes and the likelihood of harm, or risk of harm, resulting from the kinds of behavior that make a child feel worthless, unloved or unwanted,” Harriet MacMillan, one of the three pediatrician authors, told reporters.

What makes this kind maltreatment so challenging for pediatricians and for social services staff, however, is that it’s not defined by any one specific event, but rather by the nature of the relationship between caregiver and child. That makes it unusually hard to identify.

Keeping a child in a constant state of fear is abuse, for example. But even the most loving parent will occasionally lose their cool and yell. Likewise, depriving a child of ordinary social interaction is also abuse, but there’s nothing wrong with sending a school-aged boy to stew alone in his room for an hour after he hits a younger sibling. All of this means that, for an outsider who observes even some dubious parenting practice, it can be hard to tell whether a relationship is actually abusive, or whether you’ve simply caught a family on a bad day.

Psychological abuse can also include what you might call “corrupting a child” — encouraging children to use illicit drugs, for example, or to engage in other illegal activities.

In their Pediatrics paper, MacMillan and co-authors say that 8% to 9% of women and 4% of men reported severe psychological abuse in childhood when the question was posed in general-population surveys of the U.S. and Britain. A number of U.S. surveys have also found that more adults claim they faced psychological maltreatment as kids than claim they experienced any other form of abuse. This suggests that psychological maltreatment may be the most common form of abuse inflicted on kids.

Because of that, pediatricians must be as sensitive to signs of emotional maltreatment as they are to signals of sexual or physical abuse, the authors say. And while it may be possible in the event of psychological abuse to intervene to improve the child’s home life — especially where the root cause is a parent’s own mental-health issue — the authors stress:

Consideration of out-of-home care interventions should not be restricted to cases of physical or sexual abuse; children exposed to psychological maltreatment may also require a level of protection that necessitates removal from the parental home.


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