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Animal Assisted Therapy Approved for ASHA CEUs

Animal Assisted TherapyIn Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) the human-animal bond is utilized to help meet therapeutic goals and reach individuals who are otherwise difficult to engage in verbal therapies. AAT is considered an emerging therapy at this time, and more research is needed to determine the effects and confirm the benefits. Nevertheless, there is a growing body of research and case studies that illustrate the considerable therapeutic potential of using animals in therapy. AAT has been associated with improving outcomes in four areas: autism-spectrum symptoms, medical difficulties, behavioral problems, and emotional well-being. This course is designed to provide therapists, educators, and caregivers with the information and techniques needed to begin using the human-animal bond successfully to meet individual therapeutic goals.

Course #20-62 | 2012 | 30 pages | 20 posttest questions
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Should We Really Worry About Obesity’s Link to Autism?

By Brian Fung

A new study this week linking motherhood obesity to childhood autism tells a seemingly horrible tale: pregnant women who are obese are 67 percent more likely to have a child who suffers from the disorder than her non-obese counterpart. It’s the kind of statistic that people latch on to, and dozens of stories in the media highlighted the stat.

But what can we actually make of such a figure? 67 percent sounds like a big deal. You’re well on your way to doubling your risk, it seems. But without context, it’s hard to gauge how much maternal obesity matters relative to the host of autism risk facts.

Should We Really Worry About Obesity's Link to Autism?While the 67 percent figure is “non-trivial,” according to Dr. William Eaton, a professor of mental health at Johns Hopkins University, maternal obesity isn’t exactly considered a leading risk factor. There are others that raise the risk for childhood autism by roughly the same amount, and still others that cause it to skyrocket.

For example, when a baby comes out of the womb feet-first, “a breech birth,” the child’s risk for autism increases about 63 percent. Babies with an Apgar score — an indicator, from one to ten, of a child’s relative health five minutes after birth — of less than seven are about 89 percent more likely to be autistic, Eaton said.

“There are some studies about autism which have much stronger risk factors,” Eaton added, “with hazard ratios like two or three or four,” that is to say, a 200 or 300 or even 400 percent increase in risk.

Some of these more serious risk factors are simply out of our control. A child born before 35 weeks carries two and a half times the risk for autism. Family mental history can also play a role. If someone in your family suffers from psychosis or a mood disorder, the risk for childhood autism increases two to three times.

So, maternal obesity may be a risk factor for autism, but it’s important to remember that it’s only one among many and not even the strongest link. 

And, Eaton said, separating out obesity, itself, from other linked disorders is a challenge in itself. “Just to show you how complicated things are, obese women could have a higher rate of mood disorder,” he said. “And we wouldn’t know if it was the mood disorder doing the work or the obesity.”

Source: http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/04/should-we-really-worry-about-obesitys-link-to-autism/255675/

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25% Off Autism CE – Autism Awareness Month

April is National Autism Awareness Month

25% off autism continuing education courses during National Autism Awareness MonthIn order to highlight the growing need for concern and awareness about autism, the Autism Society has been celebrating National Autism Awareness Month since the 1970s. The United States recognizes April as a special opportunity for everyone to educate the public about autism and issues within the autism community.

Professional Development Resources, a proud member of the Autism Society, is offering 25% off all Autism continuing education courses during the month of April to promote education and awareness.

Autism is More Common Than Previously Thought

New research showing one in 88 U.S. children have autism spectrum disorders is focusing national attention on the need for earlier diagnosis and treatment, especially in rural and minority communities.

Figures released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show a 23% increase in autism spectrum cases from 2006 to 2008, and 78% increase since 2002.

“Clearly, we have a national emergency and clearly, we need a national plan,” said Mark Roithmayr, the president of Autism Speaks. “It’s time for us as a nation to see these numbers for what they truly are, and for us as a nation to commit to doing much more than we’ve done for date.”

Read more: http://yourlife.usatoday.com/health/story/2012-03-29/CDC-Autism-is-more-common-than-previously-thought/53856542/1

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Parents of Kids with Autism Earn Less

By Rachael Rettner, MyHealthNewsDaily Staff Writer

Parents of Kids with Autism Earn LessAdriana Lara, a mother in Hutto, Texas, is not able to work because her 5-year old son Joshua has autism. Lara must stay home to give Joshua the care he needs, and to drive him to his therapy sessions five days a week.

“It’s just impossible for me to be able to hold a job and do all these things with Josh,” Lara, 31, said. The family depends on the salary of Lara’s husband, a psychologist at a Veteran’s Affairs hospital.

Joshua’s therapies, including speech, music and occupational therapy, cost about $5,000 a month. Eighty-five percent of the cost is currently covered by a government grant, but the grant will run out this summer, and the family’s insurance policy won’t cover Joshua’s therapies, Lara said.

“We don’t know how we’re going to afford it,” Lara said. While public schools offer autism therapies, Joshua’s school does not offer the type of intensive therapies he needs, Lara said. For instance, the therapies provided by Joshua’s school are not one-on-one, Lara said.

A new study highlights the unique financial burden faced by families of children with autism, like Lara’s. The burden is particularly significant for mothers, the study finds.

On average, mothers of autistic children earn $14,755 less per year than mothers of healthy children, and $7,189 less per year than mothers of children with other health conditions (such as asthma and ADHD) that limit their ability to engage in childhood activities, according to the study.

Despite the fact that they tend to have completed more years of education, mothers of autistic children are 6 percent less likely to be employed, and they work on average 7 hours less weekly than mothers of healthy children, the researchers say.

“We don’t think that autism creates more of a strain on the family per se than other chronic conditions of childhood,” said study researcher David Mandell, associate professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. “I think the reason these mothers are leaving the workforce is because the service system for children with autism is so fragmented,” Mandell said.

Health care and workplace policies need to recognize the full impact of autism, and alleviate costs for the families with greatest needs, the researchers concluded, writing in the March 19 issue of the journal Pediatrics.

Higher Bills, Lower Salaries

About 1 in 110 children in the United States have an autism spectrum disorder, a developmental disability that can cause language delays, impaired communication skills and social challenges, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The new study results are based on yearly surveys of U.S. households conducted between 2002 and 2008. The study included 64,349 families with healthy children, 2,921 families of children with other health limitations and 261 families of children with autism.

While fathers’ salaries, by themselves, were not affected by having a child with autism, total family income was, the study showed. On average, families with autistic children earned $17,763 less than families with healthy children, and $10,416 less than families with children with other health limitations.

As Lara’s story shows, having a child with autism may limit the parents’ abilities to work because these children require more care. Finding quality, specialized childcare for autistic children may be difficult and costly, the researchers say.

“A traditional daycare setting really is really not conducive,” for children with autism to thrive, said Carolyn Price, whose 7-year old son has autism. Autistic children are very sensitive to sights and sounds, and may be overwhelmed at a day care, Price said.

When Price’s son was in daycare — before he was diagnosed with autism — he would bite other children because he couldn’t cope with the environment, Price said. In addition, autistic children need one-on-one interaction that is generally not feasible at day care, Price said.

When Price’s son, also named Joshua, was young and had to be at home, she and her husband felt uncomfortable having anyone beside themselves or close friends look after him.

“It’s really challenging when you have a child with special needs, to really turn that responsibility over to someone else and feel like they are getting the best care,” Price said. Price’s husband Joel still works only part time, so he can drive his son to therapy sessions.

Financial Support

Children with autism need to be immersed in their therapies in order to benefit, Price said. Providing therapy one day a week, when a child needs five sessions, won’t have the same impact, Price said.

In 2010, Price and her husband started a non-profit organization called Imagine a Way to provide financial assistance to families with autistic children. The organization focuses trying to provide funds to support for children for two years.

While other nonprofits and government subsidies offer support to families of children with autism, it’s often comes in the form of a little bit at a time, Price said.

“There’s a recognized need for it, I just don’t think there’s a consolidated organization like Autism Speaks, that’s able to do something on a major scale,” Price said. While any source of funding is valuable, “For the magnitude of what these kids need, a little bit is just not enough,” Price said.

Pass it on:  Autism places a significant financial burden on families.

Source: http://www.myhealthnewsdaily.com/2366-autism-family-financial-burden.html

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Animal Assisted Therapy – New Online Course!

Animal Assisted Therapy

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In Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) the human-animal bond is utilized to help meet therapeutic goals and reach individuals who are otherwise difficult to engage in verbal therapies. AAT is considered an emerging therapy at this time, and more research is needed to determine the effects and confirm the benefits. Nevertheless, there is a growing body of research and case studies that illustrate the considerable therapeutic potential of using animals in therapy. AAT has been associated with improving outcomes in four areas: autism-spectrum symptoms, medical difficulties, behavioral problems, and emotional well-being. This course is designed provide therapists, educators, and caregivers with the information and techniques needed to begin using the human-animal bond successfully to meet individual therapeutic goals.

The author, Lois Jean Brady, MA, CCC-SLP, is a practicing speech-language pathologist registered in animal-assisted therapy. She has a very loveable potbelly pig named Buttercup who accompanies her to therapy sessions, where he enhances her work with students on the spectrum. Buttercup has made a lasting impression on students, staff, and caregivers – essentially all who meet him. He has helped some students attain their goals and others just feel safer and more secure in the therapy environment, allowing them to focus their attention on a task. He has heard many students utter their first words, start conversations, or ask questions. He has been combed, brushed, fed, and cared for by many students. Lois has found that having an animal creates an atmosphere of trust that motivates children to expand their skills, strive to do their best, and strengthen the relationship between them and her.

Rosy Chu interviews Lois and Buttercup on KTVU Bay Area People: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=9ypo0GzPkUs

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Posted by on March 6, 2012 in General

 

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