Tag Archives: autism

New Clues into the Cause of Autism

 

Recently published results of researchers at Yale University, studying the brain and autism, have highlighted the value of turning stem cells from autistic and “normal” patients into “organoids.”

Flora Vaccarino, MD, a professor of child psychiatry and neurobiology is the head of a team of researchers at Yale University, which took stem cells from patients and “grew” them into “organoids.”  These stem cells were actually grown into brain cells so that the researchers could compare those with “normal” brain cells.

brain_organoidsx519

Brain organoids made of stem cells from an autistic patient (right) contained more proteins (red and green) associated with a particular type of neuron than did organoids made from the patient’s father’s cells (left).

This research could help determine what causes autism in one out of 68 births.

Organoids grown from stem cells have been used to study the heart, the intestines, etc.  It is a very interesting new science, and which has been and will be used more frequently, to find that perhaps the diseases of today may not be the diseases of tomorrow.

[The organoid images for this post are from BioMedicine News.]

[ Header image from http://www.freewebheaders.com ]

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14 Wonderful, Unique and Funny Ways Kids Have Explained Disability

My granddaughter has Asperger’s on the Autism Spectrum. This post is a celebration of her and all the other kids who have what are known as “disabilities.” But, these kids DO NOT believe they are disabled. You will laugh at their senses of humor! 🙂

kraftycatcreations

-Fern

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http://themighty.com

At The Mighty, we know that sometimes kids can offer us a brand new perspective on the world. So, we decided to ask our readers who are parents to share some of the wonderful, unique and funny things their kids have said about their disability.

These were your answers:

1. “‘I’m not Autistic, I’m Cara.’ My now 9-year-old daughter said that when someone called her autistic instead of saying she had autism. Well played, baby girl. Well, played.” – Kim Vivanco

2. “My cousin says she has ‘Up syndrome’ because she’s happy, not sad.” – Cassie Collins

3. “My oldest son is in fourth grade…

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Important Brain-Immune System Link Discovery

“They’ll have to change the textbooks.”  This statement, by Kevin Lee, PhD, Chairman of the UVA Department of Neuroscience, is the result of a study at the University of Virginia School of Medicine.   The study, awarded to the UVA Health System and funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has shown there are heretofore undetected lymphatic vessels connecting the brain to the immune system.

Maps of the lymphatic system: old (left) and updated to reflect UVA's discovery.

Maps of the lymphatic system: old (left) and updated to reflect UVA’s discovery.

Researchers knew there was a connection between the brain and immune system, but the vessels were completely hidden.  Now, there are many new angles to exploring neurological disease.

This is a stunning discovery.  It is difficult to explain how these vessels in the brain were overlooked when the lymphatic system was explored.  New avenues of discovery are now possible and beneficiaries might be MS, Autism, Alzheimer’s and maybe even ME (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis)!

kipnis

Professor Jonathan Kipnis

Jonathan Kipnis, PhD, professor in the UVA Department of Neuroscience and director of UVA’s Center for Brain Immunology and Glia, stated, “We believe that for every neurological disease that has an immune component to it, these vessels may play a major role.  [It’s] hard to imagine that these vessels would not be involved in a [neurological] disease with an immune component.”

Click here to read the complete report.

[image credit:  University of Virginia Health System]

[image of Dr. Kipnis from bingdotcom]

Vaccines cause autism, says confidential document from corrupt drug company

Where there’s smoke, there’s most likely fire.

Leaning into my Hypocrisy

Being an autistic, especially an Aspie, can be very frustrating to that person and to all around who are experiencing frustration also. This post gives a little perspective.

Thirty Days of Autism

Leaninginwatermarked.jpgSometimes the things I know to be right and true, the things I aspire to, do not come easily to me in the tired-out end-of-the-day moments.

Those are the times when I may not be at my best: my patience may be worn thin, and I may feel the tempting lure of what seems like a shortcut… one that ends up just making things more complex and unruly.

Tonight was one of those nights.

I was rushing H to get to bed – and he was yelling at me for rushing him. It did not go particularly well…

But H called me on it:

I am trying to advocate for myself here. I need you to listen to me.

I am having a hard time listening because you are yelling at me and I don’t like to be yelled at.

Well, I feel I have to yell because you are…

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Does Autism Begin Before Birth?

Autism is a growing problem among toddlers, children, teenagers, young adults and older adults.  It can be during any of these life stages that symptoms are recognized for the first time.  Many times, symptoms are apparent, but if the people close to the autistic individual are not familiar with symptoms, and the professionals who are treating that person for things other than Autism, due to ignorance, the individual will not get the treatment necessary.  By “treatment necessary,” I mean the professional testing for diagnosis, and psychological assistance needed to help the autistic person cope with his/her surroundings, heightened sensitivities, and people and environment in general.

I refer to Autistic people as “Autistic people.”  They are not people “with Autism,” as you would refer to a person who has MS or AIDS or ME, as “with MS” or “with AIDS” or “with ME.”  Generally speaking, Autistic people do not have a medical or physically-disabling disease.  There are exceptions when the symptoms are severe; however, it all starts in the brain.

There is reason for me to believe that there might be some genetic influence in the development of Autism.  C’s onset is not the only one in my family on my daughter’s father’s side.

This subject is personal.  My granddaughter is an adult with Asperger’s Syndrome, which is included in the Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) list.  It used to be, until recently, recognized as a distinct and separate part of Autism, but has now been brought into the ASD fold.

It is not easy for me to be in my granddaughter’s company.  I will refer to her as “C.”  It is stressful for her and for me.  I don’t see her often.  My daughter is the only person in whose company C feels comfortable.  She was diagnosed at the age of 21.  She was not initially diagnosed by a professional.  She was diagnosed by my daughter, C’s mom!!  A few years ago, an article in the Reader’s Digest on Asperger’s listed the symptoms, and every one of the symptoms pointed to my granddaughter.  Up until then, she was “in the care of professionals” who thought she had emotional problems, and she was thus treated.

Treatment for autism needs to be very intensive, and so, early diagnosis and treatment are vitally important.  Given how complex the brain is, it can be very difficult to correct differences in brain development and function that start so early in life, especially when symptoms are not recognized and treated early enough to make an important difference in the individual’s, or C’s, life.

Autism Awareness Ribbon

Autism Awareness Ribbon

“We hear so much about autism risk factors during pregnancy and delivery.  But our kids aren’t born with autism, they develop it later, [don’t they?]  I don’t get it.”

Developmental-behavioral pediatrician Paul Wang, Autism Speaks senior vice president for medical research, gives his take on Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), while attempting to correct misconceptions, including the statement above.

Dr. Paul Wang

‘ Dr. Paul Wang

“ ‘When does autism start?’ is one of the most profound questions we face in our field.  At present, autism can’t be reliably diagnosed until around 2 years of age. However, parents often notice symptoms before then. In fact, analysis of videotapes from children’s first-birthday parties shows that signs of autism are already present for many children at that age, even when parents don’t become concerned until months or years later.

‘Is it possible that autism starts even earlier?’ Research tells us ‘yes’.

In most medical conditions, the underlying processes are triggered before their signs and symptoms become obvious. Consider arthritis. The joints are breaking down and inflammation is setting in years before the aches and pains appear.  In dyslexia (reading disability), the symptoms aren’t obvious until a child starts learning how to read. But the symptoms are rooted in brain differences that are present much earlier in development.

A similar chain of events occurs in autism.  We know that toxic exposures during pregnancy and complications associated with delivery can disrupt brain processes before birth and shortly afterwards. Mutations in the genes associated with autism can affect how the brain develops and functions, starting well before birth.

Even though the outward symptoms of autism may not be apparent immediately after birth, the underlying brain differences are accumulating.  Sometimes the brain can compensate to make up for the disrupted processes.  Eventually though, if the disruption was sufficiently severe, the compensatory processes are no longer enough, and symptoms emerge.

This may likewise explain many cases of autistic regression, in which a young child seems to be developing normally, only to lose abilities, or regress, into autism. Perhaps the initial disruption in brain development continued worsening. Or perhaps the compensatory processes couldn’t keep up.”

 

A Word or Two on Autism

The following reblogged post is a beautiful commentary on what love is all about – love between mother and daughter who both suffer from different, daunting, problems. And yet, they find a common and loving ground on which to meet and share beautiful, rewarding moments.

kraftycatcreations

My daughter has an Autism Spectrum Disorder, along with depression and OCD. We did not learn until she was 21 about the Autism. (Thank you Reader’s Digest for the article that spelled it out for me.) By then, after being unsuccessfully treated for over ten years for anxiety and depression, she felt hopeless. As she stated to me, “None of the meds I have tried ever worked. Nothing changes and I will never be normal.”

Well she was right. She will never be “normal” (whatever that is), but she will always be herself! And that is perfect to me. I wish she could understand how much I love her and love herself just as much.

We work together with a therapist on life skills, and I believe I see glimpses of forward movement – or what the therapist and I see as such. To my daughter, it takes a lot of energy and…

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Dear Mr. President

After learning about Kathleen Sebelius’ resignation, I was prompted to write again to President Obama.  I usually write a letter a month, but this will be my second for April.  Will this change mean a different pressure on the reins?  Tighter or looser?  Is it too much to wish for a more positive outlook for the patients suffering from the chronic illness known as ME/CFS?  Of course, time will tell, as it always does.  But, we have to keep a positive mental picture.  And keep writing letters!

*****I’ve put asterisks before the start of each paragraph.  Copying from Word onto my post deletes the separation between paragraphs.

Here is a copy of my letter to the President:

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington DC 20500

Re: The Department of Health & Human Services; National Institute of Health

Dear Mr. President;

On the occasion of your acceptance of Kathleen Sebelius’ resignation, I take the opportunity to hope that her replacement, Sylvia Mathews Burwell, will do a better job of managing the health and well being of the American people. It will take more than organizational skills if the health of American citizens is taken seriously. And, I hope there will be no more “secret” contracts (IOM) without seeking bids, that have the backing of the “all-powerful” pharmaceutical industry.
*****As you know, I am an advocate for people suffering from the tremendously debilitating chronic illness referred to as ME/CFS (myalgic encephalomyelitis). I say “referred to” because it is not a recognized disease as far as the Department of Health and Human Services is concerned. And yet, how can it be ignored and pushed aside by all the departments under the umbrella of the Health and Human Services? There are more than 1 million patients in the United States, and more than 17 million who have their lives, hopes, goals, and yes, family and friends, snatched from them because of this misunderstood “invisible” illness. Patients’ numbers are growing exponentially, as more and more patients and their doctors are starting to realize that their symptoms are falling under the “umbrella” of ME/CFS.
*****May I recommend an excellent book entitled, “You Don’t LOOK Sick”? The author is Joy H. Selak PhD. To the uninformed about this chronic illness, it gives a very personal documentation of her journey from onset of symptoms to how she deals with her current living situation, and managing her illness.
*****As my daughter’s symptoms grow more intense and increase in number, her quality of life is diminishing. She is suffering constant pain, exhaustive (abnormal) unrelenting fatigue, weakness in extremities, cognitive impairment, painful migraines and so much more. Her chronic illness is getting worse. As her mother, you cannot imagine the emotional effect on me, and we can only assume the effect on her Autistic daughter. My daughter is well aware of the toll it’s taking on her life, and I marvel at her positive and hopeful attitude!
*****I hope the outcome of the IOM contract, now under way, will recognize the CCC criteria, giving these patients a medically recognized name for their illness, which will cause a surge in research and needed funding. They need advocates who have the strength and stamina to forward their cause. They cannot do it alone; they’re sick.
*****Very Sincerely,

Totally Inspirational

If this autistic, blind boy doesn’t inspire us all, I don’t know what will.  His name is Christopher Duffley.  His uncle adopted him when he was less than a year old.

Christopher, besides his singing, plays multiple instruments.  Born prematurely, in 2001, Christopher weighed only 1 lb 12 oz at birth and was rendered blind due to Retinopathy of Prematurity.

Christopher Duffley sings “Lean on Me” in Texas in the video.  He performs at an “Autism Speaks” presentation at a Teamsters’ special occasion in this video.  Another video, in which Christopher sings “Ave Maria,” is absolutely beautiful.

Christopher’s enthusiasm for his music is outstanding.  You can find out what has been happening with him by going to his website.  Yes, he has his own site!

 

 

World Autisim Day April 2nd

Dark blue clothing and/or a dark blue ribbon is the recognizable wardrobe to signify your support for autism.
Autism Awareness Month

Autism Awareness Month

Autism is a complex neurobiological disorder that typically lasts throughout a person’s lifetime.  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.  It is part of a group of disorders known as Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).  In most cases its causes are unknown.  Today, 1 in 110 individuals is diagnosed with autism.  Autism usually manifests in the first year of life; its onset is not later than 3 years.

 

Click here to watch a video to get a realistic view of how children suffering with autism behave, and the options available to try to help them.

There are different forms of autism.  Asperger’s Syndrome is one other form.  Children and young adults (Aspies) suffering this form, are usually extremely intelligent, so it is more difficult to diagnose.  They can learn ways to deal with social situations, but cannot communicate “normally” with people.  They usually do not start a conversation, but will answer questions put to them.  That is usually the end of the conversation.  Their social interaction is short-lived; although, these patients can focus on what does interest them.  Interests can range from animals to computer use.  It is these interests that can occupy them in an obsessive way.  Other obsessions may be present; for instance, OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) is very common.  Jack Nicholson, in the movie, “As Good As It Gets,” played a character who had OCD.

ASPERGERSPICS

The children with more common forms, along with Asperger’s, are extremely sensitive to visual and audiological stimulation.  Their hearing can be super-sensitive and loud noises can cause extreme disturbance.

Here is a video of a young girl, Carly, who has uncontrollable body movements, but as she grows older, she has found a way to communicate through the keyboard.  It was found she is highly intelligent; whereby, before, she was thought to be retarded.

Autism, in its many forms, is striking higher percentages of children as each year goes by.  It is imperative that a cause be found.  There are many unproven theories as to what is the cause.  Could it be environment, or food, or genetic abnormalities?  Does it occur at fertilization, or in the uterus?  Without further research, no answer will be found.  This is another disease that needs the support of the good people of the world.