Families Often Wonder: For My Child With Autism, What Does The Future Hold?

Families Often Wonder:  For My Child With Autism, What Does The Future Hold?

     Families Often Wonder:  For My Child With Autism, What Does The Future Hold?  How is a parent to help formulate a future when they don’t know how their child’s limitations will affect them as they enter adulthood?  Ethan’s passions were music, farm equipment, and collecting business cards.  His parents had a lot to learn about what was going on inside their son.  Their story is both heartwarming and instructive.  I hope you enjoy reading about Ethan and his family.

New Study Finds That Eye Movements May Be Early Indicator Of Autism

New Study Finds That Eye Movements May Be Early Indicator Of Autism

     Autism and similar neuro-developmental conditions vary widely in severity from person to person, making it challenging to diagnose and devise a course of treatment.  Researchers at the University of Rochester recently completed a study that could provide an early diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders (ASD). 

     The rapid eye movements we make when we shift our attention from one object to another are known as saccades.  According to the study’s authors, these movements are “essential to navigating, understanding, and interacting with the world around us. In healthy individuals, these saccades are rapid, precise, and accurate, redirecting the line of sight from one point of interest to another.”

     The area of the brain that controls saccades is the cerebellum.  It has been traditionally understood to play a role in motor control and more recently recognized as essential to emotion and comprehension through its connections to the rest of the brain.  According to the article, there is growing evidence that the makeup of the cerebellum is altered in people with ASD. 

     I think this discovery could potentially be very helpful.  One of the current difficulties in medicine is being able to diagnose autism and other spectrum conditions early enough.  With any autism spectrum disorder, the sooner we have the diagnosis, the better the chances are for improvement.  I have treated children with autism who have actually lost their autism diagnosis altogether because we have been able to start treatment early enough, generally before the age of four.   Click here or on the photo to read the article.

Yes, ADHD Can Be Successfully Treated Without Pharmaceutical Medication

Kathryn Taketa-Wong professional pic

     Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the least understood conditions of modern society.  First recognized in 1980, it is now seen as having three main aspects:  inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.  Inattention involves difficulty staying focused, wandering off task, and being disorganized.  Hyperactivity is expressed by the need to move around constantly, even in situations where it is not appropriate.  Impulsivity is where the individual is acting without thinking of the consequences, having little control over delayed gratification, interrupting others.  These behaviors are not due to defiance or lack of comprehension, but are beyond the individual’s ability to control.

      The causes of ADHD can be difficult to pin down:  brain chemicals, lack of discipline, too much TV, genetic disorder, pesticides, food additives?  In addition, studies show that a fetus exposed to alcohol and tobacco is 2.4 times more likely to develop ADHD.  Diet has also been implicated.  Adolescents with diets high in fat, refined sugar, and sodium are two times as likely to be diagnosed with ADHD as other kids.  Additional studies have also linked ADHD to diets deficient in omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for brain development and function.

     There is also the issue of over-diagnosis.  There are at least fifty medical conditions that can mimic ADHD symptoms.  Here are a few of the main ones:  low blood sugar, food allergies, learning disorders, hypo or hyperthyroidism, adrenal imbalances, metabolic disorders, sleep problems, iron and/or vitamin deficiencies.  Without a thorough review of the other possible causes of the ADHD symptoms, a child can be put on medication unnecessarily.  That’s why when I treat a child with those symptoms, I begin by looking for underlying medical conditions to be certain we are actually dealing with ADHD.

     Sometimes, pressure to start a child on medication comes from teachers, who are struggling with a disruptive student.  This is often because the child may have trouble focusing, doing homework, or staying on task.  The all-too-typical situation is the parent then talking to a pediatrician about the situation and the doctor handing them a prescription for a stimulant medication on the spot.  This is because in ADHD, individuals tend to produce inadequate amounts of dopamine and norepinephrine, brain chemicals that help to regulate mood, attention, and focus.  They also tend to fidget a lot because the movement and stimulation cause the body to produce more dopamine and norepinephrine.  Many of them like video games because they provide constant auditory and visual stimulation.  ADHD medications provide stimulation to the brain, which is why individuals with ADHD don’t feel the constant need to fidget and move all the time.  This why stimulants can have the paradoxical effect of calming a hyperactive child. 

     While putting children on medication can make a difference for some, many parents are concerned because of the potential side effects and also because they worry about their child having to take a stimulant drug for the rest of their lives once they start on it.  The most common side effects I see in children is a decrease in appetite.  Their hunger diminishes and they tend to lose weight, so they don’t get enough nutrients for a developing body and brain.  Stimulants also increase heart rate and blood pressure and can cause problems with sleep.  Some children also get moody and irritable.  Others can experience a rebound after the medication wears off and wind up worse than they were.

     When it comes to treatment, I first look for underlying medical conditions to rule them out as the causes of the ADHD symptoms.  If testing reveals those to be normal, we then move to working with the family on a natural approach.  I have many families that come to me because their child is on an ADHD medication and they want to decrease their dose or wean their child off of it.  I have seen many children improve just with a change in the diet that moves them away from artificial flavors, dyes, preservatives, pesticides, and other chemicals.  I also may recommend certain supplements that have a similar effect on the brain as pharmaceuticals but without the side effects.

     It definitely takes a commitment from the parents, because giving medication is easier.  But the easy way isn’t necessarily the best or most healthful one.  Fortunately, when the family is dedicated to giving the natural approach enough time to work, they are usually very happy with the results.  Many have been successful in reducing the dosage of ADHD medication or weaning their child off of it altogether.

 

Ground-Breaking Shift Creates Doctor-Patient Partnership & Saves Patients Money

Ground-Breaking Shift Creates Doctor-Patient Partnership & Saves Patients Money

     I’m excited to now have a new structure for my patients, from acupuncture to autism.  We call it Partnership For Health.  It’s a system where doctor and patient collaborate on achieving the patient’s health goals on an ongoing basis.  It allows my patients to keep getting better and to avoid sliding backwards when it comes to their health challenges.

     Having a proactive daily practice for improving your health is how we actually prevent disease.  The ground-breaking aspect is moving from being a patient OF a doctor to being a patient WITH a doctor.  It’s a shift in thinking from taking a pill to treat symptoms to finding out what’s causing them and making a commitment to your own well being.  That allows for changing what’s been going on in your body that allowed those symptoms to develop in the first place. 

      True, deep, long lasting health takes a solid plan.  It comes out of the process of combining regular office visits with personalized health goals along with the support of our office to help bring them about.  Our Partnership For Health plans are designed to accomplish all that while at the same time saving patients money on every visit and offering the lowest prices on high quality nutritional supplements. 

     To learn how this ground breaking Partnership For Health program can significantly improve the health of you and your family, please call our office to schedule a free phone consultation.  Or go to http://sacredhealingarts.info/ to schedule one online.

Yoga May Protect the Brain From Degeneration As We Age

Yoga May Protect the Brain From Degeneration As We Age

     While some decline in cognitive function may be inevitable once we pass 40, studies have shown that people who run, weight train, dance, practice tai chi, or regularly garden have a lower risk of developing dementia than people who are not physically active at all.  But what about people who aren’t able to take on those types of activities or who simply find them unappealing.

     A new study out of UCLA tested people 29 years and older, did a baseline brain scan and divided them into two groups.  For 12 weeks, one group had weekly classroom time and mental exercises to do at home.  The other did yoga and some active meditation.  After the 12 weeks, the volunteers were all scanned again.  Yoga and meditation topped the benefits of brain training.  The article explains some of the science behind these findings, and the good news is that we have more control over our future memory capability than previously thought.

 

Pain Meds Can Inhibit Feelings For Others

Pain Meds Can Inhibit Feelings For Others

     Researchers at Ohio State University, one now at the National Institutes of Health, have discovered that taking acetaminophen to reduce pain may also cause a decrease in empathy.  For example, when study participants took acetaminophen and learned about other people’s troubles, they assumed those individuals felt less pain and suffering when compared to those who did not take the medication.

     The article’s co-author said the findings suggest that other people’s pain doesn’t seem as big of a deal when you’ve taken acetaminophen.  The authors do not know why the effect occurs, although brain scans have shown that when we experience pain and imagine other people feeling the same pain, the same part of the brain is activated.  That is one possible explanation, but to me this is more evidence that the body is one, and everything in our body is connected to everything else.  Whatever we put in our body is going to have an effect on all aspects of our being.

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