Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Congenital Rubella Syndrome

here is the link:  http://pediatrics.about.com/b/2011/12/23/congenital-rubella-syndrome-in-sweden.htm

Sweden is reporting their first case of congenital rubella syndrome in 30 years. The baby, born premature, has a variety of birth defects, as is typical for for a baby born with congenital rubella syndrome.
According to the World Health Organization, the rubella virus "can often lead to serious and sometimes fatal complications in the fetus when an unprotected woman acquires the infection early in pregnancy (congenital rubella infection) or to congenital rubella syndrome in newborns." Birth defects can include deafness, cataracts, cardiac problems, and neurologic abnormalities, including microcephaly and mental retardation.
In one of the last rubella epidemics in the United States, in 1964, there were 12.5 million cases of rubella and 20,000 cases of congenital rubella syndrome, including 11,600 babies who were born deaf, 3,580 blind, and 1,800 mentally retarded. There were also 2,100 neonatal deaths.

Further link on Wikipedia give info regarding Maternal infection, EVEN BEFORE CONCEPTION. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congenital_rubella_syndrome

Congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) can occur in a developing fetus of a pregnant woman who has contracted rubella during her first trimester. If infection occurs 0–28 days before conception, there is a 43% chance the infant will be affected. If the infection occurs 0–12 weeks after conception, there is a 51% chance the infant will be affected. If the infection occurs 13–26 weeks after conception there is a 23% chance the infant will be affected by the disease. Infants are not generally affected if rubella is contracted during the third trimester, or 26–40 weeks after conception. Problems rarely occur when rubella is contracted by the mother after 20 weeks of gestation and continues to disseminate the virus after birth.

What is it within science that is not looking for a similar infection as the present day cause of autism?

In this PubMed publication, we are made aware that maternal infection with German Measles increased the incidence of Autism >200 fold in affected mothers/fetusesActivation of the Maternal Immune System Alters Cerebellar Development in the Offspring This is NOT the heritibility we have been led to believe the cause, that arrived coincidentally (or NOT) at the same time scientists were looking to fund the Genome Project.

I propose we already have a good idea what causes autism.  There are just too many livelihoods and egos involved.  Too many research facilities needing funding. And it has nothing to do with psychiatry or mothers,although autism and schizophrenia are the bread and butter of that crowd. (Does my cynicism show?)

The answer is simple, and it was right under our noses in 1977.  How much longer will we continue to ignore it? Rubella is not the only viral possibility.  There are thousands of different viruses, I'm sure.  Sexually transmitted virus's could survive undetected in the mother's blood for years. The PubMed Central search for "maternal viral infections autism" returns only 96 hits.

You may or may not be aware of CMV, or  Cytomegalovirus.

The Impact of CMV Infection

Chart: U.S. Children Born with or Developing Long-Term Medical Conditions Each Year. Annual number of children affected. Cytomegalovirus (CMV): 5,500; Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS): 5,000; Down Syndrome: 4,000; Spina Bifida/Anencephaly: 3,000; Pediatric HIV/AIDS: 200; Invasive Haemophilus Influenzae Type B: 60; Congenital Rubella Syndrome (CRS): 10. CMV is the most common congenital (present at birth) viral infection in the U.S. Each year, about 5,500 (1 in 750) children in this country are born with or develop disabilities that result from congenital CMV infection. More children have disabilities due to this disease than other well-known congenital infections and syndromes, including Down syndrome, fetal alcohol syndrome, spina bifida, and pediatric HIV/AIDS.

See how easily this can happen? It is the most common cause of congenital birth defects, and only 1 in 5 pregnant women have heard of it.

I bet David Kirby fans would love me.

http://www.ctl1.com/publicaccess/humanecology/hdru-20091022-eng-ap/#  early manifestation...from 2 to 4 months post implantation. Immune activation trigger ...

http://sfari.org/funding/grants/abstracts/effect-of-abnormal-calcium-influx-on-social-behavior-in-autism excessive calcium

Iodine deficiency - Combined maternal and fetal hypothyroidism:Iodine deficiency is, by a large margin, the most common preventable cause of mental retardation in the world. Without adequate maternal iodine intake, both the fetus and mother are hypothyroid, and if supplemental iodine is not provided, the child may well develop cretinism, with mental retardation, deaf-mutism and spasticity. http://www.vivo.colostate.edu/hbooks/pathphys/endocrine/thyroid/thyroid_preg.html


pregnancy loss and thyroid treatment  http://www.bmj.com/content/356/bmj.i6865

Friday, December 23, 2011

I have a Christmas Message for you...

See these two people above?  These are my two favorite people in the whole world. My Mama, doing her best Nancy Reagan imitaion, only for real...she's looking up adoringly into my son's eyes.  He is smiling at having his picture taken for once because he wants to always remember the sweetest person in the world.

She never used to remember going to Tuscon with Dad to pick up us and Ben and spend a week with us at Ben's birth.  Do you know what she said to him this last time we went home?

"I loved you from the moment I first saw you!" 

Mom has Alzheimers or the remains of a stroke or something that is taking away her thoughts/memories and ability to care for herself.  But she's still Mom, ya know?  If anything, she's become more kind, more loving than she used to be.  I would think that impossible.  Maybe it's because Alzheimers can't destroy her heart, her soul. She will always be Mom.  No disease will capture her soul.

See my son?  According to science, he lacks the skills that make us human.  You can see that, can't you?  An empty package.  Frankly, it appears to be an insane conclusion.

I hate science.  In it's desire to codify and delegate, it gives rise to fools who run circles in their own minds while never leaving a drop of sense behind.  Feverish little men and women who spin in only their own webs, setting themselves up as the new priests who never lift a finger to help those under their care. 

When I was young, I wanted to be intelligent.  I wanted to know all the answers.  Now that I am older, I crave wisdom.

It was a wise and kind Creator who allowed me to be enriched by that which the highly intelligent dismiss.

"If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, 'thank you,' that would suffice."

Thursday, December 1, 2011

songs for a blue day for Mom and Ben

Some voices are just perfect for some songs...Rufus Wainwright has a gorgeous voice.

Heaven to me would be this man singing...

Benny asked me to add this one. Funny how music heals us both. Listening to music takes me to a place where the slipstream to love is found. These songs give me shivers and remind me that we are all human and easily broken. It's why I married a music man.  It is a language in and of itself. 

As the great poet (Robert Frost) says:

And God has taken a flower of gold
  And broken it, and used therefrom
The mystic link to bind and hold
  Spirit to matter till death come.

Sorry, guess I'm kind of a mental case, but I wouldn't trade the awareness of the beauty of brokenness for all of the money, fame, and intelligence in the world.

Proverbs 4:6-7
Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

What are we doing to our kids?

I'm an eff up, from the word go.  I'll admit it.  But there is something happening in our schools that is downright evil.  It's systemic.  Luckily for our children, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. 

"Learning Disabled".  Okay...we got lots of labels.  Do I really have to go there?

ADHD, Aspergers, Autism, LD, Dyslexia,...Those are the biggies.  Then there are the shades of grey:  dyscalculia, dysgraphia, Sensory Integrative Disfunction, Apraxia, PDD-nos, Bipolar, Tourettes...I don't know, my mind is going blank.  I'm not even including Intellectual Disabilities.  I'm sure they have their own spectrum. 

All these labels to place on little teeny, tiny kids who are scared and feel inadequate to begin with.  It is no wonder that they,  along with gay kids, make up the majority of teen suicides.

Children, forgive us.  We know not what we do.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Teaching Math without Words...

Amazing, amazing approach to those who learn in pictures.  I'd like to study this further if I could.  Benny's troubles were in math, I remember him coming home and sobbing, "I'm stupid!"  We had been so hard on him, making sure he completed homework, like it was more important than him.  He still was echolalic, and unable to freely answer a question.  He was very, very language delayed. He just didn't get math, and my baby thought he was stupid.  His kindergarten teacher had told him "Boy, numbers sure don't like to stay in your head."  His first grade teacher...well, I'm sure she was very frustrated. 

We found out later, he thought in pictures.  Like many kids labelled dyslexic.  Like many who suffer for their difference.  (Learning Disabilities can be deadly...http://www.dyslexicsuicide.com/)

The TED clip below is very interesting.  Dr. Matthew Peterson has developed a way of teaching math without words.  He was quite dyslexic himself. 

What if, what if it's "too hard" for teachers to teach this way?  Will they be "teaching disabled"?

I just bought this book by the Dr.'s Eide, which is where I found the film.

Dr.'s Brock and Fernette Eide have a website here, which is quite heartening, and they were still pretty approachable, but that's before the book came out.  There have been wonderful discussions I've taken part in there.. 
The thing I like about today's websites is they are all about changing the world for our kids, not the other way around.  They, because of past experience, or present desire, try to see the world from the kiddo's eyes.

We put so much pressure on some kids to learn the way we teach, when it is only effective 20% of the time.  They are babies.  It's cruel.  Where is our empathy?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

"Bullied by the curriculum"...how learning differences affect our kid's hearts...

Those were his exact words.  Ben has been having a tough time, emotionally, lately.  With all the pedophilia going on in the news, he wondered if it was something he wasn't remembering.  I've been down that road.  You remember something, even if you don't remember the actual event.
Daddy and I have apologized for everything we did before we knew better.  Raising a child with such severe language discrepancies is tough.  It's different from regular stuff.  Things that work for most people don't work for your child because there is a bit of a disconnect between  behavior and intentions.  We had a lot of anger when Ben was young.  We thought he was being willful or oppositional.  I think those attitudes came about secondarily after trying to please us, and not being able to figure it out. 

"I'm sorry Ben."  I remember those years.  I never wanted to face them.  I hated who I was, looking back, but we thought he needed punishment to hit the straight and narrow.  Turns out, he was trying, but we (I) just didn't have the patience he needed to grow.  Within a few years, I found it.  Our relationship became the most important thing.

"Are you crying?  Listen, it's not your fault.  I was an ornery kid."

"It's not your fault, Ben.  You were the child.  It was our job to figure out what you needed.  I'm so sorry...when we knew better, we did better."

Then, he brings up a strange thing.  I am asking him how he "feels", because he is trying to intellectualize the discussion, and it's going nowhere.

"I don't know how I feel.  I shut off my feelings to survive in Middle School."

"What do you mean?  Why?  Were you punished?  Were you bullied?"

"Not by the other kids..."  Ben had developed a persona of an Englishman.  He spoke with a cockney accent at school.  It amazed me, and hurt, too, a little bit, that he seemed to be so insecure of himself.  But I had never seen him mistreated at school.  He was so different, so "artsy" that he seemed to have an air of impermeability about him. A coolness.  Some kids gave him a lot of respect for his guts, others just avoided him.

"Not by the teachers...I guess you could say I was bullied by the curriculum."

It was his inability to achieve success...no matter how hard he tried, that led to walling off his feelings in order to survive.  At school, he was stupid, a "retard", even though his IQ is far above average.  He walled off his feelings because of a learning difference that made him feel stupid.  I had no idea how hard it is on our kids.

Imagine going to work every day, and never having success, no matter how hard you tried.  You'd quit...try another job that fit your abilities more.  But kids can't quit school.  Every day you have to tell yourself you aren't stupid, that it's the school.  He hated school, wanted to blow up the place.  It was the source of his failure.  It was a job he couldn't leave.  In adults, stress can lead to severe health problems.  In children, it can lead to shutting off feelings in order to survive.  I think it was how he avoided suicide.

It's taken me a few years to catch up to it.  I had no idea how much Ben suffered for his Dyslexia. As an adult, he has more control regarding what he learns.  He is inspired by his dreams, and takes those classes that help fulfill it.  He is in Tech school, and enjoying success for the first time in his life.  He can't be alone.  How many other kids are suffering?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

#Homeschool Science and Environment Ideas...Websites

I am looking at these to add to the http://www.somuch2learn.com/   website that I volunteer for.  Ms. Arlene is a jewel, and started the site herself.  I just help a little.  There are more science sites there!

You may find some helpful, some may appeal to a younger or older child.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/physics/ (physics + math)

http://amasci.com/ Science hobbyist

http://www.treehugger.com/ (environmental, green)

http://science.hq.nasa.gov/kids/imagers/ grade school,” echo the bat”

http://micro.magnet.fsu.edu./micro/gallery.html Gorgeous pictures taken with microscope +

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/worlds/ nova alien worlds

http://teachspacescience.org/cgi-bin/ssrtop.plex Find NASA stuff by grade,subject, etc. education resource directory

http://inventions.smithsonian.org/home/ Lemelson center of invention

http://www.nhm.ac.uk/kids-only/ National history museum

http://bizarrelabs.com/cat.htm kitchen...cheap labs.

http://www.webelements.com/ periodic table of elements and info

http://www.nucleartourist.com/ Nuclear energy

http://www.funsci.com/texts/index_en.htm fun for amateur scientists—gr 6-12 adult sup.

http://scitoys.com/ Science exper 6-12gr adult sup

http://www.reekoscience.com/index.aspx Mad scientist with a sense of humor. Gr 3-8 ?

periodic table of elements and info presented visually—unique! Upper grades

http://amasci.com/miscon/miscon.html Science misconceptions REALLY GEEKY

http://www.talkingscience.org/   Part of Science Friday initiative..science in the news.

Now, here is a website that has lots of links that appear to be good:
http://jc-schools.net/tutorials/interact-science.htm     Click on science mouse, and there is a whole page of science related websites that I haven't looked through, yet...

I hope y'all enjoy this Science Friday!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

so..easily... amused...

Sometimes I scare myself.  I get more joy out of this stuff.  It's a GIFT to be simple, people....

I guess the takeaway from the video is:
If you're not sure, poke it with a stick.

Thanks to Doctor Dorothy Bishop, from whose post this video was "picked up".  She studies our children, and she gives us Mom's a break.  Nice lady.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Visual-spatial Learner--revisited part deux!!

I found a site that gave me a lot of hope.  It described the disabling features that made school difficult for my son, as well as describing the phenomenal gifts he had.   It just was an oasis of good feeling in a storm of negativity. (If you are interested, check this out.)

Linda Kreger Silverman's name kept popping up. In 1980, she "observed" a subset of her students who performed well on visually presented areas of IQ tests.  Of course, the gifted children took the top off the tests in these area's, but so did a subset of children who scored at the lowest end.  The same child whose IQ scores seemed to indicate a low intelligence, scored at the gifted level in visually-presented material. She had noticed that they seemed much more intelligent than their testing showed, just by talking to them.  She began to note the differences in learning styles, and typical attributes of these "visually-oriented" children.  What they lacked in auditory-sequential processing, they made up for in creativity, synthesis, intuition and sensitivity. She wrote a book,   Upside-down Brilliance, https://www.amazon.com/Upside-Down-Brilliance-Linda-Kreger-Silverman/dp/193218600X that goes into much more detail. The book is presently out of print and very hard to get.  It can be ordered from Australia, or at a cost of $45-$118  dollars from Amazon. (note: 11/15/2016  prices have changed a little...)

You know if your child is a visual-spatial learner.  They love humor.  They hate drills.  They can talk about anything, but can't write a sentence without major stress.  Maybe they were the kid who created comic books instead of dry term papers, which, frankly, were a lot more enjoyable! (You know you loved their cartoons.) They may love the sound of language, but be poor readers, like Agatha Christie, who was purported to be dyslexic. They often get labels in school.  They often prefer to learn outside the lines.  It is a do or die situation:  because they are so uniquely ill-suited to typical demands of school,  they may feel disheartened and give up.  Or they may find those who believe in them, and they change the world.  Where do you think the word "visionary"comes from?

I also noticed something else while I researched visual spatial learning. I loved the cartoons that accompanied the articles and started noticing the name: Buck Jones. They were so cute.  He just seemed to be so spot on, like he knew.  Turns out, he did...

Buck Jones, Illustrator.

Buck knows about visual-spatial learners because he is one.  So are his son and daughter. I get the distinct feeling in conversing with him online that school wasn't a rewarding endeavor for him or his children. He told me of his son and daughter who has severe dyslexia,
"my wife has fought and battled for her and our son for years and years"
Sound familiar?  Did you think you were alone?  Here is a checklist that might help you discover if you or your child might be visually oriented, and it is written in a way that might help your child see his gifts.(Opens in a pdf). Dr. Silverman begins by saying:

"Kids seem to come in two basic designs: some are good at school and some are good at creating."
 We don't reward  creativity in schools.  We reward test taking.  You know what I'm talking about.

Taking a test has never lead to any advancement in human endeavor, be it art, architecture, fashion, design, dance, sports, theatre, music or literature. Inventions of mechanical, constructive, or digital means are discouraged in schools today because it is too time consuming for the teacher, who deals in facts, not functions. Passivity is rewarded to such a degree, parents are more than willing to drug their children to get them there.  Public speaking, and the ability to use language creatively...it's okay, but, will it help the school obtain NCLB goals? 

Art, Theatre, Music and Shop are not needed.  They are extra-curricular and the first to go.  And sometimes, because of that, children who excel in these areas and not in others are the first to leave school early. For them, a high school diploma indicates more of a tolerance of adversity rather than an indication of ability.  You made it, kid...here's your purple heart!

We teach to children who learn by sitting still and listening, not by tearing into projects and doing.  Yet, Dr. Silverman determined that up to 60% of our children don't learn that way.  Seems like an exercise in futility.  It also explains how--no matter how much money we pump into our schools, so many kids fail.

I've said it before and I'll say it again.  We just need more kids who learn the way teachers have been taught to teach!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Five words you will almost never hear from a scientist

"I could be wrong, but..."

Thank God for the realists who still exist.  Without them we'd be &^%$#!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The God of Loneliness


The God of Loneliness

by May 5, 2008

It’s a cold Sunday February morning
and I’m one of eight men waiting
for the doors of Toys R Us to open
in a mall on the eastern tip of Long Island.
We’ve come for the Japanese electronic game
that’s so hard to find. Last week, I waited
three hours for a store in Manhattan
to disappoint me. The first today, bundled
in six layers, I stood shivering in the dawn light
reading the new Aeneid translation, which I hid
when the others came, stamping boots
and rubbing gloveless hands, joking about
sacrificing sleep for ungrateful sons. “My boy broke
two front teeth playing hockey,” a man wearing
shorts laughs. “This is his reward.” My sons
will leap into my arms, remember this morning
all their lives. “The game is for my oldest boy,
just back from Iraq,” a man in overalls says
from the back of the line. “He plays these games
in his room all day. I’m not worried, he’ll snap out of it,
he’s earned his rest.” These men fix leaks, lay
foundations for other men’s dreams without complaint.
They’ve been waiting in the cold since Aeneas
founded Rome on rivers of blood. Virgil understood that
death begins and never ends, that it’s the god of loneliness.
Through the window, a clerk shouts, “We’ve only five.”
The others seem not to know what to do with their hands,
tuck them under their arms, or let them hang,
naked and useless. Is it because our hands remember
what they held, the promises they made? I know
exactly when my boys will be old enough for war.
Soon three of us will wait across the street at Target,
because it’s what men do for their sons.

Read more http://www.newyorker.com/fiction/poetry/2008/05/05/080505po_poem_schultz#ixzz1XYNJykxW

Friday, September 9, 2011



J Appl Behav Anal. 1973 Spring;6(1):131-65.

Some generalization and follow-up measures on autistic children in behavior therapy.


University of California, Los Angeles.


We have treated 20 autistic children with behavior therapy. At intake, most of the children were severely disturbed, having symptoms indicating an extremely poor prognosis. The children were treated in separate groups, and some were treated more than once, allowing for within- and between-subject replications of treatment effects. We have employed reliable measures of generalization across situations and behaviors as well as across time (follow-up). The findings can be summarized as follows: (1) Inappropriate behaviors (self-stimulation and echolalia) decreased during treatment, and appropriate behaviors (appropriate speech, appropriate play, and social non-verbal behaviors) increased. (2) Spontaneous social interactions and the spontaneous use of language occurred about eight months into treatment for some of the children. (3) IQs and social quotients reflected improvement during treatment. (4) There were no exceptions to the improvement, however, some of the children improved more than others. (5) Follow-up measures recorded 1 to 4 yr after treatment showed that large differences between groups of children depended upon the post-treatment environment (those groups whose parents were trained to carry out behavior therapy continued to improve, while children who were institutionalized regressed). (6) A brief reinstatement of behavior therapy could temporarily re-establish some of the original therapeutic gains made by the children who were subsequently institutionalized.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


It began here: http://www.autisable.com/754611685/checking-for-carnitine-deficiency/

Which led to googling carnitine deficiency. (I may have accepted my son's learning disability, but I'm sure as heck not going to quit looking for answers. )


Which led to this:

Valproic acid may cause an acquired type of secondary carnitine deficiency by directly impairing renal tubular reabsorption of carnitine. The effect on carnitine uptake and the existence of an underlying inborn error involving energy metabolism may be fatal; in other cases, it may primarily affect the muscle, causing weakness.

Valproic acid used by the mother during the first trimester of pregnancy is considered one cause of environmentally induced autism.

Shoot...this stuff always goes in circles. No wonder nobody knows what causes autism.

St. Thomas Aquinus: The Dumb Ox. Why reason can be trusted, and atheism fails.

My favorite writer is Gilbert Keith Chesterton.  He died long ago, but the man was referred to as the "Apostle of Common Sense". At age 9 he visited a brain doctor, it was feared he was a little slow.  Dabbling in the occult in his teens, he turned to Catholicism, the religion of his beloved wife, being somewhat of an apologist for Orthodoxy in his later years.  I haven't followed him quite that far, saving it for my old age.

He wrote the Father Brown mysteries and was an editorial writer for the Illustrated London News.  He is seen as a great catholic writer, although sainthood is out of the question...he was too utterly human, he liked his booze and cigars too much, was easily amused and confused, and liked to argue.  He was a man of great intellect, seeming to absorb information, and putting it back out in a new way , paradox's his favorite writing style  The title of the NPR program, "All Things Considered" was based upon a book he wrote.  He considered all things, and whittled them down to what made sense to him.  He foresaw the nationalism/racism of Germany, and was abhorred by Hitler in the 20's, long before others woke up to his evil ways.  He was a gentle giant, himself, not unlike St. Thomas Aquinas, for whom he wrote a book giving praise to Aquinas's acceptance of the rational ways of Aristotle, mixing rationality and faith, the latter being a product of the first.  He was fascinated by Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, he was appalled by the Eugenics movement that followed it. All things considered.

...St. Thomas was a huge heavy bull of a man, fat and slow and quiet; very mild
and magnanimous but not very sociable; shy, even apart from the humility of
holiness; and abstracted, even apart from his occasional and carefully concealed  experiences of trance or ecstasy...

...St. Thomas was so stolid that the scholars, in the schools which he attended regularly, thought he was a dunce. Indeed, he was the sort of schoolboy, not unknown, who would much rather be thought a dunce than have his own dreams invaded, by more active or animated dunces...

In the dumb ox's own words:

"Far be it from a poor friar to deny that you have these dazzling diamonds in your
head, all designed in the most perfect mathematical shapes and shining with a
purely celestial light; all there, almost before you begin to think, let alone to see
or hear or feel. But I am not ashamed to say that I find my reason fed by my
senses; that I owe a great deal of what I think to what I see and smell and taste
and handle; and that so far as my reason is concerned, I feel obliged to treat all
this reality as real... "

It was the very life of the Thomist teaching that Reason can be trusted: it was the very life of Lutheran teaching that Reason is utterly untrustworthy...They vaguely imagine that
anybody who is humanising divinity must be paganising divinity without seeing
that the humanising of divinity is actually the strongest and starkest and most
incredible dogma in the Creed.

Monday, August 29, 2011

try to see it from their eyes...

Nearly 40 years ago, my sister Sandy was crawling around on the floor. 

"What the heck are you doing?"

"I'm trying to see the world from their eyes."

Seems she had read a Redbook article on toddlers, and how the world could be a big and frightening place.  She wanted so badly to see what her two boys saw...the good, the bad, and the dangerous.  ("Oh, look at all the electric cords to chew on!")

When my son was three and four years old, he couldn't communicate, although he could name hundreds of objects.  Nouns were his thing.  I had no way of knowing how much he understood, how much was just babble to him, like the adults in Peanuts cartoons, and it was frustrating.

Wish I could have heard the world through his ears...

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Oh, I'm being followed by a Moonshadow...

I often wake in the middle of the night lately. I'll look out on the back porch, and I'll see the shadows cast by the moon, the chairs lit up by a mellow sun, a reflection of a reflection.

It's really beautiful in a way, this soft light of night.

What drives me up and about in the middle of the night is always the same: a compelling thought, bathed in the light of a quiet mind, that says it is truth. I have to get up, out of fear I'll lose it. I know how fleeting thoughts are, ones so important you're sure you'll never forget, disappear in the morning light.

I am so lucky life offers me the chance to follow these moonshadows. I am grateful to the night.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

RSA Animate - Changing Education Paradigms

Comes a time, you get tired of seeing your child as a "learning disabled". For a lucky few, we see our children as quite bright, but lacking the typical attributes that make school easy. "Divergent Learners" have other labels: Learning Disabled, Aspergers, Dyslexic, ADHD, Bipolar...some feel it is not a disability but an attribute, like handedness...a difference.

Sir Ken Robinson is a cool dude that knows really bright kids get placed in little boxes that keep them from growing. Pharmaceuticals, Special Education (and con-commitant "short buses"), Behavioral Modification, every thing but acceptance. These kids, my son, have to fit in the G.D. box...they're no better than anybody else! It's not fair to treat them special. They are just dumb troublemakers.

Except...often, these trouble-makers go on to develop careers that take those very maladaptive behaviors and use them to their own advantage. I'm not going through the list of LD people who now enjoy tremendous success. Nor am I going to cover the poor souls who never find anyone to believe in them, least of all themselves.

This is a magnificent visual accompaniment to the common sense words of Sir Ken Robinson. They "illustrate" his points perfectly! I hope you love it as much as I did.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Results for empathy displayed by Dr. Simon Baron-Cohen

Dr. Baron-Cohen wrote a book recently that  caused an uproar in the autistic community. He said that autistics were much like psychopaths in that they had zero degrees of empathy.

Takes one to know one...

Just sayin...

Saturday, August 13, 2011

A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words.

This just seems...wrong...somehow.  Maybe it's just me.  Opportunistic advertising? 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Movement and Novelty. How the Visual-Spatial Learner learns.

That makes sense now. Movement and novelty. When Ben was little, he would look out the window at the trees blowing in the wind (we were in Kansas,it happened a lot), the fans in church...I was hurt because he wouldn't look at my face. It is kinda boring...

So here is a three part series of you-tube videos that deserve wider distribution. So come on people, use these links! (All 5 of you, kindly!)

I constantly ride the line between Ben having a disability, and having a gift. This teacher/VSL learner is just so descriptive today he moves it to gift.

The kid that gets me the most is the high school kid ready to give up because he is just tired of trying to learn the way the teachers learn. Look at his art-work. Imagine him expecting that kind of ability from his teachers. It's easy for him, just as their subjects are easy to them.
Imagine him not being able to understand why they can't get art they way he does. Imagine him being this way towards them every day of their lives for 6 hours a day.


Amazing Insight...and I haven't forgotten you, Buck!

I "met" with an amazing illustrator online, who interpreted the "Visual-Spatial" thinker in one cartoon in a way a thousand words couldn't do justice to.  Turns out, he is also a V-S thinker.  He has an amazing gift, as do many people considered "learning disabled".  I have an illustrator disability, and I have tried...so ...  (I am thinking of  "Owl" and "Dude, I'm an Aspie", as well as my own son in younger years, who use pictures to tell fantastic stories without words, often.)  I am too lazy or distracted to give Mr. Buck justice today.  (I guess you could clink on his link in friends if you are interested.  You won't be disappointed.)

This is a simple post, as most of mine are.  I "tweet" now, and another creative artist, Sally Gardner, who writes young adult books, I believe (maybe Buck could illustrate them...) always has the most informative tweets.  I am thinking she is dyslexic, and did not learn to read until she was 12 years old.  Imagine how much fun school was for her.

Anyhow, it seems when a person who has been through hell reaches out to others with help, totally amazing ideas come to us.  The world changes.

I can hardly wait to show this idea to my son.

Friday, July 22, 2011

In memory of Aunt Max

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."
— Maya Angelou

Thanks, Neuroaster. I hope I can do the same for others.

live openly...

What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.

Somebody besides his mama shoulda told Rupie.

Monday, July 18, 2011

10 curses of the analytical thinker


The whole list is available at Tech Republic. You may have to sign in, but that's a good idea anyhow.


Analytical Thinker = Autistic Thinker...can you see it?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Tim Harford: Trial, error and the God complex

How many scientists in Autism Studies will fight the God complex in themselves? 

Read this link of a woman who couldn't dial a phone or tie her shoes in college. Turns out she got economics, though. She is a famous economist, and tells the story of her family's and her own dyslexia. And how she found her way.

The last sentence of the piece are the 4 words of her daughter, who gives a clue to her own success.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again, DYSLEXIA is seen as a learning difference, not a mental illness. We are destroying children's lives because they are seen as mentally ill, when they are just wired different.
It's like going to Europe and expecting your appliances to work there. Ain't never gonna happen.

Our children will, however, find ways to work in an environment not suited to them, if we quit labelling them as crazy. The only reason they are crazy is because they do give up, and fall into the box we've made for them.


Friday, July 15, 2011

Interesting Surgeon General Report on mental health


Cut an pasted in whole, figured my taxes paid for it, eh?  I was especially interested in environmental causes that were accepted by the Surgeon Generals office.  I have highlighted them. 

"Other Mental Disorders in Children and Adolescents
Anxiety Disorders
The combined prevalence of the group of disorders known as anxiety disorders is higher than that of virtually all other mental disorders of childhood and adolescence (Costello et al., 1996). The 1-year prevalence in children ages 9 to 17 is 13 percent (Table 3-1). This section furnishes brief overviews of several anxiety disorders: separation anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, social phobia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Treatments for all but the latter are grouped together below.

Separation Anxiety Disorder
Although separation anxieties are normal among infants and toddlers, they are not appropriate for older children or adolescents and may represent symptoms of separation anxiety disorder. To reach the diagnostic threshold for this disorder, the anxiety or fear must cause distress or affect social, academic, or job functioning and must last at least 1 month (DSM-IV). Children with separation anxiety may cling to their parent and have difficulty falling asleep by themselves at night. When separated, they may fear that their parent will be involved in an accident or taken ill, or in some other way be“lost” to the child forever. Their need to stay close to their parent or home may make it difficult for them to attend school or camp, stay at friends’ houses, or be in a room by themselves. Fear of separation can lead to dizziness, nausea, or palpitations (DSM-IV).

Separation anxiety is often associated with symptoms of depression, such as sadness, withdrawal, apathy, or difficulty in concentrating, and such children often fear that they or a family member might die. Young children experience nightmares or fears at bedtime.

About 4 percent of children and young adolescents suffer from separation anxiety disorder (DSM-IV). Among those who seek treatment, separation anxiety disorder is equally distributed between boys and girls. In survey samples, the disorder is more common in girls (DSM-IV). The disorder may be overdiagnosed in children and teenagers who live in dangerous neighborhoods and have reasonable fears of leaving home.

The remission rate with separation anxiety disorder is high. However, there are periods where the illness is more severe and other times when it remits. Sometimes the condition lasts many years or is a precursor to panic disorder with agoraphobia. Older individuals with separation anxiety disorder may have difficulty moving or getting married and may, in turn, worry about separation from their own children and partner.

The cause of separation anxiety disorder is not known, although some risk factors have been identified. Affected children tend to come from families that are very close-knit. The disorder might develop after a stress such as death or illness in the family or a move. Trauma, especially physical or sexual assault, might bring on the disorder (Goenjian et al., 1995). The disorder sometimes runs in families, but the precise role of genetic and environmental factors has not been established. The etiology of anxiety disorders is more thoroughly discussed in Chapter 4.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Children with generalized anxiety disorder (or overanxious disorder of childhood) worry excessively about all manner of upcoming events and occurrences. They worry unduly about their academic performance or sporting activities, about being on time, or even about natural disasters such as earthquakes. The worry persists even when the child is not being judged and has always performed well in the past. Because of their anxiety, children may be overly conforming, perfectionist, or unsure of themselves. They tend to redo tasks if there are any imperfections. They tend to seek approval and need constant reassurance about their performance and their anxieties (DSM-IV). The 1-year prevalence rate for all generalized anxiety disorder sufferers of all ages is approximately 3 percent. The lifetime prevalence rate is about 5 percent (DSM-IV).

About half of all adults seeking treatment for this disorder report that it began in childhood or adolescence, but the proportion of children with this disorder who retain the problem into adulthood is unknown. The remission rate is not thought to be as high as that of separation anxiety disorder.

Social Phobia
Children with social phobia (also called social anxiety disorder) have a persistent fear of being embarrassed in social situations, during a performance, or if they have to speak in class or in public, get into conversation with others, or eat, drink, or write in public. Feelings of anxiety in these situations produce physical reactions: palpitations, tremors, sweating, diarrhea, blushing, muscle tension, etc. Sometimes a full-blown panic attack ensues; sometimes the reaction is much more mild. Adolescents and adults are able to recognize that their fear is unreasonable or excessive, although this recognition does not prevent the fear. Children, however, might not recognize that their reaction is excessive, although they may be afraid that others will notice their anxiety and consider them odd or babyish.

Young children do not articulate their fears, but may cry, have tantrums, freeze, cling, appear extremely timid in strange social settings, shrink from contact with others, stay on the side during social events, and try to stay close to familiar adults. They may fall behind in school, avoid school completely, or avoid social activities among children their age. The avoidance of the fearful situations or worry preceding the feared event may last for weeks and interferes with the individual’s daily routine, social life, job, or school. They may find it impossible to speak in social situations or in the presence of unfamiliar people (for review of social phobia, see DSM-IV; Black et al., 1997).

Social phobia is common, the lifetime prevalence ranging from 3 to 13 percent, depending on how great the fear is and on how many different situations induce the anxiety (DSM-IV; Black et al., 1997). In survey studies, the majority of those with the disorder were found to be female (DSM-IV). Often the illness is lifelong, although it may become less severe or completely remit. Life events may reassure the individual or exacerbate the anxiety and disorder.

Treatment of Anxiety
Although anxiety disorders are the most common disorder of youth, there is relatively little research on the efficacy of psychotherapy (Kendall et al., 1997). For childhood phobias, contingency management10 was the only intervention deemed to be well-established, according to an evaluation by Ollendick and King (1998), which applied the American Psychological Association Task Force criteria (noted earlier). Several psychotherapies are probably efficacious for treating phobias: systematic desensitization11 ; modeling, based on research by Bandura and colleagues, which capitalizes on an observational learning technique (Bandura, 1971; see also Chapter 2); and several cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) approaches

(Ollendick & King, 1998).
CBT, as pioneered by Kendall and colleagues (Kendall et al., 1992; Kendall, 1994), is deemed by the American Psychological Association Task Force as probably efficacious. It has four major components: recognizing anxious feelings, clarifying cognitions in anxiety-provoking situations,12 developing a plan for coping, and evaluating the success of coping strategies. A more recent study in Australia added a parent component to CBT, which enhanced reduction in post-treatment anxiety disorder significantly compared with CBT alone (Barrett et al., 1996). However, none of the interventions identified above as well-established or probably efficacious has, for the most part, been tested in real-world settings.

In addition, psychodynamic treatment to address underlying fears and worries can be helpful, and behavior therapy may reduce the child’s fear of separation or of going to school; however, the experimental support for these approaches is limited.

Preliminary research suggests that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors may provide effective treatment of separation anxiety disorder and other anxiety disorders of childhood and adolescence. Two large-scale randomized controlled trials are currently being undertaken (Greenhill, 1998a, 1998b). Neither tricyclic antidepressants nor benzodiazepines have been shown to be more effective than placebo in children (Klein et al., 1992; Bernstein et al., 1998).

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), which is classified in DSM-IV as an anxiety disorder, is characterized by recurrent, time-consuming obsessive or compulsive behaviors that cause distress and/or impairment. The obsessions may be repetitive intrusive images, thoughts, or impulses. Often the compulsive behaviors, such as hand-washing or cleaning rituals, are an attempt to displace the obsessive thoughts (DSM-IV). Estimates of prevalence range from 0.2 to 0.8 percent in children, and up to 2% of adolescents (Flament et al., 1998).

There is a strong familial component to OCD, and there is evidence from twin studies of both genetic susceptibility and environmental influences. If one twin has OCD, the other twin is more likely to have OCD if the children are identical twins rather than fraternal twin pairs. OCD is increased among first-degree relatives of children with OCD, particularly among fathers (Lenane et al., 1990). It does not appear that the child is simply imitating the relative’s behavior, because children who develop OCD tend to have symptoms different from those of relatives with the disease (Leonard et al., 1997). Many adults with either childhood- or adolescent-onset of OCD show evidence of abnormalities in a neural network known as the orbitofrontalstriatal area (Rauch & Savage, 1997; Grachev et al., 1998).

Recent research suggests that some children with OCD develop the condition after experiencing one type of streptococcal infection (Swedo et al., 1995). This condition is referred to by the acronym PANDAS, which stands for Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal infections. Its hallmark is a sudden and abrupt exacerbation of OCD symptoms after a strep infection. This form of OCD occurs when the immune system generates antibodies to the streptococcal bacteria, and the antibodies cross-react with the basal ganglia13 of a susceptible child, provoking OCD (Garvey et al., 1998). In other words, the cause of this form of OCD appears to be antibodies directed against the infection mistakenly attacking a region of the brain and setting off an inflammatory reaction.

The selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors appear effective in ameliorating the symptoms of OCD in children, although more clinical trials have been done with adults than with children. Several randomized, controlled trials revealed SSRIs to be effective in treating children and adolescents with OCD (Flament et al., 1985; DeVeaugh-Geiss et al., 1992; Riddle et al., 1992, 1998). The appropriate duration of treatment is still being studied. Side effects are not inconsequential: dry mouth, somnolence, dizziness, fatigue, tremors, and constipation occur at fairly high rates. Cognitive- behavioral treatments also have been used to treat OCD (March et al., 1997), but the evidence is not yet conclusive.

Autism, the most common of the pervasive developmental disorders (with a prevalence of 10 to 12 children per 10,000 [Bryson & Smith, 1998]), is characterized by severely compromised ability to engage in, and by a lack of interest in, social interactions. It has roots in both structural brain abnormalities and genetic predispositions, according to family studies and studies of brain anatomy. The search for genes that predispose to autism is considered an extremely high research priority for the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH, 1998). Although the reported association between autism and obstetrical hazard may be due to genetic factors (Bailey et al., 1995), there is evidence that several different causes of toxic or infectious damage to the central nervous system during early development also may contribute to autism. Autism has been reported in children with fetal alcohol syndrome (Aronson et al., 1997), in children who were infected with rubella during pregnancy (Chess et al., 1978), and in children whose mothers took a variety of medications that are known to damage the fetus (Williams & Hersh, 1997).

Cognitive deficits in social perception likely result from abnormalities in neural circuitry. Children with autism have been studied with several imaging techniques, but no strongly consistent findings have emerged, although abnormalities in the cerebellum and limbic system (Rapin & Katzman, 1998) and larger brains (Piven, 1997) have been reported. In one small study (Zilbovicius et al., 1995), evidence of delayed maturation of the frontal cortex was found. The evidence for genetic influences include a much greater concordance in identical than in fraternal twins (Cook, 1998).

Because autism is a severe, chronic developmental disorder, which results in significant lifelong disability, the goal of treatment is to promote the child’s social and language development and minimize behaviors that interfere with the child’s functioning and learning. Intensive, sustained special education programs and behavior therapy early in life can increase the ability of the child with autism to acquire language and ability to learn. Special education programs in highly structured environments appear to help the child acquire self-care, social, and job skills. Only in the past decade have studies shown positive outcomes for very young children with autism. Given the severity of the impairment, high intensity of service needs, and costs (both human and financial), there has been an ongoing search for effective treatment.

Thirty years of research demonstrated the efficacy of applied behavioral methods in reducing inappropriate behavior and in increasing communication, learning, and appropriate social behavior. A well-designed study of a psychosocial intervention was carried out by Lovaas and colleagues (Lovaas, 1987; McEachin et al., 1993). Nineteen children with autism were treated intensively with behavior therapy for 2 years and compared with two control groups. Followup of the experimental group in first grade, in late childhood, and in adolescence found that nearly half the experimental group but almost none of the children in the matched control group were able to participate in regular schooling. Up to this point, a number of other research groups have provided at least a partial replication of the Lovaas model (see Rogers, 1998).

Several uncontrolled studies of comprehensive center-based programs have been conducted, focusing on language development and other developmental skills. A comprehensive model, Treatment and Education of Autistic and Related Communication Handicapped Children (TEACCH), demonstrated short-term gains for preschoolers with autism who received daily TEACCH home-teaching sessions, compared with a matched control group (Ozonoff & Cathcart, 1998). A review of other comprehensive, center-based programs has been conducted, focusing on elements considered critical to school-based programs, including minimum hours of service and necessary curricular components (Dawson & Osterling, 1997).

The antipsychotic drug, haloperidol, has been shown to be superior to placebo in the treatment of autism (Perry et al., 1989; Locascio et al., 1991), although a significant number of children develop dyskinesias as a side effect (Campbell et al., 1997). Two of the SSRIs, clomipramine (Gordon et al., 1993) and fluoxetine (McDougle et al., 1996), have been tested, with positive results, except in young autistic children, in whom clomipramine was not found to be therapeutic, and who experienced untoward side effects (Sanchez et al., 1996). Of note, preliminary studies of some of the newer antipsychotic drugs suggest that they may have fewer side effects than conventional antipsychotics such as haloperidol, but controlled studies are needed before firm conclusions can be drawn about any possible advantages in safety and efficacy over traditional agents.

Disruptive Disorders
Disruptive disorders, such as oppositional defiant disorder and conduct disorder, are characterized by antisocial behavior and, as such, seem to be a collection of behaviors rather than a coherent pattern of mental dysfunction. These behaviors are also frequently found in children who suffer from attention-deficit/hyper-activity disorder, another disruptive disorder, which is discussed separately in this chapter. Children who develop the more serious conduct disorders often show signs of these disorders at an earlier age. Although it is common for a very young children to snatch something they want from another child, this kind of behavior may herald a more generally aggressive behavior and be the first sign of an emerging oppositional defiant or conduct disorder if it occurs by the ages of 4 or 5 and later. However, not every oppositional defiant child develops conduct disorder, and the difficult behaviors associated with these conditions often remit.

Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) is diagnosed when a child displays a persistent or consistent pattern of defiance, disobedience, and hostility toward various authority figures including parents, teachers, and other adults. ODD is characterized by such problem behaviors as persistent fighting and arguing, being touchy or easily annoyed, and deliberately annoying or being spiteful or vindictive to other people. Children with ODD may repeatedly lose their temper, argue with adults, deliberately refuse to comply with requests or rules of adults, blame others for their own mistakes, and be repeatedly angry and resentful. Stubbornness and testing of limits are common. These behaviors cause significant difficulties with family and friends and at school or work (DSM-IV; Weiner, 1997). Oppositional defiant disorder is sometimes a precursor of conduct disorder (DSM-IV).

In different studies, estimates of the prevalence of ODD have ranged from 1 to 6 percent, depending on the population sample and the way the disorder was evaluated, but not depending on diagnostic criteria. Rates are lower when impairment criteria are more strict and when information is obtained from teachers and parents rather than from the children alone (Shaffer et al., 1996a). Before puberty, the condition is more common in boys, but after puberty the rates in both genders are equal.

In preschool boys, high reactivity, difficulty being soothed, and high motor activity may indicate risk for the disorder. Marital discord, disrupted child care with a succession of different caregivers, and inconsistent, unsupervised child-rearing may contribute to the condition.

Children or adolescents with conduct disorder behave aggressively by fighting, bullying, intimidating, physically assaulting, sexually coercing, and/or being cruel to people or animals. Vandalism with deliberate destruction of property, for example, setting fires or smashing windows, is common, as are theft; truancy; and early tobacco, alcohol, and substance use and abuse; and precocious sexual activity. Girls with a conduct disorder are prone to running away from home and may become involved in prostitution. The behavior interferes with performance at school or work, so that individuals with this disorder rarely perform at the level predicted by their IQ or age. Their relationships with peers and adults are often poor. They have higher injury rates and are prone to school expulsion and problems with the law. Sexually transmitted diseases are common. If they have been removed from home, they may have difficulty staying in an adoptive or foster family or group home, and this may further complicate their development. Rates of depression, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts, and suicide itself are all higher in children diagnosed with a conduct disorder (Shaffer et al., 1996b).

The prevalence of conduct disorder in 9- to 17-year-olds in the community varies from 1 to 4 percent, depending on how the disorder is defined (Shaffer et al., 1996a). Children with an early onset of the disorder, i.e., onset before age 10, are predominantly male. The disorder appears to be more common in cities than in rural areas (DSM-IV). Those with early onset have a worse prognosis and are at higher risk for adult antisocial personality disorder (DSM-IV; Rutter & Giller, 1984; Hendren & Mullen, 1997). Between a quarter and a half of highly antisocial children become antisocial adults.

The etiology of conduct disorder is not fully known. Studies of twins and adopted children suggest that conduct disorder has both biological (including genetic) and psychosocial components (Hendren & Mullen, 1997). Social risk factors for conduct disorder include early maternal rejection, separation from parents with no adequate alternative caregiver available, early institutionalization, family neglect, abuse or violence, parents’ psychiatric illness, parental marital discord, large family size, crowding, and poverty (Loeber & Stouthamer-Loeber, 1986). These factors are thought to lead to a lack of attachment to the parents or to the family unit and eventually to lack of regard for the rules and rewards of society (Sampson & Laub, 1993). Physical risk factors for conduct disorder include neurological damage caused by birth complications or low birthweight, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, fearlessness and stimulation-seeking behavior, learning impairments, autonomic underarousal, and insensitivity to physical pain and punishment. A child with both social deprivation and any of these neurological conditions is most susceptible to conduct disorder (Raine et al., 1998).

Since many of the risk factors for conduct disorder emerge in the first years of life, intervention must begin very early. Recently, screening instruments have been developed to enable earlier identification of risk factors and signs of conduct disorder in young children (Feil et al., 1995). Studies have shown a correlation between the behavior and attributes of 3-year-olds and the aggressive behavior of these children at ages 11 to 13 (Raine et al., 1998). Measurements of aggressive behaviors have been shown to be stable over time (Sampson & Laub, 1993). Training parents of high-risk children how to deal with the children’s demands may help. Parents may need to be taught to reinforce appropriate behaviors and not harshly punish transgressing ones, and encouraged to find ways to increase the strength of the emotional ties between parent and child. Working with high-risk children on social interaction and providing academic help to reduce rates of school failure can help prevent some of the negative educational consequences of conduct disorder (Johnson & Breckenridge, 1982).

Several psychosocial interventions can effectively reduce antisocial behavior in disruptive disorders. A recent review of psychosocial treatments for children and adolescents identified 82 studies conducted between 1966 and 1995 involving 5,272 youth (Brestan & Eyberg, 1998). The criterion for inclusion was that the child was in treatment for conduct problem behavior, based on displaying a symptom of conduct disorder or oppositional defiant disorder, rather than on a DSM diagnosis of either, although children did meet DSM criteria for one of these conditions in about one-third of the studies.

By applying criteria established by the American Psychological Association Task Force (see earlier) to the 82 studies, two treatments met criteria for well- established treatment and 10 for probably efficacious treatment. Two well-established treatments, both directed at training parents, succeeded in reducing problem behaviors. The two treatments were a parent training program based on the manual Living With Children (Bernal et al., 1980) and a videotape modeling parent training (Spaccarelli et al., 1992). The first teaches parents to reward desirable behaviors and ignore or punish deviant behaviors, based on principles of operant conditioning. The second provides a series of videotapes covering parent-training lessons, after which a therapist leads a group discussion of the videotape lessons. The identification of 12 treatments as well-established or probably efficacious is very encouraging because of the potential to intervene effectively with youth at high risk of poor outcomes. A new and promising approach for the treatment of conduct disorder is multisystemic therapy, an intensive home- and family-focused treatment that is described under Home-Based Services.

Despite strong enthusiasm for improving care for conduct-disordered youth, there are important groups of children, specifically girls and ethnic minority populations, who were not sufficiently represented in these studies to ensure that the identified treatments work for them. Other issues raised by Brestan and Eyberg (1998) are cost-effectiveness, the sufficiency of a given intervention, effectiveness over time, and the prevention of relapse.

No drugs have been demonstrated to be consistently effective in treating conduct disorder, although four drugs have been tested. Lithium and methylphenidate have been found (one double-blind placebo trial each) to reduce aggressiveness effectively in children with conduct disorder (Campbell et al., 1995; Klein et al., 1997b), but in two subsequent studies with the same design, the positive findings for lithium could not be reproduced (Rifkin et al., 1989; Klein, 1991). In one of the latter studies, methylphenidate was superior to lithium and placebo. A third drug, carbamazepine, was found in a pilot study to be effective, but multiple side effects were also reported (Kafantaris et al., 1992). The fourth drug, clonidine, was explored in an open trial, in which 15 of 17 patients showed a significant decrease in aggressive behavior, but there were also significant side effects that would require monitoring of cardiovascular and blood pressure parameters (Kemph et al., 1993).

Substance Use Disorders in Adolescents
Since the early 1990s there has been a“sharp resurgence” in the misuse of alcohol and other drugs by adolescents (Johnston et al., 1996). A recent review, focusing particularly on substance abuse and dependence, synthesizes research findings of the past decade (Weinberg et al., 1998). The authors review epidemiology, course, etiology, treatment, and prevention and discuss comorbidity with other mental disorders in adolescents. All of these issues are important to public health, but none is more relevant to this report than the co-occurrence of alcohol and other substance use disorders with other mental disorders in adolescents.

According to the National Comorbidity Study, 41 to 65 percent of individuals with a lifetime substance abuse disorder also have a lifetime history of at least one mental disorder, and about 51 percent of those with one or more lifetime mental disorders also have a lifetime history of at least one substance use disorder (Kessler et al., 1996). The rates are highest in the 15- to 24-year-old age group (Kessler et al., 1994). The cross-sectional data on association do not permit any conclusion about causality or clinical prediction (Kessler et al., 1996), but an appealing theory suggests that a subgroup of the population abuses drugs in an effort to self-medicate for the co-occurring mental disorder. Little is actually known about the role of mental disorders in increasing the risk of children and adolescents for misuse of alcohol and other drugs. Stress appears to play a role in both the process of addiction and the development of many of the comorbid conditions.

The review by Weinberg and colleagues (1998) provides more detail on epidemiology and assessment of alcohol and other drug use in adolescents and describes several effective treatment approaches for these problems. A meta-analysis and literature review (Stanton & Shadish, 1997) concluded that family-oriented therapies were superior to other treatment approaches and enhanced the effectiveness of other treatments. Multisystemic family therapy, discussed elsewhere in this chapter, is effective in reducing alcohol and other substance use and other severe behavioral problems among adolescents (Pickrel & Henggeler, 1996).

Eating Disorders
Eating disorders are serious, sometimes life- threatening, conditions that tend to be chronic (Herzog et al., 1999). They usually arise in adolescence and disproportionately affect females. About 3 percent of young women have one of the three main eating disorders: anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, or binge-eating disorder (Becker et al., 1999). Binge-eating disorder is a newly recognized condition featuring episodic uncontrolled consumption, without compensatory activities, such as vomiting or laxative abuse, to avert weight gain (Devlin, 1996). Bulimia, in contrast, is marked by both binge eating and by compensatory activities. Anorexia nervosa is characterized by low body weight (< 85 percent of expected weight), intense fear of weight gain, and an inaccurate perception of body weight or shape (DSM-IV). Its mean age of onset is 17 years (DSM-IV). The causes of eating disorders are not known with precision but are thought to be a combination of genetic, neurochemical, psychodevelopmental, and sociocultural factors (Becker et al., 1999; Kaye et al., 1999). Comorbid mental disorders are exceedingly common, but interrelationships are poorly understood. Comorbid disorders include affective disorders (especially depression), anxiety disorders, substance abuse, and personality disorders (Herzog et al., 1996). Anorexia nervosa has the most severe consequence, with a mortality rate of 0.56 percent per year (or 5.6 percent per decade) (Sullivan, 1995), a rate higher than that of almost all other mental disorders (Herzog et al., 1996). Mortality is from starvation, suicide, or electrolyte imbalance (DSM-IV). The mortality rate from anorexia nervosa is 12 times higher than that for other young women in the population (Sullivan, 1995). Treatment of eating disorders entails psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy, either alone or in combination. Treatment of comorbid mental disorders also is important, as is treatment of medical complications. There are some controlled studies of the efficacy of specific treatments for adults with bulimia and binge-eating disorder (Devlin, 1996), but fewer for anorexia nervosa (Kaye et al., 1999). Controlled studies in adolescents are rare for any eating disorder (Steiner and Lock, 1998). Pharmacological studies in young adult women found conflicting evidence of benefit from antidepressants for anorexia and some reduction in the frequency of binge eating and purging with tricyclic antidepressants, monoamine oxidase inhibitors, and SSRIs (see Jimerson et al., 1993; Jacobi et al., 1997). Studies mostly of adult women find cognitive-behavioral therapy and interpersonal therapy to be effective for bulimia and binge-eating disorder (Fairburn et al., 1993; Devlin, 1996; Becker et al., 1999). Clearly, more research is warranted for the treatment of eating disorders, especially because a sizable proportion of those with eating disorders have limited response to treatment (Kaye et al., 1999). -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 10 Contingency management attempts to alter behavior by manipulating its consequences through the behavioral principles of shaping, positive reinforcement, and extinction. 11 A technique that trains people to “unlearn” fears by presentation of fearful stimuli along with nonfearful stimuli. 12 This refers to understanding how cognitions are being distorted. 13 Basal ganglia are groups of neurons responsible for motor and impulse control, attention, and regulation of mood and behavior. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Back to Top Home | Contents | Previous | Next "

Environmental causes or remediations that caught my eye are in blue  Note OCD and Autism  have viral components, Autism also having several teratogenic (toxic environmental) components.  My son was ODD, I'd forgotten, and we used exactlly the strategy discussed.  I don't know why it worked.  Thanks for reading.  "Brains" aka Rose