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Experts Want Insurance Companies to Pay for Early Treatment for Autism

One of the foremost experts on autism is urging parents to have their babies screened for the disorder as early as possible, and to start treatment in children as young as 14 months.

Autism can be detected before age two, yet the average age of diagnosis is four and a half, according to Dr. Patricia Wright, a specialist at the Hawaii Department of Child and Adolescent Health.

Dr. Wright says that early intervention may be the best hope for autistic children, who now number almost one in 150. Such treatment costs as much as $50,000 a year, because it involves about 25 hours a week of one-on-one or one-on-two teaching. However, Dr. Wright says such intervention offers autistic children the best chance of growing up to become productive adults. Insurance coverage is cost-effective, she says, because "they learn independent skills so they don't need continued lifelong support."

Dr. Wright and other experts are asking government agencies and insurance companies to pay for treatment in young children, though outcome-based evidence is scant at this time. However, researchers at the University of Washington are currently studying whether early intervention can prevent the disorder in siblings of children with autism. Their results may determine the fate of early intervention programs.

Looking for a summer program for your autistic child? Located in upstate New York, Camp Huntington offers summer programs for children with special needs, including autism and Asperger's.

Labels: autism, treatment, insurance

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The Creative Energy Behind ADHD

Most parents of children with ADHD want desperately to find a silver lining in the cloud of misbehavior, trouble at school, and relational tension. Adults who had ADHD as children offer some of the best encouragement, especially those who have enjoyed unusual success.
"Ty Pennington [of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition] says the negative messages from school can be overwhelming for a child with ADHD... Ty says his life turned after he started medication in his teens and gained maturity and the freedom to develop his creativity. Now, as a TV host, he gets paid for the kind of behaviors that got him in trouble at school."
Kinko's founder Paul Orfalea also has ADHD and says the struggles he faced as a child helped him endure the criticisms he faced when he wanted to start his own business. What started in a modest storefront grew to 1,200 stores and was acquired in 2004 by FedEx. Source: American Psychological Association

Labels: benefits, positives, creativity

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Kids Should Get a Heart Test First

The American Heart Association has recommended that children get their hearts tested before taking ADHD stimulant medications like Ritalin.
"Research has indicated that stimulants like Ritalin can raise the heart rate and blood pressure. While these side effects are unimportant for most children with ADHD, they can be relevant for those with a heart condition, the American Heart Association said."
The test, an electrocardiogram, is relatively inexpensive and simple, and can detect heart rhythm abnormalities that could be aggravated by some ADHD medications. Source: Reuters

What do you have planned for your ADHD child this summer? Talisman offers summer camps for children with ADHD at locations across the country.

Labels: medications, health, heart_rate

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Working Memory

Researchers have estimated that up to 10 percent of British school children have poor working memory. It's a condition that appears to be closely tied with ADHD and affects a child's ability to retain information, process, and learn.
"[Dr. Mel] Levine said working memory allows a reader to remember what is at the beginning of the page when reaching the end of the page. Children with trouble with active working memory get lost in the middle. 'One little girl told me recently, "Every time I read a sentence it erases the one that was before it,"' Levine said in a telephone interview. 'That's a perfect example of an active working memory dysfunction.'"
Working memory dysfunction can become a serious problem when a child enters middle school - where demands increase significantly. It's possible that working memory can be improved through memory training, though actual results aren't currently known. Source: The Mercury

Labels: focus, memory, dysfunction

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Sleep Problems Accompany ADHD

A team from the Centre for Community Child Health in Parkville, Australia, has conducted a study which found a strong correlation between ADHD and sleep problems in children. The team studied 239 schoolchildren with ADHD and their families to determine the prevalence of sleep problems and their effects.
"Sleep problems affected 175 (73.3 percent) of the children, with a 28.5 percent prevalence of mild sleep problems and 44.8 percent prevalence of moderate or severe sleep problems. Some of the most commonly occurring sleep patterns were difficulty falling asleep, resisting going to bed and tiredness on waking."
About half the parents in the study reported that their children had trouble sleeping, felt tired waking up, or had nightmares. Source: PsychCentral

Sleep problems can also lead to inactivity and childhood obesity. Learn more from a blog post at Weight Loss Central.

Labels: health, sleep, nightmares

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There's Genius in ADD

Drs. Edward Hallowell and Kenny Handelman think that ADD/ADHD is often viewed too negatively. To try and combat some of the negativity, they've compiled a special report titled "Find the Genius in ADD."
"'After witnessing so many examples of people taking their 'disorder' and turning it into strengths and success, we decided to create this special report to point people in the right direction,' says Dr. Handelman. 'Although people may feel negative after being diagnosed with ADD or ADHD, there is reason for hope.'"
By pointing out the positives of how an ADHD mind works, Drs. Hallowell and Handelman hope people will begin to realize that traits of ADHD can be strengths if they're nurtured properly. Source: PR Web

Likened to the benefits of ADHD, child with high functioning Autism or Asperger's Syndrome are often dubbed "Little Professors". Learn about Asperger's at YourLittleProfessor.com.

Labels: benefits, positives, genius

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Special Needs Advocacy Resource Guide

Michelle Davis and Rich Weinfeld are co-founders of the ACB Weinfeld-Davis Advocacy Training Institute, which offers training and guidance to parents and professionals who work with special needs children. The institute has published a "Special Needs Advocacy Resource Guide" aimed at giving parents and professionals the educational information they need to ensure positive outcomes for their children.
"This book has a broad scope and addresses all sorts of special needs. It is an important educational tool not only for the parents and advocates of gifted children, but for those who seek to help any special needs child. The author's intention is to educate the people who act as advocates, whether they are paid consultants or concerned friends or parents."
The guide includes charts and lists, and will acquaint readers with potentially unfamiliar topics such as the Individuals with Disabilities Act. Source: BellaOnline.com.

Ready for summer? Find traditional and specialty camps, like special needs summer camps, at SummerCampsInfo.com.

Labels: special-needs, support, resources

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Top Principles of ADHD Management

About.com has gathered a list of tips for parents of kids with ADHD. The principles were taken from the book ADHD: Living Without Breaks, by Martin Kutscher, M.D.
"Instead of punishing wrong behavior, set a reward for the correct behavior you would rather replace it with. Rewards should be immediate, frequent, powerful, clearly defined, and consistent."
Dr. Kutscher also suggests giving a child with ADHD plenty of warning before transitioning from one activity to another. This preparation will help the transition go more smoothly. Source: SpecialChildren.About.com.

Labels: behavior, rewards, discipline

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Medications not Linked to Drug Abuse

On Tuesday, researchers from New York University released the results of a study which found no link between ADHD medication and future drug use. The study followed for 17 years 176 young men who had been diagnosed with ADHD and prescribed Ritalin when they were kids (ages 6 or 7).
"Those treated with medications had neither an increased nor decreased risk for subsequent drug or alcohol abuse compared with those not given drugs for their ADHD. 'Considering that ADHD affects 5 to 10 percent of children worldwide, and addictions are worldwide problems as well, I think the fact that these drugs do not have an adverse effect in increasing those risks is very important information for families and doctors...' [Dr. Joseph] Biederman said."
The study did find an increase in later drug use among children who were prescribed medication between the ages of 8 and 12. Researchers speculate, however, that delays in treating ADHD were greater factors for these kids than the medication itself. Source: RehabPub.com.

Learn more about the Impact of ADHD Treatment on Substance Use Disorders

Labels: medications, drugs, substance_abuse

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Handling the News That Your Child Has Special Needs

Parents whose children are diagnosed as "special needs" often experience initial feelings of shock and confusion. These feelings are normal and understandable, but parents should be careful not to "live" there.
"After the initial shock of discovering your child is unique and special, change your focus from one of despair to gently starting to see it as an opportunity to learn how to help you and your child to explore and discover more about themselves... Some parents will always focus on the difficulties and grieve their child's lost potential compared to others, but I challenge you to see beyond the diagnosis...".
If your child has recently been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD, give yourself some time to adjust to this new reality. Take time to develop an understanding of the diagnosis and avoid making any quick or rash decisions. Read more at Ecademy.com.

Talisman offers summer camps for children with special needs across the country. Find a program for your special needs child at www.TalismanCamps.com.

Labels: parents, diagnosis, special-needs

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April is Autism Awareness Month

April is "Autism Awareness Month" and April 2 was "World Autism Day," according to Lee Grossman, president of the American Autism Society. The society asked people to buy Autism Awareness bracelets and wear them on April 2.

Over 25 local autism societies hosted "Annual Walks for Hope and Autism Awareness" to raise money for research. Also, "Bounce for Autism" fundraising parties with inflatable playgrounds for children were held in cities all over the country. Volunteers went to Washington in April to lobby for the Combating Autism Act as well as more government funds for autism research.

Autism is a complex brain disorder that can range from mild to extremely severe, impairing communication and the ability to relate to other people. Today one in 150 children are autistic, with four times as many boys diagnosed than girls. The number of people with autism has increased tenfold since 1997, and no one knows why.

Labels: autism, awareness

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ADHD and Exercise

Dr. John Ratey, MD, has written several books including his newest, Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, in which he explores the benefits of exercise for people with ADHD.
"There are many reasons for exercise in ADHD. Exercise almost immediately elevates dopamine and norepinephrine and keeps them up for a period of time so that it acts like a little bit of Ritalin or Adderall. It also helps to still the impulsivity and still the cravings for immediate gratification..."
Studies have also shown that exercise has a direct effect on learning by improving the brain's potential to process new information. Dopamine and serotonin also increase as a result of exercise, causing improvements in overall mood. Read more at ADD.About.com.

Labels: alternative_medicine, exercise

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