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Twins: Genetics, Environment & Epigenetics

From this long but interesting piece in National Geographic regarding twins, the genes vs. environment debate and the New Kid on the Block in the debate - epigenetics: "Scientists are only beginning to understand how epige­netic processes relate to complex disorders like autism. The good news is that some of these processes, unlike our DNA sequences, can be altered. Genes muted by methylation, for example, sometimes can be switched back on again relatively easily. And though it may not happen soon, the hope is that someday epigenetic mistakes will be as simple to repair as a piano that's out of tune."

Thu, 12/15/2011 - 16:38

Guest Blog – Professional Acting with Asperger’s Syndrome: Part 3

submitted by lawilcox

If you missed Part 1 and Part 2 of this guest blog series by Jennifer Dodson about her son, "M," (a handsome and smart little boy with Asperger’s Syndrome) who pursuing a professional acting career, I encourage you to click over and take a look.
Professional Acting with Asperger’s Syndrome: Part 3
By Jennifer Dodson
I often share M’s diagnosis and personality quirks with members of the Production Crew and fellow cast members. I do this AFTER he has booked a job and only when it seems appropriate or necessary to do so. He is different and there are better ways to speak to M than others. For example, when a Director understands that M is very literal and there is mostly black and white and not a lot of grey in his interpretations, they can direct him better. It seems that most adults like to give weighted options to children. For example, if you say, “M if you would like to try it this way…” M will most likely tell you “no.” After all, you did just give him the option to decide if he wanted to do it that way!

Guest Blog – Our Heroes & Temper Tantrums

submitted by juliehornok

Our Heroes & Temper Tantrums
By Julie Hornok
I was watching a Dallas Cowboys game with my husband while scrapbooking, and I happened to glance up at the TV just in time to witness the most bizarre event.
Something had happened in the football game that had caused the football player to have a temper tantrum right there on the field over a call the ref made. Not only was I shocked that his behavior was unprofessional, but I was shocked that the crowd seemed to think his actions were justified! I could not believe this man was considered an American hero.
Just imagine you are sitting with friends around the kitchen table playing a deeply competitive game of Monopoly. Your friend, Tom, rolls the dice. It is an 8, but he needed a 10 to get onto Boardwalk. He goes ballistic! He jumps up from the table, throws the dice across the room and slams his Monopoly money to the floor. “It’s not fair!” he screams. “It was a bad roll! Those dice have been making bad rolls against me the whole game!!!”

Interview – Dr. Julie Buckley – Part 3

submitted by lawilcox

This is the final part of my interview series with Dr. Julie Buckley, author of Healing Our Autistic Children. (Click to read Part 1 and Part 2 of the series.) I want to express my sincere gratitude to Dr. Buckley for writing about and presenting on this topic in a way that has profoundly changed my perspective and approach to life. I hope that you will enjoy and take something powerful away from this interview series.
LAW: Part 2 of your book is dedicated to guiding parents through biomedical treatments with their child’s doctor; please share a little bit about the standard steps to biomedical recovery.
JB: The hard part about autism is that there is little that is “standard” about the approach we use. It is a highly individualized process – each child is unique in their genes, in their environmental exposures over the course of their short lives, and in the manifestations of the disease process. It takes a careful eye observing, and careful ears listening to a parent to find a starting point for working toward recovery.

Guest Blog – Funding Autism for Life

submitted by lawilcox

This guest blog post kicks off a new series written by my friend and colleague – Dr. Dan E. Burns. Dan’s series will address many of the challenges faced by families with adult children living with Autism Spectrum Disorders. In this first post, Dan breaks down and describes many of the ways families can go about “Funding Autism for Life” with pertinent suggestions and ideas for parents with younger children as well. I know you’re going to learn a lot and enjoy Dan’s guest series. Please help me welcome Dan!
Funding Autism for Life: A Map to Treasure Island
By Dan E. Burns
“It’s autism. There is no medical treatment. Let the schools take care of him and save your money for his institutionalization when he turns 21.” Those were the final, chilling words Ben’s pediatric neurologist spoke to me on Pearl Harbor Day, December 7, 1990. Ben was three years, four months old.
I declared war. With an ABA manual in one hand and biomedical primer in the other, I fought for Ben’s future. But as the months and years went by and the hope for a full recovery dimmed, I had to admit that his pediatrician was right. Where would Ben live, work, and find friends after the school bus stopped coming?

Interview – Dr. Julie Buckley – Part 2

submitted by lawilcox

As I mentioned in Part 1 of my interview with Dr. Julie Buckley last week, I met Dr. Julie Buckley at the National Autism Association annual conference in the fall of 2010, but I was already familiar with her work. Her book, Healing Our Autistic Children, is one of my favorite books for parents raising children with ASD. In the book, Dr. Buckley shares very personal experiences (as a mother and Pediatrician) about how and why autism is a treatable medical disease. Also, the two times I’ve heard Dr. Buckley speak at NAA, I was greatly impacted. See my post about Caring for the Caregiver HERE inspired by Dr. Buckley’s presentations at NAA the past two years.
LAW: Please share a little about “The Big 3”: Inflammation, Oxidative Stress and Toxicity.
JB: When I teach families about the big three – toxicity, oxidative stress, and the chronic inflammatory response, I use the Venn Diagram approach that Sid Baker, MD and Liz Mumper, MD taught me. We know that autism, classically defined, is at the center of the intersecting circles, where behavior abnormalities, communication problems and social skills challenges intersect. But we also know that physically, autism lies at the intersection of three big problems – gut disease, immune dysregulation and methylation chemistry disturbances. It is these physical problems that give rise to the behavior/communication/social skills problems Leo Kanner observed. And even more fundamentally, it is the “Big 3” – toxicity, oxidative stress, and the chronic inflammatory response – that allow the physical things (the gut disease, the immune dysregulation, the methylation chemistry disruption) to get started, and then those physical things give rise to the behavior/social skills communication problems…it starts to feel a little bit like that old childhood song “I know an old lady who swallowed a fly…”

Guest Blog: Professional Acting with Asperger’s Syndrome: Part 2

submitted by lawilcox

A couple weeks ago we introduced you to Jennifer and "M" in Part 1 of Jen’s series about Professional Acting with Asperger’s Syndrome. I’m happy to bring you Part 2 today…Part 3 coming in a couple weeks. Enjoy!
Professional Acting with Asperger’s Syndrome: Part 2
By Jennifer Dodson
In my last post, you were introduced to my son M who is an actor with Asperger Syndrome. After getting started in the theater as Tiny Tim in A Christmas Carol, M continued to love acting so much we got him a Talent Agent and started going on auditions and booking jobs.
The first time M was on a film set I knew this was going to be a great journey for our son. It was summertime and we drove to Austin for M to be in a short film as a child at a birthday party. Five hours of filming the same pool scene and not once did my son complain or get distracted. Even with the migraine headache he ended up with and the rush trips to the bathroom when the Director would “cut” for a minute so he could throw up did not cause M to lose focus or to want to quit.

Guest Blog – Good Naked/Bad Naked

submitted by juliehornok

I think you’ll enjoy this post from one of our newest guest bloggers, Julie Hornok. If you missed her first guest blog for us, you can read it HERE. Today’s post, infused with a fun dose of humor and balanced with common sense, explores why some of our kiddos are so strongly inclined to strip down and be naked. Enjoy!
Good Naked/Bad Naked
By Julie Hornok
Two decades ago, the Seinfeld show provided a visual of what we all knew existed when it comes to what is good naked and what is bad naked. Naked during sex or sunning on a private beach – good naked. Naked while eating a hoagie and doing strenuous household chores – bad naked. Seems simple enough. Rules to live by. Thank you for spelling it out for us, Mr. Seinfeld.
But what about when our children with autism constantly want to strip down and be naked? Is this good naked or bad naked or is this is a whole different realm of naked?

Interview – Dr. Julie Buckley – Part 1

submitted by lawilcox

Last fall I met Dr. Julie Buckley at the National Autism Association annual conference, but I was already familiar with her work. Her book, Healing Our Autistic Children: A Medical Plan for Restoring Your Child's Health, is one of my favorite books for parents who work tirelessly to navigate the challenging waters of raising children with ASD. In her book, Dr. Buckley shares very personal experiences (as a mother and Pediatrician) about how and why autism is a treatable medical disease. It is well-written, easy to read and filled with tremendous information which helped equip me to be a better mother and caregiver to Ethan. Also, the two times I’ve heard Dr. Buckley speak at NAA, I was greatly impacted. See my most recent post about Caring for the Caregiver HERE. I hope you’ll enjoy Part 1 of our interview series. Let us know what you think!
LAW: Dr. Buckley, Please tell us a little about yourself and your personal and professional “interests” in Autism Spectrum Disorders.
JB: My professional interest in Autism developed as a direct result of my personal interest in Autism. My personal interest in Autism developed involuntarily and very abruptly when my daughter regressed profoundly at the age of four.

Guest Blog: Stem Cell Treatment for Autism

submitted by lawilcox

This guest blog is written by a woman who has a brain extremely well-suited to talk science! Everytime we talk about treatments for ASD - she blows me away. She reads widely, attends conferences, asks hard-hitting but well-reasoned questions and as a retains an astounding amount of pertinent information regarding current research and treatments for children and young adults with autism. Please help me welcome Nicole Wallace; her first guest post for us shares interesting details about stem cell treatments for children with ASD.
By Nicole Wallace
Stem cell treatment for autism has been a hot topic for a few years now. It is often thought of as a last resort when many other more common treatments have already been tried.

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