This is a very touching story about one family’s experience with regressive autism. Imagine having a child that ceased to be “himself” after his 3rd birthday:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/09/magazine/reaching-my-autistic-son-through-disney.html

Yale did some interesting research. I’m skeptical as usual, but this one makes me curious enough to want to examine the test data and materials.

“These results may imply that oxytocin makes social stimuli more rewarding and socially salient to children with autism spectrum disorder.”

http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-oxytocin-social-children-autism-20131203,0,7236419.story

Earlier today I was at LAX airport catching my flight home and I noticed a family traveling with an autistic boy of about 12 years old. I suddenly found myself pondering why I can’t ever recall seeing an autistic child at the airport before, when it’s common to see them in so many other public settings. Then I realized just how difficult it could be at the airport in particular. Take the security checkpoint for example. Parents have enough trouble getting the child to put on all their clothes and shoes at home. Now try telling them to take off their jacket, belt, and shoes and put them on again 30 seconds later. This is a big enough hassle for the average adult. Now imagine the wide range of difficulties you could experience in flight, trying to please all passengers around you. How often do fellow passengers strike you as patient and understanding? To all such parents I commend your faith in your child and the public and wish you well in your travels.

There’s an app for that.

April 14th, 2013

Now this is something I can get excited about!

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/04/13/autism-application-faster-diagnosis/2080247/

Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center is going to open up the archives and likely do some aggregate data crunching to make a simplified autism blueprint. The goal seems to be (the article is not very specific) to create a decision system to help parents through the diagnosis of their own child.

I’m a little concerned about the size of $2.2 million grant. Seems like there is going to be some management bloat in the app development, which I can say from my experience in software development, is never a good thing. Too many resources and not enough constraints led to lack of focus and general laxness.

I’ll be keeping an eye on this project!

Autism and High Fat Diets

March 22nd, 2013

Very intriguing study on the effects of a Ketogenic diet on autistic children.

“Overall the 18 ketogenic kids presented with improvements in their social behavior and interactions, speech, cooperation, stereotypy, and… hyperactivity, which contributed significantly to their improvement in learning.”

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/evolutionary-psychiatry/201104/autism-and-ketogenic-diets

I think mainstream research into Ketogenic diets spiked a bit after the release of ‘The 4-Hour Body’ by Timothy Ferris.

Ref: http://bbjtoday.com/blog/peacehealth-doctor-gets-surprise-honors-from-arc-of-whatcom-2/20911

I wrote about this trend I was seeing a few months ago.

My best wishes to Dr. Scott McGuiness in his bold pursuits within the field of Hospital Medicine at The St. Joseph Medical Center. The community knows a physician skilled in recognizing development disabilities can make a huge impact when positioned on the “front lines” of patient care. The Arc of Whatcom County really knows where to give credit where credit is due, thanks to them all.

So I don’t expect this trend to slow down. You can see on any number of hospitalist career websites (MassachusettsHospitalistJobs.com, HospitalistWorking.com, HospitalistJobsOnline.com) that more and more facilities are looking for physicians specialized in pediatrics and a big plus is given to those with autism decorating their CV.

The amount of Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt towards understanding Asperger’s Syndrome must be at an all time high. Thankfully, the media appears to have NOT taken this as an opportunity to fear monger and is actually attempting to disenchant the hysteria. Here are some headlines from today:

Don’t Stigmatize Asperger’s Syndrome in Wake of Newtown Massacre

No Link Between Asperger’s Syndrome And Violence, Experts Say

Asperger’s Unfairly Scapegoated For Newtown School Massacre

Asperger’s syndrome: What did disease mean for Newtown shooter Adam Lanza?

People With Autism May Sometimes Be Violent, But They Are Not Predators

Asperger’s Is a Red Herring to Explain the Newtown Massacre

Asperger’s Syndrome Shows No Potential Link to Ct. School Shooting

http://www.necn.com/11/14/12/Dr-Mallika-Marshall-Pregnancy-and-Autism/landing_mallika.html?blockID=801671&feedID=8498

I’m all for listening to and being aware of controversial scientific studies, however the troubling thing with this interview is that the only defense presented was flu shots. It clearly illustrates the quick fix shopping cart view of health and nutrition. How can you even mention pregnancy and health in the same conversation with reminding people of the essentials of good nutrition?

As of May 2013, a new definition of autism will be used by scientists in order to more precisely diagnose kids with the brain disorder. As a result, the diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome, considered a “higher functioning” form of autism, will disappear. This is a win for all people involved in the cause of educating, treating, and creating awareness of autism. On a high level the terms become simpler to communicate, while simultaneously freeing medical practitioners from the binding division that Asperger’s caused. “There was so much confusion of who had Asperger’s and who didn’t. We were also concerned that there were kids being denied services because Asperger’s sounds like a better diagnosis.” said Dr. Catherine Lord, director of the Center for Autism and the Developing Brain. There is no biological or genetic reason why Asperger’s should be separated on its own. The intent is to ensure that people with Asperger’s receive the same needed interventions and services as those with an autism diagnosis.

Side note: Also being swallowed up into the autism spectrum is Pervasive Developmental Disorder, a term used to classify some developmental issues, including the inability to socialize.

I’m encouraged to see a growing interest in treating and at least understanding autism amongst hospitalists. These hospital medicine physicians are stretched pretty thin as is, what with having to care for all types of hospitalized patients. So it’s understandable if their clinical attention may not have the mental room for high levels of engagement with autistic patients. In particular I’m hearing pediatric hospitalist are taking charge and swallowing the fact that autism rates are on the rise and treating these patients does require much more time and training. Randall Children’s Hospital in Portland states clearly in their job posting positions that pediatric hospitalists will “see a broad range of developmental disorders including autism and intellectual disabilities.” Many other hospitals appear to have at least one hospitalist as the “go to guy” to meet with autistic patients. And the other resident hospital medicine professionals are showing great interest in picking the brain of these local leaders. Can we say job security? 🙂

Ref:
http://www.hospitalmedicine.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Hospitalist_Definition&Template=/CM/HTMLDisplay.cfm&ContentID=24835

http://www.allhospitalistpositions.com/

http://www.legacyhealth.org/employment