Autism, Autism Treatment

I was reading this web comic on the history of LSD and how in the 50’s and 60’s it was used to treat a variety mental health problems including this:

LSD Autism

A quick Google found this page LSD Studies With Autistic Children (though most relate to schizophrenia) and also this study: Flashback to the 1960s: LSD in the treatment of autism.

Between 1959 and 1974, several groups of researchers issued reports on the use of d-Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD) in the treatment of children with autism. This paper reviews that literature to consider how the authors justified these studies, as well as their methods, results, and conclusions. The justification for using LSD was often based on the default logic that other treatment efforts had failed. Several positive outcomes were reported with the use of LSD, but most of these studies lacked proper experimental controls and presented largely narrative/descriptive data. Today there is renewed interest in the use of psychedelic drugs for therapeutic purposes. While this resurgence of research has not yet included children with autism, this review of the LSD studies from the 1960s and 1970s offers important lessons for future efforts to evaluate new or controversial treatments for children with autism.

Autism, Autism Treatment, Nintendo Wii

Looking at Myomancy’s logs I can see that quite a few people are coming here searching for information on the Nintendo Wii and autism. So far Myomancy has only incidentally connected the two subjects. However it seems that a lot parents are ahead of me and wish to know whether the Wii is suitable for autistic children.

The difficultly in answering this question is that autism covers a very wide range of problems. From high function autistics to adults who still haven’t become fully toilet trained. With such a wide range of abilities, one answer cannot fit all cases. However at least one therapist is using a Wii in the therapy for an autistic boy.

Using the Wii is straightforward and may be more natural to a child than a traditional console because a lot of games are played by moving the whole arm rather than pressing small buttons. Selecting the right game is key as there is a wide range in their complexity. Games aimed at younger children are more likely to suit an autistic child as they will expect a lower level of hand/eye coordination. I’ve added a section to the Myomancy Store specifically for Wii games and Autism featuring games aimed at younger children.

I haven’t tried any of the games in the store and I don’t have a great deal of personal experience one-on-one with autistic children so it is very hard for me to give good advice. So I ask everyone who finds this page to comment below on your experience with the Wii and autism. Has your autistic child had the chance to play with a Wii? What game was it and how did they cope with it? If you’ve not yet tried a Wii, what questions would you like answering? With luck we can build up a guide to parents of autistic children and the Nintendo Wii.

ADD / ADHD, ADD / ADHD Medication, ADD / ADHD Treatment, Autism, Autism and Mercury, Autism Treatment, Dore Achievement Centres, Dyslexia

Are we too quick to medicate children?, a good round-up of the issue from the Las Angeles Times. Whilst The Guardian has a piece on the rise of students using brain boosting drugs such as Ritalin

The Spoof! has a short piece on PHADD (Pseudo Hyperactivity Attention Deficit Disorder)

Questionable Study Claims ADHD is Under-Diagnosed

Good Vibrations, a new, drug-free treatment for ADHD?

Understanding Chelation therapy, a brief round-up of this dubious autism therapy.

National Institutes of Health will intensify its efforts to find the causes of autism.

No explanation for ‘scary’ rise in autism in New Zealand

A Dore Program presentation at the Hallowell Center in Sudbury, MA.

Experts Demand End to Child Drugging in the US.

Shire reveals the effect size for it ADHD medication, Vyvanse.

Study on Concerta shows significant effect on ADHD sufferers.

ADD / ADHD, ADD / ADHD Diagnosis, ADD / ADHD Medication, ADD / ADHD Treatment, Auditory, Autism, Autism and Mercury, Autism Tests & Diagnosis, Autism Treatment, Balance & Coordination, Books, Commercial Dyslexia Centres & Treatments, Dore Achievement Centres, Dyscalculia, Dyslexia, Dyslexia Testing & Diagnosis, Dyslexia Treatment, Dyspraxia, Food and Drink, Franchised Dyslexia Treatments, Games, History, Medication, Memory, Music, Science, Sports, Television, Visual, Web/Tech

Over the last few weeks this website has been attracting comments from various members and ex-members of staff of the Dore Achievement Centres. This has come to the attention of the CEO of UK branch, Bob Clarke, who has posted comments on Myomancy and also to Wynford Dore himself who has phoned me. Conversations with Wynford are always enjoyable but challenging because Wynford believes so passionately about what he does. So when Myomancy runs a negative story about the Dore Program he tends to forget all the places on Myomancy where I’ve said the Dore Program works and that it changes lives.

In light of all this I thought it wise to make a clear statement to all my readers about why I devote a considerable amount of time and money to running Myomancy.

  • The goal of Myomancy is to provide independent information on treatments for dyslexia, ADHD and autism so that parents and sufferers can make an informed choice about what is the best approach for them.
  • Myomancy is a blog, a personal web site. It represents my views and my views alone on all things connected with ADHD, dyslexia and Autism.
  • These views are researched and expressed on Myomancy to the best of my abilities but I am not a scientist, teacher or a professional writer. I am just someone who’s life was changed by the Dore Program and felt a need to express myself.
  • I believe in free speech which is why I allow anyone to post comments on the articles regardless of whether they are for or against my views. Only post that are illegal or purely offensive are removed.
  • Myomancy generates a small amount of income for advertising. I would like it to be more so that I can afford to spend more time on Myomancy. It is up to the reader to decide what, if any, impact that has on the independence of Myomancy.

With reference to the above I have removed one comment from the website that is highly critical of the Dore Program and, based on additional evidence I have at my disposal, is completely false.

ADD / ADHD, ADD / ADHD Treatment, Autism, Autism Treatment, Balance & Coordination, Dyslexia, Dyslexia Treatment

Looking for something completely different I came across Sensory Edge , an online toy-shop featuring stimulating products for small children. I was particularly impressed by their balance and movement section. These toys are great for developing the cerebellum and vestibular systems, areas of the brain that are weak in children with ADHD, dyslexia and autism.

Autism, Autism and Mercury, Autism Treatment

Autism is a disorder that just inspires controversy. Maybe its because we know so little about what causes autism or maybe its because of the emotions connected with childhood problems. Either way, any debate about autism tends to become very polarized and nothing divides people more than the question of mercury, chelation and autism.
The controversy started in the early nineties when it was become apparent that mercury contamination, especially in fish, was become a significant issue. About the same time, there it was there was a growing number autistic children around. Finally someone noted that the symptoms of long-term mercury poisoning in young children is similar to the symptoms of autism.

Chelation itself is a term coined in the 1920 for a chemical process. A ligand or agent attaches itself to a metal molecule to form a chelate, a new, inert substance. The chelate can then be removed thus carrying away the molecules of metal. As a medical treatment, chelation has a long history. In World War I, chelation was used as a treatment for arsenic based poison gas. It also used for treating heavy metal poisoning such as mercury, arsenic or lead. In the UK incidences of heavy metal poising are very rare because of our strict environmental and health & safety laws. However once someone pointed the finger at mercury as a cause of autism then it was obvious that chelation would be tried as a treatment for autism.

It is with doctors interested in alternative medicine that chelation has taken off. No mainstream hospital or clinic offers it but Defeat Autism Now has a list of several hundred doctors who offer chelation. This grass roots movement in favour of autism means there is little direct scientific evidence on the effectiveness of chelation. Consequently we are left with anecdotal evidence about the treatment’s effectiveness which cannot be trusted because parents and doctors involved in the treatment both want the therapy to work. The parents are desperate for any glimmer of hope and may well notice a difference when in fact there has not been any. Doctors providing the treatment clearly believe in the treatments effectiveness so may not be as rigorous as an independent doctor. This does not mean that parents or doctors are deliberately misleading others about the success of a treatment. Strict double-blind protocols for testing medicines have been developed over the last fourty years because time and time again human nature and the subconscious desire to see the what you want to see has made a fool of even the best scientists.

It is not only autism that chelation is believed by some to treat. Since the 1960’s, heart and vascular diseases have also treated using chelation by practitioners who believe heavy metals can cause a range of diseases. Fully controlled, double-blind studies have found no benefit to chelation in these area. Lead poisoning also damages the brain and chelation has been used by mainstream medical practitioners to treat it. The results are mixed with some studies showing no cognitive improvement after treatment and others showing some improvement.

The chelation treatment is normally administered through an intravenous drip though some oral treatments exists. It is a slow process requiring regular doses of the chelation agent over weeks and months. Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) is the most common chelation agent and it comes in two forms, Calcium Disodium EDTA (generically known as Endrate and Disodium EDTA (known as Versinate). In 2005 an autistic boy died during chelation because the two agents were mixed up and he as given Versinate by mistake, causing a cardiac arrest.

Whether chelation works or not is highly debatable. As a treatment it is based on the idea that mercury is the cause of autism. This in itself is far from being proven and many if not most in the medical profession do not believe mercury causes autism. If we accept the mercury is the cause then chelation is the logical treatment to remove the mercury. However there is no evidence that once the mercury is removed the autistic behaviour will be reduced. Based on the current evidence chelation has little or no benefit as a treatment.

Previously on Myomancy: Of Mice and Mercury: Big Heads and Thimerosal, Autistic in the 1930’s. Playing Golf Today

Sources: Wikipedia – Chelation Thereapy, Generation Rescue, Quack Watch – Chelation Therapy: Unproven Claims and Unsound Theories; Declining blood lead levels and cognitive changes in moderately lead-poisoned children; Effect of Chelation Therapy on the Neuropsychological and Behavioral Development of Lead-Exposed Children After School Entry

Coverage of Chelation on the Myomancy Blog Roll

ADD / ADHD, ADD / ADHD Treatment, Autism, Autism Treatment, Dyslexia, Dyslexia Treatment, Science, Visual

Light therapy for ADHD, dyslexia and autism is a contentious area. How could spending twenty minutes sitting in front of a flashing light help children learn to read or control themselves? I was highly skeptical until I tried it myself (see Light Therapy Follow Up). Even having tried it I could only speculate on why it had the effect it did. Now some researchers have shown that light can effect your memory.

By exposing participants to a flashing light for one second, researchers in Oxford found that participants were better able to recall a list of trigrams (semi-random groups of three letters). Most importantly the improvements only happened when the lights were flashed at frequencies on or around 10.2 Hz. A frequency related to the brain’s alpha waves and believed to be relevant to memory functions.
Alpha waves normally span the 8 to 12 Hz range but this study was looking at older people with a mean age of 78. As the brain gets older its brain waves shift slightly and 10.2 Hz is the peak frequency for those aged 80 or above. The researchers tested flicker frequencies of 9.0 Hz, 9.5 Hz, 10.0 Hz, 10.2 Hz, 10.5 Hz, 11.0 Hz, 11.5 Hz and 500 Hz. Only those frequencies in the 9.5 – 10.5 Hz range improved participants recall.
This well designed study shows a clear link between flickering visual stimulus (sometimes called photic driving) and memory performance with strong evidence that the mechanism relates to brain wave activity. However this was a test of short exposure to flicker very quickly followed by the memory test. It provides no evidence as to what happens if the exposure to the flicker is longer or to how long the effects last. Both of these points are vital to understand what, if any, effect light therapy can have on people with learning disorders

.

Here we move into the field of speculation. It is clear that brain wave patterns do relate to cognitive abilities and behaviour. It also changes as we age, notably during childhood. Is it possible that children with learning problems that are related to poor short-term memory are stuck with the alpha wave patterns of a young child? If this is the case, could repeated exposure to photic driving train the brain to have strong, more consistent alpha waves? It is possible but much more research is needed.

10 Hz flicker improves recognition memory in older people [ PDF ]. Originally spotted on the excellent Developing Intelligence who have their own informative write-up.

Autism, Autism Treatment

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is one of the most common forms of therapy for autistic children but its coming under increasing pressure from Developmental, Individual-difference, Relationship based (DIR) approach to therapy.

The difference between these two approaches is explored in a Time Magazine article, A Tale of Two Schools:

In her classroom, Jodi sits quietly at a small table with a teacher. They take turns looking at photos and using a complete sentence to describe the scene (“The girl is riding a bike”). Each correct answer earns Jodi a sticker on a chart; with enough stickers she can choose a reward. ABA was once famous for its M&M rewards, but better programs now tailor positive reinforcement to the child’s preferences–a favorite activity, a hug or, in the case of one Alpine student, a packet of ketchup. Though Jodi didn’t talk at all until age 3, she speaks well and is mastering skills quickly with the help of two hours of tutoring in the evening. “From the moment she wakes up till she goes to sleep, everything is structured,” says her mother Michelle, who is thrilled with Jodi’s progress.