ADD / ADHD, Autism, Dyscalculia, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Food and Drink

Omega 3 and Omega 6 fish oils are believed to provide benefits for a wide range of problems including dyslexia, ADHD and autism. However the many different types of fish oils and seed oils it can get confusing.

Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA) and Linoleic Acid (LA)

ALA and LA are the fatty acids generally referred to as Omega 3 and Omega 6. They are found in some seeds and dark leafy vegetables. They are an essential part our diets (and sometimes called essential fatty acids) because we have to get them from an external source as the body cannot create or store them in the body. In scientific literature linoleic acid is referred to as 8:2(n-6) and alpha-linolenic acid as 18:3(n-3)

Stearidonic Acid (SA) and Gamma-Linolenic Acid (GLA)

After the linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid enter the body they are converted into SA and GLA. Evening primrose oil naturally contains GLA and GLA is often seen as the best form to take omega-6 fatty acids which is why evening primrose oil is often used in dietary supplements.

Eicosatetraenoic Acid (ETA) and Dihomo-Gamma-Linolenic Acid (DGLA)

Next the body converts SA into ETA and GLA into DGLA . Then its a short, biological step to …

Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) and Arachidonic Acid (AA)

These two fatty acids are critical for the human body. AA plays a role in more than twenty different signalling paths that control a bewildering array of bodily functions, but especially those functions involving inflammation and the central nervous system. EPA softens the inflammatory effects of AA and low dietary intake of EPA is associated with a variety of inflammation-related diseases.

Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) and Docosapentaenoic acid (DPA)

The final step in the chain is DHA and DPA. These are the actual substances used in the body and have been linked to mental health problems such as ADHD and depression and also physical problems like heart disease.

Though the body can convert ALA to DHA and LA to DPA, a lot of these fatty acids can be found directly in food. For example oily fish is high in EPA. It is not clear whether it is better to take the ALA or LA and let the body convert it or start as far down the chain as possible with EPA or AA. Arguments can be made for both approaches.

Previously on Myomancy:
ADHD and Omega Fish Oils
The Incredible Brain: A Miner Recovered
Fish Oils Calm ADHD Children?
Omega-3 & 6 Link to Mental and Physical Health Problems

The LCP Solution

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 Tests & Diagnosis

With autism, early detection and treatment is critical but what should parents be on the look out for?

The average age for an autism diagnosis is between three and four years old. Yet many parents first become concerned around 18 months old. This age coincides with some vaccinations and has caused many parents to blame the vaccinations for autism. However research over the last few years has indicate that many autistic children show signs of autism in their first year.

So what symptoms of autism should you look for in infants and toddlers?

Firstly, is the child hitting all the normal milestones of development? There is an excellent guide from the Centre of Disease Control that gives all these milestones from birth to five years (Learn the Signs). Your doctor or health professional will be able to give you more information. The difficulty in detecting autism is that some children do develop slower than other so being a few weeks late reaching one particular milestone is nothing to worry about. When a child is late over a range of these milestones then seek advice.

Research in the last few years has highlight other symptoms of autism to watch for in early development. Much of this work has been done by using home videos taken sometime before the child is diagnosed. Often these are from the baby’s first birthday because its an occasion many parents video. The movement and behaviour of the child is analysed and compared to similar videos of children who are not autistic.

What these videos reveal is that even at one year old, autistic children have different patterns of behaviour. They lack or rarely use the ‘social gaze’, the process of looking at someone when giving them attention. ‘Joint Attention’, when parent and child are both giving their attention to the same object or person, is also rarer. These early signs forewarn of the two of most notable symptoms of autism, a lack of empathy for others and a tendency to withdraw into a world of their own.

One of the distinctive symptoms of full blown autism is the child’s patterns of movement. Clumsiness, violent outbursts and repetitive movements are all common in autism. So researchers looked at how the infant moved to see if any signs of later problems can be detected.

One study noted that the autistic child still showed signs of retained primitive reflexes. These reflexes are present at birth and help the infant brain learn to move their body. For example, the grasp reflex is what triggers the curling of a baby’s fingers around an object placed in its palm. Other reflexes help the baby to roll over and learn to crawl. During normal development these reflexes drop away as the infant grows but in some children they are retained. This makes it harder for the infant or child to control their body because moving one limb may reflexively make another move. Making the child appear uncoordinated or clumsy.

There is growing evidence that it is possible to spot autism in infants. It may not be possible to formally diagnose autism at this stage but if the signs are their at infancy it best to assume the worse and begin treatment. Early intervention can make a significant difference to a later development.

Previously on Myomancy: Autism Tests & Diagnosis; Is This Why We Have Primitive Reflexes?

Recommend Reading: First Signs especially their screening tools for Autism

Research: Infants With Autism: An Investigation of Empathy, Pretend Play, Joint Attention, and Imitation [ PDF ]; Early recognition of children with autism: A study of first birthday home videotapes; Early recognition of 1-year-old infants with autism spectrum disorder versus mental retardation; Movement analysis in infancy may be useful for early diagnosis of autism; Infantile Reflexes Gone Astray in Autism [ PDF ]; Toddlers With Autism: Developmental Perspectives.; The Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers: An Initial Study Investigating the Early Detection of Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorders

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

Autism, Television

Autism Speaks is a charity dedicated to raising money for autism research into the causes and treatment of autism. In just its first year it has raised around $40 million. The organisation has received lots of mainstream television coverage as well as featuring on packets of Kellog’s breakfast cereals. This high profile may be to with the founders, Suzanne and Bob Wright who were inspired by their grandson was diagnoses with autism. Bob is the vice chairman of GE and chairman and CEO of NBC Universal, the parent company of NBC News.

The money raised by Autism Speaks is directed into a range of research projects. They vary from developing realtime monitoring of body-rocking and hand-flapping in autistic children to understanding the genetic basis of autism. One thing Autism Speaks is not researching is the role of mercury or chelation in Autism. They have a very sensible statement on the role of mercury in autism.

Autism, Autism Tests & Diagnosis

On Myomancy we have covered autism diagnosis at twelve months and six months. Now we have autism diagnosis in the womb.

DIAGNOSING AUTISM FROM THE WOMB? A new study from researchers at the Yale School of Medicine offers a provocative idea: Doctors may be able to predict autism in a baby by testing the placenta at birth. Researchers tested the placentas of 13 children with autism and compared them with placentas from healthy children. They found a microscopic abnormality that was three times as common in children with autism, suggesting a possible way to test for an increased likelihood of autism in new babies. However, such a test remains hypothetical at this point. Next, researchers plan to do a larger study to see whether their results are confirmed in a bigger sample of children. These results were published this week in Biological Psychiatry.

I’ve been unable to track down the actual research so please apply the usual pinch of salt to this story

Diagnosing Autism From the Womb?

ADD / ADHD, Autism, Dyslexia, Web/Tech

The next stage in my mission to make Myomancy the biggest and best ADHD, Dyslexia and Autism site is now on line. The Myomancy Blog Roll collates information from blogs and mainstream media into a handy digest.
As well as being fully searchable, each post is tagged so that you check out the latest news on ADHD, chelation, ritalin or whatever interests you.

ADD / ADHD, Autism, Dyslexia

I’ve been getting behind with posting links sent to me by readers and gathered from various email lists. They deserve more attention but rather than let them gather dust I’m going to post a bunch of them here.

Sensory Intergration and Cats: Early experience may shape our sensory perceptions

The Power of Music: Playing music can be good for your brain

A Factor in Autism?: Children recruit distinct neural systems for implicit emotional face processing

Dance is Good: Dance Steps Help Students Learn

ADD / ADHD, ADD / ADHD Treatment, Autism, Dyscalculia, Dyslexia, Dyslexia Treatment, Dyspraxia

The Scotsman newspaper has an article on Sarah Marshal, an INPP trained therapist, who operates out of a GP surgery.

Using a programme based on evidence that dyslexia, dyspraxia, attention deficiency disorder and under-achievement are linked to a glitch in young children’s reflex development skills, psychologist Sarah Marshall uses a series of simple, repetitive exercises to help her patients learn vital movement skills they should have developed while still in their pram.

Easy does it in quest to conquer dyslexia

Autism, Autism Tests & Diagnosis

A press release relating to an not-yet-published study looks at how children diagnosed with autism aged two are diagnosed when they are nine.

Of the 172 children who were examined at age 9 years, 58 percent had a best-estimate diagnosis of autism, an increase from the 49 percent diagnosed at age 2 years. Overall, 67 percent of the best-estimate diagnoses were the same at age 2 years and age 9 years. More specifically, 76 percent of those diagnosed with autism at age 2 received the same diagnosis at age 9, and 90 percent of those diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder at age 2 received a diagnosis of autism or an autism spectrum disorder at age 9. Parent interviews, observation scale scores and clinicians’ judgment at age 2 years each independently predicted a diagnosis of autism at age 9 years, with clinical judgment most strongly linked.

Most Children Diagnosed with Autism at Age 2 Years Have Condition at Age 9