Discrete Trial Teaching

By Amy Zier, M.S., OTR/L and Kimberly Garvey Hoehne, M.A. What is Discrete Trial Teaching? Discrete trial teaching (DTT), often used in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) programs, is a methodology aiming to help children learn developmentally appropriate skills of imitation, receptive/expressive language, pre-academic concepts, social relations, toy/peer play, and self-help/adaptive abilities. A discrete trial consists of an instruction or question to the child, the child’s response, reinforcement or consequences, and prompting, followed by fading prompts, as necessary. Skills are broken down into small, manageable tasks according to the child¹s level of ability.  The method promotes natural learning by teaching children how to learn from their environment. What does sensory processing have to do with DTT? Children who have difficulty processing sensory information often cannot efficiently utilize the range of learning activities used in discrete trial teaching. They may respond to the daily experience of touch, movement, sight and sound with a variety of negative behaviors and be unable to sustain…

Does Mitochondrial Dysfunction Finally Connect the Diverse Medical Symptoms We Now See in Children With Various Health Problems?

By Alyssa Davi, Parent Advocate What is mitochondrial disease and why may it be important to my child with developmental delay, low tone, GI problems, seizures, feeding problems, failure to gain weight, autism, diabetes or neuro-psychiatric symptoms? Research connecting mitochondrial disease and many diverse medical problems is increasing.  Dr. James Anderson, the Director of Program Coordination at the National Institute of Health (NIH) stated that the NIH currently funds more than half a billion dollars in mitochondrial research. Researchers are linking mitochondrial disease with everything from diabetes, autism, mood disorders, bi-polar disorder, schizophrenia, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and even some cancers. Why would mitochondrial disease be involved in such a vast array of disorders?  The United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation states, Mitochondrial diseases are not one disease, but a group of metabolic diseases.  These diseases result from failures of the mitochondria, specialized organelles present in almost every cell of the body Mitochondria are responsible for providing more than 90% of the energy needed…

Autism Prevention – Early Choices

By Lorna C. Aliperti, APRN, IBCLC A Good Start is Important If you are concerned about the health of your new baby, you have a right to be. Allergies, asthma, autism and other immune and autoimmune problems are increasingly prevalent, as are the incidence of life-threatening allergies and problems with attention and relatedness. These are thought to be triggered by environmental influences in those genetically predisposed.  The immune system is our primary interface with the environment, and digestive problems seem to be related to many of these medical and psychological difficulties. Early microbial colonization of the infant gastrointestinal tract by microbes is becoming increasingly appreciated as being crucial for the overall health of an infant. The actions of parents and caregivers in the perinatal period can have enormous impact on this infant’s microbiome, which is influenced by mode of delivery, antibiotic exposure and feeding practices, although exposure to foreign antigens that trigger an immune response can also be important. I…

Vision Therapy for Neurodevelopmental Disorders

by Maria Rickert Hong, Certified Holistic Health Counselor, AADP I am fortunate to have Dr. Randy Schulman, MS, OD, FCOVD, as my sons’ behavioral optometrist.  Dr. Schulman wrote the chapters on the role of vision therapy and optometry in Patty Lemer’s book, “Envisioning a Bright Future:  Interventions that Work for Children and Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders“, which I reviewed earlier.  Patty was the one who recommended Dr. Schulman to me, and she practices in my area. Patty has always talked about the importance of vision therapy for people with autism, ADHD, sensory processing disorder (SPD), learning disabilities and other neurological disorders.  Now I know why.  In fact, Patty’s book was published by the Optometric Extension Program Foundation, which should give you a clue as to the importance of vision in neurodevelopmental disorders. Vision Problems a Cause of Many ASD Symptoms I was astounded to learn that vision problems are a CAUSE of, not a by-product of, many ASD symptoms. …

Serious Talk About Humor

This post details serious talk about humor, which can be a useful and powerful tool in dealing with children with autism. On my answering machine was a message from the mother of Lance, a fifth grader with Asperger’s Syndrome. She was distraught. Sassing the speech-language pathologist (SLP) who ran a weekly social skills group, Lance had exclaimed, “You can’t tell me what to do.” “To the office!” she spat. “You are suspended from this group for three weeks. And you are sentenced to detention, besides!” “Patty, find us another school!!” Lance’s mother cried. “I can’t take this anymore.” Listening, I agreed wholeheartedly. I had just returned from the 15th annual international conference on the Positive Power of Humor and Creativity. sponsored by The Humor Project in Saratoga Springs, NY. After spending the weekend taking life seriously and myself lightly, I wished that the SLP had been with me to hear Joel Goodman’s sage words. Seven Good Reasons to Be Serious…

Social Stories for Autism, ADHD and PDD-NOS

by Stephen M Edelson, Ph.D. Director, Center for the Study of Autism  Theory of mind Many persons with autism, attention deficits (ADD & ADHD), learning disabilities (LD), and pervasive developmental disorders (PDD-NOS) have deficits in social cognition, the ability to think in ways necessary for appropriate social interaction. Recent research has shown that these individuals do not realize that other people have their own thoughts, plans, and points of view.  They also appear to have difficulty understanding other people’s beliefs, attitudes and emotions. As a result, they may not be able to anticipate what others will say or do in various social situations.  This has been termed as a lack of “theory of mind,” or the ability to take the perspective of another person. Social Stories An interesting technique, developed by Carol Gray, a consultant to students with autism in Michigan, helps individu­als with autism “read” and understand social situations better.  This approach presents appropriate social behaviors in the form…

Vitamin A Autism Treatment Spurs Breakthrough for Child

by Alberta Lindsey, Richmond Times-Dispatch Staff Writer Until he was about one year old, Wesley Sykes had a bright smile and was a lively, robust child. Then his parents, Seth and Lisa Sykes, noticed he wasn’t picking up words as other children were, and the wordlike sounds he had been making stopped. His smile disappeared. At 18 months, he stopped responding to his name. At 21/2, Wesley was diagnosed with autism. Wesley would sit on the floor and spin plates. He would dangle a string in front of his face. He would go into the middle of a room and just spin. He would sit for hours sifting sand or dirt through his fingers, without building anything. “This is a horrific illness,” Mrs. Sykes said. Vitamin A for Autism In October, Wesley began taking natural vitamin A in a study conducted by Dr. Mary N. Megson, a developmental pediatrician and assistant professor of pediatrics at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Medical College of…

Announcing the Documenting Hope Project

14 children, 18 months, 1 goal:  RECOVERY The Documenting Hope Project is a documentary brought to you by Epidemic Answers.  In this film, we will be documenting the potential recovery of 14 children from autism, ADHD, asthma, atopic dermatitis, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, mood disorders and type 2 diabetes as they work with integrative health practitioners for 18 months. These children will be receiving free medical services, healthy food and supplements during the duration of the project. The Documenting Hope Project was born of one simple gutsy observation: In spite of what most parents are told, many of these children can get better. We have the tools. And by demonstrating how they get better and how to protect their health we have the opportunity to create a better, safer, healthier and more sustainable future . . . for all of us. Our “big idea” is to create a successful, grassroots, crowd-sourced model for improved health outcomes for children affected by chronic…

Autism and Humor

by Patricia S. Lemer, M.S. Bus., NCC, Chairman of the Board, Epidemic Answers “I wike you, too!” I bet you are smiling. “A smile is the shortest distance between two people,” says Victor Borge. It takes 17 muscles to smile and 45 to frown. Why waste all that energy? Jogging your insides enhances respiration and circulation, oxygenates the blood, suppresses the stress-related hormones in the brain, and activates the immune system. I learned these important facts at the 14th annual International Conference on The Positive Power of Humor and Creativity. This hilarious event, sponsored by The HUMOR Project in Saratoga Springs, NY, the brainchild of Joel Goodman, has attracted over 13,000 people from all over the world. Attendees were nurses, doctors, teachers, clergy, mental health professionals, and parents working in hospitals, hospices, rehab centers, schools, prisons, and in home health care. Many have bosses who never say a kind word. Most were stressed out and burned out. All received continuing…

Farm Therapy: A Natural Approach to Improve Sensory Integration

by Lois Hickman, OTR Occupational therapy on a farm, with real jobs that must be done regularly to maintain the land and the animals, improves sensory integration, self-awareness, and relationships with others. Farms, like children, involve growth, nurturing, hard work – and down-to-earth fun! The connectedness inherent in this way of life can promote healthy change at all levels for children with developmental delays. The interconnection of the natural rhythms of weather, seasons, daily responsibilities, play, music and dancing, story and song can bring especially important life experiences to individuals with physical, emotional, or intellectual challenges. Children with an aversion to touch may overcome this defensiveness when the goal is preparing a soil bed for flowers or carrots, or brushing angora rabbits to collect hair for spinning and weaving. An incentive for conquering the fear of being off the ground may be climbing the ladder to the barn loft to get cartons before gathering eggs. Children with physical challenges or…