Using a Multidisciplinary Approach for Autism and Other Spectrum Disorders

Using a Multidisciplinary Approach for Autism and Other Spectrum Disorders

Using a Multidisciplinary Approach for Autism and Other Spectrum Disorders

by Patricia S. Lemer, M.Ed., NCC, Chairman of the Board, Epidemic Answers Recently I returned to Boston for my 30th college reunion. I was disappointed to find that some of my old haunts had vanished, but thrilled to find that others were still there. A visit to what was once Kennedy Hospital for Children, where I began my first job in 1969 as a staff psychologist, resulted in my reminiscing about my career odyssey. It was here that the dream that was to become Developmental Delay Resources, my former non-profit, began to percolate. This remarkable institution was the genesis of my focus on the concept of a multi-disciplinary team. How fortunate I  was to have worked with the best doctors and therapists. Every Monday a group of five children entered the hospital as inpatients. Each department did a comprehensive evaluation and on Friday met to discuss findings. An overall treatment plan included such innovative techniques as a ketogenic nutrition diet,…

Sensory Processing Disorder Early Intervention

by Carol S. Kranowitz, MA Every day, Sensory Processing Disorder receives new recognition as a common problem among children.  Recognition is good, but those of us who know about it and see the benefits of a healthy sensory diet want more.  To prevent sensory integration dysfunction from hindering our children’s development, we want Sensory Processing Disorder early intervention and identification. One way to encourage parents, teachers, and other early childhood professionals to address SI dysfunction is to help them see it as a developmental problem.  Kids don’t grow out of Sensory Processing Disorder; they grow into it, unless we spot it and treat it — the sooner, the better. Early identification is often possible if children attend a center with an occupational therapist (OT) or a savvy teacher on staff, who can observe their behavior over time. Sensory Processing Disorder can also be detected by a pediatric team using a multidisciplinary approach.  Another avenue is a screening.  A screening is…

Hippotherapy: Therapeutic Horseback Riding

By Donna M Warfield, Co-Executive DirectorCircle of Hope Therapeutic Riding, www.chtr.org Equine assisted therapeutic (hippotherapy) riding provides therapy to children and adults with disabilities including, but not limited to attention deficit disorder, learning disabilities, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, Down syndrome and head trauma. Therapeutic riding is a special training program in which individuals with disabilities learn horse-riding skills. Medical doctors, physical therapists, educators, psychotherapists. and other professionals have come to recognize the numerous physical, psychological, and social benefits of riding therapy. Physical benefits can include improved balance, strength, coordination, and endurance.  Especially for the physically handicapped, the warmth and movement of the horse stimulates unused muscles. Individuals with emotional and developmental disabilities benefit in language development (there are stories of children who spoke their first words ever on horseback) and concentration.  In many children and adults, riding therapy can boost confidence and self-esteem and foster greater independence. Because learning riding skills provides multi-task learning, there can…

Hypotonia and Nutrition

Hypotonia and Nutrition

Hypotonia and Nutrition

Low muscle tone, or hypotonia, is one of the physical problems often associated with developmental delays; nutrition and low muscle tone are intimately connected. Children can have generalized hypotonia or it may affect just specific areas such as the hands or upper body. Hypotonia is clinically significant because in severe cases the muscles are literally too weak to perform important tasks such as holding a pencil or sitting without slumping in a chair. In milder cases, stamina or precision are affected. For example, children with severe hypotonia of the hands are reluctant or sloppy writers whose interest in writing or drawing declines in direct correlation with the severity of the low tone. When the concerns are milder, youngsters may try to overcompensate for difficulties by holding pencils too hard and causing cramps or creating blisters. Hyptonia Causes There are two possible causes of hypotonia. Occupational therapists contend that the vestibular system imbalances are to blame. The vestibular system is the…

Developing Visual Motor Skills

by Nancy B. Lewis, O.D. Visual motor skills imply much more than handwriting.  Children need to be able to use their hands and eyes as paired tools.  Following are some activities that develop visual-motor skills. Remember, developmental age is more important than chronological age; a child is as old as he/she acts. Infants and Toddlers (0-3) Imitative interaction between child and adult develops eye-hand coordination and teaches the connection between action and reaction.  For infants and toddlers, your voice and face are all you need to hold a child’s attention.  Move close and talk to the child softly with exaggerated facial movements.  Children will gaze and then reach out to touch you. For children who have problems reaching out, gently take and kiss their hands or place them on your face.  Repeated sessions will develop a connection between sound and the feel of your face. Scarves and fabric netting can be tossed to enhance alertness as a child uses hands…

Nutrition and Autism, ADHD, SPD and Other Developmental Delays

by Kelly Dorfman, MS, LND, Co-Founder, Developmental Delay Resources An astounding study found a strong correlation between nutrient status and better performance on difficult visuo-spatial and abstraction tests. (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1997:65, 20-29). Present or past intakes of protein, vitamins B-1, B-2, B-6, B-12, E, C, folate, and niacin were all related to intellectual performance in healthy, elderly individuals. If aging adults can improve visual and abstract intellectual functioning simply by eating better and taking supplements, is it not logical that the same would be true for children struggling to develop these skills? Nutrition and Autism, ADHD, SPD and Other Developmental Delays In many ways the deterioration of mental flexibility and sharpness accepted as part of growing older is similar to the processing sluggishness often seen in children with developmental delays. In one situation, the ravages of aging is the culprit; in the other, a total load of stressors causes the brain to process information slowly or inaccurately….

Special Needs Therapy: Collaboration is the Key

by Patricia S. Lemer, M.Ed., NCC Many parents are willing to try innovative special needs therapy, and they also believe they are entitled to whatever therapy is necessary to make their child well. They feel their children simply cannot wait a generation for the results of clinical trials and research to prove a new therapy’s efficacy. Several burning questions consume my thoughts: “How can we make innovative therapies more accepted and available?” “What can we do for kids who languish while awaiting all types of therapies and services?” “What about children whose families can’t afford private therapies?” “What are some reasonable solutions? Answers came from Dr. Edward Feinberg, a veteran administrator of Anne Arundel County, Maryland Public Schools. He has spoken passionately about his system’s financial dilemma of delivering “promising therapies” to “those who want them”. Who Pays for Special Needs Therapy? Unfortunately, it is often finances, not children’s needs, that determine who receives what. Upon whom does the financial…

Moving Up the Developmental Pyramid: Motor Skills Development

by Joye Newman For many adults, exercise is a luxury.  For children, however, physical activity isn’t a luxury; it’s the key building block for growth. The motor skills of crawling, pulling up, walking and climbing are the foundation for the cognitive skills that school-age children are expected to acquire.  For example, a child will be ready to read only after she has acquired the fine-motor skill of moving her eyes smoothly across a page (visual tracking). She also requires the gross motor skills enabling her to sit still in a chair (balance) and to move each side of her body independently of the other (laterality). In reading, laterality facilitates the ability to move the eyes from left to right. Foundational Motor Skills Are Critical to Cognitive Growth The relationship between motor and cognitive skills can be viewed as a pyramid.  Without a strong motor-skill base, a child cannot build or support higher-level cognitive functions. Successful motor development follows a distinct…

Choosing a Developmental Optometrist

by Patricia S. Lemer, MEd., NCC  A parent recently asked why I recommended that her child be examined by an optometrist rather than an ophthalmologist.  The answer comes from my understanding of these two eye care professions and my personal experience. Both types of eye doctors examine and prescribe glasses, diagnose and treat eye disease, and can evaluate how well a person uses the eyes together.  However, each profession is unique. Ophthalmologists are trained to do surgery.  I credit one with saving the eyesight of my daughter, who at age five, sustained an eye injury. Optometrists are schooled in the behavioral (or functional) aspects of vision.  They are more apt to use lenses, prisms and vision therapy to enhance and improve function.  These interventions often improve children’s academic and other abilities. Eyesight vs. Vision Eyesight and vision are not synonymous.  Eyesight is the sharpness of the image seen by the eye.  Vision is the ability to focus on and comprehend…

Birth Trauma and Developmental Delays

by Viola M. Frymann, D.O., F. A. A. 0., F. C. A, Director, Osteopathic Center for Children. La Jolla, CA Birth trauma and developmental delays:  In at least 80% of children with developmental delays, including attention deficits and autism, there is a history of traumatic birth.  In each diagnosis there are manifestations of various aspects of cerebral dysfunction, which in simple terms means that the brain is not functioning as efficiently as it should. The brain is contained within the bony skull, which at the time of birth is designed to accept the temporary compression of the birth canal, and expand fully when the baby cries immediately after birth. The lower end of the central nervous system is located within the sacrum, the large bone forming the back of the pelvis.  This, too, is designed to absorb the compressing forces of the contracting uterus, and then be restored by bodily movements after birth.  The vertebral column protects the spinal cord…