Developmental Delays Interventions and Balance

by Patricia S. Lemer, M.Ed., NCC, M.S. Bus., Chairman of the Board, Epidemic Answers All living things strive for balance. Healthy organisms manifest balance by being flexible, never static. As day follows night, calm follows a storm and death comes after birth, nature maintains balance with constant change. For humans, being in balance is more difficult. For those living and working with children who have developmental delays, making balance can be a huge challenge. How do parents balance their personal needs with those of their children? How can therapists and teachers balance work and relaxation? How do we balance lesson plans and unstructured exploration? Listening with talking? Being and doing? Thinking and feeling? Giving and receiving? An endless array of balance questions confronts us every day. Bringing these choices into consciousness may help us deal with them more effectively. Here are some ideas for balancing developmental delays interventions. Balancing Food Our bodies seek a balance of flavors, textures and tastes….

How Do I Know If an Autism Treatment Helps?

by Stephen M. Edelson, PhD Interventions available today for individuals with autism include nutritional, biomedical, educational, sensory, and behavioral. They present a bewildering array of choices for caretakers, who often want to know, “How do I know if an autism treatment helps?” How many different treatments does a child need? How soon should one expect results? When is the best time to add a new treatment? When should one abandon a treatment that is not helping? How do we know? In evaluating any intervention, we need to be as objective as possible. Below are some tips to help determine when a child has improved from a specific treatment: Control Timing Parents eager to see improvement sometimes try several new treatments at once. Then when the child improves, it is impossible to determine which one(s) really made a difference. A general rule is to try a treatment for about two months and determine whether or not it was helpful before beginning…

SPD, ADHD and Autism Calming Strategies

By Kelly Dorfman, MS, LND The brain needs a balance between excitatory and calming chemicals to control the body’s activity level. This blog post details Sensory Processing Disorder, ADHD and autism calming strategies. A wide variety of chemical messengers, called neurotransmitters, modulate the brain’s tendencies toward arousal or calming. Adrenaline (or epinephrine) is an excitatory chemical that helps the body respond to danger by dilating the eyes, speeding up the heart and initiating other functions that prepare the body for fight or flight. If an acute response is not necessary, the body can convert adrenaline to dopamine, another excitatory molecule that improves focus and concentration. Both dopamine and epinephrine are important under the appropriate circumstances. However, if adrenaline is dominant in a preschooler during circle time, he will be unable to settle down. Similarly, if excessive dopamine is present, the result is obsessive, rather than focusing, behavior. At bedtime, when the body tries to cycle into sleep, the brain may…

Secretin and Gut Neuropeptides

By Kelly Dorfman, MS, LND (Co-founder of Developmental Delay Resources) Secretin is a hormone that induces the pancreas to release bicarbonate, thereby adjusting the pH of the small intestine so that digestive enzymes can function. As one of 20 known gut neuropeptides, secretin has the ability to interact with both the digestive tract and the brain.  In other words, through these messenger molecules one’s capacity for digestion can affect cognitive function. The stomach and intestines are thus a small non-thinking brain whose activities directly impact their thinking counterpart in the head.  When secretin is not properly regulating pancreatic function, its receptor sites in the language areas of brain may not be activated either. When Developmental Delay Resources observed a link between aggressive antibiotic therapy or immunization reactions and developmental delays, much of the medical community flippantly dismissed us as crackpots. Now, years later, the accidental discovery of the importance of secretin may prove in retrospect how damaging antibiotics and immunizations…

How Sensory Integration and Nutrition Interact

by Kelly Dorfman, MS, LND, co-founder, Developmental Delay Resources Sensory integration (SI) is a complex process that makes it possible for a person to take in, organize and interpret information from our bodies and the world.  (Is the soup hot or cold?  Did the bee sting hurt?  Where are my arms and legs?  Do I need to go to the bathroom?)  Using sensory information efficiently enables us to function smoothly in daily life. Most people naturally get a good “sensory diet,” which nourishes the nervous system and creates healthy circuits capable of relaying accurate information.  For children, ordinary touch and movement experiences, such as swinging, climbing, digging, and molding playdough, are “food” for the brain. Children with SI dysfunction, however, misread sensory input, often under- or over-reacting to it.  If a child’s sensory processing is disorganized, he may be hypo- or hypersensitive to temperature, pain, and the way his body works. If behavior becomes out of sync with life, therapy…

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…

Food as Medicine

This piece on food as medicine is excerpted from Annemarie Colbin’s book “Food and Healing”. She is a Certified Health Education Specialist, Founder of Natural Gourmet Cookery School and Institute for Food and Health in New York City. We think of food as something that nourishes and keeps us alive. But food can also heal our bodies (think of it as food as medicine). Every culture has its own remedies for various problems, handed down through the generations. Many childhood ailments respond very well to these traditional preparations. Fevers For thousands of years, an elevation in body temperature was considered beneficial. But for the past 80 years or so, pharmacological medicine has insisted — wrongly — that fever is no good and must be lowered as soon as it appears. If a spontaneous fever does not exceed 104 degrees and is not accompanied by other symptoms, try these natural ways to handle it and speed its passing: Keep the child…

Nutrition and Autism

by Vicki Kobliner MS RD, CD-N Nutrition and autism:  Mention the words “nutrition” and “autism” and many people quickly but exclusively think of gluten and casein free diets (GFCF). While this diet has certainly helped to improve the symptoms of autism for many children, there is far more about nutrition and its relationship to autism that every parent should know before embarking on the complex and often expensive journey into the world of biomedical therapies. Good nutrition is the cornerstone of growth and development for all children, healthy or ill.  When nutritional status is compromised it will directly affect a child’s progress, and for a child with a chronic illness like autism, the lack of critical nutrients can have far reaching effects. Children with autism often exhibit a frustrating mix of picky eating behaviors and limited diets, bowel irregularities, food allergies or sensitivities and physical and behavioral signs of nutrient deficiencies.  A vicious cycle is created which goes something like…