Autism Reality

The Vancouver Sun is continuing its excellent six…

The Vancouver Sun is continuing its excellent six part series on autism with an article on early signs of autism in toddlers. One of the items listed in the article that we noted when Conor was young (there were several causes for concern early on with Conor) was a failure to play peek-a-boo at any point as a toddler. ( We did not know about autism we were just concerned ). A big one was his failure to learn to say mommy, daddy and other basic words. He also used to play for loooong periods of time sifting sand. He would hold one of those small toy plastic basket balls in his hand for hours. We have several pictures of him asleep in the car seat his hand grasping one of the primary colored plastic basketballs. We had an indoor swing set and Conor would lay with his face pressed firmly into the side of the set. But it was the failure to develop any significant language or show any substantial recognition of mom and dad that led us to seek medical attention for Conor and ultimately led to his initial diagnosis of PDD-NOS which was subsequently changed to Autism Disorder.

The signs of autism in toddlers
Vancouver Sun

A decade ago, autism diagnosticians developed CHAT — the Checklist for Autism in Toddlers, designed to flag symptoms of autistic behaviour.

If the majority of answers to the questions are ‘no’ it is suggested parents talk with their family doctor or pediatrician. Here they are:

Does your child enjoy playing word/action games with others, such as peek-a-boo?

Does your child show emotions that fit the situation?

Is your child interested in what’s going on around him or her?

Does your child enjoy playing with many different toys, in many ways?

Is your child beginning to enjoy pretend play, taking turns and imitating other people’s play?

Is your child interested in approaching other children and joining a group?

Can your child easily indicate his or her interests and needs through words or sounds?

Is your child talking as you would expect?

Does your child point to, ask for, or try to show you something?

Does your child look at you when you talk to him or her?

Does your child imitate words or sounds?

Does your child imitate gestures and facial expressions?

Is your child comfortable with changes in routine?

Does your child hear and react to sound as you would expect?

Does your child enjoy being touched and touching other things?

Does your child move his or her hands like other children?

Does your child see and react to things as you would expect?

Does your child eat and drink a variety of foods and beverages?

Point to a toy and say, “Look, there’s a ——.” Does your child look in the right direction?

Use two cups and spoons. Invite your child to make juice with you — mix, pour and drink. Does your child participate?

Ask your child to show you something in the room. “Show me the ———— ?” “Where’s the ———— ?” Does your child turn and point or touch the items?

April 24, 2007 Posted by | autism disorder, faces of autism, signs of autism, vancouver sun | 1 Comment

Autism & HBOT – Hyperbaric Oxygen Is NOT An Evidence Based Treatment for Autism

I have blogged previously on Hpyerbaric Oxygent Treatment as a treatment for autism. At this point in time HBOT is NOT considered to be an evidence based treatment for autism. There is a study going on which MAY or MAY NOT change that fact but for the present, as the authorities reviewed in the Chicago Tribune indicate, there is NO evidence to support the effectiveness of HBOT in treating autism.

Parents turn to long-shot therapy for autism

By Kirsten Scharnberg
Tribune national correspondent
Published April 23, 2007, 7:48 PM CDT

HONOLULU — Kalma Wong has tried almost everything for her two autistic children: special diets, intense behavioral therapies, flying in experts from the U.S. mainland at exorbitant costs.

Some efforts have yielded modest success. Others have done next to nothing.

But like many other parents of the more than 500,000 children that the Centers for Disease Control estimates to be autistic in the U.S., Wong has vowed to keep trying until she pinpoints the treatment that most helps her kids.

Her latest attempt is one of the most long-shot therapies yet, a protocol some doctors praise but that others declare to be a waste of time that gives desperate parents false hope and exploits them financially.

It is called hyperbaric oxygen therapy, a treatment in which pure oxygen is delivered to patients confined to pressurized chambers for an hour a day for several weeks. The theory is that the extreme doses of oxygen essentially the same kind of treatment that has been used for decades to cure divers with decompression illness will spur dormant or damaged neurons in the brain to become reinvigorated or even transformed.

In the case of children with autism, considered the fastest-growing developmental disability in the U.S. today, the new treatment is claimed to have produced some stunning results: transforming non-verbal children into fluent speakers; helping children hypersensitive to outside stimuli become calm enough to attend public schools; changing kids once adverse to any personal interaction or touching into affectionate toddlers.


Markley said she has treated more than 30 autistic children with HBOT and “every single child of those 33 had consistent quality-of-life improvements.” The improvements, she said, were more pronounced in kids most afflicted by the characteristics of autism: the repetitive behaviors and the impairments in sensory perception, social interaction and communication.

Critics argue that no studies have been done that use scientific models such a double-blind testing. They caution that the treatment has been tried only on a handful of children affected with autism nationwide, not nearly enough to draw valid conclusions.

“They are making extraordinary claims without extraordinary evidence,” Iyama said.

Evidence is exactly what supporters of HBOT are hoping to get in the coming months. Beginning in May, the Honolulu clinic, along with some 20 hyperbaric oxygen clinics across the U.S., will launch a formal study into how autistic children respond to the therapy. A total of about 400 children will be included, and the results are to be evaluated by the National Institutes for Health.

Other studies are under way that HBOT proponents are closely watching. One of the biggest is a federally funded study on the effects of HBOT on children with cerebral palsy that is under way at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.

One group watching the outcomes of these studies is the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society, a non-profit group of doctors that investigates scientific claims linked to HBOT. Thus far the group has been skeptical of using HBOT to help neurological conditions such as autism or cerebral palsy.

“If we just had the evidence we’d be happy to support it. But it just isn’t there,” Dr. Donald Chandler, executive director of the UHMS, has said in statements regarding the therapy….

April 24, 2007 Posted by | autism treatment, Chicago Tribune, evidence based treatment, HBOT, Hyperbarid Oxygen Treatment, parents | 3 Comments