Friday, January 12, 2018

Autism Rates in U.S. Children Has Stabilized

The rates of autism in United States children seem to be stabilizing a new report has found.
A study conducted in the United States from 2014 to 2016, has shown that rates of autism in children in the United States have leveled out. The study uncovered some interesting results because for the last two decades autism rates in children in the U.S. have been steadily increasing. The research paper published in JAMA looked at a group of over 30,000 children aged between three and seventeen.

The study surveyed parents and asked if they had ever had a doctor diagnose any children with autism, pervasive development disorder, autism spectrum disorder, or Asperger’s disorder. They then adjusted data based on the people’s age, gender, and ethnicity. The statistics uncovered that in 2014 the percentage of children with autism was 2.24%, 2015 was 2.41%, and 2016 was 2.58%. The small percentage increases weren’t significantly large enough to be considered an increase compared to previous decades.

There were several different findings when they looked at the individual sub-groups inside the survey. Boys were more likely to be diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder than girls, 3.54% compared to 1.22%. There was also a difference in percentages across different ethnic groups, 1.78% in Hispanic children surveyed, 2.36% in black children, and 2.71% in white children.

The study did find that their findings were higher than recent estimates. The Autism and Development Disabilities Monitoring Network, or ADDM, estimated that there had only been a 1,46% increase compared to the studies 2.4% rise. These results could be because of the way the study was designed and undertaken. The study focused on asking parents if there had been a diagnosis, while the ADDM estimate was based on speaking to education and health professionals.

They didn’t focus on the causes of autism in this study. However, more public awareness and better diagnosing could be attributed to the increase in reported cases of autism over the last decade.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Bedtime Problems: Insomnia in Children with Autism

Children and adults with autism are far more likely to have insomnia or other sleep problems.  Between 44 and 86 percent of children with autism have trouble sleeping, compared with 10 to 16 percent of children in the general population. 

Lack of sleep, especially in young children, can interfere with development, neurological processing and memory, and can make both children and parents frazzled and irritated.  In some cases, the cause of sleep loss can be as simple as a poor nighttime routine or overstimulation to close to bedtime, but other times, it can be the result of more serious health issues, such as sleep apnea.  

It is theorized that poor sleep can exacerbate symptoms of autism, such as repetitive behavior and poor social skills; it is also possible that autism itself contributes to a poor internal sleep schedule.  

Luckily, closer looks at the connection between autism and poor sleep may yield some solutions. The simplest solutions to sleep problems include sticking to a concrete bedtime routine and beginning the process of going to bed earlier in the evening.  However, some children take melatonin supplements or even sleep medications to help them sleep.  

It is recommended that parents concerned about their child’s sleeping habits consult with a physician to make sure the trouble doesn’t stem from sleep apnea or require medical attention.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Autism and Sensitive Santa

For many children with autism, Christmas can be an extremely overwhelming time of the year. Sensitive Santa could be the solution many parents have been searching for!

When you combine the massive crowds of people shopping, the noise, and lights, it can be a traumatic and terrifying experience for young children with autism and other sensory conditions. Many parents of young children with sensory conditions and autism wish they could capture that perfect photo with Santa, but crowded malls and shopping centers make that wish extremely difficult.

Some shopping centers and shopping malls have gone above and beyond to provide parents with a sensitive Santa experience that they may treasure for years to come. Westfield shopping centers are offering sensitive Santa experiences outside of normal shopping hours. For the sensitive Santa experience, they dim the lighting and turn off any loud music. When you reduce the noise, lighting, and remove the large crowds, many younger children are much better at handling the photo with Santa at Christmas.

For eight-year-old Liam, going to a shopping center, especially at Christmas time, can be an overwhelming experience. “Christmas crowds are just a massive overload; the bright lights, loud noises, high-pitched sounds all become a very distressing and upsetting situation,” Liam's mother Amy Palmer explained.

I got a photo of all three of my kids with Santa, and I just walked out of there crying because I finally had a Christmas photo to be proud of.” And for Liam, he was excited to be able to meet Santa. “What meant the most to me was that Liam, for the first time, was able to tell Santa what he wanted for Christmas, and that was just the best feeling in the world for me,” Ms. Palmer said.

For many families with young children that have autism, it’s the regular things like trips to shopping centers for photos with Santa that can prove to be the most difficult. It’s initiatives like the sensitive Santa program and other programs which can make the holiday season a little more hassle-free.