Special Needs News: Slow Brain Connections and ADHD, Brain Scans and Dyslexia & FDA and Autism Treatment - 16 September 2014

Brain Connections Develop Slower in Kids with ADHD

Brain images of children with ADHD show that connections between networks in their brains grow slower those of children without ADHD. Researchers from the University of Michigan studied brain scans of over 750 children with and without ADHD. Using fMRI, they were able to see less developed connections in areas of the brain dealing with internal thoughts and focus.

"It is particularly noteworthy that the networks we found to have lagging maturation in ADHD are linked to the very behaviors that are the symptoms of ADHD," said the study's lead author, Dr. Chandra Sripada.

Researchers hope "the new findings, and the methods used to make them, may one day allow doctors to use brain scans to diagnose ADHD - and track how well someone responds to treatment."

The study, "Lag in maturation of the brain’s intrinsic functional architecture in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder," is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States.

Brain Scans Predict Reading Problems in Children - may predict Dyslexia
Credit: John Morgan on Flickr

Researchers used brain scans to follow 38 children from kindergarten through to third grade - the time when children learn to read and develop their reading skills.  Using the scans, researchers watched "white matter volume" develop in the children's brains.  Through their analysis of the white matter volume, researchers were able to "show that white matter development during a critical period in a child’s life, when they start school and learn to read for the very first time, predicts how well the child ends up reading,”  according to senior author Fumiko Hoeft, MD, PhD. 

 “Early identification and interventions are extremely important in children with dyslexia as well as most neurodevelopmental disorders,” said Hoeft. "Accumulation of research evidence such as ours may one day help us identify kids who might be at risk for dyslexia, rather than waiting for children to become poor readers and experience failure.”  

The study, "White Matter Morphometric Changes Uniquely Predict Children’s Reading Acquisition," is published in the journal Psychological Science.

FDA Considers Banning Electric Shock Treatments Used On People with Autism

Credit: FDA website
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is investigating the use of 
graduated electronic decelerators or GEDs to control negative behaviors of people with autism at a Massachusetts treatment center.  GEDs are attached to the arms or legs of some students at the 
Judge Rotenberg Educational Center. If the student has a behavioral problem, a facility worker can activate the GED which then gives a two-second shock to the student.

The use of GEDs has been heavily criticized with the United Nations referring to it as "torture."  In addition, some parents brought claims against the Center over the use of this device. On the other hand, some parents contend it is the only treatment that works for their children.  The Judge Rotenberg Educational Center is believed to be the only center in the US using this type of device as a treatment.

The GEDs are designed and manufactured by the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center.  Since its initial design, the voltage used has increased.  The current device is not approved by the FDA.

More Autism Tips From Temple Grandin

Credit:  Counse on Flickr
Autism advocate Temple Grandin spoke at the University of San Diego recently.  Grandin offered these tips for parents and teachers who interact with children on the autistic spectrum.  

  1. Children with autism or other "labels" often have uneven skills.  They may be really good at math but have poor reading skills.  Parents and teachers need to build up that area of strength. Give full support to children in the subject they are good at.
  2. "If you don't stretch these kids, they don't develop." Grandin advises that children with autism must be "pushed" outside their comfort zones.  Make them do things they are afraid to do.  How far the child should be pushed depends on the child's circumstances. Parents and teachers must use their judgment on this issue.
  3. Stop doing things for your child that he or she should learn to do.  Grandin gave an example of a ten-year-old child who is out with his parents.  When they meet someone, the parents do all the talking including talking or answering for the child.  Parents should not do this, as the child needs to learn how to talk to people.
  4. In some cases, parents and teachers need to raise the expectations they
    Credit:  Brad Flickinger on Flickr
    have for a child. Again, Grandin emphasized the need to push children outside their comfort zone.
  5. Parents must be proactive when searching for help, answers to questions, etc.  Grandin mentioned the huge amount of resources available for parents online now.  She mentioned Khan Academy as one example.
  6. Consistent with prior talks, Grandin reiterated the need to think about "outcomes." Instead of playing video games all the time, kids need to learn work skills.   What are your children going to do with their lives?  Are your children learning skills that will help them get jobs? Grandin also stated that skilled trades would be good careers for some with autism, as they would be building something. 

For people not on the spectrum, Grandin offered some advice on how to interact with people who have autism.  She used the analogy of teaching someone how to behave in a foreign country that has different customs, languages and protocols.  Every instruction or explanation must be explicit. You need to explain things with step-by-step instructions.

For more tips from Temple Grandin, click here.


KPBS San Diego

Hope and Frank Talk on Autism from Temple Grandin

Let's Talk - Social Inclusion Week Seminar with John Lonergan - DĂșn Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council,

Let's Talk are hosting a flagship event during Social Inclusion week on Tues 14th Oct in the DLR County Council Assembly Hall. During this all day event, many local and national organisations will be hosting stands and displaying posters and brochures outlining the services they provide. This event is aimed at parents and carers of teenagers and will cover a broad range of topics, like bullying/cyberbullying, drugs/alcohol, mental health, teenage behaviour, sport, body image and lots more!!
The day starts at 10.30 and will be launched by a special guest. At 12.30, there will be a panel session where you will get the opportunity to ask questions or hear questions asked by other parents and have them answered by the experts.
The well-known author and ex-governor of Mountjoy prison, Mr. John Lonergan,  is coming at 5.30 to give a talk about parenting so all in all a very busy and eventful day which closes at 7pm.
Everyone is welcome to come along to this FREE event and meet or listen to the experts. This is a whole day event so pop in for a chat and a cuppa at your convenience. Hope to see you there!

For more information email us at letstalk.shankill@gmail.com or follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/letstalksupport or Twitter @LetsTalkDublin .

Family Leave Bill - Have Your Say

8 Signs Your Child May Have ADHD

Credit: Jenny Downing on Flickr
Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the most commonly diagnosed disorders in children.  ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder because "it has to do with the way the brain grows and develops." 

The way ADHD affects children can differ from child to child as there are 3 sub-types of this disorder.  In addition, the severity of ADHD symptoms varies among children.

Here are 8 common signs of ADHD:

  1. Inability or difficulty sitting still, constantly fidgeting.
  2. Talking all the time - so much so that it is excessive.
  3. Impatience.  Trouble waiting for their turns and interrupting conversations.
  4. Difficulty paying attention.  Becomes distracted very easily.
  5. Difficulty concentrating. Often doesn't finish school work or another task.  
  6. Impulsive – act/reacts without thinking.
  7. Behavioural problems at school – cannot control their behaviour.
  8. Disorganized - problems organizing school work and other activities. Constantly losing and/or forgetting things.

This list does not include every possible symptom of ADHD.  Remember that different children can have different symptoms.  If you have any concerns about your child's development, contact their medical provider as soon as possible. 

If you want to find out more about ADHD, check the websites listed below.


US moves to ban small magnets after child's death

Credit: US CPSC
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is moving closer to banning small, high-powered magnets. On Sept. 3, the CPSC released a draft rule that would regulate these magnets. 
The rule follows nearly 3,000 reports of magnet ingestions resulting in hospital visits. In addition, the CPSC received a report of the death of an 18-month-old girl. The toddler died after swallowing several small magnets. 
The magnets the CPSC wants to regulate are in children's toys and in adult novelty items. Two aspects of these magnets make them particularly dangerous:
  1. The magnets are small enough to be swallowed.
  2. The magnets are much more powerful than "typical" magnets found in children's toys.
Because of their strength, if more than one magnet is swallowed they are pulled toward
Credit: US CPSC
each other while inside a person's body. This is what happened to Annaka Chaffin, the 18-month-old, who died after swallowing seven of these magnets, explains 
USA Today. In Chaffin, the magnets "became attached to one another, which perforated her bowel and caused it to become septic" leading to her death.

Several magnet manufacturers issued product recalls. Buckyballs issued a recall in July 2014 following a complaint by the CPSC. In August 2014, the makers of Magnicube Spheres issued a voluntary recall of their high-powered magnets. This recall was in response to an administrative case taken against the manufacturer by the CPSC. The CPSC is urging consumers to stop using these products. Consumers can file claims relating to Buckyballs at buckyballsrecall.com and at magnicube.com for Magnicube Spheres.
The CPSC offers consumers the following safety tips relating to magnets:
  • Keep small magnets away from young children who might swallow them.
  • Look out for loose magnet pieces - and regularly inspect toys and children's play areas for missing or dislodged magnets.
  • If you suspect that magnets were swallowed, seek medical attention immediately.
  • Look for abdominal symptoms, such as abdominal pains, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
  • Note that in x-rays multiple magnetic pieces may appear as a single object.

This article was originally published by me on Examiner.com.

©Mary M Conneely T/A Advocacy in Action