Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Clinic Notes: Does Acetaminophen Cause Autism?

Many parents of children with autism blame the vaccinations that their children were given between 2 and 3, more specifically the Thirmosal preservative (Mercury) used in the vaccine, as the cause of their children's autism. The scientific data do not support this but the argument goes on. Now a new culprit related to the vaccine has been suggested. Acetaminophen, which physicians suggests be given to reduce the fever that can occur following the injection instead of aspirin, which can cause Reye's Syndrome. Well, the change from aspirin to acetaminophen does correlate with the increase in autism, but children are given acetaminophen to reduce fever whenever they are sick and they, along with most children who receive acetaminophen following the vaccines do not get autism. Statistically, anything that has increased along with the increase in autism will correlate. The increase in the use of cell phones would correlate with the increase in autism. But cell phones don't cause autism. Or do they?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Clinic Notes: Help Wanted. Need People with Autism

The children with autism that I see in my clinic are very young, usually between 2 and 6. Most of the older children that I see in my clinic have been coming for years. They all progress at different rates and I wonder about their future. Where will they work, where will they live, will they marry and have children? Well, a report this week gives me a clue into the work future for some of them. Several companies such as Wrigley have hired people with autism as computer systems developers because they are able to focus for long periods of time on detailed tasks that others would get bored. A company in Denmark and another in Chicago hire and train people who have high functioning autism as consultants on data entry and code checking and send them out to work in various industries. So it looks like there will be jobs for the children that I see in my clinic if I can get them to the point that they can manage their sensory problems, follow directions, and communicate.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Clinic Notes: Social Skills and Autism

Autism is primarily a communication disorder. Children with autism may lack functional language or may have language that is functional, except in social situations. For children with autism who lack language then ABA and therapy with a Speech Language Pathologist is essential. But what about the high functioning children with autism or Asperger's.. How do they develop social skills? First of all, they need to be in a classroom where there are other children at their level or above, or they need to be mainstreamed. Of course, just putting them in a regular classroom without social skills training and attention to situations where the stimulation is too great could be a disaster. A child with autism may do find socially in a quiet classroom and have a meltdown in a noisy lunchroom. Second, social skills can be taught using social stories and practicing social skills in a controlled environment where the sensory stimulation can be controlled, as well as potential bullying. This is a lot to ask of a teacher so extra staff need to be trained to work with these higher functioning children. Go to: for an interesting account of how one school is accomplishing this.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

This week another study has confirmed what those of us who work with children with autism already know--he earlier the intervention the better. In fact in previous blogs I have mentioned that with ABA started early some children are able to loose their autism diagnosis. That is certainly good news. The bad news is that services are expensive and hard to find. Everyone has a waiting list.
If you child is diagnosed with autism early find out about your state's early intervention program. States are responsible for providing and paying for services until your child reaches age 3. Go to and search for services in your state. After age 3 the school system are responsible and this is where the real problems in getting services become apparent. Some school systems are very good about providing and/or paying for services while others are not. Know your rights. Get an advocate to accompany you to your IEP meeting if necessary.
Check your private health insurance policy. Some policies will pay while others will not. As other parents of children with autism what they are doing and also ask your pediatrician for referral information. Unfortunately. Finding services for your child may be a bigger battle than dealing with your child's autism.