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Has Your Teen on the Autism Spectrum Expressed a Desire to Die? Then alarm bells should be going off !!!




Can Probiotics Help With Asperger's or Not?

One clinical review published in 2015 in the Pediatric Health, Medicine and Therapeutics journal looked at the overlap between digestive health and autism spectrum disorders like Asperger's. 

A meta-analysis found that for every 4 children with autism spectrum disorders at least 1 was found to have some sort of gastrointestinal symptom and this was lower in children without ASD.  


The most common symptoms were increased gas at 60% Bloating, diarrhea, acid reflux under 50%, and constipation the least common symptom found in 10% of participants. It's thought that through the gut & brain axis, gut health could affect Asperger's. 


The Microbiome of Autistic Children 

 

Through stool & urine samples it is possible to test the bacteria makeup of the microbiome and see if there is dysbiosis or not. This first study from 2010 found that children with Autism had a higher concentration of Clostridium genus pathogenic bacteria in their gut. 


A second 2012 study started by saying that gastrointestinal disturbances were more common in children with autism possibly due to changes in microbiome flora. The researcher's previous work found more pathogenic Alcaligenaceae bacteria in autistic children and none in non-autistic control children. 


In further testing, they found Sutterella bacteria in 12 children with autism and none of these same bacteria in a testing group of 9 children who did not have autism. The specific strains found were Sutterella wadsworthensis and Sutterella stercoricanis. It's thought that because these bacteria were found in over 50% of children there could be some significance. 


Can Probiotics Help with Asperger's or Not? 

 

To help answer the question of whether probiotic supplements can help with Asperger's and autism spectrum disorder we will take a look at this incredible study carried out by Professor Glenn Gibson, published in 2007.  


The study started by once again confirming that the intestines of autistic children were likely to have higher amounts of Clostridium histolyticum bacteria compared to non-autistic children and that autistic children were also more likely to experience gastrointestinal symptoms like bloating and gas. 


Researchers from the Food Microbiology Sciences Unit at Reading University created a probiotic containing Lactobacillus Plantarum probiotic bacteria and their theory was that this specific strain could potentially destroy clostridia pathogenic bacteria by making it a hostile environment for the bad bacteria to grow.

 

To test this theory a straightforward placebo trial was set up with 40 children 4 to 8 years old recruited. At random, half were asked to take the L. Plantarum probiotic once per day in powdered form for 3-weeks. The other 20 were given a placebo probiotic that contained NO bacteria. 


The results were so clear in that when the time came for the 20 children to switch from real probiotics to fake, the parents refused to do it because of the benefits they had noticed in their children. The parents wanted their children to continue taking a probiotic supplement. 


The study was lacking details and the results were not definitive because many of the parents refused to continue with the placebo but some interesting effects were shared. The parents noted that their children had fewer IBS symptoms, better-formed stools, improved concentration, more calmness, and less stress. When they stopped taking the L. Plantarum probiotic it was noted that these symptoms all returned. 


Dr. Qinrui Li's Thoughts on Probiotics for Autism & Asperger's 

 

This huge 2017 review looked at over 100 papers on probiotics and autism, we got some valuable insight from one Bejing Doctor called Qinrui Li and some other Doctors from Sacramento California. 


In her conclusion, she said that abnormal gut flora was linked to ASD and that modulating the gut flora with probiotics, prebiotics and a gluten-free diet could potentially be cheap safe therapy. 


She did also however claim that more "well designed" studies with "more participants" were needed to make any sure gone conclusions on the role between gut microbiota & autism spectrum disorders. 


Closing Thoughts: More High-Quality Studies are Needed 

 

It's clear through numerous studies that the microbiome seems to be altered in children with Asperger's because of Dysbiosis which leads to an imbalance in good and bad bacteria. It seems that this contributes to digestive symptoms similar to IBS that negatively impact the lives of children with Asperger's. 


Studies into whether probiotics can help with Asperger's are inconclusive and there is no definitive study that proves probiotics can treat, cure or help all children with ASD. Different probiotic strains have different effects and every child has their unique microbiome regardless if they have Asperger's or not. More studies like the one Professor Gibson conducted are needed to prove whether or not probiotic supplements can help or not. 

Kids with ASD Who Worry Excessively: Crucial Tips for Parents

"I need some advice on how to help a very anxious son (with ASD) to deal with his strong emotions. He is very unsure of himself, needing constant reassurance and last minute accommodations."
 
Some kids with ASD [High-Functioning Autism] worry excessively and are often overly tense and uptight.  Some may seek a lot of reassurance, and their fears may interfere with activities. Moms and dads should not discount their youngster’s concerns – even when they seem unrealistic. 

Because fretful kids on the autism spectrum may also be quiet, compliant and eager to please, their difficulties may be missed.  The parent should be alert to the signs of excessive worrying so he/she can intervene early to prevent complications.

There are 3 different types of worries in these young people:
  1. fretting about being separated from the parent (e.g., being overly clingy, constant thoughts about the safety of parents, extreme worries about sleeping away from home, frequent stomachaches and other physical complaints, panic or tantrums at times of separation from the mother or father, refusing to go to school, trouble sleeping or nightmares, etc.)
  2. fretting about getting physically hurt (e.g., extreme apprehension about a specific thing or situation like getting bit by a dog, stung by a bee, stuck with a needle, etc.)
  3. fretting about being around people who are not familiar (e.g., avoidance of social situations, worries of meeting or talking to new people, few friends outside the family, etc.)
 
Other symptoms of excessive worrying in kids on the spectrum may include:
  • constant concerns about family, school, friends, or activities
  • fear of making mistakes
  • low self-esteem
  • lack of self-confidence
  • fears about things before they happen
  • repetitive, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) or actions (compulsions)

Moms and dads can help their child develop the skills and confidence to overcome excessive worrying so that he/she doesn't develop phobic reactions to certain stimuli.





To help your youngster deal with worries and anxieties, consider the follow tips:

1. Don't cater to your child’s fears. If your youngster doesn't like dogs, don't cross the street deliberately to avoid one. This will just reinforce that dogs should be feared and avoided. Provide support and gentle care as you approach the feared object or situation with your youngster.

2. Never belittle your child’s concerns as a way of forcing him to overcome them. Saying, "Don't be ridiculous! There are no monsters in your closet!" may get your youngster to go to bed, but it won't make the related anxiety go away.

3. Recognize that your child’s worries are real. As trivial as it may seem to you, it feels real to her – and it's causing her to feel nervous and afraid. Being able to talk about these feelings helps. Words often take some of the power out of the negative feeling. If you talk about it, it can become less powerful.

4. Teach coping strategies. Using you as "home base," your youngster can venture out toward the feared object, and then return to you for safety before venturing out again.

5. The youngster can learn some positive self-statements, such as, "I can do this" and "I will be OK" …to say to herself when feeling out of sorts.


==> Research-Based Parenting Strategies for Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism


6. Relaxation techniques are helpful, including visualization (e.g., floating on a cloud, lying on a beach, etc.) and deep breathing (e.g., imagining that the lungs are balloons and letting them slowly deflate).

7. Teach your child to rate his level of worry. A youngster who can visualize the intensity of his fears on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the strongest, may be able to "see" the anxiety as less intense than first imagined. The child can think about how "full of fear" I am, with being full "up to my knees" as not so afraid, "up to my stomach" as more frightened, and "up to my head" as truly petrified.

8. If your youngster's apprehension consistently seems out of proportion to the cause of the stress, this may signal the need to seek outside help (e.g., counselor, psychiatrist, psychologist). Moms and dads should look for patterns. If an isolated incident is resolved, don't make it more significant than it is. But if a pattern emerges that's persistent or pervasive, you should take action. Contact your doctor and/or a mental health professional that has expertise in working with children and teens on the autism spectrum.

The key to resolving excessive worries and anxieties is to overcome them. Using the suggestions above, you can help your youngster better cope with life's situations.


Preparing Your ASD Child for Transition to Middle-School

Parents who have children that will attend middle-school for the first time later this year need to initiate preparations pronto!

Another school year has ended, summer is here, and for some students, this was their last year of elementary school. This is not necessarily good news for children with ASD [High-Functioning Autism]. Why?



First, THE most difficult transition for most students (ASD or not) is that of going on to middle-school. This is largely due to the fact that, for the first time in the student’s life, he/she will have several teachers AND a much larger school population to contend with. Gone are the days where the child enjoyed having only one familiar teacher and only one relatively small classroom.

Second, children with ASD have difficulty with transitions in general – especially one this dramatic.

In general, a child’s intrinsic motivation toward school (i.e., the desire to do schoolwork for its own sake rather than for an external reward) has been found to decrease with age. Intrinsic motivation especially drops during transitions between schools (e.g., from elementary school to middle-school). In other words, children may get a great deal of pleasure from doing science projects in the 5th grade but feel like they are doing a project "just to do it" in the 7th or 8th grade.
 

After entering middle-school, children tend to get lower grades than they did in elementary school. This drop does not seem to occur because of any cognitive or intellectual changes. In fact, children perform just as well on standardized tests after entering middle-school as they did before. It also does not seem that grading becomes more difficult after the transition to middle-school. Therefore, a child’s lower grades seem to reflect an actual change in how he is performing during middle-school as compared to elementary school; he appears to place academics at a lower importance than he did earlier in his life.

Also, children perceive themselves to be less academically competent in middle-school than they did in elementary school. Over the course of just one year, many kids on the spectrum begin to lose belief in their own academic abilities, and a sense of low self-esteem kicks-in. This finding is important because children who think that they can do well in school are more likely to actually perform well. Oddly enough, the strongest children seem to experience the biggest drop in belief about their abilities over the middle-school transition.

Research has shown that students with ASD are less interested in school, perform more poorly in their classes, and see themselves as less academically capable during middle-school than during elementary school. Figuring out why these negative changes occur is not easy and is the subject of ongoing research. 
 
There are probably many developmental reasons for the changes (e.g., shifting interests, the beginning of distracting bodily changes, bullying, sensory sensitivities, a larger building to navigate, more peers to try to relate to, being ostracized from "the peer-group" if you can't "fit-in" or be "cool," etc.). In addition, there seem to be increasing demands from educators and parents for kids to get good grades rather than to simply enjoy the learning process. But exactly how much each factor affects children remains unclear.

Many of the factors that affect ASD children during the middle-school transition are beyond the parent’s control. Still, the parent can play a role in keeping the child engaged in school. For one, parents can continue to emphasize the importance of "love of learning" during the middle-school years. Parents do this naturally during elementary school when grades are less prominent and important, thus they should keep up a similar attitude after the transition. 
 

Second, parents can encourage their youngster to realistically assess her academic abilities. As mentioned earlier, strong children tend to stop believing in themselves most of all after the transition. Parents’ supportive words can help children remember that they are competent.

Lastly, simply keep these findings in mind. Recognize that the middle-school transition is difficult and that your child may show signs of less school engagement after the transition. Try to be understanding of the challenging changes he/she is facing, and know that with some time and support, his/her passion for learning will hopefully reignite.

To help your youngster adjust, begin discussing the types of changes he can expect long before that first day of class. Take your time and be there to answer any questions your youngster might have. 

Here are a few tips parents can take to prepare their youngster for the challenges and benefits of middle-school:

1. Many kids with ASD may worry about finding their classes, opening their lockers, or dressing for gym class. Address the youngster's fears one by one, and point out that everyone in her class is new to the school and the school rules. Also, point out that many of her fears will be addressed at an open house or school orientation. In the meantime, spend a little time showing your child how to use a locker combination and offer tips on getting to her classes on time.

2. There are a number of books on the market that can prepare your youngster for the adjustments of middle-school. Some are very specific, written exclusively for ASD boys and girls. It's not a bad idea to make an investment in one of these resources. They may even help you better understand some of the challenges your youngster will face, and that can help you help your child. A good eBook on the market is Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management.

3. You may want to begin giving your child a little independence once she starts middle-school. For many families, it's during the middle-school years when kids may be left home alone for the first time. This milestone should be approached carefully and with much consideration and preparation. Take time to transition your child from constant supervision - to home alone, and check-up on her periodically to make sure she's using her time alone wisely.

4. Homework during the middle-school years tends to increase, and moms and dads can often find themselves unable to help with specific subjects. But they can still do quite a lot to help their kids tackle homework assignments and complete class projects (e.g., setting up an environment that helps your middle-schooler concentrate on homework in order to complete it quickly; keeping a family calendar in order to track special assignments and projects and keep your middle-schooler organized, etc.).

5. Many changes take place during the pre-teen years, and your youngster probably has questions or concerns about all of them. Discuss some of the changes your child will likely encounter, and role-play how to deal with some of the more difficult challenges. For example, your child will likely encounter new school-rules when she begins middle-school. What should she do if she breaks one of them accidentally? How should she respond?

6. Touring your youngster's new school is a wonderful way to answer any questions your child might have about middle-school and ease any anxieties. A tour will show her where she can find all the places she'll have to go in the course of the day (e.g., gym, cafeteria, locker, etc.), and that will give her a sense of confidence on her first day.

7. Bullying tends to peak in the 7th and 8th grade and diminish slightly every year after. Unfortunately, most kids on the spectrum will encounter bullying at some point during middle-school. The best way to protect your youngster is to sit down and discuss behaviors common in middle-school (e.g., bullying, experimenting with tobacco, etc.). These young people who are being bullied may try to hide the fact from family members or educators, so be sure you know the signs of bullying in order to take quick action.

8. The idea of moving up to middle-school can be scary for some kids. But it's important that children understand that middle-school offers many benefits and opportunities. Talk to your child about all the organizations and clubs she'll be able to join, as well as the independence that comes with being older and more mature. Point out all the opportunities your youngster's school offers, and encourage her to become involved right away, when everyone in her class is just as new to the school as she is.

My child has been rejected by his peers, ridiculed and bullied !!!

Social rejection has devastating effects in many areas of functioning. Because the ASD child tends to internalize how others treat him, rejection damages self-esteem and often causes anxiety and depression. As the child feels worse about himself and becomes more anxious and depressed – he performs worse, socially and intellectually.

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How to Prevent Meltdowns in Children on the Spectrum

Meltdowns are not a pretty sight. They are somewhat like overblown temper tantrums, but unlike tantrums, meltdowns can last anywhere from ten minutes to over an hour. When it starts, the Asperger's or HFA child is totally out-of-control. When it ends, both you and your child are totally exhausted. But... don’t breathe a sigh of relief yet. At the least provocation, for the remainder of that day -- and sometimes into the next - the meltdown can return in full force.

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Parenting Defiant Teens on the Spectrum

Although Aspergers [high-functioning autism] is at the milder end of the autism spectrum, the challenges parents face when disciplining a teenager on the spectrum are more difficult than they would be with an average teen. Complicated by defiant behavior, the teen is at risk for even greater difficulties on multiple levels – unless the parents’ disciplinary techniques are tailored to their child's special needs.

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Older Teens and Young Adult Children with ASD Still Living At Home

Your older teenager or young “adult child” isn’t sure what to do, and he is asking you for money every few days. How do you cut the purse strings and teach him to be independent? Parents of teens with ASD face many problems that other parents do not. Time is running out for teaching their adolescent how to become an independent adult. As one mother put it, "There's so little time, yet so much left to do."

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Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism

Two traits often found in kids with High-Functioning Autism are “mind-blindness” (i.e., the inability to predict the beliefs and intentions of others) and “alexithymia” (i.e., the inability to identify and interpret emotional signals in others). These two traits reduce the youngster’s ability to empathize with peers. As a result, he or she may be perceived by adults and other children as selfish, insensitive and uncaring.

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Highly Effective Research-Based Parenting Strategies for Children with Asperger's and HFA

Become an expert in helping your child cope with his or her “out-of-control” emotions, inability to make and keep friends, stress, anger, thinking errors, and resistance to change.

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My Aspergers Child - Syndicated Content