Archive | June, 2012

Jackson’s Journey – Where no one should ever have to go

Do you know what a Hemispherectomy is? Wikipedia describes it as “a very rare surgical procedure where one cerebral hemisphere (half of the brain) is removed or disabled.”

On Friday, June 29th, at 2pm, a sweet little boy named Jackson is going to be the next person to have a Hemispherectomy.

Taken from Moving Forward… to Neurosurgery:

“J has autism, cerebral palsy, sensory processing disorder and intractable (untreatable) epilepsy.  A form of epilepsy called LKS / ESES.  His brain is in a spike and wave pattern that, among other damages, does not allow REM sleep…the sleep needed to consolidate the days events…allowing learning to happen.  Spike and wave equivocates to his brain firing in attempts of physical manifestations of seizures…. the damage being done is pervasive.”

Jackson’s mom, Gina from is very well known in the special needs blogging community, often giving of herself and providing far more information than most “professional” sites ever have.

And now it’s time to help her out and to help Jackson continue his journey through and beyond his surgery.

They will be hosting a FUNraiser in their town, which you are more than welcome to attend. Information is here:

Also, you can help out with a donation, if you can’t attend, by going here:

I know that, being online, especially in the special needs community, we get asked to donate a lot. And we’re forced to pick and choose because as we are in the special needs community ourselves, we don’t have that much to spare as it is.

But I ask you to consider.. what if it was your child. What if you had to bring your child to the hospital, knowing that half of his/her brain was about to be disconnected? How would you feel? How much help would you need?

They’re a strong family. I know that just by reading Gina’s posts and articles. But as strong as they are, they’re going to need a little support as they continue on this journey.

If donating still isn’t something that you can do, then perhaps you could consider cards (bought or made), videos, pictures, flowers, toys or anything that you think might help to brighten up the hospital room which will be home to Jackson for some time following the surgery.

If you have something that you’d like to send, please send it to:

Special Happens / St. Aubin Family
9609 S. University Blvd., #630303
Littleton, CO 80163


Please visit the Jackson’s Journey website and read about why this is necessary, how they prepare for it and… what comes next.

Don’t do it for me. Do it for Jackson, because he doesn’t deserve these problems but he does deserve our help.

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Pharmacologic Agents May Trigger Autism in a Genetically Predisposed Individual

The exact cause of autism is not known, but studies support a strong genetic predisposition of the disorder. The development of autism is traced to the presence of genetic abnormalities especially on the genes that affect the neural signaling in the brain. The presence of family history of autism may increase the risk of the development of the disorder in succeeding generations and twins also have a greater chance to have autism when the other twin is affected.

Along with genetics, environmental factors are also seen as causes of autism. This may include exposure of the pregnant mother to certain chemicals such as phthalates, pesticides, heavy metals, infectious diseases, phenols, smoking, alcohol, vaccines, flame retardants and other toxic substances. Pregnant mothers who are exposed to these factors during the first trimester when organogenesis or the formation of the brain takes place may have offspring with autism. However, there are no strong evidence of these occurrences.

The development of autism tends to happen during the early life as early as infancy. Signs of autism are usually observed even during infancy and the signs tend to manifest more as the child grows. Not all people with genetic predisposition to autism may develop the condition; however, a study revealed that normal people with genetic predisposition for autism may eventually develop the disorder when they are exposed to certain pharmacologic agents.

This finding was seen in a recent study conducted at the Idaho State University. The study involved the use of fathead minnows, a variety of fish, which have similar gene expression as humans in terms of autism. The study revealed that when these fish were exposed to certain pharmacologic agents, the gene expression profiles were affected, which is related to the development of autism.

These pharmacologic agents tend to be medications used to treat neurological disorders. These include fluoxetine, an antidepressant drug with a class of Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor; carbamazepine, an anticonvulsant drug; and venlafaxine, a Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitor.

The study further showed that these pharmacologic agents only affected the gene expression associated with autism spectrum disorders, which are largely genetically predisposed. In conclusion, these agents may just trigger autism in genetically predisposed individuals when taken in adequate amounts to cause autism.

While the exact cause of autism is unknown, it is essential that people know their family history of diseases in order to avoid potential risk factors that may lead to the development of disorders. In line with autism, people who have a family history of the disease should as much as possible avoid pharmacological and environmental agents that may trigger autism later in life. Also, pregnant mothers should also avoid these factors to ensure that their offspring may not develop the disorder especially when genetic predisposition is present.

Autism is not a disease that can just go away or can be treated. Autism is a lifelong disorder that may affect the learning abilities of children. Although the symptoms can be reduced and the child may have maximum abilities, preventing autism is still more essential.

About the Author

Dr. Amarendra, the author is freelance writer. He writes at dental implants and

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Detecting Autism in Children

Autism is a condition affecting the neural development of a child that may lead to problems in social interaction and behaviors. Every parent would want their children to grow normally and knowing that your child has autism becomes very difficult to accept.

Children who are found to exhibit autism as early as eighteen months have better treatment outcomes to help them thrive, grow and learn to be the best that they can. Nevertheless, parents should never lose hope no matter what the child’s age is because treatments for autism always help children if treatments are coupled with good parenting and understanding the condition of the child. In this line, it is important for parents to understand autism and how to detect it early in children.

All about Autism

Autism includes a spectrum of disorders that include similar symptoms that vary on the extent or severity. Autism may affect the child’s ability to interact with others, play or talk. Children with autism have varied impairments from a single impairment to several problems that give children a lot of obstacles to meet. Despite the differences in children with autism, the most common characteristics of children with this disorder include:

  1. Problems in communication, either verbal or non-verbal
  2. Problems in establishing relationships with other people and the environment
  3. Problems in behaviors

Detection of Autism

The detection of autism relies greatly on parents. Parents are the child’s companion 24 hours a day and seven days a week so warning signs of autism is usually observed by parents more than anyone else. Parents may also see some problems in their child that a pediatrician may not see so parents really have a huge role to play in the detection of autism. The following are the important tips that you can do in order to detect autism early in your child:

  • Observe your child’s developmental milestones

Since autism may lead to developmental delays, although not relative, observing the milestones of your child is the first thing that you can do while the child is still an infant. Observe when your child first smiled, giggled, talked, and others. You may want to inform your pediatrician all these things to tell you if it is normal or not. Also, look into some types of regression in your child because this may be a very serious sign for autism. For instance, your child already started to say mommy or daddy and as she grows, she suddenly stopped using those words. This may be a warning sign of autism that you need to refer to your pediatrician immediately.

  • Take action in every problem you see

Any delay that you see in your child requires actions. It is important to have an idea on what are the normal milestones of children in order to compare your child’s achievements to normal development.

  • Trust your intuitions

Never underestimate your intuitions if you see problems in your child. Sometimes, even doctors miss to see red flags in your child so you should always refer to your doctor any instincts that you have.

  • Never wait for your child to outgrow it

Waiting for your child to become normal like other children just makes you lose the right time for your child to improve. If you see some problems today, this is the right time for your child to have some therapies to maximize their growth and development.

To make it easier to detect autism symptoms, here are the most common manifestations of a child with autism:

  • Absence of eye contact
  • Does not smile
  • Does not respond to sound or name
  • Does not visually follow objects
  • Does not wave goodbye or make other gestures
  • Does not make noises if he or she needs your attention
  • Does not imitate facial expressions and movements
  • Does not respond to or initiate cuddling
  • Does not share enjoyment with other people
  • Does not reach out to other people
  • Does not ask for help for basic needs

These are important signs to be observed in children in order to detect autism early in life and improve treatment outcomes.

About the author

Dr. Amarendra is a regular contributor to,  a safe and secure online medication facilitator and health blog.

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Latest research suggests that antidepressants are causing fish to be autistic

autistic fish

Autistic fish?

A new study coming out of says Antidepressants in water trigger autism genes in fish and suggests “only 324 genes associated with autism in humans appeared to be significantly altered” due to there being antidepressants in the water.

First of all, I’m no scientist so I’d probably sound pretty funny to one when I ask exactly what genes or parts of the brain in a fish can so closely resemble that of a human that they could be absolutely certain. I’ve sounded pretty funny asking dumber questions though.

The “well, isn’t that just ironic” part of me finds it to be perfectly laughable when you consider how many years and how many doctors prescribed antidepressants as a treatment for autism. If the stuff diluted in water can trigger it… what does the concentrated stuff do to people/kids that already have autism?

Not that it matters much since new studies have found that antidepressants don’t really work as a method for treatment for autism anyway.

Which would make sense if this fish thing actually does hold water. Ooh… bad expression to use.

Somehow, fish in autism just seems extremely odd. Even more so than when scientist worked to re-create autism in mice.

Granted, it is extremely important to continue the work to discover the cause, or maybe not what causes it, rather what is the fundamental difference in people that makes one autistic or not autistic… still though, I can’t help but feel that they’re really stretching for answers with studies such as this.

I would love to be in a boardroom when someone says “how about we spend tons of money and see if these drugs make these fish autistic” and the people with money go “Sure! Great idea!”

Because I can’t get money for much of anything around my house and that person sounds like someone I really need to learn from.

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Being accepting of autistics that wish for a cure for autism

A recent news story, filled with a lot of science and interesting information, also included the insight from a man with autism, named Jeff Hudale.

You can read the news story here, in fact, I suggest you do: What’s Different About The Brains Of People With Autism?

Now, the science behind the story and the things that they are finding out about the human brain, specifically the differences between the typical and autistic brains, are really quite amazing.

But I would like to focus on the very last part of this piece, where Jeff Hudale states:

“I don’t want to quit until they finally can get this set right and get this thing eradicated,” he says. “I’d like to have some semblance of, just be a regular person like everybody else.”

There’s been a lot of talk about this through out the autism community but despite the attention it’s attracting, I see very very little (none to be honest) support or even acceptance of his feelings.

The general consensus that I see from people is that it’s sad that he feels this way and that he’s simply confused. That somehow it’s the life time of bullying, judging and other messages he receives either intentionally or unintentionally, that has caused this man to think of his autism in such a negative light.

There’s a lot to take in there as you begin to wonder if his parents had pushed for a cure or treated him differently because he was “broken.” Keep in mind, at 40+ years old, his diagnosis came at a much different time than how things are today.

Was he raised to be proud of himself or to always be aware of his differences. Did he read a lot of what the media had to say about autism and reflect those things inward?

Did years of bullying or lack of friends cause him to hate autism for making him the way he is?

Generally, it comes down to outside forces.

Put it this way, when we generalize his reaction into a “who said what to make him feel this way”, we are sort of dismissing him entirely and “putting the blame” on others.

That’s a nice way to look at it, to be honest. It means there is nothing wrong with him, it’s society that got to him and made him think this way.

However, the “nice way to look at it” isn’t always the honest way to look at it.

See, I like this news article because it’s honest and real. He is not the first autistic I’ve heard of, or even talked to, that has expressed a desire to be rid of autism. Or to use the “fighting words” version… to be cured.

I think, and this may just be me, but not everyone needs to “just accept it” and “just be proud of it”… some people don’t and never will. They simply wish that they do not have autism.

While it’s not the approach I take nor is it what I suggest, as it is obviously negative and self defeating, it is a reality.

not okIt’s a reality that should not be hidden or ignored.

Sure we could just say that Mr. Hudale should just be happy with himself despite what anyone else thinks but that’s what we think of his life.

That might not be so easy for him to think, nor is it a requirement. We can’t just demand that of him.

Wouldn’t that be more of the “stop thinking so differently and conform to what the rest of us believe!” mentality anyway?

Besides, this line of thinking ignores the simple fact of what autism really is… a disorder or disability.

There are a great many struggles, heart aches, things you can’t do, negative messages and so much more that you have to live with for your entire life when you have autism.

Some examples for some autistics include never going anywhere loud (concerts, subways, movies, etc), never being able to play sports, never being able to make friends and the list goes on and on. I couldn’t possibly list every possible thing that autism could limit or cause you to never experience at all.

There is just so much negative in life that comes with having a disability (or disorder) that it would be a bit naive to assume that it’s only due to bullies or other people that a person would wish to not have that disability.

Now, I’m not saying that it’s never the case. I think it’s safe to say that some people do hate autism or what ever disability they may have simply because of how it causes others to treat them or how others look at them.

Perhaps some of those people could grow to accept and maybe even love having autism if only people were more accepting of them.

But I think it would be a stretch to think that is true of every single person.

Some people may just wish to no longer have autism because they simply do not want to have autism. No matter their age, no matter what others say or do, no matter what you or I think they should feel… they just don’t want to be autistic anymore.

And we need to be accepting of that too.

Acceptance means we that don’t judge people for how they feel or what they think whether or not we agree or even understand it.

That goes for people who are not proud of having autism. Not just the people that are.

Let’s talk to them. Not ignore or dismiss them.

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