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How to Improve Sleep in Children with Autism

Children are specials. Most especially when they lovable as they are. Children must be treated with equal love, care, support and discipline. The hard thing is, when your child is affected with a disease conditions. One of the conditions that affect children is autism. Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that severely affects children. This is characterized by triad behavioural symptoms. First is impaired social interaction, second is restricted repertoire of activities and interest and lastly is impaired communication. It also includes signs and symptoms like tactile hypersensitivity, tantrums, destructive behaviours, sleep problems and cognitive impairment.

Improve sleep in autistic children

Sleep problems are not usually common in normal children. But with an autistic child, this is common. The common sleep problems they encounter are poor sleep quality, unstable sleep routines, restlessness, snoring, waking during midnight and difficulty sleeping.

Establishing Strategies in Sleeping for children

Establishing good strategies in sleeping for children helps you determined patterns to make your children have a good sleep. These strategies can be the best for you. Try it and you will see.

  • Discuss with your children’s paediatrician some ways and prescribe medicines that can help them have a good night sleep. State all your concerns and collaborate with the paediatrician for establishing the strategies.
  • Avoid your children in any activities before going to bed. In this way, your children can relax and stay calm before sleeping.
  • Have a routine for your child before sleeping at night like taking a bath, having a massage and listening to calm and soothing music.
  • Remove any distractions form your child’s bedroom to avoid any stimulants. Noise and sensory distractions must be controlled. Inform other members of the family about this so that they can also adjust.
  • Take note of the sleep patterns that your child obtain and record it. Show it to your child’s paediatrician for evaluation.
  • If your child did not response to the strategies, obtain immediately a sleep medication like melatonin from your child’s physician as your last option.
  • Encourage optimal activities during the day. In this way your child may feel tired during night time and makes them wanting to sleep more.
  • If making any changes of your child’s routine, kindly introduce it to them slowly so that they will not be overwhelm and stressed out.
  • Introduce simple steps for your child before bedtime so that they would learn. Do not set more than six simple steps for your child.
  • For parents, be consistent about your sleeping time and waking up time.
  • Make sure that your child doesn’t have any snoring problem. Don’t avoid if your child has a snoring problem. But, the question is how to cure snoring? There are so many solutions but some remedies and anti snoring devices will help you stop snoring.
  • Used sleep devices if you need more to help you with your child’s condition.
  • Engage your child in a sense of relaxation so that they would feel stress free and happy thoughts would enter their minds.

I hope these strategies could help you. As parents, you need to have more patience and understanding about your child’s condition. Increasing their integrity of life can make them survive longer. Their survival rates depend on how they were taken care of and expose to activities. Sleep deprivation for autistic children is still unknown but studies now are still continued to be done to discover more treatment modalities for this disorder.






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The Right Diet in Autism

At present, as a recent survey has shown, 1 in every 88 children in the United States is affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). ASD covers a wide variety of disorders prevalent in children ranging from inability for social communication and interaction, a lack of interest in their environment to an inability to recognize patterns or use new words. With normal medical science unable to provide any compelling results in the treatment of autism, most parents are turning to alternative treatments, including restrictive diet.

Autism Diet

During studies concluded by several institutes it was found that most children affected by autism have some form of gastrointestinal disability. These studies have suggested autism as being a result of a metabolic malfunctioning or disorder. This malfunctioning usually manifests itself in the form of poor cellular lining of the intestines. In normal humans, any food intake is broken down to its lowest form and finally absorbed. In children diagnosed with ASD, it is hypothesized that partially broken down components, known as peptide proteins, are able to easily mix with the bloodstream. These peptides head to the brain, targeting certain receptors which results in behavioral and sensory changes.   These findings have not been primarily concluded by medical sciences, mainly because of the wide variety of disabilities and symptoms exhibited by the autistic child.

However, several parents have reported an increase in the response time of their children by eliminating various foods from their diet. This primarily includes foods with high gluten or casein content. Gluten is a form of protein found primarily in rye, barley or wheat. Several baked products contain gluten. As for casein, it is primarily found in milk, dairy products and soy products. Most autistic children have a strong dislike for particular smells and foods and some therapists suggest not allowing the child to eat until so hungry that he or she will consume the food they dislike. Forcibly making them intake those foods might also produce very undesirable effects.

A Gluten Free Casein Free (GFCF) diet might be hard to implement immediately. It is usually advised to stop casein products first. During the first month, all casein can be eliminated out of the body. Finally stop gluten products. A 6 month trial is recommended for most diet plans. Many parents forego with corn products too, primarily because they contain proteins similar to gluten and casein. Reduction of intake for foods with high toxic levels and a low salicylate diet (apples contain salicylic acid), have also been reported to help.

Autism is a complex condition and some scientists have even shown a genetic component. Various studies and genetic DNA tests have indicated that around one fifth of cases can be linked to a mutation on a gene. These kind of studies can help determine the hereditary nature of the illness and estimate the chances of siblings both being autistic. Geneticists are focusing on particular sequences of DNA known as single nucleotide polymorphisms which they believe are linked to autism when found to be present.

Many people diagnosed with autism are known to over eat as well. Often their brain does not realize that the body is full, due to a faulty hypothalamus. However, a more psychological cause like coping with stress or cravings for a specific food can be equally responsible. This should be looked into. But for any developing child, a balanced food plan is necessary. Foods like rice, eggs, fruits, vegetables, nuts or oil are allowed in a GFCF diet. Finally, a prior consultation with any registered dietician is highly recommended before any diet plan is implemented.

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Autism: An Informative Study/Guide

Autism is a complex neurological disorder of human beings which include different impairments in social and communicative study. It is mainly caused due to connections of the nerve cells in the brain being different than in an average human. However, that does not always result in a derogatory condition. Indeed, it has been observed that while most autistic people have an inability to communicate properly with the society, their non-verbal and cognitive skills are far higher than any average person. These include various fields like drawing, music or their capability to learn new things. Autism can be recognized in the first three years of any child’s life.

No two persons in autism have the same behavioural pattern. That is what makes autism so difficult to control. Autism can be classified into various forms including the Autistic Disorder, the most common form of autism. This is characterized by inability to communicate verbally and performance of repetitive behaviours. In Asperger’s Syndrome, people are characterized by often high non-verbal test IQ, but possession of limited interest in society. For girls, Rett Syndrome is the most common form. These girls start normally, but by 1 to 4 years, they develop signs of autism. Pervasive Development Disorder (or PDD) is used for children who do not fit into any known categories. Along with these, another term common in context to autism is Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, used to classify children who develop normally for 2 years but regress after that.

The Genetics of Autism

Autistic children can be taught to behave normally with people by repetitive advices on how to interact properly. It has been found that autism is more common in identical twins who share the same genetic blueprint than in fraternal ones. The concordance rate in monozygotic twins is between 60 -90%.  This means that monozygotic twin studies, autism appeared in both twins in 60-90% of cases. Autism is undoubtedly connected to genetics at some level, however as recent studies have found out, 20 of the normal genes found might be involved. Various genetic tests are under way to determine the exact mutations responsible for the condition and scientists have identified several genetic abnormalities in autistic people. Dealing with all variations of such a large number of combinations is highly time consuming and hence, the exact cause of autism has not been determined yet. Two genes identified and linked to the condition are Engrailed 2 (EN2) and the Serotonin Transporter.  EN2 abnormalities are linked and believed to cause structural changes in the cerebellum, a part of the brain related to motor skills and cognition.

Genetic DNA testing and analysis of the human genome has classified 98% of our DNA as “junk DNA”. Whilst the term is misleading because of the connotations of the word “junk”, we simply do not know what purpose junk DNA serves.

Associated conditions:

  • Autism is often seen alongside fragile X syndrome, a condition caused by abnormalities on the X chromosome affecting males more than females and often resulting in mental retardation.
  • Although rare, autism also sometimes manifests itself in individuals suffering from tuberous schelorsis.

Studies have pointed that parents with schizophrenia are more susceptible to autistic children, and the chances of autistic children having a new pair of genes missing, as compared to their parents, is huge. Flu or fever for more than a week during pregnancy can also double the chances of bearing autistic children. Though no fixed treatments for autism exist, early treatment of diagnosed children have often proven to be helpful.

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What are the Recommended Therapies for Autism?

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that can affect social and communication skills in children. The onset of autism is at birth or in infancy and symptoms usually appear before the age of three. Children with autism are mostly unable to form normal social interactions, show delays in communication and language, and have repetitive behaviors such as rocking, hand flapping and spinning. Often, they isolate themselves from others and act in an unusual manner. As the child grows older, the patterns of autism also change. Experts suggest that autism may have biological causes including genetics, heredity, infections, and complications during pregnancy, or at birth.

therapies for autism

Association with Other Disorders

The following disorders can occur with Autism.

Mental Retardation

About 75 to 80 percent of people with autism are mentally retarded.


Seizures are a result of abnormal, electrical brain activity. Almost one third of people with autism experience seizures; onset is usually between early childhood and adolescence.

Fragile X Syndrome

Fragile X Syndrome is a genetic disorder caused by a defective area of the X chromosome. It occurs in about 10 percent of people with autism – most of them are male.

Diagnosis of Autism

There is no specific diagnostic procedure for autism. In arriving at this diagnosis, specialists, such as pediatric psychiatrists, neurologists or child psychologists, may use the following methods of evaluation.

Medical History

In a medical history, the doctor obtains a detailed history of all family members’ health conditions, including the history of the mother’s health during pregnancy.


Over a period, doctors observe the development of the child’s social ability, behavior, and motor and language skills.

Assessment Examination

The doctor may administer an examination to evaluate the child’s development in areas such as speech, language and social behavior.


The American Psychiatric Association publishes the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM); it gives standard criteria for classifying mental disorders, including autism.

What are the recommended therapies for Autism?

Over decades, different approaches have been developed to deliver more effective treatment programs.

Occupational Therapy

Occupational Therapy assists people with autism to become independent in all aspects of life, by learning to accomplish common and necessary tasks. Therapists modify tasks to make them more manageable for the individual. Activities include handwriting, tying shoelaces, and buttoning clothes. Another function of Occupational Therapy is to provide people with autism with the skills necessary for work, social life and leisure.

Physical Therapy

Nearly 80 percent of people with autism exhibit decreased muscle tone and impaired motor planning. Physical Therapy provides activities that promote muscle strength, coordination and motor skills (including basic skills such as: standing, rolling and sitting).

Speech Therapy

Speech Therapy aims to treat problems with speech and communication, using a variety methods and interventions such as: formal assessment, play-like therapy and speech training. Non-verbal communication also forms part of this therapy and can include gestural communication, and the use of picture exchange cards or electronic talking equipment. This therapy must be performed by a licensed speech and language pathologist.

Social Skills Therapy

Social Skills Therapy achieves effective communication with others and increases social competence by improving verbal and non-verbal behavior.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy

Cognitive Behavior Therapy focuses on the relationship between thoughts, emotions and behavior. It is a very useful method for managing the symptoms of this disorder. Through Cognitive Behavior Therapy, people with autism learn techniques for coping with, and managing, their emotions in stressful situations.

This post is contributed by Ellen Park, a travel occupational therapist. She previously worked as an occupational therapist at a rehabilitation center and found the benefits of becoming a travel therapist after looking into Travel Therapy Jobs at Advanced Medical.

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Casein and Gluten Free Diet May Not Be Effective in Improving Autism Symptoms

A study conducted in Rochester, New York reveals doubts over the effectiveness of casein free and gluten free diets on improving the symptoms of autism. According to the study, there are no demonstrable improvements in the small group of children studied following the autism diet.

A Look at the Autism Diet

Impaired communication, social interaction and restrictions on activities, due to repetitive behavior, are some of the characteristics of autism spectrum disorder. The condition also involves gastrointestinal conditions such as celiac disease (a disease where the small intestine becomes damaged when gluten is consumed). The cause is a complex combination of factors and how they co occur still remains a mystery.

Autism can be a debilitating condition and treatment usually focuses on lessening the symptoms by managing every aspect of the child’s life. Diet is one of them. Managing autism through dietary intervention is based on two hypotheses: the first one states that allergies in food can exacerbate the symptoms of autism, second one states that vitamin and mineral insufficiency may cause some of the symptoms.

The autism diet involves choosing foods that are gluten free and casein free. Gluten is found in foods such as wheat, barley, rye and oat, while casein is the major protein found in milk. 27% of parents with autism claim that following this diet is helpful.

What Research Says?

A small study done by an associate professor of pediatrics at the Golisano Children’s Hospital in New York reveals otherwise. The study involved 22 children with autism spectrum disorder. 14 of the children went on the study. All the participants were placed under strict gluten free and casein free diet for a span of four weeks. After undergoing the strict autism diet, the children were given a challenge snack of either: wheat flour, evaporated milk, both or placebo.

The practice continued until all children received a snack three times for 12 weeks. Children’s behavior, sleeping pattern, bowel movement, socialization and communication skills were observed before and after the snack challenges and they found no difference between those given the snacks and those given just placebos.

Though the results show no significant difference, the researchers still recommend further studies on the aspect of diet and autism symptoms be conducted. Another co-researcher also suggests that a study that is more inclusive, or those including children with apparent GI issues should be done.

What Other Researchers Suggest?

While the New York study suggests that the autism diet may not be as effective, other studies reveal that there are certain diets that might work. Research is taking an interest in autism diets that have been popular among parents for a long time. This is according to the Center of Autism Research in Philadelphia.

In an effort to improve their child’s condition, parents are going beyond medical management and are beginning to explore alternative and complementary medicine. Some researchers say that the scientific community tends to ignore what parents actually use to lessen their child’s symptoms.

The length of the clinical trials and the studies involving diet and autism patients might also be an issue. 18 weeks of study, according to critics, may not be enough to produce real results. This is compared to six months and even one year of experience of parents with a certain dietary intervention, and some parents suggest it takes this much time to see results.

Despite the studies casting doubts on the effects of the autism diet, some experts still suggest to try it, though parents are advised to approach it with skepticism.

Guest Author Bio:

Alapati Amarendra is a doctor and he blogs about recipes, conditions like autism. He is a middle eastern recipes lover and he recently browsed an awesome website which contains various diet recipes.

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