Training With Cerebral Palsy – Toilet Training

Cerebral palsy is a condition that is caused due to a group of nervous disorders along with injuries to the brain. This occurs mostly when the child is in the womb of a mother and there are chances that the child may suffer from it within 2 years of age. However, even adults can suffer from this problem but the reason for this is yet unknown. Since cerebral palsy is a lifelong disease with no cure, children suffering from this condition should be given adequate cerebral palsy training from their young days so that they become independent and can perform their day to day activities.

A child may face difficulty in many things such as movement, seeing, hearing, thinking and learning. The amount of condition varies from person to person and treatment differences accordingly. However, there are many common things that they should be trained with so that they can do their day to day activities without other's help. One such cerebral palsy training is the toilet training which is of prime importance to any individual.

The best way to train a child in toilet habits is by establishing a pattern of elimination which can be done by keeping regular mealtimes. This means that the stomach, bowels and bladder will be kept full or empty at regular intervals. It is known that food stimulates bowel and many people go to the bathroom after a meal. So, you will have to identify the child's bowel habits based on this and determine a normal pattern of elimination. In this way, you will know when to place the child on the toilet, then helping them achieve better success.

Toilet training can be started when your child is in a good mood and for this you will require a child's size potty chair or potty seat. When your child indicates to you with some gestures that he / she needs to urinate or have a bowel movement, take the child to the bathroom and explain to them in simple language what needs to be done. Use your native tongue and with the help of simple words, place the child on the seat and stay till the action is completed. After about five minutes, clean the child by wiping so that there is enough hygiene. In addition, reward the child with hugs and praise for telling you about the action in their own way.

Even if the child is not successful in achieving the desired behavior, encourage the child by praising her for cooperating and sitting quietly in the bathroom. This will motivate the child to indicate her actions the next time. Another important thing to keep in mind is to make the child sit on the seat without any toys or play things. This will not distract their attention and help them think only about what they are supposedly to do. Repeat this cerebral palsy training until the child is able to tell you in advance that she needs to use the bathroom or potty on her own.

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Training With Cerebral Palsy – What Is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy is a health condition that is caused due to a group of disorders which involve the brain and the nervous system. It affects functions such as learning, seeing, hearing, thinking and movement!

There are many types of cerebral palsy which include

• Spastic
• Dyskinetic
• Ataxic
• Hypotonic
• Mixed

The main causes of CP to occur are injuries and abnormalities of the brain. Infants are commonly affected by this condition since it occurs during the growth of the baby in the womb. There are many causes for this to occur such as – bleeding in the brain, brain infections like encephalitis, meningitis and herpes simplex infections, head injury, infections in the mother during pregnancy and severe jaundice. However, there are chances that it can occur during the first 2 years of the child too when the brain is developing, and premature infants have a higher risk of developing cerebral palsy. For some people who are affected by this condition, it occurs due to the lack of ideal oxygen levels in some parts of the brain.

The symptoms of CP vary from person to person. While it can either be mild or severe in some cases, it can even involve only one side of the body or both sides. Sometimes, it is more prominent in only legs or arms, while other times it can involve both arms and legs. Not only this, the various types of cerebral palsy had different symptoms which would identify its type. These symptoms occur usually before the child is 2 years old, sometimes beginning as early as 3 months too. If the child has delayed developmental stages such as sitting, rolling, walking or crawling, then the parents will have to take notice of this and get checksups done to test if it is cerebral palsy or not.

Treatment of CP differs according to the symptoms. There is no permanent cure for it; however it can help a person be independent and live by himself / herself without further complications. At home, the person should be given proper food with sufficient nutrition; this will ensure that he is strong and energetic. Proper bowel care should be practiced with the help of stool softeners, fluids and fiber. Laxatives and regular bowels will also help in this condition. Since kids spend maximum time at home, it should be kept safe and free from harm. Cerebral palsy exercises should be performed and care should be taken that the joints are protected from injury!

Cerebral palsy exercise is the best therapy that can be done to help your child become independent. Advantages of this include helping them increase flexibility, mobility, muscle strength and muscle tone.

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Training With Cerebral Palsy – Identifying Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is the name given to a condition that affects a group of nervous disorders and brain injuries which can impair system functions like movement, learning, and thinking, seeing and hearing. It usually affects children in the first 2 years of their life since these problems occur when the baby grows in the womb of a mother. Premature babies suffer from a high risk of cerebral palsy and the symptoms start occurring even before the child is 2 years old starting as early as 3 months. Although this condition is common in children, it can happen anytime after that too.

There are many types of CP that can occur depending on where the muscle tone is damaged. They can be – spastic, dyskinetic, ataxic, hypotonic and mixed. Similarly, different types of cerebral palsy can be identified by different symptoms. Symptoms may vary between people affected by this condition too. The symptoms may be mild or severe; it can affect only one side for the body or both sides. For some, it may involve either the arms or legs, while for others it may involve both arms and legs.

Spastic CP can be identified by the following symptoms:

• Muscles will be tight and there can be difficulty in stretching
• Improper movement of the legs, that is, they may walk with a wider gait
• Joint contracture – joints will be tight and can not open up through
• Paralysis – muscle weakness or there can be loss of movement in a group of muscles
• These symptoms may occur on either one arm or leg, both arms and legs or both legs

For other types of CP, the symptoms may involve:

• Lower levels of intelligence and learning capability
• Dysarthria – speech disorders
• Hearing and visual problems
• Seizures can occur sometimes

A child affected by CP can be identified with some eating and digestive symptoms that parents can take notice and verify for the condition. It will include symptoms such as:

• Infants may find difficulty in feeding and sucking. For older children and adults, chewing and swallowing may be a problem
• Vomiting
• Constipation

Other symptoms which can identify CP are:

• Increased drooling
Urinary incontinence
• Irregular breathing
• Decreased growth when compared to normal children

If such symptoms occur in a person, then they can be checked for cerebral palsy with the help of various tests such as blood tests, CT scan of the head, MRI of the head, vision test, hearing screen and electroencephalogram (EEG).

If a person has been identified with cerebral palsy, then treatment can be done to help the child become independent. Unfortunately, there is no cure for cerebral palsy. While there are many ways in which we can control the condition, cerebral palsy exercises give the best therapy.

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Cerebral Palsy Fitness – Types of Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is a broad term that defines a group of nervous disorders and injuries in the brain. This condition impairs many vital system functions such as movement, seeing, hearing, learning and thinking.

There are many types of cerebral palsy that can occur in a person. It is usually based on the amount of muscle tone present in the body and reflects to the tension or resistance to movement in a muscle. Muscle tone is important to keep our body in a certain position due to which, changes in it enables us to move. If any movement in our body has to be completed, then the muscle tone of all the groups involved should be balanced so that messages can be sent to the brain to change resistance accordingly. When this fails, cerebral palsy condition arises! Depending on which part of the body, the muscle tone has failed; there can be brain damage which leads to the various types of cerebral palsy.

• Spastic CP – if there is stiff and difficult movement
• Athetoid CP – if there is involuntary and uncontrolled movement
• Ataxic CP – when there is disturbed sense of balance and depth perception
• Mixed CP – if a person has a combination of any of these types

Spastic CP is the most common condition that is present in almost 80% of children. Children suffering from this have some tight muscle groups which limit movement, hence find it hard in moving from one position to another. Children with spastic cerebral palsy usually have stiff and jerky movements which make it difficult to hold or let go off objects.

Athetoid CP affects about 10% of the children and is caused due to the damage of cerebellum or basal ganglia. Since these areas are responsible for the processing of signals to ensure smooth and coordinated movements, damage to it may cause involuntary, purposeless movements. Here, it will interfere in speaking, feeding, grasping and other skills that are important for a child.

Ataxic CP is caused due to low muscle tone and poor coordination of movements. It is a rare condition and affects the sense of balance and depth perception which can make children appear very unsteady and shaky. Because of this children affected by ataxic cerebral palsy will walk unsteadily with wide based gait and have lots of shakiness too.

Mixed CP occurs in about 10% of children and is a combination of any of the above conditions, the most common combination being spastic and athetoid cerebral palsy. This is caused due to injuries in the pyramidal and extra-pyramid areas of the brain.

Treatment for all these types varies depending on the symptoms of the child. However, the best therapy for a kid affected with this condition is the cerebral palsy exercises . These provide flexibility and mobility for the muscles. Beside, it increases muscle strength and muscle tone which are vital in this condition.

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Cerebral Palsy Exercises – Causes of Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is a condition that involves a group of disorders affecting the body movement, balance and posture. It is caused by abnormal development or damage in some parts of the brain that is responsible for muscle tone and motor activity. Cerebral palsy usually occurs in infancy or early childhood which results in slower growth rate than a normal child. This also means that they will be slow to reach developmental stages like sitting, crawling, walking or rolling over.

A person with CP will find it difficult to control and coordinate their muscles. Beside, it even makes small and simple movements difficult; this includes postures too. With poor muscle tone that results in uncontrolled movements, problems in walking, speech, swallowing, balance, coordination and other functions will arise. Sometimes, skeletal deformities, eating difficulties, digestive problems, hearing and vision problems, dental problems, seizures and bowel control problems can occur. There are chances of mental retardation too. However, the severity of the problems differs from person to person and magnitude can get better or worse over time.

CP is the result of injuries or damage to the brain. The most important cause for this is because of damage that would have occurred early in pregnancy. Typically, the condition is caused when the child is still in the womb and brain is starting to form or during the birth process when the child passes through the birth canal. It can occur in the first few years of the child's life too. Many times, the cause itself is unknown!

Among the many problems that occur during birth, insufficient oxygen is the main culprit for CP! Around 10% of the cases for cerebral palsy begin during birth (perinatal). About 70-80% of the cases begin before birth (prenatal) and in some cases begin after birth (postnatal). Here, most cases of cerebral palsy are the result of a combination of prenatal, perinatal and postnatal factors.

There are many risk factors involved with the cerebral palsy condition and includes seizure disorder, thyroid disorder and medical problems in the mother of the child. Birth defects in the spinal cord, head, face and lungs can also be linked with this condition. Rh factor incompatibility, hereditary and genetic conditions and complications during labor and delivery can also increase the risk of cerebral palsy. Usually, children having premature birth run a higher risk of suffering this condition. After birth, low birth weight, severe jaundice and lack of oxygen can be causes of cerebral palsy. Infections such as meningitis and head injuries or bleeding will also cause cerebral palsy.

Depending on the causes and symptoms, different treatments can be given. The therapies will be based on the condition of the child. However, cerebral palsy exercises remain to be the best treatment that can be given to help the child become independent. Beside, it increases the muscle tone which is the main cause for this condition.

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Medical Billing for Early Intervention Services

The debts and financial crises of our local, state and national governments have placed many early intervention programs through the United States in jeopardy. Although each state receives federal funding for early intervention (EI), each state has some local funding sources as well as policies which dictate how the program will be administrated. Within the restraints of their local policies, states have worked to find additional funding and support for the EI program. Some states are looking to Health Insurance and Medicaid as an additional funding source. However, early intervention policies adopted by some state programs have complicated their ability to access medical funding as a source.

For those states which early intervention policies allow services from Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy and Speech Therapy, accessing healthcare funding may be an option. Therapists may be able to bill Health Insurance or Medicaid for their services as solo practitioners, as employees of a private practice or facility, or as salaried or contracted employees of EI programs. Solo practitioners can provide outpatient therapy in an office, clinic or in the patient's home. Some states will allow therapists to form a group practice that provides outpatient rehabilitation services in the home, if they meet certain requirements.

Rather than billing insurance as a solo practitioner, another option would be to simply help the early intervention program in its efforts to bill Medicaid and Health Insurance companies.

In order to meet the requirements for medical documentation and billing, the typical early intervention evaluation and documentation protocols most likely will not meet the required standards for documentation of health insurance payers and Medicaid. In these situations, supplementary documentation not required for early intervention reports may be necessary. Documentation may need to be more problem focused to connect interventions with impairments and functional limitations for reimbursements. Treatment documentation requirements may include date, length of session, services provided using terminology to support CPT codes, progress related to stated results, and plans for consequential intervention. Therapists are familiar with these documentation requirements. The extra effort is a small price to pay in order to save this valuable program and approach to treatment and support for families with children with special needs.

Most therapists recognize the value of early intervention in the future success of children with disabilities resulting in developmental delay. In order to keep the program viable, therapists can step up to the plate and help EI programs access funding from more sources.

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How to Get Help From an Ohio MRDD Agency Provider

The federal government provides funds to every state to provide care for individuals with developmental disabilities. It works the same way in every state. However, in Ohio, the way that the funds are distributed is as following: The federal government gives the funds to the Ohio Department of developmental disabilities. After the Ohio Department of Developmental disabilities receives the funds they distribute the funds to the 88 County Boards through Ohio.

These County Boards provide a wide range of services and support to more than 75,000 children and adults. Those services include everything from early intervention programs for infants and toddlers, to transition services for school age youth, to work and leisure activities for adults of all ages. If you are in need of help for your child or other loved one with a disability, you need to contact your local county board for assistance. The county board will provide you with a Service and Support Administrator who works with you and your family like a case worker to get in-home and out of home assistance for any difficulties that you may face. All of these services are free and paid for by tax dollars.

The Service and Support Administrator (SSA) will set you up for an evaluation to determine the amount of hours of service from a provider that you qualify for. After they determine the amount of hours that you qualify for they will give you a list of like 2,000 providers to choose from. Request to get set up with a high quality Ohio MRDD Agency like The United Family Foundation, if they are accepting new clients. Once you choose a provider then a contract is set up and an individual service plan is implemented to give your provider a basis to provide services.

A date will be given on the day your services will begin and you will have all the help that you need from a MRDD agency provider in Ohio. No matter what Ohio MRDD Agency Provider that you consider making your provider do some research on them. Look at their website, Google their company name to see what you can find on the web. Before you go into the interview with your potential provider try to come up with a list of questions that is most important to you. The last thing that you would want is to feel like you or your family member is just a pay check.

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Online ADD Test – How Would You Answer These 10 Questions?

The only way to know for sure wherever you have ADHD is to get a full assessment from a professional psychiatrist. The following questions will give you a clear idea of ​​what an ADHD sufferer goes through, but it is by no means an accurate diagnosis. Seek a professional if more than half of these symptoms apply to you most of the time.

Answer the following questions on this online ADD Test in the form of always, sometimes or never:

1) I find it impossible to keep going in a project when the complicated work is finished (trouble finishing what I start).

2) I find it difficult to concentrate on tedious or difficult activities.

3) It is hard for me to concentrate when someone is speaking to me in a group setting.

4) I am easily frustrated and have a short fuse.

5) I say things that offend my friends and family and later on regret it.

6) I am quick to make bad decisions without first thinking about the negative consequences.

7) I get overwhelmed when trying to organize a lot of tasks and what order to do them in.

8) I often procrastinate and then feel bad about it.

9) I feel like there are a bunch of TV channels playing in my head at the same time.

10) I work on several projects at a time and fail to finish most if not all of them.

If you answered always to at least half of these questions there is a strong chance that you have some form of ADD. Many people experience these feelings from time to time, but if they are predominately how you feel you may have a problem that stems from inattention.

Keep in mind that adults also have ADD. In fact most adults find out that they have had undiagnosed ADD when they suspect that their child may have the condition. By the time you reach adulthood the signs of hyperactivity may be gone, but inattention can cause problems in your career and personal life.

As I stated before it is advised that you get a professional opinion before jumping to conclusions, but these are some of the more common symptoms of ADD. It's safe to assume if you experience most of these symptoms most of the time you have a mental affliction of some kind.

I certainly hope this online ADD test helped shed some light on your condition. Sometimes knowing that there is a problem is comforting in a sense. If you believe that you have ADD there is treatment that can help you. Getting properly diagnosed is your first proactive step towards coping with inattention.

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Natural Treatments for ADHD – All Natural Herbal Remedies Right Here!

The side effects of medication has made more and more parents look into natural treatments for ADHD. There are certainly several options, but one of the easiest and least expensive treatments are herbal remedies. Keep reading for potent herbs that have beneficial effects for inattention and hyperactivity.

Before I go any further you have to know that some herbs can interfere with the effects of ADHD medications. They may just make the effects of the drug unnoticeable or you could actually have adverse physical or mental side effects. Be sure to consult your doctor before using an herbal remedy if you are already taking prescription medication.

Having said that, these herbal remedies are readily available and for the most part inexpensive. As long as your child is not already on a prescription medication you should be fine. If you have yet to get an allergy test you may want to keep that in mind as well. Most all natural herbs are safe, but someone with food allergies may also be allergic to certain herbs.

Herbal remedies as Natural Treatments for ADHD and their effect on the body:

Ginkgo Biloba – Has been known to provide better blood flow to the brain and increase oxygenation of the brain tissue. The effects of Ginkgo improve concentration while also making you feel relaxed and at ease.

Gotu Kola – Reduces blood levels and adrenal response during times of stress. Aids cognitive abilities as well as other nervous system disorders.

Valerian Root – Increases concentration, reasoning skills and balances out energy levels. Gives a relaxing effect that is great for insomnia.

Siberian Ginseng – Works well to maintain your memory, reduce stress and it also benefits growth.

Brahmi – Improves cognitive functions for learning and memory. Preserves the brains mental functions or “keeps you sharp”.

Herbal remedies will probably not fix all of the ADHD symptoms, but can help reduce them significantly if not completely. These are safe and effective natural treatments for ADHD in combination with one another, but talk to your doctor about possible interference or side effects associated with mixing prescription drugs and herbal remedies.

If you are completely off of medication by all means try out these all natural herbs for yourself and see if there is a noticeable difference. Like most natural treatments for ADHD the effects may not be immediate so give a few days or a week for positive results.

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Testing for ADD – Should I Get Tested or Save the Money?

ADD is a mental affliction that can only really be diagnosed by a psychiatrist or a psychologist. The symptoms of ADHD are very similar to other mental afflictions or physical ailments that have gone unnoticed.

Testing for add is expensive. If you are unsure whether or not you have ADHD you could be on the fence about spending over $ 1,000 to find out.

Think of this before you get testing for ADD:

  • How long have you had your symptoms? ADD usually sets in during childhood and goes on through adulthood if not treated. If the symptoms have been less than 6 months a professional will tell you to wait to get a proper diagnosis.
  • Where do you get your symptoms? If they only occur at certain places there may be environmental distractions or some other cause.
  • Did you witness a tragic event? Post traumatic stress disorder can cause your head to feel foggy and other similar ADHD symptoms as well.
  • Does your condition affect your life negatively? If it affects your business or personal life in a bad way be sure to seek help. During testing you may discover that something else is your problem.

Even if you do not have ADD your curiosity about it is a good indication that you may be suffering from another mental affliction. Testing for attention deficit disorder may shed some light on your condition and help you get to the root of what the problem is so you can fix it.

ADD is far more common now than ever before, but that is partly to do with people being misdiagnosed. At one point concern was just an umbrella term for a large number of different mental problems. As time has gone experts have learned more about the other afflictions and been able to more specifically diagnose ADD.

There are free online tests for ADHD, but I'm sure you already already know that you get what you pay for. Only a trip to a professional with a full assessment and interviews with the people closest to you will result in an accurate diagnosis. Your loved ones can often spot things about your life and personality that you may not have noticed yourself.

Testing for ADHD typically takes about 3 hours and costs anywhere from $ 1,000- $ 2,500 depending on which psychiatrist you go to. If you feel that your life is being negatively affected by ADD this is a small price to pay.

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Prenatal Exposure to Pesticides Lowers Intelligence

The results are in and indisputable. Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, have found that prenatal exposure to pesticides is related to lower intelligence scores for children. Tests results show that the higher the prenatal exposure to pesticides, the greater the drop in IQ.

“These associations are substantial, especially when viewing this at a population-wide level,” said study principal investigator Brenda Eskenazi, UC Berkeley professor of epidemiology and of mental and child health. “That difference could mean, on average, more kids being shifted into the lower end of the spectrum of learning, and more kids needing special services in school.”

Pesticides are neuro-toxins. That means their method of operation to kill pests is to poison the neurological system – also known as, the Brain. Is there any wonder that pesticide exposure lessens intelligence? More simply put, poisoning the brain hards its ability to function properly. Prenatal exposure to pesticides occurs while the brain is developing and these tests results prove significant harm.

The UC Berkeley study is one of three papers linking pesticide exposure and reduced childhood IQ. The other two studies – one at Mt. Sinai Medical Center studied urban populations, and the other at Columbia University studied rural populations – and the finds were consistent.

“These findings are likely applicable to the general population,” said Maryse Bouchard, who is currently a researcher at the University of Montreal's Department of Environmental and Occupational Health. “In addition … the connection between pesticide exposure and IQ is not limited to people living in an agricultural community.” Although agrarian families may have exposure to crop pesticides, urban dwellers are equally exposed to pesticides being used in homes, schools, businesses, etc. Pesticides are everywhere and obviously harmful.

Levels of pesticide exposure were calculated using urine samples of pregnant women collected through their pregnancies. Subsequently, the cognitive development of their children was monitored for seven years using standard intelligence testing methods. In comparison, children with the highest level of prenatal exposure to pesticides scored a full seven points below those with the least amount of exposure. Think about a seven point difference – this is on an IQ range where the majority of the population scores within a 29 point margin. That is incredibly significant! These findings are obvious, consistent and irrefutable – pesticide exposure hormones brain function.

All of the researchers involved recommend that consumers reduce the use of and exposure to pesticides. Pesticide exposure comes from crops we eat as well as those used in our schools, businesses and homes to control pests. Therefore, thoroughly wash all fruit and vegetables prior to eating, stop using pesticides within the home and demand that poisonous pesticides not be used in the buildings in which you dwell.

The intelligence of future generations depends on it.

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Children With ADHD Don’t Have The Problem

How many people in your life have ADHD? You are directly affected by the frustration, anger and low self-esteem that develops when ADHD is part of your life? We try to balance and support the ones we love by making the best of everyday. People using tools to manage their ADHD are able to live a full productive life.

Nothing beats a great night's sleep, exercise and a nutritious diet. There are benefits in setting up a healthy routine. You are what you eat and certain foods can affect ADHD. Keep a food log and drop foods high in preservatives, dyes and additives. Working with your family doctor the more information you have the better. You and your doctor can decide whether a treatment including medication and therapy is the part of what is best for your child. Therapy is a great way to keep depression from adding to the struggles of a person with ADHD. Anti depressant are not used to manage ADHD, but is helpful to treat the depression that some patients experience.

There are adults that have managed ADHD without knowing what it is. They adapt their lives by using whatever it takes to get by. Some live productive lives not knowing why they seem to struggle so much. There are some people who fall into alcohol and drug abuse to deal with the fact that they are different not knowing about ADHD or why they struggle to get things done. Then there are people who withdrawal into a world that they feel they can control, unfortunately ADHD is in control. Learning everything you can about ADHD is the only way you can decide what is best for you or your child.

There are tools that work. Setting up a plan of action to deal with the emotions is part of ADHD. Adults and children with ADHD do not have a problem; it is the family, the teachers and the trainers that have to come up with the learning tools to help them adapt. Sitting in one place for a long time, staying on task and listening to instructions are just some of the challenges of ADHD and to realize the consequences of their actions is one of the biggest challenges. Children are like sponges, they learn and adapt to change quickly if they are in a happy friendly atmosphere with learning tools in place. ADHD teens that are not diagnosed as youngger children have self-esteem issues and trouble communicating with others. They only live in the moment; they do not care about the past or the future. driven by what they want and they do not care about what is next. Consequences are far from their thought process. Teens have a hard enough time with the hormonal changes that they go through. Getting an early diagnosis is the key to their learning success.

Tools to manage ADHD

  • Get a diagnosis from an expert.
  • Work with your child's diagnoses and remember every child is different.
  • Establish control and stay consistent.
  • Give praise and positive reinforcement.
  • Develop organizational skills.
  • Break down projects one step at a time.
  • Take breaks with physical activities to help with energy levels.
  • Make eye contact with easy short instructions and have them repeat the instruction back.
  • Positive rewards keep them engaged until they finished.
  • Encourage them to problem solve with you and point out the rewards and the consequences.

Every person is different as parents our job is to do what we can to put the tools in place so that our children develop into great adults. If you think you or someone you love has ADHD there is a test that your Doctor can do. Finding out is the first step. I have two children with ADHD I can tell you that they are both different in every way and their ADHD is also different. I work hard with doctors, teachers, therapist and each of my children to find the tools to fit each of their needs. It was not an easy task but well worth it.

I think about sticking with things because the thoughts of the diligent tend only to plenty, but everyone who is impatient and hasty hastens only to want. PROVERBS 21: 5

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Dietary Intervention Step One for Children With a Suspected Neurodevelopmental Disorder

Since we have already discussed general nutrition tips that apply to all children (see 'Good Nutrition is the Cornerstone of Treatment'). Lets move to specific nutritional interventions that may be helpful for children with a neurodevelopmental disorder.

Feingold Diet:

One that may be useful is the Feingold diet. This was originally developed for children with ADHD but really applies to any disorder in which hyperactive behavior is a symptom. This can be tried without any lab testing and should be used as an elimination diet. One part of the diet involves removing all artificial sweeteners, flavorings, colorings, high fructose corn syrup, msg, and some specific preservatives from the diet. If you recall we talked about avoiding this in the general nutrition section as applicable to all children. The second part of the diet includes a list of about thirty foods, which include different fruits, vegetables and condiments, which should be eliminated. The foods listed are actually healthy so it is not the original product that is the problem. The trouble arises as these foods and the artificial products are being processed in the body in preparation for excretion. If these steps are deficient in any way the middle products of the process can build up in the system. They are then available to travel to the brain and cross the blood / brain barrier. These middle products fit nicely into receptors in the brain that are stimulatory and can cause hyperactive behavior. This process is not deficient in every child but since the intervention requires no testing and no out of pocket it should be tried in every child for at least four weeks. If after four weeks of vigilant avoidance you notice no difference in behavior then your child does not have that problem and you can return to normal consumption of those food products, minus all the artificial products.

Gluten Free / Casein Free Diet:

We are going to continue discussing nutritional interventions and look at one of the more commonly used diets for children on the spectrum. If you have a child with autism you have most likely have heard or read something about the Gluten Free / Casein Free diet. The descriptions have probably been anywhere from “amazing difference” to “did not notice a difference at all”. This diet requires removing gluten, the protein in wheat and other grains, and casein, a protein in milk from the diet COMPLETELY for at least six months. This diet, just like any other intervention in medicine, will work for some and not others and it important not to proceed with unrealistic expectations.

There is confusion, even among parents with autistic children, as to why this diet may be helpful. There are two main reasons for restricting these food sources. The first is based on an inflamed and dysbiotic gastrointestinal tract. This dysbiosis will often include a yeast overgrowth. When there is dysbiosis and inflammation the connections between the cells lining the gastrointestinal tract start to allow food particles to enter before they have been completely broken down. This is known as leaky gut. These food particles, in the case of proteins, are called peptides and they are brought into the blood stream in a larger segment than is usual. These peptide fragments then travel through the body and eventually make their way to the brain. Once there they happen to fit very nicely into the same receptors that opioids, like oxycontin, use when they are affecting the brain. This is not the only example of this as we stated during our last discussion. Phenols from foods wreck havoc the same way by fitting nicely onto the same receptors for adrenaline. As you would imagine providing substances that target opioid and adrenaline receptors is not desirable and will produce some unwanted behaviors. This will include hyperactivity, emotional instability, and cravings for the foods that cause those effects. Just like an addict who needs a fix a child with this problem will seek out the offending foods for the pleasurable feeling they get from eating it. For many children on the spectrum this mechanism is the reason why avoiding these foods should be attempted while at the same time taking care of the inflammation and dysbiosis. It is important to remember that the gluten and casein peptide fragments look similar and they can fit interchangeably into the receptor so it is necessary to remove both of these foods to truly see if it helps.

The second reason these foods can cause problems is that the immune system is actually mounting a response to the protein portion of the food. This is evidenced by elevated antibodies to gluten, gliadin and casein that are seen on blood tests. This means the immune system is inappropriately using its resources against an ingested food. These allergies are IGG not IGE so they do not cause immediate life-threatening symptoms but with constant exposure and inappropriate upregulation of the immune system secondary effects are felt. The body may start to mistakenly attack other parts of the body, which is called an autoimmune disorder, or it may lose its potency in taking care of true threats to the body. Upregulation of the immune system may also have a negative impact on gut infection and contribute to the leaky gut. Not all children have an immune system that is fighting food so it is important to check as that will affect long term treatment.

In beginning treatment almost all children are going to need to avoid gluten and casein due to inflammation and leaky gut. If children have no evidence of elevated antibodies to these proteins then it may not need to be a long term intervention. If the dysbiosis is corrected and the inflammation resolved then they will be able to eat those foods without any problems. The child who shows evidence of an immune response to one or both of the food proteins really should avoid them life long even if the gut issues are resolved. If the exposure remains the infection will persist, the immune system will not function at its best, and there is the risk of a secondary autoimmune disorder.

Traditionally we have looked at two different reasons for avoiding gluten and casein in the diet. The first is because of the gut dysbiosis and inflammation that affects so many children on the spectrum. This inflammation allows these protein pieces to be absorbed in sizes that are larger than normal. These pieces, also known as peptides, then circulate and hit receptors in the brain that are also used for opioids. The treatment for this is to resolve the dysbiosis and infection which will prevent the leakage of these peptides into the gut.

The second reason is due to an immunological response to these peptides as the body inappropriately recognizes them as foreign and produces antibodies to them. These antibodies are of the IGG variety and can remain elevated even after consumption of these foods has ceased. An individual with elevated antibodies to gluten and casein should maintain a diet free of these substances. The twist on this scenario is that individuals may still be having an immune response to these proteins even if the antibody levels are low. This can happen if the attack is being led by the portion of the immune system that attacks directly and without the help of antibodies.

This means that all chidren on the spectrum, which includes children with ADD and ADHD, should do a trial of eating gluten free and casein free even if antibody levels are not elevated. This diet should be followed strictly for at least 6 months before deciding if it is producing results. Recognizing that this is difficult to do it is helpful to use digestive enzymes. These will help if there are any dietary infractions and will break down the proteins into smaller pieces so they do not fit nicely into the opioid receptors. When using enzymes you should pick one that helps digest proteins, carbohydrates as well as phenols. This is because many children have trouble with carbohydrates digestion as well as being sensitive to foods with phenols in them. Restricting foods with phenols is the promise behind the Feingold diet.

The take home message is that almost all children should do a trial of eating gluten free / casein free and using digestive enzymes for six months. Everyone should also do a trial of the Feingold diet.

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Understanding How We Understand – Basics of Brain Function

The basic unit of the nervous system is the neuron or nerve cell. It has a cell body that houses the nucleus where the DNA is stored, and projections called dendrites and axons. Generally, neurons have only one axon (although it may have many branches at the end) that carries impulses away from the cell body and many dendrites that carry impulses to the cell body.

Imagine that you are the neuron with a special job to do and the dendrites are your ears and the axon is your mouth. Your job is to scream “Go!” when enough of the cells around you say it's OK. So, its like you are on a game show and the audience is all calling out to you telling you what to do. All around you are other cells screaming in your ears. Some of them are telling you to be quiet and some are telling you to scream. In neurological terms, the cells telling you to be quiet are inhibitory because they inhibit your decision to scream. The ones telling you to go ahead and let 'er rip are excitatory. You are listening with your dendrites to all this input from all these other cells and when enough of them are saying scream you decide it's time to let it all out. At this point the neurologist would say you have reached your potential and there is only one thing you can do so you scream “Go!” with all you've got.

Now, you are just one link in a network of neurons and when you scream “Go!” other neurons on their own game shows are listening to you and making their decisions about when they have reached their potential and fire their axons to other cells and so on.

It looks like a jumbled mess but this is a network of neurons. The cells are connected and connected to hundreds or thousands of other cells. They are all telling each other to fire (excitatory) or not fire (inhibitory). It is the sum of all this input that causes specific sequences of neurons to fire in what we call a neural pathway. These pathways end up being thoughts or actions depending on what cells are involved.

When you see the sun, the light falls on the retina in your eye and a retinal cell says “Go!” to a cell in the optic nerve and it says “Go!” to a nerve in the thalamus in the brain and that cell says “Go!” to a nerve in the visual center at the back of the brain. In this way, with thousands of cells firing in sequence, we begin to get a picture of our world. It is terribly complex and there is so much information coming in at all times from all the senses it is absolutely amazing that we can put it all together.

When we say “sensory integration” we are talking about the order interpretation of all the information we are getting from both inside and outside our bodies. In order to do this we have to have healthy neurons that are doing their part in the pathways that make sense of it all. For neurons to be healthy they have to have input (be it excititory or inhibitory) from lots of other cells. When they get input it turns on their DNA to build more nerve cell just like exercise tells muscles cells to get bigger and stronger.

For various reasons sometimes neurons break down and stop doing their jobs efficiently. This effects other neurons in their pathways and we start to see breakdowns in the way the nervous system operates. By looking at specific clues from behavior or movement, to over or under sensitivity to sound or light among other things, we can figure out what pathways are failing and give special input to those pathways to help build them up again.

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Detoxification – Everybody’s Doing It! Autism and The Body’s Purification System

Every substance that is ingested or injected, as well as those that present as a topical application or exposure have to be altered in way that will allow them to pass through the body without causing any harm in the process. This includes things we eat or drink, medications (over the counter as well as prescription), creams that we rub on our bodies and even substances that our bodies naturally produce. One example many people are familiar with is Tylenol. When you consume Tylenol your body has to change it to a form that is not toxic so it can be excreted from the body without harm us. If you consume too much it will kill you. This is dose and time dependent. Meaning, if you take too much Tylenol in too short of a time span you will use up all your glutathione and your body will not have time to produce more before you develop liver failure and die. If you make it to the hospital in sufficient time you will be given an infusion of n-acetylcysteine ​​which your body will use to create more glutathione and hopefully prevent you from dying. Glutathione is one of the most important factors in your body's detoxification pathway.

Tylenol overdose is an extreme example of what can happen if things do not work properly but there are other extreme examples and many more where the consequences may not be death, but impaired functioning and less than optimum health. There are two major pathways involved in the detoxification process. They take place in the liver. In general it involves altering chemical structures of substances so that they can be excreted in the bile, urine, sweat and feces and not build up and get stored in tissues in the body. For some substances they are temporarily more toxic after step one and if step two does not happen or happens too slowly they are more toxic then when ingested. The process sounds is very complicated and requires many enzymes and cofactors for these enzymes. It also requires all the building blocks to be able to manufacture glutathione. The ability to add sulfur groups and methyl groups is crucial during this process and any deficiency will leave the pathways working at less than optimum efficiency. This means there are many B vitamins as well as amino acids that can act as sulfur and methyl donors that are necessary for this process to work.

Because of the complexity of this system it means there are multiple different ways in which it can malfunction. There can be congenital deficiencies in these pathways, liver disease (infectious, inflammatory, malignancy) that can have a negative impact. Poor nutrition (either from poor intake or susceptibility to absorb due to gut inflammation), toxic exposures, as well as epigentic changes can all play a role in the efficiency of the detoxification pathways.

Since this system is so elaborate it is easy to understand how an individual who has a baseline weakness in this system and less than adequate nutrition would have a problem when confronted with a toxin in the form of food, medicine or injectables. The food does not even have to be tainted but just something to which their body is sensitive and causing an up-regulation of the immune system. Another scenario would be an individual who had been given multiple rounds of antibiotics over a short period of time without allowing the gut to heal so that it could not absorb the necessary nutrients from the diet or supplements as needed. This could also happen if you exposed an individual to several injectables at once. This may also trigger a response in the immune system, which may result in inflammation and poor absorption. If you combine any of the scenarios then the potential for issues would have increased.

Because at birth we do not know who is intolerable and because many people handle these situations without obvious significant disadvantage the most reasonable course is not overloading your body's detoxification system unnecessarily. Maintain proper nutrition which includes the necessary cofactors in the diet and as supplements for those that are more vulnerable. Avoid exposure to unnecessary antibiotics and if not possible, repair and restore the normal gut flora every time they are used. Spread out any vaccines that are being given and do not take them when you are ill, or after antibiotics without using probiotics. I find the variable in the functioning of the detoxification system and the possible complications from it not working properly comparable to smoking cigarettes. Most people who smoke will not get lung cancer but many will develop heart disease, stroke, and lung disease. You do not know if you are the one who will get lung cancer until you have it and then it is too late. The best defense against lung cancer is not improved detection and treatment, or genetic testing to see who is more susceptible to the development of lung cancer. The most effective and least expensive way to prevent lung cancer is not to smoke at all! So no matter who you are, you should avoid toxins and make sure your body is detoxifying as best it can.

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