Posts Tagged "Autism"


Some parents turn to bleach to ‘cure’ autism — why these myths are still rampant – National

by BBG Hub

A recent investigation by NBC found private groups on Facebook, linked to YouTube videos, were encouraging parents to use bleach to “cure” their children of autism.

Known as the Miracle Mineral Solution (MMS), group members were exposed to video instructions on how to make chlorine dioxide-based solutions for their children. The report found parents left testimonials and anti-vaccine content, while some mothers of autistic children even went undercover to report and ban these pages.

Autism has no direct cause or cure, and experts added as a result, some parents turn to harmful methods.

In one 2017 case, a mother was investigated after giving her six-year-old son a bleach enema to “cure” autism, Metro U.K. reported. The mother claimed autism was caused by parasites that could be “cleansed” using the bleach-based treatment. There is no medical evidence to support this claim.

MMS could be traced back to former Scientologist Jim Humble, who first promoted his “cure” 20 years ago. 

“Humble, 86, claimed he’d used the chemical compound to heal a case of malaria while on a South American expedition. It worked so well, Humble says in his book and on his website, that he named himself the archbishop of a new religion devoted to chlorine dioxide, branded MMS,” NBC reported, adding Humble claimed MMS could cure diabetes, AIDS and even cancer.

READ MORE: ‘It has made me a better person’: What it’s like to raise a child with autism

Business Insider, who also recently released an investigation on the topic, added millions of people had watched MMS videos on YouTube. After Business Insider contacted YouTube, the videos were taken down.

In the past few months, YouTube has been focused on cracking down on harmful content, and in a statement to Global News, said that videos and channel owners were terminated immediately.

“YouTube does not allow content that encourages dangerous activities with a risk of physical harm, and we work to quickly remove flagged videos that violate these policies,” a spokesperson said.

What is MMS?

NBC added MMS also gained momentum in 2015 when former Chicago real-estate agent Kerri Rivera brought the method into autism parenting communities through her book and social media pages. Rivera, who is not a medical doctor, promoted the idea of using the bleach solution to “treat” autistic children.

“Today, she lives and operates a clinic offering chlorine dioxide regimens in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, and claims to have cured autism in more than 500 children,” the site noted. 

However, the ingredients that make up Rivera’s MMS solution are not illegal, but in the U.S., it is illegal to market or sell chlorine dioxide-based products as a cure for ailments.

According to a statement to Global News, Autism Canada understands why some parents seek out unproven therapies to help their child.

“We recognize the urgency parents may feel when confronted with a diagnosis of autism, which may lead them to undertake desperate treatments.”

In 2015, the organization released a statement on MMS after it began heavily surfacing on social media pages.

“It was clear that this product had side effects that were seriously damaging to the body.”

READ MORE: Parents of children with autism call for Lisa MacLeod’s resignation during emotional telephone town hall

The organization noted it promotes a multi-disciplinary approach as the most effective way of treating and managing autism.

“For example, there is a growing body of research evidence pointing to the value of implementing changes like diet and/or supplementing deficient vitamins and minerals (nutraceuticals), etc. These are emerging treatments for the underlying factors that contribute to autism and related symptoms. Parents often remark on improved language, eye contact, social engagement and their child’s ability to learn.”

It added parents and individuals should combine medical and non-medical treatments.

“Having different techniques helps to unlock a person’s potential. Medical interventions focus on improving the physical health of the individual while non-medical interventions focus on improving their social and emotional health.”

The organization does not endorse treatments, interventions and therapies, however, it lists them on their website so people can make informed choices.

“It is a starting point for parents and individuals to investigate options that may fit or resonate with them. We state that therapies for autism, like any condition, should be discussed with a trusted medical practitioner or certified therapist before use.”

‘Every child or adult is different’

Electra Dalamagas, a family intervention specialist at Autism Montreal, told Global News that when it comes to autism, every child or adult is different. “They have different needs, they’re unique, and they have different health issues,” she said. “It’s important to not assume a one size [treatment] fits all.”

Dalamagas added autistic adults and children are still grossly misunderstood and this even trickles down into the health-care community. In 2018, the National Autism Spectrum Disorder Surveillance System Report found an estimated one in 66 children in Canada have autism. 

And because autism is misunderstood, parents are often left with confusing, conflicting and inaccurate information online. “There’s a desire to want to help the individuals who have any health issues… but whatever treatment may be recommended can’t cause harm.”

Another problem is how much access parents have to misinformation on the internet. Sites like YouTube or Facebook can create communities of like-minded people spreading false information. And with the recent attention of sites shutting down pages encouraging the anti-vax movement, Dalamagas argued much more has to be done for the autism community.

READ MORE: Canadian autism group calls on federal government for national strategy

She added if you come across any medical or non-medical treatment online, parents should always consult with a medical doctor who works with austistic children before trying it.

The other issue with misinformation, Dalamagas explained, is some children deal with ongoing health issues in addition to having autism, leading to more urgency. Some parents don’t have access to professional health care, either.

Dalamagas said she can see why some in desperation turn to harmful methods, but it comes down to awareness.

“Parents should focus on getting accurate information to make educated decisions.”

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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‘It has made me a better person’: What it’s like to raise a child with autism – National

by BBG Hub

Miles Clayton was two years old when his mom, Christine, started to notice subtle behavioural differences between him and his twin brother, Benjamin.

“He wasn’t using his language as much… he wasn’t responding to his name very often… [and] he would do a 300-piece puzzle in 40 minutes. That’s amazing, but it’s not normal for a two-year-old,” Clayton told Global News.

Miles was diagnosed with autism shortly before his third birthday, and that’s when everything changed for his family.

READ MORE: Canadian autism group calls on federal government for national strategy

“The diagnosis opened up the doors to get into the Ontario Autism Program. That’s where you get [financial] support, but to get that support, there was a wait list for three years,” said Clayton, who lives in Ottawa with her family.

In the meantime, Miles required around-the-clock care. He needed therapy to teach him basic life skills like looking somebody in the eye or laughing appropriately. He also needed speech therapy, occupational therapy and physiotherapy.

While the Claytons waited to reach the end of the wait list, they were faced with a decision: place Miles in the public education system or pay for private care.

WATCH (March 21, 2019): Mother of child with severe autism says Ford government’s ‘enhanced’ plan leads to ‘generation of lost children’

“If you go into the public school system, you’re not paying for anything because they’ll give you an educational assistant,” said Clayton. “The challenge is that an educational assistant is not a therapist, and, unless you have a very severe child, usually the assistant is looking after your child and maybe three others.”

For these reasons, the Claytons paid for Miles’ private care out of pocket for three years.

“We were fortunate. We had the financial resources that we were able to pay for things privately… but [it] was really expensive. It was about $85,000 a year,” said Clayton. “Most people are in a different financial position. I recognize how fortunate we are.”

READ MORE: Infection during pregnancy increases your baby’s risk of autism, but not by much: study

“Like many parents, we remortgaged our house, we took out our RRSPs and we borrowed from family. You do what you have to do for your kids.”

Clayton says the costs are so high because Miles is on the severe end of the spectrum, but it’s different for everybody.

“Some kids need a lot less, but Miles [needs] a one-on-one, dedicated teacher all day, every day,” Clayton said.

As with anything, there are positive and negative aspects to having a child with autism. At present, parents across the country are most concerned about the quality and cost of care provided to children on the spectrum.

The same kind of therapy doesn’t work for every child

While Miles was on the wait list for the Ontario Autism Program, he underwent Floortime therapy.

“Floortime… is based on the premise that kids with autism do certain things, like not look you in the eye, because they have sensory needs that aren’t being met. And Miles certainly had a lot of that,” said Clayton.

“Imagine there’s an editor in your brain, and that editor in your brain filters out all the noise.”

For a lot of kids with autism, says Clayton, there is no editor. Suddenly, the footsteps of the person walking past you are just as loud as the person you’re talking to.

During Floortime, a parent or therapist gets down on the floor with the child to play and interact with them at their level in an effort to reduce distractions and let the child control his or her surroundings.

READ MORE: Understanding ABA therapy for children with autism

However, Floortime isn’t funded by the Ontario Autism Program. Once accepted, the Claytons were given direct funding for Miles to do applied behaviour analysis (ABA), which he does now.

ABA is one of the most common types of autism therapy, and it’s based on the principle that if you do a certain behaviour, you get a reward.

“[It’s] learning life skills through behaviour modification,” Clayton said.

Floortime helped Miles manage his sensory needs so that when he was accepted into the Ontario Autism Program, he was ready to advance to ABA — but Clayton isn’t sure he would be where he is today without what he learned in Floortime.

“There are a lot of other [therapies] in use that aren’t funded but work very well,” said Clayton.

WATCH (March 21, 2019): Amy Schumer speaks out about husband’s autism

Lisa Palasti, director of RDI Professional Training Canada, can attest to that. She teaches parents and children Relationship Development Intervention, another form of therapy that teaches those with autism the foundations for forming social connections.

“[In RDI], we’re developing the mind. We’re developing the mental tools and the mental habits that are going to help an individual develop dynamic intelligence,” said Palasti. “That’s the ability to flexibly think, to plan, to predict, to widen your perspective, to learn from your experiences and to develop a strong sense of self.”

Although this form of autism therapy could be a good fit for many children across the country, it’s currently only funded in British Columbia and Alberta, said Palasti.

“What a child might need at the age of 10 might be much more involved than what a child might need at the age of four,” Palasti said. Until more kinds of therapy are funded in more places, kids could be missing out on the treatment that fits them best.

READ MORE: ‘Autism Reality Experience’ helps people understand what it’s like to live with autism

Funding continues to be a major issue across Canada

Living in Ontario, Clayton is extremely concerned about what will happen to Miles’ care when the new Ontario Autism Program takes effect.

“Right now, Miles’ therapy is funded, and based on the recent announcement from the minister, that funding will be extended for six months,” said Clayton. “After that, Miles will be allowed access to $5,000 a year, but he needs $80,000 a year. We have no more house to mortgage, we have no RRSP to draw upon.”

For Clayton, this policy change will affect Miles’ health care and his education.

“The last thing we want to do is stop his therapy because right now… it’s working. He’s clearly in this period of having a developmental leap, and I don’t want to take that away from him. His therapy is not just therapy — it’s how he learns.”

WATCH (Feb. 25, 2019): Family with 2 children with autism react to long wait times for ABA therapy

But the concern about funding isn’t limited to Ontario.

Kelly Johnson, who lives in Montreal, has a nine-year-old son on the spectrum. She’s also concerned about her child’s access to services.

“[If a child was] already able to get public services… once they get diagnosed with autism, they go onto a separate wait list, and all of a sudden, the same services that would’ve been applicable (like speech therapy or occupational therapy) disappear,” said Johnson. “It’s almost like you go into a black hole of wait lists.”

READ MORE: Autism spectrum disorder affects 1 in 66 Canadian children, report says

Johnson’s son goes to a special semi-private school that focuses on children with autism. It’s called Giant Steps, and there are only two in Canada — one in Montreal and one in Toronto.

Giant Steps is partially subsidized so Johnson has to pay for part of her son’s education. She also pays for most of his speech therapy and occupational therapy, too.

“The typical health insurance plan will cover up to $500 a year, and to give you an idea, an average speech or occupational therapy session is between $80 to $150,” said Johnson. Her son needs one session of each per week, which means she maxes out her coverage in the first month of every year.

Autism is only a difference, not a disability

Having a child with autism comes with its challenges, but Clayton says it has many beautiful parts, too.

“[It has] made me a better person,” Clayton said. “I’ve learned that laughter and looking on the bright side of things can really get you through anything. I’ve learned to be much more accepting of others and not to judge people the way I might’ve in the past.”

Miles has brought Clayton’s family closer together, and his autism has taught her more about other people.

“Having a kid with autism has really strengthened the bond in my family. I have a wonderful husband… and I could not imagine going through this journey with anybody else,” said Clayton. “It’s tough to have a sibling with autism, let alone a twin. But at seven, [Benjamin] shows a maturity and a kindness towards his brother that inspires me every day.”

WATCH (Aug. 30, 2018): Lethbridge car wash a soothing experience for five-year-old boy with autism

Miles loves to be hugged, he loves to be cuddled and he loves to be chased, Clayton said.

“Having a back-and-forth verbal conversation with my child — which Miles just had with me for the first time last week — that’s a miracle. A week ago, we put on the song Happy, and he started to dance. That has never happened before. That’s a miracle,” said Clayton.

“When he looks me in the eye… when he tells me he loves me… when he laughs at something funny… for us, those are miracles, and I get to experience those every day.”

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Infection during pregnancy increases your baby’s risk of autism, but not by much: study – National

by BBG Hub

Babies born to mothers who had an infection during pregnancy are at an increased risk of autism spectrum disorder and depression, a new study has found.

The study found a 79 per cent increased risk of autism and a 24 per cent increased risk of depression in children exposed to infection while in utero, as well as an increased risk of suicide.

READ MORE: Yet another study finds no link between MMR vaccine and autism

Researchers analyzed patient data from pregnant women hospitalized between 1973 and 2014 in Sweden.

From a database of nearly 1.8 million children, researchers used hospital codes to determine which babies were exposed to infection. They then tracked those children and their mental health through the years, with some of the oldest babies now entering their forties.

Researchers divided infections into three categories: the first was any infection at all, the second was “severe maternal infections” and the third was “mild maternal infections” (namely, urinary tract infections).

WATCH BELOW: Women should wait a year before getting pregnant again, study says

“We thought of (severe) infections as things that would cause a whole bunch of inflammation in the mother,” researcher Benjamin J. S. al-Haddad told Global News.

“Things like sepsis (when there’s bacteria in the blood), severe pneumonia (where moms need special help breathing because they have such a severe respiratory infection), meningitis or encephalitis (infections around the brain), pyelonephritis (where the kidneys have bacteria and puss), as well as influenza and chorioamnionitis (where the different parts of the placenta become infected over the course of giving birth).”

Researchers hypothesized that something as mild as a UTI would not be linked to such a high increased risk — but they were wrong.

READ MORE: CHUM’s embryo research could improve IVF treatment in the future

“From our results, it looks like we see similarly increased risk whether the mother had a UTI or something more severe,” al-Haddad said. “It doesn’t seem to matter what kind of infection it is.”

No link was discovered between exposure to infection in utero and other mental conditions, such as bipolar disorder or psychosis.

Researchers worried about other conditions present in mom (such as asthma or diabetes) that could taint the results.

WATCH BELOW: The importance of including autism training for public workers

However, even when they controlled for such conditions, the link between infection and an increased risk for autism and depression remained.

“The things that we controlled for included maternal age, maternal asthma, maternal diabetes, premature rupture of membranes (which is when the sac holding the liquid that the fetus is in breaks before mom goes into labour), maternal tobacco status (whether mom smoked or not), and then we also did special controls for siblings,” al-Haddad said.

The results of the study suggest that infection can “impart subtle brain injuries contributing to the development of autism and depression,” said researchers.

READ MORE: One third of pregnant women don’t think cannabis will harm their babies, study says

While these results sound scary, al-Haddad stressed that the increased risk is in addition to the preexisting baseline risk.

“In the United States, the risk of autism is one out of every 59 kids. Our results suggest that on top of that baseline, there would be a 79 per cent increased risk. We don’t know what that number would be, but the extra risk conferred on top of a baseline low risk, in terms of the population, is not high,” said al-Haddad. (Autism Speaks Canada reports that one in every 66 children have autism in Canada.)

“This is just one of a myriad of causes that we think increases risk. This is another piece of trying to understand what the causes of autism are and how we can prevent those causes.”

WATCH BELOW: Why a 27-year-old Canadian woman chose to be single and pregnant

What does “increased risk” really mean?

It’s important for parents to understand that the reported 79 per cent increase in risk sounds like a big number, but it’s actually quite a small increase on the pre-existing risk.

“It’s still (less than) 1 per cent in terms of the absolute increase (in risk) a particular child has. Basically, that means almost 98 per cent of kids whose mothers have an infection during pregnancy that would cause hospitalization are not born with autism or another neuro-developmental condition,” Dr. Evdokia Anagnostou. She works as a child neurologist and senior clinician scientist at the Bloorview Research Institute.

“So it’s a small absolute risk, but it’s a big risk biologically in the sense that we are learning that there is a mechanism to do with infection that likely interacts with our genes that may increase the chance of developing autism.”

READ MORE: New Canadian pregnancy guideline shows exercise cuts odds of major complications by 40%

On its own, exposure to infection during pregnancy is not enough to cause autism, but it can be a contributing factor.

“It’s one of the ways that our environment (in this case, infection) may interact with our genes to somewhat increase our risk,” Anagnostou added.

This study is helpful because it explains one of the many different changes that can happen in the brain and the body that can contribute to autism.

Some findings should be interpreted with caution, says one doctor

“It’s not the first time we’re learning this,” Anagnostou said. “We have lots of evidence from animal-model and previous human studies that significant infection during pregnancy increases risk for neurodevelopmental disorders, including autism.”

However, there are a few findings that should be interpreted with caution, Anagnostou told Global News.

READ MORE: Vancouver Canucks taking steps to help fans with autism enjoy the games

“(Researchers) tried to look at the severity of infection and whether the severity of the infection would change the impact, and… they said that severe infections were not different than a regular urinary infection, but we have to be careful because these people were admitted to hospital.”

For Anagnostou, those admitted to hospital didn’t have a “regular” urinary infection. Only a more severe infection would warrant a hospital stay. In a similar vein, the kids who later developed autism were also hospitalized.

“Both the people who had infection and the kids who had autism were hospitalized, so they are not representative of the larger population,” she noted.

Other factors which can increase your risk of autism

The most robust explanation for autism comes from our genetics, Anagnostou said.

“But our genes and our environment interact… and there’s a series of these environmental exposures that have small but consistent effects.”

One is infection during pregnancy, and some infections are worse than others.

“That’s why we want all moms to be vaccinated. For example, rubella during pregnancy (is linked with) a very high risk of autism.”

WATCH BELOW: Doctors say IUD’s most effective birth control for teens

“Other factors could be maternal diabetes, use of certain medications during pregnancy, an increased paternal age… all of these things are robust. We know they’re important to biology, but the actual increase is very small for each one of them… so no parent should be feeling guilt because they happen to develop an infection during pregnancy,” said Anagnostou.

“We have zero evidence that vaccines increase the risk for autism.”

Autism is a difference that comes with both “difficulties and advantages”

According to Anagnostou, autism is a developmental difference that causes the brain and the body to grow and connect in different ways than someone who doesn’t have autism.

“Sometimes, that’s associated with things that cause distress and dysfunction, and we want to treat those things,” said Anagnostou. “But sometimes, it actually comes with unique gifts and unique perspectives.”

Anagnostou said people with autism are more likely to think out of the box and they’re more likely to contribute to innovation.

READ MORE: New autism supports coming to Ontario schools due to therapy funding changes

“Speaking generally, they’re good employees, they have very low absenteeism (rates), they tend not to lie,” Anagnostou explained. “It’s a difference that comes with both difficulties and advantages.

“It’s important that we don’t lose perspective of the things that need to be treated, because a lot of these children need our support, but it’s also important to not lose perspective of all the unique qualities people with autism bring to society.”

[email protected]

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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