Is Autism Really On the Rise?

www.cdc.gov

www.cdc.gov

Two new interesting studies have come out – one focused on the rate of autism and the other on a possible hormone that is linked with social difficulties.

The rate of autism has been continuously increasing over the years, with the latest figures showing that 1 in 68 children are diagnosed with autism. The rate increase hasn’t been attributed to anything specifically, and questions are mounting as to what has caused the increase. A new study, however, may have provided an answer – the rate is likely due to a change in the way children are being classified and diagnosed. A team from Penn State University looked at special education enrollment and found that the increase in students designated as having autism could be offset by nearly equal decrease in students diagnosed with other intellectual disabilities often seen along with autism. So conditions that were once likely classified as something else are now being identified as autism, probably due to broader awareness.

Another study showed that children with autism who struggle with “theory of mind” – the social skills that deals with the realization that other people have different perspectives, feelings and experiences – have lower vasopressin levels. Vasopressin is a hormone that helps regulate blood pressure and may play a role in social behavior. There are currently no medications that effectively treat social deficits, so this could prove a target for future focus.

Lynsey, Community Manager

Lessons From Daniel Tiger

Daniel TigerI read this article in the NY Times’ parenting section and started laughing to myself because someone else has made the magical discovery of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood – yes, the cartoon tiger that took the helm for Mister Roger’s.

The author talks about how Daniel Tiger – not the thousands of dollars spent on therapy, countless hours of playdates, etc. – but little ole’ Daniel Tiger who should receive credit for her high-functioning autistic son’s newfound ability to connect with others. If you’re reading this – or read the NY Times article – and know Daniel Tiger, then you’ll know why that’s the case. But if you’re new to Daniel Tiger, each program follows Daniel and his friends and covers a specific topic – getting frustrated, sharing your toys, trying new foods, problem-solving, going potty…the list goes on. And not only does it give kids a great visual, each topic has a catchy little song attached to it. We use one of the little jingles – if not several – on a daily basis in our house to remind the kids about something – and they work (ok, for the most part, at least)! For example:

Trying new foods – You got to try new foods ‘cause they might taste good

Going potty – If you have to go potty, stop, and go right away. Then flush, and wash, and be on your way

Taking turns – You can take a turn, and then I’ll get it back

Getting frustrated – When you’re feeling frustrated, take a step back, and ask for help

These don’t look like much, but throw a little music on them and they are catchy and easy to remember.

The topics are so relevant to every preschool age child and they really do serve as a great tool to deal with emotions, social lessons, self-care and many other things we work to teach our children.

Lynsey, Community Manger