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SATURDAY, Feb. 9 (HealthDay News) — Children with autism are five times more likely than other kids to have feeding issues, such as being especially picky eaters or having ritualistic behaviors or extreme tantrums during meals, new research finds.

via Don’t Overlook Eating Issues Tied to Autism, Study Warns – US News and World Report.

This was very true of Rob. He had sensory issues with eating, mostly due to texture and smell, and tended to tantrum at the table and refuse to eat. My husband got so frustrated that at times he was tempted to try to force Rob to eat, which of course never went well. We ended up seeing a feeding specialist who gave us the following suggestions.

Outside of mealtimes:

  1. become aware of what kinds of tastes/smells/textures your child prefers or can tolerate, and any that he really can’t stand.
  2. Work on his tolerating stimulation in the mouth: give him drinks with a straw to work the sucking/swallowing muscles. Chewing gum helps too (avoid strong flavors at first).
  3. If toothbrushing is a problem, try rubbing his gums instead (or having him rub them) with a cloth. Sometimes the interest in an electric toothbrush or waterpic will outweigh the annoyance of the sensations. Some kids can’t tolerate the strong peppermint taste of toothpaste; try other flavors.
  4. Get him to try a tongue scraper (let him use it himself) so he can try to learn to tolerate stimulation without inducing the gag reflex.
  5. Try new taste challenges away from the dinner table, so the social pressure to behave well is removed. Remember it takes NT kids several times to acquire a taste for a food; it may take even longer for our kids.

 

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Wow. Just wow.

Brain Study Suggests Autism Starts Before Birth – NBC News.com.

 

A Baby\’s Gaze May Signal Autism, Study Finds – NYTimes.com.

This is something I noticed early in Rob: he did not gaze into my eyes while nursing like his sister had. And I remember realizing it when, one time while nursing,  he sat up,  looked at me intently in the eyes, put his hand on my cheek; than laid back down and began nursing again. I was shocked, thinking “What was THAT!” because it seemed so strange. That’s when I realized part of what made it strange is that he engaged in very little eye contact otherwise.

Autism’s Unexpected Link to Cancer Gene – NYTimes.com.

 

Placentas may indicate risk of autism

This is an exciting study that may indicate that the placenta can show signs that predict higher autism risk in newborns!  If this research pans out, it will be a complete game changer for autism!  

Here are some links I found that explain a little bit about how the placenta can shows signs that help with diagnosis:

The encouraging part is that the study identifies a particular developmental pathway in the brain that is common to all five, and thus may suggest that ADHD, depression, autism, bi-polar disorder, and schizophrenia may be on a sort of genetic continuum.

Mental illnesses share common DNA roots, study finds.

I wish I had heard about PRT when Rob was younger. It appears to have some things in common with RDI, which I have discussed elsewhere on this blog. This article says that PRT can help even teenagers:  I wonder about adults? Of course, the idea is to target these areas of brain function while the brain is still developing.

PRT: “A targeted technique meant to improve social engagement among children with autism spectrum disorders, PRT forgoes the focus on specific skills, like block-building, to concentrate instead on so-called “pivotal areas,” such as motivation, in hopes of inducing a cascading effect with similar impact across multiple areas.”

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