diabetes treatment helps reduce weight in children with autism

Autism drugs often increase appetite, weight, diabetes drug helps

A new study shows significant evidence that a common drug used to treat type­2 diabetes — metformin — is also effective in helping overweight children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) who take antipsychotic medications maintain or reduce their body mass index (BMI).

“This is a very special group, as young people with ASD present with many unique challenges. By definition, they experience communication difficulties, and they’re reported to have more gastrointestinal (GI) difficulties than most other patient groups,” said Michael Aman, professor emeritus of psychology at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center’s Nisonger Center and lead investigator at Ohio State.

Results of the 16-week, multicenter clinical trial, which also showed metformin was well­tolerated and reduced BMI scores from the initial baseline significantly more than the placebo group, are published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Psychiatry.

“It’s critically important that we investigate new ways to support healthy outcomes as early as possible for those who are on these medications,” said Dr. Evdokia Anagnostou, principal investigator of the study and senior clinician scientist and co­lead of Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital’s Autism Research Centre.

The double­blind, randomized clinical trial observed outcomes of 60 adolescents and children (ages 6­17)) with ASD who were overweight due to side effects of FDA­approved antipsychotic medications prescribed to treat irritability and agitation. Such medications can cause a significant increase in weight gain and BMI, which increases long­term risk of diabetes. Researchers explored the effectiveness of metformin in counteracting weigh gain associated with antipsychotics.

“Use of antipsychotics to help manage irritability associated with ASD can sometimes be long­term, which means we need to provide families with solutions that support lasting optimal health in their children,” Anagnostou said. “Our results showed that GI side effects occurred for more days in the metformin group compared to placebo group, but the large majority of children taking metformin were able to maintain their treatment. Importantly, the metformin didn’t cause behavioral changes, such as increased irritability,” Aman said.

Image result for Study shows diabetes treatment helps reduce weight in children with autism

ASD is a common developmental disorder of childhood which has markedly grown in frequency in recent decades, and data shows adolescents with ASD are more likely to be overweight than those without developmental disabilities.

Researchers note that results from this study are promising in terms of weight management, as little research has examined treatment or prevention of weight gain in children and adolescents with ASD. In addition, food selection commonly associated with ASD adds to the challenge of weight management.

“It’s not the amount that’s eaten, rather the food choices that are a by­product of the cravings and linked to weight gain,” Aman said.


The above post is reprinted from materials provided by The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.


Autism: What to Know and Signs to Watch For

I am so glad that you landed here. I know if you did that means you have something really important on your mind… So I’m happy to share this news. This is the beginning of an amazing series called Parenting Children with Special Needs.  That might sound a little scary or even intimidating, but really it’s all about getting you great information from people that are living it. Today I am sharing some of the early signs of Autism.

So here you are faced with the question deep in your gut “could my child  have Autism?”

You ponder this… Google it, read everything you can on it, and think about it a lot. Right?! Me too!

Autism: What to Know and Signs to Watch For, Early Signs of Autism, Parenting Children with Special Needs, Amazing Series, Parenting Tips, Free Printables

Autism: What to Know and Signs to Watch For, Early Signs of Autism, Parenting Children with Special Needs, Amazing Series, Parenting Tips, Free Printables

Do some of these seem so familiar? Are you thinking oh my gosh, YES!

I know when I first started learning about Autism those were my exact thoughts. Guess what? Seeing these signs doesn’t mean life has to change. All it means is you might have to parent a little different and you might have to teach a little different.

Your perspective on life and your child is everything. I might take a little more laid back approach, but living at the beach does that to people. 😉 If you see signs of Autism or any developmental disabilities mention it to your pediatrician.

Learning about Autism and helping to guide your child so he can possess the knowledge and skills to be successful in life is key and guess what. You got this!

Every parent has this job in life to take care of their children and guide them. Your parenting might look a little different… Maybe even a little better. I know you can do this… so here is a big hug from me, because we’re in this together.

I’m glad you are joining us for 12 months of Ideas and Inspiration on Parenting Children with Special Needs.

Autism: What to Know and Signs to Watch For, Early Signs of Autism, Parenting Children with Special Needs, Amazing Series, Parenting Tips, Free Printables



Large study confirms high autism risk in ‘baby sibs’

Children who have an older sibling with autism are 14 times more likely to have the condition than are those without a family history of the condition. This finding is based on a large study that relied on health records in California1.

The study also confirms that younger brothers of children with autism are more likely than younger sisters to be diagnosed with the condition.

It found a smaller increase in risk than a 2014 study, which reported a 20-fold increase in autism risk among younger siblings of children with the condition. The new findings were published 5 August in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics.

“The magnitude of risk is comparable” across the two studies, says lead researcher Darios Getahun, research scientist at Kaiser Permanente in Pasadena, California. “Across the board, there is increased autism risk in these younger siblings.”

Researchers have used a range of methods to estimate autism risk among so-called ‘baby sibs.’ Many rely on medical records; others track these children over time. All of the studies have pointed to an increased risk.

The researchers are not sure why the risk might be higher among younger brothers than younger sisters, aside from the fact that autism is more common among boys. “We don’t really know what’s behind that,” Getahun says. Some studies have suggested that there is a protective factor in girls or a screening bias that skews toward boys.

Record review:

Getahun and his team combed the medical records of children born in the Kaiser Permanente health care system in Southern California between 2001 and 2010 to identify those with an official diagnosis of autism. Of 50,595 older siblings, 992 had autism. Of 53,336 younger siblings born to the same mothers, about 592 had autism.

Roughly 11 percent of baby sibs have an autism diagnosis, compared with 0.92 percent of control siblings. The comparable statistics in the 2014 study were 10 percent and 0.52 percent.

Other estimates of autism prevalence in baby sibs have been nearly twice as high, around 20 percent. But the prevalence among controls in those studies was also elevated, making the relative risk of autism in younger siblings about the same as in the new study.

Autism prevalence in the general population has more than doubled since the government started tracking the condition in 2000. Still, multiple studies — with different methods and populations — have consistently uncovered a relatively high risk of autism in younger siblings, notes Stephan Sanders, assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco. “This study shows that there is consistency in these estimates, and that there’s a strong genetic component to autism,” Sanders says. “The more ways this is done, the better.”

Complicating factors:

The researchers also looked for any potential effects of gestational age or race as well as gender.

Previous studies have shown an increased risk of autism among children born preterm, but the new study found no evidence for increased risk among baby sibs who were born prematurely. This may be because the researchers excluded children born before 28 weeks of pregnancy, says Daniel Messinger, professor of psychology at the University of Miami in Florida, whose team came up with a 20 percent risk estimate2. Messinger was not involved in the new study.

Race also has no influence on autism recurrence in families. But there may have been too few children with autism of some races to detect meaningful differences, Messinger says.

The researchers did discover that younger brothers of children with autism are three times more likely to be diagnosed with the condition than younger sisters. This statistic held regardless of the gender of the older sibling.

The higher prevalence among brothers is consistent with the ‘female protective effect,’ which posits that it takes more mutations to trigger autism in girls than it does in boys. If this hypothesis is correct, the risk should be higher among the younger siblings of girls than of boys. The researchers “see a trend in this direction, but it is not significant,” Sanders says.

The researchers would need medical records from thousands of younger siblings with autism to tease out all the effects of gender, Sanders says



Weight gain studied for second-generation antipsychotics for autism spectrum disorders

Some of the most effective treatments for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are also well known for their risk of weight gain and subsequent health complications. For the first time, however, researchers have compared five of these second generation antipsychotics (SGAs) to determine which ones are the biggest culprits.

The Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center study found that patients treated with Zyprexa® (olanzapine) have the highest risk of weight gain, while Geodon (ziprasidone®) and Seroquel (quetiapine) were not associated with an increase in body mass index.

Risperdal® (risperidone) and Abilify® (aripiprazole) also resulted in weight gain, but not as great as the weight gain associated with Zyprexa® (olanzapine).

“Caregivers treating children and teens with ASD, and parents, can use this information to balance the risks and benefits of SGAs for treating irritability associated with autism spectrum disorders,” says Logan Wink, MD, a research psychiatrist at Cincinnati Children’s and co-author of the study.

The study is published online in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology.

ASD is often associated with irritability, including aggression, self-injury and severe behavioral outbursts, all of which can cause significant distress to patients, their families, schools and others. The FDA has approved several SGAs in recent years, as this class of medications has proved to be safe and often effective. Unfortunately, health concerns, such as changes in glucose and lipid metabolism and poor cardiovascular outcomes have been among the side effects of some of these medications.

The Cincinnati Children’s researchers reviewed medical charts of 202 patients between the ages of 2 and 20 treated at two large subspecialty clinics. These patients were treated with one of the five SGAs studied for a maximum of four years.

“Given that this was a chart review, our results must be considered along with its limitations,” says Dr. Wink. “We believe, however, that this study adds to the growing safety data regarding use of SGAs and lays the ground work for future controlled head-to-head analysis of SGA treatment in ASD patients.”





With great effort and dedication, this man with a severe form of autism learned how to be self-sufficient. He can now walk, eat and go to bathroom with no help. The autism spectrum refers to a broad range of conditions that affect individuals with greatly varying severity.

If you’ve seen one person with autism, you’ve seen one person with autism. It’s a common refrain among doctors who treat the neurodevelopmental disorder, which manifests differently in almost every case, even among the most closely related individuals.

People with autism engage in repetitive or obsessive actions and interests, struggle to communicate and have difficulty relating to others and to the world around them. But the exact features of the disorder, as well as its severity, can vary significantly. That’s why autism, now diagnosed in one in every 68 children in the United States, is no longer considered one condition but rather a spectrum of related but distinct disorders.

At one end of the autism spectrum is 26-year-old Taylor Newsum. He has difficulty picking up on certain social cues, but even so, each day he takes the train from his parents’ home in Brooklyn to midtown Manhattan, where he works as an administrative assistant in a psychologist’s office. He plans to become a social worker. At the other end of the spectrum is his sister, Savannah Newsum. Compared with Taylor, Savannah, 21, has much more limited verbal skills and social skills, and it is difficult for her to maneuver through the world without assistance.

“Taylor is very independent, highly functioning and will one day live on his own. Savannah will always require someone in her life to help her get through her day,” says their mother, Darnell Newsum.

That no single feature is present in all—or even a majority of—people with autism is a major roadblock not only in meeting the many different needs of those on the autism spectrum but also in understanding why the disorder develops in the first place. Now scientists are turning to families like the Newsums to search for clues where it begins: in our DNA.

A new study called SPARK—Simons Foundation Powering Autism Research for Knowledge—seeks to pinpoint genetics and other risk factors of autism by studying 50,000 individuals with autism and their family members. It’s the largest study of the disorder to date, built on an effort to sequence the exome—the sliver of the genome that accounts for almost 85 percent of the glitches known to cause human diseases—and dig through patient medical histories to identify certain genetic underpinnings of autism.

In the short term, this will allow researchers to begin to identify genetically defined subtypes of autism. Grouping and comparing individuals with similar genetic changes could yield clues about a person’s future prognosis and the health complications, such as seizures, gastrointestinal problems and schizophrenia, that are associated with certain subtypes. In the longer term, says the study’s leader, Wendy Chung, director of Columbia University’s clinical genetics program, SPARK’s findings could lead to individualized treatment options, from medicines to behavioral interventions, that take into account the disorder’s genetics.“Do I need to keep seizures on my radar for any one patient? Can we predict what challenges families might need to prepare for down the road? Answering these types of questions will make a big difference for patients because we will better understand how to help them,” Chung says.

Teasing Out the Genetic RootsA long history of studying families affected by autism has confirmed its strong genetic basis. In families with one child with autism, for example, the risk of a second child having the condition can be as high as 20 percent; in families with more than one child with autism, the risk jumps even higher. And identical twins, who share the same genome, or complete set of genes, and fraternal twins, who share about half of their genetic code, are far more likely to develop autism than are different-aged siblings.Genome sequencing has already ferreted out mutations in 65 genes that increase the risk of developing autism, and hundreds of others will likely be implicated as well. Some are passed from the DNA of the mother, the father or, sometimes, from both parents to the child. Others arise spontaneously, meaning they aren’t present in either parent’s genetic makeup.To date, genetic causes have been pinpointed in only about 20 percent of autism cases, usually those that are associated with certain rare diseases, such as Fragile X syndrome or Phelan-McDermid syndrome. But there’s no smoking gun for the remaining cases. It’s still largely unknown which genes drive the development of the disorder. The number of genetic mutations that contribute to autism is manifold, on the order of several hundreds, perhaps even a thousand. That means the likelihood that any two patients will have a mutation in the same gene is very low. In fact, the most commonly mutated gene in autism—a gene called CHD8—is so rare it’s seen in only about 0.1 percent of people with the disorder.And, Chung points out, even among those who do share the same genetic mutations, it’s not unusual for their outcomes to be wildly divergent. In some cases, the same change can cause severe disabilities in one individual but only mild behavioral problems in another. “In a way, you’re looking at many, many rare disorders,” Chung says.Of course, genes alone aren’t to blame. The same family studies that demonstrate autism’s genetic basis also confirm that factors other than genetics, collectively referred to as “the environment,” play a role. “If genetics were the only factor that determined whether a child develops autism, two identical twins, who share the exact same DNA, would always either both have autism or both not have autism,” says Raphael Bernier, an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Washington in Seattle. He says autism is caused by a combination of genetics and a “vast array” of environmental factors—from a child’s exposure to certain toxins to overweight parents.“Our best guess is that in many individuals, autism is caused by genes interacting with not only other genes but with an unknown number of potential environmental factors too,” says Bernier, whose clinic is participating in SPARK. But which environmental factors actually contribute to autism and by how much remain a hotly debated question SPARK hopes to answer.The study’s success hinges on its ability to amass an army of patients and family members to capture not only the full breadth of autism’s genetic diversity but also the different and unique challenges of each individual with autism. A data set of this massive caliber is also necessary, says Bernier, to see patterns they may not otherwise see in a small group of patients. “A genetic mutation that only occurs in one in every 500 patients could easily be overlooked; in 50,000 patients, that same mutation would crop up 100 times,” he says.“Imagine that all families in SPARK report on the nature of their child’s communication struggles, and then we aggregate these reports and cross-reference them with genetic profiles. Finding genetic commonalities in experiences and how different families manage specific challenges could lead to real improvements,” says Pamela Feliciano, scientific director of SPARK and the mother of a child with autism.Only about 5 percent of children with autism participate in clinical trials, compared with more than 90 percent of children with cancer, for example. In an effort to make study enrollment as easy as possible, SPARK investigators designed the study to enable people with autism and their families to enroll online via a smartphone, tablet or computer, in addition to enrolling study participants at a doctor’s office or clinic. The Newsums—Taylor, Savannah and their parents—were among the first to raise their hand as study volunteers. Each contributed a small vial of saliva to the research project and filled out a medical questionnaire. Eventually, SPARK will return sequencing data and any actionable findings to health care providers of participants who want such information.The project’s success will rely on crowdsourcing the painstaking task of analyzing the tsunami of data that’s starting to come in. Investigators from 21 medical schools and autism research centers across the U.S. have already joined the project, and de-identified data will be made available via a web-based portal to qualified researchers from the scientific community at large. “There could be a brilliant mathematician who has the ability to see patterns and associations that others don’t,” says Chung. “We don’t presume that only investigators who happen to call themselves autism researchers are the only ones who have something to teach us about autism.”SPARK is not the only study that is examining genomic data for a large number of patients with autism. MSSNG—named for the “missing” information about autism—was launched in 2014 by the research and advocacy organization Autism Speaks, in partnership with Google and the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. The project aims to mine the DNA of 10,000 people with autism and their family members, and it’s on pace to reach that goal later this summer. MSSNG goes beyond SPARK’s plan of sequencing the exome—it will look at all 3.2 billion letters of genetic code in the human genome to get a more “holistic” view of the genetic underpinnings of autism, says Mathew Pletcher, interim chief scientific officer at Autism Speaks.With more than 5,000 genomes already fully sequenced, the MSSNG data set has allowed scientists to discover new parts of the genome involved in autism that were previously missed, using techniques that look at only parts of the DNA. “It also revealed that the disorder’s genetic underpinnings are way more complex than previously thought,” Pletcher says.Using MSSNG data, a team at the Hospital for Sick Children sequenced, in their entirety, the genomes of 340 people from 85 families, each of which had at least two children diagnosed with autism. The research showed that most siblings who have the disorder have little to no overlap in the same autism-associated genes, turning on its head the long-held belief that siblings with autism had inherited the same autism-predisposing genes from their parents. “In many cases, they have different ‘forms’ of autism, which begins to explain why siblings with autism so often have such different features and why they require distinct approaches to help them manage the disorder,” says Pletcher.Once complete, MSSNG will host its data, along with a suite of data analysis tools, on the Google Cloud platform, Pletcher says, where it will be accessible


Second child

Helping children with autism spectrum disorders face their fears

Children with high-functioning autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are at an increased risk for developing anxiety symptoms. Anxiety comes in many forms, from an acute fear of spiders to persistent worries about making mistakes. When these fears start to interfere with children’s everyday lives, they can have negative effects on school performance, peer relationships and family life.

Recent clinical research suggests that anxiety is treatable in children with ASD, and that the cognitive and behavioral strategies used with typically developing children can be modified for children with autism—with encouraging results. This article provides a set of basic tools to help children with ASD face their fears at home, at school and in their communities.


Cartoon with check mark

  • identify and talk about fears
  • replace worry thoughts with helpful thoughts
  • recognize the body’s signals
  • model positive coping strategies

Cartoon with x mark

  • underestimate your child’s strengths and ability to be brave
  • rush your child’s process
  • allow your own anxiety to get in the way
  • forget to encourage brave behavior and reward efforts to face fears

Do identify and talk about fears

Children with autism often have difficulties recognizing when they are anxious. Sometimes, it takes an adult to help children identify situations that make them nervous, find words to express their feelings and link those feelings to behavior. For instance, if your child is resisting going to school, start by making a reflective comment: “I noticed that you don’t like going to school when you have to give a presentation. Does it make you upset to talk in front of the class?” Children with ASD may dislike words such as “fear” or “anxiety” and may initially feel more comfortable describing their feelings as “upset.” It also may be easier to make a statement about how they might feel rather than ask how they feel such as, “you look upset”. Having such conversations with your child builds a shared vocabulary for talking about anxiety, teaches self-awareness and lets him/her know that experiencing and expressing emotions is acceptable. Over time, this can help you to communicate more effectively with your child about anxiety and avoiding behaviors.

Do replace worry thoughts with helpful thoughts

Anxiety can shift the mind into overdrive. A relaxing visit to the lake can trigger a waterfall of worries: “What if I fall in? What if there are bugs in the water? What if there’s a whirlpool, and I drown?” Your child’s “active mind” can quickly lead him to catastrophize. When these worries come up, coach your child to replace them with helpful thoughts: “I’m a good swimmer. The lake is a safe place, and my parents are here if anything happens. I can do this!” Once you have modeled these helpful thoughts a few times, encourage your child to say them to him/herself so they become internalized and easy to remember in scary situations.

Do recognize the body’s signals

When danger approaches, our body naturally sounds the alarm: a racing heart, sweaty palms, a dry mouth. For children with anxiety, these physical reactions often occur in the absence of real danger, such as when separating from a parent, approaching a group of peers, talking in class or taking a test. Physical coping strategies, such as breathing deep into the belly, help to calm the body’s “fight-or-flight” response. Teaching your child to recognize these symptoms as “false alarms” can enhance self-awareness and calm somatic reactions to fear.

Do model positive coping strategies

Children learn a lot about how to manage emotions from observing adults. When you are feeling stressed, try to label the emotion, identify the body’s “false alarm” and model adaptive coping. For example, when lost on a family drive, talk aloud about your process: “I think I’m a little lost, but that’s okay because everyone takes a wrong turn sometimes. Let me pull over, take a few deep breaths and ask for directions.” Talking aloud may seem unnatural at first, but for children with ASD, it can be helpful to make your internal coping strategies more explicit. Talking aloud allows children to see your steps to success more clearly and to imitate these steps more easily in their own stressful situations. Deep breathing, reading or taking a walk together are all great ways to teach your child simple strategies for managing anxiety.


Do not underestimate your child’s strengths and ability to be brave

Both anxiety and ASD present tremendous challenges, but that doesn’t mean your child can’t rise to the occasion. Often, it takes a parent or teacher’s conviction that their children can in fact face their fears for kids to take the leap. Furthermore, sheltering children with ASD and anxiety from all stressful situations robs them of valuable opportunities to practice their coping strategies and gain the experience they will need in adolescence and beyond. It is natural to want to protect your child, compensate for his/her difficulties and avoid challenging situations. However, at times, this can disempower the child. Instead of sticking exclusively to familiar activities, try a new activity, such as karate or horseback riding, encouraging your child to take gradual, small steps toward full participation. Provide the right tools, structure and support for these experiences at a manageable pace. You may be surprised at your child’s ability to meet life’s challenges.

Do not rush your child’s process

Forcing children with ASD to face their fears before they are ready can reinforce fear and avoidance, and diminish their trust in you as an ally in managing their anxiety. Taking gradual steps is key when helping children with ASD face fears. For example, overcoming social anxiety might begin with guiding your child through role-play dialogues with a family member, and then practicing with familiar peers before attempting to strike up a conversation with a stranger. This “graded exposure” provides a manageable structure for progress to occur, and it gives children multiple opportunities to practice coping strategies and experience success. When the time comes to start a conversation with an unfamiliar peer, your child will have plenty of practice and confidence under his/her belt to take the plunge.

Do not allow your own anxiety to get in the way

Working with children with ASD and anxiety is no easy task, and it is normal to feel stressed at times. Learning to manage your own anxiety is key to helping children with ASD manage theirs. Anxiety influences our behavior in a variety of ways, affecting teaching and parenting styles in ways we may not be aware of—from diminishing our patience to sapping our problem-solving skills. Not only does our anxiety affect our children’s feelings and behavior, but it often keeps us from letting them take on new challenges. Remember that you are a model of bravery and positive coping for your child. Take a deep breath, conjure up your own helpful thoughts and reward yourself with some chocolate now and then. When you are calm, you can model bravery, be more patient with and attuned to your child’s process, and encourage opportunities for your child to face fears one step at a time.

Do not forget to encourage brave behavior and reward efforts to face fears

Children with ASD may be especially motivated by rewards: a favorite food, a prized video game or a special outing to the science museum. Help your child to face his/her fears a little at a time and reinforce the use of coping strategies, such as deep breathing with praise or a sticker. Even small acts of bravery—a socially anxious child inviting her friend over to play or a child with separation anxiety averting a meltdown as his parents leave for a dinner out—represent important steps toward facing fears and deserve to be acknowledged. Reflecting back to your child what he/she has accomplished and linking such accomplishments to rewards not only reinforces brave behavior, but it also lets the child know you are proud of him/her.



Best Yoga For Kids With Autism

Autism in children is a condition in which the child requires a lot of attention and care. Children suffering from autism tend to process experiences in a different way. They are very sensitive to light and sound. Yoga for this condition is known to be quite helpful.

Yoga is recommended for such kids to enable them to relax and calm down. It helps them concentrate on a particular thing and reduces the stimuli that make them anxious. Stretching which is part of yoga technique helps in relieving muscle tension.  A few yoga asanas for autism in children are discussed below.


Counting Meditation

This meditation is very simple and easy to perform. In this, all you need to do is to make the child count backwards starting from 100, 50, 20 etc based on the child’s age.

Counting Meditation

It is important to make the child focus on counting the numbers by enabling the child to imagine the numbers or you could opt for a color to associate with each digit. In order to enable the child to relax, breathing with each number is also advised. This exercise could be performed while sitting or lying down, so that the child feels relaxed.

Volcano Breath

As the name suggests, it is an apt breathing exercise for children during moments of a forthcoming fiasco. In order to perform this technique, make the child to bring his hands in a prayer pose next to his heart. Then make the child gently extend his/her hands straight above and ask him/her to deeply inhale and allow the hands to fall to his/her sides while he/she exhales. This technique will help in relaxing the child by lowering the built in emotions.

Child’s Pose

This asana is referred to as the child’s pose because it resembles the position of the baby inside the mother’s womb. To perform this asana, make the child kneel on the calves with the knees together and then gently ask the child to bend forward gently, so that the head faces the ground and allow the hand to rest on either side.

Child’s Pose

Vrikshasana – Tree Pose

To perform this asana make the child stands erect and arms on the sides. Gently bend the right knee and place the feet of the right leg on the left thigh at mid level. Ensure that the left leg remains straight. Balancing is the key here, so try to make the child balance himself/herself in this pose.


Now, ask the child to inhale and extend the arms above the head and bring the palms together to folded position (Namaste mudra). Let the child look straight and focus on something. The spine should be straight and the long breathing in and breathing out helps in relaxing the body. Now, slowly bring the child back to normal and then repeat the same thing with the other leg.



Almost Autism: Recovering Children from Sensory Processing Disorder

Almost Autism: Recovering Children from Sensory Processing Disorder

I have recovered my two sons from Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), what I call “almost autism”. I’ve published a book about it, “Almost Autism: Recovering Children from Sensory Processing Disorder“.

One of the problems with SPD is that it’s not an official diagnosis.

As a parent or practitioner, you’re left on your own to get help for a child whose issues you can’t quite put your finger on.

This child doesn’t have autism, but they almost have autism, and they fall through the cracks.

Knowing the confusion and lack of information that parents and practitioners have about the disorder, I set out a clear roadmap in this book for recovering a child from increased sensory sensitivities.

Almost Autism is available on Amazon and on Kindle.

In this book you will learn, in layman’s terms:

  • What the common symptoms of SPD are.
  • What causes SPD: toxicity, gut dysbiosis, immune dysregulation, nutritional deficiencies, adrenal imbalances, thyroid imbalances, inflammation and other factors.
  • How these factors cause neurodevelopmental damage, which may initially show up as retained primitive reflexes.
  • What an MTHFR mutation is and how it affects an SPD child.
  • What are the roles of genetics and epigenetics.
  • What mitochondrial dysfunction is and what to do about it.
  • How to recover a child, step by step, from SPD.
  • How to get a child to sleep better.
  • How to choose and cook foods that will lower stress.
  • How to lower inflammation, a key component of sensory dysfunction.
  • How to control blood-sugar swings that are hidden causes of sensory sensitivities.
  • How to prioritize therapies for sensory integration.
  • Why healing the gut is so important for lowering sensory symptoms and for preparing the body for detoxification.
  • How to detoxify a child safely and gently.

As you read through this one-of-a-kind book, you’ll realize that the world isn’t what it seems. You’ll learn how to think for yourself and, ultimately, how to empower yourself.

I am a former Wall Street equity research analyst who is now a Certified Holistic Health Counselor. I am a Board Member and the Media Director for Epidemic Answers, a 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to letting parents know that recovery is possible. I am also the Media Director for Epidemic Answers’ Canary Kids Project, which will document the potential recovery of 14 children from autism, ADHD, asthma, atopic dermatitis, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, mood disorders and type 2 diabetes.

Read What Other Say About “Almost Autism”

“As a pediatrician, I now see more cases of ‘almost autism’ than I do autism itself. These neurodevelopmental challenges continue to rise at an alarming rate, and parents need answers. Maria provides those solutions in the most thorough yet concise guide to healing the body and the mind that I have seen. Her focus on natural and nutritional solutions for gut healing is spot on, and her specific recommendations for the right types of sensory therapies provide parents with the roadmap they need to beat Sensory Processing Disorder.”

  • Bob Sears, MD, FAAP, author of The Autism Book and The Allergy Book

“Almost Autism is a much-needed bridge between the biomedical and sensory aspects of spectrum disorders. It is important reading not only for parents, but also for occupational and speech therapists, educators and anyone guiding families toward health.”

  • Patricia Lemer, author of Outsmarting Autism: The Ultimate Guide to Management, Healing and Prevention, Chairman of the Board, Epidemic Answers

Almost Autism is a compelling personal story that is also a comprehensive guide to recovering your child from Sensory Processing Disorder. Hong’s narrative is accessible, easy to read, and a practical resource for parents who are overwhelmed and confused by their child’s behaviors and symptoms. If you are a parent of a child affected by SPD, or any of the ‘new childhood epidemics,’ this book should be your companion and guide while on the road to recovery.”

  • Beth Lambert, Executive Director of Epidemic Answers, Executive Producer of the Canary Kids Project and author of A Compromised Generation: The Epidemic of Chronic Illness in America’s Children

“Maria has thoughtfully provided a comprehensive map that will guide you through the haze of medical misinformation surrounding an SPD diagnosis. With her practical step-by-step guide, you will leave the fog behind and step into a higher place of clarity and health; not just for your kids, but your whole family! Get started, today!”

  • Lisa Joyce Goes, co-founder of The Thinking Moms’ Revolution, President, teamTMR.org

“In Almost Autism, Maria Rickert Hong has given us a book of amazing depth and scope that explores the complex and often-misunderstood condition knows as “Sensory Processing Disorder.” What makes this book stand out is the way in which she carefully deconstructs the causes of SPD and offers a systematic biomedical approach to treatment, offering options without overwhelming parents. Clearly this comes from her personal connection to this problem as well as her extensive professional expertise. As a holistic developmental pediatrician, I will be recommending Almost Autism as an invaluable resource to many of my families.”

  • Stephen Cowan MD, FAAP, author Fire Child Water Child, How Understanding the Five Types of ADHD Can Help You Improve Your Child’s Self Esteem and Attention

“Maria explains Sensory Processing Disorder and its many facets – the signs, causes, underlying pathophysiology, and treatments – in a way that is easy to understand, well organized and practical to both the layman and health care provider. Maria’s guidance has been essential in helping me recover my own child’s health as well as mine; and I will most certainly be using her book as a reference for my medical practice!”

  • Melissa Crawford, MD, CCFP

“Maria Rickert Hong has managed to write a clear, understandable, yet comprehensive roadmap for parents struggling to help their children. In her fight to heal her own sons she left no stone unturned, and readers not only benefit from reading about her experience, but also are given tools to help in their own struggle. Almost Autism is a tale of hope and a manual for healing.”



When autism parents kill–it has to do with hope

As a parent of twins with autism, I know what it’s like to feel desperate and alone. I know how it feels to have doors close and be left with no one to help carry the load. Professionals go home to their families, most don’t have any idea what it’s like to live with the turmoil. They get to sleep through the night without worrying if their child will harm themselves or wander off.


Maybe you’re reading this and you have a child with autism. Like me, you probably think you’d never entertain the thought of murdering your child, no matter how desperate your feel. But we have to remember that our experience with autism isn’t another parent’s experience.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not condoning murder in any way shape or form. I think I’m trying to understand the emotions that drive someone to do such a thing.


And I do get it. I do. When you are screaming for help and no one comes, you feel backed into a dark corner of no hope. I believe it’s loss of hope that causes parents to kill their disabled children. At least, I think that’s what happened in the case of Dorothy Spourdalakis who murdered her severely autistic son, Alex Spourdalakis, age 14, last year.  It’s compelling. Sad. And too often a common story regarding severely autistic children.)


But in the case of Gigi Jordan, I’m not so sure. In that case it appears it was a selfish act. Or was it? Could it be true that she killed her son in order to protect him from an abusive father? It certainly can’t be true that she couldn’t obtain services for the child. She’s a millionaire. If she couldn’t obtain services, then who can?

Cases like this are just one reason I was prompted to write a book about autism (My book, Autism: Practical Help and Spiritual Hope for Parents, will be available in April 2015). Parents need to know there is definitely hope in this journey. Hope doesn’t make the road easier, but it makes it bearable.


Autism isn’t who my children are. It’s a name of a disability that causes significant challenges in socialization, speech and behavior. All people with disabilities are precious. planned for and valuable to God. As much as I love my children, I know that God loves them even more, and He has a plan and purpose for their life. I sincerely believe that if we pray and ask God to send us help to cope, and what services to access, He open the doors. At least, that’s what He’s always done for me.


As I wrote in my book:

“With God all things are possible” Matthew 19:26. I clung to that scripture and believed it the entire time
my twins were growing up and I continue to hold on to it today. Things I thought they may never do, they’ve done. More than I ever imagined.

God’s Word tells us that we can’t begin to imagine what He  has in store for us (1 Corinthians 2:9). I can testify to this.

I will admit, when I see children suffering, I have a lot of questions for God. This is when I lean on the faith that God knows what He’s doing and He is up to something good, whether we see it right now or not.


As a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), I see children suffer more than I want to. Life is hard and I certainly don’t want to minimize anyone’s pain. I know what it’s like to feel alone and hopeless. This is why it’s important that Christians reach out to hurting families. If they reject our offers of help, then at least we’ve tried. Without the hope of Christ, what hope is there, really?


All human life is sacred because we are created in the Image of God. Murder is never the answer to the frustrations of parenting a child on the autism spectrum or a child with any kind of disability. Yes, it’s difficult. But it’s do-able. More than that, it’s the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. The struggle has been worth the benefits. My sons love me with the purest form of unconditional love I’ve ever known besides Jesus’ love. They are truly God’s gifts to me