Epidemic Answers http://www.epidemicanswers.org Wed, 08 Apr 2015 18:14:43 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Copyright © Epidemic Answers 2013 info@epidemicanswers.org (Epidemic Answers) info@epidemicanswers.org (Epidemic Answers) http://www.epidemicanswers.org/wp-content/plugins/podpress/images/powered_by_podpress.jpg Epidemic Answers http://www.epidemicanswers.org 144 144 Epidemic Answers Epidemic Answers info@epidemicanswers.org no no Digestive Enzymes http://www.epidemicanswers.org/digestive-enzymes/ http://www.epidemicanswers.org/digestive-enzymes/#comments Tue, 03 Feb 2015 02:22:28 +0000 http://www.epidemicanswers.org/?p=7642 by Kelly Dorfman, MS, LND

Digestive EnzymesChildren diagnosed with developmental delays have a high rate of digestive pathology. Studies suggest between 58% and 93% of children with gastro-intestinal (GI) symptoms, and slightly less than half of those without noticeable symptoms, have low digestive enzymes.

While special diets, supplemental nutrients, good bacteria replacement and yeast treatment are all needed to heal these children’s guts, adding digestive enzymes may be necessary for the complete restoration of digestive function.

What Are Enzymes?

Enzymes are special proteins that catalyze essential biochemical reactions. There are two main types of enzymes: metabolic and digestive. Metabolic enzymes facilitate activity in the immune, endocrine and other systems. Our focus is on digestive enzymes, which are necessary to break down food.

Where Do Enzymes Come from?

Fresh, raw food is a natural source of enzymes. The gut lining in healthy digestive tracts also produces enzymes. Efficient digestion requires enzymes from both sources. The guts of picky eaters, damaged by the overuse of antibiotics and toxcity, may produce too few digestive enzymes.

Supplemental digestive enzymes are necessary when the diet and gut together supply insufficient amounts. Can your child benefit from supplemental digestive enzymes? Knowing the A, B Cs of enzymes may help you decide.

A is for Appetite (and Weight Gain)

When enzymes are low or absent, partially digested food sits in the GI tract. The result is discomfort or poor absorption of calories/nutrients. For youngsters with poor appetites, the body’s message to the brain is “Eating feels bad,” or “I’m already full.”

If a child’s appetite is good but he is not gaining weight, the food delivery trucks are not getting through. Either way, added enzymes can ease GI discomfort or simply increase uptake of nutrients.

B is for Breaking the Malabsorption Cycle

The gut lining requires vitamin A, zinc, protein, B vitamins and other nutrients to regenerate. A healthy, well nourished lining produces more enzymes. When too few enzymes are made, the resulting poor uptake of nutrients leads to an unhealthy gut lining and further deficiency.

Many youngsters with developmental delays are picky eaters already, so their poor absorption can be devastating for brain development. They need enzymes to help break down food so that vitamins and minerals can be released and utilized.

C is for Cheating

When small cheats on a restrictive diet cause significant symptoms, this may signal the need for digestive enzymes. A very restrictive diet, such as the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, allows the dysfunctional gut to rest and repair itself by removing irritants, thus preventing further damage.

However, taking away foods that initially caused the GI injury may not be enough. Supplemental enzymes can reduce food reactions by breaking the allergens in food into smaller pieces. In addition, if kids “cheat,” the enzymes can help prevent strong reactions to problematic foods such as gluten and casein.

D is for Dysbiosis

Dysbiosis is a term used to describe an imbalance of gut microbes. The symptoms of dysbiosis are gas, bloating, diarrhea and/or constipation. Gas forms when bacteria or yeast in the GI tract ferment food particles. Too much fermentation impairs digestion.

While good bacteria (probiotics) can help, if the food sits in the digestive tract in big pieces for too long, yeasts and bad bacteria will increase to deal with it. This results in more gas and increased dysbiosis. Enzymes serve to break this cycle, moving the food into the blood stream more quickly and not allowing it to sit as fodder for gut bugs.

How Do I Choose the Right Enzymes?

There are many brands and types of enzymes on the market. Even with laboratory testing, it is difficult to know which will work best until you try. Enzymes are specific for the substance they break down. For example, lipase is an enzyme that only works on fats (lipids).

Dipeptyl dipeptidase (DPP) IV cleaves proteins that have proline in the second position (such as gluten and casein). If a DPP IV enzyme does not help, a different mixed enzyme product may.

When the gut is inflamed, as in autistic enterocolitis, enzymes can cause more irritation even if the child needs them. Watch for crankiness or worse GI symptoms. When in doubt, take them out and consult a good health care professional.

Enzymes are a safe and critical part of digestion. An elimination diet is often not enough to heal underlying problems. Consider enzymes as the next step in the digestive healing process. For more information on enzymes read Goldberg’s Allergy Free and Cutler’s The Food Allergy Cure or go to www.klaire.com, and www.enzymeuniversity.com

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Oral Sensory Motor Therapy for Autism http://www.epidemicanswers.org/oral-sensory-motor-therapy-for-autism/ http://www.epidemicanswers.org/oral-sensory-motor-therapy-for-autism/#comments Tue, 27 Jan 2015 02:27:06 +0000 http://www.epidemicanswers.org/?p=7572 Oral Sensory Motor Therapy for Autismby Theresha A. Szypulski, MA, CCC-SLP

Families of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) list communication impairment as one of their greatest concerns.

Speech production is a complex issue, involving respiration, phonation, articulation, resonation and prosady. All are impacted by sensory-motor dysfunction and dyspraxia.

Oral sensory-motor attractions and aversions impact feeding, oral hygiene, and speech, often promoting socially unacceptable oral behaviors such as mouthing and biting. Everyone turns to the speech-language pathologist for oral sensory motor therapy to “do something”…about everything.

Therapists working with non-verbal children often set speech and language goals far beyond the child’s developmental readiness, overlooking three areas of vital importance: sociocommunicative deficiencies, motor dysfunction and sensory deficits.

Sociocommunicative Deficiencies

Many children with ASD are stuck below a twelve month level in sociocommunicative skills. Their therapists mistakenly bypass the critical need for engagement, affect exchange and reciprocal interactions.

Working on rote speech and language productions prematurely yields meaningless vocalizations and scripted phrases without pragmatic usefulness. The child may label collections of words or recite phrases, but is unable to interact purposefully.

Motor Dysfunction

Praxis, or the ability to plan, execute and sequence unfamiliar purposeful movements is essential to talking. Many children with delays show varying degrees of difficulty with motor planning and sequencing, and are often labeled dyspraxic.

Motor dysfunction in praxis and imitation in children with ASD impairs their ability to coordinate sequential movement for social affective, reciprocal exchange. Movement is the messenger of emotion and is foundational to expression of internal states and environmental responsiveness.

Sensory Deficits

Early sensory motor experiences are essential to oral motor planning and coordination of the refined movements required to create the subtle, quick, light contacts that comprise human speech.

Children with ASD experience difficulty in engagement and social interaction because of poor regulation of arousal, attention, affect and action.

To be effective, a therapist should analyze the oral sensory seeking/avoiding behaviors of the child and select tools and techniques to modulate the sensory experiences and subsequent movements. Where there is sensation, there is movement; where there is movement, there is sensation.

How Does the Interactive Oral Sensory-Motor Approach Work?

I designed interactive oral sensory motor therapy techniques to address motor speech problems while simultaneously developing interaction and affect exchange between the face, eyes and mouth.

Therapy focuses on this area, the “window of communication,” where 90% of social interactive behaviors (facial expression, eye gaze, vocal and postural gestures) are exchanged.

The intimacy of face-to-face engagement inherent to oral sensory-motor techniques serves as a portal for developing affective interaction and engagement using the speech structures.

If the client experiences the sensory modulation techniques in the oral area as pleasurable, willingness to interact increases. The key to success is that the therapist maintains control of the sensory stimulus.

The child must engage with the therapist to obtain the desired sensory input. This creates the portal for development of interaction. Attaching emotion and intent to oral-vocal-facial behaviors permits these behaviors to become established for communicative purposes by selective reinforcement and conditioning.

Anna, a non-verbal 17-year-old with cognitive abilities at a 16-month level, unexpectedly and intermittently screams and grunts, while maintaining a clenched jaw.

An oral sensory analysis revealed that she sought pressure throughout her temporo-mandibular and cricoarytenoid (speech) joints. She used screaming, grunting and clenching to provide for her sensory needs of pressure.

Through the use of interactive oral sensory motor therapy techniques, she learned to produce vocalizations at a socially acceptable pitch and loudness level, self-modulate from “too loud” or “too hard” cues, use acceptable voice and intonation levels.

To Use the Interactive Oral Sensory Motor Therapy Approach:

  1. First determine the client’s oral sensory seeking/avoiding behavioral profile.
  2. Next, assess oral motor capacities and tolerances.
  3. Then, provide the oral sensory input the client is seeking by guiding the stimulation within the comfortable tolerances of the client, while keeping input pleasurable.
  4. Engage the client in the “window” of communication by regulating the desirable sensory input, while enticing, but not commanding attention.
  5. Use the “teachable moment” to shape communicative behaviors, ranging from eye gaze to vocal productions to words and phrases.
  6. Mediate and shape undesirable, socially inappropriate behaviors, with this sensory approach, and replace with more acceptable behaviors.

This approach may not be the “magic bullet” that many hope for with pre- and non-verbal children. However, it certainly is one more weapon in the arsenal to combat one of the primary deficits in autism spectrum disorders.

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Immune System and Nervous System http://www.epidemicanswers.org/immune-system-and-nervous-system/ http://www.epidemicanswers.org/immune-system-and-nervous-system/#comments Thu, 22 Jan 2015 01:58:55 +0000 http://www.epidemicanswers.org/?p=7561 by Kelly Dorfman, MS, LND

Immune System and Nervous SystemDuring the summer, life has gotten better for most parents of a child on the autistic spectrum or with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) who live east of the Rockies. Approximately 60% of these children experience improvements in behavior and function. When fall starts, some of these same youngsters will lose ground again, but to a lesser degree.

Parents blame teachers and schools for this downturn when the real culprit may be in their own backyards. Pollen, mold and grass activate the immune system sending signals to the nervous system that alter perception and behavior. Many people are surprised to find the immune system and nervous system are linked.

When Dr. Doris Rapp first documented behavior and learning problems associated with allergy exposure, doctors criticized her observations for lacking scientific basis. Now over 20 years later, researchers have discovered the chemical pathways that explain this phenomenon.

During an allergic reaction, the immune system reacts aggressively to a substance, like pollen, that is inherently harmless. Until recently, this response has been narrowly defined. Immune cells called T helper cell type 2 (Th2), signaled other immune cells to produce IgE antibodies (IgE). IgE attaches to the surface of still other immune components called mast cells. Mast cells release histamine, an inflammatory substance that causes hives, itching and swelling.

Scientists now know that when Th2 cells communicate using messenger molecules called cytokines. Cytokines produced by Th2 have strange names like IL4, IL5 and IL 9. Cytokine information does not stay in the immune system. The nervous system also contains receptors for cytokines and will get the same messages. The result is a range of pathological nervous system responses from irritability to depression.

Dr. Marvin Boris, a New York based allergist, observed that half of the youngsters who regressed in the spring did not have obvious allergy symptoms. Chewing clothing, lost language skills and aggressive behavior are the reaction to pollen.

What to do?

First, look through your child’s history and see if there is a pattern of behavior or skill deterioration every spring and or fall. While these are the times of year most associated with problems, some children follow unique patterns and may have problems other times. Identify your child’s rhythm, if there is one.

Develop a strategy for prevention and an emergency plan, if that fails.

Prevention First

Adjust Fatty Acids

Fats are the building blocks for many of the regulatory substances in the immune system. How the immune system performs is further influenced by the fat makeup of the cell membrane. Too many hydrogenated fats (found in packaged foods) or omega 6 fats (found in meat and dairy), encourage inflammation or suppress the system. Adding omega 3 fats (found in fish and flax oil) can help rebalance immune responses. (See The Omega 3 Connection by Stoll.)

Add Probiotics

Probiotics is a general term used to describe good bacteria that inhabit the body. New research suggests that probiotics can modulate Th2 function resulting in less severe allergic reactions. Since pesticides kill good bacteria along with the pests, most foods are no longer reliable sources of healthy bugs

There are many excellent probiotic supplements on the market. Most good bacteria strains are heat sensitive and survive best when refrigerated. Look for a powder or pull apart capsule that contains at least 1 billion good bugs.

Each brand promotes its own proprietary blend of bacterium or one “special” type such as Lactobacillus G.G. Other excellent bugs include Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Bifidobacterium lactis and Lactobacillus acidophilus. They may sound like a bunch of bad Roman generals, but they are critical for keeping Th2 in balance.

The particular mixture is not as important as finding what works well for the individual. Switch brands to expose the system to a variety of organisms. Start with ½ the dose (or less) listed on the label and work up slowly watching for gas and other intestinal changes.

Avoid Allergy Foods

The immune system works on a load principal. If you are sensitive to milk and pollen, for example, the reaction to pollen may be worse if you are eating cheese. The body will be less reactive if sensitive foods are discovered and eliminated from the diet.

If prevention does not help and your child is falling apart, contact your doctor. Though the reaction may not look like a typical allergy, anti-histamines or other allergy medicine may provide symptom relief. Some parents have also gotten temporary improvement giving potassium bicarbonate.

For more information on balancing immune function, read The Road to Immunity by Dr. Ken Bock or SuperImmunity for Kids by Leo Galland.

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Holistic Dentistry http://www.epidemicanswers.org/holistic-dentistry/ http://www.epidemicanswers.org/holistic-dentistry/#comments Wed, 14 Jan 2015 19:26:22 +0000 http://www.epidemicanswers.org/?p=7547 Holistic Dentistryby Maria Rickert Hong, CHHC, AADP

I am fortunate to live near the office of Dr. Mark Breiner, a holistic dentist who doesn’t use mercury, fluoride or BPA. He has been campaigning against mercury amalgams since the 1970’s. He’s written a book, “Whole-Body Dentistry:  A Complete Guide to Understanding the Impact of Dentistry on Total Health”.

In it, he explains the dangers of mercury, including the electrical problems caused by them. Because they are metal, mercury fillings affect the electrical energy along that meridian. Each tooth sits on a particular acupuncture meridian, so an unhealthy tooth can affect the systems and organs related to that meridian.

Before he removed my mercury fillings, he measured the voltage, current and power provided by each of them. Voltages ranged from 40-220 MV, currents from 1-4 MA, and MW x seconds from -0.01 to -0.33.  Our bodies are electrochemical in nature, and these mercury fillings throw an electrical monkey wrench into the mix.

Dr. Breiner also practices homeopathy as a means of helping the body detoxify from the mercury, as well as from other toxins lurking in the body.

Holistic dentistry, therefore, is a type of dentistry that looks at the health of a person’s teeth in relation to the health of the overall body.  This kind of dentist understands how chronic and degenerative disease can be caused by toxic fillings, jawbone infection, the bite or airway problems.

Maria Rickert Hong is a former Wall Street equity research analyst who is now a Certified Holistic Health Counselor. She is the author of the bestselling book, “Almost Autism: Recovering Children from Sensory Processing Disorder, A Reference for Parents and Practitioners.” As a health coach, she helps parents make diet and lifestyle changes to recover their children from symptoms of Sensory Processing Disorder, almost autism, autism, PDD-NOS and ADHD. She has recovered her two boys from SPD, asthma, acid reflux and eczema can be reached at www.MariaRickertHong.com Maria is a board member, Media Director and blogger for Epidemic Answers, a 501(c)3 non-profit that lets parents know that recovery is possible, and she’s also the Media Director for Epidemic Answers’ Documenting Hope Project.

 

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Metallothionein and Autism Update http://www.epidemicanswers.org/metallothionein-and-autism-2/ http://www.epidemicanswers.org/metallothionein-and-autism-2/#comments Thu, 08 Jan 2015 02:09:55 +0000 http://www.epidemicanswers.org/?p=7538 Metallothionein and Autism Updateby William Shaw, Ph.D., Founder, Great Plains Laboratory

Healthcare professionals treating children with autism spectrum disorders have shown considerable interest in metallothionein (MT) in the last few years, because of pioneering research by William Walsh, Ph.D. of the Pfeiffer Institute.

I feel that Dr. Walsh is correct that the copper to zinc ratio is abnormally high in individuals with autism. However, I believe that the reason for this abnormal ratio involves the complex interaction among MT, zinc, copper, as well as ceruloplasmin and glutathione.

Metallothionein (MT)

MT is a family of small proteins containing 61-68 amino acids that play a major role in heavy metal detoxification. MT deficiency could explain why individuals with autism respond unfavorably to vaccines containing heavy metals like mercury.

MTs function as intracellular distributors and mediators of copper and zinc. MT also contains an unusually high (30%) concentration of cysteine, which reacts with a number of metals including zinc, mercury, copper and cadmium. However, he most important factor in the regulation of MT is the amount of zinc intake.

Zinc

Zinc deficiency is common in children with autism and also associated with growth retardation, poor wound healing, hair loss, night blindness, weak immune function and delayed sexual maturation. As zinc levels fall, skin rash, abdominal pain, diarrhea, loss of appetite and impaired taste and smell can occur. When the body’s stores of zinc are depleted, it must break down MT and take zinc from plasma proteins.

Many practitioners prescribe heavy loads of zinc for periods of several weeks to several months. I have found that MT increases six fold after only 10 days of zinc supplementation, then plateaus. If you give too much zinc for too long, it can cause depigmentation of hair and skin. Excess zinc can also lead to copper deficiency. A parent I know gave her child high doses of zinc daily for over a year. She reported that the child’s hair turned grey.

Chelation should begin once zinc levels are sufficient. Since zinc regulates MT, the body will release some zinc along with the heavy metals. It is important to continue zinc loading during chelation.

Because zinc is a co-factor in hundreds of biochemical reactions, it is impossible to know which symptoms are associated with which reactions. I believe that some of the benefits of long-term zinc supplementation might be completely unrelated to MT.

Copper

Copper produces energy in the cells, assists in neuro-transmitter production, nerve conduction, and in the healthy function of both the immune and cardiovascular systems. Symptoms of excess copper include hyperactivity, irritability, poor concentration and joint pain.

Ceruloplasmin

A large protein called ceruloplasmin plays an important role as a “transporter” in copper metabolism. While most copper in the blood is bound to ceruloplamsin, some is bound to albumin, MT or other proteins. If ceruloplasmin is low, free copper can rise to toxic levels. Reduction of free copper may be the reason for improvement seen in autistic symptoms on zinc loading.

Glutathione

The body’s level of glutathione (GSH) determines absorption of toxins from heavy metals. GSH can be low for a number of reasons, including exposure to toxic hydrocarbons such as DDT, PCB’s, or chloroform, because it combines with these toxins and is eliminated with them.

When levels of MT and zinc bound by MT are appropriate, GSH mediates the transfer of zinc to MT. Conversely, GSH oxidizes the sulfhydryl groups of MT and releases zinc to enzymes.  MT, GSH and other regulatory proteins are thus very important in maintaining zinc in the brain at non-toxic levels.

New Lab Test

I have responded to Dr. Walsh’s desire for an MT screening test with the Advanced Metallothionein Profile (AMP). This blood test measures not only MT, but also serum zinc, copper, ceruloplasmin, free copper, and GSH. It is evident that either an excess or deficiency of any of these substances may be harmful.  The print-out also includes a copper/zinc ratio, a GSH/MT ratio, and a zinc/MT ratio.

With the AMP professionals can determine whether a patient has zinc, copper, glutathione, ceruloplasmin and MT deficiencies or excesses, and thus provide the appropriate treatment. Doctors can order test kits, available overnight, from Great Plains Laboratory. My staff and I provide test interpretation training by phone or in person.  I urge all health care professionals to use the AMP to monitor the effectiveness of detoxification treatments, and as a guide for modulating immune deficiencies.

For more information about the AMP go to www.greatplainslaboratoy.com. For Dr. Walsh’s work go to www.hriptc.org.

 

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Brain Gym and Sensory Integration http://www.epidemicanswers.org/brain-gym-sensory-integration/ http://www.epidemicanswers.org/brain-gym-sensory-integration/#comments Wed, 07 Jan 2015 02:42:39 +0000 http://www.epidemicanswers.org/?p=7532 Brain Gym Internationalby Mary Rentschler, M. Ed., Brain Gym consultant and instructor

Editing articles about occupational therapy (OT) and sensory integration (SI), I have often thought to myself , “OT, SI and Brain Gym are totally compatible and complimentary.”

I signed up immediately last spring when the Educational Kinesiology Foundation offered a new workshop, “In Sync: Integrating the Senses through Movement”. Taught by Rita Edwards, Dip. OT, D.T.S.E., Brain Gym Consultant, and Edu-K International Faculty member, the course demonstrates how to combine OT, Brain Gym and sensory integration.

Rita acknowledges Paul and Gail Dennison, Carla Hannaford, Jean Ayres, and Carol Kranowitz as providing conceptual and practical support for her work. She has developed balances (a process for putting interventions into the context of a specific goal) for integration of the cranial-sacral, vestibular, proprioceptive, visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory and gustatory systems.

A Balance for Vestibular Integration

Lisa, a seven-year-old with low muscle tone, wants to ride her bike around corners and stop easily. First she does some warm ups to get ready for new learning. We make sure that her goal is appropriate and realistic. Muscle checking leads us to choose vestibular integration as a priority.

Next, we identify aspects of bike riding that cause stress in her system. Simply walking the bike or sitting on it would probably produce a weak muscle check (MC). She would also perform various activities that stimulate the vestibular system, each time noticing or muscle checking to establish awareness of stress and provide a base line for measuring progress.

  • Hold left, then right mastoid, bringing attention to the semi-circular canals – part of the vestibular system – just beneath this bone. (MC)
  • Prone extension posture (how many seconds?)
  • Standing balance, eyes open and closed (seconds?)
  • Spinning with eyes closed, MC or notice loss of balance
  • Leaning forward, MC
  • Resist being pushed

The next step is the intervention. Lisa could choose, or muscle checks could lead to a choice, among activities that would foster integration by providing physical, environmental, emotional and/or energetic support:

  • Physical: Brain Gym Midline Movements and Lengthening Activities or other movement stimulation (bouncing, rolling, spinning, jumping)
  • Environmental: Vestibular stimulation in daily home, playground and classroom routines. Drinking more water.
  • Emotional: Brain Gym (Positive Points and Hook-Ups), Integrating music, free movement, dance, resonation
  • Energetic: Brain Gym (Energy Exercises)

The last step is to revisit the pre-checks, noticing the absence of stress, changes in MCs, and new ease with the goal activity. Lisa could then practice bike riding and choose Brain Gym or other home activities to reinforce her new skills.

A Balance for Auditory Integration

Danny, also age seven, experienced dramatic progress in reading through a similar process. He read haltingly, nearly breathless with effort. Pre-checks showed ease for vision, but significant stress for auditory integration, particularly for the right ear, which feeds primarily into the brain’s language hemisphere.

Danny was able to identify his feelings when he read as “confused” and “frustrated.” To see if this might be an echo of past stress, we explored, through muscle checking, and found age three and four. “Oh,” said his mom, “that’s the year I was sick.” She had, in fact, been critically ill, so ill that a little boy could very well have wanted to block his ears against bad news.

To integrate his hearing, Danny needed “Temporal Tapping,” firm tapping on the skull all around the outline of his ears. Afterwards he picked up his book again and began reading with obvious pleasure, never stopping until it was time to leave. He could now “hear” the story. At home Danny greeted his father saying, “Dad! I used to hate to read! Now I love to read.”

Goals

Goals involving vision would require checks for tracking, looking in all directions, and far/near pursuits. Physical interventions could be Brain Gym, Vision Gym, or other eye exercises. Nurturing the eyes with more time outside, less TV, and improved diet could address environmental issues.

For the tactile system pre/post-checks might include wearing a sweater, standing close to someone, hugging, stroking or brushing. Balances for other senses would have different goals, pre/post-checks, interventions, and reinforcement. The approach is infinitely adaptable.

A goal should be the child’s, not the therapist’s or parents’ choice. When a child mobilizes all his/her resources of energy, motivation and intention, then the work has deep relevance and personal meaning. Interventions that address physical, environmental, emotional and energetic issues render the process all the more truly holistic.

Brain Gym® is a registered trademark of the Educational Kinesiology Foundation/Brain Gym® International.

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Why TV Is Bad for Your Child http://www.epidemicanswers.org/why-tv-is-bad-for-your-child/ http://www.epidemicanswers.org/why-tv-is-bad-for-your-child/#comments Tue, 06 Jan 2015 02:19:36 +0000 http://www.epidemicanswers.org/?p=7519 Why TV Is Bad for Your Childby Susan R. Johnson, MD, behavioral and developmental pediatrician; certified Waldorf teacher

My son’s birth, 6 years ago, brought home to me the frightening impact of TV.  Before TV, he played outside, examining bugs, making things with sticks and rocks, enjoying the water and sand. He seemed at peace with himself, his body, and his environment. Watching TV, he became unresponsive and glued to the set. When I turned it off he grew anxious, nervous and irritable. His play was erratic and unimaginative, his movements impulsive and uncoordinated.

Why TV Is Bad for Your Child

The artificial pulsed light of TV projects directly into our eyes and beyond, affecting the secretions of our neuro-endocrine system. We strain to see the fuzzy and unfocused dotted image, especially if our eyes are under 4 years old and have not fully developed visual acuity and binocularity.

Watching TV weakens the very skills needed for effective reading: the ability to search out, scan, focus, and identify whatever comes into the visual field. Pupil dilation, tracking, and saccadic movement, all critical for reading and all absent during TV viewing, are functions of the reticular activating system (RAS). The RAS, gateway to the neocortex, is idle when a child watches TV, resulting in a poorly integrated lower brain which can’t properly access the higher brain.

What about “educational TV” like Sesame Street?

Jean Healy, in Endangered Minds, wrote about “Sesame Street and the Death of Reading.” Advertising agencies and many children’s shows, including Sesame Street, counter the tendency to habituate to TV with frequent new images, flashing colors, close-ups, and startling loud sounds.

When TV presents sudden stimuli, the limbic brain goes into a “fight or flight” response, releasing hormones and chemicals throughout the body. Heart rate and blood flow to limb muscles increase to prepare for danger. Because this tension is not released with movement, certain programs actually put us in a state of chronic stress or anxiety. In addition, the rapid-fire change of image every few seconds, even faster in commercials and MTV, does not allow our higher brain time to process.

What’s wrong with using TV as just entertainment?

Stories on TV project emotional content that goes directly into the limbic system and the right hemisphere of the neocortex. With no time to reflect on these emotional pictures, the left hemisphere is uninvolved. Once again watching TV bypasses the analytic brain that can give meaning to what we see.

How can we help our children’s brains develop?

Turn it off

Avoid TV as much as possible before age 12. Cover the TV with a cloth or store it in a closed cabinet. Select programs carefully. Watch and discuss the content with your child. Go outside to rest the eyes afterwards.

Read, talk and play with your children

Stories, like conversing with another human being or playing “pretend,” stimulate children’s abilities to use imagination rather than prefabricated TV images. Encourage your child to read the book before seeing a movie adaptation.

Offer a “nutritious” sensory diet

Our environment is noisy and over-stimulating. What children see, hear, smell, taste, and touch is extremely important to their development. Children watching TV experience multi-leveled sensory deprivation that may stunt their brains.

Brain size has been shown to decrease 20 – 30 % when a child is not touched, played with or talked to. The building blocks of later confidence and positive attitude are early multi-sensory experiences of what is beautiful, good, and true, not passive exposure to screen images.

Nature! Nature! Nature!

Children habituated to fast-paced action-packed TV find nature boring, because they can no longer process subtle sensory experience.

Nature is the greatest teacher of patience, delayed gratification, reverence, awe and observation. It offers spectacular colors, sounds, textures, smells and tastes.

We only truly learn when all our senses are enlivened, and when information is presented to us in such a way that our higher brain can absorb it.

Use hands, feet and whole bodies performing purposeful activities

Running, jumping, climbing, and playing jump rope help to develop gross motor skills and myelinate pathways in the higher brain. Performing household chores, cooking, baking bread, knitting, woodworking, origami, string games, finger games, circle games, painting, drawing, and coloring help develop fine motor skills and also enhance myelination.

Banish the TV to foster cognitive development in your child, and the whole family will enjoy closer relationships and more fun!

Resources

This article is excerpted, with permission, from a monograph by the same name, available from (610) 933-3635 or admin@kimberton.org. To learn engaging activities for ages one to twelve, read Alternatives to TV Handbook by Marie McClenden. Visit www.wholehumanbeans.com and www.turnoffthetv.com (800) 949-8688.

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Nonverbal Learning Disability http://www.epidemicanswers.org/nonverbal-learning-disability/ http://www.epidemicanswers.org/nonverbal-learning-disability/#comments Tue, 09 Dec 2014 02:00:42 +0000 http://www.epidemicanswers.org/?p=7481 by Patricia S. Lemer, M. Ed., Chairman of the Board

Nonverbal Learning DisabilityWhat Is a Nonverbal Learning Disability?

First appearing in the literature in the late sixties, when I was finishing graduate school, non-verbal learning disabilities (NLD or NVLD) are now diagnosed frequently.

A nonverbal learning disability describes a cluster of deficits in motor, visual-spatial, social and sensory arenas combined with strengths in vocabulary, rote memory, and attention to detail. This syndrome causes sensory overload and profound difficulty with cognition, academics, and relationships.

NLD is easily confused with Asperger syndrome and sometimes used synonymously with the dual diagnosis of gifted/learning disabled. While most psychologists agree on the etiology and treatment of language-based learning disability (LD), vision-based LD or NLD is poorly understood.

Compensate or Remediate?

Traditional approaches to NLD focus on diagnosis and compensatory techniques, without addressing the motor, sensory and visual deficits. While teaching strategies can be beneficial, ameliorating deficits makes more sense.

In How to Develop Your Child’s Intelligence, Getman proposes a developmental relationship between the motor and visual systems that offers a structure for remediation in the context of development. At first the motor system dominates, then the motor and visual systems work together. Finally, vision dominates.

Motor First

Children diagnosed with a nonverbal learning disability probably had motor and sensory deficits in the first year of life. Any skipped step in motor development is a red flag to me. Those with NLD may have never crawled, walked early or late, or adopted idiosyncratic movement patterns. They could also overly favor one hand or lack a dominant side. Individualized sensory-motor activities can bring their motor systems up to age level.

The Motor-Visual Team

Binocular vision and depth perception emerge when the body begins to move through space. In the motor-visual stage, movement is primary. Then, as children learn to reach with the eye and the hand at the same time, movement allies with vision. If the two eyes do not work together, the body may show bilateral integration problems.

Deficits at this stage often cause motor clumsiness, lack of interest in motor activities, or extreme shyness due to spatial insecurity. A developmental optometric evaluation and intervention are imperative now, to avoid later visual-spatial and social problems.

Vision Directs Motor

Typically, vision takes precedence over movement sometime before kindergarten. This transition from motor-visual to visual-motor is a huge jump. How many times have pre-school teachers watched a child begin to draw a dog and end up with something else? That child’s hand simply could not produce what the mind told it to.

Many older children with a nonverbal learning disability are still not using their vision purposefully to direct their movements. To draw a dog, a child’s eyes must direct the motor act, as he visualizes the animal in his mind’s eye. The emergence of vision as the dominant sense depends upon a reliable store of touch, movement and muscle “memories” acquired during early development.

Children with a nonverbal learning disability have early histories of tactile defensiveness, vestibular disturbance and low tone, which preclude having well-integrated touch and movement experiences. To cope, they rely more heavily on what they hear than on what they sense, do or see.

Audition and language skills predominate over vision and the more primitive senses early on. As language becomes ever more proficient, the NLD child becomes less able to use vision to focus on and give meaning to what he sees. Avoidance and fear perpetuate the problems.

What Can We Do?

A nonverbal learning disability is REALLY a visual processing disorder that starts early in life with developmental motor, sensory and visual delays. Fortunately, it’s rarely too late to remediate. Epidemic Answers is committed to assisting those with NLD in finding skilled therapists to help close the gaps in their development.

The first priority should be a developmental vision exam. Most people with a nonverbal learning disability have problems with eye teaming, focusing, tracking and perception. Physical and occupational therapists, Brain Gym consultants, psychologists and developmental optometrists can all be part of the team working on sensory, motor, visual-spatial and social skills.

I look forward to the time when books and conferences on NLD include experts from the above disciplines. Individuals with NLD deserve more than palliative intervention. They CAN learn how to use their bodies and minds together. As Carla Hannaford aptly states in the subtitle of Smart Moves: “Learning is not all in your head!”

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Mitochondrial Dysfunction http://www.epidemicanswers.org/mitochondrial-dysfunction/ http://www.epidemicanswers.org/mitochondrial-dysfunction/#comments Mon, 08 Dec 2014 01:53:29 +0000 http://www.epidemicanswers.org/?p=7477 by Kelly Dorfman, MS, LND

Mitochondrial DysfunctionWilliam is a 6 year old with a pervasive developmental delay (PDD) diagnosis. He made encouraging initial gains with extensive intervention until his progress hit a plateau. A developmental specialist reassessed him noting that his muscle tone and stamina were unusually low. She recommended a metabolic specialist to rule out mitochondria disorder.

What are mitochondria?

Each cell contains tiny organelles called mitochondria. The job of the mitochondria is to provide the chemical energy the cell and body needs to operate. The cell cannot use sugar or fats directly. Partially broken down fats and carbohydrates must be converted into adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the cell’s main source of energy.

What is mitochondrial dysfucntion?

Children with significant low tone may have mitochondrial dysfunction. Aggressive antibiotic use, heavy metals and pesticides can all injure the mitochondria. The DNA of the mitochondria is separate from and more fragile than the DNA found in the nucleus of the cell. Common environmental toxins can damage the DNA of the mitochondria altering the cell’s future ability to produce energy. The result is loss of muscle tone and stamina.

In mitochondrial dysfunction, muscle tone is low so youngsters need to search for ways to stabilize soft muscles. They may be restless because a comfortable resting position cannot be found. Teachers may complain of poor attention span when in reality the child is chronically distracted by body discomfort.

In rare cases, a child may have one of a limited number of identified mitochondrial defects. The known disorders can only be diagnosed by muscle biopsy and are characterized by serious symptoms (such as an inability to walk). A vast majority of those with low tone suffer from inefficiency, not disease. Because a partial diagnosis does not exist, a painful biopsy is unlikely to provide useful information except in extreme cases.

Disease versus inefficiency

Some mitochondria are more efficient than others because of the influence of different environmental and genetic factors. Well-functioning mitochondria create readily available and sustained energy resulting in toned and well-formed muscles. When these muscles are exercised, they get stronger steadily and predictably.

Whether a child has a known mitochondrial disorder or inefficiency, the only treatment is nutritional. Many nutrients are critical for mitochondrial function but there is a basic cocktail that addresses the most important components.

The Mitochondria cocktail

Vitamin B-1 and/or B-2

Thiamine (vitamin B-1) and riboflavin (vitamin B-2) are both required co-factors for different parts of energy making. The last step of energy making involves converting ADP (adenosine diphosphate) to ATP. This step happens down a chain of five protein complexes named Complex I, II, III, IV and V, respectively. Complex I requires vitamin B-1 to stimulate its enzymes. Both Complex I and II require vitamin B-2.

Some children do well with thiamine but get irritated with riboflavin and vice versa. In other cases, both B-vitamins plus B-3 (as niacinamide) are necessary. Because it is hard to know what to support (without a specific diagnosis), the B-vitamins should be added one at a time. The problem area can be pinpointed by observing the response to intervention. Some children will have a clear response to one B-vitamin or may need them all.

A typical mitochondria formula may contain 50-100mg each of vitamins B-1, B-2 and/or B-3. Keep in close contact with the supervising medical professional and adjust the B-vitamins if the child becomes agitated.

Vitamin E (mixed tocopherols)

The mitochondria must be protected against damage from destructive molecules called free radicals. These volatile substances are a normal by-product of metabolism but a healthy body has the capacity to clean them up. When too many get into the mitochondria, they damage the membrane and disrupt energy production. Vitamin E is an important anti-free radical agent for protecting and healing these membranes.

The dose range used is 100-400IU. Vitamin E is well tolerated and it has no known toxicity. Natural vitamin E is usually derived from wheat or soy. In rare cases, this may cause allergic problems.

Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALC)

Carnitine is a simple protein made up of the amino acids methionine and lysine. Research suggests that carnitine helps maintain the membranes of the mitochondria. In addition, ALC helps facilitate the transport and utilization of fats so they can be used to make energy.

For mitochondrial disorders, ALC or the prescription version, Carnitor, is dosed at 50 to 100 mg per kg of body weight. It can sometimes cause irritability or stomach distress but is not toxic.

Bottom line

The mitochondria can be more efficient if they are fed properly. Healthy mitochondria provide the sustained energy necessary for optimal growth and development.

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Detoxification for Children http://www.epidemicanswers.org/detoxification-for-children/ http://www.epidemicanswers.org/detoxification-for-children/#comments Fri, 05 Dec 2014 02:37:01 +0000 http://www.epidemicanswers.org/?p=7471 Detoxification for ChildrenThis information comes from Children with Starving Brains, second edition, by Jaquelyn McCandless, MD, and we thank her for her valuable contributions. Kelly Dorfman helped with clarification.

Here are some exciting new choices for detoxification for children, which are presently being used by practitioners concerned about methylation issues.

Please work with a nutritionist or medical professional to integrate them into a whole treatment plan, rather than using them as “treatments du jour.”

Vitamin B12 injections

Chronic gut inflammation, toxicity, and vegetarian diets can be factors in low levels of Vitamin B12. Dr. James Neubrander in Edison, NJ recommends injections of concentrated vitamin B12 in the form of pure methlycobalamin, instead of oral B12, to children with developmental delays. Injections bypass the impaired gut and directly feed the nervous system.

Who is a candidate?

Developmentally delayed children with a history of thimerosal in vaccines, autistic enterocolitis and chronic loose stools. Others have lab values showing anemia, positive myelin basic protein (MBP) antibodies and/or elevated methylmalonate (MMA) on the urinary organic acid test.

What does it do?

Vitamin B12 is tricky to absorb from food, and requires an “usher” molecule in the stomach to lead it to the same part of the small intestine where Andy Wakefield found lymphoid hyperplasia. Together with folate, B12 participates in the complicated detoxification process by facilitating methylation processes important for creating optimum metabolic balance. Then, the body can eventually detoxify itself.

Transdermal thiamine tetrahydrofurfuryl disulfide (TTFD)

TTFD is a synthetic version of allithaimine, a naturally occurring substance found in garlic. Dr. Derrick Lonsdale believes that TTFD has three sulfur-related mechanisms that benefit children with autism spectrum disorders (see below).

Who is a candidate?

Some children experience a proliferation of “gut-bugs” and yeast as a result of chelation treatments. When gut ecology becomes imbalanced, stop chelation immediately and add necessary nutrients, probiotics, digestive enzymes and dietary restrictions to correct the problem and heal the leaky gut. In some children, TTFD appears to alleviate the negative side effects of yeast die-off.

What does it do?

TTFD allegedly enhances sulphur’s energy metabolism in the central nervous system, functions as a chelating agent, and alleviates intracellular thiamine deficiency. Dr. Lonsdale cautions practitioners to assure that B6, magnesium, vitamin C and taurine are in place before starting TTFD, because TTFD requires a balanced nutritional environment for optimal functioning.

TTFD is a prescription item that you can get at a compounding pharmacy.

Transdermal or intravenous glutathione (GSH)

Glutathione protects the body against toxic agents, such as heavy metals. It is made in the body from the three amino acids, systeine, glycine and glutamine. The level of glutathione (GSH) in the body determines how much toxin is absorbed. If the glutathione levels are low, the body accepts more heavy metals. As glutathione levels rise, the body is better able to excrete poisons.

Adequate levels of GSH are also needed for many aspects of immune function. Low levels impair immune system function, which leads to frequent infection. The body’s poor response to infection causes inflammation and oxidative stress, which, in turn, lowers glutathione.

A vicious cycle perpetuates when there is inadequate glutathione to offset oxidative stress, further reducing immunity, and allowing opportunistic infections (like yeasts and parasites) to proliferate.

Who is a candidate?

Children with suspected immunization damage and heavy metal exposure. Some children with colitis also have impaired GSH function. Bill Walsh found that children with atypical Cu/Zn ratios and thus Metallothionein (MT) errors, have inappropriate GSH.

Children may have MT errors because they have low glutathione, or vice versa. Infants and toddlers with colic, diarrhea or constipation are more likely to have low GSH, and thus be at risk to environmental exposures.

What does it do?

GSH acts as a powerful antioxidant that prevents the formation of free radicals and inhibits cellular damage. Medical professionals prescribe transdermal and IV GSH along with oral glutathione, because the latter is poorly absorbed. To be absorbed the cream must be water soluble, not petroleum-based.

Parents report that combining GSH with TTFD increases the benefit of both. The only negative side effects are the unpleasant odor of the TTFD cream and increased hyperactivity and “stimming” in a small percentage of the children. Adding taurine reduces occasional pale stools and constipation.

The Natural Medicine Guide to AUTISM

“An excellent compiliation of natural, non-drug treatment possibilities,” said Bernie Rimland. Includes nutrition, detox, NAET, homeopathy, cranial osteopathy, metallothionein (MT) promoter, Tomatis, Klinghardt, and others.

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