Autism: The Risk Factors

Unfortunately, there is still a lot that doctors do not yet know about autism and Asperger's syndrome. So far, they are yet to have found one main cause for either of these conditions, but there are many risk factors that can increase the chances of autism in children. Read on to find out more about autism, and the common risk factors that are associated with both conditions.

Dealing with a child or a family member with autism can be extremely difficult. The severity of the condition will dictate how badly the sufferer is affected by their autism. Many adults and young children with a mild cases of autism and Asperger's syndrome, can expect to lead a relatively problem free life. But, those who are worst affected, may find daily life and general social interaction with others extremely hard to deal with. There are a long list of signs and symptoms related to autism such as personality disorders, severe behavioral problems and learning disabilities, that came make life difficult for the sufferer, for parents and families too. [1]

Much research has now taken place for autistic disorders, and doctors are now able to easily diagnose both autism and Asperger's syndrome. It is thought that almost 1 child in every 160 is affected by these condition types, and more and more cases of autism are being diagnosed each and every day.

Instead of one main cause, doctors and researchers have found that there are a number of risk factors and complications, that can increase the chance of autism and Asperger's syndrome in children. Here are some of the most common autism risk factors involved.

- It has been found that in many cases, autism is hereditary. If there is a family history of the condition, the risk is heavily increased. It's also extremely common for the parents, and/or close family members of someone with the condition, to show some of the most common minor signs of autism.

- The age at which people parent their children can also increase the risk of autism. Men who father children over the age of 40 years, are almost 6 times more likely to have a child with an autistic like disorder.

- Girls are less likely to suffer from either condition, and for every female with autism there are around four male cases reported.

- Young children with existing medical conditions such as Tourette syndrome, tuberous sclerosis, and epilepsy are far more likely than other young people to suffer from autism. If your child has any of these conditions, it's essential that you seek an autistic diagnosis from a health care professional. In addition, almost a third of young people with autism will end up developing epilepsy during childhood, or in later life. [2 & 3]

Although there are a number factors that can affect the likelihood of you having a child with autism, there is still very little known about the conditions, and there may be other risk factors involved that have yet to be discovered.

References -

1) Autism and Asperger syndrome – http://www.bbc.co.uk/health/conditions/autism1.shtml. Accessed Sept 08, 2009.

2) Causes of autistic spectrum disorder – http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Autistic-spectrum-disorder/Pages/Causes.aspx. Accessed Sept 08, 2009.

3) Older fathers 'raise autism risk' – http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/5313874.stm. Accessed Sept 08, 2009.

Autism treatment options for parents

Researchers have so far not been able to pinpoint one cause for autism, and there is still no know cure. But, research in this field has revealed that there are a number of treatment options and therapies that are extremely effective for this condition. Rather than curing those with autism, the treatments help to reduce some of the symptoms, and help the suffer and parents to better cope with the condition. Read on to find out more about the wide range of autistic treatment options currently available.

Once your child has been diagnosed with autism, you'll be able to access the wide variety of treatment options and specialist therapies available. The sooner a treatment program is set up, the better. Not only will this help you better understand and cope with your child's condition, but your child will certainly benefit from this additional specialist help too. The severity and type of autism will dictate what treatment type is most suitable for your child. You'll find that the treatment options are wide ranging, and the quality level of help available with vary wildly. So, it's important to look at what's available to you and your child, and choose the most suitable support. Do keep in mind that many of these treatments don't come for free, so be prepared to factor in any additional costs. Here is a basic list of the most common autistic treatments and therapies on offer at the moment.

Early intervention

Autistic children under the age of six, are eligible for this treatment type. This will encompass a wide variety of therapies including behavioral and speech, and provide essential guidance on social skills. These are all essential skills that your child will need to work on and develop at the earliest stage possible.

Medication

Again, medication won't cure your child's autism, but, many of these prescription pills can help to reduce some of the most common symptoms. Among these you'll find – Methylphenidate, more commonly known as Ritalin, Risperidone, and Secretin. These drugs can reduce your child's hyperactivity, ease tantrums, and curb their aggressive behaviour. But, they all come with a long list of side effects. Many parents feel that the side effects outweigh the benefits of the drugs, making them a very unpopular treatment choice.

Autistic therapies

Every child with autism is different. The severity of your child's condition, the signs and symptom they have, will help you to choose the best therapy type for their individual list of problems. Below, you'll find a list of the most common therapy types

- Behavior Therapy – Many children with autism suffer from behavioral problems, this treatments type can help get to the root causes, and strategies can be developed to reduce any behavioural issues.

- Social Skills, Occupational and Play Therapies – These three will work on a combination of things, which will help to integrate your child into society. The treatments helps by developing social skills, building better communication skills, improving motor skills and helping to promote appropriate behavior when playing and interacting with others.

- Speech Therapy - Many children with autism experience some issues with speech, and this therapy type is a great way for working on these issues, and helps to improve your child communication. [1, 2 & 3]

References -

1 - Autism and Asperger syndrome – http://www.bbc.co.uk/health/conditions/autism1.shtml#what's_the_treatment?.Accessed Sept 12, 2009.

2 - Treating autistic spectrum disorder – http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Autistic-spectrum-disorder/Pages/Treatment.aspx. Accessed Sept 12, 2009.

3 - Causes, treatment and research – http://www.nas.org.uk/nas/jsp/polopoly.jsp?d=1243. Accessed Sept 12, 2009.

How do I strengthen my immune system?

By Brooke Strickland

Do you want to strengthen your immune system, keeping it strong and able to fight off those nasty bacteria that creep around your homes and offices? We are constantly bombarded with germs that cause sickness and infection, so finding ways to keep your immune system healthy and strong is very important. To keep feeling and functioning your best, try some of these immune system boosting tips.

Eat right: No brainer, right? Instead of eating lots of fast food while you are on the go, try packing some healthy snacks to keep on hand to fight off those hunger pains. Try munching on fruits rich in Vitamin C or E, such as nuts, breads, fruits, or broccoli. For dinner, add in lots of fish, as it is high in omega-3 fatty acids.

Exercise: This is not just good for your immune system, it is good for your muscles and even emotional wellbeing! Doing aerobics, jogging, or even taking brisk walks on your lunch breaks or after work can be extremely beneficial to you, helping you help fight off infections or impending sickness.

Eliminate stress: Stressing out is taxing to your immune system. So try to eliminate unnecessary stressors in your life. Also, be sure to laugh! Laughter is truly one of the best medicines and can help decrease stress hormones in your body.

Rest up: If you are not getting enough sleep, your body is not functioning optimally. Studies have shown that sleep deprivation can lead to heart disease and other serious problems, so make sure to get at least six to eight hours of sleep a night as many nights as you possibly can during the week. Your brain will be quicker to respond and your body will likely not feel as tired.

Wash your hands: Washing your hands regularly will help clear off germs and other bacteria that you pick up throughout the day. So make sure to wash your hands often with warm, soapy water, patting dry with a clean towel.

So, here are the basics to help you get started in building up your immune system naturally, allowing you to live stronger and more energetically.

[1] Six Steps to Strengthen Your Immune System. Divine Caroline. Accessed on the Web November 24, 2009. http://www.divinecaroline.com/22178/58916-six-steps-strengthen-immune-system

[2] The Top 10 Immune Busters. Prevention.com. Accessed on the Web November 24, 2009. http://www.prevention.com/cda/article/the-top-10-immune-busters/770c7e643f803110VgnVCM10000013281eac____/health/healthy.lifestyle/creating.healthy.habits/0/0/3

How do I cope with an autism diagnosis?

Autism doesn't just affect the sufferer. The parents, siblings and other close family members can all be affected by the condition. Read on to find more about autism and how it can affect everyday family life and how you can cope.

The difficulties of autism

Autism can affect each suffer in a variety of different ways. The severity of the condition will affect the number of symptoms the sufferer experiences, which then determines how badly they are affected by their autism. Children and young people with the condition will often experience the following problems:

- Communicating with other will be problematic, and this can make it particularly hard for sufferers to have relationships with others. They are also likely to experience difficulties in understanding what others are saying or decoding facial expressions and gestures.

- A lack of imagination and trouble seeing things from the point of view of others.

- Obsessive behaviour and the inability to do things outside of their regular set routine.

How parents are affected by autism

Having a child at any age with autism can be incredibly stressful for parents. Children with the condition often demand a lot of attention, and depending on the severity level, certain measures may have to be made to accommodate the sufferer. Everyday tasks such as shopping and getting ready for school can take a lot longer, and may need forward planning.

In addition, younger sufferers may find it hard to express how they are feeling, or what the want or need. This makes it increasingly difficult for parents to cope and to know what's wrong when their child is crying. This is not only frustrating for the parent, but also for the child too. In many cases, this frustration leads to aggressive behaviour. Causing the sufferer to be aggressive towards their parents and themselves.

The obsessive tendencies associated with autism can make it difficult if parents break form their regular routines. This will often cause the sufferer to become agitated, and refuse the change. Many young children with autism my experience sleeping problems, and are unable to sit still for long periods, both of which can prove to be exhausting for parents and other family members.

Some parents admit that having a child with autism, can sometimes be embarrassing. These who are severely affected by the condition can not play appropriately with others. The inappropriate behaviour can also make social interaction and social situations difficult. Many parents who have autistic children are unable to work, due the constant care required. This often affects a families financial security, but can also add strain to marriages.

How the rest of the family can be affected

Autism is particularly hard for siblings to deal with. Younger siblings find autism difficult to understand and bonding can also be problematic. Siblings are likely to feel jealous of their autistic brother of sister, as they usually get far more attention. It is also likely that they will be embarrassed of their siblings condition and find it hard to cope with.

Help is at hand

A diagnosis for many parents comes as a relief, as it offers an explanation of their child's unusual set of behaviours. The diagnosis also offers parents access to the wide range the support available.

There are many support and parent groups out there that offer first hand advice on how to cope with autism. Although there is no known cure for autism, there are a number of treatments and therapies that can help parents and sufferers.

References -

1 - Current strategies for coping with autism – http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/special_reports/autism/autism.htm. Accessed Sept 11, 2009.

2 - Coping with autism – http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6988852. Accessed Sept 11, 2009.

3 - Coping with Autism – http://www.bbc.co.uk/leicester/content/articles/2008/01/30/autism_feature.shtml. Accessed Sept 11, 2009.

How do I lower my blood pressure?

By Brooke Strickland

A recent study showed that an artificial sweetener, called oligofructorse, has been shown to help people lose weight, as well as lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. [1] We are not suggesting that you start taking the sweetener though, if you are one that suffers from high cholesterol, blood pressure, or extra weight. There are lots of other ways to lower blood pressure. Follow some of these tips.

*Run, bike, lift weights, or swim!

*Incorporate lots of fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet.

*Decrease salt intake.

*Minimize alcohol intake.

*Make sure you get your cholesterol and blood pressure checked regularly. It is recommended that adults get their blood pressure checked at least once every two years, and if you have had high blood pressure in the past, it should be checked even more often than this.

*Vitamins are your friend! Potassium, magnesium, vitamin E supplements, as well as regularly taking a multi-vitamin will help ensure you are getting some of the basics that your body needs.

*Decrease caffeine. Too much of a good thing can increase hypertension and raise blood pressure.

*Smoking is off limits. Smoking poses numerous health risks, and high blood pressure is just one of the serious side effects of lighting up.

*Sleepy time is good for you. Going to bed at a regular time and getting enough sleep will help you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated, as well as decrease your risk for high blood pressure.

*Herbs! There are several herbs out there that have been shown to cut hypertension risk, including coleus forskohlii, chamomile, motherwort, basil, marjoram, thyme, oregano, rosemary, sage, tarragon, and dillweed.

*Try not to stress: Relaxation techniques are good to help relieve tension and stress.

Some of these natural tips can help decrease your chance of developing high blood pressure, but many times medicine and prescriptions are needed. Consult your doctor to see if lifestyle changes will be the right remedy for you.

[1] Sweetener may lower blood pressure. WebMD.com. Accessed on the Web November 29, 2009. http://www.webmd.com/hypertension-high-blood-pressure/news/20091120/sweetener-may-lower-blood-pressure

[2] Get down: 68 natural ways to lower blood pressure. Bnet.com. Accessed on the Web November 29. 2009. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0FKA/is_7_66/ai_n6080506/pg_2/?tag=content;col1