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Autism More Common Than Previously Thought: CDC Report Shows One in 54 Boys Identified
ScienceDaily (Mar. 29, 2012)
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1 in 88 children in the United States has been identified as having an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to a new study released March 29 that looked at data from 14 communities. Autism spectrum disorders are almost five times more common among boys than girls -- with 1 in 54 boys identified.
The number of children identified with ASDs ranged from 1 in 210 children in Alabama to 1 in 47 children in Utah. The largest increases were among Hispanic and black children.
The report, Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders -- Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, 14 Sites, United States, 2008, provides autism prevalence estimates from 14 areas. It was just published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
"This information paints a picture of the magnitude of the condition across our country and helps us understand how communities identify children with autism," said Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. "That is why HHS and our entire administration has been working hard to improve the lives of people living with autism spectrum disorders and their families by improving research, support, and services."
"One thing the data tells us with certainty -- there are more children and families that need help," said CDC Director Thomas Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. "We must continue to track autism spectrum disorders because this is the information communities need to guide improvements in services to help children."
Zachary Warren, Ph.D., director of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center's Treatment and Research Institute for Autism Spectrum Disorders at Vanderbilt University, says effective early identification and treatment of autism is a public health emergency.
"The new CDC data is the best evidence we have to date that autism is a very common disorder. While recent estimates have varied, we have always known the individual, familial, educational and societal costs that go along with autism are tremendous," Warren said. "We are now seeing autism in more than 1 percent of the population, which highlights how challenging it will be for systems of care to meet service needs."
The results of CDC's study highlight the importance of the Obama administration's efforts to address the needs of people with ASDs, including the work of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The IACC's charge is to facilitate ASD research, screening, intervention, and education. As part of this effort, the National Institutes of Health has invested in research to identify possible risk factors and effective therapies for people with ASDs.
Study results from the 2008 surveillance year show 11.3 per 1,000 8-year-old children have been identified as having an ASD. This marks a 23 percent increase since the last report in 2009. Some of this increase is due to the way children are identified, diagnosed and served in their communities, although exactly how much is due to these factors is unknown. "To understand more, we need to keep accelerating our research into risk factors and causes of autism spectrum disorders," said Coleen Boyle, Ph.D., M.S.Hyg., director of CDC's National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities.
The study also shows more children are being diagnosed by age 3, an increase from 12 percent for children born in 1994 to 18 percent for children born in 2000. "Unfortunately, 40 percent of the children in this study aren't getting a diagnosis until after age 4. We are working hard to change that," said Boyle.
Reference: Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders -- Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, 14 Sites, United States, 2008 March 30, 2012 / Vol. 61 / No. SS-3
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Autism more common than previously thought: CDC report shows one in 54 boys identified." ScienceDaily, 29 Mar. 2012. Web. 3 Apr. 2012.
Gluten Free & Vegan Recipe: Chai Carrot Pear Muffins
- 1 cup Gluten Free Oat Flour or Quinoa Flour
- 1 cup blanched Almond Flour
- 3/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
- 3/4 teaspoon fine Sea Salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground Cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
- 1 cup Chai Carrot Pear Sauce (see below)
- 1 cup light Unsweetened Coconut Milk
- 2 tablespoons unrefined Coconut Oil, melted
- 1 teaspoon Almond or Vanilla Extract
- 3-4 droppers full of Vanilla Stevia Drops Adjust to taste
- 1 large Carrot, peeled and finely shredded
Chai Carrot Pear Sauce:
- 6 ripe Pears, cut into chunky pieces (I like D'Anjou and Bartlett)
- 1 cup chopped Carrots
- 1/2 freshly squeezed Lemon Juice or 1 tablespoon
- splash of Water
- a few pinches of ground Cardamom, Black Pepper, Cinnamon, Ginger - adjust to taste
- a pinch of fine Sea Salt
- natural Sweetener if desired (pears may be ripe enough so no sweetener may be needed)
- Your favorite nuts
- unsweetened Coconut Flake
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F with the rack in the middle. Prepare standard sized muffin tins with liners or cooking spray. Whisk together dry ingredients in a bowl. Stir together wet ingredients in a separate bowl. Combine the wet and dry ingredients, stirring well. Fold in the shredded carrots last. Adjust spices and sweetness if desired.
- Fill muffin cups evenly with batter. Top with pistachios or other nuts if desired. Bake for 26-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out virtually crumb free.
- Enjoy with whipped cream, thick yogurt and/or coconut flake.
- You can also use homemade or store bought pear or applesauce in this recipe. The spices add the chai flavor.
by Marla on December 27, 2011
The Ten Habits of
Highly Effective Brains
by Alvaro Fernandez
Let’s review some good lifestyle options we can follow to maintain, and improve, our vibrant brains.
Learn what is the “It” in “Use It or Lose It”. A basic understanding will serve you well to appreciate your brain’s beauty as a living and constantly-developing dense forest with billions of neurons and synapses.
- Take care of your nutrition. Did you know that the brain only weighs 2% of body mass but consumes over 20% of the oxygen and nutrients we intake? As a general rule, you don’t need expensive ultra-sophisticated nutritional supplements, just make sure you don’t stuff yourself with the “bad stuff”.
- Remember that the brain is part of the body. Things that exercise your body can also help sharpen your brain: physical exercise enhances neurogenesis.
- Practice positive, future-oriented thoughts until they become your default mindset and you look forward to every new day in a constructive way. Stress and anxiety, no matter whether induced by external events or by your own thoughts, actually kills neurons and prevent the creation of new ones. You can think of chronic stress as the opposite of exercise: it prevents the creation of new neurons.
- Thrive on Learning and Mental Challenges. The point of having a brain is precisely to learn and to adapt to challenging new environments. Once new neurons appear in your brain, where they stay in your brain and how long they survive depends on how you use them. “Use It or Lose It” does not mean “do crossword puzzle number 1,234,567″. It means, “challenge your brain often with fundamentally new activities”.
- We are (as far as we know) the only self-directed organisms in this planet. Aim high. Once you graduate from college, keep learning. The brain keeps developing, no matter your age, and it reflects what you do with it.
- Explore, travel. Adapting to new locations forces you to pay more attention to your environment. Make new decisions, use your brain.
- Don’t Outsource Your Brain. Not to media personalities, not to politicians, not to your smart neighbour… Make your own decisions, and mistakes. And learn from them. That way, you are training your brain, not your neighbour’s.
- Develop and maintain stimulating friendships. We are “social animals”, and need social interaction. Which, by the way, is why ‘Baby Einstein’ has been shown not to be the panacea for children development.
- Laugh. Often. Especially to cognitively complex humor, full of twists and surprises. Better, try to become the next Jon Stewart.
Now, remember that what counts is not reading this article-or any other-, but practicing a bit every day until small steps snowball into unstoppable, internalized habits…so, pick your next battle and try to start improving at least one of these 10 habits today. Revisit the habit above that really grabbed your attention, click on the link to learn more, and make a decision to try something different today!
It is Not Only Cars That Deserve Good Maintenance:
Brain Care 101
by Alvaro Fernandez
Last week, the US Car Care Council released a list of tips on how to take care of your car and “save big money at the pump in 2008.”
You may not have paid much attention to this announcement. Yes, it’s important to save gas these days; but, it’s not big news that good maintenance habits will improve the performance of a car, and extend its life.
If we can all agree on the importance of maintaining our cars that get us around town, what about maintaining our brains sitting behind the wheel?
A spate of recent news coverage on brain fitness and “brain training” has missed an important constituency: younger people. Recent advancements in brain science have as tremendous implications for teenagers and adults of all ages as they do for seniors.
In a recent conversation with neuroscientist Yaakov Stern of Columbia University, he related how surprised he was when, years ago, a reporter from Seventeen magazine requested an interview. The reporter told Dr. Stern that he wanted to write an article to motivate kids to stay in school and not to drop out, in order to start building their Cognitive Reserve early and age more gracefully.
What is the Cognitive Reserve?
Emerging research since the 90s from the past decade shows that individuals who lead mentally stimulating lives, through their education, their jobs, and also their hobbies, build a “Cognitive Reserve” in their brains. Only a few weeks ago another study reinforced the value of intellectualy demanding jobs.
Stimulating the brain can literally generate new neurons and strengthen their connections which results in better brain performance and in having a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s symptoms. Studies suggest that people who exercise their mental muscles throughout their lives have a 35–40% less risk of manifesting Alzheimer’s.
As astounding as these insights may be, most Americans still devote more time to changing the oil, taking a car to a mechanic, or washing it, than thinking about how to maintain, if not improve, their brain performance.
Further, better brain scanning techniques like fMRI (glossary) are allowing scientists to investigate healthy live brains for the first time in history. Two of the most important findings from this research are that our brains are plastic (meaning they not only create new neurons but also can change their structure) throughout a lifetime and that frontal lobes are the most plastic area. Frontal lobes, the part of our brains right behind the forehead, controls “executive functions” — which determine our ability to pay attention, plan for the future and direct behavior toward achieving goals. They are critical for adapting to new situations. We exercise them best by learning and mastering new skills.
This part of the brain is delicate: our frontal lobes wait until our mid to late 20s to fully mature. They are also the first part of our brain to start to decline, usually by middle age.
In my view, not enough young and middle-aged people are benefiting from this emerging research, since it has been perceived as something “for seniors.” Granted, there are still many unknowns in the world of brain fitness and cognitive training, we need more research, better assessments and tools. But, this does not mean we cannot start caring for our brains today.
Recent studies have shown a tremendous variability in how well people age and how, to a large extent, our actions influence our rate of brain improvement and/or decline. The earlier we begin the better. And it is never too late.
What can we do to maintain our brain, especially the frontal lobes? Focus on four pillars of brain health: physical exercise, a balanced diet, stress management, and brain exercise. Stress management is important since stress has been shown to actually kill neurons and reduce the rate of creation of new ones. Brain exercises range from low-tech (i.e. meditation, mastering new complex skills, lifelong learning and engagement) to high-tech (i.e. using the growing number of brain fitness software programs).
I know, this is starting to sound like those lists we all know are good for us but we actually don’t do. Let me make it easier by proposing a new New Year Resolution: every time you wash your car or have it washed, ask yourself, “What have I done lately to maintain my brain?”
SIRRI offers these services for both children & adults:
- Neurofeedback & Biofeedback
- qEEG / Brain Mapping
- Cognitive Retraining: memory, processing & problem solving skills
- Attention, Concentration & Focus Training
- Auditory & Visual Processing
- Reading Development: fluency & comprehension
- Balance, Coordination & Motor Planning Development
- Stress & Anxiety Management
- IEP Advocacy
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