Autism diagnosed, treated in babies

first_img Eyes are special Tamie Day noticed the first ominous clue the night she and her husband, Chris, brought Jacob home after his birth. “We walked in the door, and he wouldn’t stop looking at our ceiling fan,” she said. “The next day, that’s all he would look at.” Babies typically begin making eye contact soon after birth and “understand at a basic, perhaps hardwired level, that eyes are special – they look more at eyes than at other parts of the face,” said Sally Ozonoff, an autism specialist at the University of California, Davis, Institute for Medical Investigation of Neurodevelopmental Disorders. When his mother expressed her autism concerns at Jacob’s six-month checkup, the doctor said “we were being a little overzealous,” Day said. Still, there was no pointing, no clapping, no shared smiling, and when Jacob would laugh, it was like his own private joke. So his parents sought out UC Davis specialists, who gave them the heartbreaking diagnosis. Jacob, now 31/2, has made meaningful progress thanks to treatment, his mother said, including a breakthrough moment at age2. It still makes her cry to recall it. She was giving Jacob a bath, playing the “itsy bitsy spider” finger game, when he looked up and really gazed into her eyes. “He was smiling up at me, and I realized that was the first time he had done that,” she said. “He has gorgeous blue eyes, and I was like, `My God, your eyes are so beautiful.”‘ Earlier diagnosis Interest in infant mental health has been boosted by awareness of the prevalence of attention deficit disorders and autism, which government officials said in February affects 1 in 150 U.S. children and may be more common than previously thought. In April, researchers from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Interdisciplinary Council on Developmental and Learning Disorders presented a report emphasizing earlier diagnosis and treatment. The report said that about 17percent of U.S. children have a developmental disability such as autism, mental retardation and attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder, but that fewer than half are diagnosed before starting school. The authors say warning signs include failure to: Focus on sights and sounds by 2months. Initiate joyful behavior with parents by 4months. Exchange smiles and sounds with parents by 8 to 9months. Take a parent’s hand to find a toy and point to objects by 12 to 16months. Last year, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that pediatricians routinely evaluate children for developmental problems such as autism starting in infancy, and begin testing at age 9months. “Waiting until a young child misses a major milestone such as walking or talking may result in late rather than early recognition … depriving the child and family of the benefits of early identification and intervention,” the academy said. Some critics worry that the trend will trigger needless diagnoses in children with normal variations in behavior. Dr. Michael Fitzpatrick, a London physician, said that while early recognition and treatment of true disorders are important, “the extension of these categories to include 20 to 30percent of all children reflects a social trend of pathologizing and medicalizing children’s lives, which seems to reflect difficulties of parents and teachers in dealing with familiar problems of childhood development.” Dr. Stanley Greenspan, a psychiatry professor at George Washington University who co-wrote the CDC-Interdisciplinary group report, said the idea is not to slap a label on babies and give them medication. Greenspan said the goal is to raise awareness about early warning signs and to encourage treatment to increase the chances that children can develop normally. Research on identifying early clues and testing treatments is booming. For example: Dr. Fred Volkmar at Yale University is studying potential ways to diagnose autism in the first months of life, including whether looking at objects rather than people is a sign. “I think we’re on the verge of being able to do a much better job” of diagnosing autism in infancy, Volkmar said. Researcher Stephen Porges at the University of Illinois at Chicago is starting a five-year study of whether excessive crying past 6months of age might be an early sign of autism, attention deficit or other behavior problems. Greenspan is launching a multimillion-dollar study involving parents and babies at risk for autism or attention deficit disorder. One group will receive intensive behavior training, the other will not; both will be compared through age5. While rigorous scientific evidence is needed to prove that early intervention succeeds, Greenspan said his work with patients has shown promise. Intensive treatment Jacob didn’t say his first word, “more,” until he was in treatment and almost 2 – about a year later than normal. He didn’t say “mama” until he was 3. He gets 33 hours of weekly home treatment with trained college students, including six hours most days. The tab is $70,000 yearly, paid for by California, one of the few states that pay, through state and federal funds, for early intensive autism treatment. Jacob’s sessions involve lots of repetition, and rewards, including praise and treats, for a job well done. For example, to improve eye contact, teachers bounce him on a favorite giant ball, then stop. If he turns to look at them, he gets praise, maybe a piece of candy, and more bouncing. To teach language, they use activities such as swinging that get him excited enough to make sounds, then offer rewards for sounds such as vowels or consonants rather than humming. Then they name objects, encourage mimicking, and offer more rewards. Now he knows the alphabet, understands commands such as, “Bring me the cow and the horse toy,” and can say simple sentences such as “I want juice,” his mother said. “We definitely hope to mainstream him. We hope that he will have a job and have a life where he can take care of himself and be happy,” Day said. “Everyone has given us reason to believe that’s not an outlandish expectation.”160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! CHICAGO – Within days of their birth, healthy babies will look you in the eye. By 4months, they will delight in others. And by 9months, they will exchange smiles. Jacob Day did none of those things. “We used to say it was like it burned his eyes to look at you,” said his mother, Tamie Day of Antelope, Calif., near Sacramento. “It was like a physically painful thing for him. It wasn’t just that he wasn’t looking at us; he was purposefully looking away.” Day, who has a psychology degree, suspected her son might have autism. She enrolled him in a study, published in April, that found that babies like Jacob are indeed at high risk for autism if they do not respond to their names by 12months of age. At 18 months, he was formally diagnosed with autism, about a year earlier than usual. Before he turned 2, Jacob began daily intensive behavior treatment designed to help him lead a more normal life. He is part of a growing field in psychiatry called infant mental health. Doctors and scientists are increasingly looking for early signs in babies of autism, attention deficit disorder and other mental problems that just a generation ago, scarcely anyone thought could appear in children so young. Some scientists even believe that intensive treatment in some susceptible babies can actually prevent autism, attention deficit disorder and other problems. An influential Institute of Medicine report in 2000 helped energize this idea. The report emphasized the plasticity of babies’ brains. It also explained how interacting with babies can change their brain wiring. “We used to say `nature versus nurture,’ but now people really think it’s `nature through nurture,”‘ the University of Chicago’s Dr. Lawrence Gray said. last_img
"Autism diagnosed, treated in babies"

Rice political scientist available to discuss May 27 Texas primary runoff election

first_imgShare Rice UniversityOffice of Public Affairs / News & Media RelationsEXPERT ALERTDavid [email protected] [email protected] Rice political scientist available to discuss May 27 Texas primary runoff electionHOUSTON – (May 20, 2014) – As the Texas primary runoff election approaches, Rice political scientist Mark Jones is available to comment on four major statewide races up for a vote May 27.The lieutenant governor’s race pits current officeholder David Dewhurst against Texas state Sen. Dan Patrick.“Dan Patrick is expected to win the GOP nomination for lieutenant governor, and with the Republican label next to his name will be extremely well-positioned to defeat Democratic nominee Leticia Van de Putte in November,” said Jones, chair of Rice’s Political Science Department and a fellow at Rice’s Baker Institute for Public Policy.Jones noted that Patrick victories in May and November combined with the arrival of a half-dozen new Republican senators would push the Texas Senate further to the right in 2015.The attorney general race between Texas state Rep. Dan Branch and Texas state Sen. Ken Paxton provides “a good test of whether being the most conservative candidate trumps candidate qualifications as well as questionable past behavior by a candidate,” Jones said.“If Paxton wins, the lesson will be that the key to winning the Republican Primary is having the most conservative record and rhetoric, pure and simple,” Jones said. “If Branch wins, the lesson will be that Republican primary voters will not blindly support the most conservative candidate if they have doubts about his/her qualifications and ethics.”Jones said that primary runoffs for agriculture commissioner include Republicans and former Texas state Reps. Tommy Merritt and Sid Miller and Democrats Kinky Friedman and Robert Hogan.“Friedman, whose platform focuses almost exclusively on marijuana legalization, could create headaches for the Democratic ticket in the fall,” Jones said. “And Hogan has declined to actively campaign.”In the contest for the Republican Party’s nominee for railroad commissioner, voters will chose between former Rep. Wayne Christian and Ryan Sitton.“Christian is a candidate with a proven conservative record but relatively limited experience in the energy industry,” Jones said. “Sitton lacks a legislative record but possesses a tremendous amount of experience working in the energy industry.”Jones noted that some political insiders see Sitton’s energy industry experience as a plus, while others see it as a negative, due to potential conflicts of interest related to his continued ownership of a company active in the same industry he will be tasked with regulating.Jones is a leading expert on Texas politics and has been quoted nationally about the 2014 race for Texas governor and other down-ballot races. He has also authored guest columns on these topics in Texas Monthly and the Texas Tribune.Rice University has a VideoLink ReadyCam TV interview studio. ReadyCam is capable of transmitting broadcast-quality standard-definition and high-definition video directly to all news media organizations around the world 24/7.For more information or to schedule an interview, contact Mark Jones at 832-466-6535.-30-Follow Rice News and Media Relations on Twitter @RiceUNews.Mark Jones bio: http://bakerinstitute.org/experts/mark-p-jones/Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation’s top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 3,920 undergraduates and 2,567 graduate students, Rice’s undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is 6.3-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice has been ranked No. 1 for best quality of life multiple times by the Princeton Review and No. 2 for “best value” among private universities by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. To read “What they’re saying about Rice,” go here.Rice University, Public Affairs – MS300 6100 Main Street, Houston, TX 77005-1827 United Statescenter_img AddThislast_img read more

"Rice political scientist available to discuss May 27 Texas primary runoff election"