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Sample Article From Our New Video On Autism

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AUTISM

And behavior problems on the vast spectrum of autism such as
elective mutism, oppositional behavior, tantrums and ADD/ADDH

NEUROLOGICAL RESEARCH AND NEURO-DEVELOPMENTAL THERAPY

A Video By Svea Gold

Fern Ridge Press -- Eugene, Oregon -- www.fernridgepress.com

I N T R O D U C T I O N

It is obviously impossible to cover in a single hour all the ways of treating autism and autism-like behavior. Nevertheless, it is important to present these techniques, because they did not evolve specifically from a study of autistic children and would therefore not be found elsewhere in the literature on autism. It was the success of these methods - gathered from years of research and advice of others who work in the field of neurological development - that led me to apply them specifically to children who had been labeled autistic.

The knowledge came out of my work with juvenile delinquents. For two years I worked with children aged ten to eighteen -- hands-on -- in a developmental program. Five days a week about thirty minutes were spent with each child. These would have been the throw-away children, except for Alen Bell, their probation officer, who simply would not give up on them. And so I saw them change, some times from day to day, more often from week to week. Their behavior ranged from complete withdrawal to violent temper tantrums, their academic skills from that of a five-year-old to near genius quality. In other words, they covered almost the whole spectrum of what is also seen in autism. At least four of them would definitely have fallen into the "low functioning" definition. It was not until I had seen them succeed that I started to use the methods with children who had been diagnosed as autistic by other experts.

Because nothing in the brain works without having an impact on every other part of the brain, the therapy suggested is aimed at stimulating all the different systems that interact with each other. We do not know exactly what connections were not made, or what information does not go into the brain. To cover all possibilities we give the brain a chance to receive the missing information by going back to movements made before birth and after birth. This is done in the hope of creating new connections. There is even a chance of coaxing stem cells, which research has shown to exist even in the adult brain, to take over the functions of cells which for some reason or other, did not reach the area that natural development intended them to find.

Research with PET scans and MRIs of autistic children has pinpointed problem areas in the cerebellum, in the thalamus, in the parietal cortex and the prefrontal cortex. The question in each case is this: why, if the rest of the brain is normal, are these areas affected?

Dr. Patricia Rodier, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology with a postdoctoral specialty in embryology, performed autopsies on the brains of former adult autistics. According to her article in Scientific American (February, 2000), she consistently found an area in the brainstem that apparently was affected by damage from toxicity during the prenatal period. She noticed the similarity to the damage caused by Thalidomide. In the same article there is an insert, which reports that autistic children are unable to let go of a stimulus and go back to another target.

Michael I. Posner, reports that people who have damage in the pulvinar have this same inability to move easily from one target to another. The pulvinar is part of the thalamus. Seen from yet another angle, Dr. Norman Geschwind stated that if there is damage in the cortex, there would also be retrograde damage in the pulvinar. Abnormalities in that area can, therefore, be caused by damage from prenatal causes, by damage caused by fevers in early childhood, trauma at childbirth, possibly by a stroke or even a bad reaction to an immunization procedure.

Michael I. Posner also correlates damage in the pulvinar with problems in the parietal cortex. The parietal cortex is specifically involved in the brain´s awareness of our bodies. In other words, the neural connections in that part of the brain allow us to know what we would call our "ego" or our "self". Kenshoe is the Zen name for a flash of insight into a different reality of life. James H. Austin -- in Zen and the Brain -- describes this as a moment in which all sense of self as we normally experience it, is lost. He states that to achieve this feeling, the parietal cortex and the prefrontal cortex need to be put out of commission. It is therefore easy to theorize that people with autism or even with ADD, who according to Posner have problems in these areas, constantly experience this loss of self. Unfortunately they cannot tell us what is wrong, because they have never known their world to be any other way.

I have found that most of the children I have seen who have ADD have no idea where their body is when they are quiet. To know they exist, they have to move because it is only through their muscles that their brain is aware of their reality in space. Once we have created this awareness of their body - thus reprogramming the thalamus - they invariably calm down.

Patricia Rodier´s findings of damage during the prenatal period are completely in line with Sally Goddard´s work on the impact of a retained fear paralysis reflex and its impact on autism and autism-like conditions such as elective mutism. I have found vestiges of various strengths of this reflex in many children and have been able to achieve desensitization as part of the program.

The tendency of the public, and sadly some professionals also, is to think that the brain regulates everything in our functioning. The brain, however, relies almost entirely on its function on the information received through the body and the senses. Neither can exist without the other. To make changes in the structure of the brain, we then have access through all the sense organs: eyes, ears, nose, tongue, skin and the proprioceptive receptors of the muscles. To stimulate just one of the senses is at best inefficient. None of them function in isolation, but act rather like vectors, or the light sources in a hologram.

Put a pebble in your shoe and see how it affects everything in your whole body. Pick up the water kettle from the stove. You judge how much water is in it by its weight and the noise it makes when you shake the kettle. You don´t have to open the lid. Awareness of these interactions allows us to translate neurological research into clinical work with children.

Because we can exchange the use of senses to get our information, it is often very difficult to evaluate a child to find what is not connecting. If a child is hypersensitive to sound, there may not be an abnormality in the auditory system: look for problems in vision. The hearing might be super-acute because the child does not rely on the eyes for information. On the other hand, if there is a problem in the child´s brainstem, the stapedius reflex might never have developed to protect the child from sudden or too much noise and the child becomes hypersensitive to sound.

Thus, to judge a child by just one or two symptoms does not give an accurate picture.

Children who are nearsighted are often so because they lack a head-righting reflex. If their head posture does not adjust to remain upright as they move their body, they may stop paying attention to distant objects, because these tend to move for them when the eyes focus on a near object. Then to put glasses on the child, will only make matters worse. The control lies in the brainstem!

Children are often given glasses to straighten the eyes. The eyes are not working together because of missed connections in the brain -- again -- the control often lies with nerves interacting in the brainstem. That is the area at which therapy needs to be aimed, and gratefully developmental optometrists are beginning to address this problem. Another challenge we face in attempting to help children, is that each expert uses a different language. Sally Goddard and Peter Blythe at the Institute for Neuro-Psychological Psychology, talk in terms of reflexes. These are wonderful indicators as to what area of the nervous system needs recapitulation. They are doing much of what I advocate, except that I talk in terms of nerves or brain areas instead of retained or non-existing reflexes. (Nevertheless, I am always fully aware of their existence as guideposts as to what needs to be done.) Neuro-developmental therapists talk about making new connections, while teachers would talk about learning.

Viewers of this tape must then translate the information given here into their own language and interpret for themselves what is happening here. They will need to include into their own methods whatever is relevant to them and adjust these methods according to their own personal experience and their own personality.

While in an effort to reach every part of the brain the same methods are used with every child, this is not a "one size fits all" program. It is constantly adjusted to the needs of the child and new movements or stimulation is added as the child progresses.

The main danger in treating autism is that we have so many preconceived ideas about this condition that the children are judged by this label rather than by what is actually interfering with their successful functioning.

While there is no way we can judge just how much we will be able help autistic individuals, we can definitely help them and, in turn, they will teach us.

SOME SUGGESTED READING :

Austin, James H., Zen and the Brain. The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 1998

Brown, Thomas S. and Patricia Wallace Physiological Psychology, Academic Press,. New York, 1980

Delacato, Carl H., The Ultimate Stranger, The Autistic Child. Academic Therapy Publications, Novato, CA, 1974

Goddard, Sally, Reflexes, Learning and Behavior - A Window Into The Child´s Mind Fern Ridge Press, Eugene, OR, 2002

Gold, Svea, If Kids Just Came with Instruction Sheets!! Fern Ridge Press, Eugene, OR, 1997

Kandel, Eric, et.al., Principles of Neural Science. Third edition. Appleton and Lange, East Norwalk, CT, 1991

Posner, Michael I. and Marcus E. Raichle, Images of Mind. Scientific American Library, New York, 1994


RELATED BOOK: Reflexes, Learning and Behavior - A Window Into The Child´s Mind by Sally Goddard, $24.95

But a problem is not a problem if you can fix it - whether we are raising our children or helping those of the global village. This book deals with connections, not just single answers. Whether we are exploring behavior problems, learning disabilities, attention problems, delinquency or drug use, rarely does just one remedy apply. Neither do all remedies apply to every child. Even if only one of the many approaches suggested in this book helps only one child in a hundred, and that happens to be your child, or a child in your acquaintence, this may be the most important book you ever read.

RELATED BOOK: If Kids Just Came With Instruction Sheets!! by Svea Gold, $15.95

But a problem is not a problem if you can fix it - whether we are raising our children or helping those of the global village. This book deals with connections, not just single answers. Whether we are exploring behavior problems, learning disabilities, attention problems, delinquency or drug use, rarely does just one remedy apply. Neither do all remedies apply to every child. Even if only one of the many approaches suggested in this book helps only one child in a hundred, and that happens to be your child, or a child in your acquaintence, this may be the most important book you ever read.

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