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Living with Autism

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March 20, 2011

Healthy Foods for Autism and Epilepsy

  1. Avocados.  High in vitamin C, E, K, Folic Acid, Niacin and Glutathione, a powerful antioxidant that blocks carcinogens and promotes eye health (important if taking anti-seizure medications that mess with vision). High monounsaturated fat profile helps lower cholesterol (good for people who gain weight while taking anti-psychotic or seizure meds). Naturally eaten raw, so if there’s an issue with  raw food obsession, avocados are a happy choice. www.fallbrookavocadocompany.com/


  1. Bananas. High in potassium. Possess anti-ulcer activity (sounds like a superhero power). A banana a day could keep stomach pain away, say some studies. Ever notice how studies involving fruit, are often done by researchers in countries like India, Poland or Brazil? And if the study is done in America, the lead researcher often has a brain teaser name, like Xiangija or Boxin Ou? That’s why I like to read names like Dr. H. K. Lin. Now this guy is smart. He keeps it simple. When you’re reading 5-7 hours of research, simple becomes your fantasy. Anyway, protective skin allows for low pesticide residue, so you don’t have to shell out your last dime to buy organic. Bananas are another great food typically eaten raw. Here’s a banana bread recipe link: http://oldrecipebook.com/bananabread.shtml

  1. Carrots. Cooking carrots increases nutritional profile (raises carotenoid benefits). I know, it’s unusual for a vegetable, but why argue. Carrots may reduce risk of developing eye diseases. Provide anti-cancer activity. They’re also a great sensory therapy food, for autistic children or adults who enjoy the crunch. (Be aware of choking hazard) www.wildcarrotfarm.com/

  1. Dates. Good food choice for sensory therapies involving chewy foods. Consuming dates linked to lower rates of pancreatic cancer (to consume dates brings to mind devouring, so maybe it’s the volume of dates eaten).  For constipation issues: Dates have a Natural laxative effect.  Health food stores sell a variety of date packed bars. They’re handy. Easy to keep in glove box of car, for that help- me-find-food-NOW--so-my-autistic son-stops-punching his head- in-the-backseat-while-I’m-driving-moment, though I hope you’ve not had this moment, and I hope you never will.  www.larabar.com/

  1. Eggs. High in protein, vitamins A, B-12, D, folic acid and Riboflavin. If you can, buy organic, cage free eggs. If you can’t afford or find organic, cage free, it’s not the end of civilization. The most important thing about eggs is eat the yolks. It doesn’t matter how many a day, since from the time Adam and Eve witnessed the first chicken, the yolk has possessed LECITHIN, which is a natural fat emulsifier. Egg yolks are also packed with CHOLINE, an essential brain nutrient. www.egglandsbest.com/


  1. Fish: Sardines and Salmon lowest in mercury. High in Vitamin D. People taking seizure medications typically have lower levels of Vitamin D3. Wild Alaskan Salmon best quality. Fish oil known anti-inflammatory agent. May help soothe symptoms of migraines, colitis, osteoarthritis and asthma.  Safe adjunct to seizure medical management. Avoid sardines if taking Topamax,. Sardines high in oxalates, which may promote kidney stones (a side effect of taking Topamax is kidney stones). Where to find quality sardines: www.wildplanetfoods.com/store/products

  1. Honey.  May help insomnia. Mix honey with organic ginger (spice) and you’ve got yourself a simple homemade respiratory treatment. Honey from New Zealand has Methylglyoxal , a known antibacterial agent. Some professionals use Manuka honey to treat Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection. Read Associated Press Story here: http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/629879/clinical_studies_show_honey_kills_mrsa.html  Where to buy Manuka Honey. www.ysorganic.com/honey.html

  1. Pineapple: Anti-inflammatory agent. Aids digestion. May help protect autistics who suffer from chronic self-injurious behavior to recover quicker from injuries. Anti-viral and Anti-bacterial agent. Where to find more on pineapples: http://eolimai.tripod.com/pineapple.html

  1. Sweet potatoes. One of few vegetables low in pesticide residue. High in vitamin A, C and B6. B6 known to aid those with seizures and autism. Like carrots, they don’t lose much nutritional value when cooked. You can buy them in cans. Or boil or fry them. Best cake I ever had was a purple yam cake called UBE-Macapuno. You may find one at a Filipino bakery. Where to find more about sweet potatoes: www.sweetpotatousa.org/links.htm

  1. Yogurt. Plain whole milk version creamiest and best tasting. Use as substitute for sour cream. Boosts immune function. Anti-fungal and anti-cancer properties. Daily consumption helps keep breath fresh (provided you keep flossing and brushing—for goodness sakes don’t exchange a tooth brush for Yoplait). High calcium and vitamin D content fights bone problems, such as osteoporosis. Not all yogurts are healthy choices. See Best and Worst Yogurt Review: here: http://www.goodguide.com/categories/282989-yogurt.

March 19, 2011

About Autism and Self-injurious Behavior

·         A 1991 National Institute of Health Consensus estimated 200,000 Americans with autism and other developmental disabilities suffer from severe, chronic self-injurious behaviors.

·         In 2002, California Department of Disabilities (DDS) reported there are 19,901 “self-injurious clients” in the state of California!!!  Hello! Didn't this sound the alarm bells? Didn't this immediately call for FUNDING for autism research into the causes and treatment for self injurious behavior in autism???

·         Annual cost of care to treat serious behavioral issues in developmentally-disabled is approximately $3 BILLION dollars. WHERE is this money going? Is it going to directly help the disabled? Or is it being spent to seminars, symposiums and in-house training, when realistically, these thing have nothing to do with directly helping the severely disabled clients these California Regional Centers serve. In fact, we find California's Regional Centers taking more and more parents to "Fair Hearings" when the parents fight for the child's right, under Lanterman Act, to get the services and supports they need. One would think a Regional center would support the parent's advocacy, right? Given the regional centers LIE to the media and public about what they do, right? Yep. Yes indeed, the media, 99.9% have NO CLUE how corrupt and compromised the regional centers are.


·         Providing In-Home-Health- Support-Services, and—even in more severe cases—state-funded home health care nursing services, dramatically REDUCES COST of care to society
·         Autistic individuals requiring 2:1 staffing, 24-hour protective supervision and complex medical and behavioral care, can cost taxpayers over 1 MILLION dollars a year when individual resides in state institution (often only place that will take them) compared to $75-000- $140,000 if living AT HOME with family members, and provided 24 hour, 1:1 LVN (licensed vocational nursing) or CHHA (certified home health aide) supports
·         Autistic persons suffering from chronic SIB are often behaviorally and neurologically fragile individuals
·         It is unknown how many autistics with chronic, treatment resistant SIB have ever been cured of this devastating behavior
·         SIB , it is rooted in, but not limited to, a complex mix of dopamine and serotonin dysfunction, hyper-arousal, communication deficits, hyper-or hypo sensitivity to pain, underlying acute or chronic medical issues, neurological dysfunction, nutritional imbalances, neurotransmitter dysfunction
·         Protective gear used to protect person from severe bodily injury includes, but is not limited to, boxing helmets, medically-prescribed temporary restraints, protective mitts, elbow and knee pads, hockey and football gear, face guards, gloves and the forever controversial skin-shock therapy

·          Antecedents to severe SIB are often multiple and can fluctuate daily. Sometimes the only reasonable sane solution is to provide 1:1 or 2:1 supports to protect the autistic person from self-harm. A right as per Lanterman Act. WIC CODE 4502. 
·         Behavioral analysis includes examining medical, behavioral and environmental issues and interviewing caregivers and relatives who share observations and ideas
·         Pro-active supports, include, but are not limited to, providing properly trained staff, exercise, diet, nutritional support, improving sleep patterns, health, comfort, physical protection, complex case management, swift interventions, are critical to treating self-injurious behaviors
·         No single cause is linked to the behavior (multiple antecedents)
·         No conventional drugs, outside of complete sedation, are known to completely halt severe, chronic self-injurious behavior
·         Drugs that block or activate one or more neurotransmitters involved in SIB seem critical in effective management and treatment of SIB
·         Drugs antagonizing D1-dopamine receptors, but not D2 receptors, have shown some success in treating certain individuals with chronic SIB
·         Might defects in D2 and D4 receptors be linked to SIB?
·         Elevated D1 and D4 receptors increases dopamine in prefrontal cortex and as such, may increase cognition
·         Drugs that block D2 and 5HT 2 receptors (ie…zyprexa) may reduce SIB
·         5-HT receptors can interact with dopamine receptors to reduce SIB, which illuminates SIB rooted in specific interactions of neurotransmitter systems in brain. (i.e...increasing serotonin in brain can mitigate debilitating affects of dopamine depletion. Depleted dopamine systems implicated in SIB.)
·         Might autistics with epilepsy have dysregulation of 5 HT1A  function?
·         5HT receptors influence sleep-wake cycles
·         5HT1A receptors affect impulsivity, addiction, anxiety, blood pressure, memory, mood, respiration, sleep, social skills, and nausea
·         5-HT 2a, 5HT 2c, 5HT 3, 5HT 6 and 5HT7 function would seem reasonable target receptors to further explore in treating chronic SIB in autistics
·         Autistics with SIB often have paradoxical or unusual reactions to pharmaceutical drugs. Given complex interactions of neurotransmitters, synthetic pharmacological agents, unreliability of generic versions of drugs, counterproductive side effects of drugs, and the hyper-sensitive function of autistic brains, this shouldn’t come as surprise.
·         Self-injury among people with autism tends to occur during, but not limited to, transition times, expectations (expects to go to school, but it’s vacation time), disruptions in routine (hospital visits), sudden loud noises, unfamiliar settings, hunger, thirst, abrupt changes in food preferences, likes and dislikes, frustration over demands (time to get dressed), discomfort (blisters, headache), sensory issues (bright lights, scratchy clothes), pain, boredom, sleepiness and overexcitement, illuminating, but not limited to, neurochemical dysregulation, impulse control, obsessive compulsive disorder and hyper-sensitivity of dopamine receptors induced by unique way some autistic persons view, what may very well be, an aversive world around them.
·         In cases where SIB fueled by multiple, fluctuating antecedents, and which multiple treatments and behavioral interventions have repeatedly failed, and self-inflicted bodily injury progresses , it is indicated and necessary to rule out undetected medical issues via head to toe analysis, including but not limited to ordering a whole-body MRI, fMRI, clinical examination of ear, nose and throat, blood tests to check for nutritional deficiencies and the ever controversial, and widely promoted by psychiatrist Dr. AMEN, PET scan.  “Oh, but the cost,” some cry. Think about cost of NOT finding underlying mechanisms fueling uncontrolled self-injurious behavior.
·         In extreme cases of SIB failing to respond to conventional treatments, consider ABA and adjunctive alternatives, including but not limited to, acupuncture, chiropractic care, herbal therapies, professional massage, hydrotherapy, music therapy, prayer, and special diets.
* Drugs that may help autistics who present with self injurious behavior rooted in hyperarousal, exaggerated startle response and/or dysregulation of adrenergic receptors may respond to Guanfacine,  Propopronol, Buspar or Clonidine. http://autism.healingthresholds.com/therapy/tenex-intuniv-guanfacine.
* Guanfacine (tenex) elevates PFC (pre-frontal cortex) working memory and has a lower side effect profile than clonidine.
* Propopronol (INN) increases cognition and has rapid onset, which is useful in acute cases of self-injurious behavior rooted in hyperarousal
* Achieving optimal physical and environmental health is of utmost importance in mitigating self injury among severely-autistics...ie...diet tailored to individual needs....providing setting that is tailored to individual needs....
*Hydrotherapy is an effective rescue intervention for some autistics who are prone to self-injury

Copyright © Kim Oakley 2011 All Rights Reserved

Disclaimer: Information provided for educational purposes only. Not intended to replace medical advice. Not for diagnostic or prescriptive use. Not for instruction on how to cure or treat any condition, illness or disease. Every individual is different, and what may work for one may not work for another. If you have a health concern, seek proper medical advice.

March 18, 2011

27 Things You Should Know About Seizure Medications

Studies show about 20-30% of people with autism have epilepsy. If you are a parent, teacher, caregiver, relative, friend or advocate of someone with autism and epilepsy, you need to read this. If you're a person with epilepsy read this. Information is taken directly from reviews of epilepsy research.

1. Lamictal (lomotrigine) can INCREASE myoclonic seizures (especially NOCTURNAL myoclonus)

2. Taking Tylenol may lower Lamictal levels

3. Lamictal is good for Frontal Lobe Epilepsy

4. Keppra (levetiracetam) can DECREASE myoclonic seizures

5. Taking B-Vitamins can mitigate Keppra's infamous adverse behavioral side effects

6. Keppra is good for hippocampal related seizures

7. Depakote linked to hyperammonemia (dangerous levels of ammonia in your body)

8. Klonopin (clonazepam) is a benzodiazepine to help treat ATONIC (drop) seizures

9. Best drugs for atonic seizures: Depakote, Lamictal, Topamax (topiramate)

10.  Best drugs for myoclonic seizures: Keppra, Klonipin, Tompamax. 

11. Worst drugs for myoclonic seizures: Tegretol (carbamazepine), Dilantin (phenytoin), Phonobarbital and Sabril (Vigabatrin).

12. Topamax best for temporal lobe epilepsy. 

13. Klonipin sometimes helpful for REM sleep disorder related epilepsy. 

14. Higher doses of Klonipin and Lamictal can increase tonic-clonic seizure activity in some people.

15. Generic seizure medications can kill you. They are not the same as drugs first approved by FDA. Generic formulations and manufacturers change frequently. God only knows what you're really getting and that's dangerous when someone is taking a seizure medication.
See: www.consumerwarningnetwork.com/.../warning-generic-drugs-not-always-equivalent-to-name

A High functioning autistic person wrote, "It is absolute BULL%$# that a generic medication is always the same as the brand .... Probably not. The same wasn't true for other classes of medications". Source:...www.crazymeds.us/BvsG.html

Source: Brand Name and Generic Drugs NOT equivalent http://www.uspharmacist.com/content/d/pharmacy%20law/c/30046/

16. 5 HT1A receptors appear low in people with epilepsy. Drugs that target 5HT1A receptors: Partial agonists: Cannabidiol, Lamictal,Trazodone and Ginkgo Biloba.

17. Tonic Clonic seizures aren't they only type of seizure that can be "status" (on going). Example: People can have status myoclonus or absence seizures.

18. Taking seizure medication depletes CHOLINE. Replace choline by eating egg yolks, taking Huperzine A or DMAE. Consult your doctor.

19. Choline deficiency places undue stress on liver.

20. Choline has anti-inflammatory properties. Lack of choline=higher inflammation-elevated levels of homocysteine.

21. Seizure medications deplete body of Folic Acid, Vitamin D and Carnitine

22. Cognitive decline caused by seizure drugs like Topamax and Depakote can be thwarted by natural herbs like Bacopa Monnieri.

23. Bacopa Monnieri can also reverse benzodiazepine fog.

24. NREM parasomnia may co-exist with epilepsy

25. Studies show Ginkgo Biloba, a nootropic with antioxidant properties, reduced seizure activity in rats. Go Ben. Other studies showed it increased seizures in human. Go figure.

26. Piracetam is a nootropic agent commonly prescribed in foreign countries, used to treat autism and epilepsy. Studies show piracetam modulates acetylcholine levels, increases cognition and has few side effects. Too bad it's not approved in USA.

27. Medical marijuana high in CBDs helps people with epilepsy. At first, I thought this was utter bull and just another ploy to get non-pot heads to accept medical cannabis. However, upon careful analysis, with an open mind, it appears that people with epilepsy are low in 5 HT 1a receptors. Cannabis high in "Cannabidiol" appears to act as a 5 HT1 a, receptor agonist (increases action) an action that is involved in it anxiolytic and neuroprotective effects. This is a good thing for people with epilepsy.

27. Recent studies indicate nicotine can be used to help adults suffering from autosomal dominant nocturnal frontal lobe epilepsy. The same areas that cause seizures in that form of epilepsy are responsible for processing nicotine in the brain.Source: ^ "Nicotine as an antiepileptic agent in ADNFLE: An n-of-one study". http://www.cnsforum.com/commenteditem/3c5dccdc-27fb-4b80-9516-ab81e3e4ea6c/default.aspx.

In short, finding effective treatments for individuals with autism, seizures and/or self-injurious behavior, is a puzzle, an enigma, a brain teaser, a complex problem--one that tests the resolve and skills of all involved to recognize patterns, ask questions, make discoveries and use deductive reasoning--- to put together pieces in a logical manner and achieve desired outcome: Controlling Seizures. And maximizing  full potential of the autistic individual.

*Always consult a doctor when seeking changes or stoping medications. Never stop seizure medication abruptly. Consult a neurologist if you have any questions, concerns about seizure medication or epilepsy.


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