Single Moms Raising Autistic Sons

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Thursday, December 31, 2009

"Th" Sounds at the Beginning of Words. Happy New Year 2010!

 In the picture Griffin is showing Dot his Boohbah, "Humbah". I don't think that Dot is very interested in the toy or in being held but she has come a long way and actually allows Griffin to hold her without scratching him. She has also become more affectionate now, with me at least. Griffin is still learning how to NOT hold her and to not pull on her legs and tail.

In speech on Tuesday Griffin practiced using his "th" sounds at the beginning of words and it took a lot of effort, but as he went back through it seemed to get easier each time. Now he practices at home with a reward of chips to work towards, which makes it much easier for him in that there is no meltdowns over it.

He also has some degree of difficulty forming the "O" sound in shaping his lips to keep it from sounding like the "ah" sound. One thing at a time, first the "th" because the lack of that sound keeps me from understanding what he is trying to say to me 90% of the time.

I think that I am going to be approved to get an extension on my International Relations class because I am falling behind due to fatigue and needing more sleep because of my new medicine Saphris. It is a new drug, an anti-psychotic mood stabilizer and so far it seems to be working. I am still trying to wean off of the Seroquel and so far there are no side effects from lowering the dose. Got my fingers crossed!

Happy New Year to everyone! I hope that you all have a wonderful, healthy, happy, and safe new year. Please consider staying home instead of being out tonight where all the drunk drivers are. I haven't gone out on New Year's Eve in over a decade simply because of the danger. Gosh, I bet it is closer to two decades come to think of it. Anyhow, I want my special blogging friends to know how much I appreciate your support and those of you who follow our blog......thanks for caring!

I have a great deal to be grateful for and even though 2009 zoomed by, there were lots of changes, mostly good ones, that I am thankful for. It is now Griffin's turn on the computer so I guess that I will write again later.

Love and Hugs to all my dear friends across the globe!

U.S. Autism Prevalence Rises to 1 in 110 Thursday, December 24, 2009 By: Carin Yavorcik CDC Report Highlights Increased Prevalence, Continued Delay in Identification as Critical Public Health Crisis affecting American Families

Bethesda, MD (December 18, 2009) -- The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released their national autism prevalence report today, confirming that the prevalence of autism spectrum disorders in the United States is 1 percent of the population, or one in 110 of children 8 years of age in 2006.
The long-awaited report was conducted by the CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network in 11 sites in 2006 and tracks prevalence in children 8 years of age. The Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network is a group of programs funded by CDC to determine the number of people with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) in the United States. The ADDM sites all collect data using the same surveillance methods, which are modeled after CDC’s Metropolitan Atlanta Developmental Disabilities Surveillance Program (MADDSP).
“This report confirms what we at the Autism Society have been saying for years about the prevalence of autism in America and the critical importance of early identification and interventions. For the first time, we are hearing our government acknowledge the real increase in autism and validating the impact this condition has on individuals, families and their communities,” said Lee Grossman, Autism Society President and CEO. “The question still remains: How bad does it have to get before families receive appropriate lifespan services?”
This report presents a number of other important details, including:
  • The study suggests that while better diagnosis accounts for some of the prevalence, a true increase cannot be ruled out. The report also underscores that “efforts are needed to understand how complex genetic and environmental factors interact to result in symptoms which make up the autism spectrum.”
  • The report again highlights that delays in identification still persist. Children in 2006 were being diagnosed only five months earlier on average than those in 2002, thus still missing the critical years of early intervention. (In 2002, children were diagnosed at an average age of 53 – 66 months, and in 2006, the average age was 50 – 60 months.)  The report laudably notes that the continued lag in identification needs to be addressed as a public health concern so that this nation “can ensure that children in the U.S. receive optimal early intervention services.”
  • Increases in prevalence among minority population were significant, with a 91 percent increase in Hispanic children (with 144 percent increase in Arizona contributing to this) and 41 percent in black non-Hispanic. There was a 55 percent increase in White non-Hispanic.
  • Prevalence in boys was found to be 4.5 times higher in males than females. The report states one in 70 boys and one in 315 females have autism. 
  • This study gathered data on prevalence and cognitive impairment, showing a 90 percent increase in children with borderline intellectual functioning and a 72 percent increase among children with average to above average intelligence. As intelligence testing is unstable in the autism community, further analysis needs to be done to understand this change.
  • Overall prevalence was lower among the sites with access to health evaluations alone, so sites that did not include educational evaluations likely underestimated ASD prevalence for that site. The lack of educational data would have impacted the cognitive functioning analysis as well.
It is important to note the ADDM study does not cover adult prevalence or those children who receive diagnoses later than 8, which can be common in the Asperger’s community, where the average age of diagnosis is 11 years old. The ADDM report, which was conducted in the states of Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Wisconsin, is consistent with the Department of Health and Human Services National Survey of Children’s Health, published last October.

The increasing numbers have long-term economic costs to the country, as autism is a chronic medical condition affecting people across the lifespan. The Autism Society calls on the U.S. government to address the pressing need for community-based services to ensure a better quality of life for people with autism and their families and to increase funding for research into what factors put people at risk and treatments that will mitigate the severest medical symptoms affecting people with this chronic medical condition.

Click here to view CDC study.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Duke University Medical Center; Study Surprise Yields New Target for Assessing Genes Linked to Autism

Researchers at Duke University Medical Center have uncovered a new genetic signature that correlates strongly with autism and which doesn't involve changes to DNA sequence itself, but rather to the way the genes are turned off and on. The finding may suggest new approaches to diagnosis and treatment of autism.

The researchers found higher-than-usual numbers of gene-regulating molecules called methyl groups in a region of the genome that regulates oxytocin receptor expression in people with autism.

"In both blood samples and brain tissue, the methylation status of specific nucleotides in the oxytocin receptor gene is significantly higher in someone with autism, about 70 percent, compared to the control population, where it is about 40 percent,” said co-lead author Simon G. Gregory, PhD, assistant professor in the Duke Department of Medicine. The work appears in BMC Medicine journal online.

Oxytocin is a hormone secreted into the bloodstream from the brain, and also released within the brain, where it has a bearing on social interaction.
Previous studies have shown that giving oxytocin can improve an autistic person’s social engagement behavior and it is being explored as a potential treatment of the disorder. Higher methylation of the oxytocin receptor gene may make a person less sensitive to the hormone.

The findings by Dr. Gregory and his colleagues will potentially provide information about which individuals will respond better to treatment with oxytocin.

"We are excited about our findings because they represent one of the few occasions in which a mechanism other than genetic susceptibility or genome instability is implicated in the development of autism," Gregory said.

"These results provide a possible explanation of why social isolation forms part of the autism spectrum -- because an autistic individual’s ability to respond to oxytocin may be limited," Gregory said. "Oxytocin has been tied to levels of trust and ability to read social cues."

Although the methylation status of the OXTR gene is not a definitive diagnosis of autism by itself, a test for methylation might be used along with other clinical tests for diagnosing autism. Gregory said that methylation-modifying drugs also may be a new avenue for treatments.

Though not a change to the DNA sequence itself, methylation status can be inherited, by what is known as epigenetics -- inherited changes in gene regulation.

“The epigenetic link to autism is extremely exciting as it provides another opportunity for us to explore the heritability of this disorder and argues the importance of exploring epigenetic markers in complex disease,” said co-lead author Jessica J. Connelly, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Virginia.

The identification of differences in methylation status of OXTR in people with and without autism was discovered through a genome-wide study of genomic instability.

The researchers examined 119 individuals with autism to identify genomic rearrangements. One of these individuals had a DNA deletion of a region containing the OXTR gene.
The group then examined the genomic make-up of the individual’s family members and established that the boy with the deletion had a brother with autism who didn’t have the deletion. (Their mother had symptoms of an obsessive-compulsive disorder, but not autism; autism and OCD share the symptom of intensely repetitive thoughts and behaviors).

The researchers examined the brother’s genome and found instances of elevated methylation. With this discovery, they looked again at independent collections of blood samples and brain tissue from a repository of specimens, and found consistent differences in OXTR methylation.

This research was supported by the JP Hussman Foundation and National Institutes of Health grants.

Other authors include co-lead-author Jessica J. Connelly, now with the University of Virginia and formerly of the Duke Center for Human Genetics; Aaron Towers, J. Johnson, D Biscocho, and Christina Markunas of the Duke Center for Human Genetics; G.R. Delong of the Duke Department of Medicine; S.K. Murphy of the Duke Departments of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Pathology; Carla Lintas and Antonio. Persico of the Laboratory of Molecular Psychiatry and Neurogenetics, University Campus Bio-Medico, and the Department of Experimental Neurosciences, IRCCS “Fondazione Santa Lucia”, both in Rome; R.K. Abramson and H.H. Wright of the Department of Neuropsychiatry, SOM-USC in Columbia, S.C.; P. Ellis and C.F. Langford of Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Hinxton, U.K.; and Michael L. Cuccaro and Margaret A. Pericak-Vance of the John P. Hussman Institute for Human Genomics of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in Miami, Fla.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

U.S. Senate Passes Health Care Reform Bill Containing Provision For Autism Insurance Reform and Cures Acceleration Network

Washington, DC (December 25, 2009) – Autism Speaks, the nation’s largest autism science and advocacy organization, applauds the members of the U.S. Senate for yesterday passing an overall health care reform bill that contains provisions for autism insurance reform, as well as the funding to accelerate the scientific discovery of autism treatments and cures.

The provision for autism insurance reform was introduced in September by Senator Robert Menendez and passed by the Senate Finance Committee with the support of Committee Chairman Max Baucus. The provision will prohibit discrimination in benefits against people with autism by including behavioral health treatments as part of the essential benefits package.

The bill also included elements of the Cures Acceleration Network (CAN) Act, introduced in April by Senator Arlen Specter . Like the CAN Act, this provision of the health care reform bill would create a large new fund for, and focus on, "bench to bedside" research, creating an emphasis on more quickly translating research discoveries into practical medical applications. Autism Speaks was the first disease advocacy group to support the CAN Act.

“We are grateful to Senators Menendez, Baucus, Specter, and their Senate colleagues for passing this health care reform bill, ensuring that families dealing with autism are a part of larger health care reform,” said Peter Bell, Autism Speaks executive vice president for programs and services. “Now that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed that autism affects one percent of American children, the need for our legislators to ensure that families can afford the treatments their children need, as well as a redoubling of our federal government’s commitment to science and innovation in the search for a cure, has never been more important.”

“The addition of the Cures Acceleration Network to the health care reform legislation will create the urgency we desperately need at the federal level to push science toward real impact on people’s lives,” said Geraldine Dawson, PhD, Autism Speaks Chief Science Officer. “In the area of autism research, in particular, much needs to be done to translate important discoveries into treatments and therapies that can help individuals living with autism today.”

The Senate and House versions of the health care reform bills must now be reconciled and approved by both bodies before presented to President Obama for his signature.

December 2005 - Severe Depression & Hospitalization

Four years ago our lives were so different and even though I was grateful for all that was in my life, namely Griffin, I was in severe depression. I ended up having to go to the hospital because I needed my meds changed and it was the first time I was separated from Griffin. It hurt so bad, I thought that I was going to die from heartache. We were apart for a week and all I did was cry. I talked to him on the phone and here you can see that he fell asleep listening to me tell him "I love you" over and over again.

Strangely enough, this year was my second hospitalization (September) but it was for severe mania instead. It was still very painful and this time was different for Griffin. This time he knew more about what was going on and it bothered him tremendously. He had a delayed reaction of about a week or two and cried almost uncontrollably. It took him a few times to try to explain what he was feeling but it came out..."Mommy, I missed you when you were in the hospital". I explained to him that mommy was sick and had to be there but that mommy missed him too and didn't like being away from him. He accepted that answer and seemed to understand.

We have come a very long way and I love him more and more with each passing day. I am now stable on my bipolar meds but will be changing them again soon. I just hope that I continue to remain stable to ensure our quality of life.

My Very First Post; A Lot Has Changed but Much Has Stayed the Same

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Dealing with Autism

Griffin was diagnosed when he was 18 months however, I had noticed at around 15 months that something was not right when he wouldn't respond when his name was called. I immediately had him evaluated by the Program for Infants and Children and we started occupational therapy and other early intervention strategies. As a matter of fact, I attribute Griffin's success and growth to that early intervention. I don't believe that he would have come as far as he has had we not started working with him so soon. Griffin is now pretty high functioning and very intelligent. He is doing some things that a typical 6 year old might be doing like reading, counting, he recognizes and names all his shapes, colors and a multitude of animals. Now that Griffin is in preschool and has a regular routine he has been sleeping much better; before school he had to take Melatonin to help him sleep. I think that the routine helps in many ways because his tantrums have nearly stopped completely and he has been eating a greater variety of foods as well. Although Griffin is a big fan of watching videos and probably watches more than his share I believe that they have helped him to develop his vocabulary not to mention watching him dance and sing is quite entertaining. Abby is Griffin's service dog, she helps him with his sensory issues when we go out in public and he interacts with her at home which has helped them to create a bond with one another. I got her because when Griffin was around 2 years old my friend had brought over her dog and we noticed that while the dog was there Griffin had no self-injurious behaviors and ever since he has had no problems out in public or at home with sensory issues. Abby doesn't even do anything actually just her presence has an effect on Griffin. She is a patient and tolerant wonderful gift in our lives and I got her from the animal shelter she's not even professionally trained. In Alaska service dogs are not required to be professionally trained. I have been a pro-active parent and searched out all the resources available to Griffin. So, he is now getting speech therapy and occupational therapy at school as well as with private therapists. Recently Griffin has shown signs of interacting with his peers which I am absolutely thrilled with of course. It is such a thrill to watch him grow each day and become more and more independent. This is what I wish for my beautiful child to become an independent adult who can function in society as well as his non autistic peers. I wish for him that he learns to fear danger and be aware of his surroundings so that he can live safely and not wander off as so many autistic children and adults tend to do. Whatever Griffin is now and whatever he does ultimately become he will always be my perfect little guy. Because, you see, Griffin's autism to me is not a curse nor a problem, I see it as just what has happened, unfortunately, and as much as I try to help him to overcome it I will never believe that my son is "abnormal'. He is simply Griffin and I love him exactly the way he is! I accept the autism as something that may never go away. But, Iam also hopeful that the treatments and therapies that have helped him will continue to help him and there is a distinct possiblilty that he will mainstream by kindergarten and more so with each passing year.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Bipolar Feels Just Like Fibromyalgia

I finally got in touch with the on-call doctor today and figured out that I should change the dosage of my bipolar med. Apparently, since I started weaning off of the Seroquel I have had symptoms that mimic the symptoms of the Fibro. I went from taking only 400mg back up to 800mg. It is past the usual time that my symptoms occur so I guess that that was the whole problem. I guess that the chemicals in my brain were so screwed up that it was effecting my entire body.

I am still going to go see my psych. doc ASAP to switch from the Seroquel (which causes me to retain weight) to a new drug that is weight neutral. I have been on Seroquel for many many years and just found out that it was keeping me from losing weight no matter how little I ate or how much I had exercised.

Griffin and I are having a mellow day, just hanging out. We share the computer, which has worked just fine and when not on the computer we stay busy otherwise. We have been alone together for so many years that we are used to it. The days of drama and excitement are long gone.......thank goodness. Mellow and laid back is the way to go!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Fibromyalgia is NOT better and enter STRESS on top of it!

Last night I did something that I wasn't supposed to do but I was left without a choice. All the doctor's offices were closed and at 5:00 sharp my fibro flared up horribly. It rendered me helpless and utterly useless. All I could do was to lie down on the couch. So I made the decision to take an additional Provigil when I am only supposed to take two a day. It took about 30 minutes but when it took effect I was feeling so much better and able to move around. I had to do something, I had to take care of Griffin.

I expected to be up all night, as Provigil is used for energy, but I took my night meds and 1 1/2 Attivan and got sleepy around 10:00. My psych doc doesn't want me to take Attivan on a regular basis because it is a benzodiazapine and one can build up a tolerance to it and ultimately get addicted to it. I am nowhere near that but until I can see my psych doc again I am just going to have to make the best of it. I have to function and when I get stressed over Griffin having meltdowns it only makes things worse. I have nobody to watch Griffin for me to give me a break so I just have to do the best that I can.

When we were in Alaska I had little/sporatic support and we were very isolated and now I am feeling that way again. We moved here to be near friends and family but when it comes down to it....there is nobody to help. Autism + bipolar +ADHD mixed in with bipolar + fibromyalgia = a lot of stress! For both of us!

It is nice when I get to sit here and write, sometimes I get on Facebook and communicate with my friends, but I have to share the computer with Griffin because he needs to have something to do too, so I have spare time and no money to go anywhere and it is just not a lot of fun. To put it mildly. He is out of school until Jan. 4th so I hope that we can manage until then. Sometimes my patience is not up-to-par so I just have to back off and try to maintain my sanity.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Fibromyalgia = Lots of Pain & Horrible Fatigue

Since I am Bipolar it has been recommended by my psychiatrist that I do not take Cymbalta for my Fibromyalgia because it can make me manic. When I did take Cymbalta it helped me get through the day with few symptoms and I think that it helped me to sleep a bit better as well. My Fibro. symptoms are getting out-of-hand, the bottoms of my feet hurt so bad that I can barely stand to walk on them. The rheumatologist just increased my Mobic and I guess that is all that can be done about it. I take Provigil which gives me energy during the day but when it wears off in the evening I am in so much pain and every single movement I make is such an effort because I am DEAD tired! I feel as though I have been pummeled to near death. The cause of Fibromyalgia is unknown but I have been told by one of my rheumatologists that it has to do with circulation of blood and the only treatments known to be effective is Cymbalta, Lyrica, and acupuncture. It affects more women than men....why? They don't know but it is known that it can worsen and in some cases turn into more serious rheumatological diseases. It affects all the muscle tissue and bones but generally not the joints. But since I have arthritis too from years of abusing my body, when I was a dancer, then that is thrown into the mix. However, the arthritis is hardly a problem by comparison.

The only way that I can convey how it feels to someone who doesn't have it, is that it feels similar to when you have a really bad case of the flu and your entire body hurts all over and you just don't want to move. I am nearing the point to where I beg my doctor to let me try the Cymbalta again and if I become manic then we can stop it but something has got to change! I wish that I could afford acupuncture because I am sure that it would help but can't do that now. It would be great if I could afford to go to the YMCA or the local swim center because exercise would help a lot and it would help me lose weight but even with the scholarship I can't afford it. Swimming is all I can do because of my feet hurting so bad. I used to weight train for years and I loved it, wish that I could do that again.

I do have some good news though; I tried Griffin on Melatonin again (he used to take it when he was 2-4 years old) and it is working! So I am taking him off of the Remeron (Mirtazapine) which I am thrilled about, especially since he sleeps all through the night. His prescribing NP wasn't happy that he was on the Remeron when we first went to visit her so now she will be happy to know that he is off of it. I still need to get Griffin's blood drawn for his glucose test but I keep forgetting when we go out.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Do Vaccines Explain the Surge in Autism

To the parents of autistic children and to parents of children who have not been vaccinated:

I realize that this is still, to this day, a hot topic, but please open your mind a bit and take this information into consideration. My sister has not vaccinated her 5 year old child and it scares me to think of her being exposed to whooping cough or measles, which could potentially kill her. It is a very serious issue and to me, the evidence is clear that the rate of autism in the UK still rose even among the un-vaccinated children. Griffin is up-to-date on all his vaccines, even the H1N1, and he never gets sick...whereas my sister's child is always sick. I do not regret giving him all his vaccines, including the MMR because I think that mental illness (ie...his genes) has more to do with the autism than his environment. Please read this article written by Dr. Jeffrey P. Baker:

During office visits when its time for an immunization shot, parents frequently ask me whether vaccines cause autism.
It is a highly charged discussion, involving great emotion for many parents.
Jeffrey P. Baker, MD, PhD, director of Duke's History of Medicine Program and an associate clinical professor of pediatrics, discusses the evidence.
--Dennis Clements, MD, PhD

The annals of medicine are full of stories about scientists who stubbornly cling to a “great idea” despite evidence to the contrary. The history of autism provides a classic example.
From the 1940s through at least the 1960s, autism was widely viewed as a psychiatric condition, typically attributed to highly educated mothers lacking the capacity to provide warmth or affection for their infants. The so-called “refrigerator mother” theory turned out to be based on little reality beyond the imaginations of its originators. It survived as long as it did because it promised (falsely, as it turned out) the possibility of cure through psychotherapy.
Today, another hypothesis has captured the imagination of many parents in the autism community. It is the conviction that vaccines are responsible for the dramatic rise in the disorder’s visibility over the past 20 years. Despite the failure of 10 years of scientific study to provide support, this belief remains powerful among parents’ groups and the internet. Why?
Although the cause of autism remains unknown, the vast majority of researchers believe that genetics play a central role. Siblings of children with autism have a 2 to 7 percent chance of the disorder, at least 50 times the rate of the general population. The concordance rate is higher for fraternal (5-10 percent) and highest of all for identical twins (60-90 percent).
Other studies have found a higher family risk of problems in communication, social relations, and anxiety, suggesting that a broader form of the disorder may be inherited that presents as classical autism only in its most severe form. Collectively, this research underlines that genetics likely represents the most critical factor leading to autism. The question is whether an environmental trigger may play a secondary role in genetically-predisposed children.
If autism is largely genetic, why has it seemingly become “epidemic” in recent years?  There is no doubt that the disorder is diagnosed far more commonly (by a factor of at least 10) today than was the case 20 years ago. It is equally clear that its definition has been expanded tremendously, encompassing both higher functioning children (such as those with Asperger’s syndrome) and others who one would have been diagnosed with mental retardation.
At the same time, there has been a great push for physicians and schools to identify autism at earlier ages and with milder presentations. Many experts in the field believe that the rise of autism reflects the success of early intervention and school-based programs to heighten awareness of the disorder. Still, the possible role of an environmental exposure cannot be eliminated. And of the hundreds of agents to which pregnant women or infants are exposed, none are quite as visible as vaccines.
Activists in the last 10 years have promoted two particular theories linking immunizations and autism. One concerns the MMR vaccine against measles, mumps, and rubella. It became controversial in Great Britain following the publication in 1998 of a case report by Dr. Andrew Wakefield describing several children who developed signs of diarrhea and autistic regression following this vaccine. MMR immunization rates fell in the U.K., and outbreaks of measles followed.
The other hypothesis, originating in the U.S., concerns the preservative thimerosal, which was removed from infant vaccines between 1999 and 2001 as part of broader public health efforts to reduce infant exposure to environmental mercury.
These two theories are not easily reconciled. Parents blaming the MMR typically described infants who were normal prior to this particular vaccine; thimerosal/autism narratives told of infants who developed autism after any vaccine combination.
British parents often noted the correlation between the rise of autism and the use of the MMR, introduced in 1987 and the focus of national immunization drives in the early 1990s. The fact that MMR had been used widely in the U.S. since 1971, long before talk of an autism epidemic, was generally ignored.
Both hypotheses have been subjected an extraordinary amount of study in large populations. Comprehensive reviews by expert panels, most notably the U.S. Institute of Medicine, have concluded that the evidence simply does not support either vaccine/autism hypothesis.
In Britain, 10 of the 12 co-authors of Dr. Wakefield’s 1998 report have disavowed its conclusion regarding MMR. Wakefield himself is under investigation for serious professional misconduct for not having revealed his relationship to anti-MMR litigation groups when submitting his article to The Lancet. In the U.S., data published in 2008 from the state of California showed that the elimination of thimerosal from all routine infant vaccines in 2001 had no effect slowing down the rise of autism, despite many predictions to the contrary.
Among mainstream health researchers, the MMR and thimerosal autism hypotheses are in tatters. Yet like the hydra of ancient mythology that grew two heads whenever one was severed, the belief in a vaccine/autism connection continues to survive by taking new forms. Some activists are focusing on other vaccine additives, such as the aluminum salts used to boost the immune response.
Others are arguing that giving too many vaccines somehow overwhelms the child’s immune system. This was the question at the heart of the Federal Vaccine Court’s decision to award damages to Hannah Poling, a girl with a mitochondrial disease (a very uncommon disorder disrupting her ability to process nutrients) who regressed developmentally and developed signs of autism after receiving several vaccines at age 19 months.
Cases such as Hannah’s are tragic, but raise more questions than they answer. There are in fact rare children with silent metabolic disorders who may develop normally until suddenly regressing after the stress of a childhood infection. Whether vaccines are a risk has not been proven. Certainly, the infections that vaccines prevent do constitute a danger for these children. Even if we could identify at-risk children, it is far from clear that holding or splitting vaccines would do them a service.
Before accepting the “multiple vaccine” hypothesis, it is worth remembering that more vaccines does not mean more stress on the immune system. The 14 vaccines given to young children expose them to a total of about 150 immunological units, or antigens.  The MMR, for all the ballyhoo, contains only 24. In contrast, the old smallpox vaccine included 200 proteins, and the whole cell pertussis vaccine used before the 1990s contained 3,000.
In a nutshell, while more vaccines are being given to infants, these vaccines are far more targeted and purified than was the case twenty years ago. This is why giving vaccines separately makes so little sense to the scientific community. Splitting vaccines certainly makes the schedule even more complicated, and will likely lead to lower immunization rates. When these rates fall below a certain threshold in a community, outbreaks become possible. This has already happened with respect to whooping cough and measles in various locations in the United States.
It will always be possible to think of new mechanisms linking vaccines and autism as others are disproven. But after 10 years of extensive research on vaccines, it is time to entertain other ideas regarding environmental exposures. Vaccine opponents consistently disparage the positive benefits of vaccines, which the vast majority of physicians and public health leaders regard as one of our most powerful tools to protect the health of our children. Deferring or declining vaccines has consequences for our neighbors’ children as well as our own. It is important to learn about the diseases they prevent prior to questioning their benefits.
-- Jeffrey P. Baker, MD, PhD, is director of Duke's History of Medicine Program and an associate clinical professor of pediatrics.
-- Dennis Clements, MD, PhD, is the chief of primary care pediatrics at Duke Children's Hospital.

We Found "Dot"!!!!!

I was in the bedroom getting dressed and heard a faint meow. We looked and looked everywhere in there.... I searched in the closet and felt a warm spot in a blanket there. Sure enough, there she was tangled up inside the blanket and couldn't get out. HA HA HA! Griffin smiled so big when he held her and he is still laughing about it. Boy, are we ever glad to have our beloved friend back!!!!!!

Our Dear and Precious Kitty, Dot is Gone

Last night Griffin opened the door for just a few seconds and I guess that is how Dot got out of the apartment. I didn't notice until this morning when we were getting ready to take Abby for a walk. It is the absolute worst time of the year for her to be out was only 16 degrees this morning so of course I am worried about her. Griffin isn't upset, I guess that is just part of being autistic, just as when the hamster died he wasn't upset.  I thought that he had a strong bond with the cat but I guess not. She was a great kitty for us and even for Abby because they played together all the time. Now, I have to wait to get another one because getting one from the shelter is expensive and I won't do it any other way. Rescuing animals is the only way to go as far as I am concerned. You save their life and they are eternally grateful and one can always know that they did the right thing by saving a life.

It is supposed to be in the 40s today so I hope that she will be okay....maybe she found a new home, although she won't let people pick her up so I don't know how that will work. We love you wherever you are!!!!!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Griffin Plays in the Snow

For the very first time ever, Griffin played in the snow several times today when we took Abby for a walk. He lived in Alaska for 5 years and never wanted to play in it but now he loves it! He even played snowball fight with the other boys outside, which I am thrilled about. Over and over he kept lying down in the snow and just adored the feeling of the wet snow. We will go out a couple more times today to walk Abby but now that the temperature is dropping we won't be staying out there so long. Thank goodness I got his snow boots early this year, I already had some really good ones from Alaska for me. None of the kids had snow boots on and all of the adults out there walking had no boots either. Guess we are going to win the award for the most prepared in the neighborhood (hee hee).

The big difference between Alaska and here is that there is nice dry powdery snow in Alaska and here it is completely wet. So, one cannot play outside for long here and not get cold-to-the-bone. Abby doesn't seem to mind, she still keeps smelling around for something, she loves to sniff...she would have been an awesome drug dog. I am a nerd outside with the umbrella over my head. Hey, I am a creature of comfort and don't like getting all wet and cold...guess I am just an old lady.

Griffin has been really active indoors as well. He has been dancing around to the music he finds on the internet. He has found some really good music with videos of cartoons that are in foreign languages and he has the words memorized! I start dancing too and he tells me to stop, guess he is embarrassed that his mommy likes to dance too...that's just not cool I suppose. I have been sharing the computer with him and trying to work on this paper for my international relations class and I am finally making some headway. It is due on Sunday so it's a good thing I am getting somewhere.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Schedules, A Timer, and Lots of TLC

We went to the Behavioral Specialist and what a relief to know that there is an easy solution to "Homework Hell". He explained that the best way to deal with meltdowns is to avoid them...well, I kinda knew that...but the way to avoid it is easier than I had thought. He said to make a schedule that applies each and every day, put it on the wall and stick to it. Then for homework, to sit with Griffin and make a separate schedule that applies to that moment for example, to do five sentences and then take a 10 minute break....then do the math and take a break, and finally do the reading and talk about it. Then it is time to get on the computer and have some more down time. Oh, and I forgot to put first that he has an hour of down time as soon as he gets home from school but that doesn't include computer time. He has to wait for that as an incentive to finish up the homework first...then there is the reward. After all that there is time to eat, take Abby for a walk, take a bath, and at 8:00 it is bedtime. He has been going to bed with no problem even if he is not sleepy right away, he will lie there and do some imagining then nod off.

I went to the rheumatologist Monday and he ordered some labs because my feet have been hurting me for over a year now and I had thought that it was gout but he said it wasn't. Then he told me that it might be rheumatoid arthritis and I was not happy to hear that, especially after I got home and did some research on it. I am hoping that it is something minor although he prescribed Mobic and it is not helping at all. It does help my Fibromyalgia along with the Provigil that I take which gives me the energy to get through the day.

Today I went to see my psychiatrist who is still just as awesome as the first visit. I am taking Rozerum which is pure Melatonin, he told me, and if I take 16 mg. then I sleep very well so that is a huge relief. I am slowly weaning off of the Seroquel, which causes weight gain/retention, and I am excited about finally get off of it after many many years.

I am having a hard time with my political science international relations class and am struggling with a paper that is due by Sunday but I am doing great in my English 101 class which will be over on the 27th. I love writing papers/essays but not so much when I don't understand the topic very well. My paper is on liberalism and realism and I can't even figure out how to write a thesis statement on two topics, never done that before. I can ace papers written on one topic, in fact I finished my essay on the effects of global warming in one day. Hey, if anyone has any helpful advice I sure could use it!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

"My Wish" Performed by Rascal Flatts. Dedicated to Griffin

I hope the days come easy and the moments pass slow
And each road leads you where you want to go
And if you're faced with a choice
and you have to choose
I hope you choose the one that means the most to you
And if one door opens to another door closed
I hope you keep on walkin' 'til you
find the window
If it's cold outside, show the world
the warmth of your smile
But more than anything,
more than anything

My wish for you
is that this life becomes all that
you want it to
Your dreams stay big, your worries
stay small
You never have to carry more
than you can hold
And while you're out there gettin'
where you're gettin' to
I hope you know somebody loves you
And wants the same things too
Yeah, this is my wish

I hope you never look back but you
never forget
All the ones who love you
And the place you left
I hope you always forgive and you
never regret
And you help somebody every
chance you get
Oh, you find God's grace in
every mistake
And always give more than you take

This song has really touched me because since the first time that I heard it, I knew that it is exactly what I wish for Griffin as he gets older. One day I will reflect and still say, "Yeah, Griffin, this is what your mother wishes for you and may all your dreams come true. May you follow your path and always feel grateful for all of your blessings."

I once wrote poetry and was not too bad at it but ever since taking medication, it has zapped a great deal of my creativity. Thank goodness I am still good or even better at writing than I once was, prose....that is. Speaking of, I have got to get back to my work for my International Relations class. It is far more fascinating than I thought that it would be. I have learned a lot.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Never Say That a Service Dog Cannot Enter

A couple of weeks ago Griffin, Abby, and I went into the dentist's office just as we all go into any other establishment or medical office, and the minute that we entered the receptionist loudly exclaimed, " You can't have that dog in here! There are children that are allergic to dogs!" THAT was the WRONG thing to say! Abby is allowed, as a service dog, to enter and remain anywhere and everywhere that Griffin goes. She immediately goes to tell the doctor and he comes out and ushers us back to a room with just chairs in it. Then he proceeds to tell us that he had the same problem before with a service dog and called the Dental Assoc. and they told him that the dog was not allowed back into the clinic area. BS!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And there is NO way that the receptionist could know about whether a child is allergic to animals, not that it mattered anyhow, because I filled out the same paperwork which does not ask if the child is allergic to anything other than drugs!

For sure he was lying because it is clear all across the nation that service animals are allowed, as I stated, everywhere that the disabled person goes. Being Bipolar and one who gets anxiety very easily, I told him that he was wrong and that I would put Abby in the car but I was not going to let this situation go. As I expected, Griffin would not let them clean his teeth and he was clearly very upset and uncomfortable. So, all they did was brush his teeth with a frickin toothbrush!

When I got home I immediately called the Disability Law Center and made a report. She e-mailed me a flyer that I printed and took to the dentist's office the very next day with Abby in tow. The flyer states clearly that there are little to no exceptions to the rule of where a service animal can go. And if any of you would like a copy of that flyer then just let me know and I will gladly e-mail it to you. Or you can just go to their website and let them know that you would like one.

Anyhow, I made sure that everyone in the office could hear me when I exclaimed that the receptionist was WRONG and that the doctor was WRONG and that I expected to talk to him before the day was through. Needless-to-say, they were speechless and hopefully they were embarrassed as well. Because ignorance is no excuse just as with any other law in the United States!

The doctor called me and thanked me for letting him know but as soon as I told him that he would be hearing from the lawyers at the Disability Law Center he shut up and wanted to get off of the phone. Well, looks like maybe it sunk in a bit (?) Yesterday, the lawyer called me and asked me all of the details and I added that now Griffin thinks that Abby is not allowed anywhere that we go all because of what that doctor did...he nearly has a meltdown. She is sending me the papers that will allow her to speak to the doctor and whomever else that she needs to.

The Disability Law Center has come through for us before in Alaska when in the United States Post Office they wouldn't allow Abby and in a grocery store as well. They truly put the fear of the powers that be into these people and they straighten up very quickly. I am glad that in this state that the lawyers are obligated to look into each and every case that is reported. She also told me that it would be pursed as though we wanted to return to the office and I admitted that yes, we did. I do want to go back to that office because it is the only one within at least 30 miles that will allow the parent to go back with the child. So like it or not....they will see us again....with Abby right beside Griffin!!!!!

Friday, December 04, 2009

The Best Doctor in the Whole World!

For months, since July actually, I have been in search of a psychiatrist to manage my meds for me. It wasn't until yesterday that I had found one, and after I left his office I had this feeling of euphoria because of what he said/did in only an hour's time. I have never had a doctor be so thorough and sit there and go through all the psyche meds known to man just so that he could figure out what would work best for me.

I have not be quite as stable as I wish that I could be and having been on Seroquel for so many years has taken its toll on me.....causing me to gain weight and not being able to lose any. Seroquel is infamous for this and no other doctor cared enough or listened to me when I told them that I desperately wanted to lose weight.

So the doctor made a deal with me, that I was to do my part and eat regular healthy meals and exercise 30 minutes a day and that we would work together on this. I almost started to cry because it really felt like he genuinely cared about me. Ever since I was diagnosed in 2004, no doctor has shown much empathy for me. In fact, one doctor put me on Risperdol and it made me eat in my sleep.....everything except the paint off of the walls! And my weight ballooned significantly and he didn't care at all about it.

Before I was diagnosed and started on all kinds of drugs, I was lean and in excellent shape (130 lbs. solid muscle) but I would settle for about 150 lbs. The doctor said that that would be a good healthy weight for me. I am so excited because I just know that it is going to be so much better now that my meds are changing. And if this change doesn't help then in 2 weeks I will see him again and he will try something else. Most doctors won't see their patients again so soon, usually it is at least a month out or even two months. I am just so grateful for this doctor, and an added bonus is that he is quite handsome....hee hee!

Griffin and I went to see the PA for meds yesterday. She wasn't too keen on the idea of keeping Griffin on Remeron and Abilify but they work so well she couldn't contest it. She told me that they prescribe Clonidine instead and that if he were to wake up in the middle of the night then I would give him another dose. I can't do that! I am on sleep meds myself and have to sleep through the night and probably wouldn't even wake up if he did. He would quietly go to the computer and I wouldn't even know it. So I told her that he needs to stay on these meds so that he will sleep all night. She wants me to get some bloodwork done to check his sugar levels because of the Abilify.....boy is that ever going to be a fun time!

Later on yesterday, we went to see the behavioral psychologist and it was great because I had such good news to report. Everything that he had suggested to do has helped exponentially. We are using a timer for all activities and it works like a charm. I use a schedule for him and I let him know way ahead of time that it is bath night or homework is in an hour, or bedtime is in an hour etc... He does best when I let him know ahead of time and especially if something is going to change from the regular routine.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

How Do You Let Go?

Please someone tell me that you are having the same quandary as I am. How do you let go? How do you encourage your child to be independent and cut the apron strings? Is it because it is just the two of us? It just breaks my heart when he lets go of me and it brings me to tears when I think about how fast he is growing up. He will be 8 years old next month!

Griffin is asking me again, after a long break, to snuggle with him and he still crawls into my bed and I don't discourage him............should I? Am I being to clingy with him? I don't want to screw up my child psychologically and set him up for relationship issues when he gets older.

He is just such an angel and so precious it is so hard and it seems to get harder each year, heck...each day for that matter. If anyone has some support or comments I welcome them because I am having a really difficult time.