Immune Dysregulation

A Mouse Model for the Immune Dysregulation Subtype of Autism « Lisa Ackerman – Real Help Now.

I can’t really tell you how much I wish this were more well-known. I know that I can’t make anyone else really feel the same way, either. Not in the meaningful way I’d like, at least. I don’t think anyone can feel it properly unless they’ve been there.

The medical community might think it’s not worth exploring but try asking the mom that had a miscarriage two months before getting pregnant with her ASD son. The one whose miscarried pregnancy was completely not right in every way from the very start. The pregnancy that was likely miscarried for some sort of immune dysfunction.

The bad pregnancy that probably affected the pregnancy immediately following it two months later.

Whatever happened to my immune system happened to him. He was born with those immune problems and spent the first three years of his like always sick. Vaccines (especially the Hep B) played such a large role in keeping him sick and making him sicker. Each shot make him slip further away.

I find myself having many of the same issues but I’m older, I’m not developing and learning and becoming a person. I already know how to behave appropriately so when these issues arise in me, I already know how to handle them, or at least control them. I already know it’s not normal.

He was an infant with no prior knowledge. He was a brand new being and all these things were imprinting in his brain as being normal.

And now his immune system is shot and his viral titers are crazy. He will not likely ever be able to stop taking antivirals and antifungals. It’s just an unfortunate reality. His recovery is completely reliant upon them. Without them, his ASD symptoms return. It’s been proven over and over in him. Take antivirals and symptoms disappear. Remove antivirals and symptoms return. We’ve replicated this scenario every year.

I’m not sure how much more proof anyone could need. You don’t even have to believe that he has immune dysfunction. All you need to do is believe that antivirals clearly improve his ASD status. He goes from mostly recovered while on it to not at all recovered when off. We can do this over and over and over and over. There’s obviously some kind of correlation that should give any doctor pause.

And yet I can’t get many western medical professionals to “get it” and understand autism is more than a set of psychological symptoms. We’re fortunate that we’ve got a wonderful ped and a wonderful DAN doctor. But it took us a long time to find a doctor that looked at the results instead of towing the party line.

Medicine should be progressive. We should be open to learning, not pressured by organizations and companies with an agenda.

These are the types of studies we need more doctors to read. We need more doctors that will employ critical thinking skills instead of looking up the same tired answers in a medical book or rehashing the same biased information from what has been proven many times over to be biased journals.

Maternal (possibly even paternal) immune dysregulation should matter. Immune dysregulation as a subtype of ASD should matter.

Yay, UC DAVIS MIND Institute! I <3 you.

Of course, this is not news to us biomed families but if just one thing could bring us some vindication for being called whack jobs, HERE IT IS. This is where we need to be looking to see why biomed helps some and not others. This is where we need to be looking to figure out where to start with our kids, who should start where in biomed and how it should be done. This is where we start looking to come up with an actual diagnostic effort and  protocols for mainstream acceptance. This is where we stop guessing and start proving.

Does anyone else find it telling that it’s an article from Australia and not the US?

US researchers’ discovery promises answers on autism

RESEARCHERS have for the first time identified two biologically different strains of autism in a major breakthrough being compared with the discovery of different forms of cancer in the 1960s.

Read the full article here.

After you read the article, come back and tell me in the comments what kind of autism you suspect/know your child has.

My son has immune and hormone dysfunction. It’s likely the hormone dysfunction is a result of the immune dysfunction but hey, that might be digging a bit too deep for the uninitiated. Let’s keep it simple for now.

What about you?

Rethinkautism.com

*note* I have no affiliation or compensation for posting. Just sharing for those that need some help with ABA but have limited resources.

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rethink autism’s curriculum is based on the educational intervention that time and continual research have proven most effective in the treatment of autism: applied behavior analysis (ABA). ABA-based interventions are so effective that they have been endorsed by leading federal and state agencies, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the New York State Department of Health, and the United States Surgeon General.

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Magnetic fields test ‘reflexes’ of autism

Method may pave way for treatment

By Carolyn Y. Johnson
Globe Staff / June 8, 2009

Scientists are trying a new approach to unravel the workings of the autistic brain: the neurological equivalent of banging a patient’s knee with a hammer to test reflexes.

Instead of a hammer, though, researchers are pressing a flat paddle against patients’ heads and creating a magnetic field that triggers brain cell activity.

As the quest to understand autism has grown more urgent, researchers have used brain scanners to peer into autistic minds, searched for faulty genes, and scrutinized the play of 1-year-olds.

The work has provided theories – but few concrete answers – about what goes awry to cause social isolation, repetitive behaviors, and communication problems that afflict an estimated one in 150 children with autism spectrum disorders. The hunt has focused on everything from “mirror neurons,” brain cells some re searchers think enable people to understand other’s actions and intentions, to an overgrowth of local connections in the brain.

Now a small but growing number of researchers see hope in a tool called transcranial magnetic stimulation, which lets scientists spark activity in specific areas of the brain and watch what happens to patients’ behavior. The technology may illuminate some of the biology behind the disease, and some specialists speculate it may one day offer a treatment.

“There’s a lot of mystery about autism – it’s not as if there’s a well-understood story of what’s going on at all, and there’s a huge variety of autism, too,” said John Gabrieli, a neuroscientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Transcranial magnetic stimulation “is fantastic for identifying brain regions that are essential for specific mental functions. . . . I think if we can start to use it more systematically with autism, one could hope we’d understand a lot more about what’s going on.”

Gabrieli said he hopes to team up with researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center who are already getting preliminary results with the technology, finding that autistic brains appear to be more malleable than those of other people.

Researchers at the Boston hospital’s Berenson-Allen Center for Noninvasive Brain Stimulation used rapid, repetitive stimulation to simulate what happens in the brain when people learn a new task. Then they gave a single pulse of stimulation and measured minute muscle twitches that told them how long people’s brains maintained connections formed by the initial stimulation.

In people with no evidence of autism, changes lasted about 30 minutes, on average. But in people on the autism spectrum, the initial stimulation caused brain changes that lasted much longer – on average an hour and a half.

“As they’re going through their world, their brains are changing their circuits much more and much longer,” said Lindsay Oberman, a postdoctoral researcher at Beth Israel Deaconess. “They’re making connections, just not breaking them at the same rate as normal people.”

That suggests to Oberman that important cognitive processes may be getting stuck on labyrinthine side roads.

Researchers in the laboratory are also investigating whether stimulating a specific area of the brain improves language skills.

John Elder Robison, 51, said he decided to participate in the experiments because it wasn’t until he reached adulthood that he was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, a disease on the autism spectrum.

“I have a strong desire to do this to benefit people like me,” Robison said. “I knew how much I had struggled as a young person – not knowing, being called ‘retard’ or ‘freak.’ This might help young people.”

Use of transcranial magnetic stimulation to investigate autism is in its early days, but the technology is well-established. In the noninvasive procedure, a current travels through two loops in a figure-eight-shaped paddle, creating a changing magnetic field. The paddle is pressed against the patient’s head, and the changing field induces an electrical current in brain tissue.

Transcranial magnetic stimulation was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration as a depression treatment last fall. The main side effect is a risk of seizure, but the risk is low, researchers say, because years of research have provided insight into how to use the technology safely.

While such stimulation may turn out to be a useful tool in autism research, Michael Merzenich, emeritus professor at the University of California at San Francisco, cautioned that a limitation of the technology may be that so much has gone wrong in the autistic brain.

“Virtually any way you would probe it in detail, you’d quickly reveal abnormalities,” Merzenich said. “My question is, if I start poking around . . . it’s a pretty complex, multivariable mess that I’m poking. How likely is it that’s going to lead to great insight?”

Dr. Manuel Casanova, a neuroscientist at the University of Louisville, began using the technique on patients a few years ago.

Casanova was interested in groups of brain cells called minicolumns, which are abnormally small in autistic people and seem to lack what he calls an inhibitory “shower curtain” that prevents activity from spilling into the rest of the brain. His idea was to boost the shower curtain using the stimulation.

Casanova reported last year in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders that when he used repetitive stimulation on 13 high-functioning people with autism spectrum disorder, the treatment seemed to improve synchronization between brain regions. The patients were also able to sit still longer, follow directions better, and reduce repetitive behaviors.

Initially, he paid for the research out of his own pocket, but last week he received gratifying validation – a grant from the National Institutes of Health to support his work over the next four years.

Dr. Marco Iacoboni, a psychiatry professor at the University of California at Los Angeles, recently submitted a grant proposing a study using the technique. He would like to use it to inhibit activity in a part of the brain that may be suppressing the activity of “mirror neurons” – brain cells that appear to be active both when a person moves and when the person watches someone move.

Robison, the Asperger patient, said he believes some of the experiments at Beth Israel Deaconess have helped him, and Oberman and colleagues have been encouraged by their attempts to use the tool as a treatment. But researchers embracing the tool also urge caution.

“These are just the very first steps – it’s the first man on the moon just collecting rocks and looking at the composition of the rocks,” Iacoboni said. “There is a very strong rationale for doing this; that’s why it’s promising. But people shouldn’t hope we’ve found anything yet.”

Carolyn Y. Johnson can be reached at cjohnson@globe.com.

Behavioral Therapies & Other Useful Therapies

The merits of each therapy may be discussed in the future but at this time, I’m just going to give you the information to research since there are so many options. I have a few more “basic” blogs to post and I have limited time to do them so discussion on each isn’t on the table for me right now. I hope that, for now, this is will help you in your research.

ABA:
CARD What is ABA?
Bright Tots ABA Therapy
TACA How To Start An In-Home Therapy Program For Your Child

Verbal Behavior Analysis This is still ABA but with a focus on language and communication. There is a good, detailed explanation of it that is downloadable in PDF from Coast ABA. I would have added a hyperlink directly to it to view as an html but I’m just not that computer savvy yet.

Floortime/DIR

RDI

TEACCH

Cognitive-Developmental Systems Approach

PRT:
UCSD Explanation
Training Manual

The following are not behavioral therapies but fit in nicely and may also help to alleviate behavioral issues:

The SCERTS Model

An educational model for social communication.

The Hanen Program
A speech and language program.

Michelle Garcia-Winner/Social Thinking
Also a speech and language program centered on social thinking and communication.

Social Stories
Focuses on social learning and understanding.

And now we have some other therapies that aren’t behavioral but can have a great impact on behavior by treating some of the sensory and cognitive processing problems:

Visual Therapy

Auditory Integration Therapy:
Vital Links Therapeutic Listening home program
Tomatis Center based program
Berard Center based program
The Listening Program Home Program
Samonas Home program, click on the blue “Samonas” folder with the colored tabs.

Interactive Metronome

Hippotherapy

Neurofeedback

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