With little more than anecdotal evidence available, should parents consider the GAPS (gut and psychology syndrome) diet for their kids on the spectrum? If you want to divide the room, any room, start talking about your child’s diet. Elimination diets, gluten-free diets and, yes, one of the most debated: the GAPS diet. But what if

in Autism Diet and Nutrition by Yolande Loftus, BA, LLB

The complicated and controversial history linking autism and schizophrenia does little to answer parents’ concerns about the co-occurrence of these two conditions in their children. Dr. Eugene Bleuler first used the word “autism” in the early twentieth century to describe symptoms related to schizophrenia. More specifically, symptoms of withdrawal into an inner world—which he had

in Autism Health and Medical Info by Yolande Loftus, BA, LLB

Time does not exist, it’s an illusion, a human construct existing only in our minds to conceptualize change intellectually. There is no past or future, that is if you subscribe to theories by scientists like Carlo Revelli.  For many parents with neurodiverse children, time feels very real. Watching a ticking clock after you’ve sent your

in Autism Solutions by Yolande Loftus, BA, LLB

For parents who want to find out more about autism, it is important to know what autism is… and what it’s not. For others there is concern that promoting pride in autism sometimes ventures into adding to the stigma of other mental conditions or intellectual disabilities. A LinkedIn post by Russell Lehmann caught my attention

in Autism Diagnosis by Yolande Loftus, BA, LLB

Diagnosis, earliest possible intervention and finding the best available resources—supporting your child on the spectrum is well, a lot. South African parents just starting out on this journey may wonder where to start… South African parents with special needs children often comment in awe (and envy) about the resources available to children in first world

in Resources for autism by Yolande Loftus, BA, LLB

When researching whether autism is overdiagnosed, Google’s related search suggested, “Why is everyone autistic now?” Is autism on the rise and affecting individuals in record numbers, or is there a problem with diagnostic criteria resulting in an ever widening spectrum where normal behavior is pathologized… Could I be on the spectrum? Maybe you entertained this

in Autism Diagnosis by Yolande Loftus, BA, LLB

Obtaining reimbursement for the treatment of sensory processing disorder may be tricky when a billable code to specify the diagnosis is a requirement. Certain classification systems may not even recognize the disorder—is the ICD-10-CM the code that legitimizes sensory processing disorder? Sensory processing disorder (SPD) has an almost ghost-like presence in the medical world. Some

in Sensory Solutions by Yolande Loftus, BA, LLB

Elon Musk has asperger’s, he revealed this during a Saturday Night Live gig. Apparently speculation about the billionaire being on the spectrum was pretty common online. Having previously spoken about “solving” autism, his asperger’s revelation was not applauded by all—but it did encourage more open conversations about autism.  Unfortunately some of these conversations are based

in Autism Parenting Advice by Yolande Loftus, BA, LLB

As a parent you have a tool, an expertise that puts you in position to supplement your child’s therapy at home. This expertise is unmatched by even the most qualified therapist: you know your child. Your intimate knowledge puts you in a unique position to help your child thrive… Home is where the heart is,

in Communication Skills by Yolande Loftus, BA, LLB

We tend to have a narrow view of our senses. Very early in our education we are taught about the five senses (there are more!) and how these help us take in the world around us.  For many of us, simplistic environmental perception remains how we think about our sensory system. The more we learn

in Sensory Solutions by Yolande Loftus, BA, LLB

A positive behavior support plan does much more than just addressing negative or difficult behaviors; it is a plan formulated through a collaborative effort from caregivers, teachers, therapists, and doctors in a child’s life. It is often used for children with learning difficulties, developmental disabilities, and autism. But before looking at exactly how to implement

in Autism Behavioral Solutions by Yolande Loftus, BA, LLB

At first glance prenatal testing seems like the ultimate feat of modern medicine. But when reading about parents provided with knowledge and subsequent choices, a dystopian future where tests decide who gets to live becomes imaginable. Prenatal testing for autism is not widely available, and the ethical implications of such testing are enormous. When considering

in Autism Diagnosis by Yolande Loftus, BA, LLB

Medical professionals and researchers often consult the DSM-5, a manual sometimes referred to as the bible of mental conditions. In this article the criteria for an autism diagnosis according to the DSM-5 will be examined. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.; DSM–5; American Psychiatric Association, 2013) is a manual often cited

in Autism Diagnosis by Yolande Loftus, BA, LLB

Special needs adoption is needed, but the need to discuss it openly and honestly may be even more important. In fact some special needs adoptees (on international adoption forums) implore the public to look at this topic without white savior colored glasses… Special attention The Stauffers, an American family seemingly made for YouTube fame, became

in Autism Advocacy by Yolande Loftus, BA, LLB

For some families at-home therapy, led by parents as primary therapists, became a necessity during lockdown. Relationship Development Intervention is a home-based, potentially effective treatment that may help parents promote dynamic intelligence, social skills and flexibility in their autistic children. Banana bread, zooming (that’s a verb now) in pajama bottoms, and doing everything from home

in Autism Therapies and Treatments by Yolande Loftus, BA, LLB

Your autistic child starts clearing his/her throat repeatedly, and while repetitive behavior may be an autism characteristic, you wonder whether the behavior may be a comorbid condition or something else…  Many parents wish they could know exactly how their kids feel; maybe then they could soothe and treat all their symptoms more effectively. When autistic

in Autism Health and Medical Info by Yolande Loftus, BA, LLB

Impaired somatosensory processing is often found in neurodevelopmental conditions. Researchers are paying closer attention to the meaning of deficits in this sensory system and its possible impact on autistic individuals. We’re all a little touchy about, well, touch at the moment. The pandemic’s social distancing made human touch a rare commodity. It left many craving

in Sensory Solutions by Yolande Loftus, BA, LLB

Is the world too bright, too loud, too smelly…too everything for a brain in overdrive? Most parents have witnessed a tantrum or two. A meltdown, or an autistic brain trying to control sensory overload with a challenged filtering system, cannot be equated to a tantrum.   A tantrum is usually about getting something: attention, candy or

in Sensory Solutions by Yolande Loftus, BA, LLB

Autism spectrum disorders are often characterized by language impairments. Dyslexia also manifests in language deficits…which begs the question of a possible connection between the two. An autism diagnosis may explain some of your child’s challenging behavior, but parents are often left wondering whether every symptom is autism related. To add to the confusion, autism is

in Autism Diagnosis by Yolande Loftus, BA, LLB

When searching for information about your autistic child’s sensory challenges you may find many articles about hypersensitivity. But what about hyposensitivity, and the accompanying sensory seeking behavior of a child who finds the world an underwhelming place? As research discovers more about the autistic brain, we can’t help but marvel at some of the skills

in Sensory Solutions by Yolande Loftus, BA, LLB

Savantism—that mystical, psychological phenomena that’s captured the world’s imagination ever since the movie Rain Man showcased the prodigious memory of an autistic savant. More than a fascination with the extraordinary, research about savantism could unlock useful information about nurturing genius talent associated with the neurodivergent mind. Are savants neurodivergent superheroes? Savantism does conjure up an

in Autism Health and Medical Info by Yolande Loftus, BA, LLB

Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are characterized by communication impairments which may manifest in challenging behavior. Functional Communication Training may help your autistic child communicate wants and needs more effectively, decreasing the need for expression through such challenging behaviors.  Communication goes way beyond verbal and nonverbal interaction; even though this is what often comes to mind

in Communication Skills by Yolande Loftus, BA, LLB

When speaking about your child’s autism diagnosis, do you say “my autistic child” (identity-first) or do you speak about your “child with autism” (person-first)? This is more than a mere language debate, it speaks to the heart of self-identification and, unfortunately, stigma too… As a journalist specializing in autism, choosing the right language is important

in Autism Advocacy by Yolande Loftus, BA, LLB

Reading through online autism forums will erase any doubt about stigmatization of those on the spectrum. Some autistic individuals say you just need to look at vaccination debates to get an idea of how many neurotypical people feel about autism. The fact that some people are more willing to risk the chance of their child

in Autism Advocacy by Yolande Loftus, BA, LLB

Parents seeking advice about herbs for children with autism may be entering a battlefield; with conventional, western medicine on one side and complementary and alternative medicine on the other… Many proponents of herbal, Chinese, complementary and alternative treatments view these remedies with an almost religious fervour. Sceptics, including many in the medical profession, roll their

in Autism Therapies and Treatments by Yolande Loftus, BA, LLB

If your child is diagnosed with autism and has language processing difficulties, these may be one of the first symptoms you want to address with treatment or interventions. You quickly realize just how frustrated your child is, with meltdowns as a testament to unexpressed emotions. We can only try to understand how frustrating it must

in Communication Skills by Yolande Loftus, BA, LLB

In an episode of Modern Family (S9, Episode 2) Mitch rebukes his daughter Lily after a snarky comment by telling her: “Ok, if you’re going to be mean, be funny.” The controversy concerning the “autistic screeching” meme brings up some uncomfortable questions about this idea of humor and hurt and where the two meet. Looking

in Autism Advocacy by Yolande Loftus, BA, LLB

Cognitive disorders are impairments to cognitive function (mental processes) to a degree where normal functioning is not possible without treatment. The question of whether autism spectrum disorders fit in this category will be considered in this article. Many in the autism community feel offended by the use of the word “disorder”. For others it remains

in Autism Health and Medical Info by Yolande Loftus, BA, LLB

Diving straight into the controversial nature of this topic, perhaps the title should have been: Is Borderline Autism a Real Diagnosis? The term borderline autism probably exists because autism is difficult to diagnose—much of the challenge lies in the fact that autism is a spectrum disorder. The spectrum is wide, and the borders create as

in Autism Diagnosis by Yolande Loftus, BA, LLB

Special interest…even the name is contentious. Some autistic people feel it’s an almost patronizing term, to them special interest misses the mark completely when describing something they’re so deeply invested in. Hobby falls short by miles. So maybe obsession, fascination, or even specialized interest is more apt? Not quite, some alternatives are actually offensive; so

in Autism Solutions by Yolande Loftus, BA, LLB

“Much of the time, I feel like an anthropologist on Mars.” Dr. Temple Grandin made history when she spoke those profound words during an interview with the late Dr. Oliver Sacks. Parents observing their children with autism trying to communicate in a neurotypical world, may grasp the significance of her words. Communication is vital to

in Communication Skills by Yolande Loftus, BA, LLB

Eye contact avoidance is an issue that troubles many parents with children on the spectrum. Should your child with autism be encouraged to make eye contact; and how should the child’s avoidance be managed without inducing anxiety or stress? These and other controversial questions are sometimes answered with a narrow, neurotypical view. Neurotypical society puts

in Social Skills by Yolande Loftus, BA, LLB