Developmental disorders like autism are complex, even specialists in cognitive science fields recognize there is still much to learn; however, when a child receives an autism diagnosis, parents often turn to the latest cognitive theories to learn more about their child’s unique brain development and other autistic traits. Many parents would love a single, concise,

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

Parents concerned about their autistic child’s mood swings often ask if autism and bipolar disorder co-occur and whether symptoms overlapping mean the disorders are related. Autistic adults, diagnosed later in life, often talk about their struggle to get diagnosed. Far too many share details of being misdiagnosed, and suffering severe side effects of medication that

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

When kids on the spectrum struggle with listening, especially the processing and comprehension of sound, parents may wonder if it’s a characteristic of autism or an issue with auditory processing. Auditory processing disorder is a complicated condition courting controversy like most other sensory processing disorders. We tend to think of hearing in a simplistic way

in Sensory Solutions by Yolande Loftus, BA, LLB

Could a visualizing and verbalizing® program be the answer for reading comprehension struggles? Children with autism spectrum disorder, especially those who struggle to form mental images while reading, may benefit from a program like the Nancibell® Visualizing and Verbalizing® Language Comprehension and Thinking program. Hearing your child read a sentence for the first time is

in Education and Classroom by Yolande Loftus, BA, LLB

A future where an autism brain scan facilitates accurate, earliest possible diagnoses of autism spectrum disorders may not only be possible but probable. If only there was a quick, accurate test that could diagnose autism effortlessly, a rapid blood test or brain scan, eliminating the need for doctors to painstakingly examine a child’s developmental history,

in Autism Diagnosis by Yolande Loftus, BA, LLB

There are very few prescription medications approved for autism spectrum disorders. Some feel this encourages off-label use of drugs to alleviate challenging autism symptoms of children on the spectrum. Clonidine is one such drug; frequently mentioned as a beneficial treatment option for sleep disturbances and behavioral challenges. Parents often experience frustration due to the lack

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

Autism spectrum disorders and joint hypermobility related disorders: what’s the link, and why are these conditions increasingly mentioned together? It seems science is slowly catching up, searching along both spectrums to find the connection between autism and hypermobility spectrum disorder and other hereditary connective tissue disorders—hypermobility is often a sign of such hereditary connective tissue

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

If it takes a village to raise a neurotypical child, we should be working to provide that and so much more for children with autism spectrum disorder. Among those resources needed may be an autism psychiatrist, a professional whose role encompasses way more than just diagnostics. Psychologist, psychiatrist, behavioral pediatrician, neurologist, the terms and the

in Autism Diagnosis by Yolande Loftus, BA, LLB

Parents with children on the spectrum often speak about their kids’ difficulty recognizing faces, even those of friends and relatives. Face blindness, or prosopagnosia, means a person cannot recognize that they’ve seen a face before; this condition, found in many on the spectrum, may have serious psychosocial consequences. What do you see when you look

in Social Skills by Yolande Loftus, BA, LLB

It may be a generalization, but autism is often linked to a visual learning style. It follows that using flashcards (especially picture cards as visual supports) for learning may be a great tool for parents to help their child on the spectrum. Looking back at our lockdown history, late-night online shopping was replaced by later

in Visual Supports by Yolande Loftus, BA, LLB

The world of complementary and alternative medicine may seem a little mystical and vague. Search suggestions from Google emphasize what many parents want to know: “Does it actually work?” But, more specifically, is acupuncture effective in treating a complex condition like autism spectrum disorder? What is acupuncture? Acupuncture has been around for a long time;

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

Anti-Bullying Week is a great opportunity to share stories and open conversation about a very sensitive topic. For individuals on the spectrum, bullying can be more prevalent, more severe and, due to communication challenges, even harder to talk about. This article shares personal stories about bullying to inspire change… Wanting to raise awareness of some

in Bullying by Yolande Loftus, BA, LLB

Stimming refers to (repeated) self-stimulating behaviors; some feel the definition should also include a reference to “self-soothing” to be more appropriate. Whatever the definition, stims like finger flicking are not odd habits—rather, they may be one of the most powerful coping mechanisms for individuals on the spectrum. Have you ever felt a rising sense of

in Autism Behavioral Solutions by Yolande Loftus, BA, LLB

As more children are diagnosed with autism, researchers are examining a variety of potential “causes” including maternal hormonal disorders like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). One of the most debated autism theories may just be the “extreme male brain” theory. The theory suggests that autism may be an extreme manifestation of the male brain (Baron-Cohen, 2002).

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

When autism is found alongside (or co-morbid with) another disorder, diagnosis and treatment may be complicated. One example is cerebral palsy and autism spectrum disorder, where severity and symptoms tend to present differently in each individual. Autism rates among children with cerebral palsy are elevated when compared to prevalence in the general population. Even doctors

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

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