DEAR ERI COMMUNITY: I am a pediatric physical therapist, and I have a 33 mo old male patient who has been exhibiting signs of autism since he was about 18-19 mos; his mother has been told by a developmental specialist and a neurologist that it is likely that he does have autism, but he still has no official diagnosis. He has low tone, poor attention and eye contact, babbles but does not speak, is obsessed with spinning wheels and opening and closing doors, does not demonstrate appropriate play skills for his age, and has feeding difficulties, frequently gagging or vomiting with attempts at feeding. He has a long history of respiratory trouble, including asthma and bronchitis. He also has a long history of digestive issues, including gastroenteritis, vomiting, diarrhea, etc. He has been making fairly consistent progress throughout the time I have been treating him, but about 3 mos ago, he fractured his radius, and he made a substantial improvement in function and showed a dramatic decrease in signs of autism very quickly while he was wearing the cast. In brainstorming with his mother, it was determined that there had been no other life changes (change in diet, outside therapies, people living in the home, etc) during that time; however, she was giving him ibuprofen for his pain. After he had the cast removed, he returned to his former behaviors. When I noticed his behaviors returning, I asked his mother if she was still giving him the ibuprofen, and she told me she quit giving it to him a couple of days earlier when the doctor told her his bone was healed. One time since then, he started running a fever during my therapy session, and the next day during therapy, he had an incredible session. I asked his mother after the session if she had given him ibuprofen that day, and she said his fever had gotten worse during the night, so she had given him some ibuprofen to reduce his fever and help him sleep. I have discussed many possibilities with his physician, but we have not been able to identify any inflammatory processes that may be affecting his behavior. Does anyone have any experience with any children whose signs of autism decreased dramatically when given NSAIDs or know of any inflammatory conditions that can cause or mimic signs of autism? I’d love to hear any ideas!
For all of you fans of Stacey Szklut, we wanted to let you know that she is back on our faculty! She took a hiatus from teaching for several years to build her highly respected private practice. She’ll be teaching a much needed continuing education course on autism intervention which will integrate evidence based treatments with practical techniques for behavior, communication, and function.
Stacey is well known for her dynamic engaging teaching style, and her ability to take current research and make it clinically relevant and exciting. She will teach you to view familiar problems with new eyes. She is a master clinician in occupational therapy, and also a published author who lectures throughout the country with a specialty in sensory processing disorders.
Look for her dates and locations here.
Stacey Szklut is also presenting at our annual Therapies in the School conference
DEAR ERI COMMUNITY:
Client with Feeding Difficulties:
I am seeing a child who is now 15 months of age. She was born at 36 weeks gestation, with very low birth weight and a very weak suck – was never able to breast feed successfully. After transitioning from hospital to home, mom found that only one orthodontic nuk nipple would work for feeding her 50/50 mix of breast milk and formula. The child was very sensitive to different bottle nipples, many of which would make her gag and vomit. Since 1 month of age, the child has been vomiting almost daily (previously was after every feed). She was diagnosed with reflux (GERD) and put on medication (Prevacid), which was recently discontinued due to doctor’s belief that the reflux has improved now. The child was able to take in enough with the frequent liquid feeds, and she is still currently an age-appropriate weight. Mom has been trying several strategies and for over a few months to transition her to accepting anything solid (started with trying pablum, which child could not accept without having a gag and/or vomit response). Mom has applied all recommended sensory strategies (z-vibe introduction and exercises, tactile exploration, sensory play, introducing new smells/tastes in graded steps, and use of wilbarger oral protocol, etc.). The problem now is that the child’s transitioning to solid foods and thickened liquids is ongoing, but slow. As well, the child has been vomiting daily since 1 month of age. Now, when the child coughs too much, gets too upset, or has something stuck in her mouth that she can’t get out with her tongue, she uses vomiting as a default strategy for getting anything uncomfortable out of her system. The mom would like to know if there are any strategies/tools or approaches that can be used to 1) stop the vomiting from occurring once she can see early signs of that response in the child (i.e. if the reflux is just starting, the mom can sometimes stop it if she distracts child by putting her feet in water — she would like more strategies like this); and 2) prevent the child from developing a voluntary behavioural issue with vomiting, as she matures.
Any advice, recommendations, feedback from other health professionals familiar with these issues would be greatly appreciated!!!!! Thanks
DEAR ERI COMMUNITY: I currently have a client with Rett Syndrome and this is my first case in my career to treat the child. She presents with very high functioning skills, she is able to transition from the floor to stand via bear stance, she can walk over uneven surfaces with out falling over, she can gallop and increase her walking speed without falling. She has a #3 DAFO on one foot and a #4 DAFO on the other. Cognitively she does not follow verbal commands and requires hand over hand assist to stay on task. This child is 10 years old and the previous therapy place was seeing her on a weekly basis. I reached to them to ask their recommendations and opinion on realistic goals and if she requires continued therapy on a weekly basis. The therapist philosophy was to treat this child on a weekly basis due to her progressive neurological decline and that if she saw the child, that the child would not regress. I treat what I see, I also work in an outpatient clinic which insurances drives to see improvements. Is skilled services required at this time with her current presentation?
DEAR ERI COMMUNITY: I’m looking for any advice regarding a current student I work with. He is a 9 y/o boy with severe Autism, hard of hearing, and cognitive delay. His stims have been increasing lately, approximately the last 6-8 weeks, we’ve seen new stims including drawing on himself and in the air, arm flapping, running in circles, can not stand still longer than 2 sec (I know these are “typical” stims). His normal stims are drawing on white board over and over, looking at his drawings with his peripheral vision, and rocking. The stimming is constant throughout his day and nights, compared to previously a handful of times throughout the day. We are a residential school, so he is here 5 days/nights a week. He has also started touching other boys in their genitals, repetitively. He has developed an unhealthy relationship with another classmate, who he needs to be next to at all times, is constantly touching him, if the other child leaves the room, he begins to cry and perseverates on that boy until he returns. The teacher and aides have them separated in the classroom so there is no touching that can happen, unless this boy runs over and grabs the other boy. The other boy does not encourage these behaviors. He is caring toward the other student, but often wants a lot of separation between the two of them.
I know that stims change, come and go, intensify at times, one needs to be replaced with another. We have always been able to redirct him in the past, we’ve worked with increasing his sensory diet and he communicates his needs most of the time now. He is never denyed sensory when we feel he needs it or when he requests it.
So, the real question is: does anyone have any ideas what can be causing the increase in stimming and behavior, plus treatment ideas please. Our behavior specialist is helping with the changes as well, but hasn’t come up with anything effective yet.