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Nature, Good Health and Wellbeing

According to a new study, "Spending at Least 120 Minutes a Week in Nature is Associated with Good Health and Wellbeing," ( spending at least 120 minutes a week with recreational nature improved health and well-being according to the study of 19,806 subjects. It did not matter how if the time spent was continuous or separated. This study included among others, elderly and individuals with health problems. Nature can be wonderful therapy.

Another Study Confirms Link Between Diabetes in Pregnancy and Autism: Stop Blaming Vaccines

This study examined the relationship between Hemoglobin A1C levels, a measurement of overall blood sugar, and autism in offspring. Diabetes prevalence is skyrocketing. We need to focus on diet, exercise, environmental toxins such as air pollution, BPA and pesticides, as discussed in previous posts, and stop blaming vaccines.

Google Glass May Improve Social Behavior in Autism

71 children ages 6-12 receiving applied behavior analysis were randomized to receive Google Glass and a control group. The children wore Google Glass accompanied by a smart phone app. The Google Glass assisted with facial engagement and emotion recognition by displaying an emoji consistent with facial expression detected with the device's camera. There is also an audio device option. The accompanying mobile app had social engagement activities which included games and "free play" to help with social interaction. The children used the intervention four times a week for 20 minutes, one session with a behavior therapist and three times with family members, for six weeks. The children in the intervention group showed improvements in social behavior compared to the control group, (Voss C, Schwartz J, Daniels J, et al. Effect of Wearable Digital Intervention for Improving Socialization in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Pediatr. Published online March 25, 2019. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2019.0285).

Autism, Families, Resiliency and Symbiosis

Three days ago, a new controlled study was published online which showed improved resiliency in parents of children with autism who engaged in an eight session one hour to one and a half hours virtual mind-body group program which included "relaxation techniques, stress awareness discussion, and adaptive strategies for coping with stress." Resiliency is the ability to adapt (bounce back) to stressors. In this study, the treatment group showed improvements in resiliency and stress/reactivity compared to the control group, (Kuhlthau, KA, Luberto CM, Traeger L, et al. "A Virtual Resiliency Intervention for Parents of Children with Autism: A Randomized Pilot Trial," J Autism and Developmental Disorders, (March 21, 2019): 1-14.

As a parent and a sibling of individuals with autism, there is a lot I get stress out about. I have a child Talia who needs constant supervision, who among other behaviors bangs her head, bites and makes loud noises during the night. I have to think about how I am going to pay the next autism school tuition installment while dreading the possibility of an impartial hearing. I also have to run the house and get involved with my brothers' issues, especially Stuart who has no access to ABA, has problem behaviors, numerous side effects to medications and often is so sedated he basically lives in a chemical prison.

Stuart often refuses his day program and either lies in bed all day or sits on a chair. He does not go out on weekends. He is morbidly obese and has permanent tardive dyskinesia.

A month ago, I told him I would have a Purim party at my house and I told him I would have a favorite dessert for him, but he had to attend program every day, and he did! When he came over, he started bothering my mother with repetitive nonsense, "You have a thin head." I needed to cook for ten people and did care to deal with this. Talia wanted to play in the occupational therapy gym I installed years ago in the basement, so I asked Stuart to watch his niece. He actually did very well. Once she tried to leave the gym and walk towards the laundry room, Stuart told her right away to come back and she listened to him. We had autism symbiosis! This is another reason we should not focus simply on deficits and look at what people with special needs can do. As I have stated many times before we need to prioritize psychosocial interventions, including applied behavior analysis rather than drugs.