18-09 Segment 1: Misunderstanding Autism

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In the last 30 years, the number of children that are diagnosed with autism has increased, yet parents have received very little information on what has caused this number to skyrocket. Steve Silberman, author of Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity, explains that the spike in diagnoses was caused by the development of a new definition for autism. He says that it was initially believed to be caused by a mixture of bad parenting and genetics, making it into a taboo topic, and allowing many people to ignore its presence for almost thirty years.

Over time, autism has become more visible to the public, yet people still have a skewed understanding of what it is. Silberman explains that autism is a lifelong disorder that can manifest itself in a variety of ways. Dr. Barry Prizant, Professor of Artists & Scientists As Partners Group at Brown University, and author of Uniquely Human: A Different Way of Seeing Autism, states that many of the behaviors that we identify as symptoms of autism are often coping mechanisms for those who are autistic to deal with an environment that can be overwhelming. Among the traits of autism is the inability to easily communicate, which can make this disorder particularly disabling for some.

Since autism has become more prevalent in our culture, it is important for people to understand the myths surrounding autism and take steps to better understand the disorder. Silberman explains that too much money is being spent on looking for risk factors, and not enough is going towards research to help autistic individuals and their families. Dr. Prizant states that the current treatments do little to help autistic individuals, and in some cases can make their lives more difficult. Although research into what causes autism is imperative to understanding the disorder, there should be more focus on making life easier for those who suffer with it everyday.

Guests:

  • Steve Silberman, author of Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity
  • Dr. Barry Prizant, Professor of Artists & Scientists As Partners Group at Brown University, and author of Uniquely Human: A Different Way of Seeing Autism

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18-09 Segment 2: Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome

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Vomiting is not a pleasurable experience for anybody, but most people do not suffer from it all that often. However, people with cyclic vomiting syndrome may experience this discomfort once or twice a month for 24 to 48 hours, and sometimes, even up to ten days. Kathleen Adams is the mother of a cyclic vomiting sufferer and the founder, President, and Research Liaison of Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome Association. She explains that her daughter began having episodes of vomiting as a baby that would last for two and a half to three days. She went undiagnosed for ten years, before finding a doctor who recognized her symptoms and was able to prescribe her medicine that helped decrease the severity of the episodes.

Due to the fact that this syndrome is not well known, many people do not know what to look for or how to prevent it. Dr. B Li, Professor of Pediatrics and Director of Cyclic Vomiting Program at the Medical College of Wisconsin, states that cyclic vomiting syndrome is defined as  recurrent spells of vomiting that can make individuals vomit to the point of dehydration, and even hinder their ability to walk and talk. She explains that these episodes can be triggered from stress, lack of sleep, prolonged fasting, and even exciting events. Although, it can sometimes be prevented if the patient or caregiver is able to identify the trigger that sets off an episode.

While there are ways to help prevent cyclic vomiting syndrome through medications and understanding what triggers an episode, it still remains difficult to treat. Dr. Li states that studies have sought to address how debilitating the syndrome is and it has been proven to impact the quality of life to the same degree as diseases such as Crohn’s disease. However, Dr. Katja Kovacic, pediatric gastroenterologist at the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, explains that most children eventually outgrow cyclic vomiting syndrome by adolescence. Unfortunately for many, it can evolve into other symptoms, such as migraine headaches. Despite being something a person may eventually outgrow, it is important to understand the impact the syndrome has on those who suffer from it as well as their caregivers.

Guests:

  • Kathleen Adams, mother of cyclic vomiting sufferer and the founder, President, and Research Liason of Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome Association
  • Dr. B Li, Professor of Pediatrics and Director of the Cyclic Vomiting Program at Medical College of Wisconsin
  • Dr. Katja Kovacic, pediatric gastroenterologist at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin

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Medical Notes 18-09

 

Medical Notes this week…

Doctors may have a lot more time to respond to strokes than they thought.  Studies in the New England Journal of Medicine show that with quick brain scans to pinpoint stroke locations doctors may have as long as 24 hours after a stroke to administer clot busting drugs.  Previously doctors believed they had only 6 hours to act.  The results of the studies are reflected in new stroke treatment guidelines issued by the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association, and experts say they could save thousands of lives and disabilities per year.

Ever wonder why we have a gut feeling to trust some people and not others?  It could have to do with how much they look like people we’ve known in the past.  A study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences finds that if someone even remotely resembles someone whose burned us in the past we’re unlikely to trust them. And if they resemble someone whose done well by us in the past we’re more likely to think they’re okay.

And finally, evidence that sugar comas are real. A study in the journal Physiology and Behavior finds that people’s cognitive performance and attention are impaired after they consume sugar, especially simple sugars like glucose.  And the effect is especially bad if people haven’t eaten in a while.

And that’s Medical Notes this week.

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