Wednesday, November 13, 2013


Autism is a disorder of neural development characterized by impaired social interaction and verbal and non-verbal communication, and by restricted, repetitive or stereotyped behavior. The diagnostic criteria require that symptoms become apparent before a child is three years old. Autism affects information processing in the brain by altering how nerve cells and their synapses connect and organize; it is unknown how this occurs. It is one of three recognized disorders in the autism spectrum (ASDs), the other two being Asperger syndrome, which lacks delay in cognitive development and language, and pervasive developmental disorde, not otherwise specified (commonly abbreviated as PDD-NOS), which is the diagnosis when the full set of criteria for autism or Asperger syndrome are not met.

Parents usually notice signs in the first two years of their child´´s life. The signs usually develop gradually, but some autistic children first begin to develop normally and then regress. Early behavioral, cognitive, or speech interventions can help autistic children gain self-care, social, and communication skills. Not many children with autism live independently after reaching adulthood, though some become successful. An autistic culture has developed, with some individuals seeking a cure and others believing autism should be accepted as a difference and not treated as a disorder.

Autism is a highly variable neurodevelopmental disorder that first appears during infancy or childhood, and generally follows a steady course without remission. Overt symptoms gradually begin after the age of six months, become established by the age of two or three, and tend to continue through adulthood, although often in a more muted form. It is distinguished not by a single symptom, but by a characteristic triad of symptoms: impairments in social interaction; impairments in communication; and restricted interests and repetitive behavior. Other aspects, such as atypical eating, are also common but are not essential for diagnosis.
Autism´´s individual symptoms occur in the general population and appear not to be highly related, and it lacks a clear line separating pathologically severe from common traits.
There is no specific drug to treat autism. Special education and training curriculum system can improve prognosis. With the increased study of autism, we have gradually realized that autism is a diffuse developmental disorder of the central nervous system, which falls under certain genetic factors, and is caused by the stimulation of various kinds of environmental factors. All kinds of genetic factors and environmental factors interfere with the normal development of the nervous system. The patient may have less normally functional nerve cells in the brain than other children of the same age. There has been significant stagnation in growth in many encephalic regions After many years of study, the Wu Stem Cell Medical Center (WSCMC) found that restarting the nervous system development of the brain is important to treat autism. The WSCMC used neural stem cell implants, in addition to unique stem cell regulation techniques for the body, in order to enable the implanted neural stem cells to reach the target organs and restart the development of specific nerve cells in the brain. This can significantly improve the symptoms of autism, and improve the environmental communication skills and self-care ability required in daily life.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Chromosome Disorders

Genetic birth defects can be caused by errors in an entire chromosome or part of a chromosome, rather than in a single gene. These errors occur when the egg or sperm are forming. Occasionally, an extra chromosome is present or a chromosome is missing or broken.

This type of problem can come from either the mother or the father. The resulting imbalance of genetic material gives the fertilized egg too little or too much genetic information.

When such an error happens, it can be perpetuated each time the cells go through the division process. As the embryo grows, the additional or missing genetic information can translate into a wide range of abnormal body structures and functions, such as heart or kidney conditions and, often, mental retardation.

The chances of having a child with a chromosomal inheritance error become greater as women grow older. The possibility of such an error—commonly resulting in Down syndrome—increases throughout the childbearing years. Down syndrome is a pattern of mental retardation and physical abnormalities, often including heart defects.

Down Syndrome Occurrence and Mother’s Age
- Women in their 20s who become pregnant have about a one-in-1,230 chance of having a pregnancy affected with Down syndrome.
- At age 30, it’s one in 690.
- By age 35, the chances increase to one in 270.
- At age 40, the risk in one in 78.
- At age 45, chances are one in 22.

Prenatal tests such as chorionic villus sampling or amniocentesis can help rule out the presence of a chromosomal error with a high degree of certainty in pregnancy.

Parents who have had a baby with a chromosomal abnormality should consult a genetic counselor. These health professionals help families understand what is known about the causes of a birth defect and the chances that it will recur in another pregnancy. Fortunately, in most cases, parents of a baby with a chromosomal abnormality will learn that the risk is low. For examples, parents of a baby with Down syndrome usually have a 1 percent risk of having another affected baby, plus whatever additional risk a mother has, based on her age.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Down syndrome

A child with Down syndrome Down syndrome (also called Down's syndrome) encompasses a number of genetic disorders, of which trisomy 21 (a nondisjunction) is the most representative, causing highly variable degrees of learning difficulties and physical disabilities. It is named for John Langdon-Down, the British doctor who first described it.

Incidence of Down syndrome is estimated at 1 per 660 births, making it the most common chromosomal abnormality. Maternal age influences the risk of conceiving a baby with the syndrome. At age 20-24, it is only 1/1490, while at age 40 it is 1/106 and at age 49 it is 1/11. (Source: Hook EB. Rates of chromosomal abnormalities at different Maternal ages. Obstet Gynecol 1981;58:282.) Genetic counseling and genetic testing such as amniocentesis are usually offered for families who may be at increased risk to have a child with Down syndrome. The term was first used by the editor of The Lancet in 1961 It was originally called mongolism or mongolian idiocy, after a perceived resemblance observed by Down between the faces of some of his patients with Down syndrome and the Mongoloid race. This usage is now viewed as both offensive and medically meaningless, though it is still very widespread in common speech (often used unactually, as an insult). Children with Down syndrome are at an immediate disadvantage compared with Children who do not have DS. The IQ of a child with Down syndrome is rarely measured above 60. Brains of Children with Down syndrome are usually small and underweight. The cerebellum and brain stem are unusually small, as is the superior temporal gyrus. Educational progress may also be damaged by illness and disabilities, such as recurring infectious diseases, heart problems, poor eyesight, and hearing problems. Other physical characteristics associated with the disorder include presence of a simian crease. Early educational intervention, screening for common problems such as thyroid functioning, medical treatment where indicated, a conducive family environment, vocational training, etc. can improve the overall development of Children with Down syndrome. On the one hand, Down syndrome shows that we cannot jump over genetic limitations; on the other, it shows that education can produce excellent progress whatever the starting point. The commitment of parents, teachers and therapists to individual Children has produced previously unexpected positive results.

Medical research
Of the inborn disorders that affect intellectual capacity, Down syndrome is the most prevalent and best studied. Down syndrome is a term used to encompass a number of genetic disorders of which trisomy 21 is the most frequent (95% of cases). Trisomy 21 is the existence of the third copy of the chromosome 21 in cells throughout the body of the affected person. Other Down syndrome disorders are based on the duplication of the same subset of genes (e.g., various translocations of chromosome 21). Depending on the actual etiology, the learning disability may range from mild to severe. Trisomy 21 results in over-expression of genes located on chromosome 21. One of these is the superoxide dismutase gene. Some (but not all) studies have shown that the activity of the superoxide dismutase enzyme (SOD) is elevated in Down syndrome. SOD converts oxygen radicals to hydrogen peroxide and water. Oxygen radicals produced in cells can be damaging to cellular structures, hence the important role of SOD. However, the hypothesis says that once SOD activity increases disproportionately to enzymes responsible for removal of hydrogen peroxide (e.g., glutathione peroxidase), the cells will suffer from a peroxide damage. Some scientists believe that the treatment of Down syndrome neurons with free radical scavengers can substantially prevent neuronal degeneration. Oxidative damage to neurons results in rapid brain aging similar to that of Alzheimer's disease. Another chromosome 21 gene that might predispose Down syndrome individuals to develop Alzheimer's pathology is the gene that encodes the precursor of the amyloid protein. Neurofibrillary tangles and amyloid plaques are commonly found in both Down syndrome and Alzheimer's individuals. Layer II of the entorhinal cortex and the subiculum, both critical for memory consolidation, are among the first affected by the damage. A gradual decrease in the number of nerve cells throughout the cortex follows. A few years ago, Johns Hopkins scientists created a genetically engineered mouse called Ts65Dn (segmental trisomy 16 mouse) as an excellent model for studying the Down syndrome. Ts65Dn mouse has genes on chromosomes 16 that are very similar to the human chromosome 21 genes. With this animal model, the exact causes of Down syndrome neurological symptoms may soon be elucidated. Naturally, Ts65Dn research is also likely to highly benefit Alzheimer's research. While there are a number of commercially promoted dietary supplements on the market, especially in the USA, mainly involving various combinations of vitamins and minerals, none of these have been medically approved for use in the UK for the mass treatment of people with Down syndrome and none appear to lead to any proven lasting benefits, and all remain highly controversial.

Down syndrome's sociology
Advocates for people with Down Syndrome stress that they have the same human rights and emotions as any Other human being. The abuse and forcible institutionalization of people with Down syndrome was closely linked to early twentieth-century racial and eugenic theory, culminating in the murder of many people with Down syndrome and Other disabilities by the Nazi government in Germany in the 1930s-1945, and the creation of compulsory sterilization programs around the world which targeted the mentally disabled. Today, Down Syndrome is considered a ground for abortion in an increasing number of countries. The number of Children born with Down Syndrome is decreasing due to a large number of abortions after an early diagnosis of Down Syndrome during pregnancy. In a hearing before the German Parliament, doctors stated that 90% of all Children prenatally diagnosed with Down Syndrome are aborted. This number is consistent with the official statistics, wherein 1500 Children with Down Syndrome should, statistically, have been born per year (at a prevalence rate of 1:600), but only 63 p.a. were listed in the 1995 birth register. Providing what Advocates call outdated and biased information on the personality of a child with Down Syndrome, doctors often encourage mothers to have abortions. Changes in sociological theories and long standing knowledge from special pedagogics have not had a noticeable impact on medical professionals' views on raising a developmentally disabled child. Teachers trained in special education or Down Syndrome parenting groups can provide thoroughly researched information and organize encounters with disabled children, giving future mothers first hand information on life with a disabled child. It has been widely recognized in democratic countries that the housing of people with Down syndrome in psychiatric institutions and their exclusion from society is inapt and ignores their abilities as well as their human rights. Under the influence of social role validation and inclusion, people with Down syndrome are increasingly being offered better chances for realising their potential for personal and social development. Despite this welcome change, the reduced abilities of people with Down syndrome pose a practical and ethical problem to their parents and families. While living with their parents is preferable to institutionalization for most adults with Down syndrome, they are often treated as Children (and not as mentally disabled adults) for all their lives. A different and even more serious problem emerges when the parents die and leave the adult with Down syndrome behind. If there are no siblings willing or able to take the disabled person in, some institution will have to provide an apt and comfortable environment for the person with Down syndrome, as they are usually unable to run their own household, apply for a regular job, get a driver's licence and take care of insurances etc. One increasingly popular model in Europe lets four to six people with Down Syndrome share an apartment in a normal residential area, taking care of the daily household duties themselves and receiving support from a skilled caregiver in organizing their routines and in dealing with institutions or potential employers. Many Children in the UK are now educated in mainstream schools, learn to read and write, and are likely to live productive and valued lives as part of their families and communities. However, full-time mainstreaming proves difficult after the first few years of schooling, because the intellectual gap between Children with and without Down syndrome widens at this age. Many Children with Down syndrome do have difficulties reading and understanding more than a rather basic vocabulary. Complex thinking as required in sciences but also in history, the arts and Other subjects is usually beyond their abilities. Therefore, if they are to benefit from being mainstreamed without feeling inferior most of the time, special adjustments must be made to the curriculum. Some European countries such as Germany and Denmark advise a two-teacher system where the second teacher takes over a group of disabled Children within the class. A popular alternative is cooperation between special education schools and mainstream schools. In cooperation, the core subjects are taught in separate classes in order to neither slow Down the non-disabled students nor neglect the disabled ones. Social activites, outings, and many sports and arts activities are performed together, as are all breaks and meals. Individuals with Down Syndrome share many of the characteristics of their parents, with an average life expectancy of 49 years in the USA versus 77 years for the whole population ( thanks mainly to improved diet, housing, health and social care. Many Children and adults with Down's syndrome enjoy a satisfactory quality of life, and the extra chromosome may confer some health benefits, for example, reduced Incidence of certain cancers caused by double immunity: lung cancer, for instance, is virtually unknown in people with Down syndrome.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Conductive Education

Training as a Conductor

Conductors are a new profession, providing an altogether new way of helping children and adults with motor disorders, and their families, to live fuller and more fulfilling lives.Motor disorders are chronic and incurable conditions in which damage or disease to the central nervous system causes difficulties in controlling bodily movements. In childhood most common are the cerebral palsies, in which damage to the brain's ability to direct movement occurs during pregnancy or in the earliest period of life. This can affect every aspect of a child's development, emotional bonding with parents, exploring the environment, playing, speaking and, later, school learning. And of course family life is fundamentally changed. In adulthood, motor disorder is most commonly the result of Parkinson's disease, head injury, stroke or multiple sclerosis. In such cases, movements which were learned long ago are lost, with effects on mobility, writing and speech, self-care, employability and personal dignity. Again, the lives of a whole family may be changed for ever.Conductors work with individuals (children or adults), with their families and through institutions that serve them. Their work is new, different and exciting because they approach motor disorders and the problems that stem from them as problems of learning that are amenable to skilled, empathetic and structured teaching. This approach is called Conductive Education.

Conductive Education
Conductive Education (CE) originated in Hungary shortly after World War II. It was 'discovered' about fifteen years ago and is now spreading across the world. The main force for setting up Conductive Education services comes from the families of those who wish to benefit from it. As Conductive Education spreads to new countries then new opportunities are arising to apply it in new ways, to new problems.At the heart of Conductive Education teaching lies conductive pedagogy, an approach to teaching and learning which considers that all people, however disabled, can learn and that the onus of achieving this rests with the conductors. People learn because they have things that they wish to learn and conductive pedagogy leads ('conducts') learners to new intentions and new motivations through meticulous attention to finding what works for every individual and capitalising on every success.Conductive Pedagogy for motor-disordered children and adults involves understanding their underlying conditions, how these are manifest in each individual, how this affects the family. Above all, it involves not simply how to teach but how to teach active learning.

Training Conductors
Degree-level Conductor training at the National Institute of Conductive Education (NICE) began in 1997, in collaboration with the University of Wolverhampton. Until then conductor training had been available only in Hungary where this system originated. Since this training began students have come to NICE from Canada, the United States, Korea and Norway, as well as from the United Kingdom. The training lasts for three years.Students following the Specialist Route will on graduation be awarded a BA (Conductive Education) which the Foundation will recognise as conferring Qualified Conductor Status. Students may also follow a Joint Route, combining Conductive Education with another subject.The core of conductor training is supervised and monitored practice within groups over the whole of the three years. Placements are at NICE or in associated institutions in which NICE conductors work. Students may, after their second year, choose to specialise to work with adults or children or continue with a generic qualification.In addition to the practical pedagogic craft learned in the groups, there is a full academic programme to produce critical and self-aware professionals fully able to take their place amongst other professions in analogous fields. Modules include human biology and physiology (shared with nursing students), modules from education studies and sport sciences, and modules specifically created by NICE. Practical conductive pedagogy is underpinned by lectures and tutorials and by theoretical bases in psychology and neuropsychology.The course is taught partly at the University of Wolverhampton and partly at NICE.

Working as a Conductor
Conductors may work across the life span and across the motor-disorder spectrum (i.e. all relevant conditions at all degrees of severity from slight to very severe). It is unlikely that any one conductor will work in all these ways, more likely specialising initially in a particular age-group.There are already around thirty places where conductors work in the United Kingdom. So far most of these focus on children under school age and most centres are in the voluntary (charitable) sector. Across the country there already exist most of the services now provided at NICE. Conductive Education has been developing in the UK for around fifteen years, with lack of conductors a major factor in limiting its spread.Interest in Conductive Education is now intense in North America, on Continental Europe and elsewhere. Again, shortage of conductors is a major problem.The new conductor profession has the exciting potential to generate new institutions to deal with age-old problems, both in the UK and overseas. A career structure is already beginning to emerge, including responsibility for the work of other conductors and training. The new profession will also need academic researchers and managers, entrepreneurs and lobbyists.