Tag Archives: help

Link between SSRI’s during pregnancy and autism?

Selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are a class of drugs typically used as antidepressants in the treatment of depression, anxiety disorders, and some personality disorders. It is not uncommon for women to take SSRI antidepressants during pregnancy. A study published in August 2014 in the British Journal of Psychiatry is the latest to suggest an association between prenatal SSRI exposure with childhood autism.

The recently published study, entitled “Prenatal exposure to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and social responsiveness symptoms of autism: population-based study of young children”, undertook to determine whether intra-uterine SSRI exposure is associated with childhood autistic symptoms in a population-based study.

The study concluded that children prenatally exposed to SSRIs also were at higher risk for developing pervasive developmental problems compared with unexposed children. Children prenatally exposed to SSRIs also had more autistic compared with those exposed to depressive symptoms only.

According to study’s authors, the results suggest an association between prenatal SSRI exposure and autistic traits in children. They suggest that long-term drug safety trials are needed before evidence-based recommendations are possible.

This is not the first study to suggest an association between prenatal exposure to SSRIs and autism and is hardly the first to suggest that use of SSRIs during pregnancy may pose risks for the child. Researchers have found time and again that SSRIs pass through the placenta and impact the development of the fetus in serious ways, elevating the risk of a host of birth defects.

Prozac and Zoloft are among the antidepressants commonly prescribed for women during pregnancy. Both drugs are SSRIs. Such drugs have largely been assigned a “C” grade for safety during pregnancy by the FDA, meaning they have been known to harm animals taking them in large doses, but because researchers cannot ethically test any drug on a human baby, the FDA states that effects on unborn humans remain unproven. The FDA and the drug’s manufacturer do now warn women not to take Paxil during pregnancy.

One of the more serious birth defects being linked to SSRIs is persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN). This is a rare problem that affects a newborn’s heart and lungs. Some scientists suggest that taking an SSRI during the second half of pregnancy may significantly increases the risk of a child developing this this condition.
Side Effects Caused By Dangerous Drugs?

When drug companies fail to warn parents about risk of pregnancy complications from prescription drugs such as Topamax, they may be placing children at risk of serious and potentially life-altering birth defects. Despite FDA warnings about the birth defect risk of countless prescription drugs—ranging from SSRI antidepressants such as Paxil, Prozac, Zoloft, Celexa, Effexor, and Lexapro; drugs containing valproate (valproic acid) like Depakote, Depakene, Depacon, and Stavzor; or the acne medication Accutane—thousands of children continue to be harmed each year by preventable complications caused by prescription medications.

Heygood, Orr & Pearson has represented numerous patients in pharmaceutical liability lawsuits after they suffered complications caused by prescription drugs. Our attorneys have tried hundreds of cases to verdict and reached settlements in hundreds more, achieving verdicts and settlements totaling more than $200 million. In the year 2010 alone, Heygood, Orr & Pearson settled personal injury and wrongful death claims totaling more than $50 million on behalf of our clients.

If your child was born with birth defects caused by complications from a prescription medication, you may be entitled to file a lawsuit and receive compensation to help with the costly medical expenses. For more information about your legal rights, contact the lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001, or by following the link to our free case evaluation form located on this website.
– See more at: http://www.hop-law.com/study-suggests-link-between-ssri-antidespressants-during-pregnancy-and-autism/#sthash.GcsBXLR0.dpuf

Five (5) Things You Really Need To Know About Special Education

The School District Does not have to evaluate your child just because you submit a signed request to evaluate.

When you submit a written and signed request for an evaluation, the school district has 15 days to meet as a team, discuss your child’s educational needs, and provide a written response with indication of a game-plan to meet your child’s needs. That “game-plan” does not necessarily need to include a referral to the school psychologist for an educational evaluation. It may, rather, include any number of other options including modifications to how the classwork is assigned. However, you can appeal their feedback and request due process in that regard.

To determine eligibility for special education services, most Districts still use the 15 point discrepancy guideline

If your child is evaluated by the school psychologist, various tests are administered (IQ, Academic…). The scores are listed as “Standard Scores” with an average of 100 (average runs from 90 to 109). There generally needs to be a 15 point “discrepancy” or difference between the IQ score and the academic scores (reading, math…) for a child to be deemed eligible for special education (Specific Learning Disability). For example, if the child obtains an IQ of 100, then it’s expected the reading and math scores will also be about 100 (it’s expected that the child will achieve at the same level as their IQ). However, if the reading or math scores are 85, that’s a 15 point difference and would qualify the child for special education (under the classification of a Specific Learning Disability). Less than a 15 point difference would preclude qualification. Other factors are also considered including PSSA scores, grades, work effort, prior opportunity for being appropriately educated, and English language proficiency. However, the 15 point rule is often primary.

The 15 point discrepancy model is why many kids, who may need special education, don’t qualify

It can be quite challenging to obtain a 15 point discrepancy, especially in the lower grades, and even more-so if a child has a lower IQ, say in the low average range. For example, if a child has an IQ Standard Score of 82 (low in the low average range), then the reading and math standard scores would have to be as low as 67, which is quite deficient and unlikely except in the most severe of situations. So, kids who have a lower IQ, and who are often in most need for special education, are often excluded. Keep in mind that, in this scenario, a child with a Standard Score of 70 in Reading is clearly struggling, but does not qualify because there is less than a 15 point discrepancy. This is a situation that most school districts acknowledge as a problem and try to provide alternative options such as Title I and similar programs.

The benefit of using grade-equivalents in addition to standard scores

A child may have a Standard Score of 87 in reading comprehension, which is at the upper end of the “low average” range and, on the surface, does not appear significantly deficient and often would not lead to a child meeting criteria for special education (under the classifiation of a specific learning disability). However, despite the low average score, the grade-equivalent (the grade-level on which the child is working) for that child may be two grades behind, truly revealing the degree to which the child is struggling. Most often, grade-equivalents are not listed in the report, and their importance tends to be down-played for various reasons I won’t bore you with today. However, I’ve found that grade-equivalents are important and need to be reviewed, discussed, and taken seriously during team meetings.

A classification of “specific learning disability” or “learning disability”, used by the school district, is essentially synonymous with “dyslexia”

The terminology used by school districts (Specific Learning Disability, Other Health Impairment…) comes straight from the Pennsylvania Department of Education in Harrisburg. This Department tells the Districts what terms they must use to receive funding. Consequently, school districts use the term “specific learning disability (SLD)”. It’s important to know that well over 90% of all kids who fall under the classification of SLD, have dyslexia (or dysgraphia, or dyscalculia…). In that regard, the reason they have a specific learning disability is because they have dyslexia. I’ve written at length about dyslexia, so feel free to read my prior posts about that disorder on the cpcwecare.com blog.

What does this mean for you?

In summary, there are lots of accommodation options besides directly referring to the school psychologist for an evaluation. In fact, you may find the process faster and smoother to receive feedback from the team regarding simple and efficient things they can do, now, in the classroom to help your child, and things you can do at home rather than waiting 60 days for the school psychologist to complete and present evaluation results. This is especially true given that a 15 point discrepancy is often needed for eligibility to receive special education services, and the chances are not great your child will have that discrepancy; especially in the lower grades. A 504 Plan may be more than sufficient and is much faster to develop. A 504 Plan is used for children who have a diagnosis for which various modifications can be used to ensure they have the same opportunity for an appropriate education as everyone else. It’s often used, for example, with kids who are diagnosed with ADHD. Ultimately, however, it’s vital to obtain information about what you can do at home to help your child learn. Again, see my prior posts about dyslexia (learning disabilities) for specific tips and suggestions. Also, feel free to email me at doctorc@autismcenterofpittsburgh.com.

Asperger’s and Social Outings: Don’t leave it to chance

Written by Dr. John Carosso

The Challenge

In my work with parents, it’s all too common to hear the concern that their child, with high functioning Autism/Asperger’s, initially tends to ‘fit-in’ but, invariably, peers begin to notice peculiar tendencies, and social immaturity, and then shy away from their child. Of course, this causes distress, sadness, and frustration for everyone involved.

The Dilemma

Parents want to promote their child’s independence, and give them opportunities to socialize. Consequently, they’ll let their children play in the neighborhood, or participate in a sport or activity. However, again, invariably there are problems and the child feels distressed.

The Answer

It is vital and necessary to encourage social opportunities for children with high functioning Autism and Asperger’s. The key is to “success” is four-fold:

1.) Provide ongoing, child-friendly, rehearsal of social skills, and preparation for the social encounter.

2.) Monitor the social situation. The ‘monitoring’ is done by an adult who is familiar with the child, understands the potential problems, and is instructed how to intervene. This could be the parent, neighbor, coach, youth pastor, cafeteria aide, teacher, teacher’s aide, family friend, relative, babysitter, librarian, camp counselor, TSS, Mobile Therapist… Actually, it could also include an older sibling or peer, if mature and trustworthy in that regard. The adult does not necessarily need to be well-trained, but simply have an understanding of what may ‘not go so well’ and some simple steps on how to respond. In that regard, it’s likely unwise to simply send-off the child to the social encounter with expectation that ‘all will go well.’ Structure and over-sight is imperative.

3.) Group-oriented social skill training. However, it can be quite challenging for a parent to find the proper social group for their child with Asperger’s. These high functioning kiddos, whose symptoms are often mild, don’t fit-in so well with children struggling with more severe autism. Groups for such children, especially those with very subtle symptoms, are not especially abundant. Here at Community Psychiatric Centers, we put together group therapy sessions for just these type of children. However, otherwise, the pickings remain slim. Consequently, we must rely heavily on social gatherings with typical peers, but with adult oversight.

4.) To the extent possible, instruct and help peers to be compassionate, empathetic, and tolerant. Many kids will rise to the occasion, if given some direction and information.

The Bottom Line

Your child with Asperger’s needs to be monitored, when possible, in a social setting. Reinforce good social skills, and gently and tactfully redirect peculiar tendencies. Don’t leave it to chance. Educate adults who will be present during the encounter on what to ‘look out for’, and inform of simply ways to intervene. That is the recipe for success.

Please let me know your success stories and how they came about. Thank you. God bless.