Friday, April 24, 2009

Bringing Them Into The Mainstream - Film On Autism

Film - Finding The Words

Hope In The Midst Of Despair

This is for parents of kids on the autism spectrum: You might be interested in buying a DVD that has recently been released in the market, and that chronicles the lives of eight kids who were detected as autistic during infancy and who have returned to the mainstream since, all because the parents decided to not give-up-and-surrender, and because their doctors were motivated to find and / or work out better therapies from out of the box. The DVD, an hour-long documentary film titled "Finding The Words", takes the viewer through the trials and tribulations undergone by the families involved, to the final denouement where the kids' lives seamless mingle with the other kids in their respective "regular" schools.

Major brain structures implicated in autism - wiki_*

* Diagram of the brain explaining the major structures implicated in autism, wiki.

At a time when the gloomy prognosis in the scientific establishment is that "ASDs are lifelong conditions with no known cure" - these stories inspire cheer. While the film focuses on just eight kids, it is to be hoped that these kids are but a tip of a growing groundswell of similar such cases which might have gone undocumented, and compiling and collating these success stories in a fashion similar to the CDC studies can clean the stamp of "incurability" that the condition has come to acquire. This is especially considering that the CDC's revelation that 1 in 150 kids in the US is on the spectrum has marked out Autism as a candidate to be tagged as an "epidemic", to be tackled at the level of the society and the government and not just left to the individual devices of the parents.

ASA Logo_*

* Autism Society of America - April is Autism Awareness Month.

The DVD is available for purchase at Finding The Words. Here is a trailer of this video:

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Internet Addicted? The Addiction Could Lead To Disorders

image by svilen001,

Excessive Obsession With The Internet Is Dangerous

You must have come across quite a few jokes that kids share amongst themselves and pass on to their peers. One of them is reproduced here:


- You get up in the morning and your first ritual is to go online.

- You see something funny and you scream, "LOL, LOL". Instead of laughing, you say "hehehe".

- When you finally signed off early morning today, your screen said you were online for 3 days and 45 minutes.

- You have placed the refrigerator next to your computer; why bother to get up and go all the way to the other corner of the house whenever the binge-urge takes over?

- Tech Support calls YOU for help.

- You purchase a vanity car license plate with your screen name on it.

- You say "SCROLL UP" when somebody begs pardon and asks you to repeat what you just said. And when you are talking to somebody on the phone and want to excuse yourself for a minute, you say "BRB".

- There's an annoying person in your vicinity, and you desperately wish there was an IGNORE button to click on.

- You find divorce papers had been served on you six months ago.

image by nkzs,

The kids have a good titter; we scan the joke rapidly and move on, half-amused, to the more important mails in the mailbox. Unfortunately, the "NET ADDICT" story does not end here. If psychiatrists are to be believed, Net Addiction is now a prime candidate for official inclusion as a "Compulsive-Impulsive Spectrum Disorder" in the DSM-V manual of mental illnesses.

image by martynrice,

Let's focus our attention on these same tittering kids who play for pastime those internet games that go by the exotic name of MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game). As with every other indulgence indulged in by mankind, this MMORPG pastime also has led to the coinage of a new term for a variant of an ancient medical condition: MMORPG-induced seizures. A paper published in the 2006 issue of CyberPsychology & Behavior discusses an investigation carried out on ten patients who experienced epileptic seizures while playing some MMORPG. Who were the patients? Young, male adults - college students. As if life in the big, bad real world wasn't enough for us parents, we have without pausing to think let our children loose in the by-lanes and "bad" neighborhoods of the virtual world. A virtual world whose characters and plots and behaviors are remotely-controlled. Heaven knows what experiences the innocent minds must be getting exposed to, as they cover their ears with the headphone and watch the graphic scenes unfolding before their eyes in the privacy of their room. To be fair, these virtual worlds can also shape these minds and give them the best possible education that can turn them into well-rounded human beings. But, uh, isn't it time you spent some more time understanding the neighborhoods your child is frequenting in those virtual worlds?

image by ilco,

Another study conducted on a bunch of students from four high schools in China has found a significant correlation between internet addiction and impulsivity: these kids had problems with maintaining attention and focus for basic minimum expected duration, they would give in too soon and would surrender too easily and faced difficulty persevering in their tasks, their self-control had gone for a toss, and they were very, very impulsive.

image by ilco,

Without trying to be alarmist, it must be said that the papers being published on this subject appear to point to Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD) being - if not an autonomous psychopathological condition standing on its own two feet - a comorbid condition that is found concurrently with such conditions as ADHD, major depressive disorder, and social phobia. What this mumbo-jumbo means is that people with IAD are also invariably found to suffer from all these other conditions. And that it is still early days to figure out as to what is the cause and what is the effect: whether people with these other conditions go on to develop IAD as well, or whether people first develop IAD, and then progress, with time, to the state of one or the other of these conditions. People addicted to the internet have been known to be generally withdrawn and / or reclusive when it comes to social interactions, and their shyness transforms to uninhibited abandon in the virtual world where one's identity is masked by those cute avatars and screen handles. They can, and do, reveal tidbits of their personal life which they will not talk about to their most intimate partner. And this, sadly, makes them vulnerable to exploitation of the kind that we see and hear about in the "bad news" section of the press and the TV.

image by ilco,

So, how well do you know yourself? How addicted are you to the internet? If you would like to know, you can go - where else, but? - to a website on the internet, here: Center for Internet Addiction Recovery.

image by srbichara,

[While the internet encourages one to let go of all inhibitions, it also fosters great many friendships, associations, businesses, as well as intimate relationships. What the quality of your online relationships will be, is largely determined by your mental makeup and personality. And what are your mental makeup and personality? What should you do in order to ensure that your online relationships are mutually enriching and do not degenerate into parasitism? Read about it in this beautiful article that uses the theme of the movie - "You've Got Mail" to make its point: "Don't Cry, Shopgirl".]
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Monday, April 06, 2009

Calm Those Inflammations, Naturally

image by rob_dan,

Natural Extracts To The Aid of Inflammations

Our body has in place a wonderful mechanism that springs into action no sooner some threat comes its way. Whether it is those tiny little masses of pollen floating in the air in search for that Perfect Mate during spring time and which accidentally enter our innards through our body's inlets; or it is the physical injury that gashes or tears or shears or crushes or mauls or does so many other things to our body; or it is the freeze of the weather that constricts the blood and its vessels near the skin; or a host of the other threats that can damage our body and our peace of mind --- whatever be the threat, Nature has given us some of the best tools and devices to counteract the threat and begin healing. Within certain limitations, of course.

image by buckey,

After detecting the problem, or doing its best to detect the problem, the body's defense mechanism literally goes into red alert mode. Copious blood is brought to the scene of transgression; appropriate fluids begin to ooze from those exotic glands and stream to wherever they have to stream in order to surround and contain the damage; and warrior cells begin to divide and multiply in order to create a bulwark that will dam the toxins that will be generated in the battlefield and restrict the flow of toxins towards the defenseless civilian neighborhood. The portion of the body under this treatment is set on an invisible fire, and we say that inflammation has taken place.

image by allandavie,

Most of the time this innate mechanism works. Sometimes, however, the emergency button remains pressed, the sirens continue to bleat, the floodlights continue to flash, and something goes wrong. The switchover from the alert of the red to the peace of the green does not happen. Or, the problem is so severe that the mechanism, programmed as it is to ceaselessly keep up the attack _till_ the problem has been solved, keeps on and on. Admirable though this attitude may be, yet the end result is a runaway situation which has spiraled out of control. A stage comes when the nearby civilian cells begin to feel the brunt of the battle - imagine your neighborhood being torpedoed by wayward missiles! And the inflammation begins to spread and begins to become chronic. The warrior cells too, in their frenzy, become blind to who is the enemy and who is their own. And you know what happens when the great Superman himself changes into Evil, and instead of saving the innocent and the helpless, turns against them!

image by mzacha,

To drill sense into the rampaging warrior cells of our own body, we take recourse to drugs such as steroids and histamines. While these formulations are quite effective in most of the cases, they bring with them their own baggage of destruction - in the form of side-effects. Talk about solving one problem, and creating another!

image by ranzel,

The search for more nature-friendly solutions that can reduce the inflammation, pour oil over troubled waters, calm down the warrior cells, murmur reassuring words of platitude in the ears of the cowering civilian populace and generally broker peace in the war zone - has led to some interesting discoveries. One solution worth recording here is in the form of oils extracted from an aromatic plant called Teucrium.

image by blary54,

There are close to three hundred species of this plant genus, found mostly in Mediterranean climes. A paper published in the July 2009 issue of Food Chemistry describes the soothing anti-inflammatory effect of the oils extracted from four of its species - flavum, montbretii, polium, and brevifolium. Ancient Greeks were known to be avid admirers of this plant, as its parts would calm their gastric ulcers and intestinal inflammation, besides healing their skin eruptions and wounds. Very observing and perceptive, the ancients were. Very much tuned in to Nature. Most likely, because their senses were not numbed by the constant bombardment of television and the internet. So what the researchers found out was that the oils from these plants have certain chemicals that can soothe the inflamed cells and calm their jumpiness.

Teucrium fruticans - wiki_*

* Teucrium fruticans - wiki.

Another paper, published in the June 2008 issue of Bio-resource Technology, describes how the essential oil extracted from cinnamon (Cinnamomum osmophloeum) twigs can lower the dander of the warriors.

Cinnamomum verum - wiki_*

* Cinnamomum verum - wiki.

So the next time you face an inflammatory situation in the body, may be you could try to find out if these new herbal extracts have arrived in the market, before popping those nausea-and-ulcer-inducing pills. The researchers say there aren't any side-effects. Nature indeed is benign. Nature thinks of everything.

image by nkzs,

[When some part of the body is inflamed, you pop those pills or you fetch the extracts of the herbs. But what do you do when there is some inflammatory situation in your life? When there is a threat to your body, the natural defense mechanisms immediately take over to engage the enemy. What mechanisms do you have to engage threats that come up in your life? Read about the mechanisms that we consciously need to inculcate ourselves, which unfortunately nobody teaches us in school - "Keep Those Trampoline Springs In Good Condition".]
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