Diet-induced ADHD

ADHD is a condition characterized by three main core features; hyperactivity, impulsivity, and attention problems.

It is estimated that it affects between 3-5% of children of school age, though other estimates suggest this could be as high as 10% of the school population (Rowland et al. 2002). Fewer children of Hispanic American and African American backgrounds seem to have received a diagnosis of ADHD compared to White Americans, however it is very possibly due to increased poverty and reduced insurance coverage and possibly other cultural issues rather than a true difference with respect to ethnicity. The condition not only affects the US, but also most western countries (e.g. UK, NICE guidelines 2008, rest of Europe) and North Africa. ADHD rates have been found to dramatically increase over the last two decades and the condition is now the most commonly diagnosed in school age children (e.g Mandell et al. 2005; and more recent reports).

ADHD is often seen in Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). And like ADHD, ASD rates have also dramatically increased in the last 2 decades.

So what options do we have in response to ADHD, whether this is in association with Autism or not?

The most common answer is Ritalin-like medication. A very large proportion of children diagnosed with the condition receives medication. Children as young as 4 years old are being prescribed drugs. This causes major concerns both in the US and in the UK.

Simple interventions however do exist. Nutrition, particularly with good supplementation of Omega-3 (Richardson et al. 2006), but also dietary modification with exclusion of foods the child is sensitive to (Pellser et al. 2011) have been found to be effective.

It is worth highlighting this latest Lancet study.

The Lancet, Volume 377, Issue 9764, Pages 494 – 503, 5 February 2011.

The study used a number of ADHD rating scales based on parents, teachers (non-blinded) ratings or blinded paediatrician ratings. The strengths are multiple ratings, large sample size (n=50) with matched controls (n=50), overall heterogeneous population representative of the general population of children with ADHD.

What it is important to know is that the restricted diet the children are placed on is not designed based on any allergy test- it is a standard diet that consists of a few hypoallergenic foods, rice, meat, vegetables, pears and water, completed with fruits, potatoes and wheat. The challenge test conducted after 5 weeks on the respondent children consists of either 3 high IgG foods or 3 low IgG foods. Whether or not the foods were of low IgG or high IgG response, there was deterioration of ADHD symptoms upon challenge.

I have been in touch with the Lead author, Dr Lidy Pelsser who clarified that the low Ig G group means Zero IgG level- if this is the case, the group’s conclusions that IgG levels are irrelevant to ADHD symptoms is correct. In my experience of allergy tests though, at least with regard to IgE levels, a low level does not equal to zero or not detectable. A low level is a low detectable level and this can have biological implications.

I have also contacted the lab ImuPro in Australia to get some clarification with regard to their rating of low IgG levels. If Low IgG level are detectable low level, the conclusion on potential relevance of IgG testing would potentially be quite different, until it is proven that response to foods with No IgG at all (i.e. not detectable as opposed to low) also lead to return of ADHD symptoms.

These methodology details are however not very important in the light of the very good outcomes of the restriction diet: see figure 2 of the paper.

Figure 2: Distribution of behaviour scores at start and end of the first phase. Scores according to (A) masked paediatrician ratings and (B) unmasked teacher ratings. To facilitate comparison between the various measures, scores have been standardised as percentages of the maximum score per measure. Bars=maximum and minimum score. Shaded boxes=interquartile range. Horizontal bars within boxes=median. ADHD=attention-defi cit hyperactivity disorder. ARSall=ADHD rating scale total score (maximum score 54). ARSatt=ADHD rating scale inattention score (maximum score 27). ARShyp=ADHD rating scale hyperactivity and impulsivity score (maximum score 27). ODD=oppositional defi ant disorder (maximum score 8).

The authors conclude that a trial diet for a 5-week period should be proposed to every child with ADHD, followed by a challenge procedure to define which food the child would react to.

Is Your Liver In Good Condition?

Cirrhosis is a condition wherein the body’s immune system is compromised and it starts to attack healthy cells and tissues. In most cases, people with the disease are not even aware that they have it. However, over time, the disease progresses and causes irreversible damage to the liver and other organs.

To understand what causes cirrhosis, it is first important to understand how the liver works. A healthy liver produces bile, which helps digest fats and aids in the absorption of nutrients in the body. When the liver becomes over-saturated with bile, it begins to accumulate fluid, which results to a buildup of crystals and eventually to cirrhosis.

The primary reason why the liver develops cirrhosis is a genetic predisposition. In the past, those who were carriers of certain types of liver disease were at a higher risk of developing the disease. Now, however, it is believed that genetic factors may play a minor role in determining whether or not someone will develop cirrhosis. However, a large number of studies have concluded that people with the hepatitis B virus have a greater risk of developing the disease.

The most common type of liver disease is hepatitis B and this usually affects older people. People who smoke and people who have diabetes are also at a higher risk of getting the disease.

Alcohol and alcoholic beverages also play a significant role in cirrhosis. Those who consume alcohol on a regular basis are at a greater risk of developing the disease. Alcohol itself may not cause the disease, but alcohol consumption can aggravate the condition and make it harder for the body to remove the deposits.

A number of studies have concluded that alcohol consumption can be one of the leading causes of cirrhosis. This is why many people who drink alcohol often find themselves with liver disease. The liver is not designed to handle alcohol in excess. It needs to work at a reduced level.

Liver problems also occur as a result of certain types of medications. Certain types of chemotherapy, for instance, can have an effect on the liver, as can certain medications used in the treatment of HIV and AIDS. Chemotherapy can affect the liver in two ways: either by killing the cancerous cells, or by altering the way that the liver uses bile.

Alcohol abuse can also contribute to the condition. It may be hard for a person to get sober if they are consuming excessive amounts of alcohol, and many alcoholics develop cirrhosis. if they drink to numb the pain of withdrawal.

In a lot of people with liver disease, cirrhosis develops because the liver is unable to handle the level of cholesterol and other fats in the body. People with liver problems also tend to consume more calories than they should, especially when they are stressed out or depressed.

For people who have serious liver disease, there are a number of things that can help them. Drinking a lot of water and getting enough nutrients can help to reduce the symptoms of liver disease. Certain types of medication can also help to help reduce the symptoms, such as a strong anti-inflammatory medicine like cortisone.

There are a number of cirrhosis treatment options available. However, people who are overweight and have a high risk of developing liver problems should consider losing weight and taking a low-fat, low-calorie diet. In addition, people who suffer from cirrhosis of the liver should consider using a liver cleansing product.

There are also some herbal supplements available that can help to clear up liver problems. Herbal supplements can be used in combination with medication to help get the liver functioning at its highest level. These supplements can help to flush the liver of toxins and other substances that may be blocking the liver from properly processing the fats in the body.

If a person is not sure about which liver cleansing product to use, it may be a good idea to see a physician. The liver is a very complex organ, and there may not be a single product or combination of products that can work for everyone. It is important for the patient to discuss his or her treatment options with a doctor.

Quick cooking tip: Mayonnaise

A short video to explain how to prepare at home and very quickly a mayonnaise. Good tip for children on a SCD or ketogenic diets or for those who need extra calories. There is no issue of digestion if one takes small amounts of it, however, larger amounts would need some metabolic adjustments. I use grape seed oil for this recipe, healthy and not strongly flavoured. You can add various ingredients to the mayonnaise to make it more interesting, but it is very good on its own.

Finding A Good Treatment For Seborrheic Dermatitis

Seborrheic dermatitis is a condition that causes inflamed, itchy and red, irritated skin in the skin’s surface. This condition can also include skin that has a thick, scaly surface. The skin condition commonly affects people in their twenties and thirties.

Seborrheic dermatitis can be difficult to treat because of the inflammation that occurs. The condition is typically treated by moisturizing the skin in a way that is both gentle and non-invasive.

Seborrheic dermatitis is an inflammatory skin condition, and it causes the body to produce certain types of substances that can help it to heal itself. One of these substances is the allergen-fighting protein. This protein is called skin firming factor. When the skin firming factor is in high enough levels, it can help to keep the skin soft and moist.

However, seborrheic dermatitis can also cause the body to produce an allergen-fighting protein called immunoglobulin E. This is called a type of allergy-stimulating protein.

When the immune system is stimulated with a type of allergen, it can help to remove that allergen from the body. It can also work to help to fight off the infection-causing bacteria.

When the immune system is inflamed, it can create inflammation in other parts of the body. This inflammation can lead to a host of other conditions. In Seborrheic dermatitis, this inflammation can cause the sebaceous glands to produce too much oil, causing the skin to itch excessively and become dry and inflamed.

Seborrheic dermatitis can also lead to psoriasis. When the body is constantly producing too much oil in the skin, it can result in inflammation that can cause a red, scaly, itchy skin that is difficult to scratch and cleanse. Some people with this condition may also develop eczema.

Seborrheic dermatitis is usually treated with a variety of creams that contain benzoyl peroxide or sulfur, which can help to reduce the inflammation and provide relief for the itching. Seborrheic dermatitis that is not treated properly can result in scarring, skin discoloration, and in some cases, permanent scarring.

There are other ways to treat Seborrheic Dermatitis that does not involve the use of chemicals. For example, using zinc oxide, or natural vitamin E oil, can help to moisturize the skin and reduce the inflammation that can occur.

In fact, many skin experts recommend that you use a natural vitamin E oil on the skin to help to heal the skin and to help fight off the inflammation that can cause the skin to crack and dry. There are other substances that you can use, including honey, aloe vera, and vitamin A.

If the seborrheic dermatitis that you have is not getting better, you may need to consult a doctor. In some cases, surgery may be required.

In some cases, if the seborrheic dermatitis that you have is caused by another condition, it may be necessary to see a dermatologist. If the condition is not treated quickly enough, it may lead to other more serious problems.

Seborrheic Dermatitis can be very uncomfortable, but it does not have to be that way. If you use a good moisturizer and keep your skin hydrated, the condition can be controlled and the discomfort reduced.

In most cases, seborrheic dermatitis can be controlled by using natural ingredients. You can even help to prevent it from coming back by avoiding the foods that can contribute to the condition.

For example, if you are allergic to fish, you should avoid eating them. This is a big no-no because fish contains a hormone called DHA that can cause inflammation and redness.

Seborrheic Dermatitis can also be caused by stress. If you are experiencing stress, then you need to take some steps to reduce the stress in your life. This includes a good diet, regular exercise, and getting enough sleep.

There are other natural remedies for Seborrheic Dermatitis that you can use. You may find that you need to use several different ones depending on the severity of your condition. As long as you find one that works for you.

The hardest hit

Edinburgh Protest 22nd October 2020.

Our Rights, Our Independence, Our Lives- Join the Protest in Edinburgh.

Fight the cuts to Disability Services!

Disabled people, those with long-term conditions and their families are being hit hard by cuts to the benefits and services they need to live their lives. The Hardest Hit campaign, organised jointly by the Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) and the UK Disabled People’s Council, brings together individuals and organisations to send a clear message to the Government: stop these cuts.

People will be assembling at the Ross Bandstand, Princes Street Gardens from 11 am. Speeches will begin at 12pm. Confirmed speakers include Lard Low, Margaret Curran MP and Pam Duncan of the Independent Living in Scotland project.

Hope to see you there! Please share and pass along the information.

If you want to get in the mood of the hardest hit protest- see video (click on post to access embedded video) of the London March 26th Street Protest.

Petition: Last ABA school to close in Ireland

Dear parents,

We are all too familiar with the incredible geographical disparity in services available to people with autism across the UK; the post code lottery as we call it.  The situation in Ireland and the rest of the EU is no different. All too often those in charge of education, health, and other support services have in mind their immediate financial budget and very rarely is there any foresight of the years lying ahead. Our children should not be caught in political decisions and there is no saving to be made in compromising the quality of education they deserve, irrespectively of their ability or disability. The fact is that early intensive intervention in autism offers a much better outcome than classic autism teaching. The fact is that autism requires a special intensity and a very informed and efficacious teaching approach to teach the many skills our children require to learn.

The situations we are facing in this current economic climate is getting worse by the day. Cuts in benefits are being made as well as cuts in provision.

Ireland used to be a model of excellence as far as autism intervention is concerned, from diagnosis services to good educational provisions. However, sadly, the last ABA school opened in the country has now closed. One of our parents living in Ireland is campaigning to keep this lcoal school opened and has initiated a petition. Please support this action by signing the petition and sharing with others.

THE LAST school in the State providing specialist Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA) education to children with Autism has closed, despite promises from Ministers Eamon Gilmore, Ruairí Quinn and James Reilly when in opposition, that they would support ABA Education. Jack and his seven friends are now without a school, Please Please show you care for these children. If we get enough signatures, surely we can help to get this school re-opened. Thank You.

ATT ABA Volunteer/Tutor training

ATT Volunteer Training

Tutors working with ATT families welcomed to attend- Free


Monday 7th of November 7:30-9pm

Risca Solomon: “Manding”- What it is, why it is important and how to increase it?

Monday 12th Dec 6:30-8pm

Lorene Amet FastforWord – computer-delivered exercises that build the cognitive skills required to read and learn effectively. Focus on memory, attention, processing rate and sequencing. Lorene to update following training received in London earlier in the month.

Monday 19th Dec 6:30pm

Xmas Party! Social gathering! Other half/ partner welcomed!

Monday 16th Jan 6:30-8pm

Sinead Ni Fhloinn- Speed of delivery trial- fluency- mixed trials, motivation, variable schedule of reinforcement.

Monday 20th Feb 6:30-8pm

Dr. Lorene Amet: Rethinking Autism: Presentations, Aetiologies & Interventions- Background on autism.

Monday 19th Mar 6:30-8pm

Sinead Ni Fhloinn- subject to be decided by the group.

Vitiligo – Treatments to Help You Treat Vitiligo

There is a lot of debate about the causes of Vitiligo. This condition is very similar to that of a cold that you may be experiencing. When your body is experiencing a cold, your body will stop producing as much of the necessary antibodies that will help you fight off a cold.

This will cause your immune system to become weak, which is why you are experiencing the symptoms of Vitiligo. The symptoms include extreme itching and irritation of the skin. Sometimes the area will also bleed when it is infected.

The symptoms of this disease can also include an infection that is not always visible. This is what is known as anhidrosis, or dry skin. This is a very difficult condition to deal with because the affected areas are in your head, and it may be difficult to identify the symptoms because it will be difficult to find a good picture of the area that is affected.

There are a lot of treatment options that are available to help with this condition. Your doctor may be able to help you with some of the treatments that they can prescribe. In some cases, these treatments can be extremely effective.

One of the treatments that you can consider is the use of vitamin E. The vitamin E will help to promote proper blood circulation. When blood circulation is improved, it will allow the body to heal itself. This is important because when the body is in need of the nutrients, it can get them from the blood stream.

Other treatments that are used to treat this condition are topical medications. The topical medications will help to reduce the itching and irritation that you are experiencing. These medications will also help to reduce the redness that you will be experiencing because they will provide an anti-inflammatory effect.

There are also oral medications that you can take that will help to help you with the itching and irritation that you are experiencing. These medications are made from corticosteroids, which are very effective at reducing the inflammation that you are experiencing. These oral medications are also effective at treating the symptoms of Vitiligo, as well as helping to relieve some of the dryness that you will experience.

If you are suffering from Vitiligo and do not want to deal with it yourself, you should talk to a medical professional about the treatments that they have available to help you. They can help you find a treatment that will work well with your condition.

The first step in treating Vitiligo is to see a doctor so that they can help you determine what is causing your skin to be thin and have patches of it. You may have an allergic reaction to something in the environment or from food that you eat, or the condition may be hereditary in nature.

Once the doctor has determined that there is a problem with the environment or with your skin, they will be able to determine the cause. They will be able to determine the best course of treatment for the Vitiligo. by the way, that the cause is determined.

They can offer a variety of treatments that are available for the condition, but the best option for you will be the one that is going to be the most effective for your specific condition. If your condition is genetic, you may be able to find an option that will help you with getting rid of the condition without using medications. surgery.

There are other options that can be used for the condition. One of the options that you may want to consider is the use of topical creams and ointments that are used to treat the symptoms of the condition. These creams can provide some relief and it can also be used to prevent the condition from coming back in the future.

If your condition is hereditary, you may be able to find a treatment that will help you get rid of the condition and it can help to prevent it from coming back again in the future. This will be a great option for you to consider.

Autism linked to IT regions?

Simon Baron-Cohen from Cambridge University has a long-standing interest in demonstrating that Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC) are more prevalent in populations presenting with high systemizing skills. These are people who like predicting how things function, classifying observations in systems, etc. and who also show less empathy to others. He has focused his work around the issues of male/female brains and has presented autism as being equivalent to an excess maleness. I should clarify for our readers that in fact, this refers to High Functioning Autism (HFA) or Asperger Syndrome (AS) rather than ASC as a whole.  In other words, HFA/AS have a lot more systemizing skills (i.e. some sort of scientific skills) together with a less empathic presentation, and this is essentially what the condition is. He came to this conclusion partly because of how AS/ASF people rate in his Empathy/ Systemizing questionnaire (tests available online, look for Systemizing Quotient and Empathy Quotient). The trouble is that empathy is essentially assessed within a social context and this will confound how AS/HFA people will respond to the questionnaire (and hence be rated). They do have impairment in socialization, in accordance with their diagnosis, but at no point did Simon Baron-Cohen tease out the empathy from the socialization aspect in his evaluations. AS/HFA people have low empathy quotients because they tend to dislike social settings, not primarily because of their low empathy, i.e. extra maleness according to Simon Baron-Cohen. This means, no accurate conclusion can in fact be drawn on the empathic skills (or excess maleness) of AS/HFA people based on this sort of work.

However, this went on for some years with studies after studies, digging deeper and deeper into this Autism High Functioning/ Excess maleness question, moving on to molecular /genetic issues and linking this excess maleness to excess testosterone. He went as far as proposing an antenatal screen based on the mother’s testosterone levels, something he later regretted after facing a number of criticisms. High testosterone levels are related to a number of NON-Autistic personality traits, and are not specific or even representative of autism as a whole, something I discussed here. Simon Baron-Cohen also proposed that autism is on the increase because people with high systemizing brains, IT people, scientists are more able to meet nowadays, thanks to the Internet, marry and have children and that as a consequence of these novel mating trends (assorting mating theory), we have the high rates of autism we see today across the western world.

So, it comes as no surprise to see his latest research in the Netherlands, looking at autism rates in three towns of comparable sizes, with one being presented as being the IT hub of the country. The study can be found here.

What are the main findings of this study?

“The prevalence estimates of ASC in Eindhoven [the IT Hub] was 229 per 10,000, significantly higher than in Haarlem (84 per 10,000), and Utrecht (57 per 10,000), whilst the prevalence for the control conditions were similar in all regions.”

This is equivalent to 1 child in 44 in Eindhoven, 1 in 119 in Haarlem and 1 in 175 in Utrecht.

What was the methodology used?

“The schools were asked to provide a count of the total number of children in the school with any of these developmental conditions, specified per diagnostic subtype and by age and gender. The schools were instructed to only include formal diagnoses in their count (i.e. diagnoses made by a clinical professional, e.g. a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist).”

“Since both attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and dyspraxia are also developmental conditions and have a similar diagnostic process to ASC, the number of cases with a formal diagnosis of ADHD and dyspraxia were also examined as control conditions.”

“Of the 659 schools invited, 369 schools (56.0%) took part, providing diagnostic information on 62,505 children. Response in the Eindhoven region was higher (75.5%) than in the Haarlem (49.8%) and Utrecht regions (45.7%).”

“Negative binomial regression was used to investigate the multivariable effects of region and school type, with an additional model to investigate the differences between boys and girls.”

For clarification, we do not see actual numbers but only estimated numbers.

The conclusions reached by the authors are:

“The aim of this study was to test a prediction from the hyper-systemizing theory (Baron-Cohen 2006, 2008) that ASC are more common among children in areas where individuals who are talented systemizers are attracted to work and raise a family. Eindhoven is a candidate region of this kind being the hub for IT and technology in the Netherlands.”

“As predicted, this estimate of the prevalence of school-aged children with a formal ASC diagnosis was significantly higher in the Eindhoven region, compared to the Haarlem and Utrecht region. This is consistent with the idea that strong systemizing in parents could be a risk factor for having a child with ASC, although there are other factors that could relate to the increased prevalence in the Eindhoven region.”

The authors have listed a few possible confounding factors: Possible higher awareness of ASC in Eindhoven (parents and professionals), over diagnosis services in Eindhoven or under diagnosis in Utrecht. Interestingly, it is stated in the discussion: “If the responding schools are representative of the comparable schools in the region, the difference in response should not have confounded our findings.” If, indeed (see below).

What do you think of this?

Let me tell you what I think of this study.

1-First of all, why have the authors not confirmed that parents are indeed in IT technology, if they want to link IT parents to ASD? It would be an obvious factor to capture in their evaluation, and one that is crucial to their main conclusion, I would have thought.

2-Secondly, there are only superficial explanations as to why there is such a high discrepancy in the schools response rates across these three cities. Are there more special needs schools than the responding ones from Eindhoven, or are the numbers the same? No mention of this.  What are the actual ages of the kids covered by the survey in the three towns? Why is there so little information available to define these 3 sample groups? I would guess, it is because they have actually limited information on the children, because of the way the population was screened. We must stress that the main potential explanation to a difference in rates is that the populations have been captured differently- and this has to be fully addressed, with fuller transparency in order to proceed towards any kind of conclusion.

3-Thirdly, are dyspraxia and ADHD really a suitable validation to show that the populations have been captured in similar representative manners? – In my opinion, no they aren’t and the reason is that unlike what the authors claim, Dyspraxia (at least in the UK, and I doubt very much it is different elsewhere) is essentially NOT diagnosed even when the kids have clear motor planning issues. As for ADHD, we also have a huge number of children in schools, who present with hyperactivity that are simply seen as being difficult and challenging without receiving any proper diagnosis. I would estimate that the figures given are well under the actual values for Dyspraxia and ADHD. In other words they are not accurate estimations of numbers and therefore cannot be used as reference points.

4- Fourthly, what else is happening on Eindhoven? A quick look in Wikipedia gives us a good account of the actual high industrial development.

“Philips’ presence is probably the largest single contributing factor to the major growth of Eindhoven in the 20th century. It attracted and spun off many hi-tech companies, making Eindhoven a major technology and industrial hub. In 2005, a full third of the total amount of money spent on research in the Netherlands was spent in or around Eindhoven. A quarter of the jobs in the region are in technology and ICT, with companies such as FEI Company (once Philips Electron Optics), NXP Semiconductors (formerly Philips Semiconductors), ASML, Toolex, Simac, CIBER, Neways, Atos Origin and the aforementioned Philips and DAF.”

“Eindhoven has long been a centre of cooperation between research institutes and industry. This tradition started with Philips (the NatLab was a physical expression of this) and has since expanded to large cooperative networks.”

Do these industries relate in any other ways to the higher Autism rate? This possibility has not been explored in the discussion section. If a quarter of the total work force causes a near 4 fold increase in autism rate compared to the population of Utrecht, that would suggest a 16 fold increase in the likeliness to have children with autism in the IT profession. Surely something that would have been picked up before, other prevalence studies have not found any correlation between autism and social status.

5- Lastly, and I will stop it here, let’s look at what is happening in Utrecht, the town that was found to have the lowest rate of ASC. Again, a look at wikipedia gives a good account of the city development and this is what is found, as you will see there is hardly any industry at all. It is interesting to see that the university is the largest in the country, one would have thought, according to the systematizing brain theory, that it would have foster a large concentration of systemazing brains, apparently not.

The town looks so peaceful that I could not resist including a photo of the Dom Tower above.

“Utrecht University, the largest university of the Netherlands, as well as several other institutes for higher education.

“The economy of Utrecht depends for a large part on the several large institutions located in the city. Production industry has a relatively small influence in Utrecht. Rabobank, a large bank, has its headquarters in Utrecht.”

“Utrecht is the centre of the Dutch railroad network and the location of the head office of the Nederlandse Spoorwegen (Dutch Railways). NS’s former head office ‘De Inktpot’ in Utrecht is the largest brick building in the Netherlands (the “UFO” featured on its facade stems from an art program in 2000). The building is currently used by ProRail.”

Railway industry? Could it be another niche of high concentration of AS/HFA, known to like railways, trains, time schedules… well apparently not. (That was a joke BTW).

Can anyone tell me how the data presented in this paper substantiates a link between Parental IT Hub/ high systemazing brains and Autism?

I appreciate the authors observe some caution in the presentation of their data, none the less, wouldn’t it have been wiser to have more conclusive findings to present for a publication? What are those people living in Eindhoven supposed to make of the news reports that accompanied the publication? And what are all those IT/ scientists parents also supposed to think? Are they really at higher risk to have children with an autism spectrum conditions?

And aren’t the implications as far as the whole spectrum is concerned somehow insulting to all those parents who have reported another side of autism, the regressive autism, with the novel development of severe clinical issues alongside the behavioural changes that characterise autism? Presenting autism as a condition resulting from a specific brain-wiring difference trivialises the distress experienced by affected individuals and their family.


Baron-Cohen, S, & Wheelwright, S, (2004) The Empathy Quotient (EQ). An investigation of adults with Asperger Syndrome or High Functioning Autism, and normal sex differences. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 34, 163-175.

Baron-Cohen (2003). The Essential Difference: The Truth About the Male and Female Brain. Basic Books, Perseus Books Group.

Number of children on anti-psychotic drugs double

Article fromVictoria Macdonald Health and Social Care Correspondent

Please click on the post title to view the video from Channel 4 News.

The number of children – some as young as five – being prescribed powerful antipsychotic drugs has doubled in the past 10 years, according to an investigation by Channel 4 News.

As many as 15,000 children and young people under the age of 18 were prescribed this medication last year. But these figures are only from GP surgeries and primary care trusts and do not include hospital prescribing, which suggests the true number could be far higher.

Astonishingly, no official data is kept on the number of youngsters being given anti-psychotics. This has only now been revealed after Channel 4 News commissioned a drug database company to collate them.The investigation comes as the government announced that GPs could face jail if they are found to be “chemically coshing” elderly patients with dementia.


But no mention was made of children and young people in the announcements.Anti-psychotics are meant for patients with serious mental conditions such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and psychosis. But mental health experts now say that they would also appear, in some instances, to be being used to control children’s behaviour.


If there is a doubling in the rate of children being given anti-psychotics that is a worry. My worry is that these drugs are being used for other purposes. Professor Tim Kendall.


The investigation also found children are being left on the drugs for years at a time and are not being properly monitored, which is against best practice guidelines.

Professor Tim Kendall, who has been asked to write the first ever guidance on prescribing anti-psychotics to young people with serious mental illness, said that these findings are extremely concerning.


“As far as I am aware there is no evidence that there has been a doubling in the rate of psychosis. So if there is a doubling in the rate of children being given anti-psychotics, that is a worry,” Prof Kendall said.”My worry is that these drugs are being used for other purposes.

Family stories And that would be appear to be what is happening. We have spoken to families whose children have been given the drug for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and for autism.

The family of one young boy first prescribed an anti-psychotic when he was five for so-called “challenging behaviour” has subsequently been told that he was in fact in pain. The boy, now aged eight, is autistic and regularly banged his head against hard surfaces and lay on the floor kicking and screaming. But his parents said the anti-psychotics he had been on for three years had had no benefit at all.

Eventually he was seen by Professor Chris Oliver, of Birmingham University, who has been researching behavioural problems in children with autism. His conclusion was that the young boy was most probably in pain – suffering from gastro-oesophageal reflux, more commonly known as heartburn. But because of his autism he was not able to articulate that he was physically suffering.

Anti-psychotics were developed in the 1950s and have been widely prescribed to adults since the 1970s. But they can cause, among other things, dramatic weight gain, diabetes and heart disorders. They can also leave patients with a Parkinson’s disease-like tremor which does not stop even if they are taken off the medication.


What nobody knows with any certainty, though, are the long-term effects on children. And all approaches made to authorities here to find out if there is any data on trials involving children have been blocked by the pharmaceutical companies.


Prof Kendall was even hampered by America’s Food and Drug Administration, which does hold data on any trials conducted on anti-psychotics. When he requested access to the information he was told to put in a freedom of information request.”If there are trials that are unpublished, what that means is there will either be trials which show the drugs work as well as we think or in fact they might be even more harmful than we think,” he said.”I am appalled, absolutely appalled. This data should be available for people such as us who are working on behalf of the NHS, patients and parents.


“In a statement the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry told Channel 4 News: “The industry is committed to being as open and transparent as possible in its disclosure of information.”It added that any prescription of anti-psychotic drugs to children “will only occur after careful consideration and risk-benefit assessment by the health care professional on a case by case basis.”Of concern to a growing number of experts is the effect they have on developing brains. They said proper monitoring was essential. But Channel 4 News has obtained a confidential report into the way mental health trusts look after children and young people on anti-psychotic drugs. It found there was “no evidence” whatsoever that some young people are being properly monitored.


‘No monitoring at all’ A young girl (her family did not want her identified) we met was put on the medication at the age of nine after she developed psychosis. It is agreed that she needed help, but her father said that he had been unprepared for the effect the anti-psychotic would have on his daughter.”I was not told how dangerous this drug was,” he said. “There was no monitoring at all.”The father said that his daughter lost her memory, could not dress herself, even needed help brushing her teeth.


I was not told how dangerous this drug was. Father of girl prescribed antipsychotics


“You have to get a hold of their hand and walk them everywhere, their thinking is so muddled and the increase in appetite is incredible,” he said.”She would eat raw sugar out of the packet. She would go through a whole bottle of ketchup.”After intervention she has now had her dosage and medication changed and is also receiving intensive therapy. Her behaviour is beginning to improve.


Professor Peter Tyrer, who is an expert in the use of anti-psychotics, said that the unmonitored use of this medication is a “slow fuse to disaster”. Prof Tyrer, from Imperial College in London, said that drugs affect almost every part of the body.”This is particularly alarming because of course children have got their whole lives ahead of them.


Chemical cosh? What is also alarming experts is that these drugs are being used for the wrong reasons. While nobody disputed that they are sometimes needed and can, indeed, save lives, there is the fear that too often they are being used as a chemical cosh.


A Department of Health spokesperson told Channel 4 News:


“NICE guidance states that children and adolescents should only be given antipsychotics following specialist assessment and they should be under specialist supervision.”For children suffering from severe psychotic illnesses, appropriate drugs can help both the child and his or her parents live a more normal life, and in some cases this can mean the difference between a child going in to care or living at home.”The government is committed to improving children’s mental health and has recently announced £32million to provide access to effective psychological therapies specifically designed for children and young people.”