Our Consumption of Chemicals and Autism Spectrum Disorder: Is There a Connection?

Autism is a term that sends chills up the spines of new parents. Autism isn’t just one disorder, it is a spectrum of different disorders that affect the communication skills and behavior of those children diagnosed with it.

Autism is non-discretionary in who it affects affecting children in all ethnic, racial and economic groups.

Research has been ongoing for decades to understand what is causing children who seem average when born to within the first two years of their lives develop the symptoms of autism. This article centers around new research that may have opened a door into understanding what is happening to our children and what can be done about it.

Changes to the Diagnostic Criteria for Autism in the DSM-5

Before we delve into the new science, let’s examine what we know about autism spectrum disorder.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5th Edition (DSM-5), is the definitive guide for diagnosing mental health disorders and is published by the American Psychiatric Association. Within this publication lies the diagnostic criteria for autistic spectrum disorder.

Until the DSM-5, published on May 18, 2013, autism was subjected to categories such as Asperger’s Syndrome, and pervasive developmental disorder.

According to an article published on the Autism Research Institute website, the changes in the DSM-5 to the diagnostic criteria were based on research, analysis, and expert opinions from specialists and were made with the hope that the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders is more specific, reliable and valid.

Those changes in the DSM-5 related to diagnosing Autism were not made without concerns. Parents and people living with high-functioning autism feared that some children and adults diagnosed under the old criteria would find it difficult to accessing and getting the diagnostic services they needed.

Indeed, as of March 2018, there is still a great deal of concern over how different insurance companies will interpret the new diagnostic term autism spectrum disorder and how they will pay.

Now, new research may put a new spin on the diagnostic term autism spectrum disorder in how it is diagnosed and treated.

Exposure to Heavy Metals In Utero and Autism Spectrum Disorder

The information I am about to share with you is frightening and may explain why more children are being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder than ever before.

I will begin with a paper published by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment, in April 2016.

They had commissioned five laboratories in the United States, Canada, and Europe to analyze umbilical cord blood collected from ten minority infants born in 2007 and 2008.

The findings of this research were sobering. The laboratories were able to identify nearly 232 industrial compounds and pollutants, with a complex mixture in each infant. Among these substances were found mercury, arsenic, cadmium, and BPA (a byproduct of the chemicals used in the making of plastic.)

These findings mean that industrial chemicals are being passed through the placenta to unborn children.

A paper published in the journal Biological Trace Element Research in January 2018, supported the findings of the EWG, stating the following:

“The results of this study are consistent with numerous previous studies, supporting an important role for heavy metal exposure, particularly mercury, in the etiology of ASD. It is desirable to continue future research into the relationship between ASD and heavy metal exposure.”

Examining Each Heavy Metal and How They Enter the Human Body

If you have been shocked by the findings of the relationship between ASD and heavy metals, you are not alone. However, the only way to defeat a problem is to recognize its existence, then work out ways to eliminate it.

Granted, the heavy metals mercury, arsenic and cadmium occur naturally in the earth’s environment. However, we have dug up these metals, refined them and use them in a myriad of ways that are harming our children before they have taken their first breath.

So, in the light that we need to face the difficult task of ending the tragedy that our own industrial might has caused, we must first understand each metal and substance so that we can avoid them.

I am going to use an informational page from the Environmental Working Group’s website to give further information on each substance.

Keep in mind that while research is ongoing, the exact mechanisms by which each of the following substances harms our unborn is not fully understood.

Lead

Lead is a substance that is highly toxic to the brain and is strongly linked to permanent damage to it and the entire nervous system. It is known to have a damaging effect on children in their behavior, learning, and cause reproductive and nerve disorders.

A report published by the Environmental Working Group in 2009 gives the following statement about lead, “Advances in cognitive and behavioral testing have allowed researchers to discern harm at lower and lower exposures. There is no known safe threshold for exposure.”

Usually lead enters the bloodstream of pregnant women and thus their unborn infant via contaminated drinking water or from accidentally consuming chipped lead paint that has fallen into food in older homes.

Although the contamination from lead in Flint Michigan is the exception, most lead is significantly reduced by using a water filter. The old lead paint in the home should be either removed (the safest option) or painted over to reduce the chances of either the pregnant woman or her baby being poisoned by it.

Mercury

Mercury is a known neurotoxin that impedes the development of a healthy brain and nervous system. This chemical, while also naturally occurring, is poisoning people through coal-fired power plants that have contaminated our oceans and fresh water.

Other causes of contamination include fluorescent light bulbs and the old mercury-filled thermometers. Once these devices break, they release the most toxic form of mercury, methylmercury, into the food chain. The most notable food affected is seafood.

Once a pregnant woman has eaten or drank mercury, the development of the developing fetus’ brain and central nervous system will be affected causing brain damage and possibly ASD.

Unfortunately, the U.S. federal government in 2014 published new dietary advice for pregnant women which encouraged the eating of seafood for its beneficial omega-3 fatty acids. They did not explain thoroughly enough the risks of mercury that is found in many of the popular species of fish these women consumed.

The EWG gives this warning to pregnant women:

“To protect your baby from toxic mercury and ensure his or her healthy development, you should not only watch how much fish you eat but what kind of fish,”

Arsenic

 A report from the Toxic Substance Portal of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), states that children who ingest contaminated food, juice or infant formula made with arsenic-contaminated water can experience lower I.Q. scores. This means the arsenic has interrupted the healthy development of these children’s brains.

Another way children become poisoned with arsenic is via their mothers ingesting contaminated seafood, rice/rice cereal, mushrooms or poultry while they are in the womb.

Although exposure is less to children than from contaminated food or water, kids can also be poisoned by lead by playing in play structures made from Chromated Copper Arsenate (CCA) treated wood, AKA pressure treated wood.

Cadmium

A paper published in the journal Occupational Environmental Medicine in 2010, offered the following findings:

“Placental transport of cadmium is limited. However, prenatal cadmium exposure may have a detrimental effect on head circumference at birth and child growth in the first 3 years of life.”

As many of my readers already know, ASD usually is noticed and thus diagnosed in the first two years of life. While this may be a coincidence, it is worth noting here.

Cadmium is used in the following products:

  • Batteries
  • Pigments
  • Coatings
  • Stabilizers for Plastic

For nonsmokers living in the United States, the primary source of exposure to cadmium is from eating contaminated foods, such as leafy vegetables, potatoes, peanuts, soybeans, and sunflower seeds.

Cadmium gets into our food via metal mining and refining, the manufacture and application of phosphate fertilizers, and waste incineration of cadmium-containing products like batteries.

Societies Love Affair with Plastic

 While the jury is still out on the following information, I felt it too important to ignore.

The use of plastics has become commonplace. We use it to make bottles, bags, toys, and about any other universally used device in the world. However, there is growing evidence supporting the theory that societies love affair with plastic is harming our unborn children.

To understand the connection between our love of plastic and ASD, we must first examine the most recent advent of plastic to our society.

In the 1970s, plastic has increasingly become commonplace in our lives. During that decade, high-tech forms of plastic have been developed fueled by consumer needs. They offer us benefits that surpass any other substance man has ever created being pliable and reusable.

In 1980, autism made it into the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, and a few short years later researchers began tracking it.

It was in the early 2000s that when an uptick in the prevalence of autism was first noticed. By then we had been using plastic to cover and hold our food for thirty years, but the advent of the microwave oven in the late 1980s had made plastic containers and dishes become a booming business.

By the mid-2000s, researchers were beginning to grow alarmed by what they saw as a growing danger to unborn babies from plastic.

New Research On the Use of Plastic and Unborn Fetus’

Indeed, in research reported in the journal Environmental Sciences and Technology in 2013, found that “universal fetal exposure to BPA in our study population, with some at relatively high levels, and we provide the first evidence of detectable BPA sulfate in mid-gestation fetuses.”

Several studies have been conducted in the past decade to ascertain the way that plastic may be a contributing factor in the formation of ASD, and why boys seem to be disproportionately affected. One possible antagonist is BPA.

Bisphenol-A (BPA) is a chemical substance used industrially to make plastic hard and clear. It is used in many products you and I use such as bottles, and even the protective lining inside milk cartons.

However, BPA is an endocrine disrupter, meaning they imitate the actions of chemical messengers in our bodies. Even in small amounts, BPA is damaging to our bodies because they aren’t recognized as something foreign and thus can harm a developing fetus’ brain.

The chemical messenger that is most affected by BPA is glucocorticoid (GR), a gene that controls the development of the fetal brain.

Why Boys More Than Girls?

Research conducted and reported by the American Chemical Society in June 2018, found that BPA has a sex preference in how it is expressed harming the development of the brain of a developing fetus.

They stated in their paper:

“Gonadal (male) hormones are known to influence the sexual differentiation of the brain. Therefore, exposure to endocrine disrupters which affect gonadal hormone levels may contribute to sex-specific behavioral changes.

Galloway et al. found that urinary BPA was correlated with serum concentrations of total testosterone.

Thus, alterations in gonadal hormone levels provoked by BPA exposure may perturb sex-dependent neurobehaviors.

Interestingly, a recent report showed that prenatal BPA treatment results in a sex-specific disruption of epigenetic pathways in the brain.”

In short, the brains of male children while still inside the womb are being harmed in their development. Could this be the smoking gun of ASD?

Further research must be done to give us a definitive answer.

In Closing

 Clearly, there are many questions about autism spectrum disorder that remain unanswered. However, could it be that our modern lifestyle is what is harming our children? Can the answer be to eliminate or limit as much as is humanly possible our unborn children’s exposure to the chemicals written about in this article?

Only time and more research will tell.

Don’t forget to download and utilize our free Patient Next Door app onto your smartphone. With it, you can share the healthcare journey of you and your child with people who are facing similar conditions.

The app isn’t just free, it is ads free!

As always, we here at Patient Next Door love serving you and hope you will join us in aiding others in finding resources and hope.

We care about you.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this post are the personal views of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of PatientNextDoor. Any omissions or errors are the author’s and PatientNextDoor does not assume any liability or responsibility for them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Why the World is Experiencing The Reemergence of the Measles Virus and What Can Be Done

Many people think of the measles virus as a harmless childhood infection. Indeed, at one time it was considered a rite of passage for children to have the disease with some parents opting to have their children deliberately exposed.

It is regrettable that measles has returned. It is once again raising the specter of death over our children worldwide. What is happening? Why is measles on the comeback? In this article, we will examine measles and how it is quickly reemerging as public enemy number one for children everywhere.

First What is the Measles?

 For an accurate description of measles, I turned to the Mayo Clinic website.

Measles is a virus and was once very common but can now almost always be prevented with a vaccination. Another name for measles is Rubeola, and the disease is highly contagious. Worldwide measles kills more than 100,000 people each year, most of them being under the age of 5 years.

Measles is a virus that is very contagious and replicates in the nose and throat of the infected person. When these folks produce a cough or sneeze or speak infected droplets get released into the air where other people can inhale them.

Children are notorious for putting objects into their mouths, and the measles virus can remain active for several hours on surfaces. This means that when children contact a surface containing live measles virus then put their hands in their mouths or rub their eyes they can become infected.

Ninety percent of people who are unvaccinated and are exposed to the virus will become ill.

The symptoms of the measles virus appear around 10-25 days after exposure and include:

  • Fever
  • Dry cough
  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Inflamed eyes
  • Tiny white spots with bluish-white centers on a red background
  • A skin rash of large, flat blotches

The symptoms of the disease occur in stages throughout 2-3 weeks.

Stage One: infection and incubation. For the first 10-14 days after exposure, the measles virus incubates with no outward signs of what is to come.

Stage Two: Nonspecific signs and symptoms appear. Measles usually begins with a mild to moderate fever with a cough, runny nose, sore eyes, and sore throat. These signs are often misunderstood to be the common cold. This stage may last two or three days.

Stage Three: Acute illness with rash. During this stage, the measles rash appears. It usually breaks out on the face first. Over the next several days the outbreak spreads down the arms and body. During this stage, the fever will rise to go as high as 104F (40C) to 105.8 F (41 C). The measles rash gradually will disappear beginning where it began, on the face, and the lower part of the body last.

Stage Four: Communicable period. During this final stage, the person with the measles can spread the virus to others for about eight days, beginning four days before the rash appears and ending after the rash has been visible for four days.

Available Treatments for a Measles Infection

  There are no specific treatments to ease the effects of the measles virus. However, there are several to treat the various symptoms peripherally, mostly dealing with supportive care of the infected person.

Proper nutrition and plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration are vital as fever, diarrhea and vomiting cause fluid loss to the body.  Antibiotics are sometimes ordered to treat secondary eye and ear infections also pneumonia.

Children diagnosed with the measles should receive two doses of vitamin A 24-hours apart to help prevent eye damage and blindness. Also, Vitamin A supplements have shown to reduce the number of deaths from the measles virus by 50%.

Otherwise, the best treatments are rest and keeping the infected person as comfortable as possible.

Serious Complications from Having the Measles Virus 

 As I stated at the beginning of this article, millions of children die or become disabled because of the measles virus around the world.

The complications range from common to rare, but all carry the possibility of death or disability and affect 30% of children infected with the measles virus.

Common Complications. The most common complications to having the measles are diarrhea and vomiting (which can lead to dehydration), a middle ear infection (causing earache), eye infections, laryngitis, and seizures from a high fever.

Uncommon Complications. There are several less common complications to having the measles, however as you will see they can be either very disabling or even deadly.

  • Hepatitis (infection of the liver)
  • Meningitis (infection of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord)
  • Encephalitis (infection of the brain itself) (1 in 1,000)
  • Damage to the optic nerve leading to blindness
  • Heart and nervous system problems
  • Subacute Sclerosing Panencephalitis (SSPE) a fatal brain disorder occurring in 1 in 25,000 cases.

Measles Complications During Pregnancy

Possibly the most heinous complication of the measles virus occurs during the first trimester of pregnancy. Indeed, if you are not immune to the measles and get the virus while you are pregnant, serious complications to both you and your unborn child can result.

The measles virus causes the worst damage to the unborn when the mother becomes infected early in her pregnancy causing congenital rubella syndrome (CRS).

Congenital rubella syndrome can cause miscarriage or stillbirth as well as severe birth defects that cause lifelong and devastating problems. In fact, CRS can affect almost every part of a developing baby’s body.

The most common birth defects caused by CRS to the unborn include:

  • Premature birth
  • Deafness
  • Heart defects
  • Intellectual disabilities
  • Cataracts
  • Liver and spleen damage
  • Low birth weight
  • Glaucoma
  • Brain damage
  • Inflammation of the lungs
  • Thyroid and hormone problems

One a baby has become afflicted with CRS there is no cure. The only answer to keeping a baby from being horribly harmed by the measles virus while in utero is to either get vaccinated before you become pregnant or to avoid any contamination of the disease.

The Beginning of the End of the Measles Virus

 In 1954, John F. Enders and Dr. Thomas C. Peebles decided to isolate the measles virus from blood samples they collected from students sickened during a measles outbreak in Boston, Massachusetts.

In a fantastic breakthrough, Enders and Peebles were able to isolate measles in one sample taken from a 13-year-old boy named David Edmonston. Then in 1963, Enders and his colleagues created a vaccine using the isolated virus, and in 1968 an improved version developed by Maurice Hilleman and colleagues began to distribute the vaccine to the public.

Since 1968, the Edmonston-Enders vaccine has been used as the only measles vaccine in the United States and is usually combined with mumps and varicella then given to young children in two doses.

Before the advent of the measles vaccine in 1963, outbreaks of the disease that occurred every 2-3 years caused approximately 2.6 million children to die and brought severe disability to many more.

In the United States alone, before 1963, 3-4 million citizens got measles each year of which 400-500 died, and 1,000 developed disabilities. However, by the year 2000, the United States announced it had eliminated measles from its shores due to a very effective public health system giving vaccinations to its people.

However, declaring the measles virus eliminated does not mean there were no longer any cases.

The Choice Not to Vaccinate

Despite the availability of the measles vaccine, in Europe, the number of children infected with the measles virus has quadrupled in the past two years going from 10,250 to 41,000.  Also, the United States, where vaccinating for measles began, saw an increase of more than 478% in reported cases of measles.

Indeed, the Centers for Disease Control reported that last year (2018), the United States had outbreaks in 26 states including: Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Washington.

There are several reasons that children are not vaccinated against the measles virus.

Unable to receive the vaccine. Some children are born without the immune system capable of receiving the vaccine and will most likely never receive it.

Newborns are too young to be vaccinated. In 2015, during a measles outbreak, six newborns who contracted measles and the other babies who had been in contact with them were placed in isolation. The cause of the outbreak was that a child who had not been vaccinated and had contracted the measles had visited the hospital.

Communities where they object to vaccination on a religious basis. In 2014, a large outbreak of the measles virus occurred among an Amish community in Ohio sickening 383 people.

The Anti-Vaccination Movement. In 1995, Doctor Andrew Wakefield was approached by some parents who stated their children had been diagnosed with autism shortly after receiving their MMR vaccine. They asked him if he would do research to see if there was a correlation or causation between the two.

Dr. Andrew Wakefield

Doctor Wakefield approached his research project with the theory that the measles vaccine would cause inflammation in a child’s stomach causing them to develop “leaky gut syndrome.” The syndrome, he theorized, allowed harmful proteins to move from a child’s intestines to their brain causing autism to develop.

Then in 1998, Wakefield and a group of fellow researchers published their study linking inflammatory bowel symptoms in twelve autistic children to the MMR vaccine that was published in the British medical journal The Lancet.

The result of that paper was the launch of an anti-vaccination movement in the United Kingdom and the United States that then spread around the world.

A reporter, Brian Deer of the London Sunday Times, began an investigation of Wakefield and found evidence that the doctor had conflicts of interest and unethical conduct committed by him during the research project connecting autism to the measles vaccination.

Brian Deer

In February of 2010, The Lancet officially revoked the publication of the article due to the ethical concerns and after ten of the thirteen co-authors of the paper had renounced the study’s conclusions.

Since then, many researchers have attempted to replicate Doctor Wakefield’s research and failed with many more debunking the doctor’s findings. Even on Doctor Wakefield’s Wakefield, who presently practices in both Florida and Texas, stands by his work and insists that his research was conducted correctly.

In fact, on Wakefield’s Texas-based website “Thoughtful House” the frequently asked questions section the question, “Have Thoughtful House researchers found any link between the MMR vaccine and autism?” the answer was, “No such link has been established, but research into a possible link is ongoing.”

Dr. Wakefield has since resigned from the “Thoughtful House,” and the website has changed its name and focus.

Despite the establishment of research to the contrary, the belief that the vaccine against measles causes autism persists. The movement of parent’s choosing to keep their children unvaccinated is an integral part of the reemergence of the measles virus.

World Travel and Its Impact on the Spread of the Measles Virus

 

Measles Around the Globe

Worldwide, in 2016, approximately 90,000 people died from the measles virus because of an estimated 20 million people in developing countries with weak health infrastructures.  In fact, in 2014 some tourists visiting from outside the United States went to Disneyland and infected a handful of other visitors.

The American visitors then went home, and within a few weeks, 125 confirmed cases of measles were reported in the United States. Of those, 110 of the children lived in California, and half of them had not been vaccinated. Ultimately, 147 confirmed cases resulted because of contact of other children with the unvaccinated children.

Not only are people bringing the measles virus to the United States, but people from the U.S. are not getting vaccinated when traveling abroad. A study led by Massachusetts General Hospital conducted in March of 2018 found that 53% of all individuals from the United States planning on traveling outside the country were not vaccinated.

If this is a massive problem in the United States, one can only imagine how widespread it must be globally.

Are There Solutions to End Measles Forever?

 While it may seem a daunting task, the eradication of the measles virus remains within humanity’s grasp if we work together. There have been calls for a global program of annihilation in the next ten to fifteen years.

Part of the solution is to help countries where the virus is alive and well immunize their population. The aim here is to interrupt the transmission of measles from one part of the world to another. This has already been started with mass catch-up campaigns being conducted all over the world.

Also, during the catch-up campaigns, not just children need to receive vaccinations as older children and adults are also potential victims and carriers of the disease.

Bottom-line, even if parts of the United States and the United Kingdom remain unvaccinated if we help the rest of the world receive vaccinations the spread of the measles will cease.

To end the plague of measles, we must pool our knowledge and resources to eradicate the measles virus off the face of planet earth forever.

Don’t forget to download and utilize our free Patient Next Door app onto your smartphone. With it, you can share the healthcare journey of you and your child with people who are facing similar conditions.

The app isn’t just free, it is ads free!

As always, we here at Patient Next Door love serving you and hope you will join us in aiding others in finding resources and hope.

We care about you.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this post are the personal views of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of PatientNextDoor. Any omissions or errors are the author’s and PatientNextDoor does not assume any liability or responsibility for them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Smallpox, The Tiny Virus that Has Molded Human History

Since man began living together in agricultural settlements some 12.000 years ago until modern times, a tiny virus only 302-350 nanometers by 244 to 270 nanometers in size has shaped and reshaped our history. An equal opportunity killer made of only a single strand of DNA, the Variola virus has murdered billions.

Now, as of January 2019, this plague of humankind has seemingly been eradicated thanks to a worldwide effort of vaccination. How did this tiny virus become man’s number one enemy, how did we tame it, and what lies in the future for this killer?

That’s what we shall examine together in this article.

The Disease Called Smallpox

Smallpox is a highly contagious, disfiguring and deadly disease that has no cure or treatment.

The disease is spread through droplets spread into the air by infected individuals as they cough, sneeze and speak. Dangerously, there are no symptoms after contraction of smallpox, during its incubation stage of ten to seventeen days. During this stage, a person can unwittingly infect hundreds of people perpetuating the problem.

After the end of the incubation stage, a person infected with smallpox will experience the sudden onset of flu-like symptoms including:

  • Fever
  • Discomfort
  • Headache
  • Severe fatigue
  • Severe back pain
  • Vomiting

Within a few days of the onset of symptoms, flat, red spots appear beginning on the face hand and forearms then spreading to the rest of the body. Then, within one or two days the spots become liquid filled blisters that later turns into a puss.

After about eight days, scabs appear on the skin that after falling off leave deep and disfiguring scars.

Horrifyingly, the same process seen on the outside of the body is also occurring on the inside as the intestines, stomach and other internal organs are covered with the same type of lesions.

For many centuries, even with modern medicine, the exact way the variola virus kills was not well-understood. Then in January 2009, the Federation of American Societies of Experimental Biology (FASEB) released a news that a team of researchers working in a high containment lab at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, GA stating they had found the smoking gun.

Apparently, the variola virus kills by disabling the immune system of its victims by attacking the molecules it makes to block the replication of the virus. The destruction of the human ability to fend off viruses done by variola leaves its victim with no protection from infection and it is these infections that kill.

The Early History of a Killer

What we know of the beginning of smallpox is the only speculation, but this guess is made based on the etiology of other killer viruses such as Ebola.

It is firmly believed by most scientists that the variola virus crossed over from domesticated animals, possibly cattle, in our very earliest farming communities. It found a prosperous home among humans, as it is highly contagious.

Egyptian mummies. This is the mummy of. Ramses V, who died in BC. Note the eruptions. on the lower face. Also note. skin folds possibly due to. swelling.

It wasn’t until between 1570 B.C. and 1085 B.C. that we first hear about smallpox. In ancient Egyptian scrolls is found a reference in a papyrus scroll that briefly describes what must have been smallpox. Indeed, in clay tablets from the Hittites who lived in the Middle East, there are even accusations that the Egyptians infected their population during a war between the two civilizations.

There is speculation that smallpox brought down many cities and civilizations. Indeed, this small enemy devastated Athens in 430 B.C. and hastened the fall of the Roman Empire killing 3.5-7 million people during the reign of Emperor Marcus Aurelius.

By the 6th century, the smallpox virus had spread across Europe, Asia and Africa bringing death to millions each year.

Smallpox Has Steered Human History

The way the tiny variola virus has changed world events and thus human history is astonishing. Approximately 30% of all people who contracted the disease died with those statistics being worse for children. In fact, newborns were often left unnamed until they contracted the disease to prove if they would survive.

Waves of smallpox epidemics would wipe out huge populations killing peasant and king alike. Queen Mary II of England, Holy Roman Emperor Joseph I, French King Louis XV and Tsar Peter II of Russia all died from the virulent disease.

Had these monarchs lived longer lives the world as we know it today would be very different?

The disease also leaves those who survive badly scarred and sometimes blinded making any possible matches among rulers harder to make as men sought out the healthy and beautiful. This too changed the course of human history as rulers were not born who might have been without the intervention of the variola virus.

Until the 16th and 17th centuries, the variola virus had controlled humanity only in the Old World. Then in those centuries, Europeans first landed in the new world of the Americas spreading the horror of smallpox onto that continent as well and effectively wiping out the Aztec and Inca Indians then later the other tribes in North America.

By the time the Spanish conquistadors arrived with their weapons and finished them off, the populations of the peoples of the new world had been decimated.

Smallpox in the United States

By the seventeenth century, it was known in Africa and Asia that exposing an individual to small amounts of a disease to created immunity. In the early 1700s, doing this same procedure was gaining favor in Europe with the risky procedure being moderately successful reducing the death rate by to a small fraction of those who had received the treatment.

In 1717, while accompanying her husband to Turkey, an Englishwoman named Mary Wortley came across the ancient practice of inoculating children with smallpox. After the initial shock had worn off, Mrs. Wortly learned that if a child were treated with the process of using puss from a sick person were applied to a child protected them from the consequences of smallpox decided to have her six-year-old son given the procedure.

Three years later, before the Royal Society Members, Mrs. Wortley had her daughter inoculated in the same manner. Soon the practice was adopted by the aristocracy of England and Central Europe, yet the common people of Europe resisted its practice.

After a time though, the common people of Europe decided to have their children inoculated and themselves treated taking the practice to the new world with them.

In another twist of fate in the way, smallpox has shaped our world, both George Washington and Napoleon had their armies inoculated and this move helped both countries win at war.

Still the procedure of using live the virus taken from the puss filled sores of victims came with the risk of the person on the receiving end contacting a full-blown case of smallpox.

The Spread of an Effective Inoculation 

Then in 1796, Edward Jenner, a British physician took note that dairymaids rarely sickened with smallpox after they had contracted cowpox. Cowpox was a common disease of cattle that when transmitted to humans who come into continuous and intimate contact with them get mildly ill.

Knowing the procedure for inoculating people with the variola virus, Jenner decided to use fluid taken from a cowpox lesion plus puss from smallpox and placing them into the skin of a young boy. The boy did not get sick with either disease and the first successful vaccination (taken from the word in Latin vacca for cow) for smallpox had been performed.

What began as an outbreak in the colonies on the North American eastern seaboard of smallpox soon spread throughout the continent and was already raging when the armies of the British and George Washington battled during the revolutionary war and the invasion of Canada by the Continental Army.

In fact, during the battle for Boston, smallpox broke out among both the British and Continental camps and by 1779 escaped slaves who had fled south caused huge outbreaks in Texas and Louisiana hitting the urban city of New Orleans the hardest. The epidemic sickened and killed thousands as it crossed the Great Plains, the Pacific Coast, Alaska, and Mexico.

Inoculation was a tested and proved way to prevent further outbreaks of smallpox.

Smallpox During Wartime

However, in the 1815 and 1850, New York and Maryland outlawed the practice followed soon thereafter by the other states leaving the United States wide open to new outbreaks of the killer disease. Indeed, by the outbreak of the Civil War inoculation was illegal in almost the entire country.

So, during the American Civil War generations of people had never received inoculation nor had the disease and it reared its ugly head again.

From May 1861-June 1866, 12,236 cases of smallpox were reported among the white troops serving in the Union Army equaling 5.5 per one thousand men. There were also 6,716 cases among black men serving in the Union army equaling 36.6 men. The death rates from smallpox were 23% for white troops and 35% for black.

Once again, the variola virus may have steered world history as, during the battle of Chancellorsville in the American Civil War in 1862, 5,000 soldiers serving in the Confederate army were unable to take to their posts from being too ill from smallpox.

Whether smallpox turned the tide of the Civil War or not remains in debate, but the fact remains that two of every three men who died during the Civil War died from smallpox, more than by bullets, bayonets or cannon balls combined.

The Worldwide Effort to Stamp Out a Killer

Even though the world now had a major weapon against smallpox, it continued to kill. Epidemic outbreaks of the variola vaccine continued to occur well into the twentieth century as people were slow to embrace the theory of vaccination.

In as late as 1924, when an outbreak occurred in Canada and crossed the border into the United States, 4,000 people became ill with smallpox and 133 died in Michigan.

However, this outbreak reiterated the fact that smallpox could be defeated through inoculation as an article in Time Magazine summarized that “no person who had been successfully vaccinated at any time in his life died of smallpox; of those who had never been successfully vaccinated and who developed the disease, 71% died; no one who had been vaccinated successfully within the previous twelve years developed smallpox.”

Afterward, immunizations for smallpox became widespread by 1949 the United States, causing American health officials to stop requiring smallpox inoculations being given to schoolchildren.

Soon after World War Two, in 1959, the newly formed World Health Organization (WHO) began a plan to end the reign of smallpox over mankind. During its first years of implantation, the World Health Organization’s efforts were poorly funded and lacked support from all the nations of the world. This resulted, despite all they could do with such limitations, in smallpox outbreaks continuing to be widespread on the continents of Asia, South America, and Africa.

However, the disease had been eliminated from North America in 1952 and Europe in 1953.

Then in 1967, with the Intensified Eradication Program and many other developments, steady progress was made around the world to rid mankind of smallpox forever.

Indeed, during the 1970s, smallpox was eradicated from South America, Asia and finally Africa in 1977. In 1975, Rahima Banu, a three-year-old little girl living in Asia was the last person to contract smallpox from nature and the last person to have active smallpox.

Janet Parker has the dubious distinction of being the last person in the world to die from smallpox after contracting it by being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Ms. Parker had been working as a medical photographer in the Birmingham University Medical School in England one floor above the Medical Microbiology Department that was doing research on smallpox.

A later investigation found that Ms. Parker had been infected through the accidental release of the variola virus into the hospital’s ventilation system from the lab below.

However, let it be noted that the Microbiologist who may have been responsible for Ms. Parker contracting the disease while in quarantine at his home, walked into his garden shed and slit his throat.

Perhaps he too should be counted among the billions of people in the history of humanity who died as the result of the tiny variola virus.

In October 1979, the World Health Organization announced that the world had once and for all eradicated the danger of smallpox from all human beings then living on planet earth.

The Terrifying and Possible Future of Smallpox

In the 1700s, the British were fighting France who was allied with the indigenous Indians of Canada. It was during this conflict, known as the French and Indian Wars, that a horrible new weapon was utilized against an unprotected foe.

During the Pontiac rebellion of 1763, Sir Jeffrey Amherst, the Commander-in-Chief of the British forces in North America write to Colonel Henry Bouquet a letter that sealed the fate of the Pontiac Tribe.

In it the letter he wrote these now heinous words about his enemy, “Could it not be contrived to send smallpox among these disaffected tribes of Indians? We must use every stratagem in our power to reduce them.” To this horrible suggestion, Colonel Henry Bouquet replied, “I will try to inoculate the [Native American tribe] with some blankets that may fall in their hands and take care not to get the disease myself.”

Smallpox then decimated the Native Americans who had never been exposed to the disease before and had no immunity. This was the first use of a biological weapon.

That was not the only time that smallpox was used as a weapon. It is proposed that during the American Revolutionary War in the winter of 1775-76, the British used smallpox to deliberately infect soldiers of the American troops.

Indeed, in December 1775, there are reports that the British ford commander in Quebec immunized citizens of that city and sent them out to infect the soldiers.

A few weeks later an outbreak of smallpox occurred among the American army that sickened 5,000 soldiers leaving them retreating after being forced to bury their dead in mass graves.

During World War Two, both British and American scientists investigated using smallpox as a weapon against the Axis Powers but abandoned the thought because of the widespread use of inoculations.

Then in 1969, President Nixon halted the United States Offensive Biological Weapons Program because the American people were reeling from the use of chemical weapons in Viet Nam.

Then in 1972, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the Soviet Union signed a treaty outlawing the development, production, and use of biological weapons. The pact left the United States and indeed most of the world believing that all parties involved had given up weaponizing such a heinous adversary as smallpox.

The World Reels from  a Terrifying Revelation

In 1989, a senior Soviet bio-weapons scientist, Vladimir Pasechnik defected to the United Kingdom and told the world the truth. The Soviet Union had not ended its search for a smallpox weapon and indeed had intensified their efforts.

Pasechnik revealed to a terrified world that in 1973 the Soviet Union had established a civilian pharmaceutical company known as Biopreparat to act as a front for a massive offensive bio-weapons program.

Vladimir Pasechnik, now known as Ken Alibek, was the Chief Scientist of Biopreprat from 1987 to 1992. He told the world that he had been told that neither the British nor the Americans had given up their research either. This lie told to him by his bosses and backed up by KGB reports had convinced him to continue his research.

Then in 1991, Ken Alibek, along with several other Soviet scientists, toured and inspected four laboratory facilities in the United States. There he found the biowarfare facilities had been completely abandoned. This trip convinced Alibek that he had been lied to and he defected.

Once he arrived in the United States in 1992, Alibek was thoroughly debriefed by the CIA and shared the startling news that the Soviets were using samples of smallpox they had kept during the campaign to eradicate smallpox had been used to create weapons.

To Donald Ainslie Henderson, the person who had led the campaign to eradicate smallpox, the Soviets had deliberately steered the world toward destruction. The Soviet Union had been the country to propose the massive inoculation of the populations of the globe to eradicate the disease.

Now it appeared they had done so knowing what an advantage they would have by leaving the world vulnerable. Since the disease had been eradicated and inoculations had ceased the Soviets would be able to conquer enemies and take over dominance of humanity using the supply of smallpox they had in their possession and were developing into a weapon.

What Will Happen in the Future?

The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, and Ken Alibek believes that unemployed and badly paid molecular scientists probably sold samples of the most virulent forms of smallpox, India 67 and India 1, to rogue states.

However, in 1984 when the world’s remaining smallpox samples were moved to two high-security labs in Russia and America, there were no inspections conducted to make sure that there were no other samples in either country.

Indeed, based on questionable evidence, intelligence agencies in the western countries believe that North Korea, Iraq and Russia currently have the capacity to deploy smallpox as a weapon.

Other countries suspected or known to have stockpiles of smallpox are China, Cuba, India, Iran, Israel, Pakistan and Yugoslavia.

Today debate rages as to whether all samples of smallpox should be destroyed or not. Some say that so long as the samples are kept the inevitability of it being used as a weapon remains.

Others state that keeping a stockpile of the variola virus is vital in case a rogue nation does decide to release smallpox back into the human population to make more vaccine.

It is this author’s firm hope that as humans continue to merge into a global community, the hatreds and suspicions that hold us back cease. Only then can mankind be finally free of smallpox forever.

Don’t forget to download and utilize our free Patient Next Door app onto your smartphone. With it, you can share the healthcare journey of you and your child with people who are facing similar conditions.

The app isn’t just free, it is ads free!

As always, we here at Patient Next Door love serving you and hope you will join us in aiding others in finding resources and hope.

We care about you.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this post are the personal views of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of PatientNextDoor. Any omissions or errors are the author’s and PatientNextDoor does not assume any liability or responsibility for them.

 

 

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About Bipolar Disorder

What is Bipolar Disorder?
If you are reading this article, it may be because you or a loved one has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. There may have been an episode of mania, hypomania, depression or a mixture. There may be a lot of questions, confusion and maybe even anger. Bipolar disorder does not discriminate. Men and women can equally be diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Where we live and how we were raised may have an influence on us. However, there is no specific person, place or thing to blame for having bipolar disorder.
I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at age twenty-four. Since then, there has been a large trial and error process. There has been hospitalizations, medication, mistakes, anger, regret, happiness and sadness. The good news is, is that I have reached stability. I have been hospital free for years. That does not mean that I am cured from having bipolar disorder. It is a mental health disorder that I face everyday.
The most important thing we can do is to get properly diagnosed. For some people, it can take years to receive a correct diagnosis. In Bipolar Disorder: Love and Relationships, I go over being open and honest. I understand that this can be very difficult. However, it is very important. Let’s go with my personal and most recent example:
My family and I moved across the country for a new job opportunity. Clearly, for someone with bipolar disorder, this can create a lot of uncertainty, stress and even some triggers. One of my main stressors was the fact that I would need a new psychiatrist. I had been with my doctor for over five years. I was very stable, happy and content. Even still, I received two months of my medication and made the move across the country. Once I reached my destination, I called multiple psychiatrists. Some didn’t have open appointments and some didn’t take my insurance. One even wanted four hundred dollars up front to do my beginning paperwork. I was really starting to miss my old doctor and was very worried. I finally found a doctor that had a recent appointment and that took my insurance.
During my appointment, I was sitting in front of a new doctor and his intern. It was my time to be open and honest. He wanted me to describe myself. And my first question was do you want to know the me, stable on my medication or unstable? He wanted to know how I acted unstable. So here is my list of traits I have if I am unstable:
• Extreme mania
• Severe depression
• Psychosis
• Risky behavior
• Hypersexuality
• Lack of sleep
• Rapid speech
Needless to say, when I am not stable, I am completely disabled. My family has no choice but to hospitalize me if I do not take the proper steps for self care. I suffer from bipolar disorder type one. There are a few different types of bipolar disorder:
• Bipolar Disorder Type 1
• Bipolar Disorder Type 2
• Cyclothymic Disorder
• Mixed Features
• Rapid Cycling
These are a few of the different types. Some of us even suffer other mental health disorders along with having bipolar disorder. Here is a list of mental health disorders that could occur along side bipolar disorder:
• Anxiety
• PTSD
• Schizoaffective
• Borderline Personality Disorder
• ADHD
• OCD
• Eating Disorder
• Substance Abuse
• Alcoholism
• Addiction
• Postpartum Depression
• Seasonal Affective Disorder
There are many other disorders that could be present as well including physical ailments. It is very important for us to stay open and honest with our medical staff and to get properly diagnosed. We need to hone in on each individual disorder so we can pinpoint our symptoms. Read more in: Bipolar Disorder: Substances, Sex and Major Life Changes.

About the author:

2 Times NEW release author on Amazon. Amy Perez has a Master’s degree from Nova Southeastern University. Amy has spent hours inside mental health facilities with a first hand patient perspective. She has worked with mental health patients in Miami. Amy lives in Florida with her family and orange tabby cat.

Feel free to connect om social media:

Instagram: @avidauthor

Twitter: @psychologyamy

Facebook Group: Mental Health Encouragement

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Your Motivation for December 10, 2018

Hello, and welcome to Monday. It’s Shirley from your PatientNextDoor Support Team.

Helen Keller was an exceptional woman. After losing her eyesight and ability to hear at the age of two, she nevertheless went on to graduate from college, give lectures and write books.

There are a few things about Miss Keller’s life that haven’t made it into the movies or popular culture.

The brilliant Helen Keller was forbidden by law to marry and have children because of her disabilities.

To be fair, at that time people didn’t understand genetics like we do today or they would have realized that Helen Keller’s disabilities could not be passed on to her offspring.

At one point in her life, Helen fell in love but she was not allowed to follow through with marrying the young man who loved her dearly.

So, Helen Keller lead a life full of heartache and loss.

However, there was an inner strength in her that is rare. She believed, like I do, that life is an adventure and something to be savored.

Even though she faced enormous hurdles all her life that she was forced to jump over, she still kept to her belief that set her apart from so many,

“Security is mostly superstition. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”

Miss Keller admitted that there is a little bit of security, but she wanted others to know what an adventure life can be if we acknowledge it.

How wonderful is that.

We here at Patient Next Door love serving you and hope you are enjoying these little tidbits we try to put out there Monday-Friday.

Please, consider joining us in aiding others by sharing  resources and hope.

Don’t forget to download and utilize our free Patient Next Door app onto your smartphone. With it, you can share the healthcare journey of you and your child with people who are facing similar conditions.

The app isn’t just free, it is ads free!

We care about you.
 

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The High Price Paid on the Planet for Globalization,  the Spread of the Swine and Bird Flu Viruses

Humanity has, in the long past, lived isolated from one another. The people of one region of the world did not contact those of another. However, when humanity began exploring the planet to discover new lands, they took with them the viruses that within themselves were harmless.
Continue reading “The High Price Paid on the Planet for Globalization,  the Spread of the Swine and Bird Flu Viruses”

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December 7, 2018 ~ Pearl Harbor Day

On December 7, 1941 the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Regardless of the politics behind the attack, and irregardless of who won the war, countless lives were changed that day.

In total, 2,335 people died including 2,008 Navy personnel, 109 Marines, 218 army men, and 68 civilians.

When the Arizona was hit, 1,177 young men lost their lives.

War is so ugly that no one wins. Eventually, with hearts full of revenge, the United States defeated the Japanese by using weapons that are too horrible to be true.

World War II was the end of an age of innocense and the beginning of a world always on the brink of total anihilation.

Seventy-seven years later the world is still reeling from the affects of a war where it is estimated that between 70-85 million perished, military and civilians alike.

That staggering number includes Holocaust victims, crimes against humanity, bombings, war-related disease and famine, amounting to the tragedy of 19-30 million civilians died.

The number of people who died made up 3% of the world’s population at that time.

As the U.S. grieves today over the deaths of so many young and promising young men, let us join together to also say never again.

I offer you my hopes and prayers that humanity will stop the madness and finally understand that if one of us dies in war, we all do.  For every person is precious adding beauty to the voice of mankind.

“It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped.

Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope,

and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring,

those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”

~ Robert F. Kennedy

Don’t forget to download and utilize our free Patient Next Door app onto your smartphone. With it, you can share the healthcare journey of you and your child with people who are facing similar conditions.

The app isn’t just free, it is ads free!

As always, we here at Patient Next Door love serving you and hope you will join us in aiding others in finding resources and hope.

We care about you.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this post are the personal views of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of PatientNextDoor. Any omissions or errors are the author’s and PatientNextDoor does not assume any liability or responsibility for them.

 

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Anxiety & Finances

Finances

This topic is very important for those of us with anxiety. Many nights can be spent questioning my finances. Did I pay that bill? Will I have enough for gift giving? Am I saving enough? These are relevant questions. However, I don’t want to answer them when I am trying to fall asleep. Having too much uncertainty about our finances in the current moment and in the future can spike our anxiety. This would be known as a trigger. We will go over that in a later chapter. Whether we have acute anxiety or more severe anxiety, this area has an impact on all of us. We need money for our basic needs such as groceries, gas and housing. Also, we want to use it for the extra things like entertainment, new clothes and even a vacation. It is important to set up our bank account to take away some anxiety about our current situation and in the future.
Any financial mistakes from the past are just that, the past. Obviously, we will still deal with these issues in the current time and future. Whether we charged too much on a credit card or bought an expensive car or furniture. It is okay. What is important is that we learn from our past decisions and repair our present and future situation. Easing anxiety about our financial situation happens in stages. The first stage is organizing everything in writing. We can do this on paper or on a computer. We need to decipher what we bring in and what goes out. Some of us work part time, full time or are on disability. No matter what we bring in and pay out, being organized is key.
Here is an example of having everything written out:
In:
Part time job: $1,090.00 Monthly
Additional income: $800.00 Monthly
Total: $1,890.00
Out:
Rent: $600.00
Electric: $65.00
Cable: $40.00
Insurance: $100.00
Gas: $50.00
Groceries: $600.00
Credit Cards: $75.00
Medicine: $25.00
Total: $1,5550.00
Left Over: $335.00
In this situation, everything is written out and calculated. There is no question regarding what is coming in and what is going out. Now we know that there is $335.00 left over. How can we utilize this left over money to minimize anxiety? We organize it. This is stage two. Now that we know how much money is used for our needs, the rest of the money can be put into accounts for our wants. First, let’s pick out four of our wants. Do we want to save for our future? Do we want to use more money to spend on our loved ones or pets? Do we want more fun money? The goal is to choose areas of our life that are important to us and put our money towards those things. We can either create an envelope system to put extra money or use separate bank accounts. With banking apps for smart phones, organizing our money has never been easier. Here is an example of how these accounts will look:
Main account/needs: $755.00
Emergency fund: $250.00
Fun/Vacations: $160.00
Children/Pets: $90.00
401K: $150.00
Gifts: $60.00
These accounts will likely start out small. Many banks allow us to have a few accounts open at once. Some banks require a minimum balance or direct deposit. Calling our bank is the best way to gain clarity of what we can do and to find out minimum requirements. Often times, bank accounts can be opened online or through an app. With our example, there is $335.00 left over. Here is how we will divide the left over income:
Emergency fund: $85.00
Fun/Vacations: $50.00
Children/Pets: $50.00
401K: $50.00
Gifts: $50.00
As we can see, the total equals $285.00. We have $50.00 left over. This money will be allocated to pay back any debts we acquired. Do we owe someone money? Do we want to pay more than the minimum payments on our credit cards? Credit card repayment is included in the budget but we can add extra money to pay back the debt faster. Each account has it’s purpose. These accounts give us peace of mind. We have our emergency fund set up for the unexpected. This can be a car repair, extra medicine cost or a home repair. The fun and vacation account can be for anything from an ice cream treat to a weekend getaway. For the children/pet account, this can be set up for new clothes, medical expenses or an activity. The 401K is for our future. This can give us something to look forward to. This account builds over time. Lastly, my personal favorite, the gift account. Gift giving is very important to me. I always want to make sure that I have money for holidays and birthdays.
When it comes close to Christmas time, I might add a little extra money into this account. I might put only $50.00 into the emergency account and then put $85.00 into the gift account. Because the money is organized, these accounts get replenished as they get used every month. Therefore, when it is bedtime and we start to fret about money, we can put our mind at ease. We have accounts set up for certain situations. Reducing our financial stress can have a large impact on our anxiety. Organizing and understanding our finances can be an important step in improving our quality of life. Improving our quality of life can affect those around us. Learn more in The Anxiety Warriors by Amy Perez MS Psychology.

About the Author:

Amy Perez has a Master’s degree in General Psychology from Nova Southeastern University. Author of The Manic Episode Series and Bipolar Disorder: Thriving, Triggers, Love & Relationships.

Instagram: @avidauthor

Twitter: @PsychologyAmy

Facebook Group: Mental Health Encouragement

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Your Motivation for December 5, 2018

Hi everyone, December is here and with its arrival the hubbub of getting ready for Christmas begins.

Because of how the season is created in the movies, the small screen, and Norman Rockwell paintings, we set our sights on making our “perfect Christmas” just like we’ve seen in the media.

On the big and small screens, families may have some turmoil but at the end when Christmas finally arrives all their problems are laid to rest and harmony reigns.

We have all watched as fictitious families sitting about the roaring flames in the fireplace enjoying the love and warmth of family. We have decided we want that too.

Then reality sinks in Christmas morning.

The kids are uncooperative in getting dressed for the obligatory dinner at moms, the dog gets sick from eating tinsel, and it has snowed so you are forced outdoors to shovel it out in the bitter cold.

Our conception of “the perfect Christmas” come crashing down.

“Well,” we may find ourselves thinking, “I’m sure somewhere there is someone having a perfect Christmas, but not here.”

Beset with anger and bitterness, we continue to force a smile and try our best to be jolly when we feel blue.

Sound familiar to anyone out there?

Here is some news that may shock you, no one has the perfect holiday experience. It’s a myth.

Let’s be honest, we set ourselves up for disappointment when we swallow the lie that families are always loving and supportive during the holidays. Beginning in September (at least in my town), big retailers begin putting up Christmas trees to entice shoppers. Then the day after Thanksgiving the madness begins.

The long lines.

Children crying because they want Christmas toys NOW.

The extra house cleaning.

The worry over how much you want to go into debt to “celebrate.”

The Christmas carols playing so loud in the department stores that they are annoying.

What we all need to realize is that although we have been influenced by what we view on TV, we are the ones who are setting ourselves up for disappointment.

Perhaps it’s time to rearrange what “the perfect Christmas” means to us and our families.

The beginning of this change needs to be taking stock of what is important and what will last.

Will the toy your child gets this year be remembered in twenty years when they are grown?

And speaking of grown children, yours won’t be small for long, shouldn’t you be enjoying them today?

Perhaps it is time for us to set new traditions for our families such as telling each other one funny (not sarcastic) story about one family member on Christmas morning. Alert all the members of your household that they will be telling a story and draw names out of a hat to get the person they will be speaking on. Tell everyone to keep who they have pulled a secret and let the fun begin.

Plan to stay home Christmas morning. Relief yourself of the travel and cold. Then sit about and watch Christmas movies while eating cookies.

If the kids get rambunctious, plan ahead with some family games that all can participate in. If you have toddlers in your home, team them up with someone older.

Forget the hassle of shopping in busy and crowded stores.

Have everyone make their presents for one another. Ask for lists from everyone for the materials they need and tell everyone to help each other when aid is requested.

Reassure the kids that they will be receiving a few things from Santa, but don’t overdo it.

There are literally tons of things that you can plan but remember to keep it all light and to keep your expectations in check.

After all, kids are kids and there are bound to be a few moments of bickering along the way. Don’t get bogged down and blue when your kids don’t act like perfect Norman Rockwell angels during the holidays.

Decide with your family what really matters to all of you. I think you will find that what kids want from you at Christmas time isn’t the expensive presents or the ride to grandma’s house. What they want more than anything is your time, attention, and love.

We’ll be taking more looks at dealing with the holiday seasons as the month goes along. Keep your chin up and your head out of the perfect Norman Rockwell clouds.

Shirley

Here at Patient Next Door we are dedicated to helping your family not only survive the holiday season, but to truly enjoy it.

Don’t forget to download and utilize our free Patient Next Door app onto your smartphone. With it, you can share the healthcare journey of you and your child with people who are facing similar conditions.

The app isn’t just free, it is ads free!

As always, we here at Patient Next Door love serving you and hope you will join us in aiding others in finding resources and hope.

 

We care about you.

 

 

 

 

 

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8 gift ideas for a loved one on autism spectrum

With the holiday season upon us, it’s time to think about gifts and when it comes to buying gifts for a child who has autism, it can get really challenging trying to figure out the best options. If they are obsessively interested in something , chances are that all the gifts they get end up being only of a particular kind. If they do not really have much of an interest in anything at all, like my son is, then we are left wondering what to get.

After a few years of walking up and down the toy aisles and browsing tons of sensory stores websites I think I have come up with a list that might help a few of you out there.

  1. Pets

    pet

    If your child has autism , it’s highly likely that he has few to none friends. Pets , even if they are not therapy dogs, can be such a great gift for someone who is lonely and needs a playmate. They can also be a great emotional support. Besides, they are cuddly and furry and cute. Do you need more reasons? Your local pet store might be already running an adoption event for you to find your special friend.

  2. Fidget baskets

    photo Credit:Puzzle Pieces A sensory Sensation

    who doesn’t like fidgets ? It’s the best way to destress and for kids on the spectrum, almost an inseparable part of them. Spinners, fidget cubes, slinky, marble in a tube, chain fidgets, tangles, roller chain fidget, stretchy strings, pencil fidgets…the list goes on. I bet they would be excited to unwrap this gift and you would be their instant favorite !

  3. Sensory Kits –

    photo Credit:Puzzle Pieces A sensory Sensation

    this is hours of fun right there. Sensory kits can be such an awesome gift when it comes to children on the spectrum and those with Sensory Processing Disorder. There are a ton of options to choose from – visual, oral, tactile and many more. Water beads, moon sand, theraputty, slime ,pin art toy, gel mats, stress balls that come in different shapes and sizes can be very attractive for tactile sensory seekers. Lava lamps, spinning toys, rain tubes, plasma balls, bubble column can be some of the  options for visual stimulation , things that vibrate like a vibrating chew toy, chewy tubes that now come in the form of a jewelry are also very popular among kids with autism. A sensory kit with a mix of these toys would make any kid happy.

  4. movement toys

    photo Credit:Puzzle Pieces A sensory Sensation

    Movement is another popular activity for autistic kids. They like motion. Think swings, hammock, kids rocking chair, spinning chairs etc. I have hooks inside my house where I can hook in a hammock or hang a swing in so that the winter season does not spoil the fun. There are some fun shaped spinning chairs out there that can serve as a cool cocoon and also provide the movement these kids crave for. For my son, even an office chair that spins or a bar stool provides entertainment. There are some sit and spin toys too that you can get if your child is small. Trampoline and exercise ball is yet another fun gift . OTs use this all the time for different exercises. Bouncing on it while watching TV or when listening to a story can help them shake off the excess energy.

  5. Sensory Room

    room
    photo Credit:Puzzle Pieces A sensory Sensation

    If you are up to it and have the space and the resources for it , a sensory room can be an ultimate gift for your child. Many specialty stores now offer help creating a sensory room with calming lights, padded walls and floors, soft music, swings, sensory toys and the whole nine yard. Sometimes you might be able to get funding to do this as well.

  6. Deep pressure products

    photo Credit:Puzzle Pieces A sensory Sensation

    Deep pressure can be very calming to people with sensory issues. It provides proprioceptive input that can help kids be more aware of their body in space. Weighted blankets are commonly used to help kids stay asleep, weighted vests, weighted lap pads or weighted stuffed toys have a calming effect when kids are sitting or moving around and need to have a calm body. Body sock, cozy canoe, stretch bands , weighted wristbands are also ways to get deep pressure and can be cool gifts to give . If want to go real crazy, there is also a squeeze machine that a lot of OTs use to give that input they seek but nothing beats a good old bear hug for deep pressure so don’t forget to give that!!

  7. Headphones

    Headphones

    it’s common knowledge now that auditory sensitivity is pretty prevalent among kids with sensory issues. Giving them a good pair of noise cancelling headphones can be something that can be very useful for them. Maybe giving them an iTunes gift card to purchase some calming music to listen on the headphone can be an icing on the cake.

  8. Apps and technology

    child with ipad

    If you have a tech savvy child who is glued on to his iPad then give him the gift of apps. AutismSpeaks , Autism Parenting Magazine and several other websites offer a list of Autism friendly apps that are especially designed for kids on the spectrum. For non-verbal kids, a communication app like TouchChat or Proloquo can be a great gift. Apps that help in making visual schedule, educational apps meant specially for autistic kids or games that your child has special inclination for can be a few of the app ideas to buy for your child. Another nice gift can be a GPS tracker . It helps them stay safe and communicate with a caregiver in case they are separated or in need.

 

Although there are a plethora of gifts out there that you can gift to you little one, the most important ones cost nothing at all – your time, your love and your belief in them. Never forget to give plenty of these to them and you will not find them complaining much 🙂

 

Happy Holidays!!

 

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