Posts Tagged ‘lead’

Flint, Washington, D.C. and toxic lead in water causing brain damage in children

March 6, 2016

The Flint, Michigan lead in water crisis is in the spotlight now at the Democratic debate between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

Here are a couple of articles about the lead crisis in water in Washington, D.C. and how the CDC lied to the public, while the D.C. government didn’t help the situation by botching the partial replacement of lead pipes with copper.

Lead causes brain damage and developmental disabilities, and fetuses, infants and developing children are especially affected.

http://www.examiner.com/article/congress-cdc-misled-public-about-washington-d-c-lead-water-crisis-lead-was-toxic-for-some

http://www.examiner.com/article/cdc-15-000-washington-d-c-homes-may-have-dangerous-levels-of-lead-water

Lead, toxic, water, CDC, Washington, EPA, Congress, plumbing, pipes, copper, fetuses, infants, children.

Flint, Michigan lead in water crisis: other articles

January 20, 2016

Flint, Michigan, outside of Detroit, is having a serious crisis about lead in water, which is catastrophically toxic to fetuses, infants, and developing children. It can cause serious brain damage for them – and is merely very unhealthy for everyone else.

Here are a couple of articles about lead in water – about how the Centers for Disease Control lied to the public about lead in water in D.C., and about how even a few years ago there may have been lead in D.C. water.

http://www.examiner.com/article/congress-cdc-misled-public-about-washington-d-c-lead-water-crisis-lead-was-toxic-for-some

http://www.examiner.com/article/cdc-15-000-washington-d-c-homes-may-have-dangerous-levels-of-lead-water

 

Scientists say chemicals are linked to increase in autism, Safe Chemicals Act proposed

June 9, 2011

Decades ago the medical establishment insisted autism resulted in the coldness of the mother.  Obviously that was 180 degrees wrong.

Just a few years ago they insisted autism was almost all genetic.  That was largely wrong because autism is very much environmental.

Now, as autism continues to increase, those in the scientific establishment are finally admitting that environmental causes play a major role.

Some scientists, parents, and advocates have been ahead of the curve for many years, insisting that toxic chemicals and other pollutants are major factors in autism.  Some of those experts spoke Tuesday on a conference call.

Some of the suspected culprits are endocrine disruptors such as brominated flame retardants, pesticides, BPA and phthalates. Mercury and lead are also known neurotoxins.

Many of these chemicals are ubiquitous in household products and even toys, and unfortunately, most people don’t know about it. The law that is supposed to provide protection against dangerous chemicals is 35 years old and has virtually no restrictions on chemicals, which don’t need to be tested before going to market.

To read my article on Examiner.com, about this, click here.

Here are some of my related articles:

Scientists say rise in autism may be linked to toxic chemicals in environment

http://www.examiner.com/dc-in-national/scientists-say-rise-autism-may-be-linked-to-toxic-chemicals-environment

Toxic chemicals found in baby products; some may be linked to autism

http://www.examiner.com/dc-in-national/toxic-chemicals-found-baby-products-some-may-be-linked-to-autism

Toxic Chemicals Safety Act to be on 2011 Congressional legislative agenda

http://www.examiner.com/dc-in-national/toxic-chemicals-safety-act-to-be-on-2011-congressional-legislative-agenda

Health advocates rally at Capitol for chemical safety bill; some chemicals linked to autism, cancer

http://www.examiner.com/dc-in-national/health-advocates-rally-at-capitol-for-chemical-safety-bill-some-chemicals-linked-to-autism-cancer

Landrigan calls for more research into pesticides, toxic chemicals, environmental causes of autism

http://www.examiner.com/dc-in-national/landrigan-calls-for-more-research-into-pesticides-toxic-chemicals-environmental-causes-of-autism

Congress: CDC misled public about Washington, D.C. lead in water crisis, lead was toxic for some

http://www.examiner.com/dc-in-national/congress-cdc-misled-public-about-washington-d-c-lead-water-crisis-lead-was-toxic-for-some

Autism advocate Lyn Redwood discusses mercury vaccine controversy, chelation, treatment and recovery

http://www.examiner.com/dc-in-national/autism-advocate-lyn-redwood-discusses-mercury-vaccine-controversy-chelation-treatment-and-recovery

CDC: 15,000 Washington, D.C. homes may have dangerous levels of lead in water

http://www.examiner.com/dc-in-national/cdc-15-000-washington-d-c-homes-may-have-dangerous-levels-of-lead-water

Interview with Dan Olmsted, Mark Blaxill: ‘Age of Autism-Mercury, Medicine, and a Manmade Epidemic’

http://www.examiner.com/dc-in-national/interview-with-dan-olmsted-mark-blaxill-age-of-autism-mercury-medicine-and-a-manmade-epidemic

Jennifer VanDerHorst-Larson on vaccines, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, treatments for son with autism

http://www.examiner.com/dc-in-national/jennifer-vanderhorst-larson-on-vaccines-hyperbaric-oxygen-therapy-treatments-for-son-with-autism

15 articles from 2010 every parent of a child with an autism spectrum disorder should read

January 15, 2011

One of the major educational and therapeutic trends in autism in 2010 was an increase in meaningful, developmental autism therapies that incorporate social, emotional and cognitive skills to enhance traditional behavioral methods.

On the research front, scientists increasingly recognized and acknowledged that autism is largely environmental and not solely genetic.

And while devastating tragedies occurred, out of those heartbreaks came greater awareness and safety measures that will ultimately save the lives of vulnerable children.

Examiner.com‘s Mike Frandsen takes a look back at some of the articles from 2010 that reflected critical issues in the world of autism.

Mason Alert would help prevent wandering, drowning deaths of kids with autism

Mason Alert to be combined with Take Me Home program to prevent autism wandering

Dr. Stanley Greenspan dies, founded Floortime and developmental approaches to autism therapy

Teaching, coaching sports, playing with children with autism: rewarding, but also a whole lot of fun

Play dates for kids with autism can enhance social skills, emotional awareness, and learning

Using humor, puppets in play therapy can enhance social, communication skills for kids with autism

Understanding and managing emotions are important life and social skills for children with autism

Sports and exercise for children with autism can improve social and cognitive skills

Top 10 mistakes, lessons learned from therapy programs for children with autism spectrum disorders

Landrigan calls for more research into pesticides, toxic chemicals, environmental causes of autism

Autism advocate Lyn Redwood discusses mercury vaccine controversy, chelation, treatment and recovery

Interview with Dan Olmsted, Mark Blaxill: ‘Age of Autism-Mercury, Medicine, and a Manmade Epidemic’

Congress: CDC misled public about Washington, D.C. lead in water crisis, lead was toxic for some

Facilitated Communication (FC) enables non-verbal people on autism spectrum to communicate by typing

HHS, NIH and other federal agencies should hire more employees with autism and other disabilities

For the rest of the article on Examiner.com, click here.

CDC says Washington, D.C. homes with partial lead replacements are at risk for high lead in water

December 13, 2010

A December CDC report states that nearly 15,000 Washington, D.C. homes that have had partial lead line replacements are at risk for high lead levels.  See the article here on Examiner.com.

The problem started around 2000 when D.C. responded to a 1998 EPA mandate to reduce chlorine byproducts that could be carcinogenic.  Chlorine was used to disinfect the water supply, but then chloramine was used to reduce chlorine byproducts. However, chloramine caused lead pipes to leach into the water, and much of the city’s infrastructure was made of lead pipes. Lead causes irreversible brain damage to fetuses and infants.  After children tested high for lead from 2003 to 2004, two bad things happened.  First, both the city and the CDC covered up the problem, lying about it, claiming that the water was safe when they knew it wasn’t.  Second, the city embarked on a $100 million project to replace lead service lines with copper, but they stopped when they got to private property.  The chloramine caused lead to leach from the water, causing a temporary spike in lead levels, making the problem worse.

Congress came out with a report last spring that said CDC used false data to mislead the public in a 2004 report.  CDC then admitted wrongdoing, and two weeks ago published a report that stated that nearly 15,000 homes with partial lead line replacements were still at risk for high lead levels.  Those homes should be tested.

I think that’s it, but it’s pretty confusing.  Welcome to the D.C. lead in water fiasco, circa 2000-2010.  Makes the Redskins problems seem not so bad.

Also, here is an article from June about a congressional report that said CDC misled the D.C. public about the safety of drinking water, which had high levels of lead from 2001 to 2004.

Landrigan calls for more research into pesticides, toxic chemicals, environmental causes of autism

July 19, 2010

Dr. Philip Landrigan of the Mount Sinai Medical Center told the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) Friday that more research needs to be conducted on potential environmental causes of autism.

Dr. Philip Landrigan told the IACC Friday more research needs to be done into the environmental causes of autism. Photo by Mike Frandsen.

For decades, autism has been believed to be primarily a genetic disorder, but in recent years, scientists have acknowledged that environmental factors such as pesticides and other chemicals also play a significant role in the causes of autism.

Landrigan is one of the leaders of the National Children’s Study, which is expected to identify causes of autism and many other childhood disorders and diseases. The study will “examine the effects of environmental influences on the health and development of 100,000 children across the United States, following them from before birth until age 21.”

Landrigan has been investigating the effects of environmental toxicants on the development of children since the early 1970s when he determined that even very small levels of lead could affect cognitive ability.

His landmark work for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) resulted in the government banning lead from gasoline in 1976 and from paint in 1977, actions that decreased childhood lead poisoning in the U.S. by more than 90 percent.

To see the rest of my article on Examiner.com, click here.

Congress: CDC misled public about Washington, D.C. lead in water crisis, lead was toxic for some

June 3, 2010

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recklessly misled the public about the safety of lead levels in the water in Washington, D.C. between 2001 and 2004, according to a disturbing and damning congressional report released last month.

The Report, “A Public Health Tragedy: How Flawed CDC Data and Faulty Assumptions Endangered Children’s Health,” was conducted by the House Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight of the Committee on Science and Technology.

The congressional investigation found that a 2004 CDC report that was rushed to calm the fears of the public after the D.C. lead scare used flawed data to come to the inaccurate conclusion that lead levels in the water were safe. The discredited report, published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), has since been widely quoted by media and government agencies across the nation to tell the public that drinking water containing high levels of lead is not a health hazard.

Environmental health problems often affect poor, minority residents disproportionately. In D.C., lead levels were worst in the city’s poorest neighborhoods, in Southeast and Northeast. See a Washington Post map of lead test results from 2003 to 2004.

More examples of how environmental problems affect disadvantaged people, and how fetuses, infants, and young children are affected most by toxicants is seen in CNN’s series “Toxic America” June 2 and 3 as Sanjay Gupta reports on environmental health hazards.

To see the rest of my article on examiner.com, click here.

Greenspan’s DIR Model for Autism: Part 1

September 20, 2009

For therapists and families to be effective in working with kids with autism, they should be able to do any methodology.

There is an alphabet soup of different methods to teach kids with autism – Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA); the Developmental, Individual Differences, Relationship-Based (DIR) Model; Relationship Development Intervention (RDI); Treatment and Education of Autistic and Communication – Handicapped Children (TEACCH), and others.

Regardless of which methodologies are used, programs need to have goals and targets and teach in such a way so that kids can generalize skills to apply what they have learned to a natural environment.  Teaching methods should also integrate academics and cognitive skills; emotional awareness and social skills; exercise, sports, and motor skills; along with spontaneous, imaginative, and creative play.  Skills should be taught in a meaningful way rather than a robotic, rote way.

Children need to develop a relationship with caregivers in order to learn.  The revolving door philosophy of bringing people in and out so that a child has had 100 caregivers by the time he is 10 does not work.  Stanley Greenspan says, “Emotion always come before behavior.  The child needs to enjoy relationships with parents, peers, and teachers in order to learn.”  Emotion is critical to brain development.  It’s more than “cute” when a child is engaged with a caregiver.  The child learns better.

I have been an advocate of Greenspan’s DIR method for the past few years.   The Interdisciplinary Council on Learning Disorders (www.icdl.com) says this about DIR.

DIR is a comprehensive, interdisciplinary approach that focuses on the emotional development of the child. It takes into account the child’s feelings, relationships with caregivers, developmental level and individual differences in a child’s ability to process and respond to sensory information.  It focuses on the child’s skills in all developmental areas, including social-emotional functioning, communication, thinking and learning, motor skills, body awareness, and attention.

The goal of treatment is to help the child master the healthy emotional milestones that were missed in his early development and that are critical to learning.  Building these foundations helps children overcome their symptoms more effectively than simply trying to change the symptoms alone.

Then it says this about Floortime:

Floortime, a vital element of the DIR/Floortime model, is a treatment method as well as a philosophy for interacting with children (and adults as well). Floortime involves meeting a child at his current developmental level, and building upon his particular set of strengths.  Floortime harnesses the power of a child’s motivation; following his lead, wooing him with warm but persistent attempts to engage his attention and tuning in to his interests and desires in interactions. Through Floortime, parents, child care providers, teachers and therapists help children climb the developmental ladder.  By entering into a child’s world, we can help him or her learn to relate in meaningful, spontaneous, flexible and warm ways.

Floortime is a component of DIR but not the same.  In Floortime, you follow the lead of the child.  In DIR, once kids move past the initial stages of the developmental ladder, you create programs that revolve around the child’s interests, in which he is emotionally engaged, with meaningful two-way interaction, customized toward his individual differences.  The kids don’t tell you what to do; you just do things that are meaningful to them.  Again, Floortime is only a subset of DIR.  In the lower developmental levels of DIR (Floortime), you follow the child’s lead (but even then that means you follow and join what the child is interested in – the child doesn’t tell you what to do), and in the higher levels there are more structured, therapist or parent-led programs.

Two and a half years ago, I wrote on my website at http://www.coachmike.net/autism-faq.php (see #4) a little about DIR and Floortime, as well as a summary of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA).

I combine elements of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) as well as the Developmental, Individual-Difference, Relationship (DIR) based method. I believe a combination of ABA and DIR methods is optimal because ABA provides step-by-step instruction while DIR focuses on relationships, emotions and interests. Children need both structure and meaning when they learn.

ABA is used to teach academic, communication, problem solving, behavioral, social, play, and other skills by breaking tasks down into small steps and practicing drills. ABA also uses positive reinforcement and just as much prompting as is necessary. Inappropriate behaviors may be phased out by redirecting to target activities rather than drawing more attention to those behaviors. Antecedents, behaviors, and consequences are tracked to try to determine the reasons behind behaviors and implement appropriate interventions. However, some behaviors may be accommodations children need to manage their body or sensory difficulties. Therefore, I focus on building skills more so than reducing behaviors.

The DIR method focuses on the emotional development of the child. It takes into account the child’s feelings, relationships and individual differences. DIR involves following the child’s lead and enables the child to learn by doing what he or she likes to do in a fun and meaningful way. According to ICDL.org, “DIR focuses on the child’s skills in all developmental areas, including social-emotional functioning, communication, thinking and learning, motor skills, body awareness and attention.” The DIR method can also help a child generalize skills initially learned through drills.

Part of the DIR model includes Floortime, which is based on working with a child at his or her current developmental level, and building upon strengths and interests in a way that is meaningful to the child, rather than just focusing on surface behaviors and drills that don’t always generalize into life skills. Floortime can be especially effective during periods when a child needs more play and less work.

5.     Which is better – ABA or the DIR model?

In my opinion, this question is kind of like asking, “Which is better in football – running the ball or passing the ball?” or “Which is better in basketball – a zone defense or man to man?” They’re both necessary in different situations, and a balance of both may be most effective. For example, you can do repetitive drills broken down into small steps based on the child’s individual differences, interests and relationships, making sure to incorporate social skills and emotions.

In doing so, children can learn valuable skills such as sequencing the steps needed to complete a task. Children with autism benefit from structure, but they will be more engaged if the drill involves something in which they are emotionally invested. The DIR model is harder to quantify than ABA, but DIR is built on relationships, spontaneity and interaction. Children are not robots, and drills can’t be done in a vacuum.

For example, you can teach a child who is obsessed with a particular toy communication and problem solving skills in the following way: Hide the toy in one of your hands and get the child to reach for it and choose which hand it is in. Then you can do the same thing by holding the toy behind your back, or placing it near your face to establish eye contact. Subsequent steps may include getting the child to make sounds or use speech if possible to request the toy. The toy is used as a reward. This example is based on one in Engaging Autism by Dr. Stanley Greenspan.

For the rest of the FAQs on my website, see www.coachmike.net.

Lately, it seems that RDI has taken off as the method of choice.  I can’t really see how RDI is much different than DIR, except maybe that the order of the letters sounds a little bit more catchy.  If anything, RDI seems like an implementation of DIR.  However, this summary from Chicago Floortime Families points out some differences as well as many similarities.

According to about.com (I went there because the RDI website at http://www.rdiconnect.com/ doesn’t do a good job of describing RDI), children can develop the following through RDI:

  • Dramatic improvement in meaningful communication,
  • Desire and skills to share their experiences with others,
  • Genuine curiosity and enthusiasm for other people,
  • Ability to adapt easily and “go with the flow,”
  • Amazing increase in the initiation of joint attention,
  • Powerful improvement in perspective taking and theory of mind,
  • Dramatically increased desire to seek out and interact with peers.

This looks a lot like DIR to me.  In any case, whether it’s DIR, RDI, or you want to create a new acronym such as IRD or IDR, the goals of each system are the same.