Feel-good story: Colorado prison-trained dog turned autistic boy’s life around

Susy Tucker marks the time her autistic son, Zach, began hugging her again — after a lapse of four years — by the arrival of Clyde, a chocolate Labrador trained behind bars by a convicted killer. Within three weeks of Clyde’s arrival at the Tuckers’ home in Colorado Springs, Zach went from petting his dog to wrapping his arms around his mother. It was a stunning moment, one of many to follow. The boy who once grimaced and whined at any skin-to-skin contact had learned the warmth of touching from a dog. Zach and Clyde’s story is one of redemption — of how a rescue dog, a prisoner and a boy learned empathy and understanding from one another. Zach’s parents had run out of ideas and were skeptical when they stepped into the visiting room at the high-security Sterling pr...

Why one mother says induced labor isn’t a good idea

A new study recently came out linking autism to labor induction. I will not get into the weeds right now on that particular study, but it got me thinking again about labor induction, a topic that I cover at some length in “Expecting Better.” When I was 39 weeks pregnant, my doctor offered to schedule an induction at my due date. This is common now, although that wasn’t always the case. In 1990, fewer than 10 percent of births followed medical induction of labor; by 2009, this number had risen to 25 percent. This increase has occurred across the board, not just for babies who are overdue. In 1990, only 7 percent of births at 39 weeks of pregnancy were induced, but 23 percent were induced by 2009. Sometimes, labor is induced for medical reasons — the baby isn’t doing ...

What Parents Should Know To Find Hope in Autism

Autism is often an overwhelming diagnosis for parents — but it doesn’t have to be. Here’s what      parents should know, from the experts at Children’s Hospital Colorado. What is autism? Autism and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) refer to a group of disorders in the development of the brain characterized by difficulties with social interaction and communication. It is a “spectrum” disorder because individual cases of autism can vary greatly, and no two children with autism are exactly alike. Through early intervention, children with autism can reach their full potential and enjoy fun, meaningful childhoods. Success begins with detection

Douglas County Libraries’ story times for autistic kids welcomed

The sensory-enhanced story time at the Highlands Ranch Library is great for Holly del Campo and her 2 1/2-year-old son, Nolan, because she said it’s so hard to keep him engaged. He has sensory processing disorder, which means he interprets the world differently than others through his senses, but also has a hard time sitting still and keeping engaged in regular story time. She said he was diagnosed at 2 when he was not speaking. “It’s great that places like the library are aware of it,” del Campo said. “It’s hard to go to the library because he goes from thing to thing.” The sensory-enhanced story time was designed for children along the autism spectrum, or any child who is differently abled. Douglas County Libraries designed it over nine months CLICK TO READ FULL STORY

Autism sample in Arapahoe County higher than nation’s

A Colorado test county has seen a 60 percent spike in diagnosed autism over two years, far higher than an already-worrisome surge in national rates for the disorder, the CDC and state health officials said Thursday. The Colorado segment of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s national monitoring project found 1 in 85 Arapahoe County 8-year-olds had some level of autism in 2008, or 11.8 cases per 1,000 kids. That was a 60 percent jump from the last comparable study in 2006. The boost in Arapahoe County numbers was higher than the 23 percent national increase in childhood autism cases. The CDC’s national composite shows 1 out of 88 children with an “autism spectrum disorder,” across monitoring areas in 14 states. Nationally, the rate has increased

The Light at the End of the Tunnel (part 3 of our journey with Asperger’s)

So….where was I? Oh right, we were wrapping up all our screenings and evaluations (still not sure what the difference is between those, but whatever). At this point, I’d gone part time at my job. To be honest, it sucked. I loved my job. I loved my team, the challenges, the intellectual curiosity, the energy…everything. The decision to go part-time was

Hurry Up and Wait (part 2 of our journey with Asperger’s)

I find it only slightly ironic that I’m revisiting this chunk of time now…at the beginning of the holiday season…2 years later. If you’d like to catch up on this story, click here. So, a quick recap. I’m beginning my DREAM job right when we’ve been told that there may be some “red flags” with Z, our almost 2.5 year old son. And both kids (S is barely 1 years old) are going through a culture shock of

In the Beginning (part one of our journey with Asperger’s)

So how did all of this start? Back in late October/early November 2009, Z was attending a three-day-a-week, half-day preschool, partly because I thought he needed more interaction with other kids but mostly because I really needed a break during the week. I had been a SAHM for over a year with a difficult baby (S) and an even more difficult toddler (Z). I desperately wanted to go back to work and was finding it difficult to find a job (thank you, economic downturn). And then, it happened. I got an offer for a director position that was an amazing fit. It was a quick transition; they called me on a Monday and my first day was the following Monday. Luckily I had everything teed up in terms of full-time child care and I quickly rearranged our lives so I could start immediately. The Beginning ...

I Know How I’m Going To Die

Ominous title, isn’t it? And attention-grabbing, I hope. It’s also true. At least, I’m pretty confident in that prediction…or as confident as you can be in predicting about the future. You take what you know and fill in the blanks with best guesses. You’re probably thinking…. “But, HOW do you know how you’re going to die? Did you create some statistical algorithm that would give Google a run for its money and can predict the future? Did you look into a crystal ball? Oh, I know! You bought one of those Magic 8 balls!” No, dear reader. Nothing as scientific as any of that. My prediction is based on fear. You see, there are

Report: Vaccines generally safe, some side effects

By LAURAN NEERGAARD, AP Medical Writer WASHINGTON (AP) — Vaccines can cause certain side effects but serious ones appear very rare — and there’s no link with autism and Type 1 diabetes, the Institute of Medicine says in the first comprehensive safety review in 17 years. The report released Thursday isn’t aimed at nervous parents.

Arvada police question why beacon didn’t lead to missing autistic girl’s body

Profoundly autistic and largely speechless, 10-year-old Kristina Vlassenko was clearly at risk if she became lost, even within her Arvada neighborhood. So her family took steps to protect her, including putting a beacon around her wrist designed to send a signal when activated so authorities could quickly find her. But when it was most needed, the beacon somehow failed to lead searchers to the girl. Kristina, who disappeared Monday afternoon, was found dead Tuesday morning in a water-filled hole at a construction site just 400 yards from where she was last seen. While investigators do not suspect foul play, they still have several questions surrounding her death Read more:

Autism: Unlocking Mireya Salazar’s world

Her name is Mireya. She is 3 years and 3 months old. She has fine black hair, a thing for “Handy Manny” cartoons and one of the most prominent last names in Colorado. Many nights, Mireya Salazar will not fall asleep unless her feet are touching her mother and her head is touching her grandmother. It’s part of an elaborate bedtime ritual in which she must place her pillow with the pink checkerboard and butterfly pattern just so, in the middle of the bed. She has other routines, other rules. Every door in the house must be closed. If they are not, she will slam them shut. She won’t eat a broken Cheerio or pasta that is not white. She can seem more interested in a pink balloon than in her father, more fascinated with a blank space in the distance than in “Papa Ke...

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