Taking paracetamol during pregnancy may increase the risk of autism spectrum symptoms in boys, and of ADD/ADHD in both genders. Children exposed to acetaminophen in vitro were at a 30 per cent increased risk of losing some attention functions. The more they were exposed to it, the worse they were likely to perform in areas of attention, impulse control and visual processing.
People with autism are around five times more likely to develop anxiety disorders. Researchers from City University London, Brigham Young University, Utah and our very own Newcastle University now think that this is because they have difficulty in understanding their own emotions. They found that that alexithymia (a difficulty in experiencing, expressing, and describing emotional responses) emotional acceptance and intolerance of uncertainty played a critical role. Based on this, they think that therapy that focuses on living in the moment and fosters awareness of self and others could be useful in treating anxiety in those on the spectrum.
This is news from last week, but it just popped up on our radar: A company in Denmark has developed a commercially available high-tech hugging machine to help calm people with autism. Okay, the retail price is a mind-blowing $51,400, but if it takes off, cheaper versions will surely become available. The idea of using body compression to calm those on the autism spectrum was brought to the public’s attention by Temple Grandin. But when her famous machine broke, she chose to hug people instead!
Lauri Love, the British man with Asperger Syndome who has been accused of breaking into US military computer systems was bailed this week in his ongoing battle to prevent his extradition to the US for trial. The prosecution suggested to him that he was exaggerating his symptoms (he suffers from depression and debilitating eczema too) to make his case more effective. His family have voiced concern that he will not survive in the American prison system.
Intu, the company who runs Eldon Square and The Metro Centre teamed up with Scottish Autism recently to make their Braehead shopping centre more autism friendly. We’d love to see this rolled out across all their malls!
This week’s feel good viral news is about a McDonald’s employee in Wales who went above and beyond for an autistic teenager. Aled Griffith was patient while 16-year-old Alex ordered and paid for his own food. That’s something all autistic people would appreciate. But then Aled went further and showed what a thoughtful and kind young man he is. He remembered how Alex liked his order, including that he preferred his Fruit-Shoot in a cup, and made sure that the toy he got with his Happy Meal was different to the one he’d had on his last visit. Have you experienced amazing autism-aware customer service like this? Let us know on our Facebook post!