I want to write about something that happened last night. We went to meet Sarah at Kmart. They were closed so then we decided to go to Walmart, BIG mistake.
As everyone knows there are tell tale signs of when a person diagnosed with Autism is having a hard time and about to go into behaviors. Unfortunately last night we did not heed the signs.
Most of the time when these things happen we get the usual dirty looks and snide comments. As we were trying to get Sarah up off the floor and protect her a man by the name of Paul came up to us and offered to help. He stated that he was an Army Medic and knew how to deal with crisis situations.
Paul was able to help us reason with Sarah enough to get her into the electric cart that Walmart provides and get her out to the van. Thank you and God Bless You Paul. You went above and beyond. There are not very many people that have offered to help in situations like ours. I thank God that you (Paul) were there to help us last night.
I am writing about Hypotonia today because I am so happy that it is finally being recognized more in the Autism world as well as being associated with other disabilities as well such as;
Muscular dystrophy the list goes on and on.
What is Hypotonia?
Hypotonia aka Low Muscle Tone is a medical term used to describe decreased muscle tone. Normally, even when relaxed, muscles have a very small amount of contraction that gives them a springy feel and provides some resistance to passive movement. It is not the same as muscle weakness, although the two conditions can co-exist. Muscle tone is regulated by signals that travel from the brain to the nerves and tell the muscles to contract. Hypotonia can happen from damage to the brain, spinal cord, nerves, or muscles. The damage can be the result of trauma, environmental factors, or genetic, muscle, or central nervous system disorders. For example, it can be seen in Down syndrome, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, Prader-Willi syndrome, myotonic dystrophy, and Tay-Sachs disease. Sometimes it may not be possible to find what causes the hypotonia. Infants with hypotonia have a floppy quality or “rag doll” appearance because their arms and legs hang by their sides and they have little or no head control. Other symptoms of hypotonia include problems with mobility and posture, breathing and speech difficulties, ligament and joint laxity, and poor reflexes. Hypotonia does not affect intellect. The opposite of hypotonia is hypertonia.
Sarah was diagnosed with Hypotonia the same time she was diagnosed with Autism. Back in the 1990’s Hypotonia was not even considered as being one of the complications that could be associated with Autism.
Sarah had some physical therapy to help her muscles become stronger. The problem was that the insurance did not seem to think it would be a long term health issue with Sarah, so they refused to pay for anymore treatments.
As a result we as a family had to try and pick up where the therapists left off. We did our best but most of the time Sarah (do to her sensory issues) did not want to be touched and there fore would not comply.
Hypotonia can cause complications such as frequent joint dislocations. Sarah has joint dislocations especially in her knees. She fell back on her leg one time and totally dislocated her knee, which in turn she now has arthritis in that knee. She has a really hard time walking a lot of times and requires help to do so because of her knee.
If your child has been diagnosed with Hypotonia (a.k.a Low Muscle Tone) find out what caused it and get the best help you can. Here are a few good resources to help you out.
Hypotonic children are often treated by one or more of the following specialists:
- Developmental pediatrician: a pediatrician with specialized training in children’s social, emotional, and intellectual development as well as health and physical growth. He or she may conduct a developmental assessment which will determine any delays the child has and to what extent the delay is present.
- Neurologist: a physician who has trained in the diagnosis and treatment of nervous system disorders, including diseases of the brain, spinal cord, nerves, and muscles. Neurologists perform neurological examinations of the nerves of the head and neck; muscle strength and movement; balance, ambulation, and reflexes; and sensation, memory, speech, language, and other cognitive abilities.
- Geneticist: a specialist in genetic disorders. He or she starts with the detailed history of the family’s background, looks at the child’s features and orders blood tests to look at the 46 chromosomes and possibly at specific genes on those chromosomes.
- Occupational therapist (OT): a professional who has specialized training in helping to develop mental or physical skills that help accomplish daily living activities, with careful attention to enhancing fine motor skills. In a developmental assessment, the occupational therapist assesses the child’s fine motor skills, coordination, and age-appropriate self-help skills (eating with utensils, dressing, etc.).
- Physical therapist (PT): a professional trained in assessing and providing therapy to treat developmental delays using methods such as exercise , heat, light, and massage. In a developmental assessment, the physical therapist assesses the ability and quality of the child’s use of legs, arms, and complete body by observing the display of specific gross motor skills as well as observing the child in play.
- Speech/language pathologist (SLP): a professional who is trained in assessing and treating problems in communication. Some SLPs are also trained to work with oral/motor problems, such as swallowing, and other feeding difficulties resulting from hypotonia.
My title is right. Just because a person is labeled disabled does not mean that they cannot learn. I cannot believe that there are still some people out there that are in stone age thinking.
Let me enlighten a few people out there with my rant. As you all no, my Sarah has been diagnosed with Autism and other disabled labels. Was it hard for her to learn? YES! Do you know why? Let me tell you, because some of her teachers did not teach her in the way that she could learn. They were to much by the book. It was not their fault, that is just how it was back in the 1990’s.
Did Sarah’s teachers inability to effectively teach her stop Sarah from learning? NO!!! Tell me how many people (that are labeled disabled) out there have 3 jobs to help support themselves to be as independent as possible and went to the State Capitol to fight to keep the right to have her jobs. My Sarah did!
Sarah took the IQ test and it said hers was 61. She is verbal and very smart. The dr’s told us she not talk or probably not walk, she does both. She may not be a scholar in the traditional sense, but she can take a vacuum apart and put it back together again, without reading instructions and have it working better than it was before.
Sarah has learned to advocate as much as possible for herself and we do the rest for her.
I am writing this to encourage anyone out there that no matter what an IQ test says or anyone else for that matter, you are a blessing and you can learn. Don’t let your label in life define you or limit you.
It seems that there is a link between Autism and Hypothyroidism. If you are Autistic or not if you have any of the below symptoms of Hypothyroidism and/or Adrenal issues please get checked by your doctor.
Mine and Sarah’s experiences with Hypothyroidism are a lot the same. The only differences would be that her symptoms are much more heightened than mine.
Do you have these symptoms?
- Increased sensitivity to cold
- Dry skin
- Unexplained weight gain
- Puffy face
- Muscle weakness
- Elevated blood cholesterol level
- Muscle aches, tenderness and stiffness
- Pain, stiffness or swelling in your joints
- Heavier than normal or irregular menstrual periods
- Thinning hair
- Slowed heart rate
- Impaired memory
If you do please go to your doctor and get checked for Hypothyroidism. While you are getting checked for Hypothyroidism have your doctor check your adrenal function.
I was diagnosed with Hypothyroidism when I was 17. When I was 45 my doctor checked my adrenal function to find out that I have a rare form of adrenal disease, which caused the Hypothyroidism.
Now if you are thinking that you may have adrenal fatigue (which is also linked to Hypothyroidism) please take a look at these symptoms.
Do you have chronic fatigue?
Does your energy plummet half way through the day?
Do you struggle with insomnia?
Do bright lights bother you more than they should?
Do you startle easily due to noise?
When standing up from sitting or lying down, do you feel lightheaded or dizzy?
Do you struggle with chronic pain or fibromyalgia?
Do you have chronic headaches or migraines?
Do you have depression, anxiety, or mood swings?
Do you struggle with weight gain?
Do you have low sex drive?
Do you feel wired and tired?
If you answer yes to many of these, speak to your doctor about an adrenal function saliva test.
Please read this article from hypothyroidmom.com – http://hypothyroidmom.com/10-ways-to-overcome-fatigue-with-a-low-thyroid/
Hypothyroidism can have a profoundly deleterious effect on the developing brain, thus significantly contributing to the web of causes of autism.
This article from http://raphaelkellmanmd.com/specialties/the-thyroid-autism-connection/ talks about the connection of Autism and Hypothyroidism. Please read it.
We all no that Autism is very stressful on the body. We caregivers have our own stresses in trying to help our children with Autism which in turn effects our bodies. Just think of what a person with Autism body is going through with their stresses. I believe these stresses that are consistent have a direct effect on the Adrenal Glands.
Do your own research. I sure plan to.