A idea for helping children on the autistic spectrum. Please join our discussion blog to give your advice to an industrial designer at Philadelphia University

Philadelphia University
Philadelphia University
A couple of days ago we were were asked to give some help to a student at Philadelphia University with a new concept he is developing which it is hoped with help children on the autism spectrum.

Like previous discussion blogs it would be great if you read about the ideas behind the proposal which you can find below. We then have a few short questions and it would be great if you could share your responses in the comments section below.

Thanks very much in advance!

The student shares “My name is Marshall Linton. I am a graduate student studying industrial design at Philadelphia University. For my capstone project I am aiming to create a interface that can be used by two children on the Autism spectrum simultaneously without the aid of a caregiver. The interface would promote social communication, joint attention, and task completion between the children. My intention is to create an experience where in children who are on the spectrum are encouraged to engage with each other in a natural way while learning and enforcing skills that are applicable in everyday life. I do not aim to force children into what is seen as “normal” social interaction.

In both of my concepts two children would be seated facing each other with a transparent interface in between them. This interface would be able to transition from clear to having an image projected on it (the image would be semi transparent).

In my body language concept, the first child would be prompted by the screen to imitate body language that evokes an emotion (happiness, fear, anger, surprise). The second child would be prompted to answer what they sense the other child is feeling. After the second child’s response the first child would be prompted to verify the first child’s answer and the second child would be prompted to either mirror the first child or assume a new pose.

In my joint attention / task completion concept, A simple maze would be projected on the screen. At the start of the maze would be an illustration of a car. At the end of the maze there would be an illustration of a garage. The children would be prompted to move the car to its garage together. The children would touch the car to move it. On opposite sides of the interface the children would have to guide the car through the maze back to its garage. The children would have to move the car in unison or the car would drop and the maze would reset.

Would you kindly post some feedback regarding the following questions:

-Would an interface where two children work on completing a task together, without the aid of a caregiver, have value?

-Would having children imitate body language and facial expressions provide value to them learning social skills?

-Would an activity that encourages the completion of a task while maintaining joint attention have value?

Fighting Anemia with Food – Recipes for Health. An Iron Rich Pesto!

Iron rich pesto
Iron rich pesto
Yesterday I explained that my wife and were increasing the amount of iron in our diet as she is undergoing tests for anemia.

In that blog post I mentioned that I was preparing a pesto for yesterday evening’s meal.

As it was based upon that day’s research I thought I would share it with you. While I’m not a food blogger I am a health blogger so I felt it would be suitable to share this recipe. I should mention that Mrs PatientTalk.Org described the meal as “very tasty”.

This recipe can be vegan or vegetarian according to taste.

Ingredients (serves 4)

a) 400g of Cavolo nero (also called Tuscan kale) – full of iron but also vitamin A, calcium, vitamin K and manganese.
b) 150g of water cress – again iron rich.
c) 10 Brazil nuts – a read source of antioxidants
d) Chopped garlic – to taste really but I used 2 cloves. An antibiotic often used as a folk treatment for the common cold.
e) Juice of one lemon – a great way of getting vitamin C.
f) Olive oil to taste. Olive oil is a way of lowering cholesterol.
g) Salt and pepper again to taste but go for more pepper than salt.
h) Optional but you can use a hard cheese such as Parmesan.

How to do it.

1) Strip the leafy green parts of the Cavolo nero away from any tough stalks.
2) Steam the green leafy parts for five minutes.
3) Please in your blender along side all the ingredients except for the brazil nuts.
4) Blend the ingredients till they become just a bit thicker then the consistency you like.
5) Add the brazil nuts and blend for 30 seconds.

Serve with whole grain pasta and a green salad.

If you have tried this at home please tell us what you think in the comments box. Please do feel free to

Autism: A Dad’s Journey – Find out about this amazing book from its author Luis Bayardo

Autism A Dad’s Journey Legoland.  Luis Koleden  Kyler get ready for lunch.
Autism A Dad’s Journey Legoland. Luis Koleden Kyler get ready for lunch.
My name is Luis Bayardo. I was born into an Hispanic family whose proud traditions and family values have been “the way” for generations. In my book, Autism: A Dad’s Journey, I will take you on a journey
of courage and humility, revealing the inner workings and struggles of my mind and heart, along with
insight into the minds and hearts of my two autistic boys, Kyler and Koleden. In doing so, I hope I have created a little light in the long, dark tunnel that is autism for as many as 1 in 68 families today.

I am a very private person, but the dad’s viewpoint has never or rarely been addressed in all the
information I found on raising autistic children. I’ve offered my viewpoint in layman’s or should I say, ‘regular dad’ terms that may not always seem politically correct, but is very real and accessible to everyone, not just the clinical community. My hope is that this book will help other dads and families gain a sense of support and encouragement on their journey. It would be an added bonus if it in any way helped those ‘normal’ folks understand why these kids who appear normal on the outside are struggling so much on the inside.

My first son was born with obvious signs of autism. My second son experienced the slow, heartbreaking
emergence of late onset symptoms; by the age of five, he had slipped away into the dumbfounding world
of autism. Both of my sons are on the more severe end of the autism spectrum.

The National Institute of Health has determined that 80-90% of marriages with special-needs children end in divorce. In my book, I say, “One thing, which I believe is true, is that ‘special-needs children must have parents with special marriages.’” But it doesn’t just happen. I talk of the necessary growth and maturation of a proud father who wanted nothing but the best for my children. I let you in to my very private world with humility and humor and a lot of love. I admit to my flaws and show how hard this journey has been, is, and will continue to be for me, my wife, and our four children. For a man, this was not an easy thing to do.

This book is not just for fathers and parents of autistic children. It offers inspiration for anyone

Autism A Dad’s Journey  Kyler Luis and Koleden.
Autism A Dad’s Journey Kyler Luis and Koleden.
who has ever experienced a gut-wrenching sense of defeat and disillusionment, and who may be willing to admit that their staunch beliefs and pride have made their transformative journey all the more difficult.

My journey guides you through my struggles in coming to terms with the daunting reality of autism. I try to reveal my vulnerability, denial, and heartbreak as I mature into a proud father and husband. This book offers further valuable insight from the perspectives of my two autistic boys and those my two nonautistic (neurotypical) daughters.

Come and join me on my sometimes humorous, definitely winding, and continuing journey as I discover
how to become the father that my autistic boys and family need me to be….



Facebook: Autism A Dad’s Journey

Or visit. Amazon. Autism: A Dad’s Journey

How to get a good night’s sleep – watch our new WebTV show!

How to get a good night's sleep
How to get a good night’s sleep
Log into our live and interactive WebTV show where sleep expert Kathleen McGrath and former athlete Roger Black MBE discuss the importance of a good night’s kip and give top tips on finally getting a good night’s sleep

Show date: Thursday 26th February
Show time: 2pm

Fatigue can make us irritable and grumpy, reduce productivity levels, increase our anxiety levels, lead to weight increase as we eat to counter a lack of energy as well as weakening our immune system as our sleepless nights build up.

So for those of us failing to get the recommended eight hours a night – our work, mood and relationships can all start to suffer. Yet as a nation, are we undervaluing the importance of good quality sleep?

The effects of sleep deprivation cannot be ignored. A whole host of things can contribute to us becoming a shattered nation from our home and work life to the general busyness of our 24/7 society.
At the end of a working day, do you struggle to switch off from the pressures of daily life? Log into our live and interactive WebTV show, where Kathleen McGrath will tell you about simple things you can do to improve your night’s sleep.

Early diagnosis of autism – Please help a student at Nottingham Trent University with her research.

Update – the research is now available as an online survey.  You can find the links below.  Thanks for your interest!

Nottingham Trent University - ASD research
Nottingham Trent University – ASD research

We have been asked by Alice Grieves at student at Nottingham Trent University to help her find people who would be interested in taking part in a survey.

Grieves writes “I am in my third and final year of study at Nottingham Trent University studying Early Years and Special and Inclusive Education and currently working on my dissertation concerning the importance of early diagnosis and treatment of children with Autism.

I would be very grateful if could help me with this research. There are, in fact, two questionnaires associated with this research:-

one for parents/relatives – available here
one for professionals – available here

The questionnaire will be asking for your views on the subject of labeling, early diagnosis and intervention of Autism and the impact of this on families.

I greatly appreciate your participation, I do not intend to take up too much of your time and will ensure your anonymity throughout my report.”

Once completed please can you email the questionnaire to Ms Grieves at a.e.grieves@hotmail.com

Iron deficiency- some great sources of iron and why you need it to stay healthy.

For the last few weeks my wife has been suffering from a rather nasty cough.

A great source of iron
A great source of iron

A course of antibiotics failed to shift it so a couple of days ago she returned to the Doctors after an all clear from the x-ray machine. Greeting her at the door (I’m paranoid rather than doting) I asked what was wrong.

She patiently explained that the Doctor was not sure. But that she was run down and that it could be Iron deficiency anemia. So they gave her a full battery of blood tests and we should find out in due course.

Iron deficiency anemia means that a lack of iron in the body means a reduction in the number of red blood cells. Because these red blood cells carry oxygen around the body this means that we don’t get enough of it. In turn this cause fatigue, shortness of breath and a pale complexion.

Just in passing he UK’s NHS recommend that the amount of iron you need is 8.7mg a day for men and 14.8mg a day for women. They also say that this should be available through diet rather than supplements.

So this is where I come in. One of my duties as household chief bottle washer is that I do the shopping and cooking. So treating anemia with diet has come my mission for the week. If we can start a small foundry by Sunday I’ll not be to blame!

So I’ve decided to plan this weeks meals by using produce which I know is high in iron. The results of my research have been rather useful so far and the iron sources recommended are:-

a) Liver. Now I love liver but my wife does not. Her exception to this is pate which she found, rather to her surprise on her breakfast plate this morning.
b) Meat. A bit of a generic you’ll agree. But beef is considered very good. This is lucky as I served steak yesterday evening.
c) Green leafy vegetables such as kale and watercress. Shades of Popeye here but good news as we are fond of salad.
d) Beans. Flatulence aside this is a great opportunity to delve into the Mexican larder and knock up some refried beans.
e) Nuts. To be honest I find peanut butter too sweet for my taste.
f) Whole grains. In particular brown rice is recommended.

Which make this evening’s meal rather simple. I’m planning a kale pesto (with pecan nuts) on brown rice pasta.

But does anyone have any high in iron and high in taste recipes they would like to share. If so please feel free to do so in the comments section below.

PS By the way liver is not recommended for pregnant women as it also contains large amounts of vitamin A. Vitamin A could damage your baby.

PPS Have you heard of iron overload. You can find out more about haemochromatosis here.

Newsflash from the World Health Organisation – A call for worldwide use of “smart” syringes

Smart syringes in developing areas
Smart syringes in developing areas

23 FEBRUARY 2015 ¦ GENEVA – Use of the same syringe or needle to give injections to more than one person is driving the spread of a number of deadly infectious diseases worldwide.  Millions of people could be protected from infections acquired through unsafe injections if all healthcare programmes switched to syringes that  cannot be used more than once. For these reasons, the World Health Organization (WHO) is launching a new policy on injection safety to help all countries tackle the pervasive issue of unsafe injections.

A 2014 study sponsored by WHO, which focused on the most recent available data, estimated that in 2010, up to 1.7 million people were infected with hepatitis B virus, up to 315 000 with hepatitis C virus and as many as 33 800 with HIV through an unsafe injection. New WHO injection safety guidelines and policy released today provide detailed recommendations  highlighting the value of safety features for syringes, including devices that protect health workers against accidental needle injury and consequent exposure to infection.

WHO also stresses the need to reduce the number of unnecessary injections as a critical way of reducing risk. There are 16 billion injections administered every year. Around 5% of these injections are for immunizing children and adults, and 5% are for other procedures like blood transfusions and injectable contraceptives.  . The remaining  90% of injections are given into muscle (intramuscular route) or skin (subcutaneous or intradermal route) to administer medicines. In many cases these injections are unnecessary or could be replaced by oral medication.

“We know the reasons why this is happening,” says Dr Edward Kelley, Director of the WHO Service Delivery and Safety Department. One reason is that people in many countries expect to receive injections, believing they represent the most effective treatment. Another is that for many health workers in developing countries, giving injections in private practice supplements salaries that may be inadequate to support their families.”

Transmission of infection through an unsafe injection occurs all over the world. For example, a 2007 hepatitis C  outbreak in the state of Nevada, United States of America, was traced to the practices of a single physician who injected an anaesthetic to a patient who had hepatitis C. The doctor then used the same syringe to withdraw additional doses of the anaesthetic from the same vial – which had become contaminated with hepatitis C virus – and gave injections to a number of other patients.  In Cambodia, a group of more than 200 children and adults living near the country’s second largest city, Battambang, tested positive for HIV in December 2014.  The outbreak has been since been attributed to unsafe injection practices.
“Adoption of safety-engineered syringes is absolutely critical to protecting people worldwide from becoming infected with HIV, hepatitis and other diseases. This should be an urgent priority for all countries,” says Dr Gottfried Hirnschall, Director of the WHO HIV/AIDS Department.

The new “smart” syringes WHO recommends for injections into the muscle or skin have features that prevent re-use. Some models include a weak spot in the plunger that causes it to break if the user attempts to pull back on the plunger after the injection. Others have a metal clip that blocks the plunger so it cannot be moved back, while in others the needle retracts into the syringe barrel at the end of the injection

Syringes are also being engineered with features to protect health workers from “needle stick” injuries and resulting infections. A sheath or hood slides over the needle after the injection is completed to protect the user from being injured accidentally by the needle and potentially exposed to an infection.

WHO is urging countries to transition, by 2020, to the exclusive use of the new “smart” syringes, except in a few circumstances in which a syringe that blocks after a single use would interfere with the procedure. One example is when a person is on an intravenous pump that uses a syringe .

The Organization is also calling for policies and standards for procurement, safe use and safe disposal of syringes that have the potential for re-use in situations where they remain necessary, including in syringe programmes for people who inject drugs. Continued training of health workers on injection safety – which has been supported by WHO for decades – is another key recommended strategy. WHO is calling on  manufacturers to begin or expand production as soon as possible of ”smart” syringes that meet the Organization’s standards for performance, quality and safety.

“The new policy represents a decisive step in a long-term strategy to improve injection safety  by working with countries worldwide.  We have already seen considerable progress,”  Dr Kelley says. Between 2000 and 2010, as injection safety campaigns picked up speed, re-use of injection devices in developing countries decreased by a factor of 7. Over the same period, unnecessary injections also fell:  the average number of injections per person in developing countries decreased from 3.4 to 2.9. In addition, since 1999, when WHO and its partner organizations urged developing countries to vaccinate children only using syringes that are automatically disabled after a single use, the vast majority have switched to this method.

Syringes without safety features cost US$ 0.03 to 0.04 when procured by a UN agency for a developing country. The new “smart” syringes cost at least twice that much. WHO is calling on donors to support the transition to these devices, anticipating that prices will decline over time as demand increases.

We support autism acceptance not just autism awareness. Like and share if you agree!

Autism Acceptance
Autism Acceptance

We support autism acceptance not just autism awareness. Like and share if you agree!

Some Amazing Facts about the History of Cataracts from Hayley Irvin

Cataracts - what it is like to have cataracts
Cataracts – what it is like to have cataracts

Cataracts, a natural result of the aging process, are the world’s leading cause of blindness. Although humans have known about cataracts for thousands of years, treatment options for most of our history were limited to painful and dangerous procedures that offered little in the way of visual improvement. Check out these interesting and little-known facts to learn more about the history of cataracts!

Cataract surgery has been performed for thousands of years.

The earliest artistic representation of a cataract is a small wooden statue of an Egyptian priest from approximately 2457-2467 B.C.E. A white patch, believed to represent a cataract, is carved into the priest’s left eye. The earliest known representation of a cataract removal procedure appeared on the walls of Egyptian temples and tombs centuries later. The word “Cataract” come from the Greek word used for “waterfall” because prior to the 1700s, people believed that cataracts were “opaque material flowing like a waterfall, into the eye”.

500 B.C a procedure, known as couching, could only be performed on people with advanced cataracts. As cataracts worsen, the lens becomes opaque and rigid and the lens capsule and zonules that hold it in place weaken. Early couching procedures involved hitting the patient’s eye with a blunt object in order to displace the lens so it could be absorbed into the vitreous humor in the back of the eye. Because contact lenses hadn’t been invented yet, patients were often left slightly improved but extremely blurry vision.

Early cataract surgery involved a needle, a steady hand, and no anesthetics.

Though cataract removal procedures remained relatively unchanged for centuries, by 29 AD Western physicians had started using a needle break to break up cataractous lens into smaller pieces that would be more easily absorbed into the back of the eye. Because topical anesthetics wouldn’t be more invented for a few hundred more years, doctors required the help of a strong-armed assistant to hold the patient down while they jabbed their eye with a needle. Ouch.

Cataracts  - couching procedure
Cataracts – couching procedure

The advent of “needling” meant that patients did not have to wait until they had advanced cataracts to have them removed. However, as antibiotics and sterile surgical equipment were still a few centuries in the making, the procedure had a high mortality rate, a long recovery period, and still left patients with incredibly blurry vision.

Parisian Jacques Daviel performed the first cataract extraction procedure in 1748.

In couching and needling procedures, the lens was not actually removed from the eye – just displaced and reabsorbed. In Daviel’s procedure, an incision was made to the outer layer of the eye in order to completely remove the lens, leaving part of the lens capsule behind. Londoner Samuel Sharpe introduced a new variation of this surgery in 1753, in which he used his thumb to apply pressure and pop the lens out of the eye. Thankfully, by 1902, doctors were using small suction cups and forceps – you know, actual medical equipment – to remove the lens from the eye.

Intraocular lenses were first developed in 1940 by Englishman Harold Ridley.

Up until the invention of the intraocular lens, cataract surgery left patients with poor visual acuity. Although patients were no longer experiencing cloudy, yellowed, or distorted vision, the lack of lens made it impossible for their eyes to focus light. IOLS changed everything for cataract patients.

Made of plastic, early IOLs provided a permanent solution to vision loss associated with cataracts by giving the eye another lens through which to focus. This improved visual acuity in addition to getting rid of a patient’s cataracts. Since then, IOLs have received numerous upgrades to make them safer and more comfortable for wearers. Now, IOLs are made out of flexible material that respond to your eye muscle’s natural movements and can treat a number of eye problems, including presbyopia and astigmatisms.

In 1967, New Yorker Charles Kelman introduced the phacoemulsification technique for cataract surgeries.

Unlike previous procedures that required a large incision in the cornea to remove cataracts, this technique uses ultrasonic vibrations to break up the lens into incredibly small pieces that could be sucked out through a tiny incision in the eye. Kelman’s innovation, which was less painful and had a shorter recovery time than other cataract removal procedures, further improved the patient experience during and after the surgery.

Claude Monet, the father of French Impressionism, developed cataracts in his old age.

 A product of the aging process, no one is immune to cataracts – even artists. French Impressionist painter Claude Monet developed cataracts during his later years, though he would eventually have them removed.

Cataracts and Monet
Cataracts and Monet

This series of images illustrates how Monet’s cataracts affected his work. Image A, from Waterlilies, was painted while Monet had cataracts. Put through a filter, image B shows what this piece looked like to Monet through his cataracts.Image C, Morning with Weeping Willows, was painted after his cataracts were removed. Notice the differences in color and detail before and after undergoing cataract surgery. The first image really speaks to Monet’s talent as a painter, considering what it looked like to him!

With a 98% success rate modern cataract surgery is one of the safest and most effective surgical procedures performed today. There are more than 3 million cataract surgeries performed in the U.S. every year, and most patients experience greatly improved vision after the surgery. Thanks to computer-assisted technology and the femtosecond laser, it is safer than ever to undergo cataract surgery. If you’re experiencing vision loss due to cataracts, speak with your ophthalmologist today about the best treatment options available to you. Enjoy incredible sight for life!


BIO: Hayley Irvin is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma. When she’s not creating awesome content for Marketing Zen Group & Eyecare2020 , she’s writing about basketball, learning about space, and thwarting her cats’ attempts to take over the world. Catch up with her on Twitter @HayleyNIrvin.



Molluscum Contagiosum – Can you give me some advice please?

Molluscum Contagiosum
Molluscum Contagiosum
Between you and me naming medical conditions in Latin always send a shiver of fear put my aging spine.

God knows why. Maybe some deeply repressed memory of trying to learn Latin grammar as a spotty teenager.

Anyhow Molluscum Contagiosum came into my life a few days ago when my daughter was diagnosed with it. It turns out that it is “wart bumps” caused by a virus. And usually passes in around 12-18 months.

You can see a picture of it above.

While it is not serious it is not great for a 12 year old.

Does anyone have any advice for me as to how I can help her out.

Please feel free to share in the comments section below if you have any ideas.

Thanks in advance.