Tag: <span>treatment</span>

The Autistic Brain and Early Intervention

Original Article Posted in Tulsa Kids Magazine. Article by: Betty Casey

I’ve had a lot of kids come to me who couldn’t read,” says Dr. Edward Gustavson, a developmental-behavioral pediatrician in Tulsa. “They’re bright, 7 or 8 years old, but they can’t read. They can’t read because they can’t concentrate. These kids live in a rock concert.”

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a diagnosis of abnormal sensory processing, Dr. Gustavson says. The disorder is much more prevalent in boys than girls; however, girls’ symptoms are often more severe. In 2020, the CDC reported that approximately 1 in 54 children in the U.S. is diagnosed with ASD, according to 2016 data.

Gustavson S

Gustavson, M.D., F.A.A.P., is a graduate of Harvard Medical School, a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and was clinical director of the Children’s Medical Center in Tulsa until it closed. He has been practicing developmental medicine for much of his extensive career and currently is in private practice in Tulsa.

Gustavson uses the rock concert analogy to describe the sensory bombardment that children with ASD experience.

“They have too many brain cells,” he says. “All five senses are overly sensitive.”

Electronic imagery, MRIs and varied observations and measurements of the cerebral cortex with its excessive layers provide research markers that show what happens in the child destined to have ASD.

“The normal fetal brain during middle pregnancy has many more brain cells, called neurons, than it will need,” Gustavson explains. “The bulk of the causes of ASD are related to environmental exposure in terms of the neurology or epigenetics in the womb.”

During normal fetal brain development, a “pruning” process happens to reduce excessive connections in order to direct the senses to normal sensory action and communication. However, this reduction of cells and connections doesn’t occur in the child with ASD, which results in an over-connected brain.

The most important of these connections concerns the visual and verbal cues, which prompt useful language. If this reducing or pruning doesn’t occur, the child will hear sounds as if experiencing electronic interference, with resulting lack of comprehension.

“Albert Einstein, whose brain was studied after his death,” Gustavson says, “was found to have doubled thickness layers; he spoke little until age 4, resulting from hearing too much, not too little.”

Dr. Gustavson says that parents typically bring children to see him when the children are either not talking or not reading. He would like to see children as young as possible because the earlier therapy is started, the better the outcome.

“Children should be evaluated if they’re not having language, and they’re not connecting with the mother or another person like a grandmother or caregiver.”

Dr. Gustavson describes a former fifth-grade patient who was having problems connecting with other children at school. The boy was being bullied, yet the school wouldn’t accommodate his social differences because he was academically successful. Gustavson worked with him, and the boy’s mother enrolled him in a different school where his unique abilities could be accommodated, and the class sizes were smaller.

“He became a star,” Gustavson says. “Those with ASD can learn relationships if people give them the chance and don’t push them into negative behavior patterns. They can learn to function, but not be neuro-typical; they can learn to have conversation and connection, but not be expected to process the same way as a neuro-typical person.”

Schools can accommodate children with ASD by ensuring that they are not over-stimulated. For example, putting them in the front of the class where they don’t have to look through a sea of students to pay attention to the teacher, or allowing them to skip noisy assemblies. Providing a predictable environment and a para-teacher can also help.

Unlike a regular pediatrician, a developmental pediatrician spends at least an hour evaluating a child. Gustavson says he has always opted for spending time quietly and slowly observing, evaluating and talking with his patients in treatment rather than taking a more financially lucrative path. While the coronavirus has forced more internet home observations, Gustavson says that they are sometimes more telling than office visits.

“A child with ASD does not focus into the eyes of the examiners. Often the child hides the eyes and makes repetitive sounds or movements,” he says, “but these are not too different from the actions of other children in a strange situation. In some ways, the observations I make as a doctor via confidential internet sessions of home behavior mean more. At home in quarantine with the mother’s full attention, erratic and aggressive behavior, even ADHD, is likely to be more easily observed.”

Gustavson’s approach is practical and pragmatic. He believes that the sooner therapy begins, the better the results. Swedish studies show that it is critical to establish language as soon as possible in order to see optimum outcomes. So, rather than spending weeks or months in the evaluation phase, Gustavson begins therapeutic work after a much shorter evaluation than might typically be done, for example, in a hospital setting. He also helps parents learn to establish a consistent, quiet, predictable home environment as well as giving them methods to work with their children at home.

If necessary, Gustavson may use simple, non-addictive medications, but says the medicine is “the opposite of stimulants for ADHD. Medication is just to permit a reduction in the excessive input in order to work with the child.”

The medication for ADHD can make the child with autism worse, Gustavson says.

“Children with ASD who are ready for a subject to be understood may fail simply because they are feeling panicky and upset by classroom noise, bright windows or rapid movement, for example,” Gustavson says, “or even crossed or swinging legs can create too much stimulation for them to learn. The milder medications will reduce anxiety, rather than overstimulate.”

The younger a child with ASD receives appropriate intervention through therapy, as well as classroom and home environment adjustments, the better it will be for the child and the family.

“They need to be identified early on, and the main thing we can do for all of them is reduce the stimulation and have them hear language in a calm way.”

Dr. Gustavson warns that screens are not good for children, but they have especially negative effects on children with ASD. Recent studies of 6- to 9-month-old infants in Europe show that some babies will not focus on a virtual face as “normal” babies do.

“There are 100 times the bites in Sponge Bob as in Mr. Rogers,” Gustavson says. “That screen is more confusing to the child than hammering on a simple, old-fashioned toy.”

Dr. Gustavson says he teaches parents how to talk to their child and how to manage their child.

“Communication is what we’re fostering,” he says. “I’m helping the mother communicate with her child, giving them opportunities to get better, and to help the mother and father learn to get better, to learn how to communicate with their unique child.”


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Anxiety treatment for better tomorrow

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Understanding and Treating Sexual Addiction Training Event

Crossroads Counseling and Consultation Invites You to Attend:

Understanding and Treating Sexual Addiction Training Event

Comprehensive Training for Clinicians and Pastoral Specialists

April 23-26Tulsa, Oklahoma

This 4 day course meets the educational requirements for the Certified Clinical Sexual Addiction Specialist and the Certified Pastoral Sexual Addiction Specialist through the International Association of Certified Sexual Addiction Specialists, the leader in the field for certifying and training specialists.   During the 4 days you can earn 28 CE credits through the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC), NAADAC, and the NASW.The first portion of this course provides the foundation for treatment in a variety of settings.  During the second half, the clinicians will receive advanced clinical training and the pastoral/ministry specialists will receive advanced pastoral sexual addiction treatment training appropriate to the work setting.  The first two days are together, the last two days are in separate groups.Topics Include:

  • Sex Addiction 101: Confronting the challenges
  • Neurochemistry: ADHD & other comorbid disorders
  • Trauma model treatment in the sexual addict and spouse
  • Working with family members of sexual addicts
  • Building Blocks for Your Wall of Recovery
  • The Heart of Recovery and Transformation
  • Working with spouses/partners of sex addicts
  • Recovery Coaching
  • Spirituality in Recovery
  • Working with sexually addicted adolescents
  • Same sex attraction and gender-identity issues
  • Spouses/Partners of Sex Addicts and their families
  • Experiential treatment for sex addicts and spouses
  • Sexually addicted and traumatized children
  • Female sexual addicts
  • Stepfamily dynamics in sexually addicted families
  • Satir treatment methods and addiction
  • Couples in recovery
  • Tools of recovery
  • Distinguishing problematic sexual behavior from addiction/compulsion
  • Narcissism and personality disorder features in addicts
  • And many, many, more…

In the second half of the training, the pastoral ministry students will have the following topics:

  • Sex Addiction, Christians and the Church – Past, Present, and Future Trends
  • Collateral Damage – the Impact of Sex Addiction on the Local Church and Church Ministries
  • Meltdown – Anatomy of a Sexually Addicted Couple in Crisis
  • “Help!” – Providing Real Hope and Help When Sex Addicts and Spouses Come Calling
  • First Thing’s First – When to Refer In vs. Referring Out
  • Providing Pastoral Care for Sex Addicts and Spouses -Hope and Help Best Practices
  • Providing Pastoral Care for Pastors and Staff Who Struggle
  • Providing Pastoral Care for Parents and Kids Who Act Out Sexually
  • Sexual Integrity Discipleship – the Key to Restoring Sexual Integrity and Healthy Intimacy
  • Mentoring and Accountability

Recommended reading prior to attending training
Stop Sex Addiction – Dr. Milton Magness
The Betrayal Bond – Dr. Patrick Carnes
Don’t Call it Love – Dr. Patrick Carnes*

Spouses of Sex Addicts: Hope for the Journey – Richard Blankenship (with Melissa Haas, Joyce Tomblin, Debbie Whitcomb, Heath Wise)
Your Sexually Addicted Spouse: How Partners Can Cope and Heal – Dr. Barbara Steffens & Marsha Means

Ready to Heal – Kelly McDaniel

Pure Desire – Dr. Ted Roberts**

Break Free – Russel Willingham**

*Clinicians track

**Pastoral/Ministry track

Course Faculty Members Include:

Richard Blankenship, LPC, NCC, CCH, CCPS, CCSAS

Dr. Barbara Steffens, LPCC, CCPS, CCSAS

Dr. Mark Richardson, CPSAS

Francoise Mastroianni, LPCC, CCPS, CCSAS

Troy Snyder, LPC, CCSAS

Note: not all faculty will be present at each training.  Additional faculty will be brought in as needed to insure the best possible training.  All of our main faculty members have a minimum of 10 years experience in the field.  Click on each name to read more about the instructors.
For more information or to register by phone call 470-545-4380. Email at info@sexaddictioncertification.org