The choice to substitute formulations has much to do with its intended purpose, severity and economic factors.  However, when it comes to autism, substitution must also consider individual biology.  
Here is what Wiki Answers has to say:
“It is also important to note that the amount of drug which makes it into the bloodstream (bioavailability) can vary significantly for generic drugs; the bioavailability of generics is required to be within 20% of the branded drug, meaning it can be 20% lower to 20% higher. This can make a significant difference for drugs which are very dose-dependent. Also the amount of active ingredient in the generic only needs to be within 7% of the branded drug. All in all the generic might end up quite a bit less or more potent than the branded drug.”
“Two drugs are considered pharmaceutical equivalents when they contain the same chemically active ingredient(s) and are identical in dosage form and strength. Tetracyclines such as minocycline are complex with many properties that may play an important part in treatment response in the arthritic patient. The fact that patients in remission (sometimes for years) while on antibiotic therapy saw a gradual return of symptoms when switched to a generic alerted us to a potential problem with some generics. In three test patients, these symptoms began to reverse immediately upon a return to the brand name version of the drug.

Pharmaceutical equivalence may be affected by many things.

  1. variations in inert ingredients
  2. plants in different parts of the world may produce ingredients that vary in quality, by batch and manufacturing methods. Until recently (this article was published in September 18, 2008), 80% of drug ingredients came from plants in Western Europe. According to a NY Times article April 11, 1996, that is changing. Many ingredients are now being used from plants in China, Japan, South Korea, India and Eastern Europe where they are produced more cheaply. Bob Milanese, president of the National Association of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers, indicates that only a handful of these plants meet FDA standards. “Some others are questionable” due to the difficulty in finding people and budget to “get over and inspect these plants.” Another factor which affects generic quality cited by the same article is the international buy outs and diversification allowing the combination of questionable ingredients into generic production.
  3. In oral drugs, capsule content may be 7% over or 7% under the stated content, e.g. a 100 mg. capsule may be as low as 93 mg. or as high as 107 mg.

Given all this, the difficult task of determining the appropriate dosage of a specific drug for a specific patient seems to an impossible task, destined to fail.  This does not make sense for anyone involved… including the insurance companies who will have to foot the bill for emergency services and therapy that might have been avoided had the proper meds been used.  I acknowledge the need to contain medical costs.  But the savings achieved by substituting generics, frequently can not justify the increase in unnecessary human suffering.

There is a great deal of information (both good and bad) on the Internet.  My recommendation is to have an open discussion with your doctor about your options.

The computer is a tool enabling educators to help reach children in a meaningful manner. When used properly, the computer helps dissolve barriers to comprehension and engagement. Computers have a powerful impact on pre-verbal and 'non-responsive" students, especially when used in conjunction with video. This 22 minute course is an introduction to the use of a Portaportal, a personal online rolodex that makes it easy to collect, sort and update your online resources. We examine a portaportal I assembled for use in direct classroom instruction with individuals and small groups. I also offer advice to caregivers about how to use it to engage children constructively. [slideshow] My portaportal contains websites have been used successfully in educational activities designed to promote: Language development Communication Decision-making Interaction with you Self-awareness Metacognition Technology skills that lead to greater independence and self-directed education

Over the past fifty years we have witnessed the development of technology. Today, we are in the era of understanding its educational implications. Technology is not only capable of communicating concepts. It enable children to overcome barriers that prevent them from understanding the world and exercising control over it.

Instead of being passive recipients of instruction, children who understand what technology can do and learn how to use it as a tool will become active participants in their own education. While simple devices that augment communication enable children to make their needs known and indicate choice, interactive technology enhances the sense of self and opens up a world of opportunity that children can explore independently.

Children must be helped to understand and then to master technology. Parents can aid in this process by serving to guide, then tutor and finally mentor children as they slowly master the tools.

The easiest place for a parent to start the process is by using video to engage attention. For years, I would videotape my students engaging in special activities such as school trips as well as mundane activities such as class lessons. Watching our videos together stimulated lots of interest, fun and discussion. But “home” videos weren’t suitable for teaching new material. So I collected Youtube videos that focused on discrete steps in complex skills such as personal hygiene. Searching for proper clips was tedious but the results were well-worth the effort.

I introduced tooth brushing with a clip that captured student attention. I would show the clip to the class while monitoring their response. Some children were hooked immediately. Pre-verbal students would indicate they wanted to see it again. Regardless of student “level”, showing this brief clip was enough to get students to consider me to be the agent controlling something they liked. My hope was to get them to understand that they could acquire the knowledge and power to control the technology themselves.

I added clips focusing on the steps in the complex skill: the proper way to brush, how to rinse and the importance of brushing. Next, I compiled a folder containing clips related to sneezing: a woman sneezing for a full minute, clips on germ transmission, hand washing and a humorous clip from an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond. At first, selecting clips was a hit-or-miss proposition that was not always successful. Some were box office flops. I began to see that children responded differently and to different aspects of the experience. Some were attracted by the sound. Others were indifferent to sound. Some were drawn by motion. Others by content. But I was beginning to discriminate individual learning preferences, rates of learning and to better understand the nature and degree of prompting each child required to progress. I got better at the selection process.

Regardless of whether your child has any computer skills or not, viewing Youtube videos together is a great opportunity for bonding, social interaction, stimulating language and sharing a FUN experience. When you are ready to give it a whirl, choose a simple task you want to teach. Then research clips that you feel would appeal to your child. Watch your child closely for signs of interest.

It’s not difficult to find gems like this

Introducing a new skill. This clip incorporates all the elements needed to capture your child’s attention to prepare him to learn: Animation, humor, music, and modeling of the skill in question

The power of the moving image. The teacher models a skill for the class.. A clip of their reaction is shown to Joseph, a pre-verbal 17 year-old who previously had shown no interest in the computer. Joseph was so motivated that he learned how to use the mouse to replay the video for himself. This is the first step in enabling a child to demonstrate volition and direct his own education.

View additional sample clips

Continue reading

Who should pay for autism?
I’m not referring to the emotional toll.  I’m talking about the bills.  Someone must be responsible and they should fork over the money.   If you think the cause of Dr. Niehouse’s son’s autism is genetic, MAYBE you believe it’s the parents’ fault….. or the grandparents… or even the milkman (no insult intended to the Niehouse family but I think you get my drift).

On the other hand, if you think it’s environmental…. then MAYBE it’s the fault of the petrochemical industry… oops… scratch that…. The Niehouses are from California so it cant be the fault of car emissions…. more than likely it’s the result of noxious gases seeking up from the San Andreas Fault.  In which case its the fault of the land developers who built houses where they shouldn’t have.   No, that’s too far fetched.

OK so forget finding fault.   Let’s marinate on who should be financially responsible.   Ok . Ok… I got it.  The little Canadian children (who require milk) forced their parents to purchase milk produced by dairy  farmers …which was sold in supermarkets catering to Canadians ….who approved the Alaskan Pipe Line which transported oil to the United States …..where it was used to produce jet fuel which we know is regularly jettisoned prior to landings (safety first!) …. over California where it saturated the soil that supported the grass that fed the cows that produced the “organic” milk sold in local supermarkets  that this child consumed.  The parents even bought organic milk for their child!  They did the right thing.

So who should get stuck with the medical bills?

I did a little homework.:

  • “… in the fourteenth century the Norse colony from Greenland was wiped out, and the very memory of the Norse discovery of America died. For practical purposes, the discoverer of the mainland of North America was John Cabot…”

A-ha.  Now were are getting somewhere.

  • “CABOT (Caboto), JOHN (Giovanni), Italian explorer, leader of voyages of discovery from Bristol to North America in 1497 and 1498; d. 1498? Neither the place nor the date of birth of Giovanni (or Zuan) Caboto, commonly called John Cabot, is known. The earliest historical document which refers to him records his naturalization as a Venetian citizen in 1476, under a procedure by which this privilege was granted to aliens who had resided continuously in Venice for 15 years or more.”

On the basis of my research, I can now place blame squarely on the 15th century Venetians who approved John Cabots’s naturalization.

It was their fault and they naturalized him.  So why won’t the Canadian government do the same for Dr. Niehouse?

Touch… see.. feel. Removing the language barrier sparks interest and triple standardized scoring.
Chantal Sicile-Kira   sent me this video  about the MIND Research Institute.  As I watched it, I thought, “Wow!  This is great news.  A program that could actually improve the quality of education”.  It gives credence to my belief that, in the future,  school children might benefit from broader knowledge of multiple, non-traditional strategies.  A program that results in better memorization of fact and greater comprehension and retention of  underlying principles, more quickly and in greater depth.

The March edition of HUMAN SPECTRUM MAGAZINE is now online.

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Autism is an interactive online community celebrating the abilities of everyone on and around the autism spectrum. It is an inclusive environment for persons on the autism spectrum, their family and caregivers disseminating information,  fostering social interaction and philanthropic opportunity.

Autism Brainstorm intends to provide opportunity for healing, enlightening and entertaining social interaction within a virtual environment. From the comfort of one’s own home, individuals will be able to reach across the state, the country and the world….to positively impact the lives of others.

October 25, 2011 Logically, if light and sound have the power to stimulate, calm or regularize us, we should be

able to tap into this same energy for therapeutic purposes. But, what is this “normal” state we are attempting to “return to”?  

Consciousness .. that continuous, internal dialogue combining “prize-fight announcer” reporting on the body and its’ physical  surroundings with and self-talk as the mind contemplates what to focus upon.  Are my senses confirming:

  • danger?   If so,fight or flee.
  • continuity of perceived context?  Am I still the same person I was a micro-second ago? Is the world different than I believe it should be at this moment?
  • it is a safe time to reflect.  If so, I will think about my thinking.

What happens to our Consciousness when our senses are no longer or reliable?  We understand that certain chemicals, or their absence can alter our state of consciousness.  Can we draw analogies to the sensory system?  What are the effects of exposure to aggravating stimulation or an inability to process sensory signals properly?

Here’s some food-for-thought before passing judgment on new therapeutic approachs to Sensory Integration.

Sacks’ investigation into unusual sensory cases, which fills eleven volumes, are summarized here along with quotes lifted directly from the Wikipedia:

 Dr. Sacks interview  at the Harvard Book Store  from NPR Radio

Migraine (1970)  Sacks describes the nature of and treatments for migraine particularly examining the visual aura feature that is common to many sufferers, along with the premonitorys, a type of extrasensory perception that would involve the acquisition or effect of future information that cannot be deduced from presently available and normally acquired sense-based information or laws of physics and/or nature.[5

Awakenings (1973)   Recounts the life histories of victims of the 1920s encephalitis lethargica epidemic and Sacks’ the amazing events that followed 40 years later when he administered L-DOPA, a new drug, to help these patients.

A Leg to Stand On (1984)   Sacks’s own experience, after an accident, of losing the awareness of one of his legs

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat (1985)   The title of the book comes from the case study of a man with visual agnosia.[1] , the inability to recognize familiar objects or faces. Twenty-four essays dealing with brain deficits and excesses as well as to spontaneous reminiscences, altered perceptions, and extraordinary qualities of mind

 Seeing Voices: A Journey Into the World of the Deaf (1989)  Explores the past and present events that shape the world of deaf people in the United States and contemplates a Sign language and it’s striking concomitant enhancements of perception implying the resourcefulness of the human species.  Sign is not only a language but the very medium of deaf culture.

An Anthropologist on Mars (1995)  Case histories of autism and Tourette’s Syndrome.  Essays explore historical case studies of patients both in and oput  outside the hospital, often traveling considerable distances to interact with his subjects in their own environments. Sacks concludes that “defects, disorders, [and] diseases… can play a paradoxical role, by bringing out latent powers, developments, evolutions, forms of life that might never be seen, or even be imaginable, in their absence.

The Island of the Colorblind (1997)   Exploration of a society where congenital colorblindness is the norm and home to a strange neurologic malady resembling Parkinsonism and Alzheimer’s

Uncle Tungsten: Memories of a Chemical Boyhood (2001)

A memoir

Oaxaca Journal (2002)  A trip to see ferns in Mexico turns into a meditation on Mesoamerican civilization, chocolate, agriculture, mescal, amateur naturalists and more.

Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain (2007)

… Sacks turns to the intersection of music and neurology — music as affliction and music as treatment… Sacks, in short, is the ideal exponent of the view that responsiveness to music is intrinsic to our makeup. He is also the ideal guide to the territory he covers”  Peter KramerThe Washington Post

The Mind’s Eye (2010)

The complex workings of the brain and its astounding ability to adapt and overcome disability”.

”…my ‘shyness’, my ‘reclusiveness’, my ‘social ineptitude’, my ‘eccentricity’, even my ‘Asperger’s syndrome’”, can, he thinks, be put down to lifelong face blindness. A rare consequence of brain injury, it is now understood to be quite common in the general population.” The Mind’s Eye by Oliver Sacks – A Review, Nov 6, 2010


Dr. Nelsen Mane, a strong proponent of hemispheric integration training  And here, boiling 60 minutes down into 151 seconds.

 Alex Doman works  with sound.  Watch his recent presentation in the World Cafe` here onautismBrainstorm.   Alex helped develop the sensory-friendly criteria for Sensory Star Hotels and Resorts .

The National Light & Sound Therapy Centre offers desensitization exercises


Dr. Laz, “Touching Lives Through Music & Education”   music therapy program for students with profound special needs

Adam Goldberg, “Hands On Music: An iPad Band for Students with Disabilities”.  Using touch technology to help students use their musical gifts rather than battle the barriers thrown up by their constraints. 

  • Be informed.  That means do your homework
  • Be objective.  You may not like it but, if the shows merit, it is worthy of exploration
  • Be flexible.  There is no silver bullet. Let’s face it; we don’t have a very big arsenal.  The more tools we discover,  the better able we will be to help.


  • What is the underlying science and documentation
  • For whom this treatment is recommended; what is it’s relevance to your need
  • What are its’ strengths and weaknesses
  • What are realistic timetables for achievable goals.
  • The professional standing of the therapist

Does anyone have their own good story about how music/light may have played an important role in some school activity?

Perhaps you would like to suggest one.