Autism Prevalence, Challenges, and Supports: Understanding the Complexities of this Neurodevelopmental Disorder

Autism is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder that affects communication, social interaction, and behavior. It is estimated that 1 in 36 children in the U.S. is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to 2020 data reported by the CDC. Boys are four times more likely to be diagnosed with autism than girls.

Although autism can be reliably diagnosed as early as age 2, most children are still being diagnosed after age 4. This highlights the importance of early intervention, which has been shown to improve learning, communication, and social skills, as well as underlying brain development. Applied behavior analysis (ABA) and therapies based on its principles are the most researched and commonly used behavioral interventions for autism. Many children affected by autism also benefit from other interventions such as speech and occupational therapy.

While autism affects all ethnic and socioeconomic groups, minority groups tend to be diagnosed later and less often. This delay in diagnosis can affect access to appropriate interventions and supports. Therefore, it is essential to raise awareness and understanding of autism in all communities to ensure timely diagnosis and access to services.

The causes of autism are not fully understood, but research indicates that genetics are involved in the vast majority of cases. Children born to older parents are at a higher risk for having autism, and parents who have a child with ASD have a 2 to 18 percent chance of having a second child who is also affected. Studies have also shown that among identical twins, if one child has autism, the other will be affected about 36 to 95 percent of the time. In non-identical twins, if one child has autism, then the other is affected about 31 percent of the time.

Over the last two decades, extensive research has asked whether there is any link between childhood vaccinations and autism. The results of this research are clear: vaccines do not cause autism.

Autism can also be associated with a range of medical and mental health conditions. For instance, as many as one-third of people with autism have epilepsy, and more than half of children with autism have one or more chronic sleep problems. Anxiety disorders affect an estimated 11 to 40 percent of children and teens on the autism spectrum, and depression affects an estimated 7% of children and 26% of adults with autism.

Autism is also associated with challenges in daily function, such as developmental regression, where the child loses previously acquired skills, and wandering or bolting, which affects nearly half of those with autism. Nearly two-thirds of children with autism between the ages of 6 and 15 have been bullied, and nearly 28 percent of 8-year-olds with ASD have self-injurious behaviors such as head banging, arm biting, and skin scratching.

Caregivers and families of individuals with autism face significant challenges as well. On average, autism costs an estimated $60,000 a year through childhood, with the bulk of the costs in special services and lost wages related to increased demands on one or both parents. Mothers of children with ASD, who tend to serve as the child’s case manager and advocate, are less likely to work outside the home and earn significantly less than mothers of children with no health limitations or other disabilities.

In adulthood, many young adults with autism face significant challenges in finding employment and accessing healthcare transition services. More than half of young adults with autism remain unemployed and unenrolled in higher education in the two years after high school. Furthermore, the cost of caring for Americans with autism had reached $268 billion in 2015 and would rise to $461 billion by 2025 in the absence of more-effective interventions and support across the life span.

In conclusion, autism is a significant public health concern that affects many individuals and families.

A New Year’s resolution list can help caregivers make positive changes.

We either love them or avoid them, but no matter what our stance on New Year’s resolutions, there is something incredibly refreshing about stepping into a whole new year, providing us with a clean slate and the chance to make any modifications we want to improve total well-being or to accomplish a brand new goal or dream.

For family caregivers, New Year’s resolution lists tend to be particularly significant, mainly because they affect not merely the caregivers themselves, but their senior loved ones. It’s important, however, to keep resolutions sensible. Resolving, for instance, to get a full eight hours of sleep each night, while caring for a family member who has problems with sundowning issues in Alzheimer’s, could be setting yourself up for disappointment.

Try instead to think about one of the following resolutions especially developed with family caregivers in mind:

  1. I shall reach out for help and support, and take assistance when offered.
  2. I give myself permission to say “no” to requests to prevent dealing with more than I am able to handle.
  3. I will make my own health (both physical and mental) a priority, making sure that I set up and keep medical-related checkups and appointments.
  4. I will remind myself that self-care is not selfish, and that by taking good care of myself, I’m able to take better care of my loved one.
  5. I will take note of my energy level, and make a plan in order to avoid allowing myself to reach the point of exhaustion, burnout, or depression.


Starting with a no-cost in-home consultation, we will listen to the particular needs and challenges of your loved one, and develop a customized plan of care to fulfill those needs, through many different services such as:

  • Help with personal hygiene, dressing, ambulation and transfers
  • Running errands, such as buying groceries and picking up prescriptions
  • Accompanied transportation to medical appointments and enjoyable outings
  • Light housekeeping and laundry
  • Meal planning and preparation, according to any prescribed dietary plans
  • Engagement in conversations, reminiscing, games, and exercise, along with other pastimes that are of interest to the older adult
  • And many others
Elderly Care in Rockland MA: Emotional Trigger for Your Senior

What Might Be an Emotional Trigger for Your Senior?

Everyone has emotional triggers or situations that cause an emotional reaction. The ones you might be most concerned about for your senior are ones that cause her to feel anger, sadness, or anxiety, among other types of difficult emotions. There is a range of different possible causes.


Holding Specific Expectations

Expectations aren’t inherently bad, but they can be difficult to manage. For your senior, expectations could include her own beliefs about what this time in her life was supposed to look and feel like. Her health and other variables might have shifted what that all looks like right now and that can be really tough to reconcile. Your senior may also have had some specific expectations around her care that aren’t feasible right now.


Experiencing a Lack of Control

Along with expectations, your senior may be dealing with a lack of control over how certain experiences are going. There’s a lot of life that can’t be controlled and that becomes more and more obvious for your elderly family member as she grows older. This can even be subconscious on her part. On one level, your senior may realize that there’s a lot that she can’t influence or control, but subconsciously that can be much more difficult to fully embrace.


Trouble Accepting Certain Truths

There’s a lot that’s probably going on for your elderly family member. Certain truths about life right now or her health may be difficult for her to hear or to accept. That can mean that she’s in denial about more than you expect. Unfortunately, just being unwilling or unable to accept certain truths doesn’t mean that those truths no longer exist. They may simply hit harder for your senior when they do finally become unavoidable.


Difficult Annual Events

Everyone has those times of year that are more difficult, for one reason or another. Those annual events might include painful anniversaries that your senior doesn’t enjoy remembering or birthdays of people she loves. For some people it’s not a particular date that is most upsetting, but the time of year or a holiday. These can be tricky times to navigate and your elderly family member may need more space around those times.

Emotional triggers aren’t always easy to understand or to avoid. Sometimes things you think are fine are a lot more difficult for your senior to deal with and become bigger than they really should. Your senior may have some triggers that you don’t fully understand. Working with experienced senior care providers can help you to learn those situations and manage them a little more readily.

If you or an aging loved one are considering hiring Elderly Care in Rockland, MA, call the caring staff at Rivers of Hope today at 508-857-0629. Providing Independent, Dependent, and Companion Care Services in Brockton, Boston, Braintree, Avon Randolph, Abington, and the surrounding areas.

Elder Care in Rockland MA: Tips for Fun in the Heat

Four Tips for Fun in the Heat of Summer

During the hottest parts of summer, you and your senior might need to get a little more creative about avoiding the effects of the season. There are ways you can do that, but some may take some planning on your part. The good news is that the hottest days of summer don’t last forever and fall will eventually be on its way.


Try a Variety of Indoor Activities

Summer means heading inside and if your elderly family member’s air conditioner is struggling, there are plenty of indoor locations that don’t have that problem. Museums, science centers, aquariums, and more have primarily indoor adventures that you can explore together. This may be something you do once in a while, especially if mobility is a concern for your elderly family member. Explore the options available in your area.


Take Some Classes or Attend Seminars

Classes, lessons, and seminars held inside are also a possibility. Libraries are often a great source of these types of activities, but so are community colleges, bookstores, and even craft stores. There might be some things your senior has wanted to learn, which could make now a perfect time for her to give that a try.


Seek out an Indoor Pool

Summer is the perfect time to float in a pool, but most outdoor pools end up leaving the water feeling as warm as a bath. An alternative is to find an indoor pool that your senior can swim in while also enjoying some air conditioning. This is a great way for her to get a little bit of exercise safely and avoid overheating herself at the same time.


Keep to a Schedule

The important part might be sticking to a schedule for your senior. By scheduling her day properly, you might be able to avoid spending the hottest part of the day at her home, especially if her home tends to be a little too warm during those hours. Spending time at home in the morning and in the evening, when the house is naturally cooler, can be a lot more comfortable that way.

As a caregiver, you may be looking for a variety of ways to help your elderly family member to avoid being too hot when the weather absolutely is. This can all take some fine-tuning, too. No plan is perfect right out of the gate and you may need to find options that account for her available energy levels.

If you or an aging loved one are considering hiring Elder Care in Rockland, MA, call the caring staff at Rivers of Hope today at 508-857-0629. Providing Independent, Dependent, and Companion Care Services in Brockton, Boston, Braintree, Avon Randolph, Abington, and the surrounding areas.


Home Health Care in Rockland MA: Pulmonary Rehab

Five Possible Benefits from Pulmonary Rehab 

If your elderly family member has a lung disease, like emphysema or COPD, pulmonary rehabilitation may be something that her doctor recommends for her. It’s a type of therapy that educates her about lung health and that gives the tools she can use to be healthier.


She May Learn How to Deal with Dyspnea

Dyspnea, or shortness of breath, is extremely common for people who have lung illnesses. Managing shortness of breath properly is crucial because it can become a self-fulfilling problem. The anxiety involved in experiencing shortness of breath can feed into breathing becoming more difficult. In pulmonary rehabilitation, participants learn how to manage shortness of breath so that it doesn’t become a bigger problem.

Her Anxiety Levels Might Come Down

Anxiety is a big problem for people with lung illnesses, whether they’re dealing with shortness of breath more frequently or not. Knowing that there are tools and exercises that she can lean on when she needs to can be incredibly helpful for your senior in managing her lung issues. Having more information and feeling more in control, even in small ways, can do a lot to reduce anxiety levels.

She May Be Able to Exercise More

As your elderly family member learns more about managing both shortness of breath and the associated anxiety, she may find that it’s easier to move a little bit more than she used to. Exercising can help her to see that she really can exercise, even if that definition is slightly different than it used to be. Moving more is going to help her to strengthen her lungs a bit, which is also helpful.


She May Be Less Likely to End up Hospitalized

The key reason to learn tricks and tips to manage lung issues, as well as exercising more, is to help reduce the risk of developing infections in the lungs. People with lung problems are at a much higher risk for ending up hospitalized if they develop a lung infection. This is definitely something that you and your senior want to avoid.


She May Be Able to Improve Her Quality of Life

Everything that your senior is doing to improve her health also improves her quality of life. She’s going to find so much more joy in everything that she does when she’s not struggling with her health issues. Being able to live her life to the fullest is really important for your senior and can open her up to new experiences, too, like accepting help from elderly care providers when she may not have been open to that idea before.

Your elderly family member may not see any reason to go to pulmonary rehabilitation at first but understanding the benefits can change her mind.


If you or an aging loved one are considering hiring a Home Health Care in Rockland, MA, call the caring staff at Rivers of Hope today at 508-857-0629. Providing Independent, Dependent, and Companion Care Services in Brockton, Boston, Braintree, Avon Randolph, Abington, and the surrounding areas.


Caregiver in Rockland MA: Caregiver Problem Solving

Four Tips for Solving Problems For Your Senior

Solving problems is what caregivers do. It’s not always something that is easy, though, or that becomes easier the more that you do it. Give yourself time and grace to do the best that you can with what you’ve got.


Look for New Ways to Address the Issue

Depending on the problem at hand, you might have already tried a few different options. If those didn’t work, you’re out of the easy answers. It’s time to get creative. Try looking at the problem from a new angle. For instance, if your elderly family member isn’t willing to give up driving just yet, you might need to get creative. Disabling the car might be one answer or you might need to enlist the help of her doctor.


Seek out Expert Information

You don’t have to know everything about everything. You’ll gain a broad array of knowledge as a caregiver, but you can still turn to the experts, too. In the case of your senior’s driving, it might be helpful to turn to her doctor to determine how her health is impacting her ability to drive. You might also want to talk to a driving instructor or someone who can do a driving evaluation for your senior.


Layout a Plan for Putting the Best Solutions in Place

Problems need answers and those are rarely one-step solutions. Start to lay out a plan. For instance, you might want to line up a driving evaluation and then find a way to help your senior continue to get around, even if she’s not driving. Hiring senior care providers to do the driving can work, and you know someone is there with your aging family member.


Keep Your Own Attitude High

Don’t let yourself get discouraged. If you give in and let your own attitude get colored by your senior’s or by other people’s attitudes, you’re going to suffer. Do what you can to boost your own morale. That’s going to help you to keep yourself creative and to keep formulating those plans. You’ll also be better able to sell your perfect answer if you’re feeling upbeat about the entire process still.


Finding the right answers for your elderly family member’s situation may not feel as easy as you want it to be. With practice, you’re going to get a lot better at solving problems. And as your senior’s health changes, you’re going to need to keep your attitude positive so you can keep being creative.


If you or an aging loved one are considering hiring a Caregiver in Rockland, MA, call the caring staff at Rivers of Hope today at 508-857-0629. Providing Independent, Dependent, and Companion Care Services in Brockton, Boston, Braintree, Avon Randolph, Abington, and the surrounding areas.