Thursday, April 10, 2008
Autism linked to problems with joint attention

Autism is currently diagnosed in about 1 child out of every 150. There are many symptoms associated with it. Some are more common than others. Most people know that speech is delayed in children with autism. However, speech is delayed for many other reasons. Therefore, many things come to mind in children with speech delays. Children with autism also have some problems with social interactions. They may not play with other children their age. However, there are many different reasons for problems like this as well. It too is not specific for autism. Children with autism also have a tendency to have repeated movements. They may play with the same toys repeatedly. They may line up their toys a certain way. They may do things like open and close doors repeatedly. Again, this is not specific to children with autism. Many children go through some of these phases. However, there is one symptom that seems to occur much more often in children with autism than in other children. Children with autism in particular have problems with the developmental process known as joint attention. Joint attention is like most developmental processes. It develops in children over time. Joint attention refers to the idea of a child and the caregiver paying attention to the same thing jointly. The earliest example of this is at about 8 - 10 months of age. At that point a child will follow a mother's gaze when she looks at an object. If she looks left, the infant will do so as well. If she looks right the same thing happens. At about 10 - 12 months of age, the infant will do two things when someone points to an object. The first thing is that the child will look at the object. The second is that the child will look back to the person pointing at the object. It is almost as if to say that he/she saw the object. At about 12 - 14 months of age, children will point to things they want. They will make sure the caregiver is looking. That way the object can be obtained by the caregiver. It can then be given to the child. At 14 -16 months of age, a child will begin to point to objects that he/she wants someone else to look at. it may be an animal in a field while riding in a car. It might be a toy in the store. This is the child saying do you see what I see. At 16 - 18 months, the child will physically get an object and bring it to the parent. There is a desire to share the interest in the object. This is the maturing of joint attention. As we become more sophisticated in the diagnosis of autism, the goal is to diagnose it as early as possible. That allows us to get appropriate therapy for the child. Looking at joint attention and its development can provide us with some early clues to make the diagnosis before the child turns two years of age.

Bayhealth educates public One in three females and one in six males will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. During April, National Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Bayhealth will join in the fight to raise awareness and offer help to victims of this crime. Events include presentations at local schools and universities, displays at the Modern Maturity Center and Bayhealth - Kent General Hospital, and a proclamation signing by Governor Ruth Ann Minner for sexual assault. For more information or if you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, contact Dawn Culp at 302-744-7121 or 800-656-HOPE to be connected to the nearest rape crisis center.

Beebe sponsors annual conference The sixteenth annual Conference by the Bay, a daylong educational seminar for nurses sponsored by Beebe Medical Center School of Nursing, will take place Friday, April 25, at the Rusty Rudder's BayCenter on Dickinson Street in Dewey Beach. Beebe will award six contact hours via certificate at the completion of the program. The day begins with registration at 7:15 a.m. and ends at 4 p.m. The fee for the conference is $90 general registration, $50 employee or retiree, and $40 for a full-time basic nursing student. This includes the conference, continental breakfast, refreshments, conference materials and buffet lunch. Space is limited and payment must be received by April 16. To obtain a registration form or for any questions, contact the Beebe School of Nursing at 645-3251, ext. 5469. An additional $10 late registration fee is required for registrants after the deadline, if space is available. The school is located behind and adjacent to the main campus of the Beebe Medical Center at 424 Savannah Road in Lewes.

Foundation raises funds for CAC WMDT-47 and the Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore have joined efforts to match the first $20,000 in donations to be received for the Child Advocacy Challenge, an interagency effort that responds to and reduces child neglect and abuse in Wicomico County. WMDT-47 successfully applied for a $10,000 grant from "Oprah's Big Give," a Sunday prime time television show created by Oprah Winfrey. The Community Foundation has provided another $10,000 grant that enables our two organizations to match the first $20,000 in donations from the public by April 20 to the Wicomico Child Advocacy Fund. "We have until April 20 to reach our goal and report back to Oprah," said Kathleen McLain, general manager of WMDT-47. Checks may be sent to support this effort and should be made payable to the Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore. On the memo line, note Child Advocacy Challenge (CAC). Contributions should be mailed to The Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore, 1324 Belmont Ave., Ste. 401, Salisbury, MD 21804.

Mammograms at Greenwood library The Women's Mobile Health Screening Van is coming to Greenwood Public Library on Wednesday, April 23. Free or low-cost mammograms will be given to women who have scheduled an appointment. Women interested in receiving a mammogram must call 888-672-9647 before April 23 to schedule an appointment. No one will receive services without an appointment. A doctor's prescription is also required. Don't delay in calling if you are interested in receiving this service at no or low cost. Mammograms can save lives by finding breast cancer as early as possible. The van is administered by the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition, Inc. and offers high quality services delivered by professional medical staff. The Greenwood Public Library is located east of the railroad tracks, on the corner of Market Street (DE Rt. 16) and Mill Street. You may call 888-672-9647 or 302-349-5309 for information.

Caregivers Diabetes Program Nanticoke Memorial Hospital, Seaford will provide a Caregivers Diabetes Education Program on Saturday, April 12 from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Call JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) 302-888-1117 to register or fax 302-741-8602.

Alzheimer's offers courses The Alzheimer's Association Delaware Valley Chapter is offering professional training programs at the Georgetown office. These programs include CEU credit for social workers, nurses and nursing home administrators. Certificates of completion are also available. Courses include "About Dementia" on Tuesday, May 6 from 9 a.m. to noon (three credits); "Making Connections" on Tuesday, May 13 from 10 a.m. to noon (two credits); and "Understanding Wandering" on Friday, May 23 from 10 a.m. to noon (two credits). The cost of each session including CEU credit is $49 or a certificate of completion is $29 per registrant. Pre-registration is required by e-mailing Jamie Magee at or by calling 302-854-9788.

Delaware first in sampling The Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife, in cooperation with USDA-Wildlife Services, has taken the lead in the nationwide surveillance of migratory wild birds for avian influenza (AI). Avian influenza occurs in a number of different strains, with most strains being low pathogenic forms that naturally occur in wild birds and pose no serious risk to domestic poultry. Since the nationwide early detection strategy was introduced in 2006, Delaware has been a priority state for AI surveillance because of its importance as a wintering area for hundreds of thousands of migratory waterfowl; as a primary migration corridor for shorebirds; and as the heart of the Delmarva poultry production area. Because of these reasons, Delaware has obtained the maximum level of federal funding for surveillance. This federal funding was then supplemented by state appropriations the last two years, permitting Delaware to collect more than double the samples of most other states. Since Delaware's testing program began in 2006, only 23 samples, or 0.4 percent, tested positive for a strain of influenza which could be perceived as a threat to the poultry industry and required further testing at the national lab in Iowa. None of these were the Asian bird flu strain. Highly pathogenic H5N1, commonly called the Asian bird flu, has been detected in wild birds and poultry in 61 countries and is the strain responsible for the culling of poultry flocks in Asia and Europe, as well as 373 human cases, with 236 resulting in death.