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Genetics may be cause of autism, study finds
Autism may be caused by genetics, a study found.

Autism may be caused by genetics, a study found.

It is estimated that autism spectrum disorder affects 1 in 68 children, but there is still confusion about where and how it originates. One study has found that autism may be caused by genetic mutations.

A study from researchers at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, which was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, looked at how gene-disrupting mutations play a role in the development of autism. These disruptions come at the beginning of a child’s life and many have thought they play a role in development of the disorder.

Lead author and CSHL assistant professor Ivan Iossifov found the genes that contribute to autism likely have fewer mutations than most other human genes. This is different from the idea that more genetic mutations are the cause of autism.

The study was able to find a list of 200 of the most likely genes related to autism.

While this data may not help a family who has a child suffering from autism, it is a great step toward future discoveries and future treatments of this disorder.

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Harold W. Conick & Associates have successfully represented numerous children affected by autism.

It is very important to have complete medical records. These help support the diagnosis and witness observations of the daily behavior and functionality of the child in order to successfully claim social security disability benefits from the federal government.

Childhood mental illness tends to go untreated in the US
Although 17 million children in the US suffer from mental illness, less than 35 percent get the help they deserve. (Photo by Shlomit Wolf/Unsplash)

Although 17 million children in the US suffer from mental illness, less than 35 percent get the help they deserve. (Photo by Shlomit Wolf/Unsplash)

Suffering from mental illness is never easy to cope with; for children, it can be downright impossible. However, with treatment, there is always hope. Even so, a recent report from New York’s Child Mind Institute found that more than 17 million children in the U.S. have or have had a diagnosable mental illness, yet most are not treated.

Lack of treatment hurts a child’s development. This is a very serious public health program, according to what Child Mind Institute President Harold Koplewicz, MD, said to Medscape Medical News in a recent interview. He said physical illness, such as peanut allergies, asthma and diabetes are given preference in society today. However, mental illnesses are, unfortunately, far more prevalent.

“What is most troubling is that less than 35 percent of these kids ever get help,” Koplewicz told Medscape. “So it’s not a surprise that 70 percent of kids in the juvenile justice system have a diagnosable psychiatric illness, and we are not just talking about symptoms, which affect 50 percent of the population under 18. If we are talking about serious debilitating illness, it’s 22 percent of the population. This is absolutely, truly, a public health crisis.”

The report noted 80 percent of children with anxiety disorders, 40 percent with attention-deficit disorder, and 60 percent with diagnosable depression are not getting the treatment they deserve. Koplewicz called this “tragic,” especially the 80 percent not getting treatment for anxiety, which he said helps prime “the brain for depression in your teen years.”

Treatment may be difficult, but it isn’t impossible. Parents may be able to get monetary assistance through the Social Security Administration by filing for disability benefits for their child, if the illness is serious enough.

It’s the great dirty secret in the that mentally ill children in the U.S., especially the poor, are under served by the mental health system.

Often, children are simply prescribed a regimen of psychotropic drugs that may not be appropriate for the treatment of their particular long term problem. Counseling services are often limited or not available to them due to public aid cutbacks. Since children are the future of our nation, it is critical that federal and state governments step up their assistance for mentally ill children.

While SSI benefits may be available to a child claimant, the reality is that they must have a well documented medical file reflecting at least two marked or one extreme impairment. This has to show that their daily living is impacted. SSA judges then determine if SSI benefits will be granted. It is often a lengthy, arduous process in a time where treatment is essential.

The law offices of Harold W. Conick & Associates, Ltd. have successfully obtained SSI benefits for it’s child claimant clients.

Prominent Chicago mental health organization to close this month

A blow was struck to the Chicago mental health community this month, as Community Counseling Centers of Chicago (C4) has announced it will be closing its doors on May 31. This means more than 10,000 patients, including children, will be left without means for mental healthcare.

This will likely also be extremely damaging for those applying for disability benefits via the Social Security Administration, as it is important to establish medical records before applying. Many who went to C4 will have a hard time affording doctors visits and establishing the needed records.

At a rally outside of the C4 center in Chicago, CBS Chicago said Terese Burton was in tears telling the crowd just how much she was helped by the center for the past 24 years.

“They have helped me, support me, raise my children who all had mental health needs,” Burton said. “As a client here, I’ve been able to receive meds, support and I’m an active member of society.”

The closure of C4 comes in the midst of a proposal by Gov. Bruce Rauner to slash $82 million for mental health programs. In addition, Chicago shut down six of its 12 mental health clinics in 2012, with Mayor Rahm Emanuel citing C4 as a place people could turn for their mental health needs.

It appears that a convenient way to balance government budgets is to deny the mentally ill access to treatment. Untreated disease, whether mental or physical, is not the answer to address the conditions of our state’s ills. We should not be surprised at the foreseeable results of such a lack of concern for the welfare and treatment of the mentally ill.

One of the consequences of the government’s failure to provide treatment facilities for the mentally ill is that symptoms may become worse, thereby causing homelessness and problems in the justice system.

It is important for claimants seeking Social Security disability benefits to document the severity of their illness through medical records. Lack of such records could very well result in difficulty prevailing on their claim for benefits.

Autism diagnosis likely ‘passive’ for young children, study finds

In an ideal world, parents with children who have autism will get an immediate diagnosis and the ability to begin treatment right away. In many situations, this will allow them to apply for disability benefits through the Social Security Administration to get additional aid for medical bills. However, a recent study found that parents of children with autism spectrum disorder had 14 percent fewer proactive responses than parents with other development or intellectual disorders.

Dr. Katharine Zuckerman, of Doembecher Children’s Hospital at Oregon Health and Sciences University in Portland, said in a study in the Journal of Pediatrics that proactive responses, such as discussing concerns with the schools, development tests and specialist referrals, were far more rare for children with autism spectrum disorder. Passive response was more likely, which included saying “the child might grow out of it” or that ” it was too early to tell if anything was wrong.”

In addition, Zuckerman and colleagues found that parents of children with autism spectrum disorder often brought their children in to doctors nearly a full year before those with other intellectual disorders. This passive diagnosis could cause a year-plus delay in the proper treatment of the child.

“Each proactive response to parents’ concerns was associated with a reduction in the mean delay between first conversation and ASD diagnosis by at least 1 year,” according to the authors of the study.

The Law Offices of Harold W. Conick & Associates, Ltd. are experts in presenting medical evidence of autism. We have successfully represented numerous children afflicted with autism before administrative judges of the Social Security Administration.

‘Band-Aids’ not enough to keep SSA disability running

There has been a stated level of confusion on how disability benefits through the Social Security Administration will be funded; this level of confusion has not been seen before. Some of the confusion impacts the general public’s perception of SSA disability, but perhaps more importantly, the confounding dilemma of benefit funding may also throw off those in positions of power.

Jason Fichtner, Senior Research Fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, wrote on MarketWatch that this confusion has meant the steps to reform, vital to the survival of the SSA, have not been taken. Instead, he said there has just been a “financial Band-Aid” put on the SSA time and again.

Last year’s Social Security Trustee report found that the disability trust fund could potentially run out in 2016, making SSA disability benefits a likely presidential election issue.

One option Ficther pointed out is “to allow the disability trust fund to borrow from the retirement trust fund for a temporary period. This interfund borrowing would provide the short-term financial patch necessary to ensure that those receiving disability benefits would continue to receive full benefits.” However, this would simply be another Band-Aid for SSA disability. To fully fix the program, there would need to be an honest look in the mirror as a country to see how we want and need to move forward with disability benefits.

In the past, Congress  has allowed the disability and retirement programs to borrow from each other as needed. Recently, there has been Congressional action to stop this transfer of funds, thereby placing the disability program in crisis. This is purely a political move and is not only ill considered, but harmful to a program that many people, who cannot work, depend on to pay for the basic necessities of life.

Since the disability program potentially serves all Americans, it should not be used as a political football. Perhaps a solution to help continue to run the retirement and disability programs is to lift the ceiling on the Social Security income tax cap. This way, higher income individuals pay their fair share into the system and maintain its solvency.

Medicaid, mental health heavily cut from newly elected Illinois governor’s budget

Newly elected Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner announced his budget earlier this month and it contains some cuts that could severely impact those who rely on disability benefits.

Rauner’s budget includes $1.5 billion cut to Medicaid’s Health and Family Services program. This would mean the elimination of specialized mental health rehabilitation facilities, according to The Chicago Sun-Times.

Cuts in Rauner’s budget would also slice $27.5 million from the division of alcohol and substance abuse, $82 million from the division of mental health and $23 million from the Early Intervention Program. Projects which help those in need, including Project Autism and homeless youth services, will also be eliminated under this new budget.

Adding to all of this is a $19 million reduction from the public health budget. All of these services mentioned have potential to touch the lives of those who suffer from mental or physical health troubles.

Most people would agree that the state of Illinois must attempt to reduce its budget. However, attacking programs that support mental and physical health could be false economy.

If an individual remains medically untreated and ill they cannot be productive in the workforce. Additionally, chronic illness is very expensive for all taxpayers. While reductions in these programs may seem to be a  financial solution, it is not only inhumane, but not cost effective over time.

The Law Offices of Harold W. Conick & Associates, Ltd. is committed to assisting the disabled in pursuit of government benefits to which they are entitled.

Brain’s habit system may drive OCD; early treatment necessary

Those who suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder know just how much of a struggle it can be. Anything from constant hand washing to a continuous streaming of thoughts of death can overtake a person’s life, leaving them disabled. While disability benefits through the Social Security Administration can help when the impact of OCD gets dire, new research from the University of Cambridge underscores just how necessary early treatment is for these patients.

Dr. Claire Gillan and Professor Trevor Robbins said OCD should be thought of as less of a disorder caused by obsessions or faulty beliefs and more as a condition “brought about when the brain’s habit system runs amok.” Robbins and Gillan found that patients with OCD had a harder time stopping certain habits due to a brain’s increase in activity in the caudate nucleus. This is a region of the brain that helps control habits, something many of us end up taking for granted.

“It’s not just OCD; there are a range of human behaviors that are now considered examples of compulsivity, including drug and alcohol abuse and binge-eating,” Gillan said. “What all these behaviors have in common is the loss of top-down control, perhaps due to miscommunication between regions that control our habit and those such as the prefrontal cortex that normally help control volitional behaviors. As compulsive behaviors become more ingrained over time, our intentions play less and less of a role in what we actually do.”

If you notice early signs of OCD in yourself or a loved one, early treatment can be extremely helpful in coping with and perhaps even stopping these compulsions.

The Law Offices of Harold W. Conick & Associates, Ltd., have successfully represented numerous clients over the last three decades to obtain federal disability benefits based on their inability to work from symptoms associated with OCD.

OCD is a devastating mental disorder that robs an individual of the ability to focus on work related activities, among other limitations. We are experts in the presentation of evidence for OCD cases that will enable the SSA to approve disability benefits for our clients.

Risk of heart disease rises in those who suffer from asthma

Suffering from asthma can be extremely frightening. One moment, you may be breathing perfectly; minutes later, you’re left gasping for breath, wondering if you’re going to pass out. This affects more than 23 million Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control, and in certain instances can be debilitating enough to obtain disability benefits from the Social Security Administration.

Adding to the horrors of asthma which already exist are studies that have come from the 2014 American Heart Association‘s Scientific Sessions, which found those who suffer from asthma may also have an increased risk of heart attack.

Assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Cardiology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health, and one of the studies’ authors, Matthew C. Tattersall, found that patients with asthma are 60 percent more at risk for experiencing a heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular risks.

In another study, this time authored by Young J. Juhn, M.D.,  a professor of pediatrics and adolescent medicine at the Mayo Clinic, found patients who have asthma are 70 percent more likely to have a heart attack.

Both of these studies go to show that asthma sufferers must frequently visit with their doctor to ensure the illness does not get out of hand. SSA disability benefits are available for extreme cases, but having baseline visits with a doctor will help treatment in the long run.

While many people are affected by asthma symptoms, those that have asthma and cannot work must prove their case through medical evidence. Pulmonary tests and physician office notes are critical in convincing the SSA that the claimants asthma symptoms are severe enough to grant benefits. Children are also affected by the limitations caused by asthma and have the ability to bring a claim for SSA disability benefits.

The Law Offices of Harold W. Conick and Associates have successfully represented numerous clients who suffer from asthma in obtaining their Social Security disability benefits. Our firm has substantial expertise in obtaining benefits for asthmatics who cannot work.

Early treatment necessary to treat OCD in young children

Anxiety, stress, depression. These are not usually attributes that might be associated with a child but are very real in children with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Suffering may include loss of sleep, increased anxiety and even causing harm to themselves or others. Disability benefits from the Social Security Administration are available for children who suffer, but diagnosis and treatment should be every parent’s aim.

Janet Singer wrote on PsychCentral that while rituals are an important part of helping young children understand the world, children with OCD will only experience “a fleeting calm” once they complete their ritual. This means that over the days, months and years, children will likely develop even more rituals they feel they need to take on. Parents should take note of which rituals are soothing for children for more than a few minutes and pay attention to how long the child performs rituals on a daily basis.

Treatment is the best option for children suffering from OCD. Not only is a record of treatment necessary to attain disability benefits from the SSA, it will also help fight the disease. The New York Times reported that when properly treated, 60 percent to 85 percent of patients see significant improvement and will remain better for years.

“If you suspect, for any reason, that your child might be suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder, I’d suggest taking him or her to a doctor who can do a proper assessment,” Singer wrote on PsychCentral. “If your child doesn’t have OCD, you will have peace of mind, and if your child does have the disorder, he or she can benefit greatly from early therapy.”

Children affected by OCD require sustained medical treatment. Social Security benefits are available for these children. However, many children who suffer from this disorder will be denied benefits by the SSA.

To prevent denial of benefits, it is important for the parents to secure all relevant medical and school evidence in order to document the symptoms that affect their child’s daily activities and limitations.

The Law Offices of Harold W. Conick & Associates are expert and zealous advocates on behalf of children seeking disability benefits as a result of suffering from OCD and other mental illnesses.

Mental disability affecting more children

It’s one of the biggest fears of every parent: a child who is physically or mentally disabled. AAP News, a newsmagazine by The American Academy of Pediatrics, said while there are fewer children who are physically disabled, a higher rate are now diagnosed with mental illness.

The report, originally published in Pediatrics, found that the number of children under the age of 18 with a disability rose from 6.9 to 7.9 percent, or 4.99 million to 5.91 million, from 2001 to 2011. While the rate of children affected by physical ailments shrunk over that decade, the number of children with a mental disorder grew more than 20 percent.

Mental disability was found to know no bounds or social status, as even homes well above the poverty line experienced a vast increase in children affected.

Parents may have a hard time figuring out what to do when they find out their son or daughter has been diagnosed with autism, anxiety, depression or another mental disorder. However, not all hope is lost. While disability benefits from the Social Security Administration may not solve every problem, the additional money can help pay doctors bills and ensure your child is getting the best possible treatment for their disability.

While mental illness is on the rise among children, the proof necessary to convince the SSA that a child meets the their definition of disability is critical to obtaining benefits. Attaining physicians notes and reports, IEP reports, schools records and psychological testing are necessary to convince SSA judges of the merits of a child’s disability claim.

The Law Offices of Harold W. Conick and Associates are expert advocates in these cases and have successfully represented numerous children suffering from mental illness before SSA judges.