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Horses, iPads help autistic kids talk

A new study has revealed that children with autism can improve their verbal communications skills with the help of horses and iPads.

Southern Tier Alternative Therapies, Inc. (STAT), together with Tina Caswell, a clinical faculty member in Ithaca College’s Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, has combined equine therapy and assistive technology through an exclusive program called Strides.

The Strides program puts children on horseback and gives each family iPads equipped with speech-generating applications.

Caswell and her team of Ithaca College graduate students provide intensive, highly customized training and ongoing support. The unique therapeutic approach has helped children reach significant breakthroughs in communication, both verbally and through effective use of the device.

Caswell said that it’s the first time the children have been on horseback, the first time many of them are using iPads with speech software, and more important, the first time they’ve had any kind of access to self-expression.

She said that parents also told her that it’s the first time they’ve been able to have a two-way conversation with their kids.

The researchers found that children are doing more than requesting food and toys and for the first time, they are telling narratives and sharing feelings.

Living near nuclear power plants not hazardous for kids

Children who live near nuclear power plants do not have a higher chance of developing leukaemia, a study has claimed.

For the study, experts sifted through data on 10,000 children diagnosed under five between 1962 and 2007, and where they lived, the BBC reported.

The information was taken from the National Registry of Childhood Tumours that keeps records on nearly all kids who have been diagnosed with cancer since 1962 and which is linked to birth records for kids born in Britain. The researchers also compared the information with data on more than 16,000 children suffering from different types of cancers.

The study found that there was no apparent higher risk of acquiring childhood leukaemia or non-Hodgkin lymphoma among children living near nuclear power plants.

Sleep apnea treatment can make you look better, too

A new study suggests that getting treatment for a common sleep problem may do more than help you sleep better – it may help you look better over the long term, too.
The findings from the University of Michigan Health System and Michigan Technological University, aren’t just about “looking sleepy” after a late night, or being bright-eyed after a good night’s rest.

It’s the first time researchers have shown specific improvement in facial appearance after at-home treatment for sleep apnea, a condition marked by snoring and breathing interruptions.

Sleep apnea affects millions of adults – most undiagnosed -- and puts them at higher risk for heart-related problems and daytime accidents.

Using a sensitive “face mapping” technique usually used by surgeons, and a panel of independent appearance raters, the researchers detected changes in 20 middle-aged apnea patients just a few months after they began using a system called CPAP to help them breathe better during sleep and overcome chronic sleepiness.

While the research needs to be confirmed by larger studies, the findings may eventually give apnea patients even more reason to stick with CPAP treatment – a challenge for some because they must wear a breathing mask in bed. CPAP is known to stop snoring, improve daytime alertness and reduce blood pressure.

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