Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Autism, part 3, Does your child have it?





Who Is At Risk?

Studies measuring autism spectrum disorder (ASD) prevalence—the number of children affected by ASD over a given time period—have reported varying results, depending on when and where the studies were conducted and how the studies defined ASD.
A survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of health and school records of 8-year-olds in 11 communities throughout the country found that in 2010, the rate of ASD was higher than in past U.S. studies, around 1 in 68 children. Boys face about four to five times higher risk than girls.

Experts disagree about whether this shows a true increase in ASD prevalence. Since the earlier studies were completed, guidelines for diagnosis have changed. Also, many more parents and doctors now know about ASD, so parents are more likely to take their children to be diagnosed, and more doctors are able to properly diagnose ASD. These and other changes may help explain some differences in prevalence numbers. Even so, the CDC report confirms other recent studies showing that more children are being diagnosed with ASD than ever before. For more information, please visit the autism section of the CDC website .


Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnosis is often a two-stage process. The first stage involves general developmental screening during well-child checkups with a pediatrician or an early childhood health care provider. Children who show some developmental problems are referred for additional evaluation. The second stage involves a thorough evaluation by a team of doctors and other health professionals with a wide range of specialties. At this stage, a child may be diagnosed as having ASD or another developmental disorder.

Children with ASD can usually be reliably diagnosed by age 2, though research suggests that some screening tests can be helpful at 18 months or even younger. Many people—including pediatricians, family doctors, teachers, and parents—may minimize signs of ASD at first, believing that children will "catch up" with their peers. While you may be concerned about labeling your young child with ASD, the earlier the disorder is diagnosed, the sooner specific interventions may begin. Early intervention can reduce or prevent the more severe disabilities associated with ASD. Early intervention may also improve your child's IQ, language, and everyday functional skills, also called adaptive behavior.

A well-child checkup should include a developmental screening test, with specific ASD screening at 18 and 24 months as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Screening for ASD is not the same as diagnosing ASD. Screening instruments are used as a first step to tell the doctor whether a child needs more testing. If your child's pediatrician does not routinely screen your child for ASD, ask that it be done.
For parents, your own experiences and concerns about your child's development will be very important in the screening process. Keep your own notes about your child's development and look through family videos, photos, and baby albums to help you remember when you first noticed each behavior and when your child reached certain developmental milestones.

Types of ASD screening instruments

Sometimes the doctor will ask parents questions about the child's symptoms to screen for ASD. Other screening instruments combine information from parents with the doctor's own observations of the child. Examples of screening instruments for toddlers and preschoolers include:

  • Checklist of Autism in Toddlers (CHAT)
  • Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT)
  • Screening Tool for Autism in Two-Year-Olds (STAT)
  • Social Communication Questionnaire (SCQ)
  • Communication and Symbolic Behavior Scales (CSBS).
  • To screen for mild ASD in older children, the doctor may rely on different screening instruments, such as:

Autism Spectrum Screening Questionnaire (ASSQ)
  • Australian Scale for Asperger's Syndrome (ASAS)
  • Childhood Asperger Syndrome Test (CAST).
    Some helpful resources on ASD screening include the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's General Developmental Screening tools and ASD Specific Screening tools on their wwebsite.
  • Comprehensive diagnostic evaluation
    The second stage of diagnosis must be thorough in order to find whether other conditions may be causing your child's symptoms.
  • A team that includes a psychologist, a neurologist, a psychiatrist, a speech therapist, or other professionals experienced in diagnosing ASD may do this evaluation. The evaluation may assess the child's cognitive level (thinking skills), language level, and adaptive behavior (age-appropriate skills needed to complete daily activities independently, for example eating, dressing, and toileting).

Because ASD is a complex disorder that sometimes occurs along with other illnesses or learning disorders, the comprehensive evaluation may include brain imaging and gene tests, along with in-depth memory, problem-solving, and language testing. Children with any delayed development should also get a hearing test as part of the comprehensive evaluation.

Although children can lose their hearing along with developing ASD, common ASD symptoms (such as not turning to face a person calling their name) can also make it seem that children cannot hear when in fact they can. If a child is not responding to speech, especially to his or her name, it's important for the doctor to test whether a child has hearing loss.

The evaluation process is a good time for parents and caregivers to ask questions and get advice from the whole evaluation team. The outcome of the evaluation will help plan for treatment and interventions to help your child. Be sure to ask who you can contact with follow-up questions.
From National Institute of Mental Health, United States of America, no copyright needed.
Do you live in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana or southern Ontario, then you may be interested in our upcoming seminar, in Plymouth, Michigan at Solid Rock Bible Church. For more details:

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Heartfelt Counseling Ministries; Our goal is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

Created July 23, 2014
Robyn Leeser Bloem

Monday, July 21, 2014

New Help with Depression, Vitamins and Antioxidants, Part 2



"Whole" Diet: Make Room for Red Meat?

A so-called "whole" diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and high-quality meats and fish results in a 30% risk reduction for depression and anxiety disorders, compared with consumption of a "Western diet" high in processed foods and saturated fats, according to a 2010 study. Even unprocessed red meat seems to be protective against depressive and anxiety disorders, in contrast to many studies in which red meat often falls into the category of "unhealthy" food. In speaking with Medscape News, principal investigator Dr. Felice Jacka specifically addressed the importance of farming practices: Despite the growing locavore movement, much of the livestock in the United States is still raised on industrial feedlots, which "...increases saturated fat and decreases very important good fatty acids...pasture-raised animals have a much healthier fatty acid profile." A "whole" dietary pattern may also reduce depression risk, as assessed at 5-year follow-up.

Alcohol: Always in Moderation

The Greeks touted "nothing in excess," a refrain that still rings true: Low to moderate* alcohol consumption has been associated with numerous potential physiologic benefits, including improved cholesterol profiles, beneficial effects on platelet and clotting function, and improved insulin sensitivity.According to a recent meta-analysis, limited alcohol use is associated with a lower risk for overall and Alzheimer dementia, a finding supported by a 2011 study of German primary care patients. Moderate alcohol intake may also protect against cerebrovascular disease, with wine potentially having added benefit because of its polyphenolic antioxidant components (ie, resveratrol).However, the health costs of alcohol consumption beyond low to moderate intake can quickly outweigh benefits to the brain, as heavy and long-term alcohol use can lead to alcohol abuse and dependence, impair memory function, contribute to neurodegenerative disease, and hinder psychosocial functioning.

The US Food and Drug Administration defines "moderate alcohol consumption" as up to 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men. One drink is equivalent to 12 fluid ounces of regular beer, 5 fluid ounces of 12% alcohol wine, or 1.5 fluid ounces of distilled spirits. Brewed Awakening: Coffee for Depression and Stroke The world's most widely used stimulant might do more than just wake us up: A 2011 meta-analysis[ found that consumption of 1-6 cups of coffee a day cut stroke risk by 17%. Although it may increase blood pressure, coffee beans contain antioxidant compounds that may reduce oxidation of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and coffee consumption has also been associated with increased insulin sensitivity and reduced concentrations of inflammatory markers.[Another 2011 study reported that women who drink 2-3 cups of coffee per day have a 15% decreased risk for depression, compared with those who drink less than 1 cup per week. A 20% decreased risk was seen in those who drank 4 cups or more. The short-term effect of coffee on mood may be due to altered serotonin and dopamine activity, whereas the mechanisms behind its potential long-term effects on mood may relate to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, both factors that are thought to play a role in depressive illnesses.

Chocolate -- and Still More Antioxidants Chocolate

-- the darker the better -- seems to help scavenge free radicals and improve endothelial and platelet function, likely via flavanols (such as catechin), a group of plant-derived polyphenols. A 2010 cohort study published in European Heart Journal found that consumption of 6 g of chocolate daily -- a standard Hershey bar weighs 43 g -- was associated with a 39% lower combined risk for myocardial infarction and stroke in adults, whereas data collected from the Swedish Mammography Cohort demonstrated a 20% decreased risk for stroke in women who regularly consume chocolate.Although chocolate has been associated with a positive influence on mood, possibly mediated by the dopamine and opioid systems, an extensive review by Parker and colleagues[suggests that the benefits are not sustained, with emotional "comfort" eating actually contributing to depressed mood.

What Not to Eat?

Saturated fats and refined carbohydrates have highly detrimental effects on the immune system, oxidative stress, and neurotrophins, all factors that are known to play a role in depression. The study by Akbaraly and colleagues cited previously[showed that a diet rich in high-fat dairy foods and fried, refined, and sugary foods significantly increases risk for depression. Similar findings were seen in another study from Spain,[ showing that intake of such foods as pizza and hamburgers increased the risk for depression over time, and in another study, women with a diet higher in processed foods were more likely to have clinical major depression or dysthymia.Research published last year also showed for the first time that quality of adolescents' diets was linked to mental health:

Please visit my first blog on this subject;

Friday, July 18, 2014

New Help with Depression, Vitamins and Antioxidants, Part 1

This is a re post from 2012
Copyrights, All Rights Reserved

I have been thinking a lot about nutrition and mental illness. My psychiatrist told me about about three years ago that researchers are trying to "think outside the box" when it comes to nutrition in the fight against mental illness. For many years I have had to increase one of the four medications that I am on every six months. I have contacted numerous mental health professionals and have learned some things why this increase is needed;for example the reason some antidepressants stop working is that a person has been given a diagnosis of major depression recurrent and being treated for major depression and they really have bipolar disorder. They therefore need to add a mood stabilizer to their "medication cocktail." In 2001, I did that and have never had a severe depressive episode, since that change. My depression has only been at moderate level and has been alleviated by the raised dosage, every six months.

Supplements I tried Omega 3 Fatty Acids and saw some clear benefits. Apparently it helps with achieve neuroplascity with neurons in the brain. Another exciting thing is that I have not gone up in any of my medications in the last year and a couple of months. I attribute this to increasing antioxidants through food and through a regimen of vitamins. These working as a supplement have helped me considerably.

A recent article in Medscape sheds a much needed light on the subject.

Which Foods Are Best for the Brain? Diet is inextricably linked to conditions such as heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. However, what we consume also seems to have significant implications for the brain: Unhealthy diets may increase risk for psychiatric and neurological conditions, such as depression and dementia, whereas healthy diets may be protective. Based primarily on recent Medscape News coverage, the following slide show collects some of the more prominent investigations on nutrition and the brain into a single resource to aid in counseling your patients.

Make for Malta in Depression, Stroke, and Dementia

A 2009 study published in Archives of General Psychiatry found that people who follow Mediterranean dietary patterns -- that is, a diet high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fish, and unsaturated fat (common in olive and other plant oils) -- are up to 30% less likely to develop depression than those who typically consume meatier, dairy-heavy fare. The olive oil-inclined also show a lower risk for ischemic stroke and are less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer disease, particularly when they engage in higher levels of physical activity. Fat: The Good and the Bad A study conducted in Spain reported that consumption of both polyunsaturated fatty acids (found in nuts, seeds, fish, and leafy green vegetables) and monounsaturated fatty acids (found in olive oil, avocados, and nuts) decreases the risk for depression over time. However, there were clear dose-response relationships between dietary intake of trans fats and depression risk, whereas other data support an association between trans fats and ischemic stroke risk.[ Trans fats are found extensively in processed foods, including many commercial chocolates (hence, check that label when considering the chocolate slide below). A deficiency in polyunsaturated fatty acids has been linked to attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder in children.

Fish Oil to Fend Off Psychosis

Thanks to their high levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids, namely omega-3 fatty acids, fish can help fend off numerous diseases of the brain. A 2010 study correlated fish consumption with a lower risk for psychotic symptoms, and concurrent work suggested that fish oil may help prevent psychosis in high-risk individuals.Although data are conflicting, new research shows that the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid are beneficial in depression and postpartum depression, respectively, and other research suggests that omega-3 deficiency may be a risk factor for suicide. Oily, cold-water fish, such as salmon, herring, and mackerel, have the highest omega-3 levels.

Berries for Oxidative Stress

Poly phenols, namely anthocyanins, found in berries and other darkly pigmented fruits and vegetables may slow cognitive decline through antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. A study in rats from 2010 showed that a diet high in strawberry, blueberry, or blackberry extract leads to a "reversal of age-related deficits in nerve function and behavior involving learning and memory." In vitro work by the same group found that strawberry, blueberry, and acai berry extracts -- albeit in very high concentrations -- can induce autophagy, a means by which cells clear debris, such as proteins linked to mental decline and memory loss. Berry anthocyanins may also reduce cardiovascular disease risk by reducing oxidative stress and attenuating inflammatory gene expression

You do not have to go it alone if you are a loved one is suffering from mental illness. We provide a safe environment for you. We  Study the CAMI support group material, we get real with one another and we have been there ourselves. We get it!  We don’t blame or shame the victims and we consider it a privilege to be called to this ministry. Come join us every Thursday night from 7:00 - 8:15, every Thursday night at Boca Glades Baptist Church, 10101 Judge Winikoff Road,Boca Raton, Florida, 333428. If you have questions call our office at 561-909-9109.
CAMI is a ministry of Heartfelt Counseling. The groups are led by Steve and Robyn Bloem. They are the co-founders of Heartfelt Counseling Ministries and published authors and are available for seminars and speaking engagements.

Please se my part 1 of this blog by going to http://sbloemreflections.blogspot.com/2014/07/new-help-with-depression-vitamins-and.html


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

seminar, plymouth, mi

Our Seminar
Event: Whispers in the foyer... an Honest Look at the Christian and Mental Illness.
Date: Saturday October 18, 2014.
Solid Rock Bible Church
670 Church St,
Plymouth Township, MI 48170

Time: Registration 9:30 am
Seminar:10:00 am-4:00 pm
One hour lunch 12:00- 1:00 p.m. Go to area restaurants.
Free snacks and coffee.
Cost: $60.00 per person.This includes seminar notes and one copy of
 Broken Minds, Hope for Healing When You Feel Like You're Losing It.
Couples Rate: $90.00 which includes one book and two sets of notes.
Group/Student rates are also available.

If you wish to pay by credit card, please go to our website. This link will take you to our "events" page. If you scroll down you will see the donation button.  Read the material and then click the donate now button.  Put the cost that you owe in the cost amount. That of course will be determined by how many people you are paying for. For example; Single person, $60.00; married couple, $90.00. Fill out the information as you are prompted.

All others can pay by check or money order. In this case please go to our contact us link
and type in your name, address, phone number and the number of registrants.
Send a check to Heartfelt Counseling Ministries for all those you would like to register.
Heartfelt Counseling Ministries
4371 Northlake Blvd. Suite 256
Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410.
To contact us by phone, please call 561.909.9109.
We hope to see you soon

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Persecution of Christians in Iraq and it is spreading.




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ISIS terrorists in Iraq are decimating Christians and destroying Christian landmarks.
Now these worse-than-al Qaeda jihadists reportedly have control of chemical weapons. If they are crucifying Christians in Syria, imagine what they would do to Christian towns with chemical weapons in Iraq.
In Nigeria, the radical terrorist group Boko Haram daily massacres Christians as they worship.
Never have we witnessed such violent persecution of Christians, even in this treacherous area of the world.
Christians are fleeing for their lives. Some estimate that there may be fewer than 50,000 Christians in Iraq in the next ten years if nothing changes.
Christians are being slaughtered. America, the land built on religious freedom, must take a stand. We cannot continue funding governments that perpetuate persecution.
We're fighting from offices in Africa and the Middle East to defend Christians.
Fight with us.
Jay Sekulow
ACLJ Chief Counsel

I appreciate Jay's passion to keep us current regarding the persecution that is going on all over the world.  A Christian does not to fear the unfolding of God's plan for the ages.I don't hear nearly the amount of sermons on the subject of things to come. In my day, the late seventies no one would have thought that Israel would be condemned by the world.  But this is coming about and will come about and will serve as a need for them to depend on the Anti-Christ for safety from the world. If you are interested in some books on dispensational prophecies, let me know by response to this blog or by going to our web site's, contact us form. http://www.heartfeltmin.org/#!contact/cito

From Steve Bloem- My ordination, doctrinal statement, 1984.

Eschatology - I believe the following about things to come:

A. The focal point of things to come- the God/Man, Christ Jesus.

  1. The importance of the study of the study of Eschatology.  I believe
      in our study of Eschatology, the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ,
      must be kept central in our  thinking.  If it is not, this teaching will
      become something that give us carnal excitement but not an
     incentive for holy living  II Peter 1:1-14) .

 2. The order of future events
    a. Rapture

    b. Post rapture-Pre-revelation Events
        (1)The Judgement Seat of Christ
        (2) The Marriage Supper of the Lamb
        (3) The Great Tribulation
c. The Revelation of Jesus Christ
         (1) The Deliverance of Israel
         (2  The Binding of Satan
         (3 The Judgement of the Gentile Nations
         (4) The Resurrection of the Old Testament Saints
 d. The Millennium

 e. Unsuccessful Satanic Rebellion

 f The Great White Throne Judgement
 g. The eternal state
        (1) The passing away of first heaven and earth
        (2) The making of the new heaven and new earth
        (3) The New Jerusalem coming down  of heaven.

B. Everyone one of these events will come about just as so many prophecies did when God became a man, and became a sin offering, judged by the Father for our sins and then raised from the dead.  He is now sitting on His Father's throne at His right hand and will someday reign as King on the throne of David from Jerusalem.

Are you aware of a book that Robyn and me has written? It is called Broken Minds, Hope for Healing When You Feel Like You're Losing It, Kregel Publications



Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Autism, Part 2

Social impairment Continued from Autism Part 1
Likewise, it can be hard for others to understand the body language of children with ASD. Their facial expressions, movements, and gestures are often vague or do not match what they are saying. Their tone of voice may not reflect their actual feelings either. Many older children with ASD speak with an unusual tone of voice and may sound sing-song or flat and robot like.

Children with ASD also may have trouble understanding another person's point of view.For example, by school age, most children understand that other people have different information, feelings, and goals than they have. Children with ASD may lack this understanding, leaving them unable to predict or understand other people's actions.

Communication issues
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics' developmental milestones, by the first birthday, typical toddlers can say one or two words, turn when they hear their name, and point when they want a toy. When offered something they do not want, toddlers make it clear with words, gestures, or facial expressions that the answer is "no."

For children with ASD, reaching such milestones may not be so straightforward. For example, some children with autism may:
  • Fail or be slow to respond to their name or other verbal attempts to gain their attention
  • Fail or be slow to develop gestures, such as pointing and showing things to others
  • Coo and babble in the first year of life, but then stop doing so
  • Develop language at a delayed pace
  • Learn to communicate using pictures or their own sign language
  • Speak only in single words or repeat certain phrases over and over, seeming unable to combine words into meaningful sentences
  • Repeat words or phrases that they hear, a condition called echolalia
  • Use words that seem odd, out of place, or have a special meaning known only to those familiar with the child's way of communicating.

    Even children with ASD who have relatively good language skills often have difficulties with the back and forth of conversations. For example, because they find it difficult to understand and react to social cues, some highly verbal children with ASD often talk at length about a favorite subject, but they won't allow anyone else a chance to respond or notice when others react indifferently.
Children with ASD who have not yet developed meaningful gestures or language may simply scream or grab or otherwise act out until they are taught better ways to express their needs. As these children grow up, they can become aware of their difficulty in understanding others and in being understood. This awareness may cause them to become anxious or depressed.

Repetitive and stereotyped behaviors
Children with ASD often have repetitive motions or unusual behaviors. These behaviors may be extreme and very noticeable, or they can be mild and discreet. For example, some children may repeatedly flap their arms or walk in specific patterns, while others may subtly move their fingers by their eyes in what looks to be a gesture. These repetitive actions are sometimes called "stereotypy" or "stereotyped behaviors.

Children with ASD also tend to have overly focused interests. Children with ASD may become fascinated with moving objects or parts of objects, like the wheels on a moving car. They might spend a long time lining up toys in a certain way, rather than playing with them. They may also become very upset if someone accidentally moves one of the toys. Repetitive behavior can also take the form of a persistent, intense preoccupation. For example, they might be obsessed with learning all about vacuum cleaners, train schedules, or lighthouses. Children with ASD often have great interest in numbers, symbols, or science topics.

While children with ASD often do best with routine in their daily activities and surroundings, inflexibility may often be extreme and cause serious difficulties. They may insist on eating the same exact meals every day or taking the same exact route to school. A slight change in a specific routine can be extremely upsetting. Some children may even have emotional outbursts, especially when feeling angry or frustrated or when placed in a new or stimulating environment.
No two children express exactly the same types and severity of symptoms. In fact, many typically developing children occasionally display some of the behaviors common to children with ASD. However, if you notice your child has several ASD-related symptoms, have your child screened and evaluated by a health professional experienced with ASD.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

A Personal Look at grief, The elephant in the room.

Robyn Bloem, copyright , 2014, all rights reserved
I didn’t know if the horrible, raw, bleeding pain of losing Lindsay and Emily would ever subside. I remember one day, very soon after their deaths, I accepted an invitation to go to lunch with two women from my church who had very good intentions.  They reached out to me in my misery and for some reason I accepted.  Actually, I know now why I did things like this; it was because when I was first hit with this tragedy I did all the things I had to do for my family because it was my duty to keep taking care of them and besides now they were all suffering too, but the other thing was I thought this would be my life from then on. If I was going to live and function, I would have to learn how to do it with a broken heart and a very heavy gait. I didn't realize at the time, the rawness would lift somewhat.

Pretty blue dishes
One of the things I tried to do was use a set of dishes Lindsay and I found one day when we were shopping together. There were enough to make up two sets, so she and I divided them. I remember she told me to take the eight dessert plates because "we will come to your house for dessert!" So as I looked with pain at my half of the dishes, I wanted to avoid them, but then I thought if I didn’t use them now, how could I ever use them and I also wanted to do it for her husband, Bill.  He had moved in with us and  I wanted him to be able to use the dishes when he went back home and not have that awful depressing impact when he looked at them. I don’t think the rest of my family even thought about those dishes or noticed…but I knew.  So, we used them-every night.
Grieving the right way
I was very concerned about “grieving correctly.” I had heard mumblings among the bereaved that there was something called "complicated grief" and a person could become its victim if she didn't do this thing "correctly."  I remember speculating that I had to think about Lindsay and I had to meet things head-on or I would somehow make everything worse.  I even feared that when I tried to think of other things and not feel the total agony of loss that maybe I would have something come around and bite me in the future.  I asked people if it was okay to try and think of other things or was that suppressing grief?
Talking about Lindsay was the proverbial elephant in the room.

Anyway, back to the lunch that day.  I sat there with these two merciful women who tried very hard to take me out and away for a couple of hours.  They chatted about meaningless and trivial topics trying to engage me. I was being slowly choked by it all. I responded and interacted with them the best I could but it was the proverbial elephant in the room.  I had just spent the day before with the monument company and we had been making decisions about the cemetery marker.  I remember looking out the window of the restaurant and wishing I had my own car.  I wanted to run out of the restaurant and get behind my own closed door at home… safely and quietly tucked away from everyone else.  Instead, I reached in my purse and took out the proof from the artist at the monument company.  I showed them what Lindsay and Emily’s stone would look like...monument, stone, marker; it all sounded so sanitized---it was her grave stone and what she was doing with one of those was a real mystery to me!  But anyway, when I opened up the conversation a little bit by showing them what I had in my purse, it at least afforded me a little time to talk about the only thing on my mind…our dead daughter and granddaughter. 
A learning experience

When I finally arrived home after that near-eternity experience in the restaurant, I realized a couple of things.  Number one- I determined never again to ride with someone else. I had to give myself an “out” by driving alone.  The other thing I realized  is that when I was home and as crazy as we all were acting, it was as if we all had the same disease.  Even if the symptoms were manifesting themselves  a little differently from time to time, we had all been there.  If someone wanted to stare blankly at the TV or go to his room or eat something or sleep on the couch completely sprawled out so that no one else had a place to sit…it was all okay.  We all knew the feeling. 

Sometimes the males in the house hand angry eruptions.

There were sometimes angry eruptions among all the males.  Grief is a different animal for males and females; I stood and cried in the kitchen or the bathroom or in the laundry room.  The guys were all very angry (and I was living with five of them; Steve, Sr., Bill and our own three boys). So, even though we were all crazy with grief, we all recognized the syndrome and we all understood. I did try not to break down in front of the boys, although they might find that hard to believe since I seem to cry so much now, but at the time I was trying to hold it together when they were home.

I was hugging a toy clown.

I can remember one time I was in my bedroom hugging a toy clown that was Lindsay’s and one of the boys walked in and caught me sobbing into its silky body. The look on his face made me feel terrible. I got caught in the act of heavy grieving-shamelessly rocking and crying. He left abruptly and I felt even more traumatized for having traumatized him. So I guess you could say, I had grief about the way that I was grieving. There was no manual on grief for us to follow. After the initial first couple of months, Steve would see me crying and say, "Well, the bible says, 'If any man is sad, let him pray.' " So we got accustomed to praying wherever we were; in the hallway, sitting on the stairs, in the bedroom, in the car and certainly at the cemetery. We were learning and growing by persevering and prayer. And I can say now, that grief still strikes deeply in our hearts here and there, but not to the degree and magnitude of those early almost bloody and painful days. God has been good and He showed Himself to us in the dark.

 And if you want to take me to lunch this week, I'm available, minus the elephant!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Autism Spectrum Disorder Part 1

 Photo of a child with autism

What Is Autism Spectrum Disorder?
From NIMH, no copyright

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is characterized by:

  • Persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction across multiple contexts;
  • Restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities;
  • Symptoms must be present in the early developmental period (typically recognized in the first two years of life); and,
  • Symptoms cause clinically significant impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of current functioning.

Spectrum refers to wide range of symptoms, skills etc.

The term “spectrum” refers to the wide range of symptoms, skills, and levels of impairment or disability that children with ASD can have. Some children are mildly impaired by their symptoms, while others are severely disabled. The latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) no longer includes Asperger’s syndrome; the characteristics of Asperger’s syndrome are included within the broader category of ASD.


Scientists don't know the exact causes of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), but research suggests that both genes and environment play important roles.

Genetic factors
In identical twins who share the exact same genetic code, if one has ASD, the other twin also has ASD in nearly 9 out of 10 cases. If one sibling has ASD, the other siblings have 35 times the normal risk of also developing the disorder. Researchers are starting to identify particular genes that may increase the risk for ASD.
Still, scientists have only had some success in finding exactly which genes are involved. For more information about such cases, see the information below about Fragile X syndrome and tuberous sclerosis.

Most people who develop ASD have no reported family history of autism, suggesting that random, rare, and possibly many gene mutations are likely to affect a person's risk. Any change to normal genetic information is called a mutation. Mutations can be inherited, but some arise for no reason. Mutations can be helpful, harmful, or have no effect.
Having increased genetic risk does not mean a child will definitely develop ASD. Many researchers are focusing on how various genes interact with each other and environmental factors to better understand how they increase the risk of this disorder.

Environmental factors
In medicine, "environment" refers to anything outside of the body that can affect health. This includes the air we breathe, the water we drink and bathe in, the food we eat, the medicines we take, and many other things that our bodies may come in contact with. Environment also includes our surroundings in the womb, when our mother's health directly affects our growth and earliest development.
Researchers are studying many environmental factors such as family medical conditions, parental age and other demographic factors, exposure to toxins, and complications during birth or pregnancy.

As with genes, it's likely that more than one environmental factor is involved in increasing risk for ASD. And, like genes, any one of these risk factors raises the risk by only a small amount. Most people who have been exposed to environmental risk factors do not develop ASD. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences is also
conducting research in this area. More information is available on their web site http://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/conditions/autism/index.cfm

Scientists are studying how certain environmental factors may affect certain genes—turning them on or off, or increasing or decreasing their normal activity. This process is called epigenetics and is providing researchers with many new ways to study how disorders like ASD develop and possibly change over time.

Early Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) vary from one child to the next, but in general, they fall into two areas:
  • Social impairment, including difficulties with social communication
  • Repetitive and stereotyped behaviors.
Children with ASD do not follow typical patterns when developing social and communication skills. Parents are usually the first to notice unusual behaviors in their child. Often, certain behaviors become more noticeable when comparing children of the same age.
In some cases, babies with ASD may seem different very early in their development. Even before their first birthday, some babies become overly focused on certain objects, rarely make eye contact, and fail to engage in typical back-and-forth play and babbling with their parents. Other children may develop normally until the second or even third year of life, but then start to lose interest in others and become silent, withdrawn, or indifferent to social signals. Loss or reversal of normal development is called regression and occurs in some children with ASD.

Information on ASD can also be found on the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and  http://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/autism/Pages/default.aspx and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/index.html

Scholarly disorders
Brain structural abnormalities in young children with autism spectrum disorder

Heartfelt Counseling Ministries has a weekly support group for Christians and Mental Illness. It  happens every Thursday night at  Boca Glades Baptist Church and goes from 7:00 p.m.- 8:15 p.m. It is led by Rev. Steve Bloem.  A study guide is available  The address is 10101 Judge Winikoff Rd.Boca Raton, FL 33428.  It is in the Education building. Please call or just come. Our phone number is 561.909.9109

For reviews on our book, Broken Minds Hope for Healing When You Feel Like You're Losing It, go to http://www.amazon.com/Broken-Minds-Healing-Youre-Losing/dp/0825421187

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Cami Philosophy and Purpose, Copyright 2006, Heartfelt Counseling Ministries,


What is CAMI?
The concepts and the materials of CAMI (Christians Afflicted with Mental Ilness) are copyrighted. They cannot be duplicated or enlarged.  We know there is a prevalence among some believers to say, "This is the Lord's work and I see no problem in taking it as my own." We strongly disagree!
The name stands for Christians Afflicted with Mental Illness. CAMI is an organization of Heartfelt Counseling Ministries, which conducts seminars, provides counseling and advocates for the evangelical, biblical and clinical treatment of persons suffering from mental illness. Mental Illness is a disease that begs for community and it is often more subtle and much more prevalent than we imagine. We offer a safe environment, a listening ear, practical help for treatment and the hope of Christ.

There should be no shame or embarrassment; these illnesses are the result of faulty brain chemistry and those who suffer with them are not weak or unspiritual. Please contact us; be encouraged and helped because we care about you!
Purpose Statement -CAMI exists to strengthen those who are spiritually, psychologically and physically impacted by mental illness. We seek to help create a sense of cohesion and community among those who are truly born again and are affected by depression,bi-polar, schizophrenia, panic and other disorders of mind and mood

1. Secular alliances of mentally ill people, though they do some good,
    cannot meet the spiritual needs of Christians who have mental illness
    nor minister to their caregivers.

2. CAMI provides a visible,tangible fellowship in local
    settings; and also makes interaction possible in real time in the
    global village in which we live.

3. CAMI is a branch of a larger nonprofit ministry, Heartfelt Ministries
    and because of this, CAMI will be strengthened in fulfilling its mission.

4. CAMI provides substantial help and support in training others
    to start and conduct CAMI mental illness support groups.

5. CAMI will help mentally ill Christians who are often misunderstood, 
   stand tall for Christ and work together in stomping out the stigma that
    surrounds  these illnesses.

6. CAMI will be composed of a significant number of Christians who have
    mental illness and/or the caregivers of those who are mentally ill.
   They will be involved in putting into practice the relational  "one another"
    commands which are found in Scripture.

7. CAMI will be embraced by local evangelical churches in both a national and
    international setting.

 8. CAMI Leaders will train and act as support persons for those who
    start/lead,CAMI, mental illness support groups.

9. CAMI offers regional speaking engagements and annual
     conferences including workshops.

10. CAMI will have its own website which will eventually include 

      the online capacity forinteraction among it members.
11. CAMI will train pastors and lay leaders to start and carry

     out ministries which  include ministering effectively to the
     mentally ill population in their churches.

Robyn and Steve with CAMI- "No Shame " Bracelets, copyright 2014, all rights reserved. Buying these will help support Heartfelt Counseling Ministries. It is also a visible demonstration of solidarity by those Christians who are not ashamed or embarrassed of their own mental illness and are willing to declare that mental illness is not a disgrace but is a disease. The cost is $ 1.50 each. if ...we ship to the U.S.) $1.00 if you are local. Ask us about for international shipping.
The CAMI concept may sound funny to those not affected by mental illness , but for those of us who are, it is a way of speaking for the hurting and supporting our brothers and sisters. We want to see these teal bracelets everywhere. Isn't about time that you get out of your comfort zone ( or your closet) and tell people that you believe?
Please go our web site, contact us form and tell us how many you would like. Our address is Heartfelt Counseling Ministries, 4371 Northlake Blvd. Suite 256 , Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410. http://www.heartfeltmin.org/#!contact/cito