Monday, January 10, 2011

New Fragile X drug?

A lot of buzz in the Fragile X world about this post on ScienceDaily:
The first drug to treat the underlying disorder instead of the symptoms of Fragile X, the most common cause of inherited intellectual disability, shows some promise, according to a new study published in the January issue of Science Translational Medicine. Researchers from Rush University Medical Center helped design the study and are now participating in the larger follow-up clinical trial.
Before we all break out the Champagne, there's this to consider:
The research team, led by Sebastien Jacquemont of Vaudois University in Switzerland in collaboration with Baltazar Gomez-Mancilla of Novartis, found no significant effects of treatment when the entire group of 30 patients was analyzed.
However, in a subsequent analysis, seven patients who had a fully methylated gene, a gene that was fully shut down, presumably resulting in no FMR protein in the blood or brain, showed significant improvement in behavior, hyperactivity and inappropriate speech with the treatment compared to placebo.

"The treatment period in this pilot study was very short and longer treatment might have been needed to see improvement in the whole group of patients. Importantly, the drug was well-tolerated and there were no safety problems," said Berry-Kravis.

Quinn has the fully methylated gene, so this drug might be of particular benefit to him. We'll ask his doctor and his Fragile X specialist about it.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Excuse me while I whine just a little bit

I really have nothing to whine about. Some parents we know are at the hospital or the doctor's office All.The.Time. We are so lucky. Quinn is healthy, happy, and making great progress. But we are at the doctor's office more than most "regular" kids, and I am feeling a bit bummed about our last ordeal and some upcoming ones.

As readers of this blog know, Quinn has never, ever been a great sleeper. We have had some brief weeks of reprieve from frequent waking, and clonidine has certainly helped with falling asleep, but in general, Quinn's sleep is terrible.

So last night we took him to a sleep lab for an overnight evaluation. (Which, by the way, took approximately six months to get approved by insurance and scheduled...but that's another story.) The sleep lab people were as nice as they could be, but let's face it, taking your kid to the hospital always sucks. Quinn cried when they attached all the monitoring stuff to him (head electrodes covered by the weird little hat, plus monitors for his legs, heart, and breathing). I'm grateful for the opportunity to learn more about why his sleep is so disrupted, but sad that we have to do it in the first place.

We also need to schedule the following additional medical visits for him:
  • Dermatology appointment for the large birthmark on his face, which, because it is getting ever darker, concerns the pediatrician
  • Eye surgery to correct his strabismus
  • Probably a repeat of the ear tube surgery since apparently at least one tube has fallen out, and one ear is "gunky" again (we learned this at the audiologist visit a few weeks ago)
  • Possibly another visit to the MIND Institute if we decide to enroll Quinn in the minocycline trial
I'm sure we'll all feel better tomorrow after some rest. We'll just focus on holiday fun (that'll be the next post). Maybe another visit to Holiday Lane will cheer me up.

One of the houses on Holiday Lane this year.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Advocacy works again!

It's been awhile since I posted, but we just got great news this morning, and it's of the type I always try to publicize. About two weeks ago we received a flier noting that our son's preschool was being moved to a new cite as of January 3. This flier was not very informative about why or how this change would occur, and it did not give any specific information about the new site, other than the address. Then this week, we received a letter which provided slightly more information and invited us to attend a parent meeting at the new site so we could see it and ask questions.

The new site was woefully inadequate. I will not go into all the details here, but without significant building improvements - unlikely to be completed by January 3 - the site would not have provided a sound educational experience, at least for children in special education preschool.

Luckily, all of the parents in my son's class attended, and we asked many pointed questions. Our concern, distress, and frustration were clear. At the meeting, I asked if the move was a "done deal" and was told that it was. A fellow parent and I started preparing a formal letter to challenge this transition.

However, today we got a surprise from the administration - a letter stating that because of our input at the meeting, the children would be able to complete the school year in the current site! Great news for the current situation, and a reminder that advocacy works - at least sometimes.

Friday, August 27, 2010

August Update

Well, it's been quite awhile since we updated our blog. It's also been about two years since we learned that Quinn has Fragile X Syndrome. About a year ago I wrote this post, reflecting on how our first year after the diagnosis had gone. I guess the main difference between this year and last year in terms of our adaptation is that it's softened - more background than foreground.

There are moments when we are acutely aware of Quinn's special needs, but most of the time, we're just doing what most people do. We work, do chores, visit family, go to the zoo, wipe our kid's snotty nose, enjoy family meals, go on road trips, catch movies when we can, do laundry, and do all of the gazillion other activities that make up our lives while trying to remember how precious, awesome, and fleeting all of this is.

Quinn's doing amazingly well. He is already doing things I wasn't sure he'd ever do, especially in those dark days just after the diagnosis. He is talking more. He can name many shapes, including "hard" ones like ovals, rectangles, diamonds, and crescents. He can count from 1 to 10. He can follow simple directions. He can sort of put his shoes on, sometimes, like when the constellations are aligned, though even then usually they are on the wrong feet. He can drink from open cups or from straws. He doesn't use a pacifier anymore. He sleeps in a bed, sometimes, all the way through the night. He gives great hugs. He is still very, very happy. Contagiously so. In short, he is a wonderful little boy.

We continue to be lucky to be surrounded by supportive family, friends, neighbors, service providers, and other wonderful people that make this journey possible.

By the way, the great haircut in the pics was just done today, by a neighbor/daycare provider who's been watching Quinn this week while his usual nanny's been away. She did it just because she likes to cut kids' hair. He hasn't had a cut this good, well, ever. And apparently there were no tears. So much to be grateful for.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Why You Won't See Us at the Fragile X Conference

July 23, 2005

Chesterman Beach, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

This is where we spent our honeymoon...and where we will be on July 23. In the same hotel, in the same room we were in five years ago. I can't wait! Thanks to all the grandparents and Quinn's nanny for making it possible for us to take some time away from our little angel. We hope to make it to the conference in 2012!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

You Can Do It!

I said this to Quinn the other day, while asking him to take his own shoes off. After the phrase came out of my mouth, I realized that I rarely tell him, "You can do it," and I felt a little guilty and sad. I am pretty sure that if Quinn were typically developing, I would have started saying this at least once a day a long time ago.

I think Quinn will teach me a lot about how to empower a person with a disability as he develops. He already has many skills, and can do so many things. But I rarely encourage him to be as independent as he could be. Sometimes it's because we are in a hurry, though admittedly, it's probably less often that we are in a true rush, and more often that I am just impatient. I need to take the time, sometimes a very loooong time, to wait for him to do more things for himself.

Many of my friends with typically developing kids have already developed the patience to wait for their kids to dress themselves, feed themselves, get in and out of car seats themselves, etc. But often this is prompted by the kid who says (or screams), "I can do it!" Quinn does not yet do this very often. He is perfectly happy to be taken care of, so we have to take the initiative to encourage him to do more for himself.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Quinn & Elmo

For those of you not following Sarah on Facebook:
Sarah: hilarious to open my son's door this morning and see him dancing, naked, to the sounds of his singing Elmo doll

Zac: It was very funny. I was also impressed by his ability to get Talking Elmo to do the dance song over and over again: it's the first one in the sequence when you press the belly button. So Quinn would play the song, then turn Elmo off, then on (the switch isn't easy to operate, either), then press the belly button and get the song again. He was quite methodical about it.

Friday, April 30, 2010

NYT article on Fragile X drug from Novartis

From the April 29 2010 New York Times:
An experimental drug succeeded in a small clinical trial in bringing about what the researchers called substantial improvements in the behaviors associated with retardation and autism in people with fragile X syndrome, the most common inherited cause of these mental disabilities.


The Novartis trial, which began in 2008 in Europe with data analysis completed this year, was too brief to observe effects on basic intelligence. Instead, researchers measured a range of aberrant behaviors like hyperactivity, repetitive motions, social withdrawal and inappropriate speech. They gave one set of patients the drug and another a placebo, and after a few weeks switched treatments, with both doctors and patients unaware of which pill was which.

The results of the trial were something of a jumble until Novartis scientists noticed that patients who had a particular, undisclosed biological trait improved far more than others. “The bottom line is that we showed clear improvements in behavior,” Dr. Fishman said.

It's interesting because this trial was on adults. They suspect that the drug may benefit children more. We'll be keeping an eye on this.