Question?: Autistic Disorder

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David asks…

Autism reported to get worse with a patient?

I have been talking to care staff that work with an autistic man, who is siad to be getting worse autistically.

The mans mother claims that in the past, he was able to ride a bike, go out for walks, run, play and so on when he was a child.

However, his mother claims that it is because he is on medication today and that this is why his behaviour has got worse with time.
She would like him to come off medication.

His dose of medication has been reduced, but not much of a behaviour difference has been observed by the staff.

As I understand it, AS and Autistic disorder remains unchanged in its magniture through out life. But there are variables that can make its effects more or less noticable, such as adolescence and becoming an adult.

In many cases, as such people grow to become adults, I hear reports of a decline in such behaviour.

Can this condition become more or less severe in terms of brain structural damage?
If so, why?

admin answers:

Autism is not caused as a result of brain damage. Scientists are still trying to make a determination of cause, but they think it is probably a genetic predisposition triggered by environmental factors. There are degrees of severity. Many people on the autism spectrum are not mentally retarded. However deficits in communication and social skills make it seem as if they are developmentally challenged.

In my career as a special education teacher, I have observed that puberty DOES present behavior challenges to people on the autism spectrum. But then again, been around any typical kids going through puberty lately? *grin* Puberty can adversely effect the best of us. The issue is just compounded when the person has severe expressive and receptive communication problems.

Some questions you may want to ask are:
Does this person have preferred activities (puzzles, movies, lining up books, etc.)? If so, are these activities built into his daily schedule? Does he have a visual schedule over which he has some control (during a free time activity period, can he choose from 2 or 3 different things)? During his day, does he participate in meaningful age appropriate activities (helping pick up trays, sweeping the floor, straightening books or magazines, etc.)? A visual prompt system may be necessary for his participation in meaningful activities, such as a sequence of pictures showing scattered magazines, then hands picking up those magazines, then a neat stack of magazines.

Basically, any person, no matter their disability level, needs to have scheduled periods of useful activities interspersed with fun activities throughout their day. The challenge is two-fold: finding something useful they can do successfully, and discovering what it is that they consider ‘fun’.

Thanks for being concerned and willing to help a fellow human being. Good luck and best wishes!

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