Tag Archives: Autism Asperger

Question?: Rett Syndrome In Boys

Donald asks…

Survey: How aware are you?

today is autism awareness day and all of april is autism awareness month i want to see how aware people actually are by asking afew questions
answer with what you honestly know if you want to look up the answers after you answer yours feel free to but not till you answer first

Question 1. what is meant by “autism spectrum” disorders?
2. What are sensory issues?
3 true or false if someone is not diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder by age 12 that means they dont have one.
4. true or false autism is very rare in girls
5.true or false autism spectrum disorders are obvious and you can tell right away if someone has autism
6. what is asperger’s syndrome?

bonus question: can you read this article then tell me your reaction and weather you learned anything new http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/03/05/dont-judge-a-mother-until-you-know-the-whole-story/
oh and for why its in this section is because i feel in my opinion part of being spiritual is being in tune with the world around us and understanding others (or atleast trying to understand others)

admin answers:

1. The autism spectrum consists of classical autism, Asperger’s syndrome, Rett syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, and PDD-NOS. All these disorders involve social and communication issues in some way. The symptoms appear early in childhood and last throughout the lifetime.

2. Sensory issues are a common feature of autism spectrum disorders. Most frequently they are hypersensitivity or hyposensitivity, either in general or with specific stimuli. For example, I’m extremely sensitive to sound, and metal on metal is one sound in particular that’s painful for me. I’m hyposensitive to pain. Another common issue is difficulty filtering out background information, like music playing in the background. Sensitivity and filtering problems can lead to constant sensory overload.

3. False. The symptoms appear early on, but they aren’t necessarily caught early on. I wasn’t diagnosed with Asperger’s until I was 17.

4. False. It appears more common in boys, but the gender gap is actually a lot narrower. Girls are more likely to be misdiagnosed or undiagnosed for a variety of social and cultural reasons.

5. False. People with ASDs may not appear particularly unusual, or they may seem eccentric but not exactly autistic. If everyone could tell right away if someone had an ASD, mental health professionals are wasting their time with diagnostic evaluations!

6. Asperger’s is a mild form of autism. It’s very similar to HFA, but there’s no speech delay.

BQ: I liked the article. I think its meaning can apply to everyone – it’s important to not judge people right away, because you don’t know the whole story. What appears to be a poorly behaved child and an unconcerned mother is actually an overstimulated, anxious autistic child and a caring mother who’s trying to help him the best she can. Everyone has challenges that aren’t obvious from the outside, so it’s important to withhold judgment and keep an open mind, since there’s often more to a situation than meets the eye.

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Question?: Asperger Syndrome In Adults

Laura asks…

Which social networking site is right for me?

My profile will be public as the theme will be about my life with Asperger Syndrome. I will want to share my You Tube videos and blog as well as share photos. It will basically be an activism account. The audience will be adults w/autism/Asperger‘s.

admin answers:

I guess myspace. Facebook is kind of too private for that ,but you could always create a facebook group…

Good Luck!

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Question?: Rett Syndrome Treatment

Carol asks…

Pervasive Developmental Disorder…?

What is it??? What are the causes? What does it do? How to get rid of it if you can……

THANKS !
PLEASE ANSWERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR

admin answers:

Pervasive developmental disorders cause abnormal development, including social and communication development. The symptoms appear early on – by the age of 3 at least, except in one of the disorders – and last throughout the lifetime. There are five of them: autism, Asperger’s syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, Rett syndrome, and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS). Autism, Asperger’s, and PDD-NOS are called the autism spectrum.

Symptoms of autism include difficulty socializing and communicating with others, delayed speech, lack of eye contact, difficulty interpreting nonverbal signals, intense fixations and interests, repetitive or compulsive movements, poor motor coordination, and abnormal sensory processing. The severity of these symptoms varies considerably. Asperger’s syndrome is a mild and high-functioning form of autism. The symptoms are the same except there is no speech delay. PDD-NOS is when someone has some autistic traits and significant impairment, but does not meet the diagnostic criteria for another PDD. These disorders have a genetic basis, but researchers have not yet uncovered the specifics. Some people believe environmental factors also play a role.

Childhood disintegrative disorder is when a child appears to be developing normally, then suddenly regresses sometime after the age of 3. The cause of this disorder is unknown. Rett syndrome occurrs almost exclusively in females. Infants with this disorder experience regression between 6-18 months of age. Symptoms include lack of speech, seizures, sensory problems, poor motor coordination, growth abnormalities, and repetitive movements. It is caused by a gene mutation on the X chromosome.

None of the PDDs are curable. There are many treatments available, including occupational therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, applied behavior analysis, speech therapy, social skills training, behavior therapy, and certain medications.

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Question?: Pdd-nos Checklist

Donna asks…

Autism / Asperger’s Questions?

I strongly suspect my 2 1/2 year old son has some form of Autism. The only thing that makes everybody a little skeptical is that he shows plenty of emotion, imaginative play, and really looks at you when he’s communicating with you.

Now the reasons I think he is Autistic are that he has yet to develop speech, no social play with his age group, stacks or lines up objects, sometimes tiptoe walks among other little things.

Is it possible for a child that has these characteristics to have Autism or even Aspergers?

Currently I live in Mexico and they more reluctant to diagnose you with Autism here and appears they are not as prepared to deal with this disease than we are in the states(I am an American Citizen married to Mexican woman)

What are some effective home therapies that me and my wife can use on my son while we wait for his documents to arrive so we can have him treated in the States?

Thank You

admin answers:

You aren’t going to come by a diagnosis of asperger’s with a speech delay, that isn’t to say that is not what it is, and that could be flushed out later. Still since the DSM-IV states you cannot have a speech delay and asperger’s only really cutting edge docs will give a r/o dx of asperger’s syndrome with a speech delay only not at his age usually, about 4.

YES, its very possible to have some features of autism, some typical features, and even some asperger features. This has a diagnosis of its own, called PDD.NOS (pervasive developmental delay not otherwise specified. It’s atypical autism, or autistic features.

I remember being confused about the PDD.NOS diagnosis, as I watched my 2 yr old son in the neurologist office feeding a baby while talking on the room phone (that’s a lot of pretend play going on for an autistic kid, or so I thought). He also lined toys up at that age.

Here is a great indicator as to where your son is falling on the spectrum:
http://www.childbrain.com/pddassess.html

Try to make his repetitive play functional. Try to elaborate it. Set up 1:1 playdates. Look into educating yourself on sensory integration. Look at the sensory processing checklist

http://www.asperger.net

For speech, receptive (understanding of language) comes first, so focus on that. Do not use flashcards, they hold little interest to kids of this population, anything 2-D skip. Get the actual object. Ask him to differentiate between 2 common objects. A duck, a ball. Then try to get him to identify the one you are asking for.

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Question?: Autism Symptoms In Teenagers

Sharon asks…

Without them telling you can can you tell if a teenager/young adult suffers from the following conditions?

1. Autism
2. ADHD
3. Dyslexia
4. Anorexa

You dont have to pick all 4 conditions if you dont want 2. If you just want to pick 1 or 2 then thats fine 🙂

admin answers:

1.sometimes i can tell it really depends on how severe it is. But most of the time i can suspect but i couldnt actally know without meeting them and iinteracting with them and stuff

2 no because symptoms of adhd can all be signs of other things as well. For example some of the signs like inatentiveness and zoning out could actually be explained by a diagnoses of one of the autistic spectrum disorder’s ( autism, asperger’s, ect.) they can also be signs someone just is tired or bored and stuff

3. No how do you know its not some other larning disability or even not an ld at all but alanguage barrier.

4. No you cant tell by just looking

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Question?: Treatment For Autism Children

Thomas asks…

What are the chances of us having an autistic child?

My husband’s niece has Asperger Syndrome. Are the chances higher than average for us to have a baby with AS or autism?

admin answers:

There are a few different spectrums of Autism and ASperger syndrome is one of them,it is less severe and usually occurs in females..Autism is becoming more frequent yet doctors and scientists truly dont know what the cause is but they do believe it may be genetic,and since it usually isnt diagnosed until the ages between 2 and 4,it would be highly unlikely to detect beforehand if you and your husbands child will develop it..still yet,you and your husband should see a genetic counselor and have tests run before getting pregnant to rule out any other possible genetic abnormalities…the good news though,is that even with Autism reaching its all time high,the treatments are getting better and with more success…hope this helped! Good luck…

For more info visit
http://health.yahoo.com/nervous-overview/autism-topic-overview/healthwise–hw152186.html

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Question?: Autism Symptoms In Adults

Thomas asks…

How can you tell if an adult has autism?

My Husband has been diagnosed with chronic urticaria angie-o-adeema(sorry spelling) basically his mast cells r breaking down, and he is allergic to a lot of things including his own system, his mother told me he was classed as a “slow child”, didn’t utter a word till he was 3….now im adding things up here…and what i see is a form of autism….what do u think?

admin answers:

It is very difficult to explain in one short answer what autism is because it is unique to each person. I disagree that all autism is caused by toxins and vaccines. I know there is a class of autism caused by damage from toxins, but that is not the case with my son. BTW, a good diet will make anyone feel better, autistic or not.

My son has High Functioning Autism or Asperger Syndrome and it is obvious that it is genetic. He acts just like my husband, my BIL and FIL, my husbands brother and father. The only difference being that my FIL and BIL have worse symptoms than my husband and son. Also, my son started speaking quite young and never lost the ability to speak. It is clear that his condition was present from birth, before he was ever introduced to dairy or gluten or toxins. He was on an optimal diet of close to 100 percent organic foods, no dairy, no wheat, no sugar, and something was still amiss.

There is a lot of information out there about autism. I think the best way to figure it out without seeing a doctor would be to read a book about Autism Spectrum Disorders, maybe one specifically about adults.

My husband and his brother were both considered slow when they were children. It is a label that was used at that time because people had no other way to explain it, not that they really may have been slow. They both received speech therapy and still have issues with misunderstanding people in conversations and having a hard time getting their point across.

Here is a great article I recently found by an adult with autism or Asperger Syndrome

http://www.cnn.com/2008/HEALTH/conditions/03/28/autism.essay/index.html

Good luck! If anything, I hope your husband can start feeling better. I know with my husband and son, being sick turns our home upside down because they have trouble expressing themselves.

P.s. Not trying to start an autism argument here. Just letting you know that there are many different opinions out there about autism.

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Question?: Rett Syndrome In Boys

Ken asks…

what are difference between autism, Asperger’s syndrome, and Rett syndrome.?

please list similarities and differences, thank you

admin answers:

I have been diangnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome.It’s a type of high functioning autisim.Here is some information I have found on all three conditions.

Autism
Autism is classified as a neurodevelopmental disorder that manifests itself in markedly abnormal social interaction, communication ability, patterns of interests, and patterns of behavior.
Although the specific etiology of autism is unknown, many researchers suspect that autism results from genetically mediated vulnerabilities to environmental triggers. And while there is disagreement about the magnitude, nature, and mechanisms for such environmental factors, researchers have found at least seven major genes prevalent among individuals diagnosed as autistic. Some estimate that autism occurs in as many as one United States child in 166, however the National Institute of Mental Health gives a more conservative estimate of one in 1000[1]. For families that already have one autistic child, the odds of a second autistic child may be as high as one in twenty. Although autism is about 3 to 4 times more common in boys, girls with the disorder tend to have more severe symptoms and greater cognitive impairment. Diagnosis is based on a list of psychiatric criteria, and a series of standardized clinical tests may also be used.
Autism may not be physiologically obvious. A complete physical and neurological evaluation will typically be part of diagnosing autism. Some now speculate that autism is not a single condition but a group of several distinct conditions that manifest in similar ways.
By definition, autism must manifest delays in “social interaction, language as used in social communication, or symbolic or imaginative play,” with “onset prior to age 3 years”, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The ICD-10 also says that symptoms must “manifest before the age of three years.” There have been large increases in the reported incidence of autism, for reasons that are heavily debated by researchers in psychology and related fields within the scientific community.
Some children with autism have improved their social and other skills to the point where they can fully participate in mainstream education and social events, but there are lingering concerns that an absolute cure from autism is impossible with current technology. However, many autistic children and adults who are able to communicate (at least in writing) are opposed to attempts to cure their conditions, and see such conditions as part of who they are.
There is a great diversity in the skills and behaviors of individuals diagnosed as autistic, and physicians will often arrive at different conclusions about the appropriate diagnosis. Much of this is due to the sensory system of autistics, which is quite different from the sensory system of other people, since certain stimulations can affect an autist differently than a non-autist, and the degree to which the sensory system is affected varies wildly from one autistic person to another.
Nevertheless, professionals within pediatric care and development often look for early indicators of autism in order to initiate treatment as early as possible. However, some people do not believe in treatment for autism, either because they do not believe autism is a disorder or because they believe treatment can do more harm than good.
Social development
Typically, developing infants are social beings—early in life they do such things as gaze at people, turn toward voices, grasp a finger, and even smile. In contrast, most autistic children prefer objects to faces and seem to have tremendous difficulty learning to engage in the give-and-take of everyday human interaction. Even in the first few months of life, many seem indifferent to other people because they avoid eye contact and do not interact with them as often as non-autistic children.
Children with autism often appear to prefer being alone to the company of others and may passively accept such things as hugs and cuddling without reciprocating, or resist attention altogether. Later, they seldom seek comfort from others or respond to parents’ displays of anger or affection in a typical way. Research has suggested that although autistic children are attached to their parents, their expression of this attachment is unusual and difficult to interpret. Parents who looked forward to the joys of cuddling, teaching, and playing with their child may feel crushed by this lack of expected attachment behavior.
Children with autism often also appear to lack “theory of mind”, the ability to see things from another person’s perspective, a behavior cited as exclusive to human beings above the age of five and, possibly, other higher primates such as adult gorillas, chimpanzees and bonobos. Typical 5-year-olds can develop insights into other people’s different knowledge, feelings, and intentions, interpretations based upon social cues (e.g., gestures, facial expressions). An individual with autism seems to lack these interpretation skills, an inability that leaves them unable to predict or understand other people’s actions. The social alienation of autistic and Asperger’s people can be so intense from childhood that many of them have imaginary friends as companionship. However, having an imaginary friend is not necessarily a sign of autism and also occurs in non-autistic children.
Although not universal, it is common for autistic people to not be able to regulate their behavior. This can take the form of crying or verbal outbursts that may seem out of proportion to the situation or self-injurious behaviours. Individuals with autism generally prefer consistent routines and environments; they may react negatively to changes in them. It is not uncommon for these individuals to exhibit aggression, increased levels of self-stimulatory behavior, self-injury or extensive withdrawal in overwhelming situations.
Sensory system
A key indicator to clinicians making a proper assessment for autism would include looking for symptoms much like those found in sensory integration dysfunction. Children will exhibit problems coping with the normal sensory input. Indicators of this disorder include oversensitivity or underreactivity to touch, movement, sights, or sounds; physical clumsiness or carelessness; poor body awareness; a tendency to be easily distracted; impulsive physical or verbal behavior; an activity level that is unusually high or low; not unwinding or calming oneself; difficulty learning new movements; difficulty in making transitions from one situation to another; social and/or emotional problems; delays in speech, language or motor skills; specific learning difficulties/delays in academic achievement.
One common example is an individual with autism hearing. A person with autism may have trouble hearing certain people while other people are louder than usual. Or the person with autism may be unable to filter out sounds in certain situations, such as in a large crowd of people (see cocktail party effect). However, this is perhaps the part of the autism that tends to vary the most from person to person, so these examples may not apply to every autistic.
Communication difficulties
By age 3, typical children have passed predictable language learning milestones; one of the earliest is babbling. By the first birthday, a typical toddler says words, turns when he or she hears his or her name, points when he or she wants a toy, and when offered something distasteful, makes it clear that the answer is “no.” Speech development in people with autism takes different paths. Some remain mute throughout their lives with varying degrees of literacy; communication in other ways—images, visual clues, sign language, and typing may be far more natural to them. Some infants who later show signs of autism coo and babble during the first few months of life, but stop soon afterwards. Others may be delayed, developing language as late as the teenage years. Still, inability to speak does not mean that people with autism are unintelligent or unaware. Once given appropriate accommodations, many will happily converse for hours, and can often be found in online chat rooms, discussion boards or websites and even using communication devices at autism-community social events such as Autreat.
Those who do speak often use language in unusual ways, retaining features of earlier stages of language development for long periods or throughout their lives. Some speak only single words, while others repeat the same phrase over and over. Some repeat what they hear, a condition called echolalia. Sing-song repetitions in particular are a calming, joyous activity that many autistic adults engage in. Many people with autism have a strong tonal sense, and can often understand spoken language. Some children may exhibit only slight delays in language, or even seem to have precocious language and unusually large vocabularies, but have great difficulty in sustaining typical conversations. The “give and take” of non-autistic conversation is hard for them, although they often carry on a monologue on a favorite subject, giving no one else an opportunity to comment. When given the chance to converse with other autistics, they comfortably do so in “parallel monologue”—taking turns expressing views and information. Just as “neurotypicals” (people without autism) have trouble understanding autistic body languages, vocal tones, or phraseology, people with autism similarly have trouble with such things in people without autism. In particular, autistic language abilities tend to be highly literal; people without autism often inappropriately attribute hidden meaning to what people with autism say or expect the person with autism to sense such unstated meaning in their own words.
The body language of people with autism can be difficult for other people to understand. Facial expressions, movements, and gestures may be easily understood by some other people with autism, but do not match those used by other people. Also, their tone of voice has a much more subtle inflection in reflecting their feelings, and the auditory system of a person without autism often cannot sense the fluctuations. What seems to non-autistic people like a high-pitched, sing-song, or flat, robot-like voice is common in autistic children. Some autistic children with relatively good language skills speak like little adults, rather than communicating at their current age level, which is one of the things that can lead to problems.
Since non-autistic people are often unfamiliar with the autistic body language, and since autistic natural language may not tend towards speech, autistic people often struggle to let other people know what they need. As anybody might do in such a situation, they may scream in frustration or resort to grabbing what they want. While waiting for non-autistic people to learn to communicate with them, people with autism do whatever they can to get through to them. Communication difficulties may contribute to autistic people becoming socially anxious or depressed.
Repetitive behaviors
Although people with autism usually appear physically normal and have good muscle control, unusual repetitive motions, known as self-stimulation or “stimming,” may set them apart. These behaviors might be extreme and highly apparent or more subtle. Some children and older individuals spend a lot of time repeatedly flapping their arms or wiggling their toes, others suddenly freeze in position. As children, they might spend hours lining up their cars and trains in a certain way, not using them for pretend play. If someone accidentally moves one of these toys, the child may be tremendously upset. Autistic children often need, and demand, absolute consistency in their environment. A slight change in any routine—in mealtimes, dressing, taking a bath, or going to school at a certain time and by the same route—can be extremely disturbing. People with autism sometimes have a persistent, intense preoccupation. For example, the child might be obsessed with learning all about vacuum cleaners, train schedules or lighthouses. Often they show great interest in different languages, numbers, symbols or science topics. Repetitive behaviors can also extend into the spoken word as well. Perseveration of a single word or phrase, even for a specific number of times can also become a part of the child’s daily routine.
Effects in education
Children with autism are affected with these symptoms every day. These unusual characteristics set them apart from the everyday normal student. Because they have trouble understanding people’s thoughts and feelings, they have trouble understanding what their teacher may be telling them. They do not understand that facial expressions and vocal variations hold meanings and may misinterpret what emotion their instructor is displaying. This inability to fully decipher the world around them makes education stressful. Teachers need to be aware of a student’s disorder so that they are able to help the student get the best out of the lessons being taught.
Some students learn better with visual aids as they are better able to understand material presented this way. Because of this, many teachers create “visual schedules” for their autistic students. This allows the student to know what is going on throughout the day, so they know what to prepare for and what activity they will be doing next. Some autistic children have trouble going from one activity to the next, so this visual schedule can help to reduce stress.
Research has shown that working in pairs may be beneficial to autistic children. Autistic students have problems in schools not only with language and communication, but with socialization as well. They feel self-conscious about themselves and many feel that they will always be outcasts. By allowing them to work with peers they can make friends, which in turn can help them cope with the problems that arise. By doing so they can become more integrated into the mainstream environment of the classroom.
A teacher’s aide can also be useful to the student. The aide is able to give more elaborate directions that the teacher may not have time to explain to the autistic child. The aide can also facilitate the autistic child in such a way as to allow them to stay at a similar level to the rest of the class. This allows a partially one-on-one lesson structure so that the child is still able to stay in a normal classroom but be given the extra help that they need.
There are many different techniques that teachers can use to assist their students. A teacher needs to become familiar with the child’s disorder to know what will work best with that particular child. Every child is going to be different and teachers have to be able to adjust with every one of them.
Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders typically have high levels of anxiety and stress, particularly in social environments like school. If a student exhibits aggressive or explosive behavior, it is important for educational teams to recognize the impact of stress and anxiety. Preparing students for new situations by writing Social Stories can lower anxiety. Teaching social and emotional concepts using systematic teaching approaches such as The Incredible 5-Point Scale or other Cognitive Behavioral strategies can increase a student’s ability to control excessive behavioral reactions.
There is a great diversity in the skills and behaviors of individuals diagnosed as autistic, and physicians will often arrive at different conclusions about the appropriate diagnosis. Much of this is due to the sensory system of autistics, which is quite different from the sensory system of other people, since certain stimulations can affect an autist differently than a non-autist, and the degree to which the sensory system is affected varies wildly from one autistic person to another.
Nevertheless, professionals within pediatric care and development often look for early indicators of autism in order to initiate treatment as early as possible. However, some people do not believe in treatment for autism, either because they do not believe autism is a disorder or because they believe treatment can do more harm than good.
Social development
Typically, developing infants are social beings—early in life they do such things as gaze at people, turn toward voices, grasp a finger, and even smile. In contrast, most autistic children prefer objects to faces and seem to have tremendous difficulty learning to engage in the give-and-take of everyday human interaction. Even in the first few months of life, many seem indifferent to other people because they avoid eye contact and do not interact with them as often as non-autistic children.
Children with autism often appear to prefer being alone to the company of others and may passively accept such things as hugs and cuddling without reciprocating, or resist attention altogether. Later, they seldom seek comfort from others or respond to parents’ displays of anger or affection in a typical way. Research has suggested that although autistic children are attached to their parents, their expression of this attachment is unusual and difficult to interpret. Parents who looked forward to the joys of cuddling, teaching, and playing with their child may feel crushed by this lack of expected attachment behavior.
Children with autism often also appear to lack “theory of mind”, the ability to see things from another person’s perspective, a behavior cited as exclusive to human beings above the age of five and, possibly, other higher primates such as adult gorillas, chimpanzees and bonobos. Typical 5-year-olds can develop insights into other people’s different knowledge, feelings, and intentions, interpretations based upon social cues (e.g., gestures, facial expressions). An individual with autism seems to lack these interpretation skills, an inability that leaves them unable to predict or understand other people’s actions. The social alienation of autistic and Asperger’s people can be so intense from childhood that many of them have imaginary friends as companionship. However, having an imaginary friend is not necessarily a sign of autism and also occurs in non-autistic children.
Although not universal, it is common for autistic people to not be able to regulate their behavior. This can take the form of crying or verbal outbursts that may seem out of proportion to the situation or self-injurious behaviours. Individuals with autism generally prefer consistent routines and environments; they may react negatively to changes in them. It is not uncommon for these individuals to exhibit aggression, increased levels of self-stimulatory behavior, self-injury or extensive withdrawal in overwhelming situations.
Sensory system
A key indicator to clinicians making a proper assessment for autism would include looking for symptoms much like those found in sensory integration dysfunction. Children will exhibit problems coping with the normal sensory input. Indicators of this disorder include oversensitivity or underreactivity to touch, movement, sights, or sounds; physical clumsiness or carelessness; poor body awareness; a tendency to be easily distracted; impulsive physical or verbal behavior; an activity level that is unusually high or low; not unwinding or calming oneself; difficulty learning new movements; difficulty in making transitions from one situation to another; social and/or emotional problems; delays in speech, language or motor skills; specific learning difficulties/delays in academic achievement.
One common example is an individual with autism hearing. A person with autism may have trouble hearing certain people while other people are louder than usual. Or the person with autism may be unable to filter out sounds in certain situations, such as in a large crowd of people (see cocktail party effect). However, this is perhaps the part of the autism that tends to vary the most from person to person, so these examples may not apply to every autistic.
Communication difficulties
By age 3, typical children have passed predictable language learning milestones; one of the earliest is babbling. By the first birthday, a typical toddler says words, turns when he or she hears his or her name, points when he or she wants a toy, and when offered something distasteful, makes it clear that the answer is “no.” Speech development in people with autism takes different paths. Some remain mute throughout their lives with varying degrees of literacy; communication in other ways—images, visual clues, sign language, and typing may be far more natural to them. Some infants who later show signs of autism coo and babble during the first few months of life, but stop soon afterwards. Others may be delayed, developing language as late as the teenage years. Still, inability to speak does not mean that people with autism are unintelligent or unaware. Once given appropriate accommodations, many will happily converse for hours, and can often be found in online chat rooms, discussion boards or websites and even using communication devices at autism-community social events such as Autreat.
Those who do speak often use language in unusual ways, retaining features of earlier stages of language development for long periods or throughout their lives. Some speak only single words, while others repeat the same phrase over and over. Some repeat what they hear, a condition called echolalia. Sing-song repetitions in particular are a calming, joyous activity that many autistic adults engage in. Many people with autism have a strong tonal sense, and can often understand spoken language. Some children may exhibit only slight delays in language, or even seem to have precocious language and unusually large vocabularies, but have great difficulty in sustaining typical conversations. The “give and take” of non-autistic conversation is hard for them, although they often carry on a monologue on a favorite subject, giving no one else an opportunity to comment. When given the chance to converse with other autistics, they comfortably do so in “parallel monologue”—taking turns expressing views and information. Just as “neurotypicals” (people without autism) have trouble understanding autistic body languages, vocal tones, or phraseology, people with autism similarly have trouble with such things in people without autism. In particular, autistic language abilities tend to be highly literal; people without autism often inappropriately attribute hidden meaning to what people with autism say or expect the person with autism to sense such unstated meaning in their own words.
The body language of people with autism can be difficult for other people to understand. Facial expressions, movements, and gestures may be easily understood by some other people with autism, but do not match those used by other people. Also, their tone of voice has a much more subtle inflection in reflecting their feelings, and the auditory system of a person without autism often cannot sense the fluctuations. What seems to non-autistic people like a high-pitched, sing-song, or flat, robot-like voice is common in autistic children. Some autistic children with relatively good language skills speak like little adults, rather than communicating at their current age level, which is one of the things that can lead to problems.
Since non-autistic people are often unfamiliar with the autistic body language, and since autistic natural language may not tend towards speech, autistic people often struggle to let other people know what they need. As anybody might do in such a situation, they may scream in frustration or resort to grabbing what they want. While waiting for non-autistic people to learn to communicate with them, people with autism do whatever they can to get through to them. Communication difficulties may contribute to autistic people becoming socially anxious or depressed.
Repetitive behaviors
Although people with autism usually appear physically normal and have good muscle control, unusual repetitive motions, known as self-stimulation or “stimming,” may set them apart. These behaviors might be extreme and highly apparent or more subtle. Some children and older individuals spend a lot of time repeatedly flapping their arms or wiggling their toes, others suddenly freeze in position. As children, they might spend hours lining up their cars and trains in a certain way, not using them for pretend play. If someone accidentally moves one of these toys, the child may be tremendously upset. Autistic children often need, and demand, absolute consistency in their environment. A slight change in any routine—in mealtimes, dressing, taking a bath, or going to school at a certain time and by the same route—can be extremely disturbing. People with autism sometimes have a persistent, intense preoccupation. For example, the child might be obsessed with learning all about vacuum cleaners, train schedules or lighthouses. Often they show great interest in different languages, numbers, symbols or science topics. Repetitive behaviors can also extend into the spoken word as well. Perseveration of a single word or phrase, even for a specific number of times can also become a part of the child’s daily routine.
Effects in education
Children with autism are affected with these symptoms every day. These unusual characteristics set them apart from the everyday normal student. Because they have trouble understanding people’s thoughts and feelings, they have trouble understanding what their teacher may be telling them. They do not understand that facial expressions and vocal variations hold meanings and may misinterpret what emotion their instructor is displaying. This inability to fully decipher the world around them makes education stressful. Teachers need to be aware of a student’s disorder so that they are able to help the student get the best out of the lessons being taught.
Some students learn better with visual aids as they are better able to understand material presented this way. Because of this, many teachers create “visual schedules” for their autistic students. This allows the student to know what is going on throughout the day, so they know what to prepare for and what activity they will be doing next. Some autistic children have trouble going from one activity to the next, so this visual schedule can help to reduce stress.
Research has shown that working in pairs may be beneficial to autistic children. Autistic students have problems in schools not only with language and communication, but with socialization as well. They feel self-conscious about themselves and many feel that they will always be outcasts. By allowing them to work with peers they can make friends, which in turn can help them cope with the problems that arise. By doing so they can become more integrated into the mainstream environment of the classroom.
A teacher’s aide can also be useful to the student. The aide is able to give more elaborate directions that the teacher may not have time to explain to the autistic child. The aide can also facilitate the autistic child in such a way as to allow them to stay at a similar level to the rest of the class. This allows a partially one-on-one lesson structure so that the child is still able to stay in a normal classroom but be given the extra help that they need.
There are many different techniques that teachers can use to assist their students. A teacher needs to become familiar with the child’s disorder to know what will work best with that particular child. Every child is going to be different and teachers have to be able to adjust with every one of them.
Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders typically have high levels of anxiety and stress, particularly in social environments like school. If a student exhibits aggressive or explosive behavior, it is important for educational teams to recognize the impact of stress and anxiety. Preparing students for new situations by writing Social Stories can lower anxiety. Teaching social and emotional concepts using systematic teaching approaches such as The Incredible 5-Point Scale or other Cognitive Behavioral strategies can increase a student’s ability to control excessive behavioral reactions.
Asperger’s Syndrome
Asperger syndrome (sometimes called Asperger’s syndrome, AS, or the more common shorthand Asperger’s), is characterized as one of the five pervasive developmental disorders, and is commonly referred to as a form of high-functioning autism. In very broad terms, individuals with Asperger’s have normal or above average intellectual capacity, and atypical or poorly developed social skills, often with emotional/social development or integration happening later than usual as a result.
Like other conditions classified as autism spectrum disorders, Asperger syndrome appears to be more prevalent among males than females, with males making up approximately 75–80 percent of diagnoses. Many clinicians believe that this may not reflect the actual incidence among females; well-known Asperger syndrome expert Tony Attwood suggests that females learn to better compensate for their impairments because of differences in socialization (Attwood, pp 151–2). Some preliminary evidence for this is found in the Ehlers & Gillberg study, which found a 4:1 male to female ratio in the people they thought definitely had Asperger’s but a much less lopsided 2.3 to 1 ratio when merely suspected or otherwise borderline cases were included.
The overwhelming majority of available information on Asperger syndrome relates to children; there is currently more conjecture than hard evidence on how it affects adults. It is thought that most people with Asperger syndrome learn to cope with their social impairments later in life. However, there is no “cure” as such, and some people, including prominent clinicians such as Attwood and some of those diagnosed with Asperger’s, would strenuously argue that a cure is neither possible nor desirable (see “A gift and a curse” and “Culture” below), mainly pointing out that the syndrome is a hereditary trait and attempts to “cure” or eliminate it would be an example of eugenics. Organizations such as Cure Autism Now disagree; this remains a highly controversial area.
The most common and important characteristics of Asperger syndrome can be divided into several broad categories: social impairments, narrow but intense interests, and speech and language peculiarities. Other features are commonly associated with this syndrome but not always held to be necessary for diagnosis. This section reflects mainly Attwood, Gillberg, and Wing’s thinking on the most important characteristics of Asperger; the DSM-IV criteria (see below) represent a slightly different view.
Social impairments
Although there is no single feature that all people with Asperger syndrome share, difficulties with social behavior are nearly universal and are perhaps the most important criteria that define the condition. People with Asperger syndrome lack the natural ability to see the subtexts of social interaction (sometimes resulting in well-meaning remarks that may offend and so on, finding it hard to know what is “acceptable”) and also tend to lack the ability to broadcast their own emotional state.
Non-autistics, often colloquially called neurotypicals, are able to gather a host of information about other people’s cognitive and emotional states based on clues gleaned from the environment and the other person’s facial expression and body language, but people with Asperger syndrome have an impairment in this ability, sometimes called mind-blindness. To be mind-blind is to find it difficult or even impossible to figure out things a person implies but does not say directly (more colloquially, to “read between the lines”). This is not because they cannot imagine the answer but because they cannot choose between the possibilities; the mind-blind person cannot reliably gather enough information to do so or does not know how to interpret the information that they do gather.
Along with this difficulty in reading the nonverbal communication of others, most people with Asperger’s have difficulty expressing their own emotional state via body language, facial expression, and nuances as most people do. Some such people have emotional responses as strong as, or perhaps stronger than, those of most people, although what generates an emotional response might not always be the same; the difficulty is in expressing these feelings, although it sometimes comes across as lacking them. And some such people do truly lack, or have reduced levels of emotions. For example, many people with Asperger syndrome have difficulty with eye contact. Some make very little eye contact because they find it overwhelming, whereas others have unmodulated, staring eye contact that can cause discomfort to other people. Similarly, the use of gestures may be almost nonexistent or may seem exaggerated and differ from what would normally be considered appropriate for a situation.
It is worth noting that because it is classified as a spectrum disorder, some people with Asperger syndrome are nearly normal in their ability to read and use facial expressions and other subtle forms of communication. However, this ability does not come naturally to most people with Asperger syndrome. Such people must learn social skills intellectually, delaying social development.
Some people feel that much of the social difficulties in Asperger Syndrome are more accurately characterized as “mutual misunderstanding”, in that neither the “aspie” nor the neurotypical understands each other. Some autistics assert that they have a much easier time reading body language of other autistic people, and that neurotypicals have difficulties interpreting autistic body language. Comparing the nonverbal communication problems that often occur between people from different cultures is a common defense given for this theory.
Narrow, intense interests
Asperger syndrome can involve an intense and obsessive level of focus on things of interest. For example, one person might be obsessed with 1950s professional wrestling, another with national anthems of African dictatorships, or another with building models out of matchsticks. Particularly common interests are means of transport (such as trains), computers, maths (particularly specific aspects, such as pi), astronomy, geography, and dinosaurs. Note that all of these last items are normal interests in ordinary children; the difference in Asperger children is the unusual intensity of their interest.
Sometimes these interests are lifelong; in other cases, they change at unpredictable intervals. In either case, there are normally one or two at any given time. In pursuit of these interests, the person with Asperger’s often manifests extremely sophisticated reason, an almost obsessive focus, and great memory for apparently trivial facts (occasionally even eidetic memory). Hans Asperger called his young patients “little professors” because he thought his thirteen-year-old patients had as comprehensive and nuanced an understanding of their field of interest as university professors.
Some clinicians would not entirely agree with this description; for example, Wing and Gillberg both argue that there is often more rote memorization than real understanding of these areas of interest, despite occasional appearances to the contrary. However, such a limitation is not required for diagnosis, even under Gillberg’s criteria.
Children and adolescents with Asperger syndrome often have little patience for things outside these areas of interest. During the school years, many are perceived as highly intelligent underachievers or overachievers, clearly capable of outperforming their peers in their field of interest yet persistently unmotivated to do regular homework assignments (sometimes even in their areas of interest). Others, in contrast, may be hypermotivated to outperform peers in school. This adds to the difficulties of diagnosing the syndrome. In more serious cases, the combination of social problems and intense interests can lead to unusual behavior, such as greeting a stranger by launching into a lengthy monologue about a special interest rather than introducing oneself in the socially-accepted way. However, in many cases adults can outgrow this impatience and lack of motivation and develop more tolerance to new activities and meeting new people.
Speech and language peculiarities
People with Asperger syndrome often are noted for having a highly pedantic way of speaking, using language far more formal and structured than the situation normally would be thought to call for. A five-year-old child with this condition may regularly speak in language that could easily have come from a university textbook, especially on his or her special area of interest.
Literal interpretation is another common but not universal hallmark of this condition. Attwood gives the example of a girl with Asperger syndrome who answered the telephone one day and was asked “Is Paul there?”. Although the Paul in question was in the house, he was not in the room with her, so after looking around to ascertain this, she simply said “no” and hung up. The person on the other end had to call back and explain to her that he meant for her to find him and get him to pick up the telephone (Attwood 78).
Many people with Asperger syndrome also make idiosyncratic use of words, including new coinages and unusual juxtapositions. This can develop into a rare gift for humor (especially puns, wordplay, doggerel, satire) or writing. Another potential source of humor is the eventual realization that their literal interpretations can be used to amuse others. Some are so proficient with written language as to qualify as hyperlexic. Tony Attwood refers to a particular child’s skill at inventing expressions, e.g. “tidying down” (the opposite of tidying up) or “broken” (when referring to a baby brother who cannot walk or talk) (Attwood, 82).
Other characteristics
Those affected by Asperger’s may also manifest a range of other sensory, developmental, and physiological anomalies. Children with Asperger’s may evidence a delay in the development of fine motor skills. In some cases (although with many exceptions) people with AS may have an odd way of walking, or display compulsive finger, hand, or arm movements.
In general, orderly things appeal to people with Asperger’s. Some researchers mention the imposition of rigid routines (on self or others) as a criterion for diagnosing this condition. It appears that changes to their routines cause inordinate levels of anxiety for some people with this condition (Attwood 100).
Some people with Asperger’s experience varying degrees of sensory overload and are extremely sensitive to touch, smells, sounds, tastes, and sights. They may prefer soft clothing, familiar scents, or certain foods. Some may even be pathologically sensitive to loud noises or strong smells or dislike being touched; for example, certain children with Asperger’s exhibit a strong dislike of having their head touched or their hair disturbed. Sensory overload may exacerbate problems faced by such children at school, where levels of noise in the classroom can become intolerable for them. Some are also unable to block out certain repetitive stimuli, such as the constant ticking of a clock. Whereas most children stop registering this sound after a short time and can hear it only if they consciously listen for it, the child with Asperger’s can become distracted, agitated, or even (in rare cases) violent if the sound is not removed.
Additionally, people with Asperger’s exhibiting severe symptoms may frequently be diagnosed with clinical depression, Oppositional defiant disorder, ADHD, General anxiety disorder, Bipolar disorder, Obsessive compulsive disorder, or Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. However, while elements from all of these conditions are associated with Asperger syndrome, the cause is usually Asperger’s itself and not a separate condition. While there may be a correlation between them, the disorders are in fact distinct from one another. There is research which indicates people with Asperger’s may in fact be far more likely to have the associated conditions, but for now the connection is largely one of resemblance.
Asperger syndrome usually leads to problems in social interaction with peers. These can be severe, especially in childhood and adolescence; children with Asperger syndrome often are the target of teasing and bullying at school because of their idiosyncratic behavior, language, interests, and their lowered or delayed ability to perceive and respond in socially expected ways to nonverbal cues, particularly in interpersonal conflict. A child or teen with Asperger syndrome often is puzzled as to the source of this mistreatment, unaware of what has been done “wrong.” Those who are aware of their condition may come to recognize such errors, but almost never immediately upon making them. The social alienation of children with Asperger syndrome can be so intense that they create imaginary friends for companionship (although this is certainly not specific to Asperger syndrome, since non-autistics may do the same). Even later in life, many people with Asperger’s report a feeling of being unwillingly detached from the world around them.
Bullying and other reasons were cited as a cause for William Freund’s rampage in October 2005.
One example of this sort of bullying: non-Autistic students will pretend to befriend those with Asperger’s syndrome by using sarcasm and intense use of “sexual phrases” which many children with Asperger’s syndrome may not recognize as such. The Asperger’s child is unaware he is being bullied and believes he has a true friend, while the “normal” child and his friends are laughing at him.
Children with Asperger syndrome often display advanced abilities for their age in language, reading, mathematics, spatial skills, and/or music, sometimes into the “gifted” range, but this may be counterbalanced by appreciable delays in other developmental areas. This combination of traits can create problems with teachers and other authority figures. (It may be relevant here that one of the social conventions many people with Asperger’s syndrome ignore is respect for authority. Attwood notes a tendency to feel that everyone should be treated much the same regardless of what social position they occupy; the student with Asperger’s syndrome may not give respect to an authority figure until he or she feels it has been earned, an attitude many teachers either do not understand or take strong exception to.) Like many other gifted children, a child with Asperger’s might be regarded by teachers as a “problem child” or a “poor performer.” The child’s extremely low tolerance for what they perceive to be mundane and mediocre tasks (such as typical homework assignments) can easily become frustrating; the teacher may well consider the child arrogant, spiteful, and insubordinate. Meanwhile, the child sits mutely, feeling frustrated and wronged and often having no idea how to express these feelings.
However, Asperger syndrome does not guarantee one will have a miserable life. The intense focus and tendency to work things out logically, a characteristic of Asperger syndrome, often grants people with the syndrome a high level of ability in their fields of interest. When these special interests coincide with a materially or socially useful task, the person with Asperger’s often can in fact lead a profitable life. The child obsessed with naval architecture may grow up to be an accomplished shipwright, for instance.
Although many people with Asperger’s are not considered socially successful by common standards – and there are many who remain alone their entire lives – it is certainly possible for them to find understanding people with whom they can have close relationships. Many autistics have children, in which case their children may or may not have an autism spectrum disorder. Also, many people with Asperger syndrome recognize that there is a problem and try to adapt to living among people without the syndrome, even if they are unaware of the term “Asperger syndrome” itself or believe it does not apply to them. It is possible with training and self-discipline for a child with Asperger’s to end up as an adult who, though still having Asperger’s, is able to interact well with others. However, because of their delayed social development, it is not unusual for people with Asperger’s to feel most comfortable with people much younger or older than they are.
However, not showing affection (or not doing so in conventional societally-acceptable ways) does not necessarily mean that he or she does not feel it. Understanding this can lead the significant other to feel less rejected and be more understanding. There are usually ways to work around the problems, such as being more explicit about one’s needs. For instance, when describing emotions, it can be helpful to be direct and to avoid vague terms such as “upset” when the emotion being described is anger (some individuals with Asperger’s would interpret “upset” as mere annoyance, or even nausea). It is often effective to lay out in clear language what the problem is and to ask the partner with Asperger’s to describe what emotions are being felt or ask why a certain emotion was being felt. It is very helpful if the family member or significant other reads as much as he or she can about Asperger’s syndrome and any comorbid disorders. In a minority of situations the opposite problem occurs; the person with Asperger’s is unusually affectionate to significant others and misses or misinterprets signals from the other partner, causing the partner to get annoyed and leave the person with Asperger syndrome feeling depressed and alone.
Experts generally agree that there is no single condition called autism. Rather, there is a spectrum of autistic conditions, with different forms of autism taking different positions on this spectrum. But in certain circles of the autism community, this concept of a spectrum is being questioned. If differences in development are purely a function of differences in skill acquisition, then attempting to distinguish between degrees of severity may be dangerously misleading. A person may be subjected to unrealistic expectations, or even denied life-saving services, based solely on very superficial observations made by others in the community.
In the 1940s, Leo Kanner and Hans Asperger, working independently in the United States and Austria, identified essentially the same population, although Asperger’s group was perhaps more “socially functional” than Kanner’s as a whole. Some of Kanner’s originally identified autistic children might today get an Asperger syndrome diagnosis, and vice versa. It is a mistake to say that a “Kanner autistic” is a child who sits and rocks and does not communicate. Kanner’s study subjects were all along the spectrum.
Traditionally, Kannerian autism is characterized by significant cognitive and communicative deficiencies, including delays in or lack of language. Often it is clear that these people do not function normally. On the other hand, a person with Asperger’s will not show delays in language. It is a more subtle condition, and affected people often appear only to be eccentric.
Researchers are grappling with the problem of how to divide the spectrum. There are many potential divisions, such as autistics who speak versus those who do not, autistics with seizures versus those without, autistics with more “stereotypical behaviors” versus those with fewer, and so forth. Some researchers are trying to identify genes associated with these traits as a way to make logical groupings. Eventually, one may hear autistics described as being with or without a specific gene, with or without changes to a certain chromosome, etc.
Leo Kanner identified another form of autism around the same time as Hans Asperger.
Some clinicians believe that communicative or cognitive deficiencies are so essential to the concept of autism that they prefer to consider Asperger’s a separate condition from autism. This opinion is a minority one. Uta Frith (an early researcher of Kannerian autism) has written that people with Asperger’s seem to have more than a touch of autism to them. Others, such as Lorna Wing and Tony Attwood, share in Frith’s assessment. Dr. Sally Ozonoff, of the University of California at Davis’s MIND institute, argues that there should be no dividing line between “high-functioning” autism and Asperger’s, and that the fact that some people do not start to produce speech until a later age is no reason to divide the two groups because they are identical in the way they need to be treated.
A gift and a curse
With the increase of Asperger syndrome diagnoses, its image continues to shift from that of a disease to a more complex view of a syndrome with both advantages and disadvantages because there are adults diagnosed with Asperger syndrome or autism who have become quite successful in their fields, possibly as a direct result of intellectual gifts and above-average focus and motivation associated with the syndrome. For example, some prominent Asperger-diagnosed people include Nobel Prize-winning economist Vernon Smith, comedian/actor Dan Aykroyd, industrial rocker Gary Numan, Craig Nicholls, frontman of the band The Vines, as well as Satoshi Tajiri, the creator of Pokémon. BitTorrent inventor Bram Cohen is widely cited as having Asperger syndrome, although he appears to have made this conclusion without consulting a medical professional. [1][2]
Speculation about recognized people who may have Asperger syndrome
It has been speculated that Albert Einstein had what is now considered Asperger syndrome.
Recently, some researchers such as Simon Baron-Cohen and Ioan James have speculated that well-known figures of the past, such as Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton, had Asperger syndrome because they showed some Asperger’s-related tendencies or behaviors, such as intense interest in one subject, or social problems. A chapter of the aforementioned Gillberg book is devoted to this subject, including a detailed case study of philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein concluding that he met the criteria for the condition. However, such posthumous diagnoses remain controversial.
The specific arguments alleging that certain famous people might be on the autistic spectrum vary from person to person. Some claim that Albert Einstein (one of the more frequently cited figures of the past as possibly autistic) was a loner as a child, had violent temper tantrums, repeated under his breath sentences he uttered, and needed his wives to act as parents when he was an adult, factors that are stereotypical of autistic people. Isaac Newton stuttered and was epileptic. Many of these suspected historical Asperger cases might have been quite mild, but some skeptics believe these people may have had a few autistic traits but not enough for an autism spectrum diagnosis. Finally, many critics of historical diagnosis claim it is simply not possible to diagnose the dead, so nothing can be said definitively regarding the Asperger status of historical figures.
Such speculation may simply be an attempt to create role models for autistics to demonstrate that they can be exemplary contributors to society. Autistic rights activists often use such speculative diagnoses to argue that it would be a loss to society if autism were cured. However, others in the autistic rights movement dislike these arguments because they think autistics should be able to value their uniqueness without the desire for a cure, regardless of whether people such as Einstein were autistic.
Shift away from view as a disease
The speculated social contributions of autistic people have contributed to the shift in the perception of autism spectrum disorders as complex syndromes rather than diseases that must be cured. Proponents of this view reject the notion that there is an ‘ideal’ brain configuration and that any deviation from the norm must be considered pathological. They demand tolerance for what they call their neurodiversity in much the same way lesbian and gay people have demanded tolerance for theirs. Views such as these are the basis for the autistic rights and autistic pride movements.
A Wired magazine article called “The Geek Syndrome” suggested that Asperger syndrome is more common in the Silicon Valley, a haven for computer scientists and mathematicians. It created an enduring notion popularized in the media and self-help books that “Geek Syndrome” equals Asperger syndrome and caused an explosion of self-diagnoses in part because it was printed alongside Simon Baron-Cohen’s 50-question Autism Spectrum Quotient Test. Like some people with Asperger syndrome, geeks may exhibit an extreme professional or casual interest in computers, science, engineering, and related fields and may be introverted or prioritize work over other aspects of life. However, no determination has yet been made of whether the “Geek Syndrome” personality type has a direct relation to autism or is simply a “variant normal” type that is not part of the autistic spectrum.
Regardless, societal acceptance of Asperger or Asperger-like traits is still rare, as many people in the autistic spectrum will confirm.
Rett syndrome
Rett syndrome (Rett syndrome, Rett’s disorder) is a progressive neurological disorder. The symptoms of this disorder are easily confused with those of autism and cerebral palsy. The gene is recessive and can therefore lie dormant for generations. The clinical diagnosis specifies a small head and small hands and feet. Stereotypical repetitive hand movements such as mouthing or wringing are also included as diagnostic signs. Symptoms of the disease include learning disorders and a total inability to socialize. Girls with Rett syndrome are very prone to seizures and GI disorders. They typically have no verbal skills, and about 50% of females are ambulatory. Rett syndrome (symbolized RTT) is X-linked dominant, affecting almost exclusively girls. Development is normal until 1 year of age, when language and motor milestones regress and acquired microcephaly is seen. Hand wringing and sighing are characteristic, and they develop autistic behavior. Rett syndrome is usually caused by a mutation in the gene encoding methyl-CpG-binding protein-2 (MECP2). MECP2 is found on chromosome band Xq28, near the long end of the X chromosome. Rett syndrome can also be caused by a mutation to the gene encoding cyclin-dependent kinase-like 5 (CDKL5). Rett syndrome affects 1 in every 12,500 female live births. Most individuals with Rett syndrome are female. One explanation given for this was that the genetic defect that caused Rett syndrome in females caused embryonic lethality in males (that is, males with pathogenic MECP2 mutations died before they were born). While a plausible hypothesis, more recent research has contradicted this explanation. Most males with a pathogenic MECP2 mutation suffer from neonatal encephalopathy and die within a year or so of birth. Males who have two X chromosomes and a Y chromosome (often called Klinefelter’s syndrome), one with a mutated MECP2 gene, follow a similar development path to females with Rett syndrome. Males who have somatic mosaicism also have symptoms like females with Rett syndrome. Infants with Rett syndrome typically develop normally until they are 6-18 months old. Physioneurological development tends to plateau after this brief period of normal development, and is followed by deterioration of the high brain functions. Psychomotor and cognitive abilities rapidly decline between 1-2 years of age. Symptoms that develop are similar to those of autism, including mental retardation and poor growth. It is, hence, easy to mistakenly diagnose Rett syndrome for autism, or cerebral palsy.
Symptoms of Rett syndrome that are similar to autism:
•screaming fits
•panic attacks
•inconsolable crying
•avoiding looking into other people’s eyes
•lack of social/emotional reciprocity
•general lack of interest
•marked impaired use of nonverbal behaviors to regulate social interaction
•delay of linguistic development
oloss of speech

Symptoms of Rett syndrome that are also present in cerebral palsy:
•short stature
•severe dementia
•mild learning disability
•hypotonia
•Delayed or absent ability to walk
•gait/movement difficulties
•ataxia
•microencephalopathy – abnormally small head, lack of head growth
•some forms of spasticity
owringing of hands
oChorea – spasmodic movements of hand or facial muscles
odystonia
obruxism – grinding of teeth

Symptoms may stabilize for up to a few decades before complications set in, such as epilepsy or seizure and spastic paraparesis (spasticity or paralysis of the lower limbs).
Depending on the severity of psychomotoral and cognitive impairment, 2-15% of patients may achieve a nonretarded level of functioning through various rehabilitation methods. Marriage, success in achieving employment and independent living can be achieved during adulthood. Currently there is no cure for Rett syndrome.
Males with pathogenic MECP2 mutations usually die during infancy stage from severe encephalopathy, unless they have an extra X chromosome (often described as Klinefelter’s syndrome), or have somatic mosaicism.
Females can live up to 40 years or more. Abnormal lab data values on Rett disorder may show:
•EEG abnormalities from 2 years of age
•atypical glycolipids
•elevated levels of beta-endorphins and glutamate
•reduction of substance P
•decreased levels of nerve growth factors
Mortality rate among children with Rett disorder is approximately at 1.2% per year.
High proportion of deaths are abrupt; due to:
•heart conduction problem – abnormally prolonged QT interval on ECG
•spontaneous brainstem dysfunction
•respiratory arrest

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Question?: Asperger Syndrome In Adults

Mary asks…

What are the best career options for people with Asperger’s syndrome?

Asperger‘s syndrome is a high functioning austism.

admin answers:

There is a great book about this topic that I highly recommend:
“Developing Talents: Careers for Individuals with Asperger Syndrome and High-Functioning Autism” by Temple Grandin, Kate Duffy, and Tony Attwood. It not only has career ideas and descriptions, but includes strategies to use to make the workplace more comfortable for a person with Asperger’s Syndrome or Autism.

Temple Grandin also briefly discusses this topic in this article: “Teaching Tips for Children and Adults with Autism” – http://www.autism.org/temple/tips.html

Other favorite resources include:

Websites:

“Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew” by Ellen Notbohm – http://www.southflorida.com/sfparenting/sfe-sfp-autism,0,6196233.story

Website of Paula Kluth, Ph.D. – http://www.paulakluth.com/autism.html

Positively Autism (free online magazine, includes free lessons/activities) – http://www.positivelyautism.com

Books:

“Your Life is Not a Label: A Guide to Living Fully with Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome” by Jerry Newport

“You’re Going to Love This Kid!: Teaching Students With Autism in the Inclusive Classroom” By Paula Kluth

“Not Even Wrong: Adventures in Autism” By Paul Collins

Any book by Temple Grandin

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Question?: Asperger Syndrome Quiz

Lizzie asks…

Does anyone know of any online quizzes that help to determine aspberger syndrome in adults?

I know that a quiz doesn’t take the place of a bonafide medical diagnosis, but I am curious if any such quizzes are around as indicators. The only ones I have come across thus far are centered around children and teens.

admin answers:

Online Materials
· Case Histories
· Adults with Asperger’s Syndrome Brochure
· Asperger’s Syndrome Fact Sheet

Most of the quizzes are centered around the young,however they can be equally applied to the mature
also.
An example:

Take this simple little quiz.
1. Do they spin objects around and around?
2. Is their speech repetitive, like an echo?
3. Are they attracted to shows like Wheel of Fortune or Jeopardy?
4. Do they like to watch the same movie over and over again?
5. Are they fascinated with numbers and letters?
6. Do they seem unafraid of things that they should be afraid of?
7. Is it hard for them to make eye contact or they simply don’t?
8. Do they shun away from being touched or arch their back when held?
9. Do they like to line objects up in rows?
10. Do they lack the ability to play “with” other children interactively?
11. Do they walk up or down stairs always leading with the same foot?

If you answer yes to three or more of these questions, have them checked out by a professional who is recommended by your local Autism Society. To find more information and resources on Autism and Asperger’s, please visit
http://www.autismtoday.com/

Check the link ,maybe they can help.

Have a pleasant day.

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