Tag Archives: Empathy

Question?: Asperger Syndrome

Carol asks…

what are the questions the psycheatrist make to a person to test asperger syndrome?

when a psycheatrist or a psychologist is testing asperger syndrome in someone, what are the questions they make to them?

admin answers:

I think they have a variety of questions that they follow according to their DSVM medical diagnoses book.

Here are a few sample questions they might ask:
-Do you like working with yourself or do you like working in groups?
-Do you often find yourself into one subject that you can’t stop talking or thinking about?
-Do you notice your arms or hands moving around when you want to communicate?
-When someone asks you to share a toy or chair you refuse to let them use what is considered yours?
-When someone is sad or lost a loved one, you show no empathy towards them.

If you find in most of these questions that are a YES, then that would be a key to what someone may have aspergers syndrome.

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Question?: Autism Symptoms In Adults

Donald asks…

How can you tell if some one has autism?

What are the symptoms?

admin answers:

Autism – Symptoms
Core symptoms
The severity of symptoms varies greatly between individuals, but all people with autism have some core symptoms in the areas of:

Social interactions and relationships. Symptoms may include:
Significant problems developing nonverbal communication skills, such as eye-to-eye gazing, facial expressions, and body posture.
Failure to establish friendships with children the same age.
Lack of interest in sharing enjoyment, interests, or achievements with other people.
Lack of empathy. People with autism may have difficulty understanding another person’s feelings, such as pain or sorrow.
Verbal and nonverbal communication. Symptoms may include:
Delay in, or lack of, learning to talk. As many as 40% of people with autism never speak.1
Problems taking steps to start a conversation. Also, people with autism have difficulties continuing a conversation after it has begun.
Stereotyped and repetitive use of language. People with autism often repeat over and over a phrase they have heard previously (echolalia).
Difficulty understanding their listener’s perspective. For example, a person with autism may not understand that someone is using humor. They may interpret the communication word for word and fail to catch the implied meaning.
Limited interests in activities or play. Symptoms may include:
An unusual focus on pieces. Younger children with autism often focus on parts of toys, such as the wheels on a car, rather than playing with the entire toy.
Preoccupation with certain topics. For example, older children and adults may be fascinated by video games, trading cards, or license plates.
A need for sameness and routines. For example, a child with autism may always need to eat bread before salad and insist on driving the same route every day to school.
Stereotyped behaviors. These may include body rocking and hand flapping.

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Question?: Asperger Syndrome

Steven asks…

what are the symptoms of Asperger syndrome?

i need to know what the symptoms of Asperger Syndrome are. if antone may know please let me know.

admin answers:

If you have Asperger’s Syndrome, you might…

…Not pick up on social cues and may lack inborn social skills, such as being able to read others’ body language, start or maintain a conversation, and take turns talking.

…Dislike any changes in routines.

…Appear to lack empathy.

…Be unable to recognize subtle differences in speech tone, pitch, and accent that alter the meaning of others’ speech. Thus, your child may not understand a joke or may take a sarcastic comment literally. Likewise, his or her speech may be flat and difficult to understand because it lacks tone, pitch, and accent.

…Have a formal style of speaking that is advanced for his or her age. For example, the child may use the word “beckon” instead of “call” or the word “return” instead of “come back.”

…Avoid eye contact or stare at others.

…Have unusual facial expressions or postures.

…Be preoccupied with only one or few interests, which he or she may be very knowledgeable about.

…Be overly interested in parts of a whole or in unusual activities, such as designing houses, drawing highly detailed scenes, or studying astronomy. They may show an unusual interest in certain topics such as snakes, names of stars, or dinosaurs.

…Talk a lot, usually about a favorite subject. One-sided conversations are common. Internal thoughts are often verbalized.

….Have delayed motor development. Your child may be late in learning to use a fork or spoon, ride a bike, or catch a ball. He or she may have an awkward walk. Handwriting is often poor.
Have heightened sensitivity and become overstimulated by loud noises, lights, or strong tastes or textures. For more information about these symptoms, see sensory integration dysfunction.

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Question?: Autism Signs In 3 Year Olds

Paul asks…

Question for parents with autistic children?

My 3year-old daughter has autism, and right now she is in DD Pre-K for 12 hours a week. She loves school, but I feel like I should be doing more for her (like speech therapy, occupational therapy, etc.).

So my question is…what kinds of activities are your autistic children involved in? Thanks so much!

admin answers:

When my daughter was that age, she attended early-intervention pre-K for about 9 hours a week, and had occupational and speech therapy for 1-2 hours per week. Other than that, we just played with her. She loved Barney & Friends and learned a lot from watching that. Plus, because she is such a visual learner, I would sit with her and draw pictures of letters, numbers, etc., and things they represented (A is for apple, draw the A, draw the apple, etc.). I tried to give her opportunities where she could excel, like with colors – she knew them very well and liked them, too, so I would draw rainbows and she would tell me what color to use, when. Or sometimes, for a special treat, we’d mix water with food coloring and then pour the colored water into other jars to make new colors (i.e., red and blue make purple, and so on).

I wish I could say that now (she is 15) my daughter no longer exhibits any signs of autism but that’s not true. She still struggles with language, still attends speech therapy for an hour a week, still has the occasional meltdown, etc. However, I have happy memories of spending that time with her when she was little, and feel fortunate that she is as affectionate with me as she is. I think in the long run, she has taught me more (about things like empathy, patience, and courage) than I ever taught her….

Hope this helps!

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Question?: Autism Symptoms In Adults Checklist

Mark asks…

I think I have autism?

I’m 15 years old and have always struggled in social situations and as a result I’ve been a victim of bullying forcing me to leave school and join a medical needs unit.

How would I be diagnosed with autism? Most sets of criteria match me, such as:

1. I barely ever speak unless I grow attached to somebody (rarely).
2. I find talking for a long amount of time very difficult.
3. I have a habit of making a “hmpt” noise occasionally, it’s like a tick.

There’s many more symptoms that match me but my parents still don’t believe I have autism, even though I have no friends and practically never go outside of my house due to insecurities from the bullying I suffered. I don’t match the problems of not being able to feel empathy towards others and quite a few more things, but the amount of criteria that I match is very overwhelming for me.

admin answers:

Prior to my first child’s diagnosis with classic Autism, someone my mom worked with met my children and said, “I didn’t know you had Autistic grandkids! I work at a school for my other job in the Autism program…”. She relayed this to me and I freaked out, not knowing much at all about Autism. I looked online and found all kinds of checklists on websites. Not one of them did my child’s symptoms match completely, so I told myself he was wrong, and that was that. My son never walked on his tippy-toes and he had imaginary friends and played pretend all the time. Guess what? The child whose symptoms I was researching was diagnosed with a severe form of Autism about a month later. So I am here to tell you that if you have a lot of the stuff on the criteria lists going on with you, it’s entirely possible you could have Autism. Not confirming you DO, only a professional could say for sure, but it is possible.
There are a few ways to find out for sure, such as going in for an evaluation at a psychologist’s office. The behaviors and habits you have will be listed, looked over, and charted, and if a pattern emerges they will recommend you see a psychiatrist, who will read that information prior to meeting you and then make a diagnosis. You could try telling your parents you need to see a therapist about emotional issues or whatever and get that doctor to refer you somewhere else, that may be your best route if your parents don’t want to know what’s at the root of the issues you are having and have had in the past. Sometimes people just prefer not to know things that are difficult to face up to, or are of the mindset that problems will work themselves out on their own. Not sure if this is what’s going on with your parents, it’s hard to say because I don’t know them, but if this bothers you to this extent maybe it’s best to find out. Also maybe you could ask a school guidance counselor what they recommend, they’re usually good for at least bouncing ideas off of. Or if worst comes to worst and your parents absolutely won’t allow it, you could wait that extra 3 years until you are legally an adult and just go to the psychologist as an adult seeking answers.

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Taking a Look at Aspergers Symptoms

Aspergers syndrome is on the range of behaviors classified as Autism Spectrum Disorder. Aspergers is considered to be at the high end of functioning for patients suffering from autism. Diagnosis at this end of the range can sometimes be difficult because symptoms can be subtle depending on the functionality of the involved individual.

The behaviors known to make up the spectrum of autism are very much social in nature. They can be detected in familial interactions as well as alone time. It is the social implications of the behaviors that speak to the necessity of its early diagnosis.

Probably the most commonly known symptom for autism comes in the form of repetitive behaviors. This particular symptom can be seen all across the spectrum. It is the degree to which such patterns are practiced as well as what it takes to cause cessation that can be useful in determining the severity of the disease.

Obviously, if an individual is so committed to knocking his/her head against the wall that he/she cannot be distracted, functioning is very much impaired and diagnosis would be on the low end of the spectrum. However, repetitive behaviors practiced on a much smaller scale can be seen by observers as annoyances instead of symptoms. That can be a problem for an undiagnosed aspergers victim.

Other symptoms of Aspergers are not so obvious. Individuals afflicted can have problems with social interactions and may present like they are not even interested in them. Difficulties with communication can look like speech issues when they could in fact be caused by an inability to read body language or other skills necessary for conversation.

Creative play, abstract thinking, and changing course outside their little box can be very difficult too making interactive play and teamwork a struggle. Aspergers kids can also be very literal setting them up to not understand the nuances of communication and cooperation. Understanding the concept of sharing and the importance of empathy can all be challenging to grasp.

Any combination of these aspergers symptoms leaves an afflicted person with a list of behaviors that interfere with social interactions and prevent relationship building. Despite the fact many look like they don’t care about relationships, most want to fit in just like the rest of us. Early intervention to teach necessary social skills can give those diagnosed with Asperger’s Sypmtoms the tools they need to lead happy, productive lives.

If you would like to know more, check out the many resources available on the web, and do not forget to view the Asperger’s Sypmtoms

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Asperger’s Syndrome Child: Developing Social Skills at Home and School by Teaching Empathy

Many parents feel notice that their child with Asperger’s syndrome of high functioning autism shows little if any empathy for others which inhibits their social skills. These children can seem aloof or selfish and uncaring.

But any parent with a child on the autism spectrum knows that outward appearances can be deceiving. Our loved ones with Asperger’s syndrome of high functioning autism are very caring and feeling beings. But they often have difficulties understanding the feelings of others which is a contributing factor to the well known autism symptom — lack of social skills. Often times, we see this inability to understand another person’s feelings as a lack of empathy.

How Can a Person with Asperger’s Syndrome Develop a Sense of Empathy and Improve Social Skills?

Lack of emotional readiness, sensory overwhelm, and lack of relevant experiences can all contribute and help explain why your child with Asperger’s syndrome may seem distant or uncaring of others feelings.

In this article, we will talk about the process of developing empathy — an important ingredient in improving social skills. Below, a young adult with Asperger’s syndrome shares her experiences and feelings to help us understand how those with Asperger’s syndrome feel and cope.

If a child with Asperger’s syndrome or high functioning autism is disconnected from people when he is young, due to different brain wiring, this sense of difference is likely to persist and cause him to withdraw from people and experiences over the years. The more he thinks of himself as a person who can’t connect with other people, the less likely he will be to try.

In order to develop social skills, one must practice. But if a child continually fails in his or her social interactions, they will eventually become discouraged and give up.

Experiences of a Young Adult with Asperger’s Syndrome —

I moved to a house with a 94 year old, very vibrant and active roommate two years ago. This woman, Madeline, has the most welcoming smile and presence I have ever felt. I immediately felt calm and comfortable in her presence, which never happens for me. I started spending more and more time with her, watching TV and talking about nothing important — just soaking up her gentleness and positivity, her utter acceptance of me. Every time she smiled at me, it made me happy.

I thought this behavior — willingly spending time with another person — quite out of character for me, but I kept doing it. Madeline was always happy to see me. Merely entering the room could make her face light up. Therefore I started feeling a sense of connection to her.

Some of these principles, especially high affect — Madeline was a very passionate speaker with highly evident emotions — as well as pure acceptance, gentleness and meeting someone on common ground are some of the very principles of the autism therapy floortime. (Floortime is a therapy designed to increase emotional and cognitive connections in an autistic person’s brain, and to bring the person slowly into the world around them by first joining them in their world.)

Madeline had wonderful social skills. She had the ability to make me feel welcomes and to draw me out.

My Relationship with My Roommate Increases My Empathy and Improved My Social Skills —

After I had been living here about seven months, Madeline had to go to the hospital for about two weeks because of a problem in her leg. The first night she was there, I worried about her constantly. I kept thinking “But she was always talking about how much she hated hospital food!” I hoped she had something good to eat and was being well taken care of.

This probably sounds quite unremarkable, except I had never before worried about someone on quite an emotional level before. I had always expressed sympathy (when I remembered) and felt intellectually things like “I hope so and so gets better soon. That’s terrible. Well, I hope it works out,” but never really on a gut stabbing, stomach hurting, almost visceral emotional level before.

It rather took me by surprise. While the feelings were of a negative nature, I was so happy to have them (upon later reflection) because they made me feel so much more connected to the human race! I didn’t feel so isolated inside myself when I had those feelings.

So That’s What They Were Thinking!

Later on, at different times, two of my friends began having severe health problems of the same sort that I had experienced a few years ago. They were both long distance, so I was limited in what I could do to help them.

I had many long phone conversations with one friend, Elaine, trying to provide both emotional support and practical solutions. After the often hour long conversations, I was drained and in emotional turmoil. I felt helpless. I wanted to ease her pain so much. I wanted to make things better for her. I did what I could, but it wasn’t much. It almost felt like too much to deal with, but I would never walk away from her.

After a few phone calls like this, I got an epiphany. So THAT’S what my parents and friends were feeling during all of my crisis phone calls to them! Years before I had called them during my own health crisis in tears. They tried to help, but I just felt more alone. I kept telling them “YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND!” I was convinced they didn’t care, because they often had a hard time showing their emotions about the situation and I had an even harder time reading what they did say.

I would mention something that was bothering me and be hurt when my grandfather would change the subject without any response. “Why didn’t you say anything?” I would ask him. “You know how I feel,” he would say. “No, I don’t!” I would tell him. “Come on, you know I feel bad for you,” he’d say. “No, I don’t!” I’d repeat.

I truly felt isolated from those that were trying to help me because I couldn’t imagine how they were feeling towards me. Why? Because I had never felt that way towards anyone else. How could I even know those feelings existed, or at least know what they felt like?

Relationships Develop Empathy for a Person with Asperger’s Syndrome —

If you can understand how others are thinking, you can feel more connected to them. You can understand their needs more and feel the desire to fill them. This, as I understand it, is empathy. Without the kind of interactions and friendships that foster this awareness (that so many on the autism spectrum don’t have), you’re stuck pretending to be functioning in a world you don’t understand one bit, longing for emotional connection and having everyone around you think you’re self-centered and uncaring about others. Without these emotional connections you never really can have sufficient social skills to develop deep and nurturing relationships.

I believe empathy lives in every single person — but the right experiences and circumstances have to be present to bring it out.

Tips for Parents and Those with Asperger’s Syndrome or Autism

Try to expose your child to social situations and experiences that they haven’t had before, within the limits of their abilities. Social groups, summer camps, anything that will offer the ability to foster these forms of relationships. Make sure the programs are well matched to your child’s needs, though.
For children, social stories are also a good way for a parent to focus on development of social skills and empathy. You can create your own social stories with your child by drawing pictures of people and events and adding captions to the stores. Perhaps a relative that your child knows was in the hospital. Maybe a friend fell off their bike and scraped their knee. Think of an event that your child can relate to. By developing a story around this event, you can help your child fill in the emotions that the people in the story felt — worry, fear, sadness — to help your child with Asperger’s syndrome practice empathy.
You can also purchase books that are specifically designed to teach empathy and feelings. Check out Amazon.com which has arrange of these books.
Many therapists can help your child with Asperger’s syndrome learn social skills by focusing on developing empathy. Check with your school or a local Asperger’s syndrome or autism support group. There may be a class offered by your local education department. So many children with autism and Asperger’s syndrome need this type of training that classes are common.
Consider purchasing videos or audio tapes. Many companies sell videos specifically geared to children to help them understand the feelings of others. After all, practice makes perfect. One good thing about videos is that they can help your child read facial expressions. Children with high functioning autism and Asperger’s syndrome often have challenges reading facial expressions. Videos can make a point of highlighting the aspects of facial expressions. And by allowing your child to watch the video many times, they can pick up a lot of clues to reading the feelings expressed by a person’s mannerisms, gestures and facial expressions.
For adults with Asperger’s syndrome, try to expose yourself to different social opportunities. Also consider therapy to try to help you work through these issues.

And for further tips and techniques to help your children with Asperger’s syndrome live a happy and fulfilled life, go to the web site AspergersSociety.org and http://www.autismparenthood.com/. There you will be able to sign up for the free Asperger’s and Autism newsletter as well as get additional information to help your loved ones thrive on the autism spectrum.

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Seven Tips for Selecting an Asperger’s Syndrome Therapist

It can often be helpful for those with Asperger’s syndrome or high-functioning autism to have a respected and knowledgeable therapist to help them process their emotions and understand more social nuances, among other things. People with Asperger’s syndrome often have trouble understanding the world around them, and as a result often carry around a lot of frustration. They might have resentment from ways they were treated in the past that they don’t understand. But what kind of psychotherapist would be most effective for someone with Asperger’s syndrome or high functioning autism?

There are many different types of therapists out there. Many believe that the best therapists tend to be the ones who don’t subscribe to any particular theory, but instead use a variety of therapies depending on what they think will help each individual client.

Seek Empathy and a Connection in a Therapist for Asperger’s Syndrome

You don’t want a therapist that makes you feel like you’re talking to a wall and never gives you much of a response to anything. You don’t want a therapist whose only contribution is to say “And how does that make you feel?” occasionally. While it’s not bad to help you try to get to your emotions, they need to help teach you how to deal with the emotions, too. It’s too easy for some therapists to just sit back and do nothing. Most children, teenagers and adults with autism need to be taught and given tips on how to process feelings and improve their communication. Seek a therapist who has this approach.

Top 7 Criteria for a Therapist for treating Asperger’s Syndrome and High Functioning Autism

1. Engagement – You do want a therapist who is as engaged with you as possible.

They are asking questions, they are listening to your answers and showing they are listening (perhaps by repeating what you have said or some sort of verbal clue), and they are asking intelligent follow-up questions. Most children, teenagers and adults with Asperger’s syndrome need to be constantly engaged in a social interaction in order to stay attentive and interested in what’s going on.

2. Experience – It helps if the therapist has an intimate knowledge of Asperger’s syndrome.

There are too many therapists who, knowing little or nothing about Asperger’s, will attribute your social problems or anxiety to everything but what is really causing it. That’s not helpful. In fact, it’s a waste of your time. They will also fail to understand when you talk about how you see the world, because in all likelihood, they haven’t spent a lot of time looking at the world in that way.

Now, this is not to say that all therapists without experience with Asperger’s syndrome patients are ineffective, but they have to be willing to learn. And sometimes, you have to be willing to teach them. Don’t stick with anyone who refuses to open their mind to your way of thinking.

3. A therapist treating Asperger’s should have high affect/be able to show emotions well.

Most people with Asperger’s have trouble reading nonverbal language. So, it only follows that a therapist that uses mostly nonverbal language to communicate is really NOT going to work for a person with Asperger’s syndrome.

Most people with Asperger’s want one thing — to be understood. Now, a therapist likely thinks he or she understandings what the person with Asperger’s syndrome is saying. But unless the therapist SHOWS it frustration may result.

A good therapist will communicate using exaggerated emotion in his or her voice and face, and by using verbal language such as “I see what you mean” and “You’re saying that you feel like X”. Unless a therapist uses these active communication methods, most children, teenagers and adults with Asperger’s syndrome or high functioning autism will just sit there thinking that the therapist is yet another person who has no clue what their life and struggles are like.

In other words, don’t bring your loved one to see a stone faced therapist who never cracks a smile, no matter how smart they are reputed to be. People with Asperger’s syndrome want someone who understands what they are going through — most people in their life won’t.

4. The Asperger’s syndrome therapist should be able to give advice or suggestions in a very concrete way.

Ideas presented should be short and to the point. They should be as blunt as possible. Nothing ever gets accomplished for a person with Asperger’s syndrome or high functioning autism if the therapist is “beating around the bush”. A good therapist treating a child with Asperger’s syndrome can use visuals if necessary. Humor may help to break the ice. Above all, the therapist needs to be genuine. And no therapist treating a person with Asperger’s syndrome should hide behind psychological terms. The therapist must ensure that the person with Asperger’s syndrome is able to relate to them.

5. Physical environment of the therapist’s office is important.

The physical environment is very important. The seats should be comfortable, the lights not too bright or dim, and there should be no aromatherapy or noticeable scents, as many with Asperger’s syndrome and high functioning autism are sensitive to that. The receptionist, if there is one, should be friendly and helpful, as they are the first contact you have upon entering the office. There should be no blaring music. It should not be too difficult to get there. A stressful journey by bus or car will make it harder to get a person with Asperger’s syndrome into an open state of mind upon arrival. This is not always possible, but it’s one point to consider.

6. Patients should be able to feel some sense of connection or comfort with the therapist.

This goes for everyone seeking therapy, not just those with Asperger’s syndrome. There are plenty of therapists out there. Don’t stay with one you hate. You want to feel a sense of safety with them. (This may take a few weeks or longer to grow, however.)

7. The Asperger’s syndrome therapist should be able to help you understand your own thoughts.

Many people with Asperger’s, although by no means all, have trouble expressing their emotions. Children sometimes have trouble figuring out how they feel about a given situation–as do teen and adults. A good therapist will help the client verbalize their emotions, and ask yes or no questions to try to help sort things out.

If you are a parent, these are the qualities you should be looking for in a therapist for your loved one with Asperger’s syndrome or high functioning autism. The same goes if you are an adult with Asperger’s syndrome.

Finding the ideal therapist to treat may not be quick or easy and may take several tries. If you are having trouble finding a therapist, you may want to go to the Psychology Today site, which has a wonderfully useful listing of all the therapists in your area and what they specialize in. It is super easy to email them and ask questions to figure out which ones might be best for you. But typically the most effective methods to find a great therapist to help a child, teen or adult with Asperger’s syndrome or autism is to ask for referrals from an autism society, friends with autism or with autistic kids, or local doctors.

And for further tips and techniques to help adults and children with Asperger’s syndrome live a happy and fulfilled life,  go to the web site AspergersSociety.org and http://www.autismparenthood.com/. There you will be able to sign up for the free Asperger’s and Autism newsletter as well as get additional information to help your loved ones thrive on the autism spectrum.

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Brain Cells Found In Monkeys That May Be Linked To Self-Awareness And Empathy In Humans

Main Category: Autism
Also Included In: Psychology / Psychiatry;  Alzheimer’s / Dementia;  Alcohol / Addiction / Illegal Drugs
Article Date: 23 May 2012 – 0:00 PDT Current ratings for:
‘Brain Cells Found In Monkeys That May Be Linked To Self-Awareness And Empathy In Humans’
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The anterior insular cortex is a small brain region that plays a crucial role in human self-awareness and in related neuropsychiatric disorders. A unique cell type – the von Economo neuron (VEN) – is located there. For a long time, the VEN was assumed to be unique to humans, great apes, whales and elephants. Henry Evrard, neuroanatomist at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Tübingen, Germany, now discovered that the VEN occurs also in the insula of macaque monkeys. The morphology, size and distribution of the monkey VEN suggest that it is at least a primal anatomical homolog of the human VEN. This finding offers new and much-needed opportunities to examine in detail the connections and functions of a cell and brain region that could have a key role in human self-awareness and in mental disorders including autism and specific forms of dementia.

The insular cortex, or simply insula, is a hidden cortical region folded and tucked away deep in the brain – an island within the cortex. Within the last decade, the insula has emerged from darkness as having a key role in diverse functions usually linked to our internal bodily states, to our emotions, to our self-awareness, and to our social interactions. The very anterior part of the insula in particular is where humans consciously sense subjective emotions, such as love, hate, resentment, self-confidence or embarrassment. In relation to these feelings, the anterior insula is involved in various psychopathologies. Damage of the insula leads to apathy, and to the inability to tell what feelings we or our conversational partner experience. These inabilities and alteration of the insula are also encountered in autism and other highly detrimental neuropsychiatric disorders including the behavioural variant of frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD).

The von Economo neuron (VEN) occurs almost exclusively in the anterior insula and anterior cingulate cortex. Until recently it was believed that the VEN is only present in humans, great apes and some large-brained mammals with complex social behaviour such as whales and elephants. In contrast to the typical neighbouring pyramidal neuron that is present in all mammals and all brain regions, the VEN has a peculiar spindle shape and is about three times as large. Their numeral density is selectively altered in autism and bvFTD. Henry Evrard and his team, at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Tübingen now discovered VENs in the anterior insula in macaque monkeys. His present work provides compelling evidence that monkeys possess at least a primitive form of the human VEN although they do not have the ability to recognize themselves in a mirror, a behavioural hallmark of self-awareness.

“This means, other than previously believed, that highly concentrated VEN populations are not an exclusivity of hominids, but also occurs in other primate species”, explains Henry Evrard. “The VEN phylogeny needs to be reexamined. Most importantly, the very much-needed analysis of the connections and physiology of these specific neurons is now possible.” Knowing the functions of the VEN and its connections to other regions of the brain in monkeys could give us clues on the evolution of the anatomical substrate of self-awareness in humans and may help us in better understanding serious neuropsychiatric disabilities including autism, or even addictions such as to drugs or smoking.

Article adapted by Medical News Today from original press release. Click ‘references’ tab above for source.
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Coping With Road Blocks

Recently a number of families I work with have been stymied by their children getting stuck. These are children with Asperger Syndrome, nonverbal learning disability, obsessive compulsive disorder, or some combination of those. During the course of a normal day, these kids hit road blocks that trigger outbursts. Often the cause is a change in plans that seemed inconsequential to you. You might say, “On our way home, I’m stopping at the grocery. Want to come in?” Child: “Nooooo. You always do this, etc.” Or you might say, “Your brother has a friend over.” Child: “I won’t go in the house.” Or on a pleasant family outing to an ice cream store you say, “They’re all out of confetti sprinkles, but they have the chocolate ones.” Child: “Noooooo.”

Any one of these scenarios can trigger an outburst that could last five to forty minutes or more.

You get the picture, and you have been there. It is very frustrating for a parent to deal with this behavior. It can seem as though your child is incredibly self-centered, immature or badly behaved. When it happens in public, it is embarrassing.

You have a child who is wired to be rigid. Imagine what it must feel like to have your anxiety peak over a minor change in routine. Imagine that you are headed down the track on a bobsled run and suddenly the track has new turns. You skid, you careen, and you might be pretty anxious and angry. I think that is a little of what these children experience. The emotional discomfort triggers the outrageous behavior.

So what is a parent to do?

First, consider the last paragraph about what a child experiences. Try to have some empathy for your child. It’s a tall order, but it is very helpful.

When your child is out of control, concentrate only on what will help him or her settle down. This means that you cannot argue or reason with him at this time. You simply do not have a rationale partner for this. On the other hand, I don’t mean offer him the world so he will quiet down. Just don’t make it worse by arguing and scolding. That means that you might be in a fairly awkward situation, but there is nothing to be done about it then – once your child is out of control the “horse has left the barn,” so to speak.

When your child is calm, you can address the situation again if it is still relevant. But the passage of time may have changed this.

Punishments are not helpful this type of problem. Your child needs to learn to recognize his or her emotional discomfort and learn coping strategies. No amount of punishment or reward can teach this.

Using empathy, begin a conversation with your child about how to manage the outbursts. Consult a psychologist if you need to, to help with this. Once your child is learning some strategies, incentives can be helpful to motivate him or her to use them.

Good luck. This is a long process. Because it has to do with neural networks, it will take some time for your child to learn to cope with it. The important thing to understand is that you do not have a spoiled child – you have a rigid one with poor coping skills.

Parent Coach and Licensed Psychologist, Carolyn Stone, Ed.D. ( http://www.drcarolynstone.com/ ) educates parents of children with learning disabilities, ADHD, Asperger Syndrome and anxiety about their children’s needs using humor and evidence-based practices. Parents learn new strategies through role play and homework. She teaches children to manage their anxiety and attention and to understand their learning styles. You can learn about Dr. Stone’s work from her blog at http://www.drcarolynstone.com/blog/.

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