Tag Archives: Imaginative Play

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 6 Year Old

James asks…

how do i distinguish autism from a learning disability?

how would one know if they are autistic or have a learning disability or perhaps both?

admin answers:

Some of the behaviors that both of my autistic spectrum children have esp. When they were young, my 7 year old still has are: hand flapping and pigeon toe-walking (during the younger years); esp. When they were nervous or worried; repetitive actions esp. My daughter did this. She would not really play with toys just line them up, no imaginative play, not really much doll play, mostly just lined up stuffed animals or whatever.

Most autism are said to have delayed lang. Like my son, he saw a speech therapist at 3 because he was not speaking. But my daughter on the other hand was an early speaker at 6 months, but did a lot of echolalia where she would repeat phrases over and over again (so my husband really had to watch his language!!!) They are also very obsessive about things. I think all kids have this to some extent, but they really take it to another level. They always have an obsession and it is very difficult, almost impossible for them to focus on anything else. Currently, my daughter is obsessed with Pokemon, before that dragons, before that dinosaurs, human body, etc!

They also both have sensory integration disorder which my son has the most severely. He cannot stand being touched, hugged, or kissed. They both cannot stand anything sticky being touched and eat fried or barbecued chicken by encasing it with paper towels (they love the taste but hate the feeling!) My son used to scream being bathed or touching grass (still doesn’t like baths!)

My daughter doesn’t seem to have any noticeable learning disabilities, but my son does have the dyslexia that his father and grandmother do. That has been addressed with a lot of Orton Gillingham reading programs, phonemic awareness (also called phonological awareness) programs, phonics, vocabulary, etc.

You can tell if one is dyslexic pretty quickly by going to http://www.interdys.org/servlet/compose?section_id=5&page_id=41 (If you have an older or younger child, click on the Symptoms for Preschool Child or 5th-8th or High School & College or Adults and look at the symptoms according to age.

My son has always exhibited all the symptoms of each age as a preschooler and as he has grown. The addition of his dad and his grandmother having dyslexia (I believe dyslexia is genetic in origin) and if there is a strong family history of dyslexia that is another good clue.

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Question?: Asperger Syndrome Quiz

Joseph asks…

How do i know if i have Semantic Pragmatic Disorder or Asbergers?

or autism if i do how can i cure it or treat it can a get any prescription

admin answers:

ASPERGER’S:
Quiz: http://www.rdos.net/eng/ ~~~

The term ‘semantic pragmatic disorder’ has been around for nearly l5 years. Originally it was only used to describe children who were not autistic.

Features it includes are:-

delayed language development
learning to talk by memorising phrases, instead of putting words together freely
repeating phrases out of context, especially snippets remembered from television programmes
muddling up ‘I’ and ‘you’
problems with understanding questions, particularly questions involving ‘how’ and ‘why’
difficulty following conversations
Children with this disorder have problems understanding the meaning of what other people say, and they do not understand how to use speech appropriately themselves.

Soon both research and practical experience yielded two important findings:

Many people who definitely are autistic have this kind of language disorder (Dustin Hoffman’s character Raymond in the film ‘Rainman’ being a typical example).
Most of the children diagnosed as having semantic pragmatic disorder do also have some mild autistic features. For example, they usually have difficulty understanding social situations and expectations, they like to stick fairly rigidly to routines, and they lack imaginative play.
For a while some language therapists maintained there was still an important difference between children with semantic pragmatic disorder and children who were truly autistic. They believed the autistic features seen in children with semantic pragmatic disorder were only a result of their difficulty with language.

However, further research has shown that there is probably a single underlying cognitive impairment which produces both the autistic features and the semantic pragmatic disorder . The fact that children with semantic pragmatic disorder have problems understanding the meaning and significance of events, as well the meaning and significance of speech, seems to bear this out.

Eventually the idea of an autistic continuum was used to explain the situation. All the children on the continuum have semantic pragmatic difficulties, but the degree of their other autistic impairments can be severe or moderate or mild. This parallels the autistic continuum relating Asperger syndrome, where all the children have a marked social impairment but those with Asperger syndrome have only a relatively mild and subtle language impairment.

It seems that children who are diagnosed as having a semantic pragmatic disorder might more accurately be described as high-functioning autistic. Clinicians tend to give all autistic children who have good intelligence the label Asperger syndrome, even if a child actually has very limited speech. But there are important differences between bright autistic children with semantic pragmatic difficulties and bright autistic children with Asperger syndrome. Children with semantic pragmatic difficulties have usually learnt to talk late, whereas (according to diagnostic guidelines) children with Asperger syndrome were able to talk in sentences by the age of three. Also children with semantic pragmatic difficulties do better on performance IQ tests than verbal IQ tests, whereas with children with Asperger syndrome the results tend to be the other way round. However, if a child with semantic pragmatic difficulties eventually becomes a fluent talker, the difference between the labels ‘high functioning autistic’ and ‘ Asperger syndrome’ becomes fairly academic.

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Question?: Rett Syndrome Research

Ruth asks…

What is difference betweeen these types of autism….?

Core autism and atypical autism
if you have used resources please state its for case study.
Thanks

admin answers:

A simple Google will find many sources on the web. In this way you will be able to find what you want and what fits your research. In the mean time here are a few of the many types of autism.
Autistic disorder. This is what most people think of when they hear the word “autism.” It refers to problems with social interactions, communication and imaginative play in children younger than 3 years.
Asperger’s syndrome. These children don’t have a problem with language — in fact, they tend to score in the average or above-average range on intelligence tests. But they have the same social problems and limited scope of interests as children with autistic disorder.
Pervasive developmental disorder or PDD — also known as atypical autism. This is a kind of catchall category for children who have some autistic problems but who don’t fit into other categories.
Rett’s disorder. Known to occur only in girls, Rett’s children begin to develop normally. Then they begin to lose their communication and social skills. Beginning at the age of 1 to 4 years, repetitive hand movements replace purposeful use of the hands.
Childhood disintegrative disorder. These children develop normally for at least two years, and then lose some or most of their communication and social skills.

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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?: Autistic Kids

Thomas asks…

Is there a store that sells toys for autistic kids in Washington DC?

IF there is a store in Washington DC that sells toys especially intended for autistic kids, I need to know either the name and location or the website.
Thank you very much for your help.

admin answers:

Http://ezinearticles.com/?10-Great-Toys-For-an-Autistic-Child&id=460104

Here’s a good article that recommends toys to buy for autistic kids.

My son has high functioning autism. When he was a toddler, I found that electronic toys were not a good play toy for him. He was obsessed with the lights, or the buzzing or whatever noise it made. He did not “play” with it.

Try to find toys that the child can have meaningful play with and will foster imaginative play. Buy a dollhouse with figures and demonstrate for him what these figures do in their house. Or get building blocks to help with motor coordination.

I wouldn’t buy any “special” autistic toys. Plain old regular toys will work just fine.

Http://www.discoverytoysinc.com/autism.htm

Actually, Discovery toys has very good toys. They can be for any child, autistic or not. Here’s their website and they say their toys are suitable for autistic children. I have a few of their toys. They are kind of expensive, but of excellent quality.
(We have Whiz Kids and The Brain Game – both of my children, one with HFA and the other typical, LOVE these games).

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Question?: Autism Symptoms In 7 Year Old

Ken asks…

Do you have a child with high functioning autism?

My 2 and a half year old is being evaluated for this. At what age did you notice issues and what were they?

admin answers:

Yes, I have a 7 and a half-year-old daughter who has been officially diagnosed with HFA.

Every kid is different in the behaviours/symptoms they display, but the main ones that my daughter had were very late development of her verbal abilities, difficulties transitioning from one activity to another, lack of eye contact, lining up toys, and spinning/rocking actions known as “stimming”.

The main behaviors they are going to focus on when they evaluate your child are going to be in several areas. They will probably ask a lot of questions about how he/she interacts with others, as well as questions about whether or not he/she engages in imaginative play (most autistic kids don’t).

Since sensory issues are also a frequent feature of autism (at any functioning level), they will also ask if your child has issues with noises (likes to make noise or is especially sensitive to noise) or has extreme attactions or aversions to certain textures.

Autism is a relatively complicated condition; the sooner your child can get help, the better off he/she will be.

Best of luck to you.

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“My kid is just like yours. Except when he’s not,” and other confessions of an autism mom

How does a mother manage when it’s not immediately obvious that their child is on the autism spectrum? A fellow lurking mom, Christa Dahlstrom, executive producer of a new show for quirky kids and their families called Flummox and Friends tells her story. Just Passing Through is a chapter from THINKING PERSONS GUIDE TO AUTISM:

***

Just passing through

If you spotted my son on the playground or at recess, he wouldn’t stand out from the other kids. Like most boys this age, he loves playing any made-up game that involves running, shouting, fighting bad guys, fighting robots, or fighting bad guy-robots.

If you were to watch him, you might even be impressed at the way he’s able to invent elaborate imaginative play scenarios and enlist other kids – kids he’s never even met – to join in the story. “A born leader,” you might think. “What an imagination.” You might also be impressed by his sophisticated vocabulary, peppered with “suddenly” and “meanwhile” and “actually” and maybe an occasional “shall” substituted for “will” for extra flair. “Smart kid. Polite, too,” you think, as you watch him introduce himself to kids and adults and request their names with an Emily Post-ian correctness.

But if you hung around the playground for a while longer and watched carefully, you might see his confidence and exuberance shift to frustration. As the other children take the made up story in another direction, or no particular direction at all, he will run after them shouting, “Wait! Stop! Come back!” Red faced and neck veins popping, on the verge of tears: “You’re not LISTENING to me!” he accuses.

The other kids are simply tired of trying to remember which part of the blacktop is the lava and which part is the alligator swamp and just want to swing on the monkey bars. He might yank their arm, or even shove them aggressively when they ignore his directives.

Now you (okay, maybe not you, but someone) might have a different view: “Bossy as all get out, that kid. He’s out of control. Probably spoiled rotten at home.”

And if you hung around even a little longer, you’d see something else entirely. You might see my son all by himself, walking back and forth, around in circles, happily talking to no one in particular.

***********************

It’s not immediately obvious that my son is on the autism spectrum. Like so many people who sit, toes dangling, on a certain end of the spectrum he often “passes” for neurotypical.

When a child doesn’t show the obvious outward signs that have come to signify autism, and when that child is precociously verbal, obviously bright, and has a strong social urge, we often assume that the child doesn’t require specialized support. Behaviors that result from challenges with social interaction, language differences or sensory processing difficulties appear as plain old garden-variety bad behavior.

After all, he doesn’t look disabled. A kindergartner who reads at a third grade level, after all, should know better.

Sometimes, I’ll find myself striking up a conversation with another parent I’ve never met or barely know. I go through a set of mental gymnastics to try and determine if I should “disclose” or not. The longer the conversation goes, the harder it is to engage honestly without saying something about my son being on the spectrum. When I do, often the conversation continues easily without a blip.

But occasionally, when I say something about Asperger’s or autism, I’ve gotten an eye-rolling response that goes something like this:

Oh, I just hate all those labels they give kids these days. Why do they have to turn every little problem into a psychological condition?

The optimist in me wants to hear this as supportive (Let’s not pathologize differences!) but the paranoid, parent-on-the-defensive in me hears it as dismissive:

There’s nothing really different about those kids that a swat on the behind wouldn’t cure.

They’re old enough to know how behave.

You’re just excusing bad behavior by giving it a fancy name.

With these imagined judgments ringing in my ears, watching my son mix it up with a crowd of typically developing kids feels like watching him perform a high wire act. I scrutinize his steps watching for the tiny bobble or misstep. I run around underneath him with the net rather than gazing up and marveling at the amazing feat.

*********************

Let’s go back to that imaginary playground I was telling you about. What would you see if you – or that generic someone – were to watch me?

I might not be among the parents who are chatting with each other or enjoying their novel on the bench. You’d see me lurking somewhat close to the action. Occasionally, you might see me prompting my son to answer another child’s question or helping to interpret the what’s going on: “It looks like they’re changing the game. They want you to join.” And sometimes, I might interpret my son’s behavior for other children: “I don’t think he heard you. Can you ask him again?” or “I think he wants you to be a pirate with him.”

My son is at an age where having a lurking mom isn’t yet the ultimate un-cool stigma. But soon, my well-intentioned attempts to help him fit in – to pass – will only make it more difficult for him to do so.

So here I stand, on the playground, at the birthday party, in the schoolyard, taking the somewhat complicated position that, “My kid is just like yours. Except when he’s not.”

Wanting him to be “just one of the guys,” but hoping he’ll feel proud someday to claim his differences.

Wanting him to be independent, but hoping he’ll be able to get support when he needs it.

Wanting him to develop the skills he’ll need to do things that don’t come naturally, but hoping that he surrounds himself with people who let him know it’s okay when he can’t.

Wanting him to fit in, but hoping he’ll always let his quirky light shine.

I guess I’m the one trying to pass; the one who is conflicted about dual identities, the one who worries that I stand out as the lurker mom and not the cool sidelines mom.

But it’s not about me. It’s about him and the ways in which he will shape his own identity, however he chooses to do that, when I’m not there holding the net.

***

Christa Dahlstrom is a writer living in Oakland, and the mother of an eight year old son who rocks the autism spectrum, makes movies, and is mastering the comedic timing of the spit take. She is also the executive producer of a new show for quirky kids and their families called Flummox and Friends. She writes about her parenting adventures at Hyperlexicon.

Got  questions? Need resources? Email me here citybights@sfgate.com and I will do my very best to help.

***

FOLLOW ME on FACEBOOK and TWITTER and read the first three chapters of A REGULAR GUY:GROWING UP WITH AUTISM HERE.

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Autism – What Causes Autism and How Can You Prevent It

Autism is a neurodevelopment disorder that causes delays in social interaction, language as used in social communication, and/or imaginative play, that originates prior to 3 years of age, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

What causes Autism? This question is still answered with open-ended possibilities. Autism in laymen terms is an otherwise healthy person that cannot either speak in a given language format, interact with others in a social setting, or becomes emotionally triggered by very normal functions of others around them.

Autism studies have found a distinctive link with people diagnosed with autism and their unusually high heavy metal content in their blood. Mercury and lead seem to read high in their blood count. The body’s ability to defuse or expunge certain metals causes a build up or high concentration of these metals and the link suggests that this build up of heavy metals seems to block certain social solving skills in the brain.

Retention of these heavy metals in the body creates a severe imbalance in the ratio of active to inactive glutathione, the body’s most important tool for detoxifying and excreting metals. Glutathione works as an antioxidant, which regulates the potentially destructive process of oxidative stress caused both by normal metabolism and environmental contaminants. Autistic children showed a significant impairment in every one of five measurements of the body’s ability to maintain a healthy glutathione defense.

Autism has increased 10-fold from 6 in 10,000 in the 1980s, to about 60 in 10,000 today. Boys are higher candidates than girls of having autism. Since the discovery link of heavy metals in autistic people, there are some studies that suggest that if you can reduce or aid in expunging metal content from the body through the skin’s pores using a special cream, testing has shown to produce some very significant, almost immediate results.

So how does these heavy metals get into the body? One very elusive method that we seldom hear about is through vaccines. The preservatives that were placed in the vaccines were found to have adverse affects that could account for some of this metal build up. As of 2002 these preservatives have been removed.

Our food supply is also a big contributor of metals. Fish and shellfish can contain high levels of mercury. Women would are of child bearing age are warned to avoid these foods if they are anticipating pregnancy. Green leafy plants can retain levels of lead from the soil. So, basically you can come in contact with several ways of ingesting these offensive metals.

The intake is not as much the problem, as the releasing of these essential minerals. If a person cannot release these minerals, then the build-up appears to cause or at least contribute to the symptoms of autism. Autism is not something to be ashamed of, understand that your child is relying on you to get the help they need asap, for a more responsive life.

Bottom line is to have a child tested as soon as you notice certain behavioral problems that just aren’t normal. For instance,

– autistic children will avoid eye to eye contact

– they don’t interact with other children well, they like playing alone

– they don’t form words, or mimic your coaching words

– they can be sensitive to normal sounds, like that of a vacuum cleaner

– they tend to want to line up there toys in straight lines and become upset if they are rearranged

– they can indicate they are hungry, yet when food is given, they reject it

– they may want an item but not accept it from you by hand, they prefer to pick it up themselves when they decide the time is right

While some of these symptoms, done separately, may not suggest autism, it’s the collection of a larger group of items listed that tend to send signals that testing would be advised. When asking your doctor if they think your child is okay or normal, please alert the doctor to have your child tested for high levels of heavy metals and explain some of the child’s odd mannerisms. Doctors don’t have the same perceptions as you simply from a doctor’s visit. Being more verbal with your concerns for your child as soon as you notice their different behaviors could greatly improve by treatments as early as possible.

Doctors in general do not consider testing for autism before the age of 3 years, but if you have seen some of the behaviors listed above, remember, you can suggest to the doctor to do some testing for autism earlier than your child’s 3rd birthday.

President Bush recently signed the Combating Autism Act of 2006 bill on December 19, 2006. This bill, widely applauded by autism activists groups, authorizes nearly $1 billion over the next five years to combat autism through research, screening, early detection and early intervention. The new legislation will increase federal spending on autism by at least fifty percent. Please support their efforts whenever and wherever possible.

http://wealthsmith.com/autism-symptoms-autism-cure.htm

Jim has found a disorder that has touched him on a personal level and he is becoming a strong advocate for a cure of autism. To have so much knowledge available the cure is within our grasp. http://wealthsmith.com/autism-symptoms-autism-cure.htm

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Autism – Causes and Treatments

Autism is one condition that requires speech therapy treatment. However, autism is often misunderstood and thought of to be something that can be left untreated. However, that should not be how things work. Autism presents a lot of problems, but the intensity of these problems could be decreased if given the correct treatment.

A lot of terms are commonly heard in relation to autism, such as: classic autism, infantile autism, Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), Atypical PDD, Autistic like, PDD-NOS, Asperger’s Syndrome and high functioning Autistic.

What Is Autism
Basically, Autism is a neurological disorder. It is classified to be a Pervasive Developmental Disorder. The main characteristic of Autism is that it affects three major areas in relation to speech and language. This triad is the impairment of the child’s: social interaction, communication and imaginative play.

Pervasive Developmental Disorder is actually an umbrella term for Autistic Spectrum Disorders. With the use of the term pervasive, it is emphasized that the disability’s range of deficits is beyond psychological development. On the other hand, the term developmental puts emphasis that the occurrence of the condition is during the child’s development rather than later in life.

Autism is actually only one condition under this umbrella. Other conditions include Rett’s Disorder, which is a neurodevelopmental disorder that begins to show its symptoms during early childhood or infancy.

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Another is Childhood Disintegrative Disorder; it somewhat resembles Autism but the difference is the first two to four years of the child’s life is rather normal, then the symptoms start to show.

Asperger’s syndrome is also in this umbrella. It is sometimes called high functioning autism. Lastly, PDD-NOS or Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not otherwise specified is also related to Autism. These are children that present symptoms similar to but don’t quite match the other conditions.

What Causes Autism
Even though a lot of research has been done, there is no identified single factor that causes Autism. Several factors are said to play a part in the occurrence of Autism. One of these is brain disorder. Recent studies show that there is a difference in the brains of people with Autism. Their cerebellum seems to be smaller than normal, and their limbic system is impaired.

Chemical imbalances are also said to play a part here. It was found that in some cases, symptoms came from food allergies, chemical deficiencies, hormonal imbalances or elevated brain chemical levels.

Heredity is also an important factor. A lot of genetic disorders have Autism as a symptom. An example would be the fragile-X syndrome. Other factors include pre-, peri-, post-natal trauma, brain damage complications and MMR immunization.

Whatever the cause may be, the child with Autism should be given the same structured training in able to stimulate his learning, language and social skills.

Diagnosis
For a child to be diagnosed of having Autism, he should first qualify for the Diagnostic Criteria for Autistic Disorders according to the DSM-IV.

Treatment
Due to the triad of Autism effects on the child, speech therapy becomes a vital part of Autism management. However, other members of the team are also needed such as pediatrician, pediatric neurologist, child psychiatrist, psychologist, occupational therapist, behavior therapist, and educators like schoolteachers or Special Education teachers.

Role Of Speech Therapist In Autism Rehabilitation
The Speech Therapist assesses hearing. He also evaluates whether the speech and language difficulties of the child is really due to Autism or another disorder. This can be taken from analyzing the child’s expressive language, receptive language, oral-motor functions, voice quality, articulation and fluency, auditory processing and pragmatic skills.
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