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Miranda_ 04-10-2007 08:07 AM

Autism and Aspergers
(taken from Wikipedia)


Autism is classified by the World Health Organization (WHO) and American Psychological Association as a developmental disability that results from a disorder of the human central nervous system. It is diagnosed using specific criteria for impairments to social interaction, communication, interests, imagination and activities. The causes, symptoms, etiology, treatment, and other issues are controversial.

Autism manifests itself "before the age of three years" according to the WHO's International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) Children with autism are marked by delays in their "social interaction, language as used in social communication, or symbolic or imaginative play" (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders).

Autism, and the other four pervasive developmental disorders (PDD), are all considered to be neurodevelopmental disorders. They are diagnosed on the basis of a triad, or group of three behavioral impairments or dysfunctions: 1. impaired social interaction, 2. impaired communication and 3. restricted and repetitive interests and activities. These three basic characteristics reflect Dr. Leo Kanner's first reports of autism emphasizing "autistic aloneness" and "insistence on sameness."

From a physiological standpoint, autism is often less than obvious in that outward appearance may not indicate a disorder. Diagnosis typically comes from a complete patient history and physical and neurological evaluation.
The incidence of diagnosed autism has increased since the 1990s. Reasons offered for this phenomenon include better diagnosis, wider public awareness of the condition, regional variations in diagnostic criteria, or simply an increase in the occurrence of ASD (autism spectrum disorders). The United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimate the prevalence of autism spectrum disorders to be about one in every 150 children. In 2005, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) stated the "best conservative estimate" as 1 in 1000. In 2006, NIMH estimated that the incidence was 2-6 in every 1000.

There are numerous theories as to the specific causes of autism, but they have yet to be fully supported by evidence (see section on "Causes" below). Proposed factors include genetic influence, anatomical variations (e.g. head circumference), abnormal blood vessel function and oxidative stress. Their significance as well as implications for treatment remain speculative.
Conversely, some autistic children and adults are opposed to attempts to cure autism. These people see autism as part of who they are, and in some cases they perceive treatments and attempts of a cure to be unethical.


On the surface, individuals who have autism are physically indistinguishable from those without. Some studies show that autistic children tend to have larger head circumferences but the significance in the disorder is unclear. Sometimes autism co-occurs with other disorders, and in those cases outward differences may be apparent.

Individuals diagnosed with autism can vary greatly in skills and behaviors, and their response to sensory input shows marked differences in a number of ways from that of other people. Certain stimulations, such as sounds, lights, and touch, will often affect someone with autism differently than someone without, and the degree to which the sensory system is affected can vary greatly from one individual to another.

Key behaviors

Autistic children may display unusual behaviors or fail to display expected behaviors. Normal behaviors may develop at the appropriate age and then disappear or, conversely, are delayed and develop quite some time after normal occurrence.In assessing developmental delays, different physicians may not always arrive at the same conclusions. Much of this difference between diagnosis is due to the disputed criteria for autism.

Deciding how a child should behave is also difficult because diagnostic tests have to be objective, which is not a simple thing to accomplish.Because of this practitioners and researchers in pediatrics, child psychology, behavior analysis, and child development are always looking for early indicators of autism.

The diagnosis of autism must meet specific criterion but there are also many characteristics that are idiosyncratic. Thus, Autism is not a "one size fits all" label. In other words the spectrum disorder encompasses a very wide range of behaviors and symptoms.

Some behaviors cited by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (listed below) may simply mean a normal delay in one or more areas of development, while others are more typical of ASDs—Autistic Spectrum Disorders.

The list below is not all-inclusive, and generally applies to children and not adults. Furthermore, while some of these behaviors might be seen in a person with autism, others may be absent.

Noted Behaviors in Children
  • stares into open areas, doesn't focus on anything specific.
  • does not respond to his/her name.
  • cannot explain what he/she wants.
  • language skills are slow to develop or speech is delayed.
  • doesn't follow directions.
  • will fuss if didn't get what wanted.
  • at times, the child seems to be deaf.
  • doesn't point or wave "bye-bye."
  • doesn't understand the concept of pointing; will look at the hand pointing rather than the object being pointed at.
  • used to say a few words or babble, but now he/she doesn't.
  • throws intense or violent tantrums.
  • has odd movement patterns.
  • likes to spin around in a circle.
  • likes being in a place well known.
  • hands on ears often.
  • is overly active, uncooperative, or resistant.
  • doesn't know how to play with toys.
  • doesn't smile when smiled at.
  • has poor eye contact.
  • gets "stuck" doing the same things over and over and can't move on to other things.
  • seems to prefer to play alone.
  • gets things for him/herself only.
  • is very independent for his/her age.
  • does things "early" compared to other children.
  • seems to be in his/her "own world."
  • seems to tune people out.
  • is not interested in other children.
  • dislikes playing pretend.
  • walks on his/her toes.
  • shows unusual attachments to toys, objects, or schedules (i.e., always holding a string or having to put socks on before pants).
  • spends a lot of time stacking objects, lining things up or putting things in a certain order.
  • unconcerned about - or completely oblivious to - dangers around him/her (i.e., standing in the middle of the street without worrying about getting hit by a car).
  • React cowardly to loud noises [ex. siren]
Autism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Miranda_ 04-10-2007 08:15 AM

Aspergers Syndrome

Asperger syndrome — also referred to as Asperger's syndrome, Asperger's disorder, Asperger's, or just AS — is a pervasive developmental disorder related to autism. It manifests in individual ways and can have both positive and negative effects on a person. It is recognized by the medical community as one of five neurobiological pervasive developmental disorders (PDDs) considered to be part of the autistic spectrum.

It is typically characterized by issues with social and communication skills. Due to the mixed nature of its effects, it remains controversial among researchers, physicians, and people who are diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome.

Asperger syndrome is not differentiated from other autistic spectrum disorders by a minority of clinicians and instead they refer to it as high functioning autism (HFA) in that early development is normal and there is no language delay and thus the symptoms differ only in degree from classic autism. Some people with AS do have learning disabilities; however, IQ tests may show normal or superior intelligence in diagnosed individuals.

The diagnosis of AS is complicated by the lack of a standardized diagnostic screen. Instead, several different screening instruments and sets of diagnostic criteria are used. AS is often not identified in early childhood, and many individuals are not diagnosed until they are adults. Assistance for core symptoms of AS consists of therapies that apply behavior management strategies and address poor communication skills, obsessive or repetitive routines, and physical clumsiness.

Many individuals with AS can adopt strategies for coping and do lead fulfilling lives - being gainfully employed, having successful relationships, and having families. In most cases, they are aware of their differences and can recognize if they need any support to maintain an independent life.


AS is characterized by:
  • Narrow interests or preoccupation with a subject to the exclusion of other activities
  • Repetitive behaviors or rituals
  • Peculiarities in speech and language
  • Extensive logical/technical patterns of thought
  • Socially and emotionally inappropriate behavior and interpersonal interaction
  • Problems with nonverbal communication
  • Clumsy and uncoordinated motor movements
The most common and important characteristics of AS can be divided into several broad categories: social impairments, narrow but intense interests, and peculiarities of speech and language. Other features are commonly associated with this syndrome, but are not always regarded as necessary for diagnosis. This section mainly reflects the views of Attwood, Gillberg, and Wing on the most important characteristics of AS; the DSM-IV criteria represent a slightly different view. Unlike most forms of PDDs, AS is often camouflaged, and many people with the disorder blend in with those who do not have it. The effects of AS depend on how an affected individual responds to the syndrome itself.

Miranda_ 04-10-2007 08:27 AM

Social differences

Although there is no single feature that all people with AS share, difficulties with social behavior are nearly universal and are one of the most important defining criteria. People with AS lack the natural ability to see the subtexts of social interaction, and may lack the ability to communicate their own emotional state, resulting in well-meaning remarks that may offend, or finding it hard to know what is "acceptable". The unwritten rules of social behavior that mystify so many with AS have been termed the "hidden curriculum".

People with AS must learn these social skills intellectually through seemingly contrived, dry, math-like logic rather than intuitively through normal emotional interaction.

Non-autistics are able to gather information about other people's cognitive and emotional states based on clues gleaned from the environment and other people's facial expression and body language, but, in this respect, people with AS are impaired; this is sometimes called mind-blindness.Mind-blindness is also known as a lack of theory of mind.

Without theory of mind, AS individuals lack the ability to recognize and understand the thoughts and feelings of others. Deprived of this insightful information, they are unable to interpret or understand the desires or intentions of others and thereby are unable to predict what to expect of others or what others may expect of them. This often leads to social awkwardness and inappropriate behavior.

A person with AS may have trouble understanding the emotions of other people: the messages that are conveyed by facial expression, eye contact and body language are often missed. They also might have trouble showing empathy with other people. Thus, people with AS might be seen as egotistical, selfish or uncaring. In most cases, these are unfair labels because affected people are neurologically unable to understand other people's emotional states. They are usually shocked, upset and remorseful when told that their actions are hurtful or inappropriate.

It is clear that people with AS do not lack emotions. The concrete nature of emotional attachments they might have (i.e., to objects rather than to people), however, often seems curious or can even be a cause of concern to people who do not share their perspective.This deficit in the ability to read one's own and other's emotions goes by the name alexithymia, a Greek term coined in 1972 by P.E. Sifneos meaning literally "lack of words for emotions."

Failing to show affection — or failing to do so in conventional ways — does not necessarily mean that people with AS do not feel affection. Another important aspect of the social differences often found in people with Asperger's is a lack of central coherence.

Speech and language differences

People with AS typically have a highly pedantic way of speaking, using a far more formal language register than appropriate for a context. A five-year-old child with this condition may regularly speak in language that could easily have come from a university textbook, especially concerning 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 AS 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.

Narrow, intense interests

AS in children can involve an intense and obsessive level of focus on things of interest, many of which are those of ordinary children. The difference in children with AS is the unusual intensity of said interest. Some have suggested that these "obsessions" are essentially arbitrary and lacking in any real meaning or context; however, researchers note that these "obsessions" typically focus on the mechanical (how things work) as opposed to the psychological (how people work).

Sometimes these interests are lifelong; in other cases, they change at unpredictable intervals. In either case, there are normally only one or two interests at any given time. The interests are often linked in some way that is logical only to the AS individual. In pursuit of these interests, people with AS often manifest extremely sophisticated reasoning, an almost obsessive focus, and a remarkably good memory for trivial facts (occasionally even eidetic memory). Hans Asperger called his young patients "little professors" because he thought his patients had as comprehensive and nuanced an understanding of their field of interest as university professors.

Asperger syndrome - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Miranda_ 04-10-2007 08:28 AM

If you want any more information, for example, if you are a parent of an autistic/AS child, then the following links could be useful:

Aspies For Freedom

Autism Network International

jenniferswe 04-11-2007 09:45 AM

My son
My son has Aspergers. They have him in a special program at school and he is on medication. He is doing a lot better than when he was very little. Being in a stable environment has been wonderful for him.

Silent_Wolf 04-11-2007 04:24 PM

I haven't really a clue why my cousin Heather is in her special ed class, but one kid in there has mild autism. He's a really nice kid; he's about sixteen or seventeen I think, but you'd really never know because he acts like a little kid. He's fun to hang around with. ^__^

Danica_Shardae 05-27-2007 06:31 PM

My bf has aspergers. But he doesn't have it that badly.
I heard that Einstein had autism.

Silent_Wolf 05-27-2007 06:38 PM

He developed fairly slowly - read an article somewhere - and due to his slow development as a child, he ended up probing the stranger questions as an adult as a child would - with apparently very big results. ^__^

jenniferswe 05-28-2007 11:01 AM

My son is very good at math but his reading and writing is awful. He asks a lot of questions and he loves science.:)

Miranda_ 05-28-2007 04:08 PM


I have Aspergers, but unlike what a lot of ppl think, it is possible to live a fufilled life with it. I just like the fact that my job means I can chatter away to ppl all day. XD

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