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Thank you for visiting. Content MAY BE TRIGGERING ESPECIALLY FOR THOSE WHO HAVE EXPERIENCED ABUSE, STRUGGLE WITH SELF-INJURY, SUICIDE, DEPRESSION OR AN EATING DISORDER. Contains graphic descriptions of suicidal thoughts, self-injury and emotional, physical and sexual abuse. Do not read further if you are not in a safe place. If you are triggered, please reach out to your support system, a mental health professional or call 911.

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Disclaimer: Although I have worked with persons with mental illness for twenty years, I do not have a Master's Degree or a license. This is not meant to be a substitute for mental health care or treatment. Please obtain professional assistance from the resources listed on the right of the page, if needed. And call 911 if you or someone is in immediate danger.

A key word that you will see:

Fragmentation: a mental process where a person becomes intensely emotionally focused on one aspect of themselves, such as “I am angry” or “no one loves me,” to the point where all thoughts, feelings and behavior demonstrate this emotional state, in which, the person does not or is unable to take into account the reality of their environment, others or themselves and their resources. This is a term that my therapist and I use and is on the continuum of dissociation.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Autism?

Last night, California time at least 200 significant points of interest and national monuments all around the world were lit up to glow blue.  Why?  To signify World Autism Awareness Day!! This is a basic article to educate people as to what is Autism; therefore, I will not be writing about the controversial interest regarding causes, diet and treatment very much.  (For those, who want more Google will give you some great references.  So, what is Autism?




Autism is a neurologically based developmental disorder which impacts their social, communication and social skills in which symptoms begin to occur before age three. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are for those that meet different criteria than the typical Autism diagnosis.  One is Asperger syndrome which has the characteristics of Autism, but lack the delays in cognitive development and language, and PDD-NOS, diagnosed when full criteria for the other two disorders are not met.


Most people with ASD have a wide range of abilities which range from mild to severe. It can coexist with other conditions, most common is mental retardation. Many famous and extremely intelligent people in history had some sort of Asperger Syndrome and have made a significant impact on science and arts.  Other misconceptions is that they are like "Rainman" and other movies and television shows that have someone who is autistic in them. 

It is estimated that Austism and ASD occur in 1 in 110 births annually.  The increase by medical professionals is attributed to increased awareness and identification by parents and physicians. The expansion of the definition to include milder symptoms. It is more common in boys that in girls. It occurs throughout the world, in families of all racial, ethnic and social backgrounds.

It is believed to have a genetic componenet as in twin and non-identical studies have been complete with interesting results. Identical twins occurred in 65% of the participants and non-identical twins occurred in 0% of those who participated. Often, there is a family history of Autism. Researchers have discovered a link of autism occuring within the structure of chromosomes 15 and 7.  Further research is very important. Physicans can identify autism by there symptoms only.  A provisional diagnosis can be made as early as 18 months and a follow up at 5 years to confirm the diagnosis.


As stated, above one of the areas effected is in social interaction.  Individual with autism often lack eye contact, interest in other children, or other people in their lives.  This is especially difficult on their mothers and unfortunately were incorrectly for many years thought to occur because of cold and distant mothers. Often, those with autism use non-verbal communication and lack social and emotional reciprocity and empathy. These symptoms do not occur in all individuals.

Another area of impairment includes communication.  Their play is not as varied and they seem not to understand the idea of play.  There are delays in speaking, conversing, repitive language, and make-believe play or social initiative.

Lastly, are difficulties in restricted interests and sterotyped behavior. Often those with autism have abnormal preoccupations, insistance on routines or rituals, repetitive motor skills mannerisms.

In Asperger's Disorder the is impairment of social interaction, restricted interests, sterotyped behaviors, causes impairment in daily life, generally there is no language delay and not cognitive delays.

In Pervasive Developmental Disorder-NOS (PPD), there is sever impairment in social interaction and communications.  There interests are also restricted and they do not meet the criteria for Autism or Asperger's.

Early identification, good education and the support of family and friends, most children with autism can improve. They require intesive teaching, speech and language therapy, occupational therapy for some and programs of preschool.  The earlier intervention begins the more effective it can be which should include systematic and organized teaching, specialized curriculum intensive interation  (20-25 hours per week between the ages of 3-5 years) and family involvement.

For adolescents and adults, they often require transitional programs from the education system.  Some an live alone and maintain employment with some guidance and others will always require someone to live with them. 

One of my clients, although he seemed to have the skills to live alone, in actuality he required much assistance at home.  I was "travel training" him to utilize public transportation to and from work and home.  This was my first time on a bus and he knew directions instantly. I came back and my supervisor asked, "So, who did the training?"  I have to admit he did.  At his job, cleaning tables he would often become fixated on one section of a table and require prompting to do something different.  His workers were very understanding.

The public, law enforcement, education system and the media need to have a better understanding of autism and ASD. "Typically" they seem them as only flapping their hands and being non-responsive to others or at the other end like "Rainman"  As stated before abilities vary.  I also had a client who had to have his specific routine at day progam and home before he left and when he arrived.  Often, he would throw an screaming and crying "tantrum"

Most people look at the parents as "why don't you do something more" when in fact the child or adult is simply distressed by the change in routine.  Others actually say, "can't you manage your own child?"  Other reasons for a "tantrum" may be too much stimulation as sound and touch are very difficult for them to handle.  They seem to have a hypersensitive neurological system.

Persons with autism see and perceive the world as different than we do, so their behavior is different which accounts for "unacceptable" public behavior. Their perception is different, so they don't understand why we seem to not understand what they see.  In the picture on the left, most will see the right center dot as being larger.  Someone with autism are not "fooled" by such perception illusion picture and will immediately say that they are the same size.  They are able to "see" through the illusions quite quickly and accurately.

Besides the color blue, a rainbow of colored puzzle pieces are most often the symbol of autism awareness.  This is because it is looked at as puzzle pieces that need to be indentified and put together.

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