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Dribbles and Grits to Crumpets and Bollocks: Classifying Autism

Classifying Autism

Autism Awesome Stuff--Classifying Autism (warning: boring)

I've been meaning to write more about autism. I once started a blog on the subject, "Aspergersburg," and I just didn't keep up with it. I really don't want to be writing a bunch of blogs, and I can't seem to stick to a blog if I keep my subjects limited like most people prefer to read, so when I think to write about autism, I'm going to put it in here and label it "autism," so you can click on the tag cloud the word "autism," and all my posts about autism should pop up (which right now, I'm a new blog, so there isn't much yet, but some day...)


Me-trying-to-be-quick intro into my world of autism... My oldest spawn, 6 years of age as I'm writing this, is diagnosed PDD-NOS (Pervasive Development Disorder Not Otherwise Specified). PDD-NOS is really the "miscellaneous" category for "high functioning autism." Generally, people like my daughter who display enough of the signs and symptoms of Asperger's defined by the DSM IV criteria but who had a speech delay (which DSM IV says Asperger's cannot have a speech delay) gets categorized into this miscellaneous category, generally. There are exceptions like my nephew who is 12 years old diagnosed with Asperger's, on multiple occasions. Since his first diagnosis was made years after he started talking, I don't think the speech was ever brought up for him to get PDD-NOS, and really if my sister were smarter, she would have brought it up and pushed the issue because some of the world thinks there's a difference between Autism and Asperger's, like where you would qualify for a state program to help autism with the PDD-NOS diagnosis, but you wouldn't with an Asperger's one. Me, I am probably too on the spectrum. I am not diagnosed by any professional, but the professionals I talked to about the subject agree with me, like had I paid them for an actual shrink visit, I'd probably be diagnosed. I did have a speech delay as a child, and I did go to speech therapy, but this was back in the 80's when autism was viewed more like schizophrenia, which is probably why that was overlooked. I do think it runs in my family. I have an aunt who definitely is on the spectrum undiagnosed, a couple aunts and cousins who are slightly on the spectrum where they probably wouldn't qualify for a diagnosis, and my grandfather is definitely on the spectrum undiagnosed and actually matches quite a few of the stereotypes with autism (such as the fascination with trains and a mechanical engineering type genius).

 So now to classify autism...

I say first you got two categories of autism.. 

1: what the DSM says which is required to follow to attain a diagnosis, which is required to obtain any special services from your state as well as many private organizations. 



 

2: reality which is unknown, but if you are self-researching and wanting to make adjustments on yourself or how you parent your child, this is what you are looking for in your own way. 




I have personally seen more success with people who self-research than I have with people who blindly follow "the experts." My sister is one to blindly follow "expert advice" whether it be the school's opinion or a shrink's opinion. Me, I follow my own instinct backed with lots of research, to include non-scientific research such as mommy bloggers. Unlike my sister and the experts, I know what's it like and can empathize better with someone on the spectrum, so I have that working for me. My issues are parenting the kids who are off the spectrum, now that one I struggle with, and I still don't always follow the parenting "expert's" advice on the subject. I believe instinct trumps all, like the big joker in spades. I also believe the most actual expert advice out there is from people on the spectrum who have a special interest in autism. People like this are people I try to be friends with and maintain a good friendship with just for their opinion of what I could do with my child's behavior.

Much of autism is still unknown. My theory is there are different types of autism defined by cause more so than behavior.  As of now, we classify autism by how much you can do and how independent you are. DSM was considering at some point, not sure where we are on that, changing all of it to autism spectrum, mild, moderate, and severe with that second classification dependent on how much you can do and how much people notice your autism. We really have no idea what causes autism. We suspect with some scientific evidence that it is genetic and environmental some how.

I think there is definitely a genetic autism because it's in my family. It's more of a personality type in my family than anything else. We are just more prone to thinking differently and perceiving differently than what you guys consider typical to the human species. Most of the autism in my family is not really noticeable, like most people just think we are weird, and usually mark it off as an eclectic personality resulting from a genius because those on the spectrum IN MY FAMILY are generally naturally really good at math, and if you are good at math, you must be a genius. I've also met, sort of, online met, people on the spectrum who can tell you other family members who are probably on it as well, so I know there is a genetic autism, and I think it's the one people talk about the most when discussing and defining autism.

I also think there's an allergy autism. That's where the person displays autism like symptoms as a result of their histamines (I'm assuming) running a muck from an allergy. My youngest spawn is allergic to milk and soy. You give her milk, and you will get issues with transition, she repeats herself a thousand times in a minute, meltdowns like she's possessed with 17 demons, hyperactivity, and those are just off the top of my head. But she is a verbal genius and social butterfly, so autism is not something she would qualify for as a diagnosis. She may some day qualify for that "gifted child" stuff, but that's not until a later age, but the hole in this case is that if she does, many times gifted children possess some autism like symptoms. With her, if I give her antihistamines, it generally does nothing and I think it's because she's young yet. They have studies that concluded antihistamines are not always as effective on young children like it is on adults. Sometimes, Zyrtec will help her hives disappear and her behavior issues temporarily, like of all the antihistamines we have tried, that one seems to work the best. The important thing is I have noticed the autism like symptoms are much less when I don't give her much dairy. And this supports all that research from the DAN doctors (Defeat Autism Now) who are really big about autism being a food allergy or vaccinations and changing the child's diet and using holistic options to detox the body. Some of them go too far into this to make them sound less legitimate to the rest of the medical community, but I don't think we should discard all their research and all the success stories just because they sound a little fanatic witch-doctorish at times. I think there is a lot of substance to their work, but it's not something that would help my oldest spawn because I don't think her autism is an allergy. I do think a lot of children get diagnosed autism or ADHD when really it's just an allergy to something they are eating regularly.

Then there's the "? autism" as we delve into the claims of vaccination induced autism. I know the studies have disproved that ONE study that claimed to prove it, but no study has disproved the theory entirely. In fact, this is the part where science actually fears studying it seeing how most of science is funded by someone with a bias, and this is the question that those biased funding sources are afraid to discover an answer to. I would be too. I'll admit it. If I had a bunch of stock in a pharmaceutical company, I'm probably going to be concerned about results from a study on that portion of the population interfering with my stock's value. You would qualify for a diagnosis of some sort somewhere in the DSM if you didn't think that way. But at some point, if we want to help people and do the right thing, we are going to have to remove the bias and study these people to find out what exactly is going on with them. You cannot invalidate thousands of people's thoughts on the subject. I've known these mothers who claim vaccinations did it. Some I do not like, but I don't think they are dumb at all. They are very educated, intelligent people saying "hey, my kid started acted funky after getting vaccinated." I can't say it's an allergy to vaccinations just because I don't think they stay in your system forever. If you had an allergic reaction to a vaccination, it would disappear after some point unless you were to continue vaccinations, according to every allergist I discussed this with related to my youngest child's milk allergy before we knew it was milk. In talking to these mothers, most of them have no signs of autism in their family tree what-so-ever. That doesn't rule out genetics, but it doesn't look good for the argument of a genetic factor. In addition, the autism is slightly different from what I've noticed than it is under those like me where it's in the family. I can't really pin-point what it is because I don't know enough about the people of this portion of the population, but in reading these moms describe their children, it's very different whether the autism is different or the mom's perspective is, and I think as a result, the treatment is going to be different, like what I do for my kid that helps my kid probably won't be as effective for these kids. I could be wrong on this one. It's one that I know enough to know that something is going on with these people whether ingredient X in a vaccination did some permanent brain damage or the kids developed an allergy the moms have yet to figure out what it is (in most cases with allergies, children will start getting them around a later age, often around the time of vaccinations, like my kid).

I think there's also the autism-friendly personalities, aka nerds. This is where you get into hyperlexia and gifted children. They do not usually qualify for an autism diagnosis at all, but they resemble autism on such a minute level. I think I married a man like this, so let's psychoanalyze my husband for a minute. He has obsessions/special interest in normal subjects such as video gaming, guns/hunting, military aircrafts, and guitars. These aren't out of nowhere interests like you see in autism. He was military (guns), Air Force (air crafts), and he plays guitar (guitars). The video gaming was something he didn't do until he joined the military, and he started wanting to know more about the games he plays, so he does occasionally read up on the subject or watch youtube videos like any other video gamer nerd. He doesn't have to have a lot of touching for his intimacy or to feel connected to someone, but he can if he's with someone who requires that in a relationship. He will listen, pretend to listen, to long stories and monologues, and give him a beer, and he's the one with the monologue about stuff you don't care about like airsoft rifles. He does drift off into thought with the Aspie glare, except he doesn't usually pay much attention to the world around him while there like many on the spectrum do. I can go on and on, but really he is a very charming guy who doesn't usually lose on office politics.  He was popular in school. He is an introvert, but he definitely has what is considered normal social skills. His other things like special interests, they rarely interfere with his day. Anything you can say about autism that he shares, it's not something that is "disabling" him from doing anything. People like him are awesome. It's like they are hybrids between those on the spectrum and those off the spectrum. They can empathize with both types of people, and get along and appreciate both types of people.

And I think the last part that is hitting me right now with classification of autism is the level of ability. This is where psychology focuses on, your ability to take care of yourself and function in society. I'm not saying it's a bad focus because I agree with psychology that we should focus on the solution as opposed to the problem, and that's what they are doing here, focusing on where we want to be as an individual as opposed to where the problem came from. I totally agree with that. The part I don't agree with is the stereotype. Severe autism tends to communicate more intuitively. It's like they are communicating with ESP and the rest of the world is talking. I don't think they are "disabled" as much as just very different. When you get into the severe autism communicating via typing into a computer or writing, or other forms of communication we can figure out, we start to learn they are just like a person with high-functioning autism except they just don't effectively communicate. Now it's kind of hard to function in society if you are not communicating with people, especially in a society built on relationships with each other, and we all know communication is very important to any relationship, whether it is between friends or lovers. Communication is definitely a skill useful to people with severe autism if we can teach a method for that, but judging them as inferior is not something they deserve. You get asshats ready to call someone with severe autism every synonym to the word, including the word, retarded, but you also get people with the best of intentions like the child's mom and shrink getting a superiority complex (not all moms and shrinks, but these are examples I've seen where someone with the "you are disabled and I am better than you because I'm not" mentality play such an important role trying very hard with all their might to advocate for their child or patient). You should have that based on the fact you pushed the kid out of your vagina or went to school for so many years to get a piece of paper that says you know stuff... like a superiority complex should result from your own abilities, not your idea of someone's disability. A child who doesn't speak at all can still probably outperform you somewhere else. We all have our own strengths and weaknesses.


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Dribbles and Grits to Crumpets and Bollocks: Classifying Autism

Friday, November 9, 2012

Classifying Autism

Autism Awesome Stuff--Classifying Autism (warning: boring)

I've been meaning to write more about autism. I once started a blog on the subject, "Aspergersburg," and I just didn't keep up with it. I really don't want to be writing a bunch of blogs, and I can't seem to stick to a blog if I keep my subjects limited like most people prefer to read, so when I think to write about autism, I'm going to put it in here and label it "autism," so you can click on the tag cloud the word "autism," and all my posts about autism should pop up (which right now, I'm a new blog, so there isn't much yet, but some day...)


Me-trying-to-be-quick intro into my world of autism... My oldest spawn, 6 years of age as I'm writing this, is diagnosed PDD-NOS (Pervasive Development Disorder Not Otherwise Specified). PDD-NOS is really the "miscellaneous" category for "high functioning autism." Generally, people like my daughter who display enough of the signs and symptoms of Asperger's defined by the DSM IV criteria but who had a speech delay (which DSM IV says Asperger's cannot have a speech delay) gets categorized into this miscellaneous category, generally. There are exceptions like my nephew who is 12 years old diagnosed with Asperger's, on multiple occasions. Since his first diagnosis was made years after he started talking, I don't think the speech was ever brought up for him to get PDD-NOS, and really if my sister were smarter, she would have brought it up and pushed the issue because some of the world thinks there's a difference between Autism and Asperger's, like where you would qualify for a state program to help autism with the PDD-NOS diagnosis, but you wouldn't with an Asperger's one. Me, I am probably too on the spectrum. I am not diagnosed by any professional, but the professionals I talked to about the subject agree with me, like had I paid them for an actual shrink visit, I'd probably be diagnosed. I did have a speech delay as a child, and I did go to speech therapy, but this was back in the 80's when autism was viewed more like schizophrenia, which is probably why that was overlooked. I do think it runs in my family. I have an aunt who definitely is on the spectrum undiagnosed, a couple aunts and cousins who are slightly on the spectrum where they probably wouldn't qualify for a diagnosis, and my grandfather is definitely on the spectrum undiagnosed and actually matches quite a few of the stereotypes with autism (such as the fascination with trains and a mechanical engineering type genius).

 So now to classify autism...

I say first you got two categories of autism.. 

1: what the DSM says which is required to follow to attain a diagnosis, which is required to obtain any special services from your state as well as many private organizations. 



 

2: reality which is unknown, but if you are self-researching and wanting to make adjustments on yourself or how you parent your child, this is what you are looking for in your own way. 




I have personally seen more success with people who self-research than I have with people who blindly follow "the experts." My sister is one to blindly follow "expert advice" whether it be the school's opinion or a shrink's opinion. Me, I follow my own instinct backed with lots of research, to include non-scientific research such as mommy bloggers. Unlike my sister and the experts, I know what's it like and can empathize better with someone on the spectrum, so I have that working for me. My issues are parenting the kids who are off the spectrum, now that one I struggle with, and I still don't always follow the parenting "expert's" advice on the subject. I believe instinct trumps all, like the big joker in spades. I also believe the most actual expert advice out there is from people on the spectrum who have a special interest in autism. People like this are people I try to be friends with and maintain a good friendship with just for their opinion of what I could do with my child's behavior.

Much of autism is still unknown. My theory is there are different types of autism defined by cause more so than behavior.  As of now, we classify autism by how much you can do and how independent you are. DSM was considering at some point, not sure where we are on that, changing all of it to autism spectrum, mild, moderate, and severe with that second classification dependent on how much you can do and how much people notice your autism. We really have no idea what causes autism. We suspect with some scientific evidence that it is genetic and environmental some how.

I think there is definitely a genetic autism because it's in my family. It's more of a personality type in my family than anything else. We are just more prone to thinking differently and perceiving differently than what you guys consider typical to the human species. Most of the autism in my family is not really noticeable, like most people just think we are weird, and usually mark it off as an eclectic personality resulting from a genius because those on the spectrum IN MY FAMILY are generally naturally really good at math, and if you are good at math, you must be a genius. I've also met, sort of, online met, people on the spectrum who can tell you other family members who are probably on it as well, so I know there is a genetic autism, and I think it's the one people talk about the most when discussing and defining autism.

I also think there's an allergy autism. That's where the person displays autism like symptoms as a result of their histamines (I'm assuming) running a muck from an allergy. My youngest spawn is allergic to milk and soy. You give her milk, and you will get issues with transition, she repeats herself a thousand times in a minute, meltdowns like she's possessed with 17 demons, hyperactivity, and those are just off the top of my head. But she is a verbal genius and social butterfly, so autism is not something she would qualify for as a diagnosis. She may some day qualify for that "gifted child" stuff, but that's not until a later age, but the hole in this case is that if she does, many times gifted children possess some autism like symptoms. With her, if I give her antihistamines, it generally does nothing and I think it's because she's young yet. They have studies that concluded antihistamines are not always as effective on young children like it is on adults. Sometimes, Zyrtec will help her hives disappear and her behavior issues temporarily, like of all the antihistamines we have tried, that one seems to work the best. The important thing is I have noticed the autism like symptoms are much less when I don't give her much dairy. And this supports all that research from the DAN doctors (Defeat Autism Now) who are really big about autism being a food allergy or vaccinations and changing the child's diet and using holistic options to detox the body. Some of them go too far into this to make them sound less legitimate to the rest of the medical community, but I don't think we should discard all their research and all the success stories just because they sound a little fanatic witch-doctorish at times. I think there is a lot of substance to their work, but it's not something that would help my oldest spawn because I don't think her autism is an allergy. I do think a lot of children get diagnosed autism or ADHD when really it's just an allergy to something they are eating regularly.

Then there's the "? autism" as we delve into the claims of vaccination induced autism. I know the studies have disproved that ONE study that claimed to prove it, but no study has disproved the theory entirely. In fact, this is the part where science actually fears studying it seeing how most of science is funded by someone with a bias, and this is the question that those biased funding sources are afraid to discover an answer to. I would be too. I'll admit it. If I had a bunch of stock in a pharmaceutical company, I'm probably going to be concerned about results from a study on that portion of the population interfering with my stock's value. You would qualify for a diagnosis of some sort somewhere in the DSM if you didn't think that way. But at some point, if we want to help people and do the right thing, we are going to have to remove the bias and study these people to find out what exactly is going on with them. You cannot invalidate thousands of people's thoughts on the subject. I've known these mothers who claim vaccinations did it. Some I do not like, but I don't think they are dumb at all. They are very educated, intelligent people saying "hey, my kid started acted funky after getting vaccinated." I can't say it's an allergy to vaccinations just because I don't think they stay in your system forever. If you had an allergic reaction to a vaccination, it would disappear after some point unless you were to continue vaccinations, according to every allergist I discussed this with related to my youngest child's milk allergy before we knew it was milk. In talking to these mothers, most of them have no signs of autism in their family tree what-so-ever. That doesn't rule out genetics, but it doesn't look good for the argument of a genetic factor. In addition, the autism is slightly different from what I've noticed than it is under those like me where it's in the family. I can't really pin-point what it is because I don't know enough about the people of this portion of the population, but in reading these moms describe their children, it's very different whether the autism is different or the mom's perspective is, and I think as a result, the treatment is going to be different, like what I do for my kid that helps my kid probably won't be as effective for these kids. I could be wrong on this one. It's one that I know enough to know that something is going on with these people whether ingredient X in a vaccination did some permanent brain damage or the kids developed an allergy the moms have yet to figure out what it is (in most cases with allergies, children will start getting them around a later age, often around the time of vaccinations, like my kid).

I think there's also the autism-friendly personalities, aka nerds. This is where you get into hyperlexia and gifted children. They do not usually qualify for an autism diagnosis at all, but they resemble autism on such a minute level. I think I married a man like this, so let's psychoanalyze my husband for a minute. He has obsessions/special interest in normal subjects such as video gaming, guns/hunting, military aircrafts, and guitars. These aren't out of nowhere interests like you see in autism. He was military (guns), Air Force (air crafts), and he plays guitar (guitars). The video gaming was something he didn't do until he joined the military, and he started wanting to know more about the games he plays, so he does occasionally read up on the subject or watch youtube videos like any other video gamer nerd. He doesn't have to have a lot of touching for his intimacy or to feel connected to someone, but he can if he's with someone who requires that in a relationship. He will listen, pretend to listen, to long stories and monologues, and give him a beer, and he's the one with the monologue about stuff you don't care about like airsoft rifles. He does drift off into thought with the Aspie glare, except he doesn't usually pay much attention to the world around him while there like many on the spectrum do. I can go on and on, but really he is a very charming guy who doesn't usually lose on office politics.  He was popular in school. He is an introvert, but he definitely has what is considered normal social skills. His other things like special interests, they rarely interfere with his day. Anything you can say about autism that he shares, it's not something that is "disabling" him from doing anything. People like him are awesome. It's like they are hybrids between those on the spectrum and those off the spectrum. They can empathize with both types of people, and get along and appreciate both types of people.

And I think the last part that is hitting me right now with classification of autism is the level of ability. This is where psychology focuses on, your ability to take care of yourself and function in society. I'm not saying it's a bad focus because I agree with psychology that we should focus on the solution as opposed to the problem, and that's what they are doing here, focusing on where we want to be as an individual as opposed to where the problem came from. I totally agree with that. The part I don't agree with is the stereotype. Severe autism tends to communicate more intuitively. It's like they are communicating with ESP and the rest of the world is talking. I don't think they are "disabled" as much as just very different. When you get into the severe autism communicating via typing into a computer or writing, or other forms of communication we can figure out, we start to learn they are just like a person with high-functioning autism except they just don't effectively communicate. Now it's kind of hard to function in society if you are not communicating with people, especially in a society built on relationships with each other, and we all know communication is very important to any relationship, whether it is between friends or lovers. Communication is definitely a skill useful to people with severe autism if we can teach a method for that, but judging them as inferior is not something they deserve. You get asshats ready to call someone with severe autism every synonym to the word, including the word, retarded, but you also get people with the best of intentions like the child's mom and shrink getting a superiority complex (not all moms and shrinks, but these are examples I've seen where someone with the "you are disabled and I am better than you because I'm not" mentality play such an important role trying very hard with all their might to advocate for their child or patient). You should have that based on the fact you pushed the kid out of your vagina or went to school for so many years to get a piece of paper that says you know stuff... like a superiority complex should result from your own abilities, not your idea of someone's disability. A child who doesn't speak at all can still probably outperform you somewhere else. We all have our own strengths and weaknesses.


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