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Home: Related Disorders: Spectrum: Autism

Autism

I read a great book today, couldn't put it down. It's called "Thinking in Pictures" by Dr. Temple Grandin. Ms. Grandin has a PhD and a successful career in Animal Science. She also happens to be a high-functioning autistic. In the book she tells not of her struggle with the illness, but of her triumph in spite of it. Her use of metaphor to concretize the abstract is positively brilliant. She also provides an excellent list of resources, and it motivated me to do a bit of web research.

According to the Autism Society of America,

Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life. The result of a neurological disorder that affects the functioning of the brain, autism and its associated behaviors have been estimated to occur in as many as 2 to 6 in 1,000 individuals (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2001). Autism is four times more prevalent in boys than girls and knows no racial, ethnic, or social boundaries.

MAAP gives a good summary of the symptoms of Autism, which usually begin in the first three years of life:
  • Individuals with autism experience difficulty in verbal and/or nonverbal communication, which ranges in extremes from not speaking at all to being unable to interpret body language or to participate comfortably in two-way conversation.
  • People with autism exhibit rigidity in thought processes, which can include difficulty with learning abstract concepts, generalizing information, and tolerating changes in routines and/or environments.
  • The most outstanding hallmark of autism is difficulty with reciprocal social interaction. This can range from appearing to want social isolation to experiencing social awkwardness in attaining and maintaining ongoing relationships.

Perhaps you noticed that the symptoms of autism are very similar to the personality traits of "geeks," technical people with poor interpersonal skills. Time Magazine published an interesting article on this phenomenon in Geek Syndrome.

Dr. Grandin herself advocates putting autistic kids in technical classes where they are likely to excel due to some of their unique symptoms in her article Genius May Be an Abnormality: Educating Students with Asperger's Syndrome, or High Functioning Autism. Please, before you commit your autistic child to a non-education, read this article.

Here are a few resources for Autistics and their families.

  • Temple Grandin's Hug Machine at neurodiversity.com. - This device enables the autistic to control the pressure and duration of contact.
  • THINKING IN PICTURES - Chapter One - This is an excerpt from Dr. Grandin's excellent book. She posted a chapter on her web page so that you can get a feel for what the book is like. Again, I highly recommend it!
  • Autism Society of America
    PO Box 96223
    Washington, DC 20090-6223
  • Starthrowers - Helps parents learn how to set up and run a personal fundraising program for Autism treatment.
  • Building a Bridge of Hope - Parents group promoting ABA and early intervention for Autism.
  • Fundraising for In-Home treatment programs - You CAN treat Autism!!
    Get treatment tips for children with Autism, PDD and Aperger's Syndrome from parents who have successfully helped their children.
  • MAAP - a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing information and advice to families of More advanced individuals with Autism, Asperger's syndrome, and Pervasive developmental disorder (PDD).
  • Center for the Study of Autism
    P.O. Box 4538
    Salem, OR 97302
    - provides information about autism to parents and professionals, and conducts research on the efficacy of various therapeutic interventions.
  • Sensory Integration International (SII)
  • PRO-ED, Inc. - Educational materials.
  • Information About Autism - News, articles and resources related to Autism, Asperger Syndrome and ASD.

Modified September 5, 2005

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