15 January 2012

Yes, I'm Autistic!

There is a lot of debate these day about Autism, and the spectrum that goes along with it.
Lets start out with a bit, written by Homeslice:
There's this new diagnostic thing going around that will eliminate Asperger's and PDD-NOS and put it all under Autism. As far as the whole services thing, I don't really know if it will help or hurt or exactly what this change means.

What concerns me about this is there will no longer be a difference between Autism and Asperger's. Yes, I know they all fall under the same umbrella and I have no problem with that, I understand they are similar disorders in the way breast cancer and lung cancer both fall under cancer.

What I mean is, when you say, "my child has Asperger's", I can immediately picture the situation without being too far off the reality of it. "You say, my child has Autism" and I'm going to think Alex. According to the new diagnosing, Alex would be Autism level 3. That, to me, sounds as bad as stage 4 cancer. (only because if we're going to start with a cancer comparison because there's a "spectrum" of cancer, we may as well use it through-out)
Already, Autism outside of Asperger's is pretty much invisible. What's going to happen when we lose the distinction between the 2? I understand that Asperger's is not easy and choosing Asperger's over Autism is like choosing skin cancer over pancreatic cancer- you don't really WANT either one of them. Neither one of them are fun to deal with. However, you have a better chance at life with skin cancer over pancreatic cancer the same as you have a better chance of functional living with Asperger's over Autism. and I'm pretty sure that is going to offend someone so I'm going to have to ask here- when is the last time an Asperger's kid ate the corn out of their poop? True story. I've got more but I'll leave it there.

Asperger's may fall under the Autism Spectrum Disorder but it's not the exact same thing. There are different levels and if we give up the different levels, give up the distinction, what is going to happen to the kids in the deep end of the spectrum?

I think she is spot on with most of this assertion!  When I say "I have Autism" in the middle of a conversation with a fellow medical officer/soldier, most think I am bullshitting.  I am a functioning adult, serving competently in the Military, and have a wife and kids, etc, etc.  They have even gone so far as to tell me I don't have Autism, (because, for the most part, they know what deep Autism is.)
But I do!  I have Aspergers, which is part of the Autism spectrum, but on the milder end of the spectrum.
Symptoms of Aspergers are:

  • Not pick up on social cues and may lack skills, such as being able to read others' body language, start or maintain a conversation, and take turns talking.
  • Dislike any changes in routines.
  • Appear to lack empathy.
  • Be unable to recognize subtle differences in speech tone, pitch, and accent that alter the meaning of others’ speech. may not understand a joke or may take a sarcastic comment literally. 
  • Have a formal style of speaking that is advanced for his or her age. For example, the child may use the word "beckon" instead of "call" or the word "return" instead of "come back."
  • Avoid eye contact or stare at others.
  • Have unusual facial expressions or postures.
  • Be preoccupied with only one or few interests, which he or she may be very knowledgeable about.
  • Talk a lot, usually about a favorite subject. One-sided conversations are common. Internal thoughts are often verbalized.
  • Have delayed motor development.  may be late in learning to use a fork or spoon, ride a bike, or catch a ball. He or she may have an awkward walk. Handwriting is often poor.
  • Have heightened sensitivity and become overstimulated by loud noises, lights, or strong tastes or textures. For more information about these symptoms, seesensory integration dysfunction.

Most people associate that with "Autism" because it isn't the easiest thing to get your autistic child out and about for socialization and social awareness.  And up to 40% of people with Autism never speak....they can't advocate for themselves, like most any other cause can.  So, the milder forms of Autism Spectrum Disorder are left holding the torch, trying to enlighten the world to the struggles with Autism, all while the real "victims" of ASD are in the background.
The symptoms of Autism are:

  • Social interactions and relationships. Symptoms may include:
    • Significant problems developing nonverbal communication skills, such as eye-to-eye gazing, facial expressions, and body posture.
    • Failure to establish friendships with children the same age.
    • Lack of interest in sharing enjoyment, interests, or achievements with other people.
    • Lack of empathy. People with autism may have difficulty understanding another person's feelings, such as pain or sorrow.
  • Verbal and nonverbal communication. Symptoms may include:
    • Delay in, or lack of, learning to talk. As many as 40% of people with autism never speak.1
    • Problems taking steps to start a conversation. Also, people with autism have difficulties continuing a conversation after it has begun.
    • Stereotyped and repetitive use of language. People with autism often repeat over and over a phrase they have heard previously (echolalia).
    • Difficulty understanding their listener's perspective. For example, a person with autism may not understand that someone is using humor. They may interpret the communication word for word and fail to catch the implied meaning.
  • Limited interests in activities or play. Symptoms may include:
    • An unusual focus on pieces. Younger children with autism often focus on parts of toys, such as the wheels on a car, rather than playing with the entire toy.
    • Preoccupation with certain topics. For example, older children and adults may be fascinated by video games, trading cards, or license plates.
    • A need for sameness and routines. For example, a child with autism may always need to eat bread before salad and insist on driving the same route every day to school.
    • Stereotyped behaviors. These may include body rocking and hand flapping.

I mean really, would you honestly go out and start a conversation with a person who didn't look you in the eyes, rocked back and forth, flapped their hands, and talked about dinosaurs, repeating that "the Brontosaurus  was an herbivore, he didn't eat meat" as if it was the most interesting fact in the world?
You wouldn't, you would probably avoid that person, without taking the time to understand what was going on with them.  You wouldn't have stuck around long enough to notice the caregiver behind them, grooming, feeding, and often times diapering/changing them.

There is a reason they separate kids at daycares.  You've got the shit/eat/sleepers (aka newborns), the mobile diaper dwellers, then you've got the potty trained tots, then you've got the slow and steady big kids, and then the blazing fast, learned preschoolers.
They are separated by their level of function(age), so that they can get what they need.  Each level has teachers specifically trained for their abilities.  That is how the Autism Spectrum is mostly set up.  If the "daycare"(Autism Spectrum) goes under renovations for however long it takes them to smooth things out, there will just be a giant gaggle-f**k!  Because you can't just remake a system overnight!  There will be preschoolers getting kicked out cause they know their alphabet, and there will be newborns mixed in with the potty trained kids and the preschoolers, because it will just be a mess.  Everyone will have to relearn a system, when they barely had/have enough time to learn the old system!

Its like a broken bone that wont fit back together, so they decided to shatter it, to get it back together.  Sure, it might work in the far off distance, but we need a solution now, not 10 years down the road.

They need to focus on getting doctors and schools on the same page about the different levels of ASD, and how to properly diagnose it.  Once that happens, it will begin to ease the strain on the system, and once they work from the top down to streamline everything, it will be a lot less of a headache to get kids the help they need to succeed.

Intelligence vs Smart is like how much money you have in the bank vs how much you have at hand.  And it doesn't matter the total amount in the bank, if you've got a withdrawal limit.


  1. Very nicely said!!! Thank you :)

  2. well said, sir.
    thank you.
    we need more like this to be able to understand.
    my youngest son is autistic.
    he teaches me something new every day.
    usually about myself. lol
    i salute you.
    [i am a military corporal]
    your courage is inspirational.

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