For autism research pioneers, early work paved path to success

MICHAEL AUSTIN / THE ISPOT

Getting to the top generally requires years of hard work, committed mentors and many missteps along the way.We asked a few of the most distinguished autism researchers to share memories from their first autism study, including their initial assumptions and what they’ve learned since. Their answers reveal the origins of modern theories as well as how much ideas about autism have changed over the years.

Uta Frith:

My first study was inspired by an ingenious experiment by my wonderful Ph.D. supervisors, Beate Hermelin and Neil O’Connor. They compared recall for random words (for instance, “fish, ate, they, fresh”) and for the same words when they formed sentences (“They ate fresh fish.”). Normally, we expect recall for words in sentences to be a lot better than recall for words in random strings. But this was not the case for children diagnosed with Autism. I was fascinated by this finding and wanted to repeat it. This led to my first and only paper ever accepted without revision, in 19691.

 

In that first study, I recorded myself saying strings of words and played them back to the children and asked them to repeat what they heard. I soon gave up using the tape recorder, which only distracted the children. I found they willingly did the task as long as I spoke the words to them directly.

Solitary Sons with Aspergers: Guidance from Coach Dema Stout

Reader Responses Part II

Contributing writer with Aspergers, Ken Kellam, answered questions from some of our readers. Doug and Kelly both had concerns about their adult sons with Aspergers. Now, Dema Stout–Coach and creator of an adult Aspergers Meetup in San Antonio–adds her own insight and guidance.

Click here to read the full reader questions and responses from Ken Kellam.

guidance

Aspergers, Nonverbal Learning Disorder (NLD), and Families: A List of Resources for You

Parents of any child with differences struggle with feeling isolated. One of the challenges for families with Aspergers Syndrome (AS) and nonverbal learning disabilities (NLD or NVLD) children is that these children don’t look different. They’re bright and verbal; their quirkiness, sensitivities and apparent oppositionalism aren’t easy to understand.

Kid having a tantrum

As a result, parents often feel blamed for their children’s special challenges. I know one mother who was told bluntly by her brother, “You must be doing something wrong. Give me two weeks with that kid in my house and I’d straighten him out.”

Three Steps to Recovery After a Meltdown

Recovery may involve time to do nothing at all. For some students the recovery phase involves a process that takes him or her from a semi-agitated state to a fully calm state.

child in class

Consider the following steps:

  1. Allow the student to engage in the highly preferred/calming activity without setting the timer until he/she appears to have recovered as fully as possible.
  2. Once he/she is calm, then set the timer for 5-6 minutes. If he/she remains calm and is able to transition to the next activity, then do so and watch for early signs of repeated escalation.
  3. If he/she requests more time [by giving the timer to the adult], then honor the request and set the timer for 3 or 4 more minutes. Continue until he/she no longer requests more time or staff feel she is ready for a positive transition to the next activity.

Once the person is fully recovered, then it might be possible to debrief and make a plan to prevent future escalation. Pictures and words can help to paint a clear picture and develop a workable plan.   

By Lisa Rogers

Six Tips to Help Aspies Embrace Change

It is often difficult for people with Asperger’s to accommodate to change, especially children. New environments, different people, and unfamiliar stimuli can create for very uncomfortable situations for the Aspie.

Change, Behavior, Aspie

The following is a guided list of techniques that you can use to help the child with Asperger’s acclimate to change more easily.

Why Is There A Rise In Autism?

by: Klaire Smith

The estimation of changes in the patterns and numbers of the cases of autism in the US has recently become fairly complicated with the main debate being about the documented cases of the autism spectrum disorder.  In the previous years, it was much easier to pin down the exact rates of autism as the cases also did not appear as much as they do now. For example, in the 1970s, and 1980s, the reports on ASD concluded that every 1 out of the 2000 children suffered from autism.

In accordance with the results of the survey conducted by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 2012 and 2013, the number of cases went up significantly to every 1 in every 80 children having ASD.

In the following year, the CDC conducted a National Health Interview Survey to note any progressions in the patterns of autism across the US. The survey showed that ASD was more prevalent than it had ever been, with every 1 in 45 children having the symptoms of autism.

What caused such a big rise in the number of autism cases?

The new questionnaire used in the 2014 survey by the CDC may hold an important role in it. The questionnaire used in the most recent survey also asked about Asperger’s syndrome unlike the ones conducted previously.

Asperger’s syndrome used to have its own, separate diagnosis until 2013 when it was enlisted with the autism spectrum disorders and no longer considered a different health condition.

 With the new addition to the autism diagnosis, the 11000 families which were requested to complete the survey were questioned about the diagnosis of a pervasive developmental disorder, Asperger’s, and autism spectrum disorder. Read more on the CDC’s report here.

The question regarding Asperger’s syndrome held a significant role in the sudden rise in the rates of autism cases in the most recent survey but it is argued that there are also a number of other reasons which have played an equally important role.

Are Asperger’s syndrome and autism similar?

Autism and Asperger’s syndrome have similar symptoms in children and cause about same issues. Children who have either of the conditions have similar troubles like the inability to make eye contact and expressing their feelings and problems in picking up body language.

Give the Gift of Information!

DVD: "Coping to Excelling: Solutions for School-Age Children Diagnosed with Autism or Asperger Syndrome"

Excellent basic overview of High Functioning Autism and Aspergers Syndrome!

The Coping to Excelling documentary sheds illuminating light on the topic of High-Functioning Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome in school-aged children. Narrated by a Mother of a son with Asperger’s, this engaging program allows the viewer to ‘see through the eyes’ of those on the high end of the autism spectrum while getting advice from experts such as Dr. Temple Grandin, Dr. Tony Attwood, Jennifer McIlwee Myers, Billy Edwards and many more!

“I would strongly recommend the Coping to Excelling DVD not only for parents, especially those of a newly diagnosed child, but also for teachers and professionals!”

– Dr. Tony Attwood

 

 

 

The DVD, Coping to Excelling, is divided into 5 chapters each lasting just over 10 minutes. The chapters may be viewed independently or the entire Documentary (lasting 68 minutes) may be viewed in it’s entirety.

Chapters include:

  • Understanding High-Functioning Autism or Asperger Syndrome – a broad overview
  • The Family Unit – The importance thereof
  • Choices in Education – Pro’s and con’s of all methods
  • Bullying – re-enactments and solutions
  • Social Development – suggestions and tools from the experts

 

Purchase Here

 

 

Product details

Child just Diagnosed with Aspergers?

I’m Here to Say it’ll be Alright.

11012954_10204462766751207_2317137543922936014_nI’m pretty sure those of you who have discovered that your child has high-functioning autism went into some kind of state of shock when you found out about the diagnosis. My own mother felt the room spinning when they suggested the possibility of me having high-functioning autism.

But, at the same time, she also experienced a feeling of relief for finally having a diagnosis that explained the foreign behaviors.

It’s okay to feel shocked when the diagnosis comes in. It can be a lot to take in, but I can assure you that there is nothing to worry about. In fact, I’d consider the diagnosis to be a stepping stone towards a journey.

Now, some of you may be worried after getting the diagnosis that your child may not be able to drive, or to find a romantic love interest. Take a look at me; I have Aspergers and I’m driving to and from college every Monday through Thursday with no hitch, and I’ve even had some girlfriends in recent times.

Of course, there are going to be rough patches throughout the journey, but that’s what makes the journey all the more interesting. Because, let’s face it, normal is boring.

In conclusion, there’s no need to treat the diagnosis as a lethal disease, and I see no reason for the child not to know about their high-functioning autism. Take the time to explain what it is, and make sure they understand that high-functioning autism is far from anything even close to a disease.

By Samuel Allen

Apart From the Crowd: Isolation in the Early Years of Diagnosis

Even before the official diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome, we knew our son Sam walked apart from the crowd. His early intense interest in a subject matter, and not in his peers, was the perfect mix for oddity starting the early sociable elementary years.

Aspergers Apart from the crowd

While we, as Sam’s parents, grew to walk alongside (and later celebrate) the unique perspective Sam had on the world, it was me who was shocked to be set apart from the crowd.