The Autism Spectrum

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Article: A Radical New Theory

This is exactly what I've been saying all along! I've actually been pretty much taking it for granted my whole life. Oversensitivity can make you seem cold and distant. Too much noise can make voices hard to isolate. Being afraid of literally everything--and just going on with life anyway--can make you seem fearless. This last point can be dangerous. If everything hits your sensors as a life-threatening crisis, then you have to make a habit of ignoring the alarms that go off.

A Radical New Autism Theory
By Maia Szalavitz

A groundbreaking study suggests people with autism-spectrum disorders such as Asperger's do not lack empathy—rather they feel others' emotions too intensely to cope.

People with Asperger's syndrome, a high functioning form of autism, are often stereotyped as distant loners or robotic geeks. But what if what looks like coldness to the outside world is in fact a response to being overwhelmed by emotion—an excess of empathy, not a lack of it?

This idea resonates with many people suffering from autism-spectrum disorders and their families. It also jibes with new thinking about the nature of autism called the “intense world” theory. As posited by Henry and Kamila Markram of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, suggests that the fundamental problem in autism-spectrum disorders is not a social deficiency, but rather an hypersensitivity to experience, which includes an overwhelming fear response.

(more at The Daily Beast...)

Friday, April 30, 2010


Applying labels to large groups of people can be very useful, but it's inherently dehumanizing. If such a group is in the minority and viewed unfavorably by many outside the group, then any labels applied to this group begin to acquire negative connotations. In this way, perfectly neutral terms such as "idiot" and "retarded" develop into insults and must be replaced by newer (though essentially synonymous) words like "autistic" and "handicapped". As long as social prejudices still exist toward the labeled group, such new terms gradually develop their own negative connotations and must be replaced again. It's an endless cycle. This is why we see the word "special" today used gingerly to refer the mentally handicapped as well as sarcastically as an insult.

I'm not pointing this out as a suggestion that we push for new words to refer to individuals with autism or other developmental disorders, nor am I suggesting that we attempt to reclaim archaic terminology and purge it of its insulting connotations. I'm simply suggesting that we all recognize words for what they are: strings of letters representing sounds arbitrarily linked to ideas which vary over time as well as in the minds of individual speakers. In short, don't get hung up on terminological issues. Pay close attention to what people are actually communicating, not so much the particular words they choose.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Are You Ready?

A few weeks ago, I got another interesting update from my dad about my brother Caleb. I can't believe it took me so long to post it! I guess grad school can do that to you.

Key Words: Are You Ready?
By Cliff Jones, Sr.

I just learned something that works with Caleb. I can ask and tell him over and over to do something, but if he is feeling resistant, he won't do it.

But I found out tonight that if you pose it as a question, it seems to work.

I was asking over and over for him to get undressed for his bath, but he kept circling the house for a half hour.

Finally, I said, "Are you ready for your bath?" Then he started saying he was ready and got undressed and got in the tub.

I asked him to stand so I could wash his body and he wouldn't. Then I said, "Are you ready to stand up?" And he got up.

I've done this a few times now and it seems to be a key. Maybe the phrase "Are you ready?" gives him a moment to get his mind ready for what you are about to say.

Anything that works, right? I'm going to try some more things. Maybe a negative, like "Are you ready to stop opening the refrigerator?"

Monday, October 5, 2009

Article: More Cases of Autism All the Time

So two separate studies are both saying 1 in 100 kids have some form of autism now, with only half of those cases being reported as "mild". That means you've got 1 in 200 kids (about 1 boy in 125) with a serious problem. I think it's interesting how the mainstream media will say that it's probably just better diagnosis and then go on to ask how we're going to handle this dramatic increase financially. The label doesn't matter; if we have an increasing chunk of the population that can't take care of themselves, then something is seriously wrong.

Study: More cases of autism in U.S. kids than previously realized

A study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics indicates about 1 percent of children ages 3 to 17 have autism or a related disorder, an increase over previous estimates.

"This is a significant issue that needs immediate attention," Dr. Ileana Arias, deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday. "A concerted effort and substantial national response is warranted."

The study used data from the federal government's 2007 national survey of children's health. The survey of parents was conducted by the Health Resources and Services Administration, and by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The results are based on a national telephone survey of more than 78,000 parents of children ages 3 to 17. How has autism affected your family?

In the study, parents were asked whether a health care provider had ever told them their child had an autism spectrum disorder. ASD is a group of brain disorders comprising autism and two less severe disorders: Asperger's disorder and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified.

(more at

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Profile: Jonathon

Jonathon1) I am answering these questions for my son Jonathon. We currently live in Nashville, TN. Jonathon was born in El Paso, TX and he lived there until the age of 3.

2) Autism in my life has been an opening to a different view of the world. Autism has been a learning experience every single day. With Jonathon being my second child I learned that I had to look at parenting in a new way. Every single obstacle and every learning experience I’ve had with Jonathon has required me to constantly be thinking outside the box.

3) Jonathon was born April of 2003. He was diagnosed at the age of two. Autism ASD has been his only diagnosis. I believe that injecting my son’s small body with multiple doses of viruses when he was just a baby has had something to do with it.

4) He is nonverbal. Socially he interacts only with his immediate family, Dad, mom and sis. At school he interacts with teachers and therapists. He likes adults more that he does children. He usually shies away from other children but is the opposite way with adults.

5) He has had speech therapy and occupational therapy since the age of two. He has improved significantly. He has gone from a appearing to be in his own little world and being super shy to a sweet boy who looks you in the eye and constantly wants your attention. He loves hugs and kisses.

6) Communication is his biggest obstacle.

7) He knows the alphabet forward and backwards. We found this out by working through puzzles with him.

8) I have learned to view the world with different eyes. I learned to question and learn things for myself. A lot of research has come out of this. I feel like this opportunity has been placed in my life and I feel blessed for having the chance to live it.