||List of available Encyclopedias in Autistic Society:
Autism is a lifelong condition that affects the way a person communicates and relates to other people. This definition has been expanded to include a wide range of associated conditions. These have come to be known as Autistic Spectrum Disorders. ASD is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life.
The disorder was first described in 1943 by Leo Kanner in a paper "Autistic Disturbance of Affective Contact". The word Autism comes from a Greek term meaning "self absorbed". Before Leo Kanner described the behaviour pattern, such children would be classified as emotionally disturbed or mentally retarded.
Kanner observed that these children often demonstrated capabilities that showed they were not just slow learners, but they didn't fit the patterns of emotionally disturbed children. Thus he coined the term "Early Infantile Autism" or Kanner's Syndrome.
Autistic children have trouble in in understanding and using any form of communication, non-verbal and verbal. Some autistic children do not develop any useful language at all.
Although autistic children can remember experiences they seem unable to imbue them with significance beyond the immediate, literal meaning.
The autistic child has no sense of "me" and "not me" except in fleeting moments of awareness. People are treated as things which are extensions of the child's own bodily "things".
Bizarre behaviours such as grimacing, arm flapping, and springing back and forth, one foot to another are common. Peripheral vision is used, responding to movement and looking past people and things.
Oversensitivity to certain sounds, fascination with bright lights and objects that spin and indifference to pain or temperature may occur in young autistic children.
Play is ritualistic and lacking in imagination. Autistic children are incapable of understanding emotion in others. They suffer from a lack of empathy.
The essence of autism is a triad of impairments:
1. Difficulties with Speech, Language and Nonverbal Communication - The main problem is that they have difficulties in communicating. Even in individuals with relatively normal language development they can find it difficult to initiate conversations and reply appropriately. A child can often repeat perfectly what has been said - Echolalia - but cannot use the same words in another situation.
2.Difficulties with Social Interaction - People and particularly children with Autism often have difficulties initiating and sustaining relationships with their peers. Autistic children can often relate well to their parents but not to other kids. The reason is that as adults we anticipate children's needs, an ability children do not have.
3.Difficulties with Imagination and Inner Language - Children with autism have a problem pretending. They are very poor at imaginary play. People with autism tend to have problems understanding how other people are feeling or interpreting facial expressions.
Asperger's Syndrome is part of a continuum of disorders known as Autistic Spectrum Disorders and like Autism is a lifelong condition. Asperger's is not easily recognisable and many children are misdiagnosed with Tourette's Syndrome, Autism, Attention Deficit, Oppositional Defiant, or Obsessive Compulsive Disorders.
It was first identified in a paper by Dr. Hans Asperger in Austria in 1944. It was not however, translated into English until 1991.
Asperger's Syndrome is a congenital neurobiological condition. AS is characterised by severe and sustained impairment in social interaction, development of restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviour, interests and activities.
People with Asperger's usually have a circumscribed area of interest which leaves no space for more age appropriate, common interests; eg cars, trains, door knobs, cards and meteorology.
The speech of AS individuals, though grammatical, is peculiar due to abnormalities of inflection and repetition. They find spontaneous conversation very difficult and must learn social scripts through rote memory learning. Everything is taken in a very literal way.
In contrast to ASD, there are no significant delays in language or cognition or adaptive skills other than social interaction.
Most Asperger difficulties centre around social competencies. A characteristic of young children is egocentrism. People with Asperger's remain in this egocentric state, unable to interpret the thoughts and emotions of others, just like people with Autism.
Attention span is another problem area with Asperger's, during preschool years children exhibit what might be called "a one track mind", focusing on one piece of information at a time. This tendency seems to continue into adulthood.
The transition to adulthood can be very difficult as Asperger individuals have not completed the required developmental tasks or moved beyond early stages in language or social skills. They frequently remain emotionally dependent on parents.
People with Asperger's are often identified as eccentric, quirky or weird. They are usually interested in making friends but do not know how. Although aware of their differences they are unsure how to address them; they can suffer isolation, resulting in depression and despair.
The up side is that people with AS may have incredible rote memories and their obsessive interests may lead to great achievements, eg Albert Einstein was believed to have Asperger's Syndrome.
Asperger children generally have an I.Q. in the normal range or above in contrast to Autistic children who can have very low I.Q.s. This is the main difference between Asperger's Syndrome and Autistic Spectrum Disorder.
Developmental dyspraxia is an impairment or immaturity of the organisation of movement. It is an immaturity in the way that the brain processes information, which results in messages not being properly or fully transmitted.
The term dyspraxia comes from the word praxis, which means 'doing, acting'. Dyspraxia affects the planning of what to do and how to do it. It is associated with problems of perception, language and thought.
Dyspraxia is thought to affect up to ten per cent of the population and up to two per cent severely. Males are four times more likely to be affected than females.
Dyspraxia sometimes runs in families. Other names for dyspraxia include Developmental Co-ordination Disorder (DCD), Perceptuo-Motor Dysfunction, and Motor Learning Difficulties. It used to be known as Minimal Brain Damage and Clumsy Child Syndrome.
Tuberous sclerosis derives its name from the tuber-like growths on the brain which calcify with age and become hard or sclerotic.
These lesions show up as small white patches on a CT-brain scan in most patients with TS. If they have not yet calcified (perhaps in a very young baby) they may not be seen on a CT-scan, but will be seen on MR images.
Abnormal TS growths can affect almost any other organ of the body (including the skin, eyes, heart, kidneys and lungs) but they may cause little in the way of problems. Doctors find them helpful, though, in confirming the diagnosis.
There is also some relationship between autism and Tuberous Sclerosis, a genetic condition that causes abnormal tissue growth in the brain and problems in other organs. Although Tuberous Sclerosis is a rare disorder, occurring less than once in 10,000 births, about a fourth of those affected are also autistic.
Scientists are exploring genetic conditions such as Fragile X and Tuberous Sclerosis to see why they so often coincide with autism. Understanding exactly how these conditions disrupt normal brain development may provide insights to the biological and genetic mechanisms of autism.
Tourette Syndrome was named after a French neuropsychiatrist who successfully assessed the disorder in the late 1800s.
TS is an inherited, neurological disorder characterized by repeated and involuntary body movements (tics) and uncontrollable vocal sounds. In a minority of cases, the vocalizations can include socially inappropriate words and phrases -- called coprolalia. These outbursts are neither intentional nor purposeful.
Involuntary symptoms can include eye blinking, repeated throat clearing or sniffing, arm thrusting, kicking movements, shoulder shrugging or jumping.
These and other symptoms typically appear before the age of 18 and the condition occurs in all ethnic groups with males affected 3 to 4 times more often than females.
Although the symptoms of TS vary from person to person and range from very mild to severe, the majority of cases fall into the mild category. Associated conditions can include attentional problems, impulsiveness and learning disabilities.
Most people with TS lead productive lives and participate in all professions. Increased public understanding and tolerance of TS symptoms are of paramount importance to people with Tourette Syndrome.
Read more at www.tourettes-disorder.com
Selective Mutism is a complex childhood anxiety disorder characterized by a childâ€™s inability to speak in select social settings, such as school. These children are able to talk normally in settings where they are comfortable, secure and relaxed.
Over 90% of children with Selective Mutism also have social phobia or social anxiety. This disorder is quite debilitating and painful to the child.
Children and adolescents with Selective Mutism have an actual FEAR of speaking and social interactions where there is an expectation to talk.
They often stand motionless with fear as they are confronted with specific social settings. This can be quite heart wrenching to watch. These children are so anxious they literally freeze, are expressionless, unemotional and often, socially isolated.
Savant Syndrome is a rare, but spectacular, condition in which persons with various developmental disorders, including autistic disorder, have astonishing islands of ability, brilliance or talent that stand in stark, markedly incongruous contrast to overall limitations.
The condition can be congenital (genetic or inborn), or can be acquired later in childhood, or even in adults.
The savant skills co-exist with, or are superimposed upon, various developmental disabilities including autistic disorder, or other conditions such as mental retardation or brain injury or disease that occurs before (pre-natal) during (peri-natal) or after birth (post-natal), or even later in childhood or adult life.
The extraordinary skills are always linked with prodigious memory of a special type â€” exceedingly deep but very narrow.
For more information visit Savant Syndrome and Dr. Darold A. Treffert website
Rett syndrome was first described in 1966 by the Austrian doctor, Andreas Rett. It is a complex neurological disorder, genetic in origin. It affects mainly girls. A few boys also have the condition.
At least one in every 10,000 females born has Rett syndrome. It is believed to be the second most common cause of severe and profound learning disability in girls.
A large proportion of people who have Rett syndrome have a mutation, or fault, on the MECP2 gene on the X chromosome.
Rett syndrome is not usually passed down to the child from their parents.
It could occur in any family at any time. Something goes wrong with the genetic makeup of the cells which become the baby.
The word 'dyslexia' comes from the Greek and means 'difficulty with words'.
It is a difference in the brain area that deals with language. It affects the under-lying skills that are needed for learning to read, write and spell. Brain imaging techniques show that dyslexic people process information differently.
Around 4% of the population is severely dyslexic. A further 6% have mild to moderate problems. Dyslexia occurs in people from all backgrounds and of all abilities, from people who cannot read to those with university degrees. Dyslexic people, of all ages, can learn effectively but often need a different approach.
Dyslexia is a puzzling mix of both difficulties and strengths. It varies in degree and from person to person. Dyslexic people often have distinctive talents as well as typical clusters of difficulties.
Fragile X syndrome, has been found in about 10 percent of people with autism, mostly males. This inherited disorder is named for a defective piece of the X-chromosome that appears pinched and fragile when seen under a microscope.
People who inherit this faulty bit of genetic code are more likely to have mental retardation and many of the same symptoms as autism along with unusual physical features that are not typical of autism.
About one-third of the children with autism develop seizures, starting either in early childhood or adolescence.
Researchers are trying to learn if there is any significance to the time of onset, since the seizures often first appear when certain neurotransmitters become active.
Since seizures range from brief blackouts to full-blown body convulsions, an electroencephalogram (EEG) can help confirm their presence. Fortunately, in most cases, seizures can be controlled with medication.
Of the problems that can occur with autism, mental retardation is the most widespread.
Seventy-five to 80 percent of people with autism are mentally retarded to some extent. Fifteen to 20 percent are considered severely retarded, with IQs below 35.
But autism does not necessarily correspond with mental impairment. More than 10 percent of people with autism have an average or above average IQ. A few show exceptional intelligence.
Interpreting IQ scores is difficult, however, because most intelligence tests are not designed for people with autism. People with autism do not perceive or relate to their environment in typical ways.
When tested, some areas of ability are normal or even above average, and some areas may be especially weak. For example, a child with autism may do extremely well on the parts of the test that measure visual skills but earn low scores on the language subtests.
Hyperlexia has characteristics similar to autism, behavior disorder, language disorder, emotional disorder, Attention Deficit Disorder, hearing impairment, giftedness or, paradoxically, mental retardation.
Hyperlexia was originally identified as an unusual learning style. Only in the last decade has hyperlexia become associated with the autism spectrum.
A term used in scientific literature to describe coexisting conditions.
A condition that exists simultaneously with another condition.
Williams Syndrome is a rare disorder. Like Down's Syndrome it is caused by an abnormality in chromosomes, and shows a wide variation in ability from person to person.
Williams People have a unique pattern of emotional, physical and mental strengths and weaknesses. For parents, teachers, and care workers, learning about this pattern can be a key to understanding a Williams person and in helping them achieve their full potential.
It is a non-hereditary syndrome which occurs at random and can effect brain development in varying degrees, combined with some physical effects or physical problems. These range from lack of co-ordination, slight muscle weakness, possible heart defects and occasional kidney damage.
Attention Deficit Disorder
Attention Deficit Disorder (with or without Hyperactivity) is a neurological condition (probably genetic in origin) where the sufferer has a very reduced ability to; maintain attention without distraction; control of doing, or saying something due to impulsivity and lack of appropriate fore-thought; and control the amount of physical activity appropriate to the situation (where hyperactivity is also present, - may be limited to restlessness in adults).
Many people may experience these symptoms sometimes, but for someone with AD/HD they are pervasive and debilitating (in some cases to the point of making day-to-day functioning extremely difficult).
Occasioanlly, under certain circumstances, people with AD/HD can 'hyper-focus' for a period. Usually during high intensity, interesting or stimulating situations that provide rapid results (in front of the TV or Playstation is a common example). This inconsistency has lead some people to question the strict use of the term 'deficit'.
Generalised Anxiety Disorder
The psychological symptoms of GAD are chronic, exaggerated worry, restlessness, tension, and irritability, that appear to have no cause, or are more intense than is reasonable in the situation.
People with GAD may also have concentration problems and trouble going to sleep or staying asleep. In addition to these psychological symptoms there are often physical signs such as trembling, headaches, dizziness, twitching, muscle tension, aches or soreness, abdominal upsets, and sweating.
Most of those with GAD claim to have felt anxious for their entire lives, and the disorder is often first seen in childhood or adolescence. However, adult onset of the disorder is not uncommon.
Experts believe that GAD is probably caused by a combination of biological factors and life events. Many people who have GAD also have other medical disorders, such as depression and/or panic disorder, that seem to involve changes in brain chemistry, in particular abnormalities in the levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin.
Panic Attacks and Panic Disorder
People with panic disorder suffer unexpected and repeated episodes of intense, overwhelming terror for no apparent reason (panic attacks).
Their fear may be accompanied by physical symptoms such as chest pain, heart palpitations, sweating, hot or cold flushes, trembling, dizziness, choking or smothering sensations and shortness of breath.
Panic attacks typically occur spontaneously, with no apparent trigger. They can occur at any time, even during sleep, and because they can not predict when a panic attack will seize them, many people live with the persistent worry that another attack could overcome them at any minute.
Most panic attacks last only a few minutes, but they occasionally go on for 10 minutes and, in rare cases, have been known to last for as long as an hour.
The symptoms of such panic attacks often mimic symptoms of a heart attack or other life-threatening medical conditions.
Many people with panic disorder develop intense anxiety between episodes. It is not unusual for a person with panic disorder to develop phobias about places or situations where panic attacks have occurred, such as in supermarkets or other everyday situations.
Panic disorder can coexist with other disorders, most often depression and substance abuse. About 30% of people with panic disorder abuse alcohol and 17% abuse drugs, such as cocaine and marijuana, in unsuccessful attempts to reduce the distress caused by their condition.
Appropriate diagnosis and treatment of other disorders such as substance abuse or depression are important to successfully treat panic disorder.
The exact causes of panic disorder are unknown, but heredity and stressful life events may each be important.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder. It is a condition that can last throughout a person's life. People with OCD can become trapped in a pattern of repetitive thoughts and behaviours that are senseless and distressing, but extremely difficult to overcome.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder involves anxious thoughts (obsessions) or rituals (compulsions) which you feel you can't control. People with OCD are often plagued by persistent, unwelcome thoughts or images, or by the urgent need to engage in certain rituals.
For example, a person with OCD might be obsessed with germs or dirt, and wash his or her hands over and over. Another person may check things repeatedly or be preoccupied by thoughts of violence and fear. Obsessive counting is often seen in people with OCD.
OCD symptoms usually begin in the teenage years or early adulthood, but some children develop the illness at earlier ages, even in the pre school years. At least one-third of adults with OCD first developed the disease in childhood.
OCD tends to last for years, even decades. The symptoms may become less severe from time to time, and there may be long intervals when the symptoms are mild, but for most individuals, the symptoms are chronic.
Some people with OCD may also suffer from depression, eating disorders, substance abuse, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or other anxiety disorders. When a person has other disorders, OCD is often more difficult to diagnose and treat.
Symptoms of OCD are also seen in other brain disorders, such as Tourette's syndrome. Correct diagnosisand treatment of these disorders is important for successful treatment of OCD.
Bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness) is a mood disorder, which means that the symptoms are disturbances or abnormalities of mood. Major depression is a more common illness, the symptoms of which are mainly those of 'low' mood.
Bipolar disorder involves episodes of both serious mania and depression. The person's mood swings from excessively 'high' and irritable, to sad and hopeless, and then back again, with periods of normal mood in between.
Different from normal mood states of happiness and sadness, symptoms of manic-depressive illness can be severe and life threatening. However, because many artists, musicians and writers have suffered from bipolar illness, the effect of the illness has sometimes been trivialised, and regarded in some way as beneficial for artistic creativity. In fact, for those afflicted with the illness, it is extremely distressing and disruptive.
Bipolar disorder is the third most common mood disorder after major depression and dysthymic disorder. It affects about 1% of adults during their lifetime. Symptoms typically begin during adolescence or early adulthood, and continue to recur throughout life. Men and women are equally likely to develop this disabling illness.
Unlike other disabilities, such as paralysis or blindness, a learning disability (LD) is a hidden handicap. A learning disability doesn't disfigure or leave visible signs that would invite others to be understanding or offer support. A woman once blurted to Wallace, "You seem so intelligent--you don't look handicapped!"
LD is a disorder that affects people's ability to either interpret what they see and hear or to link information from different parts of the brain. These limitations can show up in many ways--as specific difficulties with spoken and written language, coordination, self-control, or attention. Such difficulties extend to schoolwork and can impede learning to read or write, or to do math.
Learning disabilities can be lifelong conditions that, in some cases, affect many parts of a person's life: school or work, daily routines, family life, and sometimes even friendships and lay. In some people, many overlapping learning disabilities may be apparent. Other people may have a single, isolated learning problem that has little impact on other areas of their lives.
Teenager's with conduct disorder have a repetitive and persistent pattern of behavior in which they violate the rights of others, or violate norms or rules that are appropriate to their age.
Their conduct is more serious than the ordinary mischief and pranks of children and adolescents. Difficulty at home, in school, and in the community is common, and frequently there is very early sexual activity.
Self-esteem is usually low, although the adolescent may project an image of "toughness." Teenagers with this disorder have also been described as "delinquent" or "anti- social."
Some teenagers with conduct disorder may also have symptoms of other psychiatric disorders such as ADHD, depression, alcohol & drug abuse.
Pervasive Developmental Disorders
The diagnostic category of pervasive developmental disorders (PDD) refers to a group of disorders characterized by delays in the development of socialization and communication skills.
Parents may note symptoms as early as infancy, although the typical age of onset is before 3 years of age. Symptoms may include problems with using and understanding language; difficulty relating to people, objects, and events; unusual play with toys and other objects; difficulty with changes in routine or familiar surroundings, and repetitive body movements or behavior patterns.
Autism (a developmental brain disorder characterized by impaired social interaction and communication skills, and a limited range of activities and interests) is the most characteristic and best studied PDD.
Other types of PDD include Aspergerâ€™s Syndrome, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, and Rettâ€™s Syndrome. Children with PDD vary widely in abilities, intelligence, and behaviors.
Some children do not speak at all, others speak in limited phrases or conversations, and some have relatively normal language development. Repetitive play skills and limited social skills are generally evident. Unusual responses to sensory information, such as loud noises and lights, are also common.
Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder
Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurobehavioral disorder. It interferes with a personâ€™s ability to stay on a task and to exercise age-appropriate inhibition (cognitive alone or both cognitive and behavioral).
Some of the warning signs of ADHD include failure to listen to instructions, inability to organize oneself and school work, fidgeting with hands and feet, talking too much, leaving projects, chores and homework unfinished, and having trouble paying attention to and responding to details.
There are several types of ADHD: a predominantly inattentive subtype, a predominantly hyperactive-impulsive subtype, and a combined subtype.
Stim or Stimming
Self-stimulatory behaviour; repetetive motor or vocal mannerisms engaged in by people with ASDs. They are usually used to either calm or excite the nervous system and often as a response to strong emotion.
Semantic-pragmatic disorder is very similar to Asperger Syndrome and a common characteristic of people with non-verbal learning disabilities and hyperlexia.
The condition involves deficits in social and nonverbal communication such as the give and take of communication as well as interpreting cues from body language and expression.
While Semantic-Pragmatic Disorder itself is almost always milder than Asperger's, the vast majority of people with Asperger Syndrome have pragmatic language deficits and could benefit from the techniques for dealing with this disorder.
Semantic-Pragmatic Disorder may be a variant PDD or it may be just a descriptive term for the language impairment in autistic spectrum disorders.
Echolalia is the repetition or echoing of verbal utterances made by another person. Up to 75% of verbal persons with autism exhibit echolalia in some form. There are two types of echolalia: immediate echolalia and delayed echolalia.
The researchers have determined that immediate echolalia often was used with clear evidence of purposeful communication.
Immediate echolalia appears to tap into the person's short-term memory for auditory input. This is defined as the repetition of a word or phrase just spoken by another person.
Immediate echolalia may be used with no intent or purpose or may have a very specific purpose for the individual.
Immediate echolalia may also be used to initiate or maintain interaction or may be used in a noninteractive manner. Knowing the person very well would appear to be the key to understanding their specific use of immediate echolalia.
Delayed echolalia has been defined as the "echoing of a phrase after some delay or lapse of time".
Persons with autism who repeat TV commercials, favorite movie scripts, or parental reprimands come to mind when describing delayed echolalia.
Delayed echolalia appears to tap into long-term auditory memory, and for this reason, may be a different phenomenon from immediate echolalia. Because it can involve the recitation of entire scripts, delayed echolalia, is often thought to denote evidence of near-genius intellect.
There are two described categories of delayed echolalia: noncommunicative repetition and communicative repetition.
Delayed echolalia may be interactive or noninteractive and may be used with no intent or purpose or may have a very specific purpose for the individual.
Sensory Integration Disorder
Sensory integration disorder or dysfunction (SID) is a neurological disorder that results from the brain's inability to integrate certain information received from the body's five basic sensory systems.