Tuesday, April 2, 2013

on the spectrum

today is world autism awareness day
what is autism and autism spectrum?

"Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors. They include autistic disorder, Rett syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) and Asperger syndrome." autismspeaks.org

my daughter and my nephew are on the autistic spectrum- they are very smart and talented and misunderstood by their peers. they don't form long lasting friendships because they are "different" which is really sad because they are so giving and creative.

"Each individual with autism is unique. Many of those on the autism spectrum have exceptional abilities in visual skills, music and academic skills. About 40 percent have average to above average intellectual abilities. Indeed, many persons on the spectrum take deserved pride in their distinctive abilities and “atypical” ways of viewing the world."  autismspeaks.org

my daughter graduated with a bachelors degree in psychology and a bachelors degree in art. my nephew was accepted to Penn State main campus.

my older brother Timmy was autistic too. he died in 1973 of peritonitis. by the time i was born he was living in a state institution. my memories of him are kind of hazy. from stories told by my parents and my other older siblings i know that Timmy was a beautiful healthy child- very outgoing and social until around 18 months. he seemed to just disconnect from the world.

"Others with autism have significant disability and are unable to live independently. About 25 percent of individuals with ASD are nonverbal but can learn to communicate using other means."  autismspeaks.org

what causes autism?
not long ago the answer would have been "we have no idea" Now we know there is no one cause just as there is no one type of autism.

"Over the last five years, scientists have identified a number of rare gene changes, or mutations, associated with autism. A small number of these are sufficient to cause autism by themselves. Most cases of autism, however, appear to be caused by a combination of autism risk genes and environmental factors influencing early brain development." autismspeaks.org

when my mother was pregnant with Timmy she was in a car accident. a drunk driver hit the broadside of her car.  she swore that this was the reason why Timmy was autistic.

when i was pregnant with my daughter it was a normal pregnancy and i was in the best physical shape i had ever been in.  in my 8th month i got a severe sinus infection and took some nasty medication for it.

"don't worry- it won't hurt the baby"

"In the presence of a genetic predisposition to autism, a number of nongenetic, or “environmental,” stresses appear to further increase a child’s risk. The clearest evidence of these autism risk factors involves events before and during birth. They include advanced parental age at time of conception (both mom and dad), maternal illness during pregnancy and certain difficulties during birth, particularly those involving periods of oxygen deprivation to the baby’s brain. It is important to keep in mind that these factors, by themselves, do not cause autism. Rather, in combination with genetic risk factors, they appear to modestly increase risk." autismspeaks.org

makes me wonder

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