Common Expressions Are Confusing
For some people on the spectrum, a phrase like “it’s raining cats and dogs” might be something they take literally. They have a hard time understanding these less-than-logical turns of phrase.
Dr. Marsh adds, “You found it difficult to understand humor that relies on sarcasm, puns, or figures of speech, although as an adult you may have learned to understand these the way someone else might learn a foreign language.”
Where Does Autism Come From When It Doesnt Run In The Family
Autism genetics expert Ivan Iossifov breaks down recent research that sheds light on how unaffected parents can pass autism onto their child.
A quick Google search for autism causes is all it takes to learn that scientists believe the disorder has a strong genetic component. So if theres no genetic history in the family, where does a childs autism come from?
A key fact has come to light within the last couple of years: many autism-causing genetic mutations are spontaneous. They occur in the affected child, but in neither parent. Mutations in this category are not directly inherited from the parents, explains Assistant Professor Ivan Iossifov, one of several CSHL scientists who has pioneered the study of the role of spontaneous mutations in autism causation.
A childs genome is a patchwork stitched together from the genetic cloth contained in the mothers egg and fathers sperm. In theory, that means that children are cut from exactly the same cloth as their parents. But in reality, there are virtually always small factory defects in that clothmutations that spontaneously arise during the sperm or eggs creation.
Spontaneous mutations cause as much as half of all autism in situations in which only one child in the family has autism. This and other analysis comes from a study Iossifov published in 2015. He and his team looked at about 2,500 families with a single affected child and investigated the causal link to spontaneous mutations.
Most Siblings Cope Very Well
While growing up as the sibling of someone with autism can certainly be trying, most siblings cope very well. It is important to remember that while having a sibling with autism or any other disability is a challenge to a child, it is not an insurmountable obstacle. Most children handle the challenge effectively, and many of them respond with love, grace and humor far beyond their years.
The previous section was provided by Sandra Harris, Ph.D., professor emerita at the Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology and executive director of the Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center at Rutgers University.
Recommended Reading: Can Autism Be Passed Down
Four Legs And Fur May Change Your Child’s World And Give You Hope
“We were on an endless search for that one thing that was going to make the difference for our son … and then we adopted Xena, a severely abused and neglected puppy. The moment my son and Xena met, there was an immediate and undeniable bond. He spoke freely to her he sang to her he played with her. They were inseparable. We spent years and thousands of dollars on therapy hoping to accomplish what this dog was able to attain instantly. My son finally had a relationship where there was no judgment or expectations placed on him, but there was a friendship that allowed him to let it all go, open up and be himself. I am not saying that all families living with autism should have a dog, but I will say that miracles do come true, and your miracle may be at your local shelter waiting for you.”
Linda Hickey, Johns Creek, Georgia
What Is The Difference Between Autism And Autism Spectrum Disorder
The term autism was changed to autism spectrum disorder in 2013 by the American Psychiatric Association. ASD is now an umbrella term that covers the following conditions:
- Autistic disorder.
- Pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified .
- Asperger syndrome.
People with ASD have trouble with social interactions and with interpreting and using non-verbal and verbal communication in social contexts. Individuals with ASD may also have the following difficulties:
- Inflexible interests.
- Insistence on sameness in environment or routine.
- Repetitive motor and sensory behaviors, like flapping arms or rocking.
- Increased or decreased reactions to sensory stimuli.
How well someone with ASD can function in day-to-day life depends on the severity of their symptoms. Given that autism varies widely in severity and everyday impairment, the symptoms of some people arent always easily recognized.
You May Like: Is The Good Doctor Actor Really Autistic
Autism And The Family: Issue 2
Whether the child with autism is the first-born, in the middle, or the baby, parents often worry about the effect that dealing with the autism — and the time commitment it involves — will have on the other children. “I think most parents bend over backward so it doesn’t affect the other children,” says McCarton.
In a recent study published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, researchers compared siblings of autistic children with siblings of non-disabled children and found those with the autistic sibling were actually better adjusted psychosocially and emotionally. They did find, however, that it’s more difficult for the non-disabled child to cope with the autistic sibling if multiple risk factors such as low income are present.
Exactly why the siblings of autistic children scored better isn’t known. Wright says they may have a higher level of maturity from observing and being involved in the care of a child with autism. “The message is,” Wright tells WebMD, “lots of siblings are doing OK.”
Still, it’s a good idea to be sure the other children get one-on-one time with each parent, McCarton says. Many parents divide up the children. For example, the mother may take over a behavioral therapy session for the child with autism one day, and the father will take the other children out for a movie. Then they’ll switch roles the next time.
Modes Of Therapy For Autism
Family therapy helps some families cope with these issues. It may help them address problems as they come up. They may come to better understand the needs of the family member with ASD.
Parents of children with ASD can benefit from couples therapy. They may work on strengthening their own relationship. Parents can also focus on their own resilience. They might choose to build their skills for managing family dynamics.
Group therapy can also be helpful for parents of children with autism. It can connect them with peers who have similar experiences. One study showed that families of children with ASD benefited from group therapy. After the study, they had lower stress levels and felt more empowered.
These therapeutic modes are not always available or an option. In these cases, some try computer-based approaches. Online therapy or computer programs can simulate talk therapy. This can help people with ASD for whom social interaction is difficult. Children with ASD may also use computer-based systems for learning. This approach tailors education to a child’s learning style.
Read Also: How To Make A Visual Schedule For Autism
Why Do They Have To Be Brilliant The Problem Of Autism In The Movies
Over 30 years since Dustin Hoffman twitched his way to an Oscar in Rain Man, our experts give their verdict on a season of portrayals of the neurodiverse, from Sias Music to Whats Eating Gilbert Grape?
A quick experiment. Close your eyes, and think of autism in the movies. I bet youve got an image in your head of Dustin Hoffman being driven by Tom Cruise in a Buick Roadmaster Convertible, repeatedly saying: Im an excellent driver. Or Hoffman glancing at a box of scattered toothpicks and announcing there are 246 of them. Or Hoffman learning the phonebook to g off by heart in a couple of minutes. Or Hoffman doing miraculous mental arithmetic.
Rain Man was released in 1988. Watch it now, and it seems like a throwback to a simpler world where autistic people were geniuses, and no cliche about the idiot savant was left unturned. Hoffman tic-d, squinted and stuttered his way to an Oscar in a fabulously mannered performance.
Its easy to be dismissive of Rain Man, but a little unfair. The film was genuinely groundbreaking. Back then the word autism wasnt even common parlance, and Raymond, the character played by Hoffman, wouldnt have had a chance of being diagnosed aspergic for another six years. Aspergers Disorder was only added to the American Psychiatric Associations Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in 1994.
Why do they nearly always depict characters or choose real people who speak in that monotone and have all the tics?
They Were Hidden Away
On the other side of the spectrum, we have low-functioning autism . Primarily this consists of autistic people who are non-verbal and may require long-term care. Now, however, with the improvement of several devices, PECS, and other modern techniques, we are finding that many non-verbal autistic people very much have a voice to share, we simply must help them to share it.
Years ago, however, they were not respected and cared for. Friends, Im going to be honest and say that this part is hard to type. Many autistic people were taken to institutions and homes, and subjected to unimaginable cruelty.
You didnt see these children at school because they were never given the chance to go to school. You didnt see them playing because they werent given the chance to play. There is a dark, dark history of how disabled people were treated in America.
Now, these autistic individuals are in schools. Theyre going to college. Theyre writing blogs and books and sharing their voice online. Theyre visible.
Read Also: Jerry Seinfeld Autism
Family’s Struggle: All Six Kids Are Autistic
Each of the Kirtons’ children has a different type of autism.
Each of their six children suffers from a different form of the disorder, which affects an estimated one in 150 American children. It’s an incredibly rare occurrence that, experts say, points to something in the genes.
Studies have shown that if one child has autism, the chance of the next sibling having it is only about 15 percent.
“They’ve rolled the dice six times and have a child each time with autism. That’s really uncommon,” explains Dr. Gary Goldstein of the Kennedy Krieger Institute for pediatric research and treatment.
After reading about the Kirton’s inspiring story in People magazine, “Good Morning America” decided to visit the Utah family to find out just how they cope.
“We worry about them, where they’re going to be 10, 20 years in the future,” says John. Together, he and Robin navigate the diverse world of autism, and deal with each child’s individual condition.
Shy and Awkward
Bobby, the oldest at 14, has Aspergers, a high functioning form of autism that his teachers started noticing in the 5th grade.
“He just would not speak up. If he wasn’t sure about something, he just wouldn’t ask. He was like a fly on the wall, and would just sit back and not do things … we didn’t know any better, we just thought he was quiet,” explains John.
“He doesn’t engage in back and forth conversations with people. It’s mainly one-sided on his side, whatever interests him mainly,” says John.
Why Should I Tell My Child They Have Autism
If you dont tell your child they have autism, theres a good chance someone else will let it slip, or your child will eventually figure it out themselves, says Kelly Price, a registered psychologist who assesses children for autism in Victoria, B.C. This is particularly true if your child is participating in programs and receiving services for people with autism because the A-word is bound to come up, he adds. You dont want someone else to spill the beans before youve had the opportunity to describe it yourself, he says, adding that its unfair for parents to withhold information about their child from them when they reach a certain age, and their child may feel betrayed if they do so.
Dundon adds that kids may feel ashamed if they find out theyre autistic from someone other than their parents because it may seem like their parents were trying to hide it. She says its important for kids to know that theyre autistic because it helps them understand who they are, particularly in relation to their peers. Kids do sense that theyre different, and not helping them see why isnt okay, she says. It causes distress because they cant fit in, they dont know why things are difficult for them, they feel like theres something wrong with them. When they do find out, its like, Oh, that explains it. But Ive had all of these years of thinking that I was somehow less than my peers and that there was something wrong.
Recommended Reading: Link Between Gestational Diabetes And Autism
Research Airport Resorts And Other Points Of Interest
Knowing what to expect during travel is important for both parents, and children with autism. For parents, this is a necessity to be able to plan a trip that will be accommodating for their child, from the airport experience, all the way to the resort and back home.
Picture: Beaches Negril captures the essence of a laid-back paradise along with the elegance of a luxury resort.
There are some airports that offer trial boarding for children with autism and special needs. Other airports cater to people with special needs with priority boarding. Beaches Resorts is one of the all-inclusive autism friendly resorts for families where the needs of your child come first, even down to special dietary needs of children with autism. Even still, some parents find it worthwhile to pack some must-have food items to take with them to avoid meltdowns. you plan on visiting is also worthwhile.
To ease your child into vacation mode, consider getting pictures of the places you will go and arranging them together according to which you will visit first. Before you leave home, talk about the trip daily as you explore these places through the pictures you can even arrange the photos into a collage with captions you can read together. Make sure this is in line with their age, understanding, and developmental level. Once you get to your destination, stick to this order of events as much as possible as it will then be familiar to your child.
You Have Specific And Niche Interests
We all have our own interests and hobbies, and people with autism have them too, but they are intensely focused on them, usually to the exclusion of everything else. Common examples can be anything from a fascination with 1970s Italian furniture makers to being an expert on all things train-related.
Read Also: Can Autism Be Passed Down
Multiple Children Multiple Rewards
A small gesture to one of my children means the world to them.
Despite the additional challenges, parenting multiple children with autism also brings additional rewards.
For the Yeager family, caring for Aaron may have sparked a desire for independence in his sisters, Mrs. Yeager said. They like to help their brother, and pull together as a family, but they also are self-reliant, she said. “They don’t like to be helped. My oldest rarely came to us for help with schoolwork, and Hayley became that way, too,” she said. “They are more independent than some of their classmates.”
Raising children with autism can give a parent a unique perspective, an appreciation of things that might otherwise be taken for granted with typical children, Mrs. Olsen said.
For example, it may take more effort to nurture connections with those children, she said. “These children really do want to connect. And they dont know how, and they don’t feel it, until someone breaks into their world,” she said. So she tries to break into their world by looking at it the way they do. One time she found a tiny object on the floor that seemed like trash to her. But by imagining it through her daughter’s eyes, she realized it might be a tiny treasure. When she presented the object to her daughter, the girl was instantly grateful. “A small gesture to one of my children means the world to them.”
And finding that entrance is well worth it, she said. “It’s pretty darn amazing.”
Can A Person With Autism Spectrum Disorder Live An Independent Adult Life
The simple answer to this question is yes, a person with autism spectrum disorder can live independently as an adult. However, not all individuals achieve the same level of independence. The focus of intervention services is to help the individual achieve their highest possible level of independence, and that wont look the same for everyone.
Because ASD is variable , treatment plans should be individualized and focused on each persons passions, interests, and skillsets. With the scientifically-validated Applied Behavior Analysis treatments available at Therapeutic Pathways, your family member with ASD will develop skills that will help them tremendously in navigating everyday life and meeting goals.
There are various degrees and stages of independence. Depending on how early your family member was diagnosed and began treatment, you should treat the journey to independence as just that a journey. It wont happen overnight it will take patience and perseverance to help your family member become more independent.
Don’t Miss: Low And High Functioning Autism
Is Autism Genetic Study Finds 80% Risk From Inherited Genes
A new study looking at autism in 5 countries found that 80 percent of autism risk can be traced to inherited genes rather than environmental factors and random mutations.
The study, published July 18 in JAMA Psychiatry, analyzed data of nearly 2 million people across Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Israel, and Western Australia. It is the largest family-based genetic autism study to date, including children with autism, their siblings and cousins, as well as parents and their siblings.
We expanded on previous results by including more family members and data from countries that vary widely in their autism health systems, said Joseph Buxbaum, M.D., one of the study authors and professor of psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai Medical Center. We found that the strongest contributors to risk of autism are from inherited genes. Spontaneous genetic changes and other factors that we could not estimate are additional contributors to risk of autism.
In addition, the study found very little or no risk resulting from maternal effects such as chronic health conditions that are consistent across all of a womans pregnancies. But for maternal factors that might occur in only one pregnancy, the studys analysis cant separate out those risks.
While the studys authors concluded that maternal effects create no risk for autism, researchers who study these effects say this is a complicated issue.