Are Persons With Asperger Syndrome Likely To Commit A Violent Crime
The percentage of Aspergians who commit violent crimes is no greater than the non-ASD population. D. Scott McLeod, PhD, a MassGeneral Hospital for Children psychologist and executive director of their Aspire Program, says persons with ASD are no more likely to commit a violent act than persons not on the autism spectrum. Hes not alone in his opinion.Unfortunately, when one Aspergian commits a crime, media coverage makes the general population foolishly believe all Aspergians must be violent criminals. That concept of one is guilt, so all must be guilty is preposterous. If a person with cancer committed a murder, could one say cancer creates murderers? Absolutely not. So lets understand what ASD is, and what Aspergians think, and end our collective, media driven hysteria.
Because Aspergians are usually more functional in society, they are likely to be more exposed to crime. The more severe a case of autism is, the more likely parents and caregivers are to keep that person in a sheltered environment. Compare this with the more functional Aspergian who has a highly increased likelihood of being bullied, robbed or beaten simply because he or she is interacting with the general population at a far greater rate than the rest of those affected by ASD.
The Rarity Of Regressive Autism
Encouraging as the story was, many parents reading it wondered if their own children would go on to develop regressive autism. This led Jennifer Richler, writing in Slate magazine, to say that regressive autism does not exist as it is broadly understood. At later ages, the phenomenon of children losing their skills becomes increasingly unlikely.
Herself an autism researcher, Richler argues that Owens experience is very rare. Most of the autism-positive children who experience regression do not have typical development to begin with, usually having some delays in the development of their skills and even experiencing loss in some of the skills they attained.
Losses tend to occur earlier than the age of 3. The average age of regression is 21 months.;
Richland also wrote of studies that have found that most of the children with autism spectrum disorder lose some skills, and gain others, within the first two years of their lives. One example comes from the Development and Psychopathology journal, which found that only 6% of children lose all their skills . Those who did had limited skills to begin with. The rest tended to retain a majority of their skills, even as some critical ones were lost.;
Richland cautions that the stories of children regressing are real and haunting, but reassures readers and anxious parents that this kind of regressive autism is rare, and that Owens case is an uncommon example of one way that late-onset autism can appear.;
Little Pointing Or Gesturing
Babies usually learn to gesture before they learn to talk. In fact, gesturing is one of the earliest forms of communication. Autistic children generally point and gesture much less than children with nonautistic development. Less pointing can sometimes indicate the possibility of a language delay.
Another indicator of a developmental difference is when an infants gaze doesnt follow you when youre pointing at something. This skill is sometimes called joint attention. Joint attention is often decreased in autistic children.
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Prenatal Factors That May Contribute To Autism
Taking antidepressants during pregnancy, especially in the first 3 months.
Nutritional deficiencies early in pregnancy, particularly not getting enough folic acid.
The age of the mother and father
Complications at or shortly after birth, including very low birth weight and neonatal anemia
Maternal infections during pregnancy.
Exposure to chemical pollutants, such as metals and pesticides, while pregnant.
More research on these prenatal risk factors is needed, but if youre pregnant or trying to conceive, it cant hurt to take steps now to reduce your babys risk of autism.
Reducing the risk of autism: Tips for expectant mothers
Take a multivitamin. Taking 400 micrograms of folic acid daily helps prevent birth defects such as spina bifida. Its not clear whether this will also help reduce risk of autism, but taking the vitamins cant hurt.
Ask about SSRIs. Women who are taking an SSRI should talk with a clinician about all the risks and benefits of these drugs. Untreated depression in a mother can also affect her childs well-being later on, so this is not a simple decision to make.
Practice prenatal care. Eating nutritious food, trying to avoid infections, and seeing a clinician for regular check-ups can increase the chances of giving birth to a healthy child.
Source: Harvard Health Publications
Autism In Teenage Girls
A study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry concluded that autistic symptoms in girls could go unnoticed.
Girls who have normal intelligence levels can mask their symptoms. Because they are of average or above-average IQ, girls with autism can appear neurotypical even though they have poor verbal and non-verbal skills.
Another contributing factor is culture. A girl who is quiet and non-responsive can be considered feminine and well-behaved, while a boy who is quiet can be seen as unusual or different.
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How Should People With Autism Pick A College
People with autism have different educational paths. Some may not feel ready to move away to college at 18. A good solution, in that case, is to attend community college while living at home. Community colleges also tend to be practical and job-oriented, which people with autism may appreciate. The most important part of the decision is embarking on an academic path that they are confident they can complete.
New Symptoms That May Appear During Adolescence
Autistic children can often find adolescence very difficult. Although they have the same hormones as all other teenagers, they dont naturally develop complex relationships and arent able to interpret or engage in the more types of relationships which develop as children get older. They can be prone to isolation and low moods, which can appear very intense and be difficult to read.
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Signs Of Autism In Young Children
Symptoms of autism spectrum disorder are usually clear by two or three years old. The range of behaviors and skills covered here may become apparent between two years old and five years old.
Some signs that a child has autism spectrum disorder may include:
- Not expressing emotion or only a limited range of emotions
- Difficulty interpreting different emotions in others
- Not seeming attached to parents
- Lacking interest in playing social games or the company of other children
- Interest in playing with one particular toy or object
- Echolalia, repeating other peopleÃ¢â¬â¢s words or phrases
- Repeating own words over and over
- Using formal language and expressions, rather than the slang of their peers
- Not developing language skills at all
- Difficulty toilet training
- Challenging behaviour, such as banging head on wall or picking at skin
- Engages in behavior such as flapping hands, rocking or twirling
Children with autism spectrum disorder have difficulty interpreting what other people are thinking and feeling, and often miss social cues. A child with autism may not be able to tell the difference between an adult who says Ã¢â¬Åcome hereÃ¢â¬ï¿½ while happy and smiling, and an adult who says Ã¢â¬Åcome hereÃ¢â¬ï¿½ while angry and frowning. This can be confusing and creates the impression the child is not connecting with people.
Finding Someone Qualified To Evaluate Adults With Asd
Currently, there are relatively few clinicians who specialize in evaluating and treating adults with autism. Nor do we have established criteria to objectively judge such qualifications.;
In my opinion, your best bet may be a developmental pediatrician, child psychiatrist or pediatric neurologist who is both experienced in evaluating autism in children and open to seeing older patients. So I would recommend talking to the clinician who diagnosed your child. If she or he does not feel qualified to evaluate an adult, he or she may have a respected colleague who would be.
Otherwise I would recommend contacting an established and respected autism center in your area. Examples include the centers in the Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network.;This will provide you with the assurance that the clinician has agreed to adhere to the centers high standards for care for patients with autism, regardless of age.
Thanks again for your question. I hope this information helps and that youll let us know how youre doing.
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Signs And Symptoms Of Autism In Babies And Toddlers
If autism is caught in infancy, treatment can take full advantage of the young brains remarkable plasticity. Although autism is hard to diagnose before 24 months, symptoms often surface between 12 and 18 months. If signs are detected by 18 months of age, intensive treatment may help to rewire the brain and reverse the symptoms.
The earliest signs of autism involve the absence of typical behaviorsnot the presence of atypical onesso they can be tough to spot. In some cases, the earliest symptoms of autism are even misinterpreted as signs of a good baby, since the infant may seem quiet, independent, and undemanding. However, you can catch warning signs early if you know what to look for.
Some autistic infants dont respond to cuddling, reach out to be picked up, or look at their mothers when being fed.
Autism Symptoms In Adults At Home
Other peoples feelings baffle you. You have a collection of figurines on your desk that must be in the same order at all times. These, and other common manifestations of ASD, may be apparent in adults at home:
- Your family members lovingly refer to you as the eccentric professor of the family, even though you dont work in academia.
- Youve always wanted a best friend, but never found one.
- You often invent your own words and expressions to describe things.
- Even when youre in a quiet place, like the library, you find yourself making involuntary noises like clearing your throat over and over.
- You follow the same schedule every day of the week, and dont like unexpected events.
- Expressions like, Curiosity killed the cat or Dont count your chickens before they hatch are confusing to you.
- You are always bumping into things and tripping over your own feet.
- In your leisure time, you prefer to play individual games and sports, like golf, where everyone works for themselves instead of working toward a common goal on a team.
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Advice On Managing Behaviour In Autism For Adolescents
If you think that your teenager may be autistic, or you have an autistic child and want to know what to expect when they become a young adult, we have outlined the symptoms that can appear as an autistic child becomes an adolescent.
You will also find the steps to take if you believe that your teenager is autistic, and the strategies that can help you to manage particular behaviours.
Restricted Or Repetitive Behaviors Or Interests
People with ASD have behaviors or interests that can seem unusual. These behaviors or interests set ASD apart from conditions defined by only problems with social communication and interaction.
Examples of restricted or repetitive interests and behaviors related to ASD can include:
- Lines up toys or other objects and gets upset when order is changed
- Repeats words or phrases over and over
- Plays with toys the same way every time
- Is focused on parts of objects
- Gets upset by minor changes
- Has obsessive interests
- Flaps hands, rocks body, or spins self in circles
- Has unusual reactions to the way things sound, smell, taste, look, or feel
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How To Begin A Diagnosis Process
Adults who suspect they or a loved one might be autistic can do a self-assessment test for adults. A person can find these tests online. While they cannot give a diagnosis, the tests are a good starting point.
A person seeking a diagnosis can take the results of such a test to a primary care doctor who will try to determine whether ASD may be present by:
- enquiring about the symptoms, both current and during childhood
- observing and interacting with the person
- speaking to a loved one
- checking for other physical or mental health conditions that may be causing symptoms
If no underlying physical condition can explain the symptoms, the doctor may refer the person to a psychiatrist or a psychologist to make an ASD diagnosis.
If symptoms are not present in childhood but begin in adolescence or adulthood, this may indicate a cognitive or mental health condition other than ASD.
It may be difficult to find a specialist who can diagnose ASD in adults. Individuals who would like a diagnosis for themselves or a loved one may need to do research to find a provider with experience diagnosing autistic adults.
Another option is to speak to a developmental pediatrician or child psychiatrist who is willing to see adult clients.
Are Siblings At Greater Risk For Autism Spectrum Disorder
The truth is that genetics do play a role in autism. When one child is diagnosed with ASD, the next child to come along has about a 20% greater risk of developing autism than normal. When the first two children in a family have both been diagnosed with ASD, the third child has about a 32% greater risk of developing ASD.
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Findings May ‘add To Evidence’
The study doesn’t prove that events before and around birth are risk factors for autism, says a journal editorial.
However, the research “does add to the growing body of evidence suggesting that these events do occur more commonly among children with autism and that they should be studied further,” write editorialists Craig Newschaffer, PhD, and Stephen Cole, PhD, of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Finding A Place In The Social World
Even if they escape bullying, many teens with ASD struggle with social isolation. A large national study of teens receiving special education services revealed that students with ASD were less likely to take part in social activities than adolescents with speech and language disorders, learning disabilities or intellectual disability.1
More than 40 percent of the teens with ASD never saw friends outside of school. Half were never invited to take part in activities. For 54 percent, friends never called.1
A smaller study found that “social withdrawal worsened with age for a substantial proportion of youths” with ASD between ages 9 and 18, regardless of IQ.2
“Teens say actually the hardest part is not having friends. People think they don’t want to have friends, but they do,” Ms. Sicile-Kira said.
Dr. Keefer said many teens and young adults with ASD want, at a minimum, to be accepted. “There is a desire to be accepted, to have people around you who are nice to you and with whom you can share your interests,” she said.
The “special interests” common to autism can be an escape from social interaction, if a teen occupies himself solely with his favorite topic. “But, if used correctly, those special interests can be a way to connect with other people. An interest in gaming, for instance, is often a way for teenage boys to connect with one another,” Dr. Keefer said.
- See IAN’s Adults with Autism section.
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What Parents Should Do
If you think your child has developmental delays and may be autistic, take action. Ask your pediatrician to screen your child for delays, with a special emphasis on social, communication, and emotional skills.
If your intuition was incorrect, you’ve lost nothing but an hour of time and a load of anxiety. If your child does, indeed, have developmental delays you’ve taken action promptly and can expect to quickly access resources and programs that can help him or her to overcome any challenges.
Bottom line, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by taking prompt action!
What Causes Asperger Syndrome
A study published December 2013 in the journal Molecular Autism confirms previous research that people with AS are more likely to carry specific variations in a particular gene. Most interestingly, the study supports existing findings that the same gene is also linked to how much empathy is typically shown by individuals in the general population.
Empathy is an emotional sense that is both shown and felt. Thus a display of empathy to others and an empathic feeling are present in a person without AS. Failure to display empathy doesnt preclude a feeling of empathy. Like other emotions, empathy can overwhelm. Imagine that you just heard that a close loved one has suddenly died. Your emotions, including empathy and sympathy would fill you with emotional response, causing you to cry.
Asperger syndrome appears to run in families, but the inheritance pattern is unknown. There is a high concordance of AS among twins, which provides researchers with further evidence of a genetic condition.
Diagnosis of Asperger syndrome is complicated by the lack of a standardized test. Because there are several screening devices in current use, each with different criteria, the same child could receive different diagnoses, depending on the tool the doctor selects. Because of this and other factors, many persons with AS remain undiagnosed well into adulthood.
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Inflexibility Signs Of Autism In Children
Autistic children are often restricted in their behaviors and movements. They are inflexible, and even obsessive in terms of their activities, behaviors and interests.
- Inflexibility, to an extent, can be an indication of ASD. The following are the signs of inflexibility
- Strict routines – insisting on taking the same route to school every day
- Limited topic of interest – memorizing the train schedules
- Repeating the same actions – flapping hands, rocking back and forth; these are also known as stimming, self stimulatory behavior
- Unusual attachments to objects – obsessively lining the trucks or arranging them in a certain order
- Difficulty in adapting to change – getting upset when their routines are interrupted