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Autism:Asperger Video Table of Contents1_autism







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Why Autism?

One of the questions I am most often asked is why is the prevalence of autism so much on the rise? How could we go from 4 in 10,000 to 1 in 100? I believe the rise in autism in our country sends us some very clear and important messages- about ourselves. First, we are being led down the path of exploring what it means to be human in a social context, that is, how we are supposed to behave and think in relationship to other people. It is a journey with the potential for us to define and reshape who we are and how we want to be. It is an opportunity to challenge cultural trends that encourage egocentrism, or thinking only about ourselves, trends that encourage anxiety and the drive to always want more and better.

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In other cultures and ancient history children with their logical disorders became shamans.  They were allowed to live away from the group and be different.  They were cared for in terms of food in daily living and their unique thinking styles and abilities contributed to the welfare of the group.  There was no effort to make different people the same as everybody else as we do now in Western culture and educational institutions.  We try to make different people over in the image our culture says people should be, adhering to rigid and abstract standards, ignoring reality. I call this the autism of the system.

We can learn to be people who think about others, we can learn how to accept ourselves as we are rather than always feeling as though we must have more, we must increase our possessions and wealth, we must always be getting something to improve our status or we are not worthy. WE could learn to be more flexible and accepting.

From an evolutionary perspective, perhaps nature or God throws out individuals that are extremely different from time to time, may be sometimes it works out.  And sometimes it doesn’t.  But look at Edison, how different he was, his difficulty socializing during school as a child and then the contributions he brought back.  Where do you think rocket ships, computers, and electric light came from?

Finally, these children may be serving as another type of early warning system. Their heightened sensitivities to toxic byproducts of modern industrialization and current mass agriculture practices and the degradation of our food may be predictive of what we all have in store for us if we don’t read the signs and change our habits. We must take care of our planet and take care of ourselves. This is the message they bring, a warning and a signpost to better mental and physical health practices, a better society and culture. It is a message we are sending to ourselves.


Signs of Autism/Aspergers Syndrome

AS is characterized by difficulties in social interaction and narrow or restricted patterns of interest. This may include failure to use eye contact, develop peer relationships, and share enjoyment with others as expected. You may also see preoccupation with parts of objects, intense focus on a particular subject such as dinosaurs, Pokemon, a video game, weather, or Thomas the Train, inflexibility in routines, and repeated motor mannerisms. Some people have some of the characteristics but not all, and may be diagnosed as PDD-NOS, ADHD, OCD, or Bipolar.
Social anxiety and difficulty recognizing, communicating, and managing emotional responses are also frequently seen in this population. Many of these people are socially interested and have good intentions and are at times very sensitive, yet lack the cognitive flexibility and social communication and thinking skills necessary to navigate the social world gracefully.

They often seem unaware of unwritten social rules until explicitly taught- they don’t “get it” as naturally as their neurotypical peers do. Often we see high intelligence and vocabulary, a collector of information on a specific topic of interest, terrific long-term rote memory coupled with difficulty with everyday problem-solving skills. They may neglect to develop social curiousity about what other people are thinking, failing to realize that other people have a different mind with different interpretations, intentions, and feelings- they may seem only aware of one mind, their own.

Language may be atypical, with unusual pitch, volume, prosody, and/or rythym. You may hear monotone, sing-song, or the little professor, “Well, actually…” and then a monlogue ensues that may continue long after the listener has shown signs of disinterest or even left the room! Use of language may be literal and concrete, failing to interpret jokes, idoms, figures of speech. Attempts at entering into groups may be charcterized by off-topic remarks or quotes from a favorite video.

Motor skills may be delayed. Difficulty riding a bike, tying shoes, and writing are commonly seen.

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