What is Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD?
Autism is a developmental brain disorder which causes impairments in a person’s ability to communicate, socially interact, and results in repetitive and unusual behaviors.
David Finch Lecture about Asperger’s Syndrome
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A Personal Definition — View From the Inside
“Always Presume Intellect”
Taken with permission from Autism and the God Connection, a book by William Stillman, Sourcebooks, Inc. 2006
To those unfamiliar with autism, it is, from a clinical perspective, a neurological difference in how the brain is “wired”. There is no single known cause, though theories abound and current research is focused upon genetic and environmental factors. (As recently as 1997, a nursing textbook was proffering the ancient sterotype that indifferent, “refrigerator” mothers were accountable for their children’s autistic disassociation!) Autism primarily affects one’s ability to communicate in ways that are effective, reliable, and universally understandable. This means many folks do not speak, or they have limited vocal ability. These obstacles impede one’s expressions of wants, needs, thoughts and desires. This cannot help but impact the quality of one’s social interactions. The challenge to sustain social relationships is another hallmark of autistic diagnosis.
Autism is also diagnosed by marked differences in fine and gross motor skills. These may include repetitive activities such as physically rocking back and forth, twirling a piece of string, flicking a light switch on and off repeatedly, or simply lacking in grace and agility of movement. (Some with autism have complained that certain physical traits are not of their volition, akin to a prolonged, involuntary shiver, sneeze, or twitch.)
Autism is a lifelong experience, and is neither contagious nor curable. It is, quite simply, a natural part of someone’s being, every bit as much as eye or hair color, flesh pigmentation, and ancestral heritage–as unique and individual as each individual is unique. It manifests itself on a broad, multicolored spectrum that stretches from those who “appear” to be significantly challenged to those with very mild experiences…
The clinical definition of autism is not family–or individual– friendly. It is, unfortunately, oftentimes an indicator of one’s perceived deficits rather than one’s strengths, gifts, and abilities. Many parents tell me their child’s diagnosis is a “death sentence”. Some are deeply embittered or resentful of their child’s autism and the confusing, sometimes violent behaviors that may ensue…The focus so frequently becomes how to best manage and control those with autism for the sake of conformity and “normalcy” that we become oblivious to the obvious. And the obvious is the extraordinary and monumental offerings provided by those who are inherently gentle and exquisitely sensitive. Above all, we must shatter the stereotype that those with autism necessarily experience intellectual impairment (i.e., mental retardation) as a result of the autism. I will respectfully request that you suspend your disbelief because my mantra is “always presume intellect.”
Stillman is an author and columnist for the Autism Perspective magazine and author of special needs parenting books. A writer with Asperger’s Syndrome and a noted speaker, he is the founder of the Pennsylvania Autism Self-Advocacy Coalition and is on boards of several autism organizations. Stillman was also the keynote speaker for the 2007 FACES/TASH Possibilities Conference. Visit www.williamstillman.com for more information.
Facts About Autism Spectrum Disorder
Did you know …
- Autism now affects 1 in 88 children and 1 in 70 boys nationally
- Autism prevalence figures are growing
- More children will be diagnosed with autism this year than with AIDS, diabetes & cancer combined
- Autism is the fastest-growing serious developmental disability in the U.S.
- Autism costs the nation over $35 billion per year, a figure expected to significantly increase in the next decade
- Autism receives less than 5% of the research funding of many less prevalent childhood diseases
- Boys are four times more likely than girls to have autism
- There is no medical detection or cure for autism
Prevalence vs. Private Funding
- Leukemia: Affects 1 in 1,200 / Funding: $277 million
- Muscular Dystrophy: Affects 1 in 100,000 / Funding: $162 million
- Pediatric AIDS: Affects 1 in 300 / Funding: $394 million
- Juvenile Diabetes: Affects 1 in 500 / Funding: $156 million
- Autism: Affects 1 in 110 / Funding: $79 million
National Institutes of Health Funds Allocation
- Total 2010 NIH budget: $35.6 billion
- Of this, only $218 million goes directly to autism research. This represents 0.6% of total NIH funding.
* According to Autism Speaks
The Gifts of Autism
What the Diagnosis Means Link
Jake, the Math Prodigy, from 60 minutes Interview
THE AUTISM SPECTRUM – Asperger Syndrome
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), part of the National Institute of Health, defines Asperger Syndrome as:
A developmental disorder that is characterized by:
- repetitive routines or rituals,
- peculiarities in speech and language, such as speaking in an overly formal manner or in a monotone, or taking figures of speech literally,
- socially and emotionally inappropriate behavior and the inability to interact successfully with peers,
- problems with non-verbal communication, including the restricted use of gestures, limited or inappropriate facial expressions or a peculiar, stiff gaze,
- clumsiness and uncoordinated motor movements.
Information on Asperger Syndrome
Here are some links to Free Downloads which can give you and your family insights into everything from early intervention, to high-functioning autism, to transition planning to even how to have a successful dental visit. If you have any links or document that you would like to share, please email them to us @ email@example.com , and we will add them!
Donald J. Fiddle Foundation Links
Challenging Behaviors Link
Supports and Accommodations Link
Visit this link for more information on the DAN Protocol.
http://jennifersway.org/ So many children on the autism spectrum have parents and grandparents with undiagnosed Celiac. This is a genetic marker for autism. Jennifer Esposito has some great recipes and products on her non-profit page.
Protection and Advocacy Linkshttp://www.drnj.org/usefullinks.htm usefullinks.htm
Autism NJ Links
Early Intervention 0-3 years
Transition into Adulthood
Autism Speaks Links
100 Days Kit — Information for Newly-Diagnosed Families on Autism
100 Days Kit en Espanol
Transition Planning for Teens to Adulthood
Dental Tool Kit
Sensory, Music and Art Therapies
Mortgages for people with developmental disabilities
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