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AIBU to start a friendly Q&A thread on World Autism Day?

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zzzzz Wed 02-Apr-14 08:21:45

Today is World Autism Day, a day to raise awareness of autism, with that end in mind (and because it is busy and slightly pushing our boundaries to post here....

AIBU to ask you to ask all those niggley little (and big) questions that you've always wanted to know about autism and it's impact on the families and communities that deal with this disability?

Posters on the MNSN boards will be stopping in to give you their very personal take on all things autism.

ohfourfoxache Wed 02-Apr-14 08:25:19

I know very, very little about autism blush

Can I ask, and I'm so sorry to expose my ignorance and I really don't want to upset anyone, but what's the difference between autism and aspergers?

zzzzz Wed 02-Apr-14 08:29:08

Aspergers is a subgroup of people with autism who don't have delayed or disordered language and have at least average IQ (with a language delay/disorder and the same average plus IQ they would be diagnosed as High Functioning Autism HFA).

WooWooOwl Wed 02-Apr-14 08:29:13

Aspergers is thought to be the high functioning end of the spectrum, but I think they were going to get rid of Aspergers as a diagnosis. Not sure why though and I could be wrong, maybe someone else will be able to answer that one!

But people with either diagnosis vary massively in their symptoms and how it affects them, so it's always much more helpful to look at the individual rather than the diagnosis.

Thanks for this thread zzzzz smile

ohfourfoxache Wed 02-Apr-14 08:32:54

Thank you thanks

ICanSeeTheSun Wed 02-Apr-14 08:35:29

I don't mind answering question DS almost 8 has got Autism and also done the early birds plus programme.

Nottalotta Wed 02-Apr-14 08:39:41

I have one....

More of an example that i don't understand. I used to work at a riding school. We had children and adults with disabilities come in groups. One girl was autistic (her mum told me) and took a bit of a shine to me. I always thought that autistic children/adults struggled with physical/eye contact? This little girl was like a limpet! She would run up doing her sign for my name, hug my leg, want to be carried, cuddled etc.

She was really adorable and i never thought to ask her mum.

Have i got totally the wrong end of the stick with physical/eye contact thing?

Bithurt Wed 02-Apr-14 08:42:02

I don't know much about it either. Is there different levels? I know someone who's son has autism and he must be about 10. It's only the last year or so he's started eating more different foods.

SallyBear Wed 02-Apr-14 08:56:16

Nottalotta, a lot of people with autism struggle with looking directly at others and shun physical contact, but equally you can get people who don't understand personal space and will just want to constantly touch you. I think that the little girl probably felt a connection to you and didn't understand what was appropriate behaviour.

RaRaTheNoisyLion Wed 02-Apr-14 09:06:09

'what's the difference between autism and aspergers?'

Autism understanding is still evolving. The two conditions really came from two different researchers working at the same time and they had slightly different criteria for what consisted their diagnosis. They have sat side by side for a few decades with some people with Aspergers seeing themselves as different and distinct from those with Autism and given their often high IQ they can see it as a gift rather than a disability.

However, due to inconsistency between diagnosticians and the fact that it IS still classed as ASD, as well as the fact that whilst the lines can be blurred services and educational provision often have criteria that includes/excludes those with Aspergers it has been decided (not yet in the UK but they'll follow eventually) that no more dx of Aspergers will be given and instead ASD followed by details of how the condition affects the person. it is thought this would help better target resources for them.

In reality, I doubt Aspergers will stop being used, in the same way that dyslexia doesn't 'officially' exist any more (It's a Specific Learning Impairment), but is still a working term.

Nottalotta Wed 02-Apr-14 09:07:04

Thank you SallyBear. I didn't really think about it being inappropriate but I suppose it was really. Esp if she is still like it - i knew her when she was 8 - 10 yrs old so was just quite sweet at the time!

Lancelottie Wed 02-Apr-14 09:08:10

It's a pity DS1 (Asperger's/high-functioning autism) is at school, or he'd be up for answering some questions himself.

He's 17 and gets irritated by others telling him what his experience of autism 'ought' to be.
He's particularly un-keen on Simon Baron-Cohen!

Oh, and he craves affection but doesn't always show it or recognise cues for it. Physical contact needs to be on his terms or he panics.

DS2's friend with autism is more of an in-yer-face kind of a boy (can be alarming at first as he's well over 6 foot). Both come across as insightful, witty, talented, kind, but socially rather obviously out of kilter.

isisisis Wed 02-Apr-14 09:09:25

Great thread, thank you.
This is a question I've struggled to find the right person to ask. I'm a health care professional, I have a patient (teenager) who I struggle to engage/communicate with. I suspect she may have autism but despite general questioning around health the family have never said. Having met her I realised I'd had no training whatsoever in Autism so took myself & a couple of members of staff on a course. It was fascinating. I've started using some of their techniques (story boards etc) with everyone, autistic or not, with good results.
I asked on that course how do you ask, essentially, 'what is wrong with your child?' when no information is forthcoming without being rude/offensive but didn't get a good answer. Any suggestions how to word it?

RaRaTheNoisyLion Wed 02-Apr-14 09:10:52

Nottalotta, People with Autism often lack the social skills to understand appropriate boundaries. If you add in potential Learning Difficulties (very common in many with Autism, though not in all) and you have a complex situation.

In addition, people with Autism often have difficulties with sensory processing. This can mean that they need more physical contact in order to feel present, or more usually find a small brush past them as if it is a full-on assault.

I'll link a good sensory video that gives a glimpse into the world of a person with autism who has sensory difficulties in a moment.

AuroraRoared Wed 02-Apr-14 09:11:20

I don't have a question at the moment, but I just noticed this programme about Autism on iPlayer and thought some people on the thread might be interested.

RaRaTheNoisyLion Wed 02-Apr-14 09:13:57

Bithurt Autism is a neurological disorder (for some the preferred term is now neurological condition). This almost always causes developmental delay in one area of another.

However delay doesn't mean 'halt', and children with Autism mature like other children. How far how fast will be down to their individual make-up, and also to some extent on the skills they learn both in the way typical children learn them, but also the skills they learn to mask their condition in order to protect themselves.

RaRaTheNoisyLion Wed 02-Apr-14 09:14:47

'He's particularly un-keen on Simon Baron-Cohen!'

Good man. Him and me both - LOL

Galena Wed 02-Apr-14 09:16:38

I don't have a child with ASD, but a physical disability with some sensory processing issues. I also have a relative (child) with Aspergers. I am also happy to chip in where needed.

RaRaTheNoisyLion Wed 02-Apr-14 09:17:16

isisis Instead of asking the family 'what is wrong', you could ask instead 'how best should I communicate with X to help her to understand/participate/cooperate etc.?'

After all, you knowing that she has Autism will in itself actually give you no clues as to how to answer the above question, and it is the answer to this that will lead to a more positive outcome for the patient.

RaRaTheNoisyLion Wed 02-Apr-14 09:18:29



zzzzz Wed 02-Apr-14 09:22:52

'He's particularly un-keen on Simon Baron-Cohen!' grin

isis at a guess I'd say if they haven't mentioned it, they don't want to share that information. Ask yourself if you really need to know a dx to differentiate your approach. As you've so sensibly said, many of the ways of helping people with autism function well are useful for everyone. It sounds like you've hit on the right approach by instinct. smile

Lots and lots of children with autism are very cuddley.

ProfessorSkullyMental Wed 02-Apr-14 09:24:46

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

autumnsmum Wed 02-Apr-14 09:25:24

Good post rara

LongPieceofString Wed 02-Apr-14 09:25:25

I just want to say 'I support you' - there is so much negative crap trotted out about autism from people who think they know better. Both my DC have friends on the spectrum (aren't we all on it really??) who are utterly fab sweetheart kids. I get so cross at the 'it's just naughtiness' nonsense.

I hate hate hate judgey tutting people. If your child is mid meltdown what is best for me to do? Ignore completely, smile sympathetically, something else?

isisisis Wed 02-Apr-14 09:26:44

rara you're completely right & that's the approach I have been taking. As a HCP we're taught to diagnose & therefore label, I haven't got anything written in a box I'm told I should have something in. What I do have is a long note of what works best for her & more importantly what doesn't work and that's far more important & useful for all of us. We will carry on as we are. Thank you.

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