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So is Autism a mental disablity or developmental disorder??

(48 Posts)
lisad123 Sun 09-Oct-11 09:42:49

Im on the developmental disorder but someone on another thread swears blind its a mental disorder.
So what do we think?

StarlightMcKenzie Sun 09-Oct-11 09:43:51

which thread?

It is a developmental disability, obviously. But due to the society we live in it can certainly contribute to a mental disorder.

Developmental. ! However many people with AS/HFA also have psychiatric illnesses as well... not surprising having to live in an intolerant societysad

it is developmental.

I think the clue is in the fact that they do develop. Just at a different rate and in different ways.

If it was a mental disorder, they would be more static.

I think. That's just my pov.

although - what do they mean by 'mental disorder'? do they mean mental health problems? in which case there is a hope of recovery - which there isn't with asd. or do they mean learning disability and are using the (wrong) term 'mental disorder' instead, in which case it's more static because you can't change IQ and functioning levels in the same way that you can help someone with a developmental delay. Although in both cases you can teach life skills etc of course

If that makes any sense.

sickofsocalledexperts Sun 09-Oct-11 10:21:11

I think it's a neurological disorder - ie there is something different about my boy's brain, right from birth. That then means he develops differently. He has zero mental health problems, is happy all day long.

Oh yes, I think the developmental delay is due to the brain being a totally different animal grin I think you are right 'neurological disorder' is more accurate.

zzzzz Sun 09-Oct-11 10:39:58

I agree with sickof. I think the problem is that whoever "coined" this has chosen to use the term "mental" rather than neurological.

"Mental" to me conjures us both mental health [ie depression, or psychosis etc] and low IQ. Neurological would give the impression of "of the brain to me".

In my mind ASD is a neurological problem that causes developmental problems.

I personally am getting less and less out of HFA/Autism/ASD/ASC type dx's as I feel more focused dx would be more helpful and this bunching together of such a vast and diverse group of individuals is silly. Yes there are some similarities but frankly the point of a dx for me is that you can see what helped and what didn't and what outcomes are likely etc. If you bunch so many people together that you can't see these things what is the point?......sorry wandering off into my own little rant hmm blush

sickofsocalledexperts Sun 09-Oct-11 11:10:46

I agree zzzzz - the more autistic children I meet, the more I realise that every single one is COMPLETELY different. The only very vague link between all the autistic kids I've met is that all have some degree of social problems. But even that , when it can range from a) complete inability to talk to someone else or understand what they say, or even comprehend basic gestures such as waving to b) slight difficulties understanding jokes, or getting irony - makes even the "social problems" link in autism fairly meaningless.

Increasingly, I am wondering if learning difficulties isn't the real deciding factor. I have met hf autistic children, with a normal or even above-average IQ, who will probably live a normal, independent life. My boy has learning difficulties on top of his autism (or as part of it??) and still hasn't learned the most basic of independence skills - although I don't give up hope entirely, I keep fighting.

What do you think?

PipinJo Sun 09-Oct-11 11:13:19

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MrsDanverclone Sun 09-Oct-11 11:13:45

I agree with neurological disorder and our society adds the mental health issues sad

PipinJo Sun 09-Oct-11 11:19:10

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

sickofsocalledexperts Sun 09-Oct-11 11:27:42

v good explanation Pip, hiyah! I wonder about my boy's IQ - in some areas , he is bright as a button but he stilll can't understand some very very basic things (eg 1 + 1). And of course it's almost impossible to measure his Iq given his extreme speech delay. But in general it is pretty clear he has learning diffs as well as the autism. Yet my DSD, who was classically autistic in childhood, has an above-average Iq and is clearly heading for an independent life.

ArthurPewty Sun 09-Oct-11 11:39:03

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

PipinJo Sun 09-Oct-11 11:44:44

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

PipinJo Sun 09-Oct-11 11:45:41

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seriouschanger Sun 09-Oct-11 11:50:35

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sickofsocalledexperts Sun 09-Oct-11 11:51:01

You are right Pip - he did , though, have the non-verbal IQ tests when 3 and 5 and came out pretty low. Think I have to accept there is a lower IQ than his DSD - but actually he is so smiley and happy that everyone warms to him and he is learning at his own little pace. Reckon his progress will be more like - at 8, he is just coming up to a 3 year old. Without ABA, reckon that would have stayed at 15 months level though.

zzzzz Sun 09-Oct-11 11:54:20

Sickof, I liked your post though I'm wary of saying IQ is the deciding factor, not least because it is damn hard to get a reasonable IQ test with a lot of our kids.

I frankly just don't get it. I think ASD is becoming just another politically correct way of saying retarded/defective/....all those words that make you weep in your pillow and want to hit someone. It lumps together too many people with too many different profiles. Yes the kids DO have some things in common, but they have SOME things in common with physically disabled children and the rest of society.

My ds has no dx, but the reality is he has a huge problem with language. It means that although both I and the clinical psych both feel he has a huge IQ [so those stereotypes of geniuses for HFA would help us I guess] he is functioning years below his abilities. His social problems are, I feel, caused by his language disabilities, and although he is not really obsessive as such he likes routine more than his brothers and sisters because it is safe. If his language problems disapeared, I think we would have a little residual behavioural but only in line with his experience. But ehy are not going to disapear. I tell you all this because I want to be up front about how different my experience is from yours [or indeed the early talking aspie who fixates of dinosaurs and finds alarm bells debilitating]. To me it is just nonsense to lump all these problems together. We might as well choose a triad of lisping, red hair and long earlobes.

What would make huge sense to me would be a more quantitative evaluation of disabilities. So you could be described as ASD, but you would also need a descriptor of where the problems really lie, so perhaps a score for Social, Communication, Obsession.....if you could add sensitivity and IQ perhaps that would help too?

As a side issue what exactly is A-typical Autism? Can it be HF and LF? Does it mean mild? Does it mean you do not fulfill the 3 criteria and if so how does that make you Autistic? 6 years in and I still find this stuff mystifying.

sickofsocalledexperts Sun 09-Oct-11 12:05:21

V interesting post zzzz. I agree that we need to differentiate the autisms, though actually to get a diagnosis of autism (not atypical) you really do have to hit all 3 categories of deficit (social, communication, imagination/repetitive). Scores in each of the 3 areas could be a good idea, though at the moment I think severe/moderate/hf is not a bad quick guide, though it misses lots of nuances (eg my son has none of the routiney bits of the third deficit, but does have lots of repetitive stims).

The problem is often that we all want to help each other, and we all generalise from our own experience. So, for instance, a friend thought she was being helpful to me the other day telling me all the things she has done to make her son high functioning - flash cards, written work, trips to zoos. I wanted to weep. I have bought a WH Smith shop worth of flash cards. I have tried every book, every trip out, persevered day in day out on language, tried TEACCH, tried mainstream, tried ABA. The fact remains that I am only ever going to be able to change the "raw material" of my son's autism by - maybe - 15% at the edges. And if he starts off severe, I'm probably only going to get him to severe/moderate. Not to mild. (Though some kids do seem to start off severe and be able to make some huge leaps at certain ages - like my DSD.)

What I do , however , believe is that if I'd let the state take over his education and bunged him in their woeful "school" , I'd have lost my 15% gain and maybe even seen a 5% deterioration (eg in behaviours). ABA was the difference to me.

zzzzz Sun 09-Oct-11 12:17:33

The problem is often that we all want to help each other, and we all generalise from our own experience.

So true! To be honest that's all we can do isn't it.

But I can't help thinking in this day and age the one thing we are really great at is sifting through data. If you could profile your son more accurately how much would it be worth to you to hear what helped and what happened to 50/100/1000 kids with the same profile.

Wouldn't it have helped hugely to know what really had NEVER worked for a child like yours and maybe to hear how progress was made even if that progress was minimal? I guess the down side would be that you might give up too soon. To me thought some idea of where we are going would be helpful. I doubt very much weather ds will be able to live independently despite everything he has going for him, but if he had a 20% chance of doing so my life would be very different now. At the moment the plan is to out live him.

sickofsocalledexperts Sun 09-Oct-11 12:22:35

God yes, some actual charts as to what results had been achieved would be great. But as it stands, our Special schools aren't measured at all on results - presumably on the basis that "those little kiddies will never come to much, no real point measuring their progress or trying to evaluate their education or teachers". It's scandalous really. That's why I guess we come on mumsnet and other sites, to try and get some objective advice from other mums on what has and hasn't worked. But even that is tricky to sift through - often I see people I know claim that, say, homeopathy has changed their child's life - whereas in fact I just see a child that has matured naturally from a mildly autistic 2 year old to a mildly autistic 9 year old. And the homeopathy had nothing to do with it. But a mum reading on here might go out and put her life and soul into homeopathy. All very tricky.

PipinJo Sun 09-Oct-11 12:26:21

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

zzzzz Sun 09-Oct-11 12:51:13

Pipin I'm sorry I freaked you with the "r" word. I have to say on the whole I am relatively unmoved by terminology and more shocked by expectation (or lack of it). I watched an absolutely horrifying old black and white movie called "A Child is Waiting", the other day which I guess hit me the same way. The child was deemed "defective". shock I do think the language we use does change the perception of others, but for myself retarded means the same as delayed, though I don't use it because for others it is derogatory.

I don't agree that development stops at 21. I have grown as a person considerably since then and see no reason that that should be a brick wall. In the 50's a lot of kids now labeled ASD would have been considered normal but geeks, I think in some cases that was probably helpful but for many really tough. Temple Grandin puts a lot of her success down to her rigid 50's upbringing which I find interesting.

Sickof one of the most shocking things I have ever heard was one Dr who offered us a choice of dx, each of which would get us different services etc more easily. I am shocked by this because to me it seems that my son does not even get the courtesy of a true diagnosis of his problems, the whole process is more about finance! WTF! Until our kids get a diagnosis based on how they present not what they can get, and clear documentation on their progress and what treatment, if any, is undergone the whole thing is a joke.

Your comments about development versus intervention is something I often think too. I also think that as parents our understanding of what to expect is limited so it is easy to mistake development for miracle. I guess that is because you have nothing to compare too.

lisad123 Sun 09-Oct-11 13:14:39

this question came from this thread.

one of the posters makes quite sweeping statements "Aspergers is on the autistic spectrum. Autism and all disorders on the spectrum are classed as mental disabilities. That is what it is. A lot of people don't realise this sadly with it being the new fad label. This is why the diagnosis process is so complex. It's a lifelong mental disability, which never goes away. Although many with aspergers are very successful. It's still a serious diagnosis"

I did have to grin when she said: Mother of two autistic children, so it's like teaching me to suck eggs I'm afraid.

wink clearly doesnt know much about me either smile

PipinJo Sun 09-Oct-11 13:38:22

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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