Society to self-diagnosed autistic people: “You’re not really autistic if you haven’t been diagnosed. I know you better than you know yourself.”

Society to neurotypical-passing autistic people: “You’re only a little autistic. You’re high functioning. You can just be normal. I know you better than you know yourself.”

Society to not neurotypical-passing autistic people: “You’re too disabled to have your own opinions, so I should speak for you. I know you better than you know yourself.”

IN AUTISM, BRAIN DOESN’T ‘PRUNE’ EXTRA SYNAPSES

Neurons in brains from people with autism do not undergo normal pruning during childhood and adolescence. The images show representative neurons from unaffected brains (top) and brains from autistic patients (bottom); the spines on the neurons indicate the location of synapses. (Credit: Guomei Tang, Mark S. Sonders/CUMC)

Neuroscientists have discovered extra synapses in the brains of children and adolescents with autism. The excess is due to a slowdown in the normal brain “pruning” process during development, they say.

Because synapses are the points where neurons connect and communicate with each other, the excessive synapses may have profound effects on how the brain functions. The study appears online in the journal Neuron.

A drug that restores normal synaptic pruning can improve autistic-like behaviors in mice, the researchers found, even when the drug is given after the behaviors appear.

“This is an important finding that could lead to a novel and much-needed therapeutic strategy for autism,” says Jeffrey Lieberman, professor and chair of psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) and director of the New York State Psychiatric Institute, who was not involved in the study.

Although the drug, rapamycin, has side effects that may preclude its use in people with autism, “the fact that we can see changes in behavior suggests that autism may still be treatable after a child is diagnosed, if we can find a better drug,” says the study’s senior investigator, David Sulzer, professor of neurobiology at CUMC.

During normal brain development, a burst of synapse formation occurs in infancy, particularly in the cortex, a region involved in autistic behaviors; pruning eliminates about half of these cortical synapses by late adolescence.

Scientists know that many genes linked to autism affect synapses, and some researchers have hypothesized that people with autism may have more synapses.

Continue Reading.

theres this awesome feeling i get as i learn more about autism and speak to other autistic people and follow autism blogs. this amazing moment of finding out other people do the same ‘weird’ stuff i do. that it’s not weird at all. that it doesn’t matter if my allistic family and friends don’t get it, i know there’s gonna be other autistic people who know exactly what i mean.

Perhaps you’ve heard about this CDC theory; it’s burning up on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media. The gist of it is that a “whistleblower” at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has revealed some hanky-panky done by researchers there to cover up a link between vaccines and autism found in a certain group of babies, and a new analysis supposedly shows this connection.  It’d be a compelling story, if it were true.

There is apparently an article circulating about how there’s a CDC “whistleblower” who has blown the cover off the vaccines cause autism conspiracy.

Please do not share this as it’s 1) scientifically bunk and 2) has led to the deaths of autistic children through a process known as “chelation therapy” which seeks to treat “vaccine-injured” children by taking away “heavy metals in the blood.” Chelation therapy also causes people to suffocate when there is no heavy metal poisoning in a person, as was the case for these autistic children.

We also ask you to critically analyze the ableism inherent in anti-vaccine ideas. Vaccines save lives by making us immune to potentially deadly pathogens like chickenpox, measles, mumps, rubella, and other diseases. So by wanting to avoid something which can save a person’s life for fear of that person becoming autistic, the underlying assumption is that autism is worse than death.

This is ableist. This is dehumanizing. Please do not contribute to these attitudes by sharing that article. Thank you.

Sincerely, the Autistic President of Disabled Abled Coalition. 

My little brother (who I affectionately still call little, even though he’s 22, but he’s still mah lil’ bro) started writing a script recently for a short series. He’s Autistic, but he has a great talent for creative writing. With his particular case, he pretty much never talks about dating or sexuality, nor indicates he cares a lick about it. He knows I’m lesbian, but it’s mostly because he’s met my past girlfriends. Mostly it’s been assumed that it’s something he’s only fleetingly aware of, but not something he’s very concerned with. 

So he asked me to read his newest script the other day, where he introduces a female character. About half way through, I was shocked to find the character was a lesbian, and doubly shocked to find that he portrayed her very well, without any stereotypes. Even her reveal was very believable. He told me he wrote her somewhat based on me (I read it again, noted that she’s more sarcastic on the second read, and determined that yeah, he totally did). 

So I guess the lesson here is two fold: Just because it seems like someone doesn’t care, doesn’t mean they don’t care. Sometimes the silent observers care the most (and by connection, absorb the most). And the second lesson is that my brother is awesome and he should be a TV writer because he writes better TV than most of what is on TV (granted that a squirrel could write better than some of what is on TV, but I mean like, discluding reality TV). 

- Mod Dawes Sr.

anonymous said:

I have a question for you: don't you think your life would be easier if you were not autistic? I know there is no cure now and I am pretty sure that if there will ever be one, it will be LONG after I will have died. However, I think life would be easier for autistic people if there was a "cure". I do not hate autistic people. I feel bad for them and for what they have to go through. If I hated them, I would not want their lives to be easier.

My life would be easier if allistic people accepted me and my needs. 

My life would be easier if allistic people accepted me and my needs.

My life would be easier if allistic people accepted me and my needs.

There CANNOT be a “cure” because it’s not an illness like a cold and it’s not a chemical imbalance like bipolar disorder which can be treated by medications that repair those imbalances. It is in someone’s genetics, the way their brain works, the way they are. The only way for it to not exist anymore would be eugenics.

You better have a fuckin’ problem with that. 

Don’t “feel bad” for me. I’m not a lost puppy. I’m a human being. I don’t want to be pitied. I don’t want to be patronized. I want to be understood.

It really isn’t that fucking hard. There are a lot of friends who understand me if they just think of me as a person who has nuances like everyone else rather than an autistic puzzle. There are members of my family that don’t “get” me, though I repeatedly express my needs, they ignore me, do exactly the things I’ve asked them not to, and wonder why I’m “distant” or “hostile.” 

If you REALLY want our lives to be easier, if you REALLY are concerned about what we go through, then get out there and start telling people to open their minds, hearts, and ears to us, to consider the fact that people may function differently and have different abilities and needs when they interact with everyone, and to listen when someone expresses their needs. Tell them not to look at somebody weird when they’re stimming or ask what’s “wrong with them.” Tell them to have more patience with someone who struggles learning or understanding new things or struggles with speech or motor skills. Tell them how to recognize when someone is panicking and they need to leave a situation. Tell them to not poke, touch, squeeze, hug, jump up behind someone and try to scare them, etc, until they know that’s okay. Tell them that when someone earnestly expresses a need, like “I need to do [x thing] to feel comfortable,” or “please don’t make loud noises like that,” they need to take that seriously. Foster an awareness of differing needs so people don’t view that as someone complaining. Tell them different kinds of communication or expressing affection are not invalid. Tell parents of autistic kids that if you give your child space to express themselves and you LISTEN and learn how they communicate, your child will express love for you. Tell people we are worth listening to and if you do that, you will learn how to interact with us in meaningful ways. Tell them to stop the pity parties they’re holding for each other because the reason they can’t “figure out” or “get to” their autistic loved one is because they assumed they couldn’t when all they needed to do is slow down, give a little space, listen, and you will find out.

And maybe if more of you do that, then one day I can be viewed as a person and not a problem to be overcome or a cause to be pitied. 

My life would be easier if my parents understood that I’m on sensory overload when I come home from work and I need to decompress. My life would be easier if they understood sometimes I do not wish to talk and sometimes I just can’t find my words and that doesn’t mean I hate them. My life would be easier if they understood I do not wish to be touched by most people and that does not mean I hate them. My life would be easier if they understood what’s going on when I’m having a panic attack. My life would be easier if they didn’t raise their voices at me and get angry at me. My life would be easier if my dad didn’t lecture me about something when I need to just vent. My life would be easier if they listened to me all the times I’ve tried to explain all of this. My life would be easier if people at work didn’t start asking, “are you okay? what’s wrong with you? you don’t look okay” when I stim. My life would be easier if people wouldn’t do the same when I have trouble speaking, and accept nonverbal or nonword answers to questions. 

So if you really have an interest in making my life easier, boost our voices. Spread real awareness, not awareness of people who feel bad for themselves because they have an autistic relative. And SMASH curism. It does not help us. It is millions of dollars, I bet, going into research that will never find a result and never benefit us. There is not an allistic person within me surrounded by a fence of autism, waiting to be free. I am not a person with some thing called autism. I am an autistic person. My personality cannot be separated from it. I cannot be cured of myself. And by saying it’s possible, you’re giving people an excuse to mistreat me, because in curism I become a person who is messed up and needs fixing. But I am a fully-formed human being who is a part of normal range of human diversity and should be accepted that way. 

theres-a-bad-moon said:

Is it common to have a meltdown in dreams? I dreamt that my teacher was making fun if me when I had to do a speech which was daunting enough and when he asked if I was ok, I yelled 'NO!' over and over again and covered my ears before running away. But the thing is I have never experienced a meltdown to that degree in real life. Any input?

I have this exact thing. It started happening about 6 years before I sought a diagnosis and for a while I thought I was maybe going crazy because the intensity of the meltdowns (didn’t call them that at the time, of course) in my dreams was exponentially worse than anything I experienced in real life. 

It still happens occasionally but less often than it used to and now I know what it is so it’s less disturbing. Though still quite disturbing. I can’t imagine unleashing that level of rage when I’m awake. 

So yeah, this is a thing. 

Help me reach my goal, turn my life around & save 2 lives! Sharing is caring, if you cannot donate please reblog!♥

http://www.gofundme.com/helpmefundaservicedog

Just a reminder that autistic people’s minds are beautiful, unique, and different, not fucked up or “broken.” They don’t need to be “fixed” they need to be appreciated and loved just like the rest of us. Just because they communicate differently and require a different sort of care or means of teaching does not make them stupid or less than you. Some of them probably understand the world way better than you.  

When and How Should Behavioral Data Be Captured in the Classroom?

Recordings about classroom behavior are most accurate when done right after the behavior occurs. Recording at the end of a lesson is next most accurate and recording 3 hours later is the least accurate. These statements seem intuitive. However, a careful study described in a recent paper* found that many factors affect these differences in accuracy.

Methods: The study involved special educators recording about a single target behavior such as crying, eye poking, and “talk-outs”. The educators noted the occurrence of the behavior either 1) right after it happened, 2) after the activity in which it happened finished, or 3) a few hours later. Recordings were made on paper forms. Four teachers participated and each recorded about two of their middle/junior high students. They received training on recording and treatment fidelity. Their recordings were compared to those made by one of the investigators using videotaped observations. The investigators randomly varied under which of the three conditions the teacher recorded for each of two recordings per day. Teachers recorded data on student performance across 15 days with 10 sessions for each condition.

Results: All four teachers met the necessary 85% agreement level for their data to be considered accurate for at least one student during either Conditions 1 or 2. Three teachers did not record accurate data for their other student during these same conditions. Each had higher levels of agreement among some conditions than others. Not all teachers consistently recorded accurate data for both of their students across conditions. An important factor impacting accuracy was the overall frequency of the behavior. Other factors that also had an impact include: treatment fidelity, medication or other treatment changes, and the salience of the behavior during the instruction.

Conclusions: The authors conclude: “Although immediate direct observation recording is espoused as the most accurate data recording method, teachers did not consider it the most feasible particularly because of the barriers they face when using this data recording method. Prior research provided evidence to suggest special educators can engage in accurate delayed recording; however, the delay between behavior occurrence and recording should be 30 min or less…Future research should consider choosing target behaviors that are less prone to salience and do not pose difficulties for teachers to maintain high levels of treatment integrity and reliable data recording (e.g., moderate frequency behaviors).”

Comment: The study did not include a condition with electronic data capture. SymTrend screens (above) can be used to capture data in the moment (left) or at the end of the lesson/3 hours later (right). When done in the moment the teacher taps the screen each time a behavior occurs and the screen then refreshes. This cannot be done as the teacher is doing a lesson; a second observer would enter the data. The teacher could use a “clicker” to record each time a behavior occurred and then enter the total on the screen on the right after the lesson is over. Teachers who have used SymTrend preferred the accuracy of data recording by paraprofessionals not immediately involved in the lesson. Transcription errors sometimes occurred when copying from paper tally sheets to screens like the one on the right. Transcription from clickers provided intermediate accuracy, when available.

* Jasper, AD and Taber Doughty, T. (2014) Special educators and data recording: What’s delayed recording got to do with it? Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities. Published online 12 August 2014.

hey hey hey listen up

So I’m really, really, really tired of people diagnosing themselves as autistic and then prancing around this website adding it to their list of quirks and then whining about ableism.

Before you attack me for saying this, let me tell you why. My sister is severely autistic. When I say severely, I mean she’s unable to be toilet trained even by people who toilet train people with special needs professionally. She has difficulty sleeping, which tolls heavily on her moods. She is unable to communicate effectively, which can make her very frustrated. She responds to stimuli such as lights and sounds differently, and can become overstimulated very easily, leading to outbursts. This has taken a toll on our entire family. My father is in denial about what my sister goes through on a daily basis, and is convinced that the medications my mother has my sister on induce the state that she is in. If he were actually involved with my sister’s life or her medical decisions, he would know that my mother has worked long and hard with various medical professionals to find a combination of medications that help her live her life as happily as she possibly can. My mother makes these decisions knowing that my sister will likely always behave at about the level of a two-year-old. This is taxing on us all, as we almost have to grieve for a life that she will never be able to lead.

We used to live in Oregon, and when my mother got re-married, we moved to New York state. Here there are more benefits available than there were in Oregon. But there’s also a whole mess of bureaucracy that we had to wade through first to qualify for any of these benefits. First of all, we had to prove that my severely autistic sister was actually disabled. I know there are people who try to cheat the system, but really? All they had to do was send someone out to look at her and they would know.

But here’s the thing. You self-diagnosed people are shitting all over the lives of people who really do have autism. No matter how severe. If you really, honestly think that you might be on the autism spectrum, please for the love of God get diagnosed by a professional before you prance around claiming to be autistic.Autism isn’t glamorous and you shouldn’t use it for oppression points. Respect autistic people and their families. Thank you.

Neurotypicals: This post is GREAT, but it’s actually “children with autism.” They’re people first, so use person-first language. :)

Me: Actually, I wrote that post because *I* am autistic. I don’t like person-first and neither do many other people in the autistic community I know. We feel it’s trying to downplay our disability; autism isn’t something we “have,” it’s a part of our identity.

Neurotypicals: …

Neurotypicals: …

Neurotypicals: Children with autism. :)

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