Thursday, April 2, 2009


April is Autism Awareness month. Some of you may be interested or sympathetic, some of you may not. That's okay. I know there are so many causes around today. My aunt has had breast and colon cancer; my sister has MS, another aunt had Alzeimer's.

But the Autism issue is most important to me because both of my daughters (teen and pre-teen) have Asperger's Syndrome, which is an Autism Spectrum Disorder.

What is Autism?

It is associated with profound problems of speech, behavior and social relationships. Autism is a disorder that develops in early childhood. It is four times more prevalent in boys than in girls.

Children with autism do not display a fixed set of symptoms. This means that one child’s symptom may be different from another and the symptoms may vary in their severity. The symptoms may also combine in a unique way for each child thereby producing different sets of problems or difficulties among children with autism. For this reason, autism is commonly referred to as Autistic Spectrum Disorders.

At the mild end of the autism spectrum is Asperger's Syndrome, sometimes referred to as “high functioning autism.” Children with Asperger's Syndrome do not have general language delay and many have average or even above average intelligence.

So what exactly is Asperger's Syndrome (or Disorder)?

In Asperger's Disorder, affected individuals are characterized by social isolation and eccentric behavior in childhood. There are impairments in two-sided social interaction and non-verbal communication. Though grammatical, their speech may sound peculiar due to abnormalities of inflection and a repetitive pattern. Clumsiness may be prominent both in their articulation and gross motor behavior.

Difficulties with money management, pack rack tendencies, and/or impulsively giving possessions away are common traits in the Aspie race (Fattig, 2007)
. Hyper reactivity to gustatory, olfactory, or textural can lead to under eating, refusal to eat all but just one or two foods, or malnourishment. Difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, nightmares or night terrors, is common in people with Asperger’s.

They usually have a circumscribed area of interest which usually leaves no space for more age appropriate, common interests. Some examples are cars, trains, French Literature, door knobs, hinges, cappucino, meteorology, astronomy or history. The name "Asperger" comes from Hans Asperger, an Austrian physician who first described the syndrome in 1944.

So there you have it. Maybe reading some of these symptoms will remind you of someone you know. (Ever had an eccentric old aunt, or a quirky teacher?)

Here's a list of some famous people who have, or are thought to have, Asperger's Syndrome:

Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, Benjamin Franklin, Leonardo daVinci, Beethoven, Bill Gates, Robin Williams, Stephen Spielberg, Peter Tork (The Monkees), Satoshi Tajiri (creator of Pokemon), Keanu Reeves, Bob Dylan, and many more.

The Puzzle Ribbon Story
The puzzle pattern reflects the mystery and complexity of the autism spectrum. The different colors and shapes represent the diversity of the people and families living with the condition. The brightness of the ribbon signals hope-hope that through increased awareness of autism, and through early intervention and appropriate treatments, people with autism will lead fuller, more complete lives.

If you've gotten this far down the post, thank you for reading it! There are many autism and asperger web sites on Google if you would like to research more.


Marjorie (Molly) Smith said...

Thank you for posting this, so many people are unaware of what autism really is. They think of it being a child sitting in the middle of the room rocking back and forth and starring off in the distance and not being able to communicate. They don't realize how many other forms there are of this condition.
My sweet GD has a mild form and it is so sad when people don't understand the problem.

Kate in NJ said...

Wonderful post, great links.

Olde Dame Penniwig said...

Halloo son was "diagnosed" (in quotes because of my scorn of the mental health "professionals" I've had to deal with!!!) with "an autism-like disorder, possibly Asperger's" -- he's 19 years old now -- he's brilliant but me if ye ever need a shoulder...gosh, if I had it to do over again...would raise him so differently, but we do the best we can with no roadmap...

^..^Corgidogmama said...

Hi there, very good post today.
My son, soon to be 35, in late June, had very strong austistic tendancies when he was younger. Very Strong.
He's still an odd duck. I can say that, 'cause he's my odd duck.
He's quite the loner, head twirls, and zones out still. There are SO many different levels...folks have one image in their mind I think.
Asperger's was brought up as well.
Isn't it funny, how among this group of bloggers, what a small world it is? Similar problems and's funny.
No roadmap for us either, all we could do was try, and hang on for the ride. He functions well, in a limited space of the big bad world. More than I had hoped for..for him. Lots of guardian angels in his lifetime I believe.

SueLovesCherries said...

Thanks for the support, everyone! Yes, my dd's are "quirky", but fun - and I love 'em!

Joyce said...

Wow.....thanks for sharing all that information. I know a bit more about Autism than the Asperger's Syndrome, so this was interesting reading for me.

Stephanie said...

Great Post. I have a lot of friends that work specifically with Autistic and special needs children. I think awareness is the best thing we can all do to help.

I blogged about Autism Awareness Month today. I also made some jewelry for the cause so hopefully I can raise some money as well.

I borrowed your little Autism Awareness Month Icon - hope thats ok!!!