Friday, 7 June 2013

Guest Blog from Janet Carter - Autism Life Resources Part 1

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Our Guest Blogger today is Janet Carter from Autism Life Resources.  

Autism Life Resources was established by Janet Carter, as a result of a lifetime of experience with Autism, and over 25 years professional experience working in the NHS.   Janet is a true ambassador of the positive attributes of Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD), at the same time she's well aware of the potential negative impacts, including stress for the person with Autism, as well as their friends, family, colleagues and peer group.  

About Autism PART 1

What is Autism?

Autism is a developmental disability that affects how a person communicates, interacts and relates to other people and how they make sense of the world around them.  People with Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD's) often have problems processing, organizing and using information received by their senses.  The neural pathways transmit information from the world around them to the senses and this information can be received in a disorganised manner.

History of Autism

Autism is the english translation from New Latin of 'Autismus' that was derived from the greek work 'autos' - meaning 'self', coined in 1910 by the swiss psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler.  He used it to refer to 'autistic withdrawal of the patient' in his definition of the symptoms of schizophrenia.

In 1938 the austrian Dr Hans Asperger adopted Bleuler's use of the word Autism as he investigated ASD's.  He started a school for children with ASD's which was bombed and destroyed during WW2 and his work was not know outside Germany and Austria until Dr Lorna Wing, co-founding parent of the NAS (National Autistic Society, founded in 1962) wrote a paper naming his work 'Asperger's Syndrome'.  In 1924 Dr Leo Kanner emigrated from Austria to the USA and his work in the USA, using the word Autism was introduced in 1943.

Asperger's or Autism?

My understanding has been that a person with Asperger's Syndrome may appear quite 'normal' for a time and only after spending some time with them might you notice there were some differences in behaviour / thought / processing / interaction, whereas with a 'Kanner Autistic' the differences were a little more noticeable immediately.

On a rainbow of spectrum the Asperger's and Kanner Autistic person is on the 'higher functioning end' of the spectrum whereas the profoundly autistic person with whom we have yet to learn how to communicate with is on the other end of the spectrum.  People with ASD also often have other challenges including digestive disturbances, motor co-ordination and fine motor skills necessary for writing, doing up buttons, zips and shoe laces and using cutlery.

Why does Autism happen?

There is on-going research into the causes of Autism, current thought is that there could be a genetic pre-disposition that could become triggered by an event / trauma or an illness / virus either pre or post nataly.  

Difficulty in reading Facial Expressions.

People with Autism and Asperger's Syndrome have difficulty - to different degrees - in reading facial expressions, tones of voice, body language and picking up on social cues - this is a startling 93% of communication.

We gather information about what we are experiencing in the moment from all of our senses and when we are unable to interpret the message our senses are sensing it can be very confusing and frightening.  I believe that people with ASD's, functioning on just 7% of communication, trying to use that 7% to make sense of the world around them, do for the most part, an absolutely stunning job.

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