How do you know when it all adds up to autism?

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dianthus
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07 Jun 2014, 9:57 pm

I was officially diagnosed with inattentive ADHD. But I think I also have:

Irlen syndrome
Sensory processing disorder
Dyspraxia
Aphasia
Dysgraphia

As a child I also had selective mutism, which still surfaces now but I can push through it and can usually make myself talk when I have to.

My question is, and I know it's not an easy one to answer else I wouldn't be asking it myself...how do you know when these different things actually add up to autism?

Does it make sense to have this many separate disorders or problems, without having one unifying, underlying issue?

Or what else could these things add up to? because as I've said here many times I was already convinced at age 7 that I had a brain tumor, or was having mild strokes or seizures because I knew something was wrong with my brain. Lately I've also been considering Parkinson's or parkinsonism.

Honestly the alternatives are so much more depressing and/or scary that I'd rather assume it's autism and hope and pray I don't have something degenerative that will get worse with age.



btbnnyr
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07 Jun 2014, 10:26 pm

Social cognition deficits are common core of ASD.


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perpetual_padawan
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07 Jun 2014, 10:36 pm

dianthus wrote:
I was officially diagnosed with inattentive ADHD. But I think I also have:

Irlen syndrome
Sensory processing disorder
Dyspraxia
Aphasia
Dysgraphia

As a child I also had selective mutism, which still surfaces now but I can push through it and can usually make myself talk when I have to.

My question is, and I know it's not an easy one to answer else I wouldn't be asking it myself...how do you know when these different things actually add up to autism?

Does it make sense to have this many separate disorders or problems, without having one unifying, underlying issue?

Or what else could these things add up to? because as I've said here many times I was already convinced at age 7 that I had a brain tumor, or was having mild strokes or seizures because I knew something was wrong with my brain. Lately I've also been considering Parkinson's or parkinsonism.

Honestly the alternatives are so much more depressing and/or scary that I'd rather assume it's autism and hope and pray I don't have something degenerative that will get worse with age.


I thought I had a brain tumor too when I was a kid, too. I thought I was going to die from one for several years. What's the connection though?


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07 Jun 2014, 10:52 pm

You don't really know when they add up to autism, hence Asperger's (under DSM IV) being a syndrome - it is just a collection of characteristics, as I'm sure you're very well aware. Autism diagnosis is very likely given to many that aren't 'actually' autistic, but their co-morbid conditions would resemble it enough, to the point where it may as well be labelled as autism. Neuroscience (knowledge of autism especially) is highly underdeveloped.

@Perpetual_Padawan - I believe the connection is that she has, for a long time felt something was wrong with her. It isn't hypochondria (as it seems to be in your example).

EDIT - Assuming you already had in mine what I've written above, the only other response I can provide is that I have no idea what else to say.


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dianthus
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07 Jun 2014, 10:56 pm

btbnnyr wrote:
Social cognition deficits are common core of ASD.


That is what I have the most difficulty assessing in myself, how much my social cognition is impaired. I'm not sure whether it's better or worse than I think it is. Sometimes I think it's just my pride getting in the way of admitting how bad it really is. But other times I think actually, maybe I just don't like people (except of course the certain few people I really, really like).


perpetual_padawan wrote:
I thought I had a brain tumor too when I was a kid, too. I thought I was going to die from one for several years. What's the connection though?


You too? I cried every day at school because I thought I had one but I never told anyone, not until I started posting here.

I looked into corpus callosum disorders too recently, sometimes those can look like autism.



Adamantium
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07 Jun 2014, 10:58 pm

Surely the best answer is it only adds up to autism when it is accompanied by:

Persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction across multiple contexts, as manifested by
> Deficits in social-emotional reciprocity, ranging, for example, from abnormal social approach and failure of normal back-and-forth conversation; to reduced sharing of interests, emotions, or affect; to failure to initiate or respond to social interactions.
>Deficits in nonverbal communicative behaviors used for social interaction, ranging, for example, from poorly integrated verbal and nonverbal communication; to abnormalities in eye contact and body language or deficits in understanding and use of gestures; to a total lack of facial expressions and nonverbal communication.
>Deficits in developing, maintaining, and understand relationships, ranging, for example, from difficulties adjusting behavior to suit various social contexts; to difficulties in sharing imaginative play or in making friends; to absence of interest in peers.
Restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities, as manifested by at least two of the following
>Stereotyped or repetitive motor movements, use of objects, or speech (e.g., simple motor stereotypes, lining up toys or flipping objects, echolalia, idiosyncratic phrases).
>Insistence on sameness, inflexible adherence to routines, or ritualized patterns of verbal or nonverbal behavior (e.g., extreme distress at small changes, difficulties with transitions, rigid thinking patterns, greeting rituals, need to take same route or eat same food every day).
>Highly restricted, fixated interests that are abnormal in intensity or focus (e.g., strong attachment to or preoccupation with unusual objects, excessively circumscribed or perseverative interests).
>Hyper- or hyporeactivity to sensory input or unusual interest in sensory aspects of the environment (e.g. apparent indifference to pain/temperature, adverse response to specific sounds or textures, excessive smelling or touching of objects, visual fascination with lights or movement).
And:
>Symptoms must be present in the early developmental period (but may not become fully manifest until social demands exceed limited capacities, or may be masked by learned strategies in later life).
>Symptoms cause clinically significant impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of current functioning.
>These disturbances are not better explained by intellectual disability (intellectual developmental disorder) or global developmental delay. Intellectual disability and autism spectrum disorder frequently co-occur; to make comorbid diagnoses of autism spectrum disorder and intellectual disability, social communication should be beloiw that expected for general developmental level.

Dyspraxia + aphasia + dysgraphia + sensory processing disorder != autism

An autistic person may have all of these.

I thought Irlen syndrome was quackery and snake oil coated lenses?



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07 Jun 2014, 11:48 pm

Adamantium wrote:
I thought Irlen syndrome was quackery and snake oil coated lenses?


No, Irlen syndrome is a common symptom of dyslexia whereby it is difficult to read black words on a white background because the sharp contrast makes the words and letters appear as if they're shifting. It's corrected with the use of coloured lenses or transparent overlays that eliminate the white background behind the text. My sister has dyslexia, and in elementary school, she used a strip of blue transparent overlay to simultaneously keep herself on the correct line and eliminate the colour contrast.


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Adamantium
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08 Jun 2014, 12:46 am

Interesting. Is this the same as Irlen, though?
My sense is that there is no evidence that it has any basis in observable reality:
http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/irlen-syndrome/

And that dyslexia may be helped my reading guides, but not by he proposed mechanism:
http://www.interdys.org/ResponseToColoredLensClaim.htm

But perhaps there is solid evidence that it it works? Something other than annecdotes and believers testimonials.



btbnnyr
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08 Jun 2014, 1:18 am

Social cognition problems observed by self or others should be the most major part of the perceived differences between self and others for the cause of the problems to be autism.

So far, the list of disorders don't add up to autism.


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wiliamson
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08 Jun 2014, 1:34 am

Dianthus, if you are now grown up it is unlikely you had a brain tumour. All the things on your list you can search internet sites for diagnostic tests, including a range of psychology tests for Aspergers, autism, personality, IQ etcetera.
You say you had fits though? Perhaps a mild form of epilepsy?
I' m borderline autistic, with dyspraxia - terrible short term memory, slow processing and badly tuned senses. My background, bullying in childhood creates characteristics which look like autism, but are socially conditioned.
I honestly think these conditions don't matter unless they are so extreme they impact on your ability to earn a living, keep yourself safe, and have a happy and fulfilled life. There's no such thing as normal.



dianthus
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08 Jun 2014, 4:06 am

btbnnyr wrote:
Social cognition problems observed by self or others should be the most major part of the perceived differences between self and others for the cause of the problems to be autism.

So far, the list of disorders don't add up to autism.


That's the missing puzzle piece for me. I know that I have social impairments, but I don't know if I have social cognition impairments.


wiliamson wrote:
I honestly think these conditions don't matter unless they are so extreme they impact on your ability to earn a living, keep yourself safe, and have a happy and fulfilled life. There's no such thing as normal.


This sounds really dismissive. My problems are impacting my entire life.



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08 Jun 2014, 6:26 am

StarTrekker wrote:
Adamantium wrote:
I thought Irlen syndrome was quackery and snake oil coated lenses?


No, Irlen syndrome is a common symptom of dyslexia whereby it is difficult to read black words on a white background because the sharp contrast makes the words and letters appear as if they're shifting. It's corrected with the use of coloured lenses or transparent overlays that eliminate the white background behind the text. My sister has dyslexia, and in elementary school, she used a strip of blue transparent overlay to simultaneously keep herself on the correct line and eliminate the colour contrast.


"Irlen Syndrome" is very real. I am not sure it can stand alone though. I have bad visual sensitivities and I think for me it is part of the whole sensory issue. When I look at a page of text it is too bright. The background starts swirling with green, orange, bright white, the black letters wiggle, yellow blotches. I can still read, but I get headaches, and eye strain. If I am already into sensory overload, I shouldn't even look at the page because it can actually push me into the direction of a crying meltdown. You know the afterimage that is left on your retinas after staring at something for a while? Visual stimmers should be familiar with that. It's like my eyes are hyper inclined to do that when I look at a screen or at text. It actually does it with everything I look at really but it is more noticeably sickening or just annoying with text because you are having to constantly look at the page. I also see rivers through the pages where the words can clump together at the joins or at least where my mind sees the lines of white snaking through the text and picks up matching or pattern-like shapes in those white spaces. Also I have it where after a while the horizontal centers of the words can fade out so that the part that stands out most is the top and bottom lines of the words. I don't think I really have dyslexia but I do have dyslexic traits. My father is dyslexic and also has Aspergers though undiagnosed so I probably come by this crap naturally. I think for me it all goes back to visual sensitivities and being very sensitive to contrast.

Sometimes I rock when I read without realizing it but am watching the words fade in and out. I think it is from agitation with the text, low muscle tone, and also I think it probably helps to break up the "Irlen" symptoms. I find myself rocking when reading and typing on an iPad too or holding a book in my hand and the text is moving with me so it doesn't blur in and out with the rocking but it does provide movement in the periphery around the text item. Don't know what that is. Could be the rocking helps me somehow understand what I am reading. I often read the same sentence over and over again without being able to take any meaning from it.

Irlen and Irlen-like stuff is very real. The snake-oil comes in the exorbitant prices Irlen uses. Their overlays are expensive. I have a few from my evaluation in college (Irlen-like symptoms made me so sick in college that I couldn't keep up after a while). In order to make use of the overlays the best way, you would need several different colors of overlays because different lighting naturally affects it. I got a package of transparent, colored binder dividers from Walmart and cut/trimmed them to my liking and usage needs. They aren't matte on one side like the Irlen ones are for glare but I can get around that and actually don't need the matte finish.


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Noetic
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08 Jun 2014, 6:43 am

The way you keep thinking you have one disorder after another, you may want to look at Münchhausen / hypochondria.



Adamantium
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08 Jun 2014, 6:50 am

QuiversWhiskers, I don't doubt that the symptoms you describe are real but I don't think they are what the Irlen salespeople say they are and I believe there is a well designed study showing that the lenses sold by Irlen don't work as described. The suggestion is that their benefit to users is placebo effect.

Sensory issues, including problems in visual processing, are real and it's clear you have them. It seems that there isn't a basis in evidence or reproducible research for the belief system promoted by Irlen salespeople.

My own experience with visual sensitivity is quite strong. I had migraines as a child and anything bu very dim light caused excruciating pain. I was also very sensitive to certain fluorescent lights, though this seemed a combination of the color, flicker and buzzing noise. Nausea was the overall effect. I used to wear dark glasses on most days, but found that the ones with green lenses made me feel bad and that I would become depressed after wearing them for 30 minutes or more.

I'm glad you found an easy, accessible and low-cost way of handling some of your visual
Sensitivity.



dianthus
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08 Jun 2014, 9:32 am

Adamantium wrote:
Sensory issues, including problems in visual processing, are real and it's clear you have them. It seems that there isn't a basis in evidence or reproducible research for the belief system promoted by Irlen salespeople.


In that case maybe my issues are best described by SPD. But I thought Irlen Syndrome explained something more specific about why I have trouble reading. I didn't know they charged so much money, it does sound sort of fishy.

Noetic wrote:
The way you keep thinking you have one disorder after another, you may want to look at Münchhausen / hypochondria.


No on both, and what a rude, inconsiderate thing to say.



dianthus
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08 Jun 2014, 9:43 am

QuiversWhiskers wrote:
I don't think I really have dyslexia but I do have dyslexic traits. [...] I think for me it all goes back to visual sensitivities and being very sensitive to contrast.


Yeah I have some signs of dyslexia but I don't think I actually have it. If I do it is very mild. Similar thing with dyscalculia. In school I never had any problem with math or spelling but nevertheless I would copy things down wrong a lot. I catch myself reversing letters and numbers when I write.

My visual problems are not as involved as yours. I find it easier to read in dim light, and on the computer it is easier for me to read light text on a dark background. I notice sometimes (reading on a page not a screen) words seem to wiggle around a bit. I used to read all the time as a kid, and it gave me headaches but I loved reading so much I did it anyway. But now it's just so painful to read that I don't like to do it anymore, and I miss it. I have some retina damage (macular) to my right eye so I don't know if that has anything to do with it.