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19 Jul 2022, 7:17 pm

Hello, I have a strange question for you all.

I was diagnosed with AS and mild OCD at 6 years of age. I went through special education throughout grades 1 to 12.

Around grade 10 I noticed we continued a similar curriculum to grade 9; mostly it remained from a grade 4 to grade 7 level (for the higher-functioning kids).

The classes I attended had a mix of different functions/needs with EAs working with the teacher.

I asked the assistant principle if I could attend (or even audit) mainstream curriculum as I felt I wasn't being challenged enough. They said because of my diagnosis and the extra funding used to support me it would be a 'conflict of interest' to place me in regular classes.

After graduating (rather, receiving a 'certificate of completion'), I started working full time, got my GED and upgraded ELA 30-1 (I got high 80's too).

I went on to complete a 2-year program in American Sign Language (ASL) and hope to return for the 2 year ASL interpreter's program (thus gaining me a license rather than a 'certificate,' which is more an asset than anything.)


I guess my question ultimately is what are your thoughts on overcoming mental diagnoses? My thoughts on this are, if you have a child, raise them on sugary/refined foods, lots of television and give little attention to them, you'll have a hyperactive child who exhibits symptoms of ASD.

They also diagnose kids very young and once they go through the system it comes to a point where they (by government/legal standards) have a medical label their entire life.


I don't like having a label or anything identifying myself other than my individuality and experience in life. I'd prefer to think I'm someone who overcame my diagnosis and became a unique high-functioning individual.

I have a legal guardian and I receive benefits from the government. The later could perhaps be the only way I ever benefited from having this label, however once you reach a certain level of income and remain in that bracket they remove your benefits.

So essentially, someone who is capable of making a good living independently is someone who is considered not eligible for supports for their diagnosis. I'd like to think that I could one day become completely free from any of these boxes they use to explain why people act the way they do.

There are people far less functioning than I am who have no disabilities. It just seems to me as though there's a grey area in which people could be misdiagnosed. I also don't mean to suggest that there are no disabilities.

I tend to think that any disability is the result of our internal environment and development. I don't believe it 'just happens,' especially when you consider autism rates are reaching 1 in 44 kids in the USA alone (as per a CDC study), which is far greater than ever before. Some may consider that it's because our diagnosis methods are better yet I think there's more to it than that, especially when you consider there are many that require supports their entire life, which is something that is very hard to miss.

What are your thoughts? Have you had similar experiences or feelings?

Thanks everyone and sorry for the lengthy post. Much love. :heart:



Twilightprincess
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19 Jul 2022, 7:45 pm

We are all unique individuals whether we have autism or not.

Autism is not a mental health diagnosis. It’s a neurological and developmental one.

Quote:
My thoughts on this are, if you have a child, raise them on sugary/refined foods, lots of television and give little attention to them, you'll have a hyperactive child who exhibits symptoms of ASD.


This is wrong. Sometimes these things can exacerbate one’s symptoms but they don’t cause autism.

Autism doesn’t just happen. It’s largely genetic.

Maybe you should consider getting neuropsychological testing as an adult and see what the results tell you. People can “grow out of” their diagnosis if they have enough supports in place and were very high functioning to begin with. I hate the term “grow out of” because many of us are perfectly fine with being autistic. It’s a part of who we are as unique individuals.

I don’t think the label is negative at all.


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Last edited by Twilightprincess on 19 Jul 2022, 8:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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19 Jul 2022, 7:55 pm

Quote:
I don't believe it 'just happens,' especially when you consider autism rates are reaching 1 in 44 kids in the USA alone (as per a CDC study), which is far greater than ever before. Some may consider that it's because our diagnosis methods are better yet I think there's more to it than that, especially when you consider there are many that require supports their entire life, which is something that is very hard to miss.


It has not been a diagnosis for that long, and yes, the criteria and testing are clearer and better than they used to be, enabling more people (especially those who are higher functioning) to be appropriately diagnosed and supported.

The individuals that require “supports their entire life” would’ve been given a different diagnosis back in the day such as schizophrenia or mental retardation depending on the individual’s symptoms.

This is probably something that you should consider researching.


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Last edited by Twilightprincess on 19 Jul 2022, 8:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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19 Jul 2022, 8:05 pm

Here ya go:

Quote:
Has our definition of autism changed over the years?

How people think about and diagnose autism has changed substantially since the diagnosis was first introduced nearly 75 years ago. In 1943, Leo Kanner firstcoined the term ‘infantile autism’ to describe children who seemed socially isolated and withdrawn.

In 1966, researchers estimated that about 1 in 2,500 children had autism, according to criteria derived from Kanner’s description. This and other early estimates of prevalence probably focused on children at the severe end of the spectrum and missed those with subtler features.

Autism didn’t make its debut in the DSM until 1980. In 1987, a new edition expanded the criteria by allowing a diagnosis even if symptoms became apparent after 30 months of age. To garner a diagnosis, a child needed to meet 8 of 16 criteria, rather than all 6 of the previous items. These changes may have caused the condition’s prevalence to tick above 1 in 1,400.

Then, in 1991, the U.S. Department of Education ruled that a diagnosis of autism qualifies a child for special education services. Before this time, many children with autism may instead have been listed as having intellectual disability. The change may have encouraged families to get a diagnosis of autism for their child. The number of children who have both a diagnosis of autism and intellectual disability has also risen steadily over the years.

In 1994, the fourth edition of the DSM broadened the definition of autism even further, by including Asperger syndrome on the milder end of the spectrum. The current version, the DSM-5, was released in 2013, and collapsed autism, Asperger syndrome and pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified into a single diagnosis.

The most recent CDC estimate of autism prevalence is based on the fourth edition of the DSM. Future estimates will be based on DSM-5 criteria—which may lower autism rates.


Has the rising awareness of autism contributed to the prevalence?

Increased awareness of autism has undoubtedly contributed to its rise in prevalence, Durkin says.

Until the 1980s, many people with autism were institutionalized, rendering them effectively invisible. Studies show that parents who are aware of autism’s presentation—by living near someone with the condition, for example—aremore likely to seek a diagnosis for their children than parents with no knowledge of the condition. Living close to urban centers and having access to good medical care also boost the likelihood of diagnosis.

Greater awareness of autism is also likely to boost CDC estimates by increasing the chances that autism traits, such as lack of eye contact, show up in school and medical records, says Fombonne.

Policy changes may have also played a role. In 2006, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended screening all children for autism during routine pediatrician visits at 18 and 24 months of age. This move may have led to diagnoses for children who would otherwise have slipped under the radar.

Are there other factors that have influenced prevalence?

Many individuals diagnosed with autism may, in the past, have been misdiagnosed with other conditions, such as intellectual disability: As diagnoses of autism have risen, those of intellectual disability have decreased.

What’s more, a diagnosis of autism gives children greater access to specialized services and special education than do diagnoses of other conditions. This benefit makes clinicians more likely to diagnose a child with autism, even those who are on the borderline of the clinical criteria.

Prior versions of the DSM did not allow for children to be diagnosed with both autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The DSM-5 allows multiple diagnoses, and most children with developmental delay are routinely screened for autism.

Autism prevalence has traditionally been highest in white children in the U.S, but this is starting to change. African-American and Hispanic children have lower rates of diagnosis because of a lack of access to services. Widespread screening has improved detection of autism in these groups, and raised overall prevalence.

Is there no real increase in autism rates, then?

Awareness and changing criteria probably account for the bulk of the rise in prevalence, but biological factors might also contribute, says Durkin. For example, having older parents, particularly an older father, may boost the risk of autism. Children born prematurely also are at increased risk of autism, and more premature infants survive now than ever before.


https://www.scientificamerican.com/arti ... n-the-u-s/

Edited to add: People can have ASD AND successful and fulfilling careers. It’s not like it automatically bars one from success.


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19 Jul 2022, 9:59 pm

Welcome to wrong planet and it is not a strange question.

Specific causes are not known, but what is known is that autism is caused by a combination by genetic and environmental factors with genetics being the predominant factor. How much of each differs by person.

Autistics are people and as people, they mature and can learn things.

There is a small percentage of children who "lose" their diagnosis. What that means is that the child does not meet the criteria for an autism diagnosis anymore. They usually still have "issues". The reasons are not known and the theories as to why is contentiously debated. An unknown percentage never was autistic in the first place, they were misdiagnosed, and some behavioral therapists will claim their therapy cured the child's autism, some people say all the behavioral therapists did was train the kids like dogs and when they go off therapy or as they get older and more is expected they will burnout and the autism will "come back" .

I am sympathetic to a combination of the maturing process of getting a person to the point where they seem not autistic and training that will in time not only result in burnout but a whole host of other mental problems caused by constant "faking it to make it".

The evidence is not in. The kids that "lost" their diagnosis have not been followed into adulthood because they are not adults the studies have not gone on long enough.

For a prior Wrong Planet thread on this topic
Losing" Autism Diagnoses/"Recovering" From Autism


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DSM 5: Autism Spectrum Disorder, DSM IV: Aspergers Moderate Severity

“My autism is not a superpower. It also isn’t some kind of god-forsaken, endless fountain of suffering inflicted on my family. It’s just part of who I am as a person”. - Sara Luterman


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20 Jul 2022, 9:35 pm

Twilightprincess wrote:

It has not been a diagnosis for that long, and yes, the criteria and testing are clearer and better than they used to be, enabling more people (especially those who are higher functioning) to be appropriately diagnosed and supported.

The individuals that require “supports their entire life” would’ve been given a different diagnosis back in the day such as schizophrenia or mental retardation depending on the individual’s symptoms.

This is probably something that you should consider researching.



You make some great points! I suppose I wrongly extended my frustrations on wondering why people develop these different cognitive mechanisms/functions and I placed it solely on chemical and biological factors without considering genetics. You are right, mutations can happen in the genome through epigenetics. Perhaps Asperger's might be something I do indeed have yet it's something I always viewed as a personal flaw that I had always fought to overcome. My thinking was misplaced in blaming it on something that's preventable when that's not always the case.

I've become very social and empathetic over the years, far more than when I was as a child. In spite of this I tend to think of things as very black and white, often seeking to correct or explain away these topics when in reality they are more complicated than that.

There is no such thing as perfect I suppose, though I tend to pursue perfection in everything I do (health, lifestyle, knowledge, etc). I take everything to extremes quite often and sometimes struggle with moderation.

I also do sometimes struggle with empathy. I can feel sympathy and relate to people's experiences, yet this is only through observation and it's not something innate.

I also had a brother who passed away and it's very hard to explain how I felt. Mostly it was anger and anxiety, wondering why it happened and what could've stopped it. I didn't feel sorrow though and this makes me honestly feel like a psychopath.

There are certain traits that are just a part of having Asperger's and these may not change for everyone. It seems as though it does for a few, yet this is the exception and not the rule.

I sometimes wish I could have a completely normal life experience yet I guess there isn't anything wrong with thinking differently. I care about others and I carry myself in a way that connects best with each individual, but inside I know that I judge and question every aspect of people and everything.

I went through depression as a teen and young adult, but I overcame this and accepted the positive aspects of myself while also weighing how lucky I am compared to so many people. It took a lot of deep thought to achieve this, but I found having overcome these challenges helped mold me into a more thoughtful and less nihilistic person.

Maybe you are right, that there is nothing wrong with having these labels. It's so common to think of any disability as a stigma or disadvantage when in reality disadvantaged people often have positive traits that many regular people don't have.

Like for instance, blind people have very acute hearing and sense of touch. I knew a blind guy who could tell when someone was standing close to him, simply by feeling body temperature and changes in airflow. As well, Deaf people have remarkable sight and pick up on more details and micro expressions than most people do. I also for some reason can read people's facial expressions very easily, even when people mask them through exaggerated facial expressions (much like how actors do).

I'm someone who relates deeply to the character Spongebob Squarepants. He's always carries himself in an optimistic way, seeking the positives in everything while diminishing the negatives, for the sake of others and not himself. Yet around people he's very close to (namely Patrick), he speaks frankly and more openly. I guess what it comes down to is accepting that there are some things that are unchangeable and it makes sense to embrace it instead of disparaging over it. I should remind myself more often... there is no such thing as perfect.


Thanks again for your input on this very confusing topic.



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20 Jul 2022, 9:44 pm

^^^

You’re welcome!

You don’t have to view autism as a “flaw”or “disability.” It could be more of a “difference” for some people. I think of mine that way even though it is a source of specific challenges.

On the topic of empathy, it’s a bit of a myth that people on the spectrum don’t have empathy. Many of us are extremely sensitive to the pain of others if we are aware of it. We can even be highly sensitive.

There’s a lot of variation among us.


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20 Jul 2022, 10:22 pm

Twilightprincess wrote:
^^^

You’re welcome!

You don’t have to view autism as a “flaw”or “disability.” It could be more of a “difference” for some people. I think of mine that way even though it is a source of specific challenges.

On the topic of empathy, it’s a bit of a myth that people on the spectrum don’t have empathy. Many of us are extremely sensitive to the pain of others if we are aware of it. We can even be highly sensitive.

There’s a lot of variation among us.


That's a really interesting insight. You're right, empathy is something we can experience. I guess many of us exhibit this differently. I noticed a lot of men (including myself) express hurt feelings through anger. Things aren't always what they seem on the surface. I like to think that every person is a special snowflake and that no two people are exactly the same.

What a boring world it would be if this were the case. :-)

Thanks again for helping me through some of this. I tend to view everything imperfect in the world as something that shouldn't exist but we live in an imperfect world. This is a part of the human condition, hence why people are so divided and why things (especially the education system, politics, the medical system, infrastructure, etc) have flaws.

All we can really do is strive for improvement but we can't fix everything. I don't see eye to eye with most of my family in this regard but they are different than me. I can't change their views on things and they can't change mine. After many difficult interactions my relatives we came to the conclusion that it's better to agree to disagree on certain things.

At the end of the day I guess we voice our beliefs and views because we care. It's not like we seek to change people, but rather we hope they see things from our point of view.

Seeking this out is (to me) the same as seeking empathy from others. We all want to feel connection with others but we get caught up on microcosms and overlook the macrocosm of life. All our actions are rooted in the same emotions and desires.

I will try to accept that there are some things I can't change. Thanks again and sorry for rambling there lol. ^_^



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21 Jul 2022, 6:24 am

As you have already discovered, you are not as defective as the "experts" say. The neurological variant of Aspergers produces a neurology that is faster, more sensitive, or more complex. This in turn can produce some developmental delays as a person learns to navigate around, compensate for, and even take advantage of this neurological configuration.

The educational industrial complex would prefer a uniform product to process. Those who are not easily processed are often considered defective, disabled, or disordered. While these views predominate the world in which we live, we do not need to view them ourselves as having any value for us. As you have begun to discover, you have to make your own way and chart your own course. We are here to help.