zondag 21 september 2008

How to put what I've already said into Scientific Blah Blah...

... whithout any real explanation of the when this happens, how this happens and what is the purpose of this happening. To me this is just another way of saying we see what it it, but how the heck it came to be, is a huge mystery!

Well, it is not surprising, because is completely blind and deaf. It is headless. It is a headless blind and deaf creature that all it can do is grope in the dark and silence! It pokes and scans, it tests and researches, but it is still blind and deaf. It does NOT know. One needs eyes and ears to be able to see and hear and know. It needs a head, a brain, a mind, a spirit.

This article was posted in the Aspie Women's group. Thought I'd share.

The Intense World Syndrome - an alternative hypothesis for autism

Henry Markram, Tania Rinaldi and Kamila Markram; Brain Mind Institute, Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne,Switzerland

Review Editors: Joseph LeDoux, Center for Neural Science, New YorkUniversity, USA Jacqueline N. Crawley, Laboratory of Behavioral Neuroscience, National Institute of Mental Health, USA

Autism is a devastating neurodevelopmental disorder with apolygenetic predisposition that seems to be triggered by multipleenvironmental factors during embryonic and/or early postnatal life.

While significant advances have been made in identifying the neuronalstructures and cells affected, a unifying theory that could explainthe manifold autistic symptoms has still not emerged. Based on recentsynaptic, cellular, molecular, microcircuit, and behavioral resultsobtained with the valproic acid (VPA) rat model of autism, we proposehere a unifying hypothesis where the core pathology of the autisticbrain is hyper-reactivity and hyper-plasticity of local neuronalcircuits.

Such excessive neuronal processing in circumscribedcircuits is suggested to lead to hyper-perception, hyper-attention,and hyper-memory, which may lie at the heart of most autisticsymptoms. In this view, the autistic spectrum are disorders of hyper-functionality, which turns debilitating, as opposed to disorders ofhypo-functionality, as is often assumed. We discuss how excessiveneuronal processing may render the world painfully intense when theneocortex is affected and even aversive when the amygdala isaffected, leading to social and environmental withdrawal.

Excessiveneuronal learning is also hypothesized to rapidly lock down theindividual into a small repertoire of secure behavioral routines thatare obsessively repeated. We further discuss the key autisticneuropathologies and several of the main theories of autism and re-interpret them in the light of the hypothesized Intense WorldSyndrome.

And??? What is this crap??? Why are you just telling us something we all adult autistics already know and keep telling you??? You idiots, what is knew???

donderdag 18 september 2008

Not a Team Player? No kidding...

Asperger syndrome: 'Bosses say I'm not a team player'


(Photo caption: Danny and his mother Paula)
Danny Hancock has a brilliant mind but can't hold down a job. Sheryl Moore talks to him and his mother about changing workplace attitudes to Asperger syndrome

Surrounded by a pile of well-thumbed science journals and maths textbooks, Danny Hancock comes alive. The 22-year-old enthuses at length about the Swiss mathematician Leonhard Euler and his French contemporary, Pierre de Fermat.

"Fermat's Last Theorem," he muses. "Now that's an interesting one." For a moment he makes eye contact with me - perhaps believing he has found an intellectual sparring partner - and he's off. It's hard to get a word in edgeways as he talks excitedly about his hopes of becoming a mathematician.

But ask Danny, who was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome (AS) earlier this year, about getting a job and he becomes subdued: "Employers don't seem to want people with disabilities like mine. They say I'm not a team player and haven't got the right skills for the workplace."

Help for children who suffer from autism, whose cause is thought to be a mixture of genetic and environmental factors, and AS has dramatically improved in recent years. Yet once those children grow up, that help often evaporates, according to the National Autistic Society (NAS), despite the fact that one in 100 adults and children in Britain is thought to have some form of autism.

Without basic life skills such as knowing how to pay bills or follow office etiquette, the society says large numbers are trapped in their homes feeling hopeless and isolated.

Asperger syndrome is on the high-functioning end of the autism spectrum, which ranges from those who live relatively normal lives to those who may not be able to communicate at all. AS sufferers, however, tend to have above-average intelligence.

Like all people with autism, they may still find it difficult to communicate with others and process information - for example they may be unable to make eye contact, read facial expressions correctly or understand jokes or sarcasm - but they do not usually have the learning disabilities, such as dyslexia and dyspraxia, which are associated with autism.

It was Danny's increasingly alarming behaviour which finally prompted his mother Paula, 44, from Stockport, to seek help last year. "He was having more and more temper tantrums which often resulted in him throwing things," she says. "He was also locking himself in his room and refusing to engage in any form of conversation, but what was really worrying was the fact that he was storming out of the house and going missing."

Paula, a single mother to Danny and his 18-year-old brother David, says Danny's problems started at an early age. "By three he could barely say any recognisable words and had almost made up his own language," she says.

"As the years progressed, Danny's speech improved and he was regularly seen by a therapist. But he was never invited to birthday parties and didn't have any himself because he had no playmates to invite - it was heartbreaking."

By the time he was 13, his school suggested that Danny was evaluated by a psychologist. Paula says the report revealed that Danny was on the 93rd centile for intelligence, but only on the eighth in terms of his social skills.

"I was handed the report but didn't really know what it meant," she says. "I wasn't given much explanation apart from the fact that there are only seven per cent of people in the country more intelligent than Danny, and that he was an anti-social child."

While most parents would be thrilled to be told their son was intelligent - Paula admits she was "very proud" - she says nobody explained that the low score for his social skills was cause for concern. "I wasn't offered any help or advice," she says. "Danny's school offered to help with exam training, but Danny was being bullied, and didn't want to be singled out."

Danny went on to pass a set of GCSEs, gaining an A in maths, and then achieved three grade Cs at A-level in maths, physics and chemistry. Yet despite this success, since leaving school he has only had a couple of part-time administration jobs.

He is on leave from his current job after a frustrated outburst led him to kick boxes around the office. "There was the mother of all mail-outs," says Danny. "There was a better way of doing it but nobody would listen to me."

"Danny has extreme difficulty in engaging in casual conversation," adds Paula. "He also refuses to make eye contact and finds it hard to communicate what he is thinking, unless the conversation is about maths, science or his third fascination in life - the Irish band The Corrs... [But] his intelligence is being overlooked. Employers need to wake up and see the enormous potential people like Danny, have to offer."

This untapped potential among adults with AS and autism - only 2 per cent are in full-time employment - caused the NAS to launch its "I Exist" campaign this year to call for more help.

It says many sufferers struggle to find work simply because they don't know how to conduct themselves in interviews - or if they are in education, may lack the concentration to take notes in lectures. A large number are confined to living with their parents because they haven't mastered basic life skills such as going to the supermarket.

Norman Darwin, the employment co-ordinator at Prospects, which provides training and advice for those with autism and AS, says it is often with the "unwritten rules" of office life where problems arise. "One extremely talented computer-aided designer with AS was having problems with his colleagues simply because he'd never made a cup of coffee at work - which after 15 years was causing resentment," he explains.

"His logic was that if somebody was making coffee, why did he need to? And of course, nobody had told him it was part of the office etiquette. Once I explained to him that he needed to make the coffee once a week, it was resolved."

Darwin adds that those with AS often display inappropriate behaviour such as walking out of meetings before they have finished or being too honest with the boss.

"The logic for someone with AS is if they are in a meeting and have said what they need to say, they reason: why bother staying in the meeting?" he says. "Also they are extremely honest. Often it can be the 'do you like my dress?' situation: when a diplomatic answer is required they cause offence with their colleagues by answering with inappropriate candour."

Prospects, which has offices in London, Glasgow, Sheffield, Leeds and Manchester, helps AS sufferers to write a CV, prepare for interviews, and gives advice on basic office skills. It works directly with employers to find job opportunities which match the skills of the candidate with AS and can assign a support worker to help the new employee break down tasks into easily manageable chunks.

Around 300 people are currently being supported. Darwin adds that people with autism and AS can excel at their jobs and with the right guidance and support can be invaluable members of the workforce. "They tend to be extremely focused and dedicated, and are also very reliable, trustworthy and honest - all of which are attributes that employers look for."

Back in Stockport, Danny is certainly honest about his own dreams and talents. Resuming eye contact with me, he says: "I truly believe that - given the chance - I could become one of the greatest mathematicians of our time."