A treatment method or an educational method that will work for one child may not work for another child. The one common denominator for all of the young children is that early intervention does work, and it seems to improve the prognosis.
And while we are on the subject of medication you always need to look at risk versus benefit.
As you may know, some of the stereotyped behaviors exhibited by autistic children are also found in zoo animals who are raised in a barren environment.
Autism is a neurological disorder. It’s not caused by bad parenting. It’s caused by, you know, abnormal development in the brain. The emotional circuits in the brain are abnormal. And there also are differences in the white matter, which is the brain’s computer cables that hook up the different brain departments.
Autism is an extremely variable disorder.
Autism is part of who I am.
Children between the ages of five to ten years are even more variable. They are going to vary from very high functioning, capable of doing normal school work, to nonverbal who have all kinds of neurological problems.
I am a big believer in early intervention.
I am also a believer in an integrated treatment approach to autism.
I am much less autistic now, compared to when I was young. I remember some behaviors like picking carpet fuzz and watching spinning plates for hours. I didn’t want to be touched. I couldn’t shut out background noise. I didn’t talk until I was about 4 years old. I screamed. I hummed. But as I grew up, I improved.
I can remember the frustration of not being able to talk. I knew what I wanted to say, but I could not get the words out, so I would just scream.
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of a good teacher.
I get satisfaction out of seeing stuff that makes real change in the real world. We need a lot more of that and a lot less abstract stuff.
I had people in my life who didn’t give up on me: my mother, my aunt, my science teacher. I had one-on-one speech therapy. I had a nanny who spent all day playing turn-taking games with me.
I have been on the same dose of anti-depressants for 15 years, and my nerves still go up and down in cycles; but my nerves are cycling at a lower level than they were before.
I know a number of autistic adults that are doing extremely well on Prozac.
I like to figure things out and solve problems.
I obtain great satisfaction out of using my intellect.
I think that autistic brains tend to be specialized brains. Autistic people tend to be less social. It takes a ton of processor space in the brain to have all the social circuits.
I use my mind to solve problems and invent things.
I would never talk just to be social. Now, to sit down with a bunch of engineers and talk about the latest concrete forming systems, that’s really interesting. Talking with animal behaviorists or with someone who likes to sail, that’s interesting. Information is interesting to me. But talking for the sake of talking, I find that quite boring.
I would not be here now if I did not have anti-depressants.
I’m a visual thinker, not a language-based thinker. My brain is like Google Images.
I’m a visual thinker, really bad at algebra. There’s others that are a pattern thinker. These are the music and math minds. They think in patterns instead of pictures. Then there’s another type that’s not a visual thinker at all, and they’re the ones that memorize all of the sports statistics, all of the weather statistics.
If I did not have my work, I would not have any life.
If you have autism in the family history, you still vaccinate. Delay it a bit, space them out.
If you start using a medication in a person with autism, you should see an obvious improvement in behavior in a short period of time. If you do not see an obvious improvement, they probably should not be taking the stuff. It is that simple.
It’s very important for the parents of young autistic children to encourage them to talk, or for those that don’t talk, to give them a way of communicating, like a picture board, where they can point to a glass of milk, or a jacket if they’re cold, or the bathroom. If they want something, then they need to learn to request that thing.
Language for me narrates the pictures in my mind. When I work on designing livestock equipment I can test run that equipment in my head like 3-D virtual reality. In fact, when I was in college I used to think that everybody was able to do that.
Mild autism can give you a genius like Einstein. If you have severe autism, you could remain nonverbal. You don’t want people to be on the severe end of the spectrum. But if you got rid of all the autism genetics, you wouldn’t have science or art. All you would have is a bunch of social ‘yak yaks.’
My grandfather was an engineer who invented the automatic pilot for airplanes.
My life is basically my work.
Normal people have an incredible lack of empathy. They have good emotional empathy, but they don’t have much empathy for the autistic kid who is screaming at the baseball game because he can’t stand the sensory overload. Or the autistic kid having a meltdown in the school cafeteria because there’s too much stimulation.
One of my sensory problems was hearing sensitivity, where certain loud noises, such as a school bell, hurt my ears. It sounded like a dentist drill going through my ears.
People are always looking for the single magic bullet that will totally change everything. There is no single magic bullet.
Pressure is calming to the nervous system.
Research has shown that a barren environment is much more damaging to baby animals than it is to adult animals. It does not hurt the adult animals the same way it damages babies.
Research is starting to show that a child should be engaged at least 20 hours a week. I do not think it matters which program you choose as long as it keeps the child actively engaged with the therapist, teacher, or parent for at least 20 hours a week.
Some autistic children cannot stand the sound of certain voices. I have come across cases where teachers tell me that certain children have problems with their voice or another person’s voice. This problem tends to be related to high-pitched ladies’ voices.
Some children may need a behavioral approach, whereas other children may need a sensory approach.
Some teachers just have a knack for working with autistic children. Other teachers do not have it.
The squeeze machine is not going to cure anybody, but it may help them relax; and a relaxed person will usually have better behavior.
The thing about being autistic is that you gradually get less and less autistic, because you keep learning, you keep learning how to behave. It’s like being in a play; I’m always in a play.
There is a tremendous range of children with a PDD label.
There tends to be a lot of autism around the tech centers… when you concentrate the geeks, you’re concentrating the autism genetics.
We have got to work on keeping these children engaged with the world.
What I’ve tried to do is combine both my personal experiences with scientific research. I like to cross the divide between the personal world and the scientific world.
When you take a drug to treat high blood pressure or diabetes, you have an objective test to measure blood pressure and the amount of sugar in the blood. It is straight-forward. With autism, you are looking for changes in behavior.
Who do you think made the first stone spears? The Asperger guy. If you were to get rid of all the autism genetics, there would be no more Silicon Valley.
You have got to keep autistic children engaged with the world. You cannot let them tune out.