Home-Based Therapeutic Services Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention www.PerspectivesCorporation.com

Friday, July 26, 2013

Asperger's Syndrome, Then and Now

Perspectives RI - Autism Aspergers Syndrome Introducing characters with Asperger's syndrome in popular sitcoms seems to be trending these days. Television shows such as Parenthood and The Big Bang Theory may arguably be to account for bringing the disorder to light in living rooms across the country where disabilities might not otherwise be a commonly discussed topic. In fact - at least up until very recently - Asperger's syndrome has been considered to be a part of one of the most misunderstood neurological conditions in modern times: autism.

So what is Asperger's Syndrome?

Asperger's syndrome is a developmental disorder characterized by multiple symptoms including impairment in social interactions,; repetitive behaviors, a restricted range of interests and activities, and, sometimes, delayed motor development, leading to clumsiness or uncoordinated movement.

Unlike some other diagnoses now or previously on the autism spectrum, Asperger's syndrome has been understood to not entail any significant delay in cognitive development or general delay in language; indeed some children and adults with Asperger's even demonstrate a precocious vocabulary – often in a highly specialized field of interest.

Asperger's Syndrome was first identified in 1944 by Austiran peditrician Hans Asperger, for whom the disorder was named. The modern conception of the eponymous syndrome, however, came into existence in 1981 and, after going through a period of popularization, became standardized as a diagnosis in the early 1990s.

This latest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) marks the first major revision in the definition of autism spectrum disorder in more than twenty years. Published by the American Psychiatric Association in March of 2013, the manual - relied upon by clinicians, researchers, and even insurance companies - officially eliminated Asperger's syndrome as a distinct diagnosis, in favor of using the "autism spectrum" as a catch-all for previously separate categories of autism.

It remains to be seen exactly how this change in the diagnosis of autism - and with it, the recognition of Asperger's as a distinguishable disorder - will affect the personal lives and professional fields of those affected by or concerned with it. It is certain, however, to continue the conversation about what autism, and Asperger's, is, and provide some commentary on how we, as a culture, address it; from the obscure screeds of clinical history to the television screen of the modern family.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Defining Autism

Chances are you've heard of autism; but unless you, a friend, relative or loved one has been affected by autism, you might not understand what it is.

Autism is a general term for a group of neurodevelopmental (brain development) disorders characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors.

The word "autism" has been in use for about 100 years, but only since the 1940s has it been described in such detail that several distinct diagnoses of autism have been recognized. The fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), published in 1994, has helped clinicians and researchers to define several different diagnoses of autism including autistic disorder, Rett syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) and Asperger syndrome. The fifth edition of the DSM, published in 2013, has been the focus of some media attention as of late, for that it effectively eliminates these previously separate diagnoses, grouping them into a single category known as Autism Spectrum Disorder, or ASD.

Some Symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder

The symptoms of ASD are myriad, including significant impairments in social interaction and communication skills, as well as the presence of extremely challenging behaviors. For instance, people with ASD might have delayed speech and language skills; they might repeat words or phrases over and over, or give unrelated answers to questions. They might show flat or inappropriate facial expressions, and may not understand jokes, sarcasm, or teasing.

People with ASD might also exhibit obsessive interests, an insistence on sameness, resistance to change and repetitive motor behaviors such as hand flapping or body rocking. Many individuals with autism spectrum disorder might also have significant cognitive impairments, although some have typical or even above average IQs.

These, of course, are just a few examples; a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder may depend on many other factors, as there is a wide degree of variation in the way it affects people.

Causes Of and Treatment For ASD

Although there is no known single cause for autism spectrum disorder, it appears to have its roots in very early brain development. Scientists are unsure what, if any, environmental triggers may be involved in autism, however the best available science points to important genetic components.

We do know that the most obvious signs and symptoms of autism tend to emerge between 2 and 3 years of age. Furthermore, studies suggest that autism is four times more likely to affect boys than girls, and is found in all racial, ethnic, and social groups.

There is no known cure for autism, but early intervention with proven behavioral therapies can improve outcomes.

Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention, or EIBI, is a method of therapy based on the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), and has been shown to be effective in remediating the intellectual, linguistic, and adaptive challenges associated with autism.

Perspectives Corporation's Autism Center of Excellence offers both home-based and center-based EIBI services in Rhode Island, utilizing an ABA methodology which is designed and implemented by highly skilled, and experienced Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs).

Presently, no other form of intervention offers comparable evidence of effectiveness.

To enroll your child in Perspectives Corporation’s EIBI services, your application must be submitted to, and approved by, CEDARR (Comprehensive Evaluation Diagnosis Assessment Referral Re-evaluation) family center services, which is part of the Department of Human Services.

For more information on Perspectives' EIBI services, or to find a CEDARR Center near you, please visit www.perspectivescorporation.com/autism.

For more information on Autism Spectrum Disorder, a wealth of resources are available online. Autism Speaks, a leading autism science and advocacy organization, is a great place to start.