Posts

the history of autism

The History of Autism

Over the last 10 years the word autism has become a very well-known term. With the rates of autism steadily on the rise, most people are now at least somewhat familiar with it. But many people probably don’t know when autism officially become a recognized disorder, and how it evolved into what we know today? Below is a time-line of the history of autism.

  • Early 1900’s – The term “autism” was first used by Swiss psychiatric Eugen Bleuler to describe athe history of autism certain a sub-set of patients with schizophrenia who were severely withdrawn.
  • 1940’s – Researchers in the United States began using the term autism to describe children with emotional and/or social issues.
    • Leo Kanner – A psychiatrist from Johns Hopkin’s University studied 11 children with normal to above average IQ’s who had challenges with social skills, adapting to changes in routine, sound sensitivities, echolalia, and had difficulties engaging in spontaneous activity.
    • Hans Asperger – Also studied a group of children who were similar to the children Kanner studied except the children did not present with any language problems.
  • 1950’s – Bruno Bettelheim, a child psychologist coined the term “refrigerator mothers.” These mothers were described as mothers who were cold and unloving to their children. He claimed children of cold and unloving mothers were more likely to develop autism. This has since been disproven as a cause of autism due the total lack of evidence supporting such a claim.
  • 1960’s1970’s – Researchers began to separate autism from schizophrenia and began focusing their attention more on understanding autism in children. Autism also started to be considered a biological disorder of brain development. During this time, treatments for autism included various medications, electric shock, and behavioral modifications, most of which focused on punishment procedures to reduce unwanted behaviors.
  • 1980’s 1990’s – Early in the 80’s the DSM-III distinguishes autism as a disorder separating it from schizophrenia. During this time, behavioral modification became more popular as a treatment for autism. The way behavior modification was delivered began to rely more on reinforcement instead of punishment to increase desired behaviors. In 1994 the DSM-IV expands the definition of autism to include Asperger Syndrome.
  • 2000’s – present day – Rates of autism begin to rise and various campaigns have been launched to increase the awareness of autism. The prevalence of autism has increased from 1 in 150 in the year 2000, to 1 in 68 in 2014. Children are now able to be reliably diagnosed as young as 2 years of age. Due to years of research, the effectiveness of different intervention used to treat autism is better understood. Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is currently considered to be the “gold standard” treatment for individuals with autism.


What to Expect When You Suspect Autism Download our free, 17-Page eBook

Autism Services Near You

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

Sources:

 

DSM-5 Changes in Autism

With publication of the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) in May 2013, DSM-V Changeschanges to diagnostic labels, symptom criteria, and specifiers of Autism have been put into action.  Perhaps the most obvious change is the exclusion of Asperger’s Disorder in the latest manual.  Not to say the syndrome no longer exists, rather the nosology has been altered.  Asperger’s is now subsumed under the broad diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder.  Apparently, the “spectrum” is now greater than ever, but thanks to a variety of specifiers, the child’s strengths and weaknesses can be easily communicated.

Other Changes to the DSM-5:

  • The creation of a single category for communication and social interaction symptoms.  The focus is less on the actual language impairment, per se, but more on the qualitative social aspect of impairment.
  • Diagnosis now requires at least two restricted and repetitive behaviors, with the old manual requiring only one.
  • Criteria have been clarified to reflect the variations in behaviors, interests, and sensory experiences.

What this means for rates of diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder in the future remains to be seen.  Criticism has abounded, with some predicting inflation in diagnosis while others fear the many costs associated with potential under-diagnosis.  Nonetheless, it is important to realize that with the changing in terminology, treatment of Autism has remained stable and continues to be evidence-driven.

For more on Autism read When to Screen Children for Autism and Other Pervasive Developmental Disorders and Potty Training and Autism: The Complete Guide.  To learn more about the Chicago Autism Clinic, click below or call us at 877-486-4140.


Identification of Asperger’s Syndrome in Preschool

Asperger’s Syndrome is characterized as a condition in which a child exhibits qualitative impairment in social interaction with lonely childaccompanying restrictive repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interest and activities (American Psychiatric Association, 2005). These children demonstrate significant concerns with their ability to interact with peers and engage in age-appropriate play. These children are often high-functioning and are often described as being ‘precocious’ when they are younger. Many parents and teachers are first able to identify Asperger’s Syndrome when the child is in preschool.

Preschool is the time when many children have to attend a structured and lengthy environment in which they are forced to interact with other peers on a regular basis.

Below are steps that we often see parents go through when there may be concerns in relation to a child’s social functioning:

  1. It is recommended that there be constant and open communication between parents and preschool teachers. It is imperative that teachers notify parents on an immediate basis when they suspect that a child may be struggling with their social interactions. Teachers should be wary of children who are playing by themselves and/or do not seem to be interested in interacting with peers. Teachers should not sugarcoat their concerns or wait for behaviors to get better. Document the information and learn the facts.
  2. Parents must not be offended when a teacher brings up a concern. The teacher has a concern for the child and only wants to ensure that the child is able to perform to his or her potential within the school and in a social setting.
  3. After a parent receives the information, it is strongly recommended that they discuss the information with the pediatrician. The pediatrician will likely be able to work through the concerns and help to identify what avenues may be needed. Many times, the pediatrician will want further information and may refer to the parents and the child to a neuropsychologist for complete a comprehensive evaluation.
  4. The purpose of the evaluation is to help identify if the child meets clinical criteria for a diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome as well as help to determine what interventions would be warranted.
  5. There may be some form of intervention created in which focuses on improving the child’s social regulation. This may consist of some combination of behavioral therapy, social work, speech/language therapy and occupational therapy. It is strongly recommended that the various therapists be in contact with the child’s preschool teacher in order to ensure that the child can receive accommodations within the school setting in order to help address his or her social needs.

Preschool serves as a time when many children attend structured environments in which they are required to engage in social interactions with other children on a regular basis. This time frame is often the first time when a child may exhibit significant social concerns. As such, it is imperative that parents take any concerns that are brought up by the preschool teacher and help to identify what is needed to ensure that the child is able to find social success.




LOVE WHAT YOU READ? CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO OUR BLOGS VIA EMAIL!

Does Hand Flapping Mean Autism?

With today’s easy access to the Internet, it is common for many of us to try and diagnose our own symptoms and ailments; however,girl stimming even if your symptoms come to a match, it does not necessarily mean that you have that particular diagnosis that shows up on your computer. The same can be said with children. If you notice what might be a ‘red flag’ in your child, it does not automatically imply that your child has something ‘wrong’ with him/her. One such ‘red flag’ that many parents get overly worried by is the action of hand flapping. It should be noted that hand flapping can occur for many different reasons, and not only in children with Autism.

Hand flapping can occur due to:

  • Excitement
  • Nervousness/Anxiety
  • Fidgeting
  • High engine level/Arousal level
  • Habitual behavior
  • Decreased body awareness (child does not even know he is doing it)

Overall, it is important to keep in mind that every child is unique and reacts to various situations in a different manner as well as with different mannerisms.  Be sure to reach out to your child’s teachers and therapists if you notice that your child using hand flapping behaviors, so that you may all be on the same page in relation to treating this behavior. It is important to monitor when the hand flapping occurs in order to look for trends. If hand flapping does occur with other “red-flag” behaviors, talk to your pediatrician or a Pediatric Therapist.  

What to Expect When You Suspect Autism Download our free, 17-Page eBook

Stay tuned for my next blog on strategies to replace hand flapping behaviors.

LOVE WHAT YOU READ? CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO OUR BLOGS VIA EMAIL!

Differential Diagnosis: Autism versus Aspergers

Autism and Asperger’s Disorder are diagnoses which both present with a hallmark feature of social impairment. There are several differences between Asperger's Childthe two diagnoses which help classify the two disorders.

Autism Diagnosis:

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revised (DSM-IV-TR), which is the diagnostic guidebook published by the American Psychiatric Association, indicates that there are three domains of diagnostic criteria for a diagnosis of Autism. Impairment with social relationships is the first domain which includes impaired nonverbal communication (poor eye contact and lack of gestures), poor peer relationships (lack of social interest when young to one-sided social interactions when older), poor joint attention (lack of pointing to show interest, not bringing items to show parents), and a lack of emotional reciprocity (failure of the child to notice parents and peers emotions). The second area is impairment in language which includes: language delay (not speaking at a year, or not speaking in sentences at two years), inability to carry on a give-and-take conversation, perseverative and repetitive language (repeating lines from television shows or the same thing over and over), and absent or delayed pretend play. The final area of Autism is repetitive behaviors which include: preoccupations or over-interest with favorite objects or topics that are unusual for the child’s age, routines and rituals that cause distress if interrupted, stereotypical movements (rocking, hand flapping, spinning), and interest in parts of objects (playing with only the wheels on a car). According to the DSM-IV, the main differential between the diagnoses of Autism (as described above) versus Asperger’s Disorder is that children with a diagnosis of Aspergers do not evidence impairment in language.

Asperger’s Diagnosis:

Neuropsychological studies have documented that children with Asperger’s Disorder often exhibit relative strength with regard to their verbal skills with deficits in their visual spatial and visual motor ability. Whereas children with Autism will often exhibit the opposite profile; strength with visual spatial and visual motor ability and weakness with verbal skills (Wolf, Fein, Akshoomoff, 2007).

Overall, the diagnoses of Autism and Asperger’s Disorder are quite similar in that they both feature impairment with social relationships and repetitive behaviors. The main exception between the two diagnoses is that children with Asperger’s do not exhibit the concern with language functioning.

If you believe your child would benefit from an evaluation from an expert, please click here.

LOVE WHAT YOU READ?  CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO OUR BLOGS VIA EMAIL!

What is the Difference Between Aspergers and Autism? | Pediatric Therapy Tv

In today’s Webisode, a pediatric neuropsychologist explains the difference between Aspergers and Autism.

In this video you will learn:

  • What are common symptoms of Aspergers and Autism
  • The main difference between Aspergers and Autism
  • What group Aspergers and Autism belong to

Video Transcription:

Announcer: From Chicago’s leading experts in pediatrics to a worldwide
audience, this is Pediatric Therapy TV, where we provide experience and
innovation to maximize your child’s potential. Now your host, here’s Robyn.

Robyn: Hello and welcome to Pediatric Therapy TV. I’m your host, Robyn
Ackerman.

Today I’m standing here with Dr. Greg Stasi, a pediatric
neuropsychologist. Greg, can you explain to our viewers what the
difference is between Aspergers and autism?

Greg: Sure. Aspergers and autism are both considered to be along the autism
spectrum. These are disorders with significant impairment in a
child’s social functioning, rigidity, and issues with
preoccupation or fixation on certain objects.

The main differential in a diagnostic formulation between autism
and Aspergers is that with Aspergers we have a child who has
normal language development, whereas in autism we have a child
who has significant impairments in their language development.

Robyn: Thank you so much for that explanation, and thank you to our
viewers for watching. And remember, keep on blossoming.

Announcer: This has been Pediatric Therapy TV, where we bring peace of
mind to your family with the best in educational programming. To
subscribe to our broadcast, read our blogs, or learn more, visit
our website at LearnMore.me. That’s LearnMore.me.

Neuropsychology Posts

What is a Neuropsychologist?

Pediatric neuropsychologists are clinical psychologists who have extensive training in neurodevelopmental conditions.  We focus on learning disabled boythe assessment and diagnosis of such conditions and strive to develop the most effective interventions for a child within both home and school environments.

What types of testing do Neuropsychologists perform?

We conduct very extensive testing.  The focus of the testing is specific and is based upon concerns that parents have presented to us.  We evaluate children for a host of neurodevelopmental conditions, including Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Learning Disorders, Autism, Social/Emotional concerns, response to medication, medical issues, etc.

Testing involves the collection of information from a variety of sources, including the parents, teachers, outside therapists, pediatrician/psychiatrist/neurologist as well as quantitative testing, in which the child would participate in a full day evaluation.  The reason why this information is gathered from so many sources is to ensure that the data we receive is consistent throughout all areas of the child’s life. It will also help to identify where the child may be struggling the most.

What happens after a Neuropsychologist performs the testing?

Once the testing is complete, the neuropsychologist will spend time integrating all the information and determine which specific areas of strength and weakness are identified.  With this information, we are able to help work with the family, outside therapists and academic team in order to create the most appropriate accommodations and interventions possible.

It is vital to realize that the neuropsychological evaluation should be an on-going phenomena.  We often request that the children return for brief follow-up evaluations every three to six months in order to track progress from therapy and help to identify whether or not there are changes to be made with the current accommodations and interventions.

Click here to find out how a Neuropsychologist can help your family or to schedule a consultation.

Love What You Read?  Click Here To Subscribe To Our Blogs Via Email!