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Left Hemisphere, Right Hemisphere & The “Mechanics” Of Autism “Fruit Salads”

Autism and Aspergers Hemishpere Image

When looking at autism “fruit salads” and function of both brain hemispheres it is interesting look at the difficulties in each area.

Looking at Donna Williams’ work on the subject of the differences between “Aspie” and “Autie” fruit salads was to do with hemisphere dominance and neglect a trade off between on or the other with “Aspinauts” being the “grey area” of in-between.

On a personal note I always thought she was on to something and looking at this simple table backs it up, consultancy observations, personal experiences and tireless effort to give people a better understanding of both DISablity and disABILITY with autism.

http://brain.web-us.com/brain/LRBrain.html

Left Right Brain Functions Aspergers Autism Image 2018

Right Hemishpere (Asperger’s) “Fruit Salad”

Extralinguistic Deficits

Again, RHD patients are unlikely to display the kinds of phonological, syntactic or semantic problems associated with aphasia. However, although they do not typically have many specific language problems, they definitely have difficulty communicating. This impairment seems to follow from an inability to integrate information; RHD patients apparently do not make adequate use of context in their interpretations of linguistic or nonlinguistic messages. They have difficulty distinguishing significant from unimportant information. For example a patient of mine when asked to describe the “Cookie Theft” picture card from the Boston focused on irrelevant features without describing the overall picture. Some aphasics with typical left hemisphere lesions present with executive function disturbance similar to right hemisphere syndrome.

Literal Interpretations

RHD patients may be able to comprehend only the literal meaning of language. Thus, they will often fail to understand many jokes, metaphors, irony, sarcasm, and common sayings that include figurative language. For example, if an RHD patient hears someone say that they are about to “hit the ceiling,” he might assume that the person is really about to begin striking the ceiling. Such a patient may also have trouble understanding indirect requests. For example, if he is asked if he “could open the window,” he may fail to identify this as a polite request and simply answer “yes” rather than opening the window.

These problems with figurative language may be viewed as one manifestation of the inability to base interpretations on context.

Difficulty identifying relevant information

When listening to a conversation or reading, an RHD patient may fail to abstract the main point contained in the information being shared. This happens in spite of the fact that, unlike an aphasic, the patient can understand all the individual words and grammatical structures used. For RHD patients, it appears that their comprehension of everyday language is impaired by a failure to distinguish important information from irrelevant detail and also by an inability to integrate According to Blake 2007, RH patients have difficulty comprehending non-literal language, humor, and multiple interpretations Furthermore, Blake says that their difficulty with language production includes: impulsivity, inefficiency, and egocentricity. She also says that the same problems are seen in traumatic brain injury.

Inability to interpret body language and facial expressions

In a conversation, RHD may miss out on important cues that should tell them about the emotional state and true intention of the person with whom they are interacting. This inability to interpret body language and facial expression may be related to an overall failure to use context in the interpretation of individual pieces of information. Problems with the interpretation of facial expression may also be due to the fact that RHD patients often fail to maintain eye contact with their conversation partners.

Flat affect

RHD patients may fail to display a wide range of facial expressions themselves. Also their speech is frequently aprosodic, or lacking variations in pitch and stress. Some patients will sound “robot-like,” and thus be unable to express emotion or changes in meaning via changes in intonation. These patients will no longer be able to vary pitch to signal the difference between a question and a statement or use word stress changes within a sentence to signal a difference in meaning.

Problems with Conversational Rules

RHD patients may fail to follow conversational rules, including those governing turn-taking, the initiation and closure of a conversation. RHD patients may tend to dominate conversations, as they are frequently verbose. They may also fail to properly estimate levels of shared knowledge, failing to give the listener enough background information to understand their statements. According to Myers and Mackisack (1990), RHD patients appear to not care about the needs of the listener. They, like children in an early developmental phase, may assume too much knowledge on the part of the listener; or not enough. They appear to answer without adequate search for the right answer. They also may fail to pick up on non verbal cues that signal listener’s reactions.

Impulsivity

RHD patients may exhibit poor judgment and problem solving abilities. They may require constant supervision due to a tendency to attempt tasks of which they are no longer physically capable. This may be related to anosognosia. They may also exhibit impulsivity in the sense of failing to censor the statements they make to other people.

Confabulation

RHD patients may make untrue statements. These do not usually seem to be deliberate lies. According to Brownwell et al. (1995), this may be the patient’s way of responding to his own confusion rather than attempts to mislead the listener

The Neuroscience on the Web Series:
CMSD 636 Neuropathologies of Language and Cognition

CSU, Chico, Patrick McCaffrey, Ph.D.

There tends to be a lower level of visual-verbal processing difficulties in this profile, social emotional agnosia, alexithymia, issues around a shared “sense” of social, self and other. Internal mentalising (to gain meaning)  would make sense.

 

Left Hemisphere (Autism)  “Fruit Salad”
  • Sensory disturbances, weakness or paralysis on the right side of the body. Read more.
  • Impaired vision on the right hand side of both eyes. (hemianopia)
  • Speech and language problems (aphasia).
  • Difficulties in recognizing objects (agnosia).
  • Problems with daily activities, routines that used to go well (apraxia).
  • Reduced memory for verbal (spoken) matters.
  • Decrease in analytical skills.
  • Problems with chronology (in order of time, cause and effect)
  • Reduced timing and speed of skills
  • Confusing left and right
  • Difficulty in dealing with numbers, understand numbers and dealing with money
  • Become slow
  • Exhibit insecure, anxious and withdrawn behavior
  • Risk of depression
  • Chance of changing moods, easily overwhelmed by emotions

© 2014 – 2018 Braininjury-explanation.com Foundation

There seems to be a higher level of visual-verbal processing difficulties, language processing disorder, sensory perctupaul agnosias, problem with a sense of “self” and other.  External mentalising (to gain meaning) would make sense.

Paul Isaacs 2018

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Inspiration Matters – Interview May 2018

Paul Isaacs Image

Be yourself, don’t define yourself by your autism” – A self-assured life of an inspirational speaker, trainer and author on the autism spectrum – Paul Isaacs

“Awareness is the greatest agent for change.” – Eckhart Tolle. Paul was diagnosed with high functioning Autism at the age of 24. He has set himself apart by embarking on a noble mission of spreading awareness of Autism to enable the masses to help people with Autism live fulfilling lives. Paul has written several books about Autism including “Autism: Inside Perceptions of Communication, Interaction, Thoughts & Feelings” and “Living Through the Haze Autobiographical account of my life with Autism” which was a #1 bestseller. Paul has also been active delivering speeches to a variety of audiences such as parents, people on the Autism spectrum, social workers and at events for Autism charities and organizations like The National Autistic Society.

Thank you Paul for your time. Your interview will inspire all our community. The interview with Paul Isaacs was conducted by Inspiration Matters () in May 2018. More Info

  • : You have presented speeches on various subjects related to Autism. What has been the most popular subject for your speeches and how are these speeches helping you with spreading awareness?

P: I would say that aspect of autism being a “fruit salad” by Donna Williams (Polly Samuel) which breaks autism down into “pieces” she was objective, compassionate, real and honest in her words, findings and outlook on autism and so I carry on her model which is about education, mythbusting and not being swayed by the politics and rhetoric which is found in the autism world.

  • : How and when did you decide to start writing a book? Which of your book assignments was most challenging and why?

P: I was diagnosed with autism in 2010 at the age of twenty-four I was born in 1986 and went though mainstream education. My Mum thought I was deaf and blind as appeared not to “see” or “hear” however this was to do with visual perceptual disorders and being profoundly meaning deaf. I didn’t gain functional speech between the ages of 7/8 years old.

So that was a slice of my early developmental history when I wrote my first book I thought of the title and just typed in a pre-conscious state this meant that my hands on “auto-pilot” in other words I typed finished the manuscript then read it back and learned about my life. I do find writing a challenge I feel I show more of my connected self through writing than in any other medium which I would say art is a close second.

  • : What has been the most important milestone in your life. What is the impact of this on your life?

P: I would say being bullied was an important milestone to come out of. In many ways I send thanks to the people who bullied me over the years as they gave me a framework of how not to treat other people. I see my self not as victim but as a victim of circumstance which is completely different I take a lot of positives from these experiences and try and mould them into something objective, bitterness is a horrible thing to hold onto and as human beings have varying lifespans I do not want to was my life living in the past.

  • : What is your favorite art creation and why? What is the importance of art in your life?

P: From the age of 5 I was tampering with colours smearing them on to pages. I would say my favourite artwork was done during the passing my Gramp in 2017 it really helped me to come to terms with his passing and also the art was a way of remembrance and saying goodbye to his physical form and keeping memories of him alive.

  • : What kind of changes are needed to our current education system for children with special needs? Do you see any difference in today’s school system compared to when you were a student?

P: I have made reference to the late Polly’s “Fruit Salad” and I would say using her framework would not only help people with autism but also other development disabilities, learning difficulties, mental health issues, development of identity, personality, environment and or learning styles. What ever the package mare be “autism” or not it would certainly look at the students as rounded human beings.
Of course many progressions have been made however the educational system in general is rather generic and stale in terms of how information is present to students so maybe there needs to be a massive shift in the educational system as whole.

  • : What is the biggest concern for parents of children with autism? How do you think their concern can be resolved?

P: Being listened to as a human being, their worries, concerns for the future as a term of resolve although that is a big question to ask I would say it will always boil down to the people you meet and the environment you are in. So being non-judgemental would be a start and opening up an honest dialogue.

  • : Who is your inspiration?

P: The late Polly Samuels she was a great inspiration to my autism work, speeches, training and overall philosophy, she was an empath, a natural comedienne and always made you think “what if” she challenged the “status quo” in so many areas in her life. I enjoyed our skype chats she made me laugh and I think that is special if people can do that.

  • : What is your favorite place to visit? What do you like about that place?

P: I really like Oxford and the buildings, restaurants and gardens it has is such a beautiful setting I like the colours, the textures, the smells it is so familiar yet so new at the same time.

  • : What tips/advice do you have for those in our community who want to spread awareness?

P: Be yourself, don’t define yourself by your “autism” you are more than that, do not get into the negative politics of militants in the autism world I have seen the damage that can do to people, your story and life is of equal value regardless.

  • : Any special message for our community?

P: Walk on your on path, tread in its peaks and troughs, ride its waves fierce and quite, invite people to join you share their journey’s treaded also.

Paul Isaacs 2018


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A Journey With Exposure Anxiety

Exposure Anxiety comes in 3 levels:

  • Specific: Targets only specific environments, activities and interaction with particular individuals.
  • Generalized and other-directed: Effects all areas of life which directly involves others.
  • Generalized and both self and other directed: Effects all areas of life which directly involves others but is also present when alone.

Copyright Donna Williams 1991, 2003, 2008

Image result for exposure anxiety

 

Residual “Exposure Anxiety?

If we think about exposure in a residual (non syndromic sense) those moments of embarrassment, aware of being aware, aware of your own self-awareness of the situation meant that you froze clamed up or even ran away meant that this “feeling” you wanted to escape, remove, and disappear.

 A Personal Look at Exposure Anxiety And Me

If you turned the “volume-up” on this condition you may find that it fits in the realms of being called “Exposure Anxiety” a feeling on a chronic level that falls into the three subtypes above. I would say that in my early years I had the 3rd one throughout my child and teenage hood as I grew into my twenties and was at the tail end of being employment in my mid teens I was thrust into a world of expectation from a social perspective that in many ways never let up. I never the less “kept going” and now at the age of thirty two I can say that the claws of this condition have shortened, nails smoothed and hands made smaller.

I would say it has an impact on me in specific areas so that is going from 80% to now at a more comfortable 30% and below I can show more of “myself”, be, share and talk in a more “connected manner” than I did even 10 years ago. Other things have changed to my environment, my purpose, life is but a rolling journey and that is the joy we can all celebrate and question at different stages in our lifetime.

My information processing being meaning deaf and meaning blind have changed, the tints have aided in those areas of visual perceptual challenges, and my meaning deafness is around 30% so I can keep a better track on conversation around me. My emotional processing and perception are still delayed that is a work in progress and I seek not to compare but to be the closest version of “me” I can be.

When we look at other people’s autism “fruit salads”, we begin to wonder what is the “driver” to what I am seeing? Is it sensory perceptual? Is it dietary disabilities? Is it seizure related? Is it emotional perception? Is it language processing? Etc. By looking at the person’s “systems” you are dealing into those areas of honest and humble questioning, what will you find and how will you adapt?

Common Threads Of Humanity?

Do people with autism have much more in common with those without? My answer is yes they do the only difference is the areas of that person’s “autism” that is challenging some to smaller more residual degrees others to more severe and/or profound degrees it is not the matter of it being a linear spectrum from “classic” autism to “asperger’s syndrome” but the also the palette of grey and what is specific to that person is what matters. All human beings have “system” it may be just that I have taken the time (which anybody could choose to do in my circumstance) and work out “what that is”.

Looking At People As People?

If one ignores the poison of the autism militancy which is political and unhelpful in its projection and reasoning one must look at the person and what “autism” is for them and means for them.

Paul Isaacs 2018


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Exposure Anxiety & Autism

Exposure Anxiety Image 2018

Exposure Anxiety was first written about in Nobody Nowhere in 1991 as a syndrome of involuntary and compulsive avoidance, diversion and retaliation responses.  A large section of my first text book, Autism; An Inside Out Approach in 1996, was dedicated to setting out strategies for managing, even reversing Exposure Anxiety.  In 2003 I wrote the first full book on Exposure Anxiety.

Published in 2003, Exposure Anxiety; The Invisible Cage of Involuntary Self Protection Responses, is the first ever text book by a person diagnosed with autism specifically focusing on co-morbid anxiety and impulse control disorders effecting those on the autistic spectrum.  It offers an innovative new approach to working with some of the most challenged people on the autistic spectrum.

Drawing on an ‘Indirectly-Confrontational’ approach, this 336 page book gives case studies and a wealth of strategies to reduce and progressively overcome the compulsive and involuntary avoidance, diversion and retaliation responses of Exposure Anxiety.   Exposure Anxiety is an ‘Invisible Cage’ that challenges the person to either side with it and identify self with their own compulsive self protection responses.

There’s is considerable overlap between Exposure Anxiety and conditions such as Pathological Demand Avoidance (first diagnosed in 2008), Oppositional Defiance Disorder (first in the literature around 2002), Avoidant Personality Disorder and Dependent Personality Disorder.  With this book actually written from an Inside-Out Approach, by someone who actually lived their entire life with and ultimately managed then overcame the condition, those looking for strategies for managing and reducing these conditions may find this book extremely useful.

Donna Williams

Motivational Differences Between Pathological Demand Avoidance Syndrome & Exposure Anxiety

As someone who has lived with chronic EA all my life this certainly different to PDA who may tolerate an audience (in a social context) I do not while with PDA is triggered by DEMANDs. I am triggered by EXPOSURE which is completely different in terms of motivations.

Exposure Anxiety, Personality Types & “Triggers” 

People with EA have a lack of sense of “self” this it true people with EA may see their condition as the very barrier to showing other’s themselves. I like my own company so naturally being solitary that isn’t a problem, also a lack of sense of self can be seen in people who are mercurial and fear loneliness (real or otherwise) those personality types I have.

If you wanted to want, wanted to be, wanted to co-exist but your EA was crippling you from doing so because of being noticed, awareness of existing etc, that would mean you were in a hidden battle a battle happening when nbeing triggered by the co-existense of other people, with the WANT and the  EA being in polar opposites and it being seen as ego dystonic.

ego-dystonic [e″go-dis-ton´ik] denoting aspects of a person’s thoughts, impulses, attitudes, and behavior that are felt to be repugnant, distressing, unacceptable, or inconsistent with the rest of the personality. See also ego-syntonic.

In EA you can have chronic, diversion, retaliation responses which in my case were running away, freezing, selevtive mutism (once functional speech came) and shutting down when people were expectant of response, expectant of a reaction and expectant of one’s own existence. Did that mean I would hurt the people I liked? Yes of course and then feared loss through these actions.

A message of hope would to understand EA its mechanics and to get the best out of the person and who they want to be.

Paul Isaacs 2018

 


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“Neurotypical”, Reverse-Bigotry & The Warped Lense Of Equality

 

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Not this is from personal experiences

“Neurotypical” Is Inaccurate & Misleading? 

The word Neurotypical is used to describe people who are “non-autistic” but what if we have got that all wrong? What if the barriers are being created by the assumptions of what “autism” is that then thrusting one’s own presumptions of what it is like to be “non-autistic”?  I think that there really is no such thing.

Bigotry Is Still Bigotry 

Reverse bigotry is still that bigotry and if someone is using the words “NT” or “Neurotypical” to dehumanise, belittle or bully someone then surely that very generalised assumption if wrong? How does that become validated? Is it a sense of one’s own self importance, ego, group think and conformation bias, upbringing and/or past experiences? What gives someone the right to say these things and not take social emotional impact it has on the people in question?

“Autistic Identity”

This has worryingly been created through a “narrow” bandwidth of what autism “is” and “isn’t” but also what being “non-autistic” “is” and “isn’t”. The truth is there are far more similarities between people than not so why over invest in stereotypes? Which in the long run give people  a generic tick list of “traits”?

More Voices? More Perspectives? 

If we created so many degrees of separation do we strive to lose our objectivity? Being grounded means looking at things from the angle of non-bias. I have seen too much militancy that means that some people’s experiences have been silenced because they have not fitted the status quo that means there is rhetoric and that is unhealthy. Equality is for everybody.

No one “owns” autism it is not a thing to be bought or sold, no one should be able to cherry pick what autism “should look like” because guess what? It doesn’t have a “look” and more you give it one ironically the more voices will be lost.

Paul Isaacs 2018


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Is Stereotyping & Glamorising Autism A Dangerous Path to Tread? Balance Is The Way Forward

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I think of Polly a lot and as it is coming near to a year since she has passed and autism awareness month. I think of the valuable and human lessons she taught me and other advocates who keenly listened and understood not only her perspective on the matter but her overall out look and ethos.

Paul 1995 - 1

Autistic Person? Or Person With Autism?

I think when I was born and all that was around me that I wasn’t fully aware of yet, the people, trees, the buildings, the modern world, the natural world. I think of cladding and chosen identities and when comes to defining a person by one aspect of themselves. I often wonder and worry about what that means. If we see everything as the “autism” from the moment one gets up to the moment one goes to bed what is left?

Cannot we see the other aspects the mould a person such as the environment they live in? The personality types they have? The mental health conditions? Their sense of identity? (other than being “autistic”) And their learning styles?

If we are addressing “autism” surely we should be looking at the bigger picture rather than tired and easily digested rhetoric such as “all autistic’s are logical, literal thinkers” or “all autistic’s have special interests” not taking into account the broader perspective on neurological and biological aspects, the social emotional aspects and very specific wants and needs of that person themselves and/or their families and loved ones.

An “Autistic Mind”? Or a “Human Mind? 

Last time I checked there is no such thing as a mind cannot have be clear cut as “autistic” and “non-autistic” many aspects to do with information processing can have an impact on presentation. Such as a person with social-emotional agnosia not being able to read body language, facial expression and/or tone of voice, aphasia and being able to express and/or retrieve words and apraxia with living in a body that doesn’t obey its commands of the “owner”.

Personality types in human beings regardless of autism effect the presentation of the person such as being solitary and a preference for being alone, idiosyncratic and not confirming to the cultural and social expectations and conscientious and wanting logic, linear thought and perfection to name but a few.

Balance

If we ditch the rhetoric, the cash-cows, the money makers, the politics and get to what is “real” then that is the greatest and most honest foundation of them all. True empowerment is knowing what something is and working from there not making things up to suit the make-shift package you want to “sell” to people.  I think there is nothing wrong with showing the example of just “getting on with one’s life” as the greatest one.

I am not famous, “special” or “unique” words like that scare me. It puts me on some invisible pedestal that quite rightly I don’t deserve nor want to be on. 😉

Paul Isaacs 2018


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Altered Developmental Trajectories In Autism Are Not Mutually Exclusive

Note this from a personal perspective reflecting on aspects of development

Donna Williams’ wrote a blog which I have included in mine about the connection between “autism and trauma” now these two things are not mutually exclusive. She was very much a person who thought outside of the box and did not her confine her views to rhetoric or fads making for refreshing and reflective reading.

Early Experience “Nature vs. Nurture” 

Many things part of my autism are to do with early birthing issues such as placental abruption, brain injury, c-section, circumcision due to phimosis in 1991 age 5 and ear infections which lead to grommets and adenoidectomy age 4 in 1990. Many of these factors had an impact on my developmental trajectory some of them are to do with altered states of development which then in turn create a person who nervous system reacts.

Premature 1

What “Makes Up” My Autism?

For me my autism is due to birthing complications placental abruption, prematurity hemiplegia, language processing disorder and visual perceptual disorders making up about 70% of my autism.

The 30% remaining is genetic components such as a family history of dyslexia, mood, anxiety disorders and OCD on my Mother and Father’s side.

Auto-immune disorders of various types are on my Father’s & Mother’s side. Mum had chronic childhood Ezchema, My Nan on my Father’s side had Non-Hodgekin Lymphoma and My Father Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia.

A Broader Perspective Of “Autism” 

Looking at the broader palette of what is “autism”? What if people are becoming progressively distant and/or scared of different “Roads To Rome” when it comes to the different factors that come with an “autistic package”. What if things that “look like autism” can actually be apart of what makes someone “non-autistic” and vice versa? Maybe we need stop finding the magic “bullet” for what autism “looks like” and what it is made up of and start looking a specific realities and all that is within them?

People Who Don’t Have Autism?

People who don’t have autism can have things that can be apart of person’s “autism package” to varying degrees – developmental delays, personality types, mental health, environment and learning styles can have an impact on anybody in the end.

Lets Stop Calling it ‘the autism’: Autism and Trauma – what’s the connection?

Donna Williams’ Blog

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Recent studies in reputable medical journals have linked Autism to seemingly farfetched things like being born to mothers with pre eclampsia, being born prematurely, being born to older fathers, being born to smokers, being born by cesarean, being circumcised under the age of 5.

And as an autism consultant since 1996 I would say that of over 1000 families I saw as a consultant, that a rather strikingly significant number of them claimed to notice the onset of their child’s autism in the week following the child’s first birthday party (being posed for photos, candles, cake, room full of visitors, clown etc). And then of course are the plethora of families who swear their child began developing autism anywhere from 24 hours to 3 months after heavy vaccination schedules. Could these seemingly unrelated things have anything in common? Could it even be there is a cascade effect where the child’s autism is present (subclinical) but not showing following a cesarean birth, then becomes progressively more obvious if the same child gets circumcised, has a heavy vaccination schedule and is then thrown a full on first birthday party? It may sound utterly whacky, but is it possible?

“Children can develop a kind of ̳hard-wired‘ autonomic nervous system response to trauma and its triggers due to the ongoing need to utilise the circuitry to promote adaptive defence strategies. Over time they decrease their capacity to access their social engagement system (since this has not been used successfully in great amounts), and as more and more of the world is perceived as unsafe, they come to rely on their defensive states to negotiate their environments, making social engagement very difficult.

Porges research has revealed that how our nervous system interacts with our environment depends on not just the absence of threat, but the absence of nervous system perceived threat. He has developed the term ‘neuroception‘ to describe our perception of safety not just consciously but also – and often exclusively – at a below cognitive level (Porges 1998, 2001, 2003). It is this neurological response of safety that promotes the ability to utilise our newer system and circuits, whilst conversely, the lack of safety promotes a return to using older circuits to mobilise or immobilize in the face of neurologically perceived danger.

When our nervous system detects safety our system adjusts and makes it possible to enjoy closeness without fear, and keeps us from entering defensive physiological states of mobilised hyper arousal and immobilized hypo arousal, whilst still enable the use of these circuits in safe ways.”

Chronic ear infections have been linked to PTSD so why shouldn’t Upper Respiratory Tract Disorders or gut disorders, even chronic severe constipation in children with immune and autonomic dysfunction equally result in such entrapment with pain from their bodies that some children might develop a neurological developmental response akin to PTSD?

In mild brain injury could the brain similarly interpret as trauma things like chronic sensory confusion/overload, extreme emotional dysregulation, the CNS disorientation from untreated food allergies and intolerances, the entrapment of being non verbal in a verbal world or having a body you can’t make work for you. And as one reached age 2-3 when functioning demands of the environment dramatically increase, could inability to organise one’s senses, emotions, communication, self help contribute to a trauma related cascade that progressively derails development accordingly?

What of the trauma potential to an infant of relentless torment from hyperacusis, or the whooshing sounds of Pulsatile Tinnitus, or severe Tourette’s, even relentless ear popping tics nobody can see, the repeated disorientation, unpredictability and loss of control of constant seizures?

If being born to a carer who is in the grip of post natal depression would predispose a child to not having established that initial bonding, would this leave such a child more predisposed to PTSD than one born to a healthy mother? And what of infants who fail to develop normally whose carer then goes through years of mourning the loss of the ‘normal’ child they had expected? Is this also experienced by the child in a similar way to being born to a carer with post natal depression? And what of the maternal separation of premature babies too small to be held by their mothers?

What of immune deficient or other unwell infants left in the care of hospitalswhere they experienced the absolute vulnerability of and utter foreignness of significant medicalisation in the hands of a range of strangers? With a 45% higher incidence of autism associated with circumcision before age 5, could this be traumatising for those children already genetically predisposed to trauma? Could this be extended to children handed over to doctors for heavy vaccination schedules without any later autism having anything directly to do with the vaccinations themselves?

And what of the trauma of a birthday party? We all have different personality traits. Babies too. Some of us are simply not wired for full on, in your face sociable parties when we are one year old. If our personality traits would later make us an attention seeking, self confident, adventurous party animal there’d be no foreseeable problem. But what if our nature was sensitive, solitary, vigilant, idiosyncratic…

It seems predisposition to PTSD is genetically predisposed. Would there then be children already more at risk from a progressive cascade effect of accumulated perceived traumas that would leave other children unaffected? If the children of older dads are more prone to mental illness would this include a higher predisposition to PTSD?

Ehlers Danlos Syndrome is a genetic collagen disorder with overlap with autism. Collagen is the stuff of connective tissue throughout the body, including the vascular system and the brain and is also responsible for immune regulation and brain connectivity but those with EDS also have autonomic dysfunctionassociated with sudden fluctuations in blood pressure (ie floppy veins) due to faulty collagen. These sudden fluctuations commonly get interpreted by the brain as panic attacks. So a child experiencing continual panic attacks caused by autonomic dysfunction would logically also be predisposed to developing chronic fight flight states and associated compulsive involuntary avoidance, diversion and retaliation responses.

Being born c-section leaves the child with lower levels of the calming hormone Oxytocin which is essential to having resistance to heightened threat and anxiety. We also all begin life with a reflex for crawling out of the womb. After using this infantile reflex it becomes neurologically inhibited which leaves us ready for the use of other reflex responses, each essential in the developmental process. Being born c-section leaves this infantile reflex uninhibited.

“Normal performance of primitive reflexes in newborns can be linked to a greater likelihood of having higher Apgar scores, higher birth weight, shorter hospitalization time after birth, and a better overall mental state”.

>http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Primitive_reflexes

What about if the mother experienced trauma during the pregnancy? If a mother was living in an abusive relationship would the unborn child be experiencing her own trauma as its own? Is the baby awash with stress hormones? Does the baby also feel this same level of threat that the mother is feeling?

Pre-eclampsia and other pregnancy and birth related emergencies have left mothers acutely anxious and sometimes traumatised and pre-eclampsia in particular has been recently shown to have another high association with autism . In response to this blog article I heard from a commenter who drew my attention to the recent links between Paracetamol and both pre-eclampsia and autism.
They wrote:

I would suggest that the missing link is not trauma but the use of paracetamol (acetaminophen, Tylenol). Rebordosa found that paracetamol use during pregnancy increases the risk of pre-eclampsia. Paracetamol is often used in conjunction with vaccines,ear infections and viruses. We have been circumcising for centuries but autism is a new and escalating phenomenon. So how could circumcision increase the risk of autism? What has changed about circumcision in recent times? The use of PARACETAMOL (acetaminophen, Tylenol) with the procedure to treat pain. This practice began in the mid 1990’s, with recommendations by WHO and the American Academy of Pediatrics. It has been shown that infants have significant difficulties metabolizing paracetamol in the first days of life. Paracetamol is known to have a narrow threshold of toxicity under the best of circumstances.

Three studies investigating prenatal use of paracetamolhave found adverse neurodevelopment in the offspring- ADHD and autism phenotypes in 3 year olds. It is not such a stretch to think paracetamol given directly to the infant could also have deleterious effects. This study supports the paracetamol hypothesis set forth by Bauer and Kriebel and highly warrants further investigation.

Could it be that in some cases paracetemol (acetaminophen, Tylenol) derails neurodevelopment pre-nataly which in turn leaves the child neurologically less equipped to handle acute stress and so has an early trauma response to things someone else would not, then once an acute fight-flight states becomes a chronically triggered/regenerated pattern, that becomes the default social-emotional response to such a wide range of new experiences the person is then further developmentally derailed. Paracetemol is also given to babies following circumcision and after the MMR vaccination. Parents have systematically given Tylenol to their infants for teething, for nappy rash, even for trouble sleeping.

In adults, single doses above 10 grams or 200 mg/kg of bodyweight, whichever is lower, have a reasonable likelihood of causing toxicity.[4][5] Toxicity can also occur when multiple smaller doses within 24 hours exceed these levels.[5] In rare individuals, paracetamol toxicity can result from normal use.[11] This may be due to individual (“idiosyncratic”) differences in the expression and activity of certain enzymes in one of the metabolic pathways that handle paracetamol (see paracetamol’s metabolism).

US television adverts of this drug psychologically target carers to ‘care for their child’ by quickly reaching for the Tylenol. These advertisements do then rush through the disclaimer at the end, often so quickly it is hard to process and usually completely out of sync with the reassuring tones used in advertising the product moments before.

IF trauma is found to have the most significant impact on brain development, communication development, social and emotional development presenting as ‘autism’, then what is the future? Would it also mean that autism is both born and made? Would we have to accept that a more mildly autistic child could become progressively more autistic if progressively accumulating further retraumatisation through everything from a bad fitting form of intensive intervention to bullying at primary school, to actual abuse from a carer unequipped to healthily care for a challenged child?

Do we have then develop screening for genetic predisposition to PTSD before a child is put through the same approaches and treatments as those without such predispositions? Would the strategies used to turn around chronic fight-flightstates and involuntary diversion, avoidance and retaliation responses in Exposure Anxiety become the most important first interventions?

I could suggest a protocol something like this:

Possible protocol for turning around chronic fight flight states.

a) inform the carers/diagnosticians about the presentation features of ‘autistic post traumatic developmental disorder’ and that trauma and the sources of retraumatisation can have a range of quite unconventional causes.

b) where possible identify initial traumas in each case and ensure these are addressed

c) identify additional re-traumatisation triggers that keep this being reinforced

d) put in place a treatment plan to address any underlying gut/immune/metabolic disorders and associated pain, sensory perceptual disorders and associated sensory distress, communication disorders, movement disorders, chronic information overload as socially non invasively as is possible to stop feeding chronic fight-flight responses.

e) to bring in omega 3s as a natural mood leveller and L-Glutamine where suited to raise GABA in order to facilitate lower doses of mood levelling/anti anxiety medication necessary to give respite to an overreactive nervous system.

f) to start a program designed to raise Oxyitoxin levels to tame over active anxiety responses: start music, massage, body brushing, art and movement programs, animal therapy, singing, laughter yoga, non invasive touch, to help calm the nervous system, get dissociated people feeling safe back in their bodies.

g) to counsel and support families in retaining the approaches that will progressively turn around chronic fight-flight states and thereby facilitate freed up development of more adaptive information processing, communication, and interaction.

And finally what of identification with one’s autism? What if it turns out that we do in fact ‘all have a bit of autism’ and that traumatisation (and retraumatistion) makes the difference in how much we each end up with? Do all people with autism then have ‘autistic post-traumatisation developmental disorder’? A kind of ‘Traumatism’? And would they want treatment or be happy with how they adapted?

At the end of the day, stress may break some of us, but stress also makes us. Stress trains the brain, trains the body. The trick is to build that slowly, progressively, so it isn’t experienced as trauma followed by continual perceived retraumatisation:

Donna Williams, BA Hons, Dip Ed.
Author, artist, singer-songwriter, screenwriter.
Autism consultant and public speaker.
http://www.donnawilliams.net

I acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the Traditional Owners of this country throughout Australia, and their connection to land and community.