The autism ignorance thread. Tell me a little about it.

I know I could go to Wikipedia or something and just read about it, and I probably will, but I’d like to have a discussion, too.

There’s a guy in a class I’m taking who seems perfectly normal in every outward way. He looks normal, sounds normal. The first day of class when we were all introducing ourselves he introduced himself as “Harrison - like Harrison Ford” smiled, and got a laugh. Then a few days later we’re going around taking turns reading something and when the professor got to him he said, very matter of factly, “I have a form of autism and don’t read outloud.” I’m guessing this guy is ~30 and have no reason to believe he was joking.

So what might be a description of his condition? It baffled me that he could talk in front of the class seemingly without issue, but couldn’t read in front of the class. It’s a fairly technical lab science course so I highly doubt he is learning disabled and/or can’t read.

That’s not a lot to go on, but he may just be using Autism as an excuse not to do something he’s uncomfortable with.

Even high functioning autistics, show signs that they have it.

It’s certainly possible he is just using that as an excuse - if he really did have a disability, I would expect this would have been documented with teh school and discussed with the prof prior to the class.
But if he really does have an austism spectrum disorder, he might have Asperger’s syndrome (the “high functioning” form of autism). Having Asperger’s is consistent with being capable of understanding complex technical info (a lot of people suspect Bill Gates may have Asperger’s syndrome).
It’s also possible that, at his age, he has learned to compensate for his condition well enough that it isn’t obvious to a casual observer. For example, while autistic people tend to lack a sense of humor (as part of their overall social impairment), he may have simply learned through observation over the years that people like it when he makes that joke about his name.

But you know, since a lot of nerdy/socially awkward people like to self-diagnose themselves with Asperger’s based on info they found online, even if he had mentioned that diagnosis I would have to say it should be taken with a grain of salt.

Maybe he just pronounces “dyslexia” funny?

Autism is spectrum disorder, well first lets get into PDD.
PDD (pervasive developmental disorder) it falls into I think 5 categories.
Classic/true/childhood autism
Asperger’s syndrome
Childhood disintegrative disorder
Rett’s disease
PDD NOS or pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified
Sometimes people with Asperger’s will say they are autistic, which some people will say is okay. Others think they lesson the impact so called true autistic people suffer from by making it seem like a social issue only. But it falls into PDD category.

Childhood disintergrative disorder is very rare and usually causes regression after the age of 3 and the symptoms mimic classic autism.

Retts only effected girls and also mimics classic autism. It was recently found the gene causing the disorder with lab mice being “cured” There has been a debate to move this outta PDD since it is like Down Syndrome unrelated to PDD.

PDD/NOS is the most commonly applied term, this is used when the child doesn’t fit all the criteria for classic autism/childhood autism but the scales very form low functioning to high functioning.
Classic/true/childhood autism here the child has less hope for ever speaking, or being main streamed into society as whole than PDD/NOS and most certainly Aspergers who almost always function fine.

Thanks for all the responses. I guess we’ll never know about this specific case because I’m sure not going to poke my head in his business and ask him, but it’s an interesting discussion in general terms.

The way I understand it works at my school is that you fill out a sheet for each class, which is usually attached to the syllabus, and it’s optional.

Agreed with what’s been said so far… it’s entirely possible that he has a fairly mild Asperger’s.

We have a tendency to immediately think of Rain Man as a depiction of “typical” autism, but in reality, there’s a very wide range within the spectrum.

A friend of mine is an Aspie - at first glance, he looks and acts normal enough, especially since he doesn’t suffer from any of the physical tics that can accompany autism. It’ll usually take a few minutes, but if you talk to him long enough it becomes apparent that he’s pretty much a textbook case in every other way (singleminded focus on specific interests at the exclusion of all else, difficulty with non-verbal cues, abrupt conversational style, inflexibility when presented with changes to routine or planned events, difficulty with unfamiliar social settings).

I have several “disabilities” that I don’t feel the desire to share with other people unless/until it becomes relevant. At no point during my college career did I tell anyone that I have severe dyslexia, as it never became relevant. Perhaps this guy figured that at the college level he would not have to ever read out loud – seriously, that’s pretty asinine – and so assumed he had no need to tell anyone of his aversion to reading out loud.

If the guy is serious about having autism, my guess would be AS – in some people, it is almost completely undetectable unless/until they tell you. While many people never learn to hide their disabilities from others, some of us do very, very well. I would say, if the guy were as open as that in class, he probably wouldn’t mind too badly if you just said “hey, I don’t know a lot about autism, do you mind sharing why it prevents you from reading out loud?” Of course, then again, he could just be a nutbag who pulls out a gun and blows your head off for second-guessing him.

My brother is pretty high-functioning autistic, and he doesn’t like reading aloud. He worries a lot about getting the correct pronunciation and inflection and cadence of everything, so he winds up clearing his throat and talking too quietly and starting over several times. It’s pretty annoying, to be honest. I could see just not doing it if you knew you had a habit like that. It would save a lot of time and irritation on everyone else’s part, and cut down on embarrassment.

But you can also tell immediately that he’s autistic, so I don’t know.

Well, not necessarily on casual observation such as one might have seen in the early days of a new class. My kid (14 years old) has high functioning autism and a casual observer might not notice anything more than that he likes to bounce around or has odd topics of conversation.

I can’t comment on the veracity of the classmate’s claim, obviously. Certainly it’s entirely possible the fellow is very high functioning / Asperger’s and just can’t deal with the social anxiety of speaking (or reading) in front of a group of people.

The social lack of awareness - coupled with being high-functioning enough to recognize one’s lack of social skills - might well lead to severe shyness or performance anxiety. Not sure that made sense but a counterexample: my nephew is not high-functioning. He’s verbal, but is completely in his own world and the hell with what anyone else cares about or thinks of him. If he were in a room and someone asked him to read (and for whatever reason, he thought that was a dandy idea and it didn’t stress him out), he’d read until your ears dropped off without any shyness whatsoever. If he were asked to read and it did stress him out, he’d likely melt down - whereas your high-functioning classmate was able to explain his difficulties calmly.

I’m really glad you started this thread, Cisco. I was wondering about this as well today, thinking about the brother of a girl I know. She says he’s autistic, but everything I’ve seen about him seems “normal”, as does his behavior she describes. If anything, he sounds more ADHD, but I am so not a doctor. She says he’s been diagnosed as autistic, so I will believe her, but it still left me wondering about autism.

I’ve been hearing a lot of talk lately, even on these boards, that autism is grossly overdiagnosed (just like AD[H]D was in the 80s and 90s and probably still is), but I don’t know enough about it to have an opinion at this point. I have ran across people who seem to find Asperger’s an almost desirable quality, especially since Bill Gates is believed by many to have it.

http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/autism/detail_autism.htm
http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/asperger/detail_asperger.htm

Here are some decent links to give a basic understanding. There are other links for anyone who really wants to learn about and understand what autism is.

I’ve had many discussions with my 13 year old daughter about whether or not share her diagnosis of Asperger’s with others. It’s hard, because I don’t want to teach her to be ashamed (she struggles enough). However, I have also let her know that some people might judge her unfairly, and may think (and treat her like) she is not being honest, she has self-diagnosed and isn’t “really” autistic, or that she is using her autism as “an excuse not to do something [she’s] uncomfortable with”.

You might also get more informative responses by posting in the “General Questions” forum.

Aspergers has a very large contingent of people who think “Aspies” are not a bad thing, and they would not want to be “cured”. They think treatment is for corrected a problem and do not think they have a problem. That’s fine but it muddies the water when you see someone low functioning classic or NOS and that is “autism” and they stim much more, 50% classic are nonverbal, in there own world, a slew of sensory, social, physical and emotional problems. For them treatment is an issue, they need it to function in society, it is not a evolutionary step* it is a hindrance to there well being.

And then you look at Aspergers they can usually communicate and a lot of there problems (or lack of a problem in some of there own opinions), is a singular focus and social skills with some OCD or other traits. Yes I am one of the people that want to differentiate between the two. They may be close on the diagnosis scale but the two issues are completely different in the real world.

*Some Aspies consider the trait a benefit for a technological society, the evolution of mankind.

Well with the lumping of all PDD into the 1 in 150 they are not over diagnosing they are adding people that at one time would be considered the quiet kid, the nerd. Eventually I see that changing because the two require a whole different amount and types of therapy. They would still be diagnosed Aspergers but it would not be considered part of the “autism” class of disorders. If they start using a variation of a PDD assessment test I do see that changing as children diagnosed NOS or classic range in the moderate to severe* and those diagnosed aspergers a lot of times get no, or mild PDD range.

They shouldn’t be diagnosed as one and the same. Asperger’s syndrome, Childhood disintegrative disorder and Rett’s disease should have its on “name” and autism and NOS should have its own. Not because I don’t think they’re all serious problems, but because they all require a different playbook.
*That includes those of us lucky enough to mainstream a classic or NOS diagnosed child, they still usually score moderate to severe on the tests.

Yeah, I probably should have re-worded my earlier statement to. “Even high functioning autistics, show signs that may not seem quite normal.”
It sounds like my 16 year old is at about the same level as your son.