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Autism Written on Chalkboard

What Causes Autism?

750 311 Paul Louden

IS THERE A CAUSE?

 

It looks like there are going to be multiple causes for autism. One day, when we finally say this is what causes autism, a lot of the causes are probably going to be genetic. I think people are going to say, if you and your husband or wife has certain genes, then your child is 80 percent likely to be autistic. We’re probably also going to say that if you have these nutritional problems while you’re pregnant, your child is likely to be autistic. Simple, understandable things like those.

 

We may also say that for example, it’s looking like if you live near places where lots of pesticides are used, or if you live close to farms, well, then you have a higher rate of autism. But it’s not a guarantee. We know that heavy pesticide use in an area correlates and that doesn’t necessarily mean pesticide causes autism — it just means that something related to that whole process correlates to a person having autism.

 

A CURE

 

In talking about a cure, part of a cure is prevention. If we can stop the causes from ever infecting, then you’re stopping 10 percent or 20 percent of people who would eventually be born with autism. But, keep in mind,  you have nutritional causes, bacteriological causes, and immunological causes. With these causes, you’re going to be looking at supplements, or nutrition, or interesting therapies we might have in the future. This might also include genetic therapies, or other things that I believe can probably help to cure just about anything.

 

I would say that banking on a cure in your child’s lifetime is probably a mistake. Cures are being worked on by brilliant people, but a lot of the best cures are going to be the ones that are going to be applied before the child is born.

 

VACCINATIONS?

 

The rate of autistic people in vaccinated people and the rate of autistic people in unvaccinated people is so close to being the same that there’s no statistical difference. It is possible that we know that autism does correlate to some physical conditions. Often, you hear the stories of the child who went to get vaccinated, and then they came back and they were withdrawn and they seemed autistic.

 

A lot of times the parents of these children will say that he or she was withdrawn right after the visit, and there’s not enough time for whatever is in the vaccine to even affect them in that time period. What there is time for is the shocking experience of going to a waiting room, having something shoved up your arm, bright lights, and cold medical implements.

 

If someone is on the autism spectrum or maybe mildly on the autism spectrum, this could be a traumatic experience just as a life experience that could cause them to withdraw further and cause the parents to finally notice the symptoms that they weren’t looking for before. Because after something like a vaccination, you’re watching and paying more attention to your child to see if they get a fever or if they have any of the other side effects from vaccinations. This is a time when a parent is extremely watchful and most likely to spot the symptoms of it.

 

You hear these stories, but a lot of times there’s no evidence that it was the vaccination that caused it, just that at the time of the vaccination, which also tends to be the age when autism signs start to show up. It’s just one of those things that is frightening for parents and there are a lot of parents who see these things and share stories with other parents, but the evidence on vaccinations is not there to back it up.

 

ACCEPTANCE

 

Overall, there is no cure for autism. There are no magical vaccinations. I truly believe that our time is much better spent on trying to enhance the lives of people with autism, and accept the fact that they may live a different life — rather than trying to “cure” them of their autism. People with autism are amazingly smart and successful in all avenues of life. It’s important to remember that all of us on the spectrum don’t need to be cured, we just need to be accepted for who we are and the ability we have.

Man with hands over eyes

Social Situations & Stress

549 309 Paul Louden

Falling Behind

 

When those of us on the spectrum find ourselves in a social situation where it seems everything is going wrong, we feel like we’re falling behind.

 

Once that starts to happen, it becomes very hard to resolve things and every situation becomes more stressful, especially when there’s not enough time to recover between events. It gets incrementally worse until something goes horribly wrong.

 

Maybe we’re shouting at someone or locking ourselves in a room because we don’t feel like we’re able to come out for a while. I’ve been there.

 

Learning Limits

 

A big challenge is learning limits, and I’ve gotten a good feel for where my stress level is at any given time.

 

Now I can tell people when I’m getting too tired to spend any more time with them and that I need to go home; or tell them, “I’m sorry, but I really need to ask you guys to head on out.” I have an awareness of my stress that’s taken a long time for me to develop.

 

A lot of people on the spectrum don’t really have any awareness of how stressed they are, how to recover, or how long it’s going to take to recover, so that presents a challenge for higher-functioning individuals with autism. It’s learning to recognize that self-awareness of, “What stresses me, how stressed am I, and how do I recover from it.” It is an important step in figuring out how to comfortably live.

 

Improving Social Interaction

 

It’s important that everyone involved works hard to not interpret struggles in social situations as a lack of desire or avoidance of social interaction. Sometimes, it’s just hard and it becomes very difficult. Unpredictability is something that I believe a lot of people on the spectrum struggle with, and I think that if we can all work to recognize that sometimes people just need support, social situations can become a less intimidating thing.

 

Some tips that others have offered include getting to know people better before entering larger social situations, working toward a focus on areas of interest within social situations, and lastly, understanding that social situations will be perceived differently by all people on the spectrum — not one person is the same as the next.

 

Challenges will always be apparent in social settings, but it does not always mean we’re trying to avoid them.