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Autistic Spectrum Disorder By: Nicholas W. Solterra

Autistic Spectrum Disorder is one of the most widespread disorders in the world; having a diagnosis rate of almost 1 in every 50 children in North America alone. I have always had my eyes and ears towards the studies on this disorder, as I have both a professional and personal connection to it. I have the great fortune to live in a country with one of the most dedicated Autism research centers. One of these is The University of British Columbia, with its program CIRCA, researches the psychiatric and psychological traits and aspects of Autism on both sides of the spectrum. I was born with severe High Functioning Autism, having compulsions for almost every subject of histories, sciences and literature.

This disorder is caused by hindered development of the brain, whether by the overproduction of white matter over grey matter or a birth defect caused by medications or pollutants during fetal development.

ASD, though treated by some as such, is not a learning disability (LD) by default. It is a disorder which generates a particularly different way of viewing the world. The baseline symptoms of autism are low or non-existent social skills, obsessive compulsive tendencies, as well as stubborn demeanor.
There are two different sides to the Autistic Spectrum; Autistic Savantism and Aspergers.

Autistic Savantism, given its ridicule and unbelievable effects, used to be considered “Idiot Savantism” or just considered a mental handicap. This form of autism was soon discovered to have profound mental aptitude effects. One such popular case was done on an 8 year old boy who, having never seen a piano before, or been provided with musical sheet to refer to, played several symphony pieces.
Autistic Savantism had been given public awareness with the help of the movie “Rain Man” starring Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman. This movie accurately portrayed the average symptoms and effects of savantism.
Autistic Savants commonly have the following ticks/signs.
-Obsessive compulsive (OCD), is unable or unwilling to adapt routines, may become aggravated or terrified if forced to.
-Has a particular ability/talent which supersedes any peak intellectual comparison. In simple terms, this means they can perform the specialty far beyond the capabilities of any other human being.
-Their speech and social skills may be low; they may be mute or unwilling to speak to anyone apart from a life-long mediator or guardian.

High functioning Autistic or Aspergers, is more balanced along a broad area of talents. Children/Adults with Aspergers may have extremely strong artistic, math, writing or memory skills. The most common strength is memory, where a child with Aspergers will be able to take an event and superimpose it in their mind, almost to unbelievable detail. Unfortunately the level of aptitude is difficult to test, so the talent remains theoretical. Autistic individuals in this area of the spectrum tend to have the capability to develop average social skills.
Common symptoms of Aspergers are:
-Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), may be unwilling to change routines, but may do so if presented with options, not just given a single option of change.
-Has particular fields of interest which they show aptitude in.
-Their speech and social skills may begin as non-existent or low, but can improve to average levels with age and early developmental support.
-May later in life be comparable to a genius, may in fact be such even early in life.
-May act literally to requests/commands, data and interactions may need to be clarified and processed in a literal manner.

Several genius/intellectual individuals have been proven and/or theorized to have had Aspergers in some form or another.
-Albert Einstein (ASD suggested by medical studies to his preserved brain.)
-Steven Hawkings (ASD suggested)
-Sheldon Cooper from the Big Bang Theory (ASD exhibited)

Final Note: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) may not be diagnosed in all cases of ASD. They are symptoms or co-disorders.
Further information can be found at the CIRCA program website of the University of British Columbia.


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