Autism

Today, I add a new tag to my wordpress collection.

Yesterday, Jareth’s psychiatrist, the jazz-playing Michael McDonough, verified that Jareth is autistic.

This was not a snap decision. Jareth has been in observation for over a year now. Almost every week, I’ve taken half a day off work to bring him to sessions at Enable Ireland. the Monaghan branch is very very friendly.

Some of the signs of his autism:

  • He will be four next month. He has not spoken a single sentence yet.
  • He expresses excitement by jumping up and down and flapping his hands
  • He has extraordinary sequencing ability – can write numbers from 0 to whatever, and letters from a to z. Also the reverse – z to a, whatever to 0.
  • His drawing ability is more complex than one would expect of a three year old.

There are more symptoms (see here for the more common characteristics), but they are not as visually obvious.

So why am I putting this in my blog? Surely one non-technical post this month is more than enough?

Well, if you are reading this blog, you are probably a technical person. And you probably exhibit those same characteristics. Are you very good in some areas (programming, for example) and other people think you are anti-social (even if you don’t think so yourself)? Do you fidget?

The reason I say all this is that I see myself in Jareth. As a child, I was always alone, I was nicknamed “Einstein II” because I had a great ability in maths and general knowledge (the maths ability stagnated as I got bored with school), I still fidget (rocking, finger tapping), people say I am antisocial and arrogant and even sometimes obnoxious although I really don’t see it at the time and am always surprised when someone says it.

Autism is about 80% genetic, and there is a 4.3:1 ratio of male to female incidence. this means that if Jareth’s autism is hereditary, then he most likely got it from me than from Bronwyn.

There is a plus side, though – I grew out of most of the symptoms, and I think he will as well.

Also, his abilities are perfect for the 21st century – his interests lie in areas that are perfect for engineering, programming, or other technical careers. I think he’ll go far.

Autism is not a bad thing. It is just another way of approaching life. There is no cure, but autistics say that they don’t want to be “cured” anyway.

My son enjoys his life, even if communication is frustrating, and I would not have him any other way.

5 Comments.

  1. I thought that neuroscientists had kind of established a link between high intelligence and autism before?

  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intelligence_tests_and_autism

    IQ and autism are not always obviously linked. In a lot of cases, high-IQ people have not been tested for autism, as they do not appear to need it. This would appear to artificially force the average IQ of autistics downwards, though, not upwards.

    My guess is that some people with high IQs have autism but they have not been tested. I have a 147 IQ (99.91th percentile, tested by Mensa), and I do not know if I have autism (I doubt it), but I exhibited a lot of the more obvious symptoms as a child (and some, I still do).

    http://home.att.net/~ascaris1/genius.html

    Some geniuses are thought to have been autistic – Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Socrates. And in fact, if you were asked to make a list of geniuses you had heard of, those would probably be on your list. There are others – Mozart, Beethoven, Van Gogh, Andy Warhol.

    You know – you could be on to something – can you think of a genius that has not exhibited autistic symptoms? It seems to me that genius and madness do go hand in hand.

  3. 80% genetic? I’ve never read that before. Is that a fact, or a guess?

  4. Anne: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/press/prautismgene.cfm “at least 80 percent of the disorder is due to hereditary factors” (ie, genetic)

  5. There have been studies done that suggest that if the brain is slightly more intelligent, other parts of it suffer, such as those that govern behaviour.

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