Tag Archives: Pervasive Developmental Disorders

MTV’s I have Autism


Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

MTV dares to impress with “I Have Autism.”  The presentation details the lives of three very inspiring young men who all have differing presentations of what has been described as “pervasive developmental disorders” or “autistic spectrum disorders.”  (Netherton, Holmes, & Walker, 1999, p. 77)  As a group, their autism appears to separate them as different from their peers, mostly because the disorder makes it really difficult for them to connect with the world around them.  All of them share a desire to be like “typical teenagers.”

Jeremy, 17, was diagnosed at the age of 3 with severe autism.  He has never been able to speak nor has he had friends like normal teenagers.  This non-verbal form of autism allows him to make sounds, but he is unable to form sentences.  He also struggles to control his facial expressions and his body movements.  Overall, Jeremy’s biggest challenges are communication and socialization.

At the age of 15, he began to use a letter board to communication, and over time, they came to find that he was essentially a normal 15 year old kid inside.  When he could finally communicate, he told his parents that he wanted to make friends his own age.  They decided to try something different at the age of 17, namely, employing technology called a LiteWriter.  The LiteWriter represents his last opportunity to communicate with his peers and classmates before he graduates from high school.  The LiteWriter has a voice that reads out what’s typed.  As a result of his advances, made possible by the LiteWriter technology, Jeremy invites a number of his peers over to his home for his 18th birthday party.  He totally didn’t know what to expect at his party, as he had only seen teenage parties on television.  Although Jeremy still has some significant challenges to overcome, I think has made great strides toward achieving autonomy as it relates to communication and socialization.

Jonathon, 19, is an Artistic Savant.  His case presents us with many “typical” Autistic traits coupled with extraordinary artistic talent.  10% of Autistic people have some form of special skill, and it is evident throughout the presentation that he is very passionate about his art.  His language is somewhat impaired, making conversation very difficult.  He has a very hard time with abstract thought, and has a great deal of trouble articulating the specific feelings that his is having.  He is very sensitive to sound, and often wears headphones to block out extraneous noise that overwhelms him.  Jon says Autism means “Brain is not working.”  Lately, he has been experiencing sudden and uncontrollable outbursts that are having a negative impact on his ability to express himself through his art.  Beyond his art, it is affecting his overall quality of life.  He seems to be progressively degenerating, having the outburst with increased intensity and frequency.  His medical team has not yet determined the source of the outbursts, but his father is working on proactively working on helping him control his emotions.  His lacks of ability to control these emotional outbursts are his biggest challenges, and the issue remains unresolved at the end of the segment despite extensive testing.

Elijah, 16, has Asperger’s Syndrome.  The primary difference between Asperger’s and autism is the level of functioning.  Asperger’s is described as a “high functioning form” of autism.  Elijah does not see Asperger’s as a disability, and rightfully so… he’s a really smart kid.  Most people who have Asperger’s have average or above average intelligence, but like Elijah, many have trouble with social interaction and communication.  As a child he repeated phrases, and was very difficult for outsiders to understand.  He wants to be a comedian, but he is worried that if he tells people he is autistic, they might not like him.  He is writing his own original comedy material and attempting to develop his comedy talent.  Because Elijah is worried people will think he’s weird, he has a great deal of stress regarding the disclosure of his condition.  As a result, I think Elijah’s biggest challenge is self-esteem, or self confidence.  His success in the Las Vegas comedy festival really helped him take positive steps toward being comfortable with his condition.  I was very surprised (and impressed) that Elijah was able to overcome his fear of people judging him.  The end of the segment suggested that he intended to start every show with a joke about Autism, and as a result, I would consider his biggest challenged resolved!

As a future counselor, I found this particular video to be really inspiring from a number of different perspectives.  First, the presentation gives us a basic understanding of how different each individual case can be.  I have formed the opinion that regardless of how many PDD cases I encounter, I really need to wipe my slate clean and access each case objectively.

Through the first segment, I would have expected Jeremy to have to most difficulty overcoming his condition.  In the end, I think he was the one of the three that managed to cover the most distance and make the greatest strides to achieve his goals.  This really challenged my lower expectations for Jeremy, given his lower level functioning.  I really appreciated the integration of technology into his development.  I found Jeremy’s story to be the most inspiring because they really challenged him to confront his fears… and ultimately he overcame his trepidation.  I was really impressed, and very inspired by his story.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Reference

Netherton, S. D., Holmes, D., & Walker, C. E. (1999). Child and adolescent psychological disorders: A comprehensive textbook. Oxford, NY: Oxford University Press.

Reflections on Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD)


Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Pervasive Development Disorders (PDD) cover a large group of disorders including Autism, Rett’s disorder, Asperger’s disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, and PDD NOS (often atypical autism).

Of particular interest to me, was that the parents of autistic children tend to show a consistently higher educational level.  (Netherton, Holmes, & Walker, 1999, p. 77)  What a peculiar statistic?  This, and other hereditary based anomalies, has given us a huge insight into the etiology of the spectrum of autistic disorders.

I was familiar with the “refrigerator mother” concept before reading the chapter, I think primarily because I too have seen Rain Man.  I did not know, however, that the implication had been discredited and discarded.  (Netherton et al., 1999, p. 79)

I have had the pleasure of knowing one young man with autism quite well; his story is remarkable.  I first came into contact with Joe because my mother was working as his in home health aide.  As our families came to know each other, he would often come over and play.  I remember well the day that his parents (Ray and Janet) came over disgusted about how they “had said Joe would never be able to work or live independently.”  (Shute, 2009, para. 2)  He has grown into a business owner, a sole proprietor, of a Kettle Korn business in Kansas that anticipates grossing six figures by 2012. (Shute, 2009, para. 1)  I have really proud to have known him and contributed to his development as a peer and a playmate.  I would encourage the reader to visit the website to learn more http://www.poppinjoes.com/home

I also took the time to watch the 1993 PBS Frontine documentary titled “Prisoners of Silence.”  The documentary outlines the differing views and associated research surrounding a phenomenon that has been coined “facilitated communication” or FC.  (Netherton et al., 1999, p. 85)  It would suffice to say that my jaw dropped about 30 minutes into the video when they discovered that there was “no conclusive evidence that facilitated messages can be reliably attributed to people with disabilities.”  (Netherton et al., 1999, p. 86)  I think I too wanted to believe that a breakthrough had been made, and I can’t imagine what a crushing blow it was to the families and facilitators that had the core of their believe system regarding FC shaken.  (Palfreman, 1993)  Please refer to the references section, and I have added a link to the video on Google Videos.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

References

Netherton, S. D., Holmes, D., & Walker, C. E. (1999). Child and adolescent psychological disorders: A comprehensive textbook. Oxford, NY: Oxford University Press.

Palfreman, J.  . (Producer). (1993, October 19). Prisoners of silence [Television broadcast]. : Public Broadcasting Service. Retrieved from http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3439467496200920717#

Shute, N. (2009). How 1 autistic young man runs a business. Retrieved from http://www.usnews.com/health/family-health/brain-and-behavior/articles/2009/04/02/how-1-autistic-young-man-runs-a-business.html

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Reflections on Mental Retardation


Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Although it is not the most politically correct term for the condition, mental retardation (MR) is still has significant presence in the populations we counselors intend to serve.  It is well documented that individuals with MR are at higher risk for comorbid mental illness of virtually all flavors…

Despite our best efforts to serve this needy population, interdisciplinary approaches that are considered ideal are still infrequently deployed due to cost and time constraints.   I am surprised and disappointed that this kind of consideration isn’t arranged for everyone dually diagnosed with MR and a comorbid mental illness.  I believe if we engaged TEAMS of psychologists, social workers, teachers, and communities agencies at every level of care and integrated it into a cohesive whole, the individuals we serve would receive a higher level of care for a LOWER COST!

A natural extension of the interdisciplinary approach is the involvement of the family in the decision-making process.  (Netherton, Holmes, & Walker, 1999, p. 19)  The importance of the family can not be overstated… absolutely critical and nothing less. I think this approach is too often implied and too rarely explicit.  Three key tenets to working with families are not to be overlooked:

1)      The team must be receptive to including families in the decision making process.

2)      The team must consider the level of knowledge and understanding of the family related to the disability of the child and/or the service and treatment options.

3)      Once the family has an adequate understanding of the condition and service and treatment alternatives, they may need to be nurtured through the team decision making process.  (Netherton et al., 1999, p. 21)

We, as practicing clinicians and psychotherapists, could take a number of different roles in the team environment.  As facilitators, we should frequently be asking parents what their perspective is, constantly seeking feedback and nurturing their freedom of autonomy.   It is absolutely critical that the family “buys in.”  I believe that if we nurture their ability to participate, that “buy in” is much more likely.  As educators, we can also serve parents by helping them making informed decisions regarding every phase of the plan.

I think every expectant parent comes to the table with hopes, dreams, and expectations of who their child will become.  Because many of these children will never grow up and meet the expectations of their parents, we can play a role in assisting them in coping, or simply modifying or altering those expectations to coincide with the realities of raising a child who may never be cured of mental retardation.

As the plan unfolds, we as councilors can play a role not only in the development of the primary client, but we can play a developmental role in the lives of the family members.  If the family experiences feelings of shame, guilt, or even a certain sense of grief can be dealt with in a variety of different formats; including group therapy, family therapy, individual therapy, or even couples therapy for parents.

In summary, I hope we can come to consensus that psychologists should play a significant role in the planning and execution of any developmental plan involving a child with mental retardation.  I would advocate that, aside from the primary care givers and family, our ability to offer assistance at different points of entry uniquely positions us to fill the much needed gaps in the overall individual treatment plan.

Reference

Netherton, S. D., Holmes, D., & Walker, C. E. (1999). Child and adolescent psychological disorders: A comprehensive textbook. Oxford, NY: Oxford University Press.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine