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Archive for January 19th, 2011

First Published Tuesday, 26 May 2009

By John Gever, Senior Editor, MedPage Today

SAN FRANCISCO, May 19 — Some familiar disorders may be dropped and diagnostic criteria for others are in line for substantial revision in the forthcoming fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V).

…Since it was first published in 1952, the DSM has provided the definitive word on what is and is not mental illness, with enormous influence within medicine and on the world beyond.


© 2004-2009 MedPage Today, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

First Published Tuesday, 26 May 2009


Rucklidge JJ.

Department of Psychology, University of Canterbury, Private Bag 4800, Christchurch, New Zealand

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) affects 0.5-2% of young people many of whom are resistant to conventional treatments.

This case study describes an 18-year-old male with OCD who first underwent cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) for a 1-year period with a modest response (his OCD had shifted from severe to moderate). Within a year, his anxiety had deteriorated back to the severe range and he now had major depression.

He then entered an ABAB design trial using a nutritional formula consisting mainly of minerals and vitamins (together, known as micronutrients). After 8 weeks on the formula, his mood was stabilized, his anxiety reduced, and his obsessions were in remission. The treatment was then discontinued for 8 weeks, during which time his obsessions and anxiety worsened and his mood dropped. Reintroduction of the formula again improved the symptoms.

This case illustrates the importance of considering the effect micronutrients have on mental illness.


First Published Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Training Med Students Online

By Rick Nauert, Ph.D. Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on May 26, 2009

Researchers at the University of Toronto and the University Health Network’s Centre for Innovation in Complex Care (CICC) have found that a wide array of health-related activity occurs in the three-dimensional virtual world of Second Life.

Second Life is free for users with basic accounts, and has approximately 1 million people who log in to the virtual environment every month.

The web-based platform, which is often associated with pornography and cheating spouses, is also used to educate people about illness, train physicians, nurses and medical students with virtual simulations, enable disease-specific support and discussion groups, fundraise real-life dollars for medical research, and to conduct research.

The group found that health-related activities in the virtual world have significant implications in the real world. Dante Morra, Medical Director of the CICC, says “virtual worlds and the social networks that populate the Internet offer a new domain for healthcare.

“Although it is early in the development, there is a great opportunity to use these platforms for education, research and even disease surveillance.”

Medical Avatrians

Jennifer Keelan, the principal investigator on the project, suggests that a major feature for users is the “relative anonymity where patients can seek out information and share health experiences in a safe environment. There is also a great potential for patients to ‘practice being patients’ by virtually experiencing a mammogram or navigating a hospital’s virtual ward — they can gain insight into medical procedures and processes to become more informed.”

“There is a great opportunity here to understand the design features of social media that make it so appealing and accessible to people,” states Leslie Beard, the designer on the team.

Second Life Medical Library Card

“Once we understand what pulls people to Web 2.0, we can design and apply more effective communication strategies both within and beyond the Internet.”

The group’s findings have been published in the open access publication Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR)www.jmir.org/2009/2/e17/. The project’s next phase will look at using Web 2.0, social media and virtual worlds to conduct academic research and design compelling health communication strategies. and are freely available at

Source: University of Toronto


First Published Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Link to Metanoia suicide support

Cindy Fox Aisen

Pain complaints account for more than 40 percent of all symptom-related outpatient visits, and depression is present in 10 percent to 15 percent of all patients who receive primary care.

Pain and depression frequently co-exist (30-50% co-occurrence), effect the treatment responsiveness of each, and have adverse effects on quality of life, disability, and health care costs.

Researchers from the Indiana University School of Medicine and the Regenstrief Institute report in the May 27 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) that a strategy they developed of closely monitored antidepressant therapy coupled with pain self-management can produce substantial improvements in both depression and pain.

Treating depression these days is like treating high blood pressure. There are many effective drugs out there. To control high blood pressure, the physician closely monitors the patient to determine the most appropriate drug and the proper dosage. Often with depression treatment, the patient is prescribed one of the many effective antidepressants but is not closely followed to see if it’s the best choice and the proper dosage, which means the patient’s depression is not being effectively managed,” said the study’s principal investigator, Kurt Kroenke, MD, professor of medicine at the IU School of Medicine and a Regenstrief investigator.

There are more significant challenges in treating patients with persistent pain. Ironically research on effective pain treatment has lagged a couple of decades behind work on depression and the drug choices are not as good. More study on the basic science and clinical levels needs to be done on both pain and the link between pain and depression, which may share common biological pathways, to develop better options,” said Dr Kroenke, an Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis Chancellor’s Professor.

The 250 study participants had low back, hip, or knee pain for three months or longer and at least moderate depression severity. They were randomized into two groups. The control group of 127 received usual care from their internists for both depression and pain. The other 123 had 12 weeks of optimized antidepressant therapy (actively managed by a nurse care manager); followed by 6 sessions of a pain self-management program over 12 weeks (during each session, the nurse care manager introduces new strategies for patient self-management, assists the patient in choosing strategies, and supervises the patient as he/she practices the chosen strategy – this included muscle relaxation and deep breathing exercises as well as coping, distraction and other tactics.); and a 6-month continuation phase, in which symptoms were monitored and treatments reinforced, with a focus on preventing relapse.

Those whose depression medications were closely monitored and who were trained in pain self- management were two to three times more likely to have decreased depression (46 of 123 intervention patients [37.4 percent] vs. 21 of 127 usual care patients [16.5 percent]) than those in the control group and nearly 4 times as likely to experience complete remission (17.9 percent vs. 4.7 percent) at 12 months, corresponding to a much lower number of patients with major depression (40.7 percent vs. 68.5 percent). Pain severity and disability also lessened. These benefits continued for the six months after optimizing antidepressant therapy and pain self-management had been completed.

In terms of the trial’s primary outcome, the intervention group was significantly more likely to experience a composite response, defined as a reduction of 50 percent or greater in depression and a reduction of 30 percent or greater in pain. This difference in composite response rates was significant at both 6 months (23.6 percent for intervention patients vs. 7.9 percent for usual care patients) and 12 months (26.0 percent vs. 7.9 percent).

It is possible that pain improvement in our trial reflected a main effect of improved mood (i.e., an antidepressant effect on mood rather than an analgesic effect), and that as depression lifts, patients may experience pain as being less intense and less disabling. Conversely, it is also possible that the improvement in depression was mediated by an improvement in pain (i.e., as pain improves, patients feel less depressed) or that both depression and pain lessened as a result of treatment effects on a common pathway,” the researchers write.

We were pleased to see the patients whose antidepressants were closely monitored and who practiced self-management improved, but we think we can lessen pain and depression even more. In our next studies we plan to investigate cognitive behavior therapy as well as optimizing pain medications to see if even greater improvements in pain can be achieved. Because pain and depression are among the leading causes of decreased work productivity, a strategy that is effective for both should be attractive not only to patients and their physicians. Health insurers and the business community will be interested as well,” said Dr Kroenke, an internist who is a former president of the Society of General Internal Medicine.

The study was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health.

Kroenke K, Bair MJ, Damush TM, et al. Optimized Antidepressant Therapy and Pain Self-management in Primary Care Patients With Depression and Musculo-skeletal Pain. JAMA. 2009 May;301(20):2099-2110   [Full text]

First Published Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Warwick Ashford

Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour is to produce a new recording of the song Chicago by Graham Nash in support of London UFO fanatic and computer hacker Gary McKinnon.

Nash authorised a reworking of the song written for the “Chicago Seven”, who went on trial after the violent Democratic Party convention in that city in 1968, according to the Guardian.

Gilmour contributed to the backing track for a sing-in protest in April featuring the revised version of the song written by Gary’s mother, Janis Sharp.

Gilmour and Nash are among the celebrities still campaigning to halt McKinnon’s extradition to the US to stand trial for hacking into 97 US federal and military computers.

McKinnon is accused of causing at least £350,000 damage, but the hacker claims he broke into the computers only to find evidence of extra-terrestrial life.

Supporters, including Boris Johnson, David Blunkett, and several other MPs, say McKinnon should not be extradited because he is suffering from Asperger’s syndrome, an autistic condition.

Boyzone singer Keith Duffy has also expressed support for McKinnon. He said that as a parent of a child with autism, he knows that getting support at the right time can be crucial.

If convicted in the US, McKinnon faces up to 60 years in a high security prison. A conviction under the UK’s Computer Misuse Act carries a maximum penalty of five years.

Time is running out for McKinnon, who is likely to get his final shot at standing trial in the UK next month at a judicial review of home secretary Jacqui Smith’s decision to send him to the US.

McKinnon won the review after a judicial review in January ruled that Smith had failed to take adequate consideration of the hacker’s medical condition.

If next month’s bid fails, McKinnon could be sent immediately to the US.

Source:   http://www.computerweekly.com/Articles/2009/05/26/236170/pink-floyd-guitarist-sings-in-support-of-gary-mckinnon.htm

Related Articles

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“Latest Round in Extradition Battle Lost/Sting Supports Fight for UK Trial”

“Ongoing Updates: Gary McKinnon: Extradition Judicial Review Hearing Set For Jan 20”

“Ongoing Updates: Dan Aykroyd, Peter Howson, Politicians Rally Behind Gary McKinnon/”Only A Fool” Music Video”

First Published Wednesday, 27 May 2009

The Science of Sleep

By Rick Nauert, Ph.D. Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on May 25, 2009

“You’ll feel better after a good night’s sleep.” We’ve all heard those words, but have we ever stopped to wonder about the mental health of people who just aren’t able to sleep well?

Rachel Manber has, and the Stanford University School of Medicine researcher is trying to identify the best way to treat patients suffering from both depression and insomnia.

Manber, Ph.D, an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, is seeking volunteers for a first-of-its-kind study on the benefits of combining the treatments of medication for depression and psychotherapy for sleep difficulties.

Depression and insomnia, defined as having difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep, are very much linked.

“Insomnia is certainly a risk factor for depression: studies show that having insomnia increases a person’s risk of developing depression in one to three years,” Manber said.

At the same time, Manber pointed out, depressed patients with sleep problems don’t respond as well to standard depression treatments as other patients. This is a problem because between 60 and 84 percent of patients with major depression also sleep poorly.

In addition, if a sleep disorder goes untreated, a patient is at a greater risk for a future relapse of depression.

The multicenter study, which will involve 255 people, aims to determine whether combining antidepressant medications and insomnia therapy will improve the lives of people who experience both conditions simultaneously.

Manber plans to enroll 85 patients at Stanford; participants must be between the ages of 18 and 75, suffering from insomnia and depression, and not currently receiving treatment for either disorder.

During the study, participants will receive free evaluations of their sleep, including an at-home, all-night sleep study.

Participants will also receive 16 weeks of one of three FDA-approved antidepressant medications (Lexapro, Zoloft or Pristique) and will be randomized into receiving seven sessions of one of two forms of sleep-focused psychotherapies for insomnia.

Interested men and women should contact Rachel Wells at (650) 723-2641 for a free telephone screening.

The study is funded by the National Institute of Mental Health and led by the Stanford site. Other centers participating in the study are Duke University and the University of Pittsburgh.

Source: The Stanford University School of Medicine


First Published Wednesday, 27 May 2009

The Pain Behind the Beauty

Although teen depression poses a widespread problem for which proven treatments exist, few depressed teens receive any care.

Why don’t they undergo treatment? The answer depends whether you ask parents or the adolescents themselves, according to a study in the June issue of the journal Medical Care.

“With teenagers, treatment decisions greatly involve other parties, especially parents. For instance, teenagers often rely on adults for transportation. Doctors need a sense not just of what the teen thinks or what the parent thinks, but what both think,” said Lisa Meredith, Ph.D., lead author of the new study.

The ability of their physicians to address all the perceived barriers “affects the teenager’s own ability to acknowledge their depression and do something about it,” said Meredith, a researcher at RAND.

Teens with untreated depression more often have social and academic problems, become parents prematurely, abuse drugs and alcohol and suffer adult depression and suicide.

For the study, researchers recruited 368 adolescent patients of diverse backgrounds receiving care in seven public or private primary care practices. Of these, half had a diagnosis of depression. One parent or guardian of each enrolled teenager also participated.

Teens and parents rated the effects of seven possible barriers: 1) cost of care, 2) what others might think, 3) problems finding or making appointments with a doctor or therapist, 4) time constraints and other responsibilities, 5) not wanting family to know about the depression (this was asked of teens only), 6) good care being unavailable and 7) just not wanting care.

Parents were significantly less likely to report barriers than teens.

For teens, concerns about stigma and relatives’ reactions were among the significant issues, and those who perceived barriers were less likely to undergo therapy or take medications. Depressed teens were significantly more likely to perceive barriers to care than their non-depressed peers were.

“Adolescents do tend to go undiagnosed and untreated. They don’t want to seem abnormal. They want to fit in. Yet when they deny problems, they often act out adaptively, drinking a lot and pursuing other high-risk behaviors,” said Deborah Amdur, a psychiatrist with the Advanced Psychiatric Group in Orlando, Fla.

“This study has the potential to be significant if the findings reach the primary care physicians and help them understand their task in ensuring that adolescents have access to care,” Amdur said. “It’s not a simple one step of speaking with the teenager. They also have to coordinate care with the parent.”

“Once primary care doctors understand the perceived barriers that exist on both sides, they are better able to work with a family to get care that feels right for a particular teenager,” Meredith said.

Medical Care: Contact Sue Houchin at (317) 796-5752 or medicalcare@comcast.net or visit: http://www.lww-medicalcare.com

Meredith LS, et al. Perceived barriers to treatment for adolescent depression. Medical Care 47(6), 2009.

Health Behavior News Service


First Published Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Charlotte Moore

Why do women make up only one in four of those diagnosed as autistic? Could it be that they are simply better at pretending not to be? Charlotte Moore meets a group of women for whom ‘normal’ is an alien language that they battle to learn

I am in Godalming, Surrey, sitting with a group of pleasant, personable women who have come together, as they do each month for an all-women’s night, to share news, views and experiences. You’d imagine that the room would be alive with a babble of voices, but it’s not. The gossipy, reciprocal flow of normal female conversation is absent, and so far not one of them has asked me, a stranger, a single question about myself or what I am doing here. The stilted atmosphere would strike outsiders as disconcertingly weird, but these women are oblivious to the awkwardness. They are autistic, and for them this is normality.

‘We are not real women according to any of the known guidebooks… [But] we are not from another planet. We tricked you… We are from right here, Planet Earth.’ So writes Judy Singer, one of 19 contributors to Women from Another Planet? (2003), an anthology written by a group of women on the autistic spectrum who met on the internet. While Singer, her co-authors, and the women gathered around me in Surrey, may not be from another planet, they do constitute a distinct minority. According to current statistics one in 100 British people has autism (I am myself the mother of two autistic boys), and one in four of those is female.

Ever since autism was first identified in the 1940s it has been accepted that autistic males heavily outnumber females. In Autism: Explaining the Enigma (2003), Uta Frith, a leading developmental psychologist at University College London, says that among those with the most severe autistic symptoms the ratio of men to women is four to one, rising to 15 to one among those with Asperger’s syndrome (a variant in which autistic behaviours are less extreme and verbal ability is higher). But she goes on to speculate, ‘It is worth considering whether girls are less likely to be detected… Girls are often considered to be more verbal and more compliant than boys in educational settings, and therefore might show better compensatory learning.’

She raises a vital question. Are women less likely to have autism, or are they under-diagnosed and slipping through the net because they are better than their male counterparts at adapting to social situations? The contributors to Women from Another Planet? believe the latter. Most of them were not formally diagnosed until adulthood, if at all. Most lead apparently ‘normal’ lives in that they study and have jobs and sometimes husbands and children. But all feel profoundly ‘different’; they write of the terrible, damaging strain of attempting to conform to social expectations.

The two psychologists who first investigated the condition (independently of each other) were Leo Kanner and Hans Asperger. The work they did more than 60 years ago set the pattern for the way we still see autism, and it happened that Kanner studied few female patients and Asperger none at all. Could it be that this led to a false assumption that autism was overwhelmingly a male disorder? And do autistic women, as Frith suggests, often fly beneath the radar because of their ability to mask their difficulties?

Certainly, social stereotyping can lead to autistic behaviour going unnoticed. A woman who depends heavily on a dominant husband and has little life outside the home may well escape scrutiny. In school, while autistic boys are typically loud, disruptive and destructive, girls can be quiet, passive and compliant, but mentally absent; and students who give no trouble are less likely to be flagged up by a busy teacher. It has also been suggested that autism could be one possible cause of traditionally ‘female’ problems such as anorexia. Christopher Gillberg of the National Centre for Autism Studies at the University of Strathclyde explains, ‘A girl may be withdrawn and uncommunicative without attracting attention, but when she develops a calorie fixation it becomes a serious problem. Counting calories may be a manifestation of autism. Some women could be going undiagnosed.’

Simon Baron-Cohen, the director of the Autism Research Centre at Cambridge, has pioneered the theory that autism is caused by a testosterone surge in pregnancy, affecting the child’s brain development, leading it to be born with an ‘extreme’ male brain – strong on systemising, weak on empathy. This, he believes, can affect both males and females. Autistic girls, he has said, often have ‘tomboy’ traits, and feel ‘more compatibility with typical [not autistic] males simply because typical males may be more willing to adhere to the linear, step-by-step form of thinking and conversation. This is echoed by the internet group: ‘We may have more in common with [non-autistic] men than we do with [non-autistic] women, for it is women who are more often the social gatekeepers, who scrutinise our manners, care more for them than for our minds, and want to keep us out of the club.’

The need, then, is growing for ‘clubs’ of a different kind, spaces where autistic women can communicate with others who share and appreciate their differences. The Godalming club which I have visited is a pioneering experiment by the careworker Bettina Stott. She had run a mixed-sex social-skills group for people with autism for some years, but two years ago, at the request of some of the female members, she started an all-women group, which meets once a month. ‘Our ladies are very vulnerable,’ she tells me shortly before the meeting starts. ‘They tend to fall in with what men suggest. In their own group they can discuss topics in a different way. It gives them a chance to talk honestly about their autism, and to learn about the way society works; they may adhere to social structures, but often they don’t understand what they’re for.’ Group meetings begin with informal socialising, then move on to a structured discussion of a topic – anxiety, empathy, bullying – guided by careworkers. Stott feels that autistic women are more able to see things from another’s point of view than autistic men, and are more emotionally responsive. Many of them have been misdiagnosed in the past with psychiatric illnesses or learning difficulties. ‘Autistic tendencies are often overlooked,’ she says.

Stott introduces me to four of the women who regularly attend the group – Lauren, Selina, Cara and Kelly. Lauren, 32, was not diagnosed until she was 23. She now lives in a supported flat, and accepts that she needs help with most practicalities, but loves it when her support workers are on holiday. ‘It’s bliss. I need time to chill out on my own,’ she says. For autistic people, prolonged social contact is exhausting, and as I talk to the girls it emerges that the group is popular because it provides contact with other women, but within a definite time limit.

Selina, 27, also speaks of valuing her own space. She lives alone, works in Sainsbury’s and keeps in touch with friends from previous jobs and from the special school she attended. She seems quite comfortable with one foot in the mainstream world, the other in that of special needs. She plays the clarinet, goes on theatre trips and watches television. But her autism has caused her trouble in romantic relationships, and when a recent boyfriend became over-controlling the careworkers from the women’s group had to step in to help. She’s now single, but hasn’t ruled out ‘meeting Mr Right’. But, I ask, wouldn’t Mr Right invade the privacy she enjoys? She smiles. ‘I don’t know. Maybe.’

On the subject of marriage Lauren says, ‘I know I’ll never be a mum,’ but 20-year-old Cara, who works part-time with pre-school children (a job she loves), is not so sure. A good-looking girl who likes parties, music and Manchester United – especially Ronaldo – Cara has also had boyfriend problems. Most autistic people find physical contact acceptable only on their own terms, if at all, and the careworkers helped Cara to understand that she could choose to say no to unwelcome advances.

Kelly, 25, well-presented with careful make-up and a cherry-red jacket, is doing a course in travel and tourism. The others seem reluctant or unable to think beyond the present, but Kelly says she has ambitions; she doesn’t like the English climate and wants to work in Spain, in the tourist industry. She has a pleasant, earnest manner, has done a particularly good job of mimicking non-autistic behaviour. However, like all the others she has experienced bullying in mainstream settings and relishes the fact that at the women’s group differences are fully accepted. ‘People pick on people who are different because they’re scared. They’re like sheep,’ she says. ‘Society wants to put you in a box.’

All four women agree it is harder for a woman with autism than for a man, though they can’t explain exactly why. This is one of the difficulties of talking to autistic people: they find it easier to talk about concrete realities – bus routes, football, a broken clothes-horse – than about issues or theories. When I ask Cara whether there are any advantages to being autistic, she says it got her to the front of the queue at Thorpe Park. I try to find out more about Lauren’s relationship with her family; she says her father is going to fix her clothes-horse, so they have ‘a bond’.

The women have few conventionally feminine interests. Selina stacks shelves in the health and beauty aisles at Sainsbury’s, but she has no particular interest in those products. All seem to lack that instinctive understanding of social behaviour that to most women comes as naturally as breathing. Nevertheless, they have found ways to operate in society, difficult though these accommodations may have been. The Godalming women’s group is an immensely useful response to a newly perceived need: to support women who, however high their academic intelligence, struggle with the social skills that most of us take for granted. More and more women like Lauren, Selina, Cara and Kelly are now seeking diagnosis, relieved to have found an explanation for a set of characteristics that in the past would have been dismissed as ‘weird’, and relieved to understand why they have had to struggle so hard to conform to normal social expectations of female behaviour.

When the first of my two autistic sons was diagnosed in 1994, someone told me that autism was more prevalent among Jews (my sons’ father is partly Jewish). This notion probably arose because many mid-century psychiatrists and psychoanalysts were Jewish, so interest in and awareness of unusual mental states was higher among Jewish families, who were therefore more likely to seek consultations for their children. Similarly, Asperger believed autism to be more prevalent amongst the professional classes, failing to see that it was simply more likely that such a parent would seek his advice. We now know that autism is not related to ethnicity, income or social class. Are we about to find that it is not as strongly linked to gender as has been supposed, that there are more autistic women out there than we imagine?

The women in the internet group certainly support a reassessment of diagnostic criteria. They want to reject the pressure to conform to a limited and limiting range of acceptable female behaviours. ‘Bear witness,’ writes Judy Singer, ‘to the violations of human rights we have suffered: the torment in the playground; the discrimination by employers on social grounds in jobs where social skills should not be part of the criteria; the pressure from families to act normal, to be more feminine, to have children.’

Understanding of autism in males has increased dramatically over the past couple of decades. Now, it seems, it is time to take a fresh look at the way autism manifests itself in women.

  • *The National Autistic Society’s helpline is 0845 070 4004. For more information, visit www.autism.org.uk
Why Girls with Asperger’s Might Not Be Diagnosed

More Than Just ‘Quirky’

Because they may have different symptoms than boys do, some girls with Asperger’s syndrome don’t get diagnosed.

White Star Girl

Women From Another Planet?: Our Lives in the Universe of Autism

Jean Kearns Miller, Editor

Mention the word autism and the room suddenly turns silent. It’s the dreaded A word.


People’s attention turns to late night TV public service ads declaring that autistic children are “imprisoned” by autism and need curing at all cost. Recent autobiographies have helped dispel this dire description by suggesting that autism is not a prison and that the door is unlocked and you’re free to come in. Women from Another Planet? moves beyond these autistic life stories in important ways. It’s a collection of stories and conversations, all of them by women on the autism spectrum who speak candidly, insightfully, and often engagingly about both their gender in terms of their autism and their autism in terms of their gender. It is written not just for parents and professionals, like the other works, but also to those women still searching for ways to understand the unnamed difference they live with, as well as the wider audience of discerning readers. If you enter the unlocked door of these Women from Another Planet? you may end up with a question mark or two about your planet. Is normalcy really all it’s cracked up to be?

Girls Growing Up on the Autism Spectrum
Shana Nichols
With Gina Marie Moravcik and Samara Pulver Tetenbaum


Aspergirls: Empowering Females with Asperger Syndrome
Rudy Simone
Foreword by Liane Holliday Willey

Related Articles

“The Independent: Why Autism Is Different For Girls”

“Autism Underdiagnosed in Women, Say Brit Boffins”:

“Asperger’s Syndrome In Women: A Different Set Of Challenges”:

“It’s Different For Girls(Includes Video “Aspies Don’t Have Emotions????”:

“Girls and Asperger’s Syndrome”(1 Comment):

“Girls With Autism Spectrum Or ADHD Symptoms Not Taken Seriously”:

“List of Asperger Traits”:

“List of Female AS Traits”:

“Rudy Simone: I’m Right Here: Life As An “Aspergirl”:

1. J left…

Tuesday, 15 September 2009 9:48 pm

The better question is why so many people are being labeled autistic. Maybe some people don’t want to be pathologized and treated as impaired just because some people don’t understand them. You may notice that many of the greats society now tries to pathologize don’t proclaim themselves to be “aspies” and go around going, “Oh, Asperger’s awareness, Asperger’s awareness!” They’re out doing their thing and not telling sob stories about sitting alone at the lunch table and enduring some rude remarks. I’m not saying that there aren’t some legitimate “Asperger’s” cases, but going on a witch hunt is inappropriate and destructive. Except in extreme cases, let people live their lives.

First Published Thursday, 28 May 2009

By Josh Clark
It speaks for him: JW Clark, 7, who has autism, uses an iPhone application called Proloquo2go as a communication tool.

By Greg Toppo, USA TODAY

Leslie Clark and her husband have been trying to communicate with their autistic 7-year-old son, JW, for years, but until last month, the closest they got was rudimentary sign language.

He’s “a little bit of a mini-genius,” Clark says, but like many autistic children, JW doesn’t speak at all.

Desperate to communicate with him, she considered buying a specialized device like the ones at his elementary school in Lincoln, Neb. But the text-to-speech machines are huge, heavy and expensive; a few go for $8,000 to $10,000.

Then a teacher told her about a new application that a researcher had developed for, of all things, the iPhone and iPod Touch. Clark drove to the local Best Buy and picked up a Touch, then downloaded the “app” from iTunes.

Total cost: about $500.

A month later, JW goes everywhere with the slick touch-screen mp3 player strapped to his arm. It lets him touch icons that voice basic comments or questions, such as, “I want Grandma’s cookies” or “I’m angry — here’s why.” He uses his “talker” to communicate with everyone — including his service dog, Roscoe, who listens to voice commands through the tiny speakers.

It’s a largely untold story of Apple’s popular audio devices.

It is not known how many specialized apps are out there, but Apple touts a handful on iTunes, among them ones that help users do American Sign Language and others like Proloquo2Go, which helps JW speak.

The app also aids children and adults with Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and Lou Gehrig’s Disease, or ALS — even stroke patients who have lost the ability to speak, says its co-developer, Penn State doctoral student Samuel Sennott.

Using the iPhone and Touch allows developers to democratize a system that has relied on devices that were too expensive or difficult to customize, Sennott says. “I love people being able to get it at Best Buy,” he says. “That’s just a dream.”

He also says that for an autistic child, the ability to whip out an iPhone and talk to friends brings “this very hard-to-quantify cool factor.”

Sennott won’t give out sales figures for the $149.99 app but says they’re “extremely brisk.”

Ronald Leaf, director of Autism Partnership, a private California-based agency, says he prefers to help autistic children such as JW learn how to navigate their world without gadgets. “If we could get children to talk without using technology, that would be our preference,” he says.

Clark says the app has changed her son’s life.

“He’s actually communicating,” she says. “It’s nice to see what’s going on in his head.”

Among the revelations of the past month: She now knows JW’s favorite restaurant. “I get to spend at least every other day at the Chinese buffet.”

First Published Thursday, 28 May 2009

Derek Paravacini

Source/Video (View Derek Performing): http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_8069000/8069741.stm

Derek Paravicini was born premature – autistic and blind. He can barely count, can’t read Braille and yet has an extraordinary musical talent.

After hearing a piece of music once, he can play it on the piano, improvising as he goes.

He has been performing since he was about eight years old and now, at the age of 30, is preparing for his most ambitious performances so far.

Next month he will play entire concerts accompanied by a full orchestra, where he will take requests from the audience and even invite people to dictate the style in which the piece should be played. Today reporter Sanchia Berg interviewed Mr Paravicini and asked for a song request.

Derek Paravacini’s Blog:



The human iPod: Meet the musical savant

Derek Paravicini was born blind and with serious learning difficulties. But he only needs to hear a tune once to play it. Soon he will make his debut at the Southbank Centre, reports Chris Green

Almost 25 years ago, Adam Ockelford was giving a piano lesson to a young girl at Linden Lodge School for the blind in Wandsworth, south-west London, when a couple and their five-year-old son who were touring the school opened the door to his room.

Moments later, the little blond boy was free of his parents’ grip and had sprinted over to the piano. There he pushed Ockelford’s unfortunate pupil roughly off her stool, depositing her on the floor. “He was obviously manically determined to play, and began karate-chopping the keys, bashing them with his fists and his elbows,” he recalls. “At first I thought he was completely bonkers, but suddenly I realised that not only was he playing “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina”, he was rampaging up and down the keyboard to fit in extra chords and scales. Then I knew he was a genius, not a madman at all.”

That was in 1985. Now, Derek Paravicini is about to give his first full concert accompanied by an orchestra at a series of appearances in Bristol and the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London’s Southbank Centre.

Paravicini, now 30, is a musical savant nicknamed the “human iPod”. He was born 25 weeks premature, and although oxygen therapy saved his life he incurred brain damage and now suffers from severe learning difficulties and autism. He is blind, unable to read Braille and can barely count, let alone read music, but he possesses an extraordinary gift: he can play anything after hearing it only once. For Ockelford, now a professor of music at Roehampton University, the concerts will mark the next stage in a remarkable relationship that began when Paravicini first burst into his classroom. Since then, he has acted as Paravicini’s teacher and mentor, and has even written his biography, In The Key Of Genius.

When the pair met, Paravicini had only played on a toy organ. Ockelford had to place his pupil’s hands on top of his own, so he could feel the movements. However, before this could happen he had to solve the basic problem of getting to the keyboard.

“It took quite a few months before he would let me play his piano at all,” he says. “It was his territory, and if I tried to play a note on it, he’d hit me and push me out of the way with his head. The only way to teach him was to pick him up, shove him on the other side of the room and quickly play something before he could get back to the piano. It was a good game, because that way he could copy what I played. He didn’t talk very much, but music became a sort of proxy language. He realised he could communicate with people through his music.”

It took Ockelford 10 painstaking years to teach his pupil how to play correctly, a process he describes as “fascinating”. The pair met every day for an hour’s lesson, and like any good musician, practice made Paravicini perfect.

His blindness and other disadvantages might have slowed his progress, but Ockelford believes that his pupil’s extraordinary memory sets him apart from other classical musicians, who are constrained by the necessity of sticking rigidly to their sheet music.

“A lot of classical soloists who play from memory say it makes them feel freer, and I think that’s true for Derek all the time,” he says.

The carefree quality of Paravicini’s playing – and his talent for improvisation – makes him ideally suited to jazz and blues, and audiences across Europe and the US have been amazed by his ability.

Roger Huckle, director of Bristol’s Emerald Ensemble, the orchestra that will accompany Paravicini on his tour next month, says the pianist’s unpredictability might be nerve-wracking for the other players, but it is also undoubtedly his greatest strength. “He has no fear. Most musicians will be very aware if they play a wrong note, but that critical side of it isn’t really in Derek’s make up. If he does play something wrong he can cover it up within half a second. But having said that, I don’t think he really perceives it as making a mistake.”

Some aspects of rehearsals have nevertheless proved difficult. As he does not read music and cannot see the conductor’s baton, Paravicini has to wait for the orchestra to begin before he knows which section of the piece they are practising.

According to Huckle, the pianist’s short-term memory is so poor that he often forgets which pieces of music he is due to play at the concerts, and even with whom he is playing. “I’d like to play that at the Southbank!” he once exclaimed of a piece the ensemble had rehearsed countless times. “He once asked me: ‘Roger! Are you coming to hear the concert?’ to which I replied ‘Yes, I’m playing with you!'”, says Huckle. “It’s a curious thing that he has this massive memory for music, yet he can’t remember what he’s going to be playing next week.”

This gives the music Paravicini plays a unique freshness, as at every performance audiences will effectively be hearing a totally new improvisation. Indeed, merely listening to the pianist converse is enough to persuade most people of his musicality. Although he often repeats questions – a habit Ockelford says reflects his talent for remembering musical phrases – his voice is always upbeat and lilting. Paravicini’s lineage is also notable: he is the great-grandson of the writer William Somerset Maugham, the great-great-grandson of Dr Thomas Barnardo, founder of the children’s charity, and also the nephew by marriage of Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall.

The concerts are likely to raise his profile, but Ockelford is convinced he will not have a problem coping: “He’s been in the media for most of his life and has always enjoyed the attention, because he likes interacting with people.”

Lost in life: Found in music

David Helfgott Australian pianist who suffers from schizoaffective disorder, his life story inspired the film Shine which turned him into the world’s most famous pianist overnight.

John Ogdon In 1973 the English pianist had the first of a series of breakdowns, thought to be caused by mild schizophrenia or manic depression. He died in 1989.

Nick van Bloss The pianist has suffered from Tourette’s Syndrome since he was seven, which causes his body to experience 38,000 tics daily. He retired in 1994 aged 26 after the convulsions got worse, but made a triumphant return to the stage at London’s Cadogan Hall last month.

Source:   http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/news/the-human-ipod-meet-the-musical-savant-1691818.html