Category Archives: Asperger’s research

Anxiety: the Big Muscle in Aspie Brains?

 

Are we anxious because we unintentionally develop the anxiety muscle in our brains? My recent reading has led me to consider the possibility.

Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home and School by John Medina offers fascinating insight into the molecular processes that occur in our brains.

Although Medina is a developmental molecular biologist and research consultant chapters like “stressed brains don’t learn the same way” and “we are powerful and natural explorers” capture and entertain those of us with a more elementary knowledge of neural science.

In the chapter on “Wiring–Every brain is wired differently”, Medina tells us our brain is like a muscle: the more you do the same activity, the bigger and more complex that part of the brain that is utilized can become.

For us Aspies. this poses an interesting possibility.  Can it be true then, that the more we experience anxiety, the larger and more prominent our anxiety receptors become?

Temple Grandin, in her book The Autistic Brain,states that neuro-imaging shwoed her brain had a larger anxiety receptor than “normal”.

And does Medina’s conclusion explain why forcing ourselves to think positive, to build and maintain positive images of ourselves in social situations, can result in having a better day?

Is it because we are strengthening that part of the brain that builds confidence, feeds positive feelings and reduces our levels of anxiety?

If so, let’s go, Aspies!  Let’s exercise the positive neurons, or as Willie Nelson once sang: accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative!

Let us build our brains in a direction in which we are all longing to grow!

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.

 

 

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The Canadian Autism Partnership: a website to remember.

In my book, Unforgiving, Memoir of an Asperger Teen, I note that Autism wasn’t really a concern until the late 1980’s.  How wonderful it would have been if my parents and teachers (and I!) could have taken a survey like this one.

I received this survey request from the Autism Society of BC.  The Canadian Autism Partnership Project (CAPP) would like all Canadian persons with or dealing with Autism Spectrum in their family, social or professional life to take the CAP survey.

The purpose of the survey is to assist in identifying programs and services that are currently effective and those that are lacking.  Sounds like a good idea, does it not?

The proposed vision of the Canadian Autism Partnership is:

All Canadians living with autism have the opportunity to lead fulfilling and rewarding lives. This means that they are able to access the necessary supports and services in a welcoming and understanding society. 

The proposed mandate of the Canadian Autism Partnership is:

To mobilize partners across sectors on a national level to accelerate innovation and action to address complex issues affecting Canadians living with Autism.

The proposed foundational statement for the Canadian Autism Partnership is:

Canadians living with autism have the right to:

  • ·        inclusion,

  • ·        understanding and acceptance,

  • ·        respect and dignity,

  • ·        full citizenship,

  • ·        equitable opportunities and access,

  • ·        personal autonomy, and

  • ·        decision-making.

The national ASD working group has identified the following areas of focus for the Canadian Autism Partnership:

  • ·        Early detection and diagnosis

  • ·        Treatment and support across the lifespan

  • ·        Education, training and awareness

  • ·        Attachment to the labour force

  • ·        Community living (includes recreation, leisure and housing)

  • ·        Impact on caregivers (includes health, mental health, respite, and senior issues)

  • ·        Research

To take the survey go to:  www.capproject.ca

To view their website, go to: http://www.capproject.ca/index.php/en/

I know I can count on you!

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.

First Year College and Asperger Kids: Emotional Preparation

Dr. Eell’s talk on resiliance seems to speak to how to deal with the negativity Asperger kids’ experience in everyday situations.

In this blog, I want to address the emotional transition from high school and college, an area which can fuel negativity in many students, not just those with Asperger’s.

In my book, Unforgiving, Memoir of An Asperger Teen, I mention in passing that my parents wanted me to go to college, but I couldn’t face it.  I felt so unprepared, I thought it would be a total waste of their money, and in our family, money was scarce.  However, in 1999, forty-five years after I left high school, I started that journey.  I was finally emotionally prepared.  And that’s what this survey studies: the emotional preparedness of first year college students.

An online survey of 1,502 U.S. first-year college students by Harris Poll between March 25 and April 17, 2015 found that new college students faced crucial challenges beyond academics.

Being emotionally prepared for college was found to be key to social and academic success.

Emotional readiness includes being able to care for oneself, the ability to adapt to the new environment, being able to handle negative emotions and/or behaviour, the ability to engage in relationships that are positive.  Students who were not prepared in these ways were generally found to have lower GPA’s.

Generally speaking, students felt that emotional preparation for college was needed in high school curriculums.

Researchers noted some indicators of students who feel emotionally unprepared.  Generally, students who indulged in regular consumption of alcohol and/or drugs, students who wanted to transfer out, and those who took a leave of absence after the first term were among those who felt emotionally unprepared.

These students felt extremely challenged by several situations.  These ranged from managing college expenses to keeping in touch with distant family and friends, making new friends and establishing independence.

Almost half of all the students thought that their fellows had figured out all these issues and were handling them well, which made the struggle feel worse.

Researchers found many students, including a high percentage of African Americans, are silent about these issues. Those who do reach out will often turn to friends or family members.

Students who regularly use drugs or alcohol are more likely to suffer anxiety, stress and feeling overwhelmed.  They tended also to say getting emotional support was difficult.

The researchers point out that the transitional phase between high school and college is a high stress point for kids, and therefore the danger of initial or increased drug abuse is a concern.

 Parents need to be especially “attentive and communicative” during this period.

Half of the surveyed students said they felt they needed more independent living skills. Parents and other influential adults can be significant in helping students develop confidence and independence.

An important resource for parents and students, and school administrators is now available at http://www.SettoGo.org.

About the Survey. Survey respondents were students 17-20 years old, graduated from high school, are in the second term of their first year at college, and attending at least some classes in-person at a 2- year or 4-year college. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables and subgroup sample sizes, visit http://www.SettoGo.org or email info@jedfoundation.org.

For more info please see: http://jedfoundation.org/press-room/press-releases/first-year-college-experience-release.

Hope this helps!

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.

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Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Parent’s Guide

I’ve come across a terrific book for parents of children on the autism spectrum, or kids with Aspergers.  I wish my parents had it when I was growing up!  But as you’ve undoubtedly read in my book Unforgiving, Memoir of An Asperger Teen, in those days no such guide existed.

Today’s parents have a huge advantage in raising children on the spectrum.  There are many resources available now, and one of them is this book whcih combines the expertise of three PhD’s, Ozonoff, Dawson and McPartland, A Parent’s Guide to High Functioning Autism Disorder–How to Meet the Challenge & Help Your Child Thrive is informative to say the very least.

Published in 2013, the book discusses research and developments including significant changes from the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV (DSM-4)  and the current diagnostic manual–DSM 5. The authors specifically address how these differences may relate to your child’s diagnosis.

The book is divided into two sections:  Understanding High Functioning Autism Syndrome Disorder (A.S.D.)which includes history and diagnostic and research approaches, and Living With High Functioning A.S.D.

Both sections contain significant information on the syndrome itself as well as its various implications on the life of a child and their family.

While the book is obviously directed at the lay person, I would not say it is light reading.  Wisely, the authors use anecdotes from recent case histories to illustrate the application of much of the information.  These anecdotes along with some more personal notes make the book very readable.

The reference section alone, 15 pages of book titles, CDs and Websites is worth the price of the book.

All in all, its a great resource and I heartily recommend it for reference purposes.  Look for it in the bookstore, or in your local library.

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.

 

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MSSNG–Crucial Project Collecting Data on Autism Spectrum Disorders

https://www.mss.ng/film

Click on the link, then click ‘play’ to see the film.

Hey, Aspies!  There’s a ground-breaking autism research project and you can be a part of it!

MSSNG is a groundbreaking collaboration between Google and Autism Speaks to create the world’s largest genomic database on autism.

By sequencing the DNA of over 10,000 families affected by autism, MSSNG will answer the many questions we still have about the disorder.

T​hanks to the Google Cloud, this vast sea of information will be made accessible for free to researchers everywhere.

The greatest minds in science from around the world will be able to study trillions of data points in one single database.

Our pilot program of 1,000 whole genomes has led to new discoveries about the disorder.

With over 10,000 whole genomes and the help of the global science community we can far outreach what has been accomplished so far. MSSNG will identify many subtypes of autism, which may lead to more personalized and more accurate treatments.

For questions about MSSNG, please contact us at info@mss.ng or call (646) 385-8593.

 To learn more, go to https://www.autismspeaks.org/

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.

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