Archive for January, 2011

Sunday viewing pleasure: 1956 LSD experiment gone beyond amazing; they had it real good!

Jan 16 2011 Published by under Asperger's

Sunday viewing pleasure: 1956 LSD experiment gone beyond amazing; they had it real good!
Rami

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Progress in Autism: Self awareness and regulation, a worthy challenge

Jan 13 2011 Published by under Asperger's

Progress in Autism: Self awareness and regulation, a worthy challenge

A new study out of Stanford has compiled available evidence to try and map the brain circuits impending a full fledged state of self awareness in autism. The study points to the prefrontal cortex as the seat of self awareness or lack thereof. This is not surprising given the inordinate amount of funds going toward deciphering this particular part of the brain.

This is not saying that the prefrontal cortex is not involved. To the contrary, I am only pointing to the overly narrowed focus on specific area of the brain at the expense of other equally important areas such as the midbrain limbic system, nucleus accumbens abd others.

Having said that let us go back to a more practical approach to self awareness. Autistics, asperger’s and highly sensitive individuals are not lacking in self awareness per se. However in social situations they appear to be. In private, when alone however most people on the spectrum are completely self aware and present. It is in the company of others, in the context of interpersonal interaction that the self awareness mechanism seems to fail, and fail it does, often miserably.

As many adults on the spectrum can tell you, they are mostly self aware in private unless they are in sensory overload (immediately following social exposure). And therefore the pattern emerges, self awareness dissolves when an autistic is confronted with a demanding or novel social situation and is promptly reconstituted once that social situation and it’s aftermath resolve.

This leads me to pay attention to a functional system in the brain, which many are calling the behavioral inhibitory system. This system is present in every living human being for the purpose of self preservation. This is the system that prevents us from jumping in front of a speeding bus or touch a naked electric wire. In short the purpose of the inhibitory behavior is to prevent self harm. This system is highly responsive to danger. Once a dangerous situation is discovered objectively or even just perceived, the inhibitory system kicks in and exercises restraint over our activities and behavior to ensure preservation of the person’s life, and prevention of injury.
For individuals on the spectrum, this inhibitory mechanism is so powerful, it operates on the least possible trigger. This is why autistics are famously aware of impending danger and possible threats well before any neurotypical person is. Autistics are not only aware of danger in advance but are also aware of milder degrees of danger that neuroptypicals may never have considered significant.

Among the dangers that an overactive inhibitory mechanism considers is the presence of strangers or being in a social situation where an autistic has no way of assessing the intentions of the crowd.

So to reframe that problem of self awareness. There is NO global or persistent problem for individuals on the spectrum to see themselves and control their own behavior. On the other hand there is a differential and circumstantial self awareness problem where seeing one self and controlling one’s behavior is sacrificed in favor of perceived self preservation drive in the context of a threat. The threat being anything from a loud noise to being present in demanding social situation and so on…

From a pattern and a recharacterization of the problem, we move to our natural hierarchy, self preservation trumps social composure and posturing. Therefore when self preservation is threatened, self awareness and appropriateness go out the window in favor of preventing self harm.this is the natural order and it is present in all people, autistic and neurotypical alike. It is just way more tilted in favor of self preservation in autistics. It is also well tilted in favor of social composure and interactivity in neurotypicals.

Let us move on to practical solutions based in the natural hierarchy of human priorities. You simply cannot ask a person on the spectrum to maintain self awareness and self control when this person is perceiving a threat to her existence. I am mindful most care givers will say but there is no threat that we can sense. Yet, this is the difference between you and the autistic person you care for. While you see opportunity and excitement in meeting people and being in a crowd, the autistic to your side is seeing threat and danger from the same environment. It is a perceived threat, but it is as real as it gets to a person on the spectrum.

Being mindful of and validating perceived threats that autistics feel is the first step. The second step is measured and very very step wise exposure to anything that seems to trigger this threat sensation. Then comes trying to dismantle the components of the threat. Of course engaging by example on the side of the care giver can be very helpful. Yet, more helpful would be to guide an autistic person through what you think makes this situation safe. Pointing out a multitude of smiling faces or peaceful expressionless faces as a sign of safety can be easily done. Pointing out that you know everyone around is also helpful. And so on and so forth as a care giver you have to breakdown the environment and point out all the favorable components in it to put an autistic person at ease. And always remember, no matter what you do, never ever invalidate a feeling of perceived threat as “just in your head” or “just anxiety that requires some meds”. Such comments cause the autistic person to further lose self control and possibly become agitated in indignity.

The above are practical solutions but the ultimate solution is to create a situation where the person on the spectrum is the center of attention. This is the ultimate way by which autistics gain full self control and the only way by which honest Abe was able to lead a divided nation out of the civil war and preserve the union.

Rami Serhan, MD
consultant@sovereignresearch.org
http://sovereignresearch.org/psychesmartautismtm
http://www.youtube.com/user/hspevolved?feature=mhum

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STRANGITIS: What if autistics were in charge of healthcare, a short video

Jan 12 2011 Published by under Asperger's

STRANGITIS: What if autistics were in charge of healthcare, a short video
An onion style encounter between an autistic psychiatrist and a neurotypical patient set in an imaginary world where autistics decide health policy and societal norms

Rami Serhan, MD
http://sovereignresearch.org
http://sovereignresearch.org/psychesmartautismtm
https://autismtm.com
http://www.youtube.com/user/hspevolved?feature=mhum

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Recent Tufts study shows autistics experience allergies at 10 times the rate in neurotypical children

Jan 10 2011 Published by under Asperger's

Recent Tufts study shows autistics experience allergies at 10 times the rate in neurotypical children
What is this about: this study finds autistic children have 10 times the chance to develop allergic symptoms compared to neurotypical children.
Why is this important: allergies are important because they cause inflammation and increase permeability (leakiness across the gut, blood vessels and so forth).
How is this a problem: inflammation is a problem since it overly activates a child’s defenses and makes it easier to go into overload. Going into overload leads to isolation, disinclination to engage with others, temper flares… Increased permeability or leakiness is a problem because this allows toxins, debris and unsanctioned chemicals normally filtered out in the gut or blood to cross into the rest of the body and create an emergency. This emergency is manifested by further inflammation, activation of defenses and eventual overload.
What Can a parent do about it:
first be aware of foods that seem to upset your child. This could be anything. Wheat and grains are commonly the problem but many other foods may be allergic triggers too. For example, cow milk, hen eggs, soy, and sometimes even some vegetables could do it.
Second, recognize the difference between raw wholesome uncontaminated food and between processed chemically laden food. While everyone else may eat at fast food parlors, enjoying a burger or a pizza without visible consequences; one has to be especially cautious in th case of autism and asperger’s. Children on the spectrum may not tolerate the chemicals in canned soup or processed candy or a commercial pizza as well as a neurotypical child can. Sensitive kids are also sensitive to environmental chemicals and food industry chemicals (preservatives, starches, food coloring…).
Third: symptoms resulting from food intolerance are typically an upset stomach, skin breakouts, ear infections, diarrhea or constipation. However sypmtoms can be a lot more subtle than that. Things like malaise, the child just looking off, or short tempered or experiencing a headache can be evidence enough of a food related problem. Once one makes the observation of which foods seem to be tolerable and which seem to cause problems, one can devise a diet that is free of these foods. This is not as easy as it sounds because you would have to include the right balance between fat, protein and carbohydrates. Additionally, one has to account for vitamins and rare minerals which are only available in certain food categories and not in others. A parent may be able to do this themselves but are strongly urged to seek the help of a healthcare provider, an enlightened doctor or nutritionist to help along. A provider can do a variety of testing to verify and confirm your child’s food intolerances. An enlightened doctor can also help in keeping your child’s diet balanced while avoiding the offending foods.
Are there any objective tests for related problems? Of course. There are two main types of food testing. IgG based food allergy panels are widely available and usually test for dozens of possible offending foods. On the other hand, IgA based food intolerance panels can test for major foods (staple foods). There is room for both types of testing in helping your child. However you would have to go to a holistic/integrative healthcare provider for this purpose. Mainstream doctors only do rudimentary and often insufficient food allergy testing. Besides most mainstream doctors lack training in nutritional help.

Please note that I am not including any specific recommendations for providers or laboratories in this piece. However if you are interested please email me for more specific guidance.
Rami Serhan, MD
http://sovereignresearch.org
consultant@sovereignresearch.org
http://sovereignresearch.org/psychesmartautismtm
https://autismtm.com
http://www.youtube.com/user/hspevolved?feature=mhum

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STRANGITIS: what if autistics were in charge of healthcare, a short youtube video

Jan 06 2011 Published by under Asperger's

STRANGITIS: what if autistics were in charge of healthcare, a short youtube video

An onion style encounter between an autistic psychiatrist and a neurotypical patient set in an imaginary world where autistics decide health policy and societal norms
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SIhvXmjHSrQ&feature=player_profilepage

Rami Serhan, MD
http://sovereignresearch.org
http://sovereignresearch.org/psychesmartautismtm
https://autismtm.com
http://www.youtube.com/user/hspevolved?feature=mhum

No responses yet

STRANGITIS: What if autistics were in charge of healthcare, a short youtube video

Jan 06 2011 Published by under Asperger's

STRANGITIS: What if autistics were in charge of healthcare, a short youtube video
An onion style encounter between an autistic psychiatrist and a neurotypical patient set in an imaginary world where autistics decide health policy and societal norms
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SIhvXmjHSrQ&feature=player_profilepage

Rami Serhan, MD
http://sovereignresearch.org
http://sovereignresearch.org/psychesmartautismtm
https://autismtm.com
http://www.youtube.com/user/hspevolved?feature=mhum

No responses yet

A Swiss Perspective on Autism: how Intensity and hypersensitivity shape every autistic’s future

Jan 04 2011 Published by under Asperger's

A Swiss Perspective on Autism: how Intensity and hypersensitivity shape every autistic’s future
I could not ignore this article coming from the Ecole Polytechnique in Lausanne, Switzerland. The researchers detail a functional model of the autistic brain and make very plausible conclusions on resulting autistic behavior.
In short, autistics approach the world with more intensity than neurotypicals. This approach has its basis in hperactive and hypersensitive neural circuits in the brain and hyperplasticity (ability of brain cells to grow, branch, multiply and make new connections with other neurons). The result is an many parents can attest for, inceased vigilence, attention to specific details or fragments of the surrounding environment. This is also associated with fear learning, avoidance and many times superior intellectual abilities.
Sadly, society associates this combination of excessive avoidance of social situations and superior intellectual abilities with bad names. However, this is just the normal that autistics experience. It is not a life sentence though. The article is also rich with explanatory notes on means to try and use this knowledge to optimize behavior.
The main premise is that more intense, prolonged or repetitive exposure to stressful situations inevitably lead to avoidance and refusal of social interaction. The solution is to expose a growing child only in a measured way to stress. Take it one day at a time and never try to push your child into a cocktail of social situations. Rather try to expose him to very few people, very gradually and string it over time.
There is a ton more to be said about this subject which I will be emphasizing in the upcoming book PSYCHE-SMART AUTISM TM.

Rami Serhan, MD
http://sovereignresearch.org
http://sovereignresearch.org/psychesmartautismtm
https://autismtm.com
http://www.youtube.com/user/hspevolved?feature=mhum

No responses yet

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