People with autism possess greater ability to process information, study suggests

People with autism possess greater ability to process information, study suggests.

I thought this was interesting. Some quotes:

Professor Nilli Lavie, from the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience at UCL, hypothesises that this combination of the ability to focus and a susceptibility to distraction might be caused by a higher than normal information processing capacity.

and:

Professor Lavie says: “Our study confirms our hypothesis that people with autism have higher perceptual capacity compared to the typical population. This can only be seen once the task becomes more demanding, with more information to process. In the more challenging task conditions, people with autism are able to perceive significantly more information than the typical adult.”

I wonder, then, how this would also affect those with ADD/HD and if maybe any subtypes would be more akin to autism than not. Distractibility and autism kind of go hand and hand along with hyperfocusing, both of which are also a part of ADD/HD.

As it is, I already believe that the two are too similar to be separate conditions. This just adds to that growing list of reasons why they probably should fall under the same diagnosis, as far as I’m concerned.

But as the article reads, it seems to me that we can extrapolate that ASD children have difficulty processing information because as children, they simply don’t have the higher functioning capabilities (i.e. maturity, age appropriate cognitive skills being too young) as the adults to properly organize that information they receive. Or we could extrapolate that they aren’t being given enough information. I tend to think the latter is probably not correct simply because developmentally, they couldn’t do much with more information anyway but I do think that the prior could be a very real issue. The article does state that while not all ASD children are savants, they are likely to have the same processing ability.

So maybe the processing issues we know ASD children have, stem from a lack of maturity and those processing issues correct as they get older and develop their non-typical skills that help them to process that information the way they do.

Certainly an interesting assertion. Maybe all us parents that are desperately worried about our kids’ processing for no reason (well, no reason might be stretching it but you know what I’m saying).  One thing we do know is that MR is not a symptom of ASD so processing disorders are always on the minds of parents of ASD children.

What do you think this could mean?

Levetiracetam in autistic children

Levetiracetam in autistic children: an o… [J Dev Behav Pediatr. 2002] – PubMed – NCBI.

This is a rather interesting study. Nootropics have been used my house for almost everyone in the family for a while. What’ interesting to note about this is that it certainly created improvements but there were no nootropic effects found.

I’ll be posting more on nootropics as I really think more parents should know about them.

UPDATE:

I had originally started this as a response in the comments to Channa’s question but then decided it might just be better served up here.

It’s an anti-epileptic drug more commonly known as Keppra. What makes it interesting is that it is structurally similar to piracetam, a nootropic, which is why I posted it. I’m big on nootropics.

Keppra has always been an anticonvulsant and it is not considered a nootropic but some studies have said that it can produce a milder nootropic effect, meaning that it’s probably not really known well enough whether or not it could be classified as a nootropic since there is conflicting data.

I wonder if the effects that some ASD kids have with improvement from Keppra can be somewhat contributed to a possible nootropic enhancement or if it’s strictly due to the lowering of seizure activity. Part of what they describe, lessening of hyperactivity and impulsivity is exactly what a nootropic can do. So I have to wonder if they really didn’t see a nootropic effect.

Took the plunge

We’ve done mostly everything biomed and after 5 years, we have come to a point where life has to improve for everyone in the family. My son doesn’t really have hyperactivity issues but has severe focus issues. His ADD has really come in the way of his own confidence and our enjoyment of each others’ company. I’m always yelling at him and he’s always too distracted to care and it always ends in tears. No fun for him and makes me feel like the worst mommy ever. It’s really not pretty.

He knows he can’t concentrate and it hurts him so much. He doesn’t understand why he can’t think like everyone else and he always feels like a failure. Unbeknownst to me, the first week of school his teacher asked the class to set goals. His goal was not to make good grades, make lots of friends or even be the line leader. His goal was to concentrate better. Talk about a heart-breaker.

We picked up the Ritalin on Friday. We went to our ped for it since my DAN doesn’t generally do stimulants. Our ped started him Ritalin but he likely will not stay on it. It’s the oldest and most well known drug and he wanted to start with something they know the best. For the first month, he stays on normal Ritalin (not slow release) because it clears the system fast and if he does have a reaction, we want it out as soon as possible. So for the first week, we just stick with 2x a day of 5mg each. We watch and report back to the doc a week later. Then we’ll adjust the dose again and titrate up as we feel necessary to get to the right dose. Once we get there, we’ll consider going to long acting and possibly a newer drug that maybe has fewer side effects.

Since we started Saturday, I’ve noticed that he doesn’t sleep very well and has very hard time falling asleep. He already gets 1mg of melatonin at night. I’ll be upping his dose to 3 mg and see if that helps. It is a side effect of stimulants.

Today was his first day of school on ritalin and his teacher noticed a huge improvement. She said she knew just by looking at his handwriting that he had started (I hadn’t told her but she was aware it would happen).

I never wanted to go to meds but biomed just never made a difference. I would never recommend someone try meds first before biomed but for those of us that have done our due diligence, I’m all for doing what works. I resisted long enough. I’ve known enough ADHD people personally that have told me how medication has made all the difference in the world for them. How they finally felt normal. I can’t and won’t deny my son that chance. I put it off as long as I could because I just never felt comfortable putting him on it so young (especially after a Dr. put him on antidepressants when he was 3 to disastrous effects).

Now he’s 8, I’m still not happy about it but I feel like it’s really the only thing left for me to do. I might end up regretting the decision but I can’t tell you how easy homework was today. He’s outside playing right now because he got done with his homework faster than ever and not a single instance of yelling. There was actually quite a bit of humor involved as he came up to me as “Paper Head.” He put his homework in front of his face and walked around with it until I checked it. Laughing during homework time with him has always been rare.

We call it his “thinking medicine” since it’s to help him think better. Today I struggled with my NT son and his homework and my ASD son said NT son needed some of his thinking medicine. 😉

So for any of you struggling with the decision after years of biomed, don’t beat yourself up if you go there. My son is recovered from autism through biomed. His ADD has only gotten worse. Maybe with this, life will be typical for him and that’s really what all of us want.

Some personal thoughts on ADHD and stimulant meds

I’ve been doing things all these years to try to alleviate the ADHD with little success. Things are only marginally better with biomed. I haven’t tried everything – I’m calling my doc to see if we can try hydergine (he’s already on 2 other non-Rx nootropics but I’ve read that hydergine in combo with other nootropics is like night and day). I’ve been doing biomed for over 4 years and haven’t made any headway with it so I’ve decided that if I can’t take care of it without stimulants then I will try them when he gets to the grade where grades matter which is, I think the 4th grade. I have a couple years still to work on it.

In many ways, I feel like autism masked his ADHD.  As he recovered from autism, his ADHD just got worse. Like we had been able to blame the autism for so much until the autism wasn’t there to blame anymore.

I admit to sometimes wondering if I’m just doing him a disservice by continuing to wait. If you know anything about ADHD, language issues are quite common and his pragmatics just aren’t great – something I used to attribute to autism until I learned how prevalent it is in ADHD and realized that is the last of his autism I needed to get out that is just a toughy. Getting him to speak was easy.  Getting him to speak and comprehend at least somewhat close to typical, totally different…  I often wonder if these would solve his problem and he wouldn’t have to play catch up so hard.

Speaking to others with ADHD and having them tell me that the first time they started their ADHD med they finally felt normal really makes an impact. Hearing them tell me how the world finally righted itself and everything made sense because of their meds does give me great pause.

I dunno what the answer is. Part of me is just too chicken to even give the meds after doing biomed for so long. I don’t want to put something like stimulants into him not knowing what the long term effects are.  Another part of me feels like I’d just be a huge hypocrite if I gave them, I used to be one of those people that thought stimulants were a crutch of bad parenting. If I just find the right biomed combination, the right key, find the root of what’s happening…  And then another part of me feels like I could be giving him something right now that could potentially make it all go away and I’m not; and wondering just how bad of a mom that makes me.

It’s a daily struggle to know what the right thing is. I do feel like he’s just too young to be taking stimulants and that’s my main driving force behind doing everything I can before going to meds.  I don’t have a lot of confidence that I can avoid that, though.  From my answers on the Connors test, wow.  He’s got it bad.

From autism to ADHD

My son’s triennial assessment is going on right now and I just filled out an interesting parent form. One I haven’t seen before but knew instantly what it was when I read the questions. ADHD questionnaire. I searched for the name of the test and found it on the side margin, Connors 3.

In so many ways, this is good news (so far). It looks like it means they no longer think he has autism (yay, me! I worked hard to get it that way!) but now they want to assess for ADHD.

To be honest, they could’ve just asked me and saved us all the time. Yes. There ya go, no need for a questionnaire. In everything I’ve done, I’ve managed to deal with the autism but the ADHD is still such a huge problem. I’m not sure what more I can do.

Gryffin had a diagnosis of moderate to severe autism and to see the autism fade has been more than I could’ve ever dreamed but sometimes I look at the ADHD issues and think it’s harder to crack than autism ever thought it could be.

Who knows, maybe we’ll have our IEP and instead of saying they don’t think he has autism, they’ll say they think he has autism and ADHD. That ought to be a riot since the autism diagnosis specifically excludes any other diagnosis as part of the condition.

But I don’t think that’ll happen. When I see Gryffin, I see ADHD, not autism.

Sheesh. It’s hard to even think about it right now.

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