Autism Articles

DSM Says No to Anxiety-Depressive Syndrome, Yes to Autism Revisions

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

DSM Says No to Anxiety-Depressive Syndrome, Yes to Autism RevisionsDemonstrating that the folks who are revising the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) are listening to the scientific data, they have nixed two new proposed diagnoses — anxiety-depressive syndrome and attenuated psychosis syndrome. The changes were announced this week at the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association, the organization largely responsible for updating the reference manual used by health and mental health professionals to make diagnoses.

The critics were worried that these new diagnoses would label millions of Americans with a mental disorder — and offering them subsequent treatment — that today wouldn’t qualify for such diagnosis or treatment.

For instance, while anxiety mixed with depression is actually quite commonly seen in the wild of clinical practices, there is no specific diagnosis for this mixed mood state. The DSM-5 sought to correct this problem — that clinicians are treating millions for a problem the DSM says doesn’t technically exist. But critics worried the new criteria were too lax and might result in over-diagnosis.

The same was true for attenuated psychosis syndrome. The proposed diagnosis was an effort to get children and young adults into treatment sooner for experiencing weird thoughts or hallucinations. But people worried that it would lead to unnecessary treatment of kids for a potentially temporary problem.

Benjamin Nugent Believes He Had Asperger Syndrome — According to His Mom

Saturday, March 3rd, 2012

Benjamin Nugent Believes He Had Asperger Syndrome -- According to His MomBenjamin Nugent believes he had Asperger’s Syndrome (a milder form of austim).

Who made this diagnosis? His mom.

His mom was so convinced that her then 17-year-old teenage son had this disorder, she put in him in an educational video about Asperger’s. Asperger’s is usually diagnosed in childhood or as a young teenager, and is characterized by a severe degree of social impairment, isolation, and what others might see as eccentric behavior.

While I commend Mr. Nugent for sharing his story with the world, I have to really question his understanding of how mental disorders are diagnosed by mental health clinicians.

Here’s his story…

Is Anyone Normal Today?

Friday, July 1st, 2011

Is Anyone Normal Today?Take a minute and answer this question: Is anyone really normal today?

I mean, even those who claim they are normal may, in fact, be the most neurotic among us, swimming with a nice pair of scuba fins down the river of Denial. Having my psychiatric file published online and in print for public viewing, I get to hear my share of dirty secrets—weird obsessions, family dysfunction, or disguised addiction—that are kept concealed from everyone but a self-professed neurotic and maybe a shrink.

“Why are there so many disorders today?” Those seven words, or a variation of them, surface a few times a week. And my take on this query is so complex that, to avoid sounding like my grad school professors making an erudite case that fails to communicate anything to average folks like me, I often shrug my shoulders and move on to a conversation about dessert. Now that I can talk about all day.

Here’s the abridged edition of my guess as to why we mark up more pages of the DSM-IV today than, say, a century ago (even though the DSM-IV had yet to be born).

6 Tips for Living with an Autism Spectrum Disorder in College

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

Living with an Autism Spectrum Disorder in CollegeAs Autism Awareness month continues, April is a time of transition for many high school seniors, as they learn what colleges and universities they got into. So it seems like an ideal time to talk about autism and college, and some tips to help with the transition.

The excerpt below is from the book, Living Well on the Spectrum by author Valerie L. Gaus, Ph.D. The book is a self-help book that helps a person with an autism spectrum disorder identify life goals and the steps needed to achieve them.

Read on for the excerpt…

Should You Tell Your Employer You Have Autism?

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

Should You Tell Your Employer You Have Autism?April is Autism Awareness Month, and in helping to promote awareness of autism, I’m pleased to provide an excerpt from the book, Living Well on the Spectrum by author Valerie L. Gaus, Ph.D. The book is a self-help book that helps a person with an autism spectrum disorder identify life goals and the steps needed to achieve them.

One of the concerns I often hear from people with an autism spectrum disorder is about work and their career. In fact, just last evening while hosting our weekly Q&A on mental health issues here at Psych Central, the question came up whether a person should tell a potential employer about their Asperger’s (the mildest form of autism).

While I am not a lawyer, my suggestion was that it probably wasn’t relevant for many jobs and not something that I personally would share with a potential employer during the interview process (while you’re trying to put your best foot forward). But as I said last night, it all depends on the situation, the specific job and its responsibilities, and how comfortable the person is talking about these concerns with a stranger and potential boss. It’s something that I feel like can always be shared later, after the job is obtained.

Read on for the excerpt…

Andrew Wakefield, the Autism-Vaccine Link and ‘Deliberate Fraud’

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

Andrew Wakefield, the Autism-Vaccine Link and Deliberate FraudAs though Dr. Andrew Wakefield didn’t have enough problems. After his study of 12 (count ‘em — a whole 12!) children was thrown out of The Lancet when its original claim of a link between autism and MMR vaccines didn’t really hold water, now he’s got the BMJ on his case.

The problem with the original study came when nobody — and I mean, nobody — could replicate the research. Not Wakefield. Not other researchers. Science demonstrates a strong finding when data is replicable. When nobody can replicate your research, it’s considered an unreliable or extremely weak finding.

And in this case, it’s not even that. The BMJ today claimed that Dr. Andrew Wakefield allegedly engaged in deliberate fraud in his original study.

Listening in On Another Conversation

Saturday, September 25th, 2010

Listening in On Another ConversationWe’ve all done it — listened in on another conversation while talking to …

Antipsychotics Are Not Appropriate for a 2 Year Old

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

Antipsychotics Are Not Appropriate for a 2 Year OldI remain astounded that psychiatrists and pediatricians think it’s occasionally appropriate to prescribe adult atypical antipsychotic medications — like Risperdal — to children younger than age 5.

Last week, The New York Times covered the story of Kyle Warren, a boy who began risperidone (Risperdal) treatment at age 2. Yes, you read the right — age 2.

He was rescued from this unbelievable prescription by Dr. Mary Margaret Gleason through a treatment effort called the Early Childhood Supporters and Services program in Louisiana. Dr. Gleason helped wean young Kyle off of the medications from ages 3 to 5, and helped understand that Kyle’s tantrums came from his stressful and upsetting family situation — not a brain disorder, bipolar disorder, or autism.

Imagine that — a child responding to a family situation that is stressful and involves his two primary role models — his parents.

After carefully reviewing the limited amount of research in this area, Psych Central recommends that parents should never accept an atypical antipsychotic medication prescription for a child age 5 or younger. If your doctor makes such a prescription, you should (a) look for another doctor and (b) consider filing a complaint with your state’s medical board against the doctor.

A Review of the DSM-5 Draft

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

A Review of the DSM-5 DraftThe new DSM-5 draft is out (and it appears the APA is …

Autism Rates Redux: Autism Rates Better Than in October

Sunday, December 20th, 2009

Talk about déjà vu.

It was just over two months ago we and other news agencies reported on a study published in the journal Pediatrics

Bye Bye Asperger’s Syndrome?

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

Is the diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome — a mild form of autism mostly diagnosed in boys — …

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