Education and Counseling for Individuals Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders


Theories of Aspergers

What are some of the prominent theories that attempt to describe Aspergers?

Aspergers appears to result from developmental factors that affect many - or all - functional brain systems. Although (a) the specific underpinnings of ASPERGERS that distinguish it from other Autism Spectrum Disorders are unknown, and (b) no clear pathology common to people with ASPERGERS has emerged, it is still possible that ASPERGERS's mechanism is separate from other Autism Spectrum Disorders. Several theories are available, although none are likely to provide a complete explanation. Below are the current theories with the most credibility:

1. Neuroanatomical studies and the associations with teratogens (see “What is a teratogen?” below) strongly suggest that the mechanism behind Aspergers includes alteration of brain development soon after conception. Abnormal migration of embryonic cells during fetal development may affect the final structure and connectivity of the brain, resulting in alterations in the neural circuits that control thought and behavior.

2. The mirror neuron system (MNS) theory hypothesizes that alterations to the development of the MNS interfere with imitation and lead to Aspergers core feature of social impairment. For example, one study found that activation is delayed in the core circuit for imitation in people with ASPERGERS. This theory maps well to social cognition theories like the theory of mind, which hypothesizes that autistic-like behavior arises from impairments in ascribing mental states to oneself and others (called hyper-systemizing), which hypothesizes that people with Autism can systematize internal operation to handle internal events but are less effective at empathizing by handling events generated by other agents.

3. The under-connectivity theory hypothesizes under-functioning high-level neural connections and synchronization, along with an excess of low-level processes. It maps well to general-processing theories such as weak central coherence theory, which hypothesizes that a limited ability to see the big picture underlies the central disturbance in Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Functional magnetic resonance imaging provides some evidence for both under-connectivity and mirror neuron theories.

4. A related theory, called “enhanced perceptual functioning,” focuses more on the superiority of locally oriented and perceptual operations in people with Autism.

5. Other possible mechanisms include serotonin dysfunction and cerebellar dysfunction.

What is a teratogen?

A teratogen is any agent that can cause a birth defect. It is usually something in the environment that the mother may be exposed to during her pregnancy. It could be a prescribed medication, a street drug, alcohol use, or a disease present in the mother which could increase the chance for the baby to be born with a birth defect. About 4 to 5 percent of birth defects are caused by exposure to a teratogen.

Once the egg is fertilized (conception), it takes about six to nine days for implantation (anchoring into the uterus) to occur. Once the fertilized egg is connected to the uterus, a common blood supply exists between the mother and the embryo. In other words, if something is in the mother's blood, it can now cross over to the developing fetus. Teratogens are thought to have the ability to affect the fetus about 10 to14 days after conception.

During the development of a baby, there are certain organs forming at certain times. If a teratogen has the potential to interfere with the closure of the neural tube, for example, the exposure to the teratogen must occur in the first 3.5 to 4.5 weeks of the pregnancy, since this is when the neural tube is closing. There are some organ systems that are sensitive to teratogens throughout the entire pregnancy, such as the central nervous system. The central nervous system is the baby's brain and spine.

One teratogen that affects the central nervous system is alcohol. Alcohol, at any time during the pregnancy, has the potential to cause birth defects and health problems in the baby, since the central nervous system is sensitive to teratogens the entire nine months of gestation. This is why alcohol consumption should be avoided in its entirety during pregnancy.

There are many different teratogens that cause birth defects. Listed below are a few examples:

• Acetaminophen
• Alcohol
• Microwave ovens
• Phenytoin (Dilantin)
• Prenatal vitamins
• Spermicides
• Varicella

The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook


Anonymous said...

I often wonder if the antidepressants I was on the first 7 weeks of pregnancy had an affect on his having Aspergers. :0

Anonymous said...

Stephanie Birmingham Walls I wonder the same...or the Tetnus shot I had to get or the narcon they gave him when he was born since he came so quickly after I received Stadol and my epi...??? Either way I still believe it's partially X linked genetically :( still my fault...
4 hours ago · Like
Aleta Richards I had nothing during my pregnancies, not even Tylenol, and I lived WAY out in the country away from the city pollution and I still had an Aspie and Autistc child. Reason I think it's genetic.
4 hours ago · Like
Aleta Richards And it's not your fault. These kids are smart. If it weren't for Aspie people, you wouldn't be posting to Facebook on a computer on the internet. It's Aspie people who invented technology. We need those different minds. :) They're very unique individuals. If you get time, please watch this video on Temple Grandin about needing different minds.​ch?v=fn_9f5x0f1Q
3 hours ago · Like
Denice Molina Egilsson I eat a very healthy diet, there were no drugs of any kind or any alcohol during all three of my pregnancies. I have one child with aspergers and possibly another. When I look at my family and my husbands family I can see that it is genetic.

Anonymous said...

I ate very well during my pregnancy and did not take any medication at all (not even prenatal vitamins as I could not hold them down). The only thing I took was ONE of the anti nausea pills that my doctor prescribed....I am convinced that it is genetic since some of the more unusual interests my son has happen to coincide with my own. It is truly shocking!

Anonymous said...

Parenting Aspergers Children - Support Group If would only be your "FAULT" if you intentionally (let me repeat that: "intentionally") did something to "cause" your child's autism spectrum disorder (a rather silly notion - isn't it?). A parent could not "cause" her child to have Aspergers even if she tried -- because there are numerous variables involved.

My child has been rejected by his peers, ridiculed and bullied !!!

Social rejection has devastating effects in many areas of functioning. Because the Aspergers child tends to internalize how others treat him, rejection damages self-esteem and often causes anxiety and depression. As the child feels worse about himself and becomes more anxious and depressed – he performs worse, socially and intellectually.

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How to Prevent Meltdowns in Aspergers Children

Meltdowns are not a pretty sight. They are somewhat like overblown temper tantrums, but unlike tantrums, meltdowns can last anywhere from ten minutes to over an hour. When it starts, the Asperger's child is totally out-of-control. When it ends, both you and the Asperger’s child are totally exhausted. But... don’t breathe a sigh of relief yet. At the least provocation, for the remainder of that day -- and sometimes into the next - the meltdown can return in full force.

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Parenting Defiant Aspergers Teens

Although Aspergers is at the milder end of the autism spectrum, the challenges parents face when disciplining a teenager with Aspergers are more difficult than they would be with an average teen. Complicated by defiant behavior, the Aspergers teen is at risk for even greater difficulties on multiple levels – unless the parents’ disciplinary techniques are tailored to their child's special needs.

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Aspergers Children “Block-Out” Their Emotions

Parenting children with Aspergers and HFA can be a daunting task. In layman’s terms, Aspergers is a developmental disability that affects the way children develop and understand the world around them, and is directly linked to their senses and sensory processing. This means they often use certain behaviors to block out their emotions or response to pain.

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Older Teens and Young Adult Children With Aspergers Still Living At Home

Your older teenager or young “adult child” isn’t sure what to do, and he is asking you for money every few days. How do you cut the purse strings and teach him to be independent? Parents of teens with Aspergers face many problems that other parents do not. Time is running out for teaching their adolescent how to become an independent adult. As one mother put it, "There's so little time, yet so much left to do."

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Living with an Aspergers Spouse/Partner

Research reveals that the divorce rate for people with Aspergers is around 80%. Why so high!? The answer may be found in how the symptoms of Aspergers affect intimate relationships. People with Aspergers often find it difficult to understand others and express themselves. They may seem to lose interest in people over time, appear aloof, and are often mistaken as self-centered, vain individuals.

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Online Parent Coaching for Parents of Asperger's Children

If you’re the parent of a child with Aspergers or High-Functioning Autism, you know it can be a struggle from time to time. Your child may be experiencing: obsessive routines; problems coping in social situations; intense tantrums and meltdowns; over-sensitivity to sounds, tastes, smells and sights; preoccupation with one subject of interest; and being overwhelmed by even the smallest of changes.

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Unraveling The Mystery Behind Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

Parents, teachers, and the general public have a lot of misconceptions of Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism. Many myths abound, and the lack of knowledge is both disturbing and harmful to kids and teens who struggle with the disorder.

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Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism

Two traits often found in kids with High-Functioning Autism are “mind-blindness” (i.e., the inability to predict the beliefs and intentions of others) and “alexithymia” (i.e., the inability to identify and interpret emotional signals in others). These two traits reduce the youngster’s ability to empathize with peers. As a result, he or she may be perceived by adults and other children as selfish, insensitive and uncaring.

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My Aspergers Child - Syndicated Content