Why is Asperger's considered a form of autism?


by GreatEscapist
Tags: asperger, autism, considered, form
zoobyshoe
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Jun14-10, 09:23 AM
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Quote Quote by rhody View Post
Wow, considering your communication skills and firm background in art and neurology I am sure there should be some interesting stories to tell. Possibly get her to join and have a peek at the synesthesia thread perhaps ?
We'll see what happens. I met her former caretaker months ago and run into her a couple times a week. She stays in touch with most of her former clients and calls her (the savant) up now and then to get together. Apparently they've been to the cafe where I hang out a few times when I didn't happen to be there. When I saw the caretaker a couple days ago she said she planned to bring her down there this evening.

My plan for tonight is just to get a sense of how articulate she is (what kinds of questions she can handle) and try to pin down a list of all her savant skills and synesthesias.
rhody
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Jun14-10, 09:43 AM
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Quote Quote by zoobyshoe View Post
We'll see what happens. I met her former caretaker months ago and run into her a couple times a week. She stays in touch with most of her former clients and calls her (the savant) up now and then to get together. Apparently they've been to the cafe where I hang out a few times when I didn't happen to be there. When I saw the caretaker a couple days ago she said she planned to bring her down there this evening.

My plan for tonight is just to get a sense of how articulate she is (what kinds of questions she can handle) and try to pin down a list of all her savant skills and synesthesias.
Zooby,

You are a master at that so I am sure there will be some interesting exchanges. I have a friend at work whose stepson may have it (synesthesia) as well. He is forwarding the link to his step Dad. Hopefully it will prove useful and interesting to him and his stepson. Only time will tell. Later.

Rhody...
zoobyshoe
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Jun14-10, 12:48 PM
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This is a kid's book that I think actually sums up a lot of the symptons and experience pretty well.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xSMw-noNcnY
The book is pretty thorough, covers about everything.

Quote Quote by Freeman Dyson View Post
Aspergers=sensory bombardment. Turn the ****ing noise down. I don't want to hear any noises when I try to read. Just everything is magnified. Even touch. Clothing is an irritant. Shirts have to be broken in and worn many times to be tolerable. There is less distinction between signal and noise.
Are you speaking from experience or using the first person on behalf of your friend? As a kid I was hypersensitive to certain things, and I've often heard people who clearly don't have Asperger's mention similar things. In my case I think it was linked to the fact I had (or have) Migraine. Certain stimuli made me nauseated. I spent a lot of time in school feeling a sickening malaise, then I'd come home and have a terrific unilateral headache for a couple hours. A lot of things like clothing, certain foods, the sight of certain things, were intensely unpleasant.
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Jun14-10, 07:39 PM
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Quote Quote by apeiron View Post
Yes, mechanisms may be similar, but then what is it you are suggesting? That the essential cause of neurodevelopmental differences like autism, etc, is due to faulty "group behaviour genes"? Or is it something about the cross-species story of bacteria you are getting at?

Remember that bacteria are promiscuous buggers and pass all sorts of genes across species. But this is not the case for higher animals (though viral segments and other stuff can get worked into our genomes - around 3% by some estimates).

To step back, the presumption is that neurodevelopmental disorders occur because neurodevelopment gets derailed. An array of inter-cell signalling is involved in getting a brain to construct itself correctly. This is an immensely complex story. And so it is easy to imagine dozens of ways the process could be derailed.

The bacteria connection you are making seems nothing special because bacteria, like all cells, also make heavy use of receptors and signalling systems. So what is it about them that suggests a specific derailing mechanism?
aperion,

I went digging some more and found this PF thread, What part of the brain is conscious ? single post posted by: hypnagogue
Neurons normally have a resting potential, such that the interior of the neuron is negatively charged with respect to the exterior. A neuron's potential can be be made either more or less negative by inputs it receives from other neurons at its dendrites. If the inputs a neuron receives raise its potential above a certain threshold, then the action potential (process of neural firing) is automatically triggered. (Actually, neurons normally fire spontaneously at some rate; inputs from other neurons can make a given neuron fire more or less rapidly, though.) Here are some good links that go into further detail:
His first link: Excitable Cells includes the passage, last paragraph at bottom reproduced here:
This way for the neuron to evaluate a mix of positive and negative signals occurs rapidly. It turns out, however, that neurons also have a long-term way to integrate a mix of positive and negative signals converging on them. This long-term response involves changes in gene activity leading to changes in the number and activity of the cell's many synapses.
This quote is from the second link: neuron
The neuron, like all cells, is encapsulated and defined by a semi-permeable membrane. Semi-permeable just means that some things can cross it, and others cannot, and some can cross it only if the cell allows them to. Ions fall into this latter group. They can only cross the membrane though channels, protein structures in the membrane which can be variably selective. At rest, when the cell is just sitting, and not transmitting signals, there are several types of channels active. There are leak channels, which allow the free flow of specific ions. Only one ion can pass through a channel at a time, so these leaks are not very strong, and they are different for different ions (depending on the number of leak channels for that particular ion). The other vitally important type of channel active at rest is the ion pump. These pumps push ions against their electrochemical gradient, and with the leak channels help to maintain steady concentrations of ions inside the neuron.
I guess where I am trying to draw a similar analogy is with ions (in neurons) with enzymes (in bacteria) because much of the behavior (at least to me) seems similar.
The main difference is with bacteria it is a one shot deal, a threshold is reached, and all the bacteria release their contents and the electrochemical bio luminescence is achieved. Whereas in the case of the neurons, the process repeats and the ions are transmitted propagated to the next neuron.

finally: bottom of the page:
There are other types of voltage sensitive ion channels which have different dynamics and can affect things like the rate and pattern with which neurons fire.
I equate different types of ion channels with different dynamics to different types of bacteria, each with its own unique enzyme.

The question is then, since bacteria have been shown to communicate to other bacteria (not the same type) with enzymes common to all species, is the same true for neurons ? More important are there different types of neurons (layman's question I am not a biologist) where intra-species (if there are different types of neurons) communication is possible.

Thanks for your patience... I am trying to learn, slowly but surely getting it, little by little.

Rhody...

P.S. One more thing, have a look at this video and quote from the article below by Dr Casanova:

I am including a link to the Einstein Autism thread. The point Dr Casanova is making is that there are brain structure anomalies: quote from the post linked above:
The brain strands or minicolumns of autism patients have more cells, but they are narrower and more densely packed -- which can limit the brain's ability to send messages.

Dr. Casanova says that's because "there's not enough juice to actually power very long connections in the brain."

Examining tissues from a normal brain and the brain of an autistic person, Dr. Casanova explains the differences. "The more bluish staining actually means more cells present," he says.

More cells and smaller cells, making up tiny brain strands, or minicolumns. These minicolums take in information, process it and respond to it.
Do gene abnormalities express themselves sometime in the critical time period 3 - 5 years when most toddlers are diagnosed as being autistic ?
apeiron
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Jun15-10, 03:07 AM
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Quote Quote by rhody View Post
The question is then, since bacteria have been shown to communicate to other bacteria (not the same type) with enzymes common to all species, is the same true for neurons ? More important are there different types of neurons (layman's question I am not a biologist) where intra-species (if there are different types of neurons) communication is possible.
I think you are reasoning from a variety of faulty assumptions here.

Neurons propagate signals down their axons by a wave of ionic activity - ions crossing the membrane - but then signal across a synapse (mostly) by releasing neurotransmitter messengers. (What you are calling enzymes).

Ion pores and ligand-gated channels are just standard biological equipment common to any cell. Neurons are cells that have been designed to make special use of their properties. So what you need to compare is not the components that would be common to many species of life, but the functional design of the cells involved.

Quote Quote by rhody View Post
Do gene abnormalities express themselves sometime in the critical time period 3 - 5 years when most toddlers are diagnosed as being autistic ?
There are many "critical periods" in brain development. You may be thinking of language development in particular. True autism is considered to show from birth. If you know what to look for. That is another reason for thinking it a low-level sensory integration issue (not a ToM one).
zoobyshoe
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Jun15-10, 04:02 AM
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Quote Quote by rhody View Post
You are a master at that so I am sure there will be some interesting exchanges. I have a friend at work whose stepson may have it (synesthesia) as well. He is forwarding the link to his step Dad. Hopefully it will prove useful and interesting to him and his stepson. Only time will tell. Later.
Hmmmm...well, the caretaker showed up with the autistic woman and another mutual friend at the cafe. They were 2.5 hours late. They didn't mention why, but I think there was a reason for it.

The woman was much older than I anticipated, in her early 60's I'd say. I'd gage she had the I.Q. of a 6 or 7 year old. She was exceptionally friendly and open to me from the get go. No hint of shyness around a stranger. I got everyone situated at my table and asked who wanted to draw. The caretaker had claimed the autistic woman had savant skills as an artist and I wanted to see that. I gave her paper and pencils. The resulting drawing was...ah...not the work of a savant. It was a rendering of the military base where she'd spent some of her childhood, and was about the level of a ten year old with no special skills. I had previously specifically asked the caretaker if the autistic woman's art was any good and she'd assured me "Oh, yeah! It's really good!"

Her caretaker volunteered a list of the woman's synesthetic responses to notes of the scale to me, saying "Here's a list of the colors she told me she sees." The list was hinkey. Only the major notes from C to B, no sharps or flats. The colors were all basic colors: red, yellow, blue, green, purple, orange, etc, not the delicate shades you usually see in these lists. I asked her what color she saw when she heard F#. She said "Purple", which was the same color that was on her list for F.

I asked the woman, "Say, do you have perfect pitch?" and she said "Yeah." I pulled out a little electronic keyboard I'd brought especially to test her and played a note. "What note is that?" I asked. She hesitated. I played it again several times. She said "I don't know." Scratch perfect pitch. I played the note again, "What color does it make you see?" She says "Red." Then she added "Green", then she added "Purple". And went through a whole bunch more colors. I tried a different note. She said, "I don't know." Scratch synesthesia.

The caretaker was getting red in the face. She asked, irritatedly "Do you always carry that thing with you?, meaning the keyboard. I said no, I'd brought it specifically for the occasion.

So, I think what happened was that the caretaker, in previous conversations, had grossly inflated her descriptions of the autistic woman's abilities, just cause she knew I liked neurological prodigies. I have the feeling they were late because they were trying to figure a way of compiling the list of synesthetic correlates. I imagine they were asking the autistic woman questions like "What color do you suppose goes with C? Do you think it might be Red?" To which the woman would agree, thinking they were playing some sort of game. Once they had the list I imagine they got her to memorize it, thinking I would only ask her "What color does D make you see?" to which she would reply with the preset answer.

It's hard to say for sure. The autistic woman, herself, was unintentionally misleading, like when I asked her if she had perfect pitch. I have no idea why she said "Yeah", so quickly and confidently, she didn't seem to know what perfect pitch was when it came down to it. I guess it was like Rainman when the Doc asked him how much a candy bar cost: "About a hundred dollars." And then how much a car cost: "About a hundred dollars." Ask them the wrong kind of question and they'll confabulate an answer. Or, in their mind, they think they understood what you asked. Hard to say.

The autistic woman had a fun time drawing, anyway. Once she got hold of the pencil sharpener she got fixated on it, and sharpened about 20 pencils nearly to oblivion. I had to remind her to get back to her drawing to save my Prismacolors.

It makes me think that all reports of autistic synesthetes may have to be doubly scrutinized, at least twice, and a few more times for good measure. Unlike 'normies' an autistic person could remember a list of musical note -> color corespondents forever and never make a mistake when tested years later, just because their memories are so good. Directly asking them if they feel shapes in response to taste, for example, might get a "yes" answer, even if they really have no idea what you're talking about.
rhody
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Jun15-10, 07:50 PM
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I think what happened was that the caretaker, in previous conversations, had grossly inflated her descriptions of the autistic woman's abilities, just cause she knew I liked neurological prodigies.
Hey, every experience is novel now isn't it ? It sounds like the caretaker "punked" you, she wanted to impress you and it back fired. It would have been cool if she had the abilities that she claimed to have however.
It makes me think that all reports of autistic synesthetes may have to be doubly scrutinized, at least twice, and a few more times for good measure.
Why ? Have you met a real autistic synesthete, or read of people claiming to have both that make you suspicious that they really don't exhibit the behavior/sensing of both ?

BTW. I picked up "Wed is indigo blue" the other day. Are their sections I should pay special attention to or that you agree with or have issues with, or for that matter skip altogether because it is simply a rehash of "The Man Who Tasted Shapes" ?

Rhody...

P.S. knowing you are the sensitive type, did you notice/sense anything before the earthquake hit yesterday ? I was in SD in the early 80's and we had one in the high 5 low 6 range. It sounded like a freight train and the whole building swayed, and small hairline cracks appeared in some walls, small cracks in the freeway in the hills near LaJolla. If you were outdoors, I have been told that animals can get really quiet just before, or suddenly act crazy in groups (quorum sensing, hehe).
rhody
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Jun15-10, 08:03 PM
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Quote Quote by GreatEscapist View Post
I've gotten used to the sensory stuff, and tried very hard to get over it. Sound was mine.
And it was never an issue- just loud. And curious.

And yes, social norms are hard to fit into.
GreatEscapist,

If you don't mind, I have a question for you, I am going to build a hypothetical situation, if you ever experienced it the way I describe it, great, if not if you had a situation close to it, describe it and how you felt.

You are with a group of friends in the evening, quietly sitting around a camp fire, the fire has burned down a bit and no one has gotten up to put more wood on. You are with people you know really well and trust, and the conversation is light and everyone is in a good mood. In this situation when you friends look at you and share their stories and feelings, how does it make you feel ?

Remember, you can see them but the color in their outline had faded, the only light is from the glowing campfire ? Their physical presence is shaded if you know what I mean.

Rhody...
nismaratwork
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Jun15-10, 09:28 PM
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Quote Quote by apeiron View Post
I think you are reasoning from a variety of faulty assumptions here.

Neurons propagate signals down their axons by a wave of ionic activity - ions crossing the membrane - but then signal across a synapse (mostly) by releasing neurotransmitter messengers. (What you are calling enzymes).

Ion pores and ligand-gated channels are just standard biological equipment common to any cell. Neurons are cells that have been designed to make special use of their properties. So what you need to compare is not the components that would be common to many species of life, but the functional design of the cells involved.



There are many "critical periods" in brain development. You may be thinking of language development in particular. True autism is considered to show from birth. If you know what to look for. That is another reason for thinking it a low-level sensory integration issue (not a ToM one).
I don't think that point can be stressed enough. Autism really does seem to be present from birth, unlike disorders or syndromes which result in eventual developmental retreat.
zoobyshoe
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Jun16-10, 02:01 AM
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Quote Quote by rhody View Post
Hey, every experience is novel now isn't it ? It sounds like the caretaker "punked" you, she wanted to impress you and it back fired. It would have been cool if she had the abilities that she claimed to have however.
Indeed.


Why ? Have you met a real autistic synesthete, or read of people claiming to have both that make you suspicious that they really don't exhibit the behavior/sensing of both ?
It should be clear from my post why. Autistic people will give affirmative answers to questions when they really don't understand what you're asking, many can memorize long lists of things and remember them accurately for years, and their descriptions of their experiences can be oblique and inpenetrable, causing people to interpret what they say incorrectly.

BTW. I picked up "Wed is indigo blue" the other day. Are their sections I should pay special attention to or that you agree with or have issues with, or for that matter skip altogether because it is simply a rehash of "The Man Who Tasted Shapes" ?
It is more like a rewrite and update of Synesthesia: A Union of the Senses. Just read the whole book, but don't count on any of it to be accepted forever. Like I said this whole field of research is new and everything's subject to change, especially statistics.

P.S. knowing you are the sensitive type, did you notice/sense anything before the earthquake hit yesterday ?
I am the sensitive type? I don't know what that means. Anyway, I wasn't even aware of this quake till I saw mention of it in the paper. I'll tell you that before the biggish Easter quake we had, I had no inkling it was coming, nor did I notice animals acting funny.
zoobyshoe
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Jun22-10, 03:24 PM
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Quote Quote by Britters View Post
As an Aspie I have run into alot of individuals whom don't understand that Asperger's is very different from one another in terms of how it is expressed, the individual's sex, if the individual has other disorders that are common with those afflicted with Asperger's, like ADHD/ADD, Depression... but the only noticable symptoms/characteristics that label's someone as having Asperger's, from what I gather through research and interviews with professionals, is the lack of eye contact, social withdrawl and the obsession of a specialized interest.

I believe for myself the best treatment I have had (with the endless support of my family) was the innovative (at the time in the early 90's) was obtaining daily ridorous behavioural therapy that was given by fellow supportive teachers and family members which was overseen by a professional. After 10 years I was able to maintain eye contact and maintain at least one friendship and later on eventually go on dates (still struggle at times, but the key is to have a partnership with someone who understands and has the patience of a saint, VERY HARD TO FIND, mind you.) One of my fond memories, as an aspie, when i was young was my favourite interest, even as to this day, Ancient Egypt, I would go for hours researching this subject making sure I soaked in every bit of information.
Thanks for posting. It's very interesting to hear your history of effort to get the hang of social interactions.


Quote Quote by Britters View Post
I think people placed Asperger's in the autistic spectrum because of the key characteristic of social withdrawl, social awkwardness and whatnot.
The actual reason may be purely bureaucratic, as someone hinted in another thread. Placing it with autism gives it a more severe connotation which probably makes it easier to get health care funding. It's probably easier to convince a judge that someone with 'mild autism' might warrant Social Security than it is to convince them that someone with 'Asperger's' does. Saying that someone doesn't make eye contact, is socially awkward, and has obsessive interests doesn't sound severe enough that they couldn't hold a job. But if you say "autism", it makes more sense that they aren't going to be able to function productively in a workplace.
nismaratwork
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Jun22-10, 03:33 PM
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Quote Quote by zoobyshoe View Post
Thanks for posting. It's very interesting to hear your history of effort to get the hang of social interactions.



The actual reason may be purely bureaucratic, as someone hinted in another thread. Placing it with autism gives it a more severe connotation which probably makes it easier to get health care funding. It's probably easier to convince a judge that someone with 'mild autism' might warrant Social Security than it is to convince them that someone with 'Asperger's' does. Saying that someone doesn't make eye contact, is socially awkward, and has obsessive interests doesn't sound severe enough that they couldn't hold a job. But if you say "autism", it makes more sense that they aren't going to be able to function productively in a workplace.
I'll say it again, the WHO and DSM classifications are for insurance purposes; to look at them in another way is to miss the point. There is a matter of simplifying the spectrum when they do seem to be similar, or at least hard to differentiate in terms of the cause and biology. Until there is a genetic or functional test that explains more than we see now, ASD is going to encompass "things" that do not necessarily share a common cause.

ASD is a lot like saying, "I broke a bone". That is informative and classifiable, but of no help to the doctor or patient who needs to distinguish between "spiral fracture of tibia", "green-stick fracture of 3rd rib" or "shattered pelvis". Yet they are all broken bones. In no way does the DSM represent the leading edge of science, or the art of psychology.
zoobyshoe
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Jun22-10, 03:38 PM
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Quote Quote by nismaratwork View Post
I'll say it again, the WHO and DSM classifications are for insurance purposes; to look at them in another way is to miss the point. There is a matter of simplifying the spectrum when they do seem to be similar, or at least hard to differentiate in terms of the cause and biology. Until there is a genetic or functional test that explains more than we see now, ASD is going to encompass "things" that do not necessarily share a common cause.

ASD is a lot like saying, "I broke a bone". That is informative and classifiable, but of no help to the doctor or patient who needs to distinguish between "spiral fracture of tibia", "green-stick fracture of 3rd rib" or "shattered pelvis". Yet they are all broken bones. In no way does the DSM represent the leading edge of science, or the art of psychology.
Yes, I think you have hit the nail squarely on the head.
nismaratwork
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Jun22-10, 11:45 PM
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Quote Quote by zoobyshoe View Post
Yes, I think you have hit the nail squarely on the head.
Thank you sir, I've been reading your contributions in the Synesthesia thread, and let me say that this compliment from you has some meaning to me.
rhody
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Jun30-10, 07:41 PM
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Wow, zooby, aperion, SW VandeCarr, nismaratwork, you need to watch this:

Aditi Shankardass: A second opinion on learning disorders

Dr Aditi Shankardass: Neuroscientist to get to the heart of the video, fast forward to 3:05.

To sum it up:
  1. Used on children with observed developmental disorders (particularly as it applies to autism)
  2. Using Real Time rEEG, and two software programs:
  3. Brain Electrical Activity Mapping (triangulates source of abnormality in the brain), and Statistical Probability Mapping
  4. rEEG scans observed that in 50% of children diagnosed with autism (also showed signs of spacing out), they were instead suffering from hidden brain seizures, wow.
  5. Once properly diagnosed they could be put on appropriate anti-seizure meds.

Rhody...

P.S. Zooby,
A couple years later I discovered by complete accident that deja vus are simple partial seizures.
Funny how you had to learn about your simple partial seizures through indirect means of Dr Cytowic, but that's the serendipitous way of things I guess. Both you are nismaratwork are real smarty pants, hehe. Now, where was I. dribbles off....
nismaratwork
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Quote Quote by rhody View Post
Wow, zooby, aperion, SW VandeCarr, nismaratwork, you need to watch this:

Aditi Shankardass: A second opinion on learning disorders

Dr Aditi Shankardass: Neuroscientist to get to the heart of the video, fast forward to 3:05.

To sum it up:
  1. Used on children with observed developmental disorders (particularly as it applies to autism)
  2. Using Real Time rEEG, and two software programs:
  3. Brain Electrical Activity Mapping (triangulates source of abnormality in the brain), and Statistical Probability Mapping
  4. rEEG scans observed that in 50% of children diagnosed with autism (also showed signs of spacing out), they were instead suffering from hidden brain seizures, wow.
  5. Once properly diagnosed they could be put on appropriate anti-seizure meds.

Rhody...

P.S. Zooby,

Funny how you had to learn about your simple partial seizures through indirect means of Dr Cytowic, but that's the serendipitous way of things I guess. Both you are nismaratwork are real smarty pants, hehe. Now, where was I. dribbles off....
Wow, that is fantastic! Rhody, Zooby, this is an absolute pleasure. I have to think about the implications of this, but I'll comment tomorrow. Really, that was a great find Rhody.
rhody
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Jun30-10, 08:05 PM
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Quote Quote by nismaratwork View Post
Wow, that is fantastic! Rhody, Zooby, this is an absolute pleasure. I have to think about the implications of this, but I'll comment tomorrow. Really, that was a great find Rhody.
nismaratwork,

Don't thank me, just add TED.com to your google reader/alerts or go to TED.com itself and subscribe, of every 20 video's they publish there are 2 to 4 that are real gems. Like I have said in the past, TED.com is a must for folks who want science news that "never makes the mainstream". I for one am overjoyed they are there. This was a TED alert in my inbox for a couple of days. I always check, and vet them. Glad you liked it.

Rhody...
Calluuuum
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Jul1-10, 09:29 AM
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Quote Quote by zoobyshoe View Post
One possible explanation for your co-worker not seeming typical comes from a book I read about Asperger's which asserted it is very frequently co-morbid with either 1.) OCD, 2.) Seizures, 3.) ADD, or 4.) Tourettes. So, his blunted affect might possibly be the side effect of a med he takes for a co-morbid condition.
I know that this is an old post, but I feel the need to voice an opinion. :P

Being an Aspie myself, it happens to me quite a lot. I don't believe it's the cause of any medication, as I take none. People make me out to be a bad person when I don't care for bad events, but it's just how I am. Sometimes if the event is not affecting me myself, I don't know how to act so I just tend to do nothing about it.


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