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Suffering In Silence.

     What would you think if someone could remember the names of all the Presidents of the United States in the exact order that they served in office?

Incredible memory, history buff maybe?

This is but one example of what someone with Autism or Asperger’s syndrome might do.

If you didn’t know, April is Autism awareness month.

Autism and Aspergers Syndrome are more common than one might Image.

The Centers for Disease Control estimates that 1 in 110 children have an Autism spectrum disorder.

Autism and Asperger’s syndrome are developmental disorders which until recently have not been well understood by the medical community or general population.

Autism is a disorder that effects how people communicate and interact with others.

One of the Enduring stereotypes of people with autism is from the 1988 movie “Rain Man” in which Dustin Hoffman plays an autistic savant.

In the movie, Hoffman’s character is easily upset when his routines are disturbed.

“The percentage of people that are savants is very low”, said PhD.Marilyn Perry.

Perry is a Clinical Psychologist who works with higher –functioning adults with Aspergers and Autism.

Sadly, many those with less sever forms of autism often, live lives in quiet desperation because services are not as accessible for them and they are subject to discrimination.

“People with autism and Asperger’s often come across as rude or obtuse” said Marilyn Perry.

“They can have difficulty with employment” because they lack the social skills, and may not be seen as “Team Players”, said Perry

Perry runs, Families For early Autism Treatment which is a support group in Sacramento, which people can turn to for help.

While there are many theories about what causes autism no one knows what causes autism.

Ron Huff who is the Director of Intake at Alta Regional said, “ there are multiple causes for Autism.”

Huff said that environmental factors such as toxins including pesticides and herbicides can contribute to autism and asperger’s.

While there are many factors that cause autism and Asperger’s Huff says that, “ there is a higher risk among families with a genetic predisposition (for autism).”

Unlike other conditions, autism and aspergers cannot be treated medically.

In prior decades autism and asperger’s were treated as a mental illness; however Huff said, “ it is distinct from Schizophrenia, it is a developmental disorder.”

But has autism become an easy label to slap on children and adults that we do not consider normal, due to our ignorance?

According to, (S) upporting (E) motional (N) eeds of the (G) ifted – http://www.sengifted.org/ – an advocacy organization for children and adults with autism, many children and adults are being misdiagnosed with mental health problems like Schizophrenia when they have autism.

One of the members of SENG is Dr. James T. Webb, Webb is a co-author of the Book “ Misdiagnosis: ADHD, Bipolar, OCD , Asperger’s , Depression and other Disorders “

In their book, Webb and his co-authors state, “Assigning a diagnosis to behaviors that are normal for gifted and talented persons is, in our opinion, a significant and widespread problem.”

While no one knows what causes Autism and Asperger’s syndrome, there are many theories.

Ted Slanker is the owner of Slanker’s Grass-Fed Meats, Ranch in North East Texas.

Slanker’s website features an article that Slanker wrote in which he claims that Autism may be linked to a lack of Omega-3.

In Sacramento Kaiser Permanenente opened a center for Autism in 2006.

Kaiser works in a joint effort with UC Davis’s M.I.N.D. institute.

Dr. Majorie Solomon is a clinical Psychologist who works for the M.I.N.D. Institute.

Dr. Solomon said, “There are lots of different potential reasons (why so many people have autism) such as Improved Diagnosis, Environmental factors…”

When asked about research regarding alternatives to pharmaceutical treatments, Dr. Solomon became hostile and terse.

In 2010 Professor Marie Myung -OK Lee of Brown University wrote an Article for Slate.com describing how she and her husband use Medical Marijuana to treat their eight year-old autistic son.

In Lee’s article,she states that, she decided on medical marijuana as an alternative to anti-psychotic medication to control their son’s anxiety.

One drug that is prescribed by doctors for people with Autism is Risperdal.

Perry said, “ If you don’t treat the anxiety they (people with autism) have trouble functioning.”

In 2008, the New York Time’s reported that 389,000 children and teenagers were treated for Attention Deficit Disorder, ADD, and other disorders with Risperdal in 2007.

However, Risperdal is a powerful anti-psychotic used for people with Schizophrenia, and can have serious side – effects.

According to the Food And Drug Administration from 1993 to 2008 31 children who were prescribed Rispedal died.

While diagnosing and treating autism is difficult it is clear that more research is need to find solutions to this epidemic which effects many of our citizens.

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