Beginner’s Page

Some information about autism and this blog…

Just a few years ago I presumed autism was a mental and physical disability. The picture I held in my mind was of the most severe cases of autism (which are relatively rare). I imagined all autistic children needed lifelong support or special care environments. I never thought about autistic children growing into adults. In fact, I found out I had no idea what autism or Aspergers is.

I’ve worked all my life, been married, have an adult son and live independently in my own home. I didn’t realise the lifelong personal challenges I’d been attempting to change, train out of myself or hide – to fit into the currently accepted, mainstream society – could indicate I had an ‘autistic’ brain. I didn’t realise an autistic brain could be so dignified!

This blog is my experience of finding out about my “autistic” brain as an adult and sharing experiences and personal insights to encourage others.

This page provides information/links which direct you to independent information from the UK’s National Autistic Society – and at the bottom of the page, some information about me.

LinkInfo for women – National Autistic Society

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

The information below has been copied and pasted from the National Autistic Society

Autism profiles and diagnostic criteria

People can be puzzled by the diagnosis they or their child have been given. Over the years, different terms have been used for autism. This reflects the different autism profiles presented by individuals, and the diagnostic manuals and tools used. Misdiagnosis adds to the range of terms people hear.

Autism Profiles

Autism is a spectrum condition. All autistic people share certain difficulties, but being autistic will affect them in different ways.

These differences, along with differences in diagnostic approach, have resulted in a variety of terms being used to diagnose autistic people. Terms that have been used include autism, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), autism spectrum condition (ASC), atypical autism, classic autism, Kanner autism, pervasive developmental disorder (PDD), high-functioning autism (HFA) and Asperger syndrome

Because of recent and upcoming changes to the main diagnostic manuals, ‘autism spectrum disorder’ (ASD) is now likely to become the most commonly given diagnostic term. However, clinicians will still often use additional terms to help to describe the particular autism profile presented by an individual.Some autistic people also have learning disabilities, mental health issues or other conditions.

Asperger profile

A clinician might describe someone as having an Asperger syndrome profile if there has been no clinically significant delay in language or cognitive development but they still have social communication difficulties. They may also have specific delays in motor development as well as motor ‘clumsiness’. Read more about Asperger syndrome.

Misdiagnosis

One of the most common mistakes made by clinicians lacking autism experience is to make a number of observations that don’t take the issues related to autism into account.

Sometimes they may observe issues such as a person’s clumsiness (possible dyspraxia), reading difficulty (possible dyslexia), poor attention span (possible Attention Deficit Disorder), difficulty with social communication (semantic pragmatic disorder or social communication disorder), mental health issues, or behavioural issues and diagnose that as the main condition.

They may miss the fact that autism is underlying the obvious difficulties seen on the surface.

Diagnostic Manuals

International Classification of Diseases, tenth edition (ICD-10)The ICD-10 is the most commonly-used diagnostic manual in the UK.It presents a number of possible autism profiles, such as childhood autism, atypical autism and Asperger syndrome.

A revised edition (ICD-11) is expected in 2018 and is likely to closely align with the latest edition of the American Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM).

Diagnostic Criteria

The manual defines autism spectrum disorder as persistent difficulties with social communication and social interaction and restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviours, activities or interests (this includes sensory behaviour), present since early childhood, to the extent that these limit and impair everyday functioning.

In DSM-5, the terms ˜autistic disorder, Asperger disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder and ˜Pervasive Developmental Disorder“ Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS) have been replaced by the collective term ‘autism spectrum disorder’. This means that likely that autism spectrum disorder (ASD) will become the most commonly given diagnosis.

Specifiers for Autistic Spectrum Disorders

DSM-5 has introduced specifiers to help the clinician to describe associated or additional conditions, eg intellectual impairment, language impairment, genetic conditions, behavioural disorder, catatonia. One of the specifiers relates to the severity of social communication impairments and restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviour.

There are 3 levels: requiring support, requiring substantial support, requiring very substantial support. This can allow the clinician to give an indication of how much someone’s condition affects them and how much support an individual needs.

An illustration to assist with understanding the “Spectrum” can be found linked here

Diagnostic Tools

The DSM and ICD-10 criteria create the foundation for diagnostic tools such as the DISCO (Diagnostic Interview for Social and Communication Disorders), the ADI-R(Autism Diagnostic Interview – Revised), and the ADOS Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule). These, and other diagnostic tools, are used to collect information in order to help to decide whether someone is on the autism spectrum or not. The criteria form the basis for the diagnosis, but the individual clinician’s judgement is crucial. Find out more about our specialist training in the diagnosis and assessment of autism.

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Back to me and what I think…

Why reduce the human experience to an operational function? My preference is to view all human life as “Neuro-diverse”.

About The Autistic Buddhist

Link: A little bit about me and my blog

Read my first blog for a bit of background and find out why I decided to start writing about Adult Autism/Aspergers – particularly for Women.

The Buddhist Bit

I’ve been a practitioner of Nichiren Buddhism since 1983. I was drawn to this practise and continue to be inspired to practice, the life-affirming principles of buddhism that accord with equality, diversity and respect for all life.

Link: Why practise Nichiren Buddhism?

Buddhism continues to teach and encourage me to wake up and see my True Self.

It provides the tools for me to polish away the “tarnish” that naturally appears on the surface of the jewel that is (my) life and additionally, the self inflicted tarnish; the self doubt, beliefs and external voices that have been successful in diminishing this precious life.

When my life shines, it functions as it should, I feel joy.

Nichiren Buddhism teaches me how to live a life undefeated by the internal and external negative forces which function to stop me from living a happy and fulfilled life.

A vital element to support, guide and teach buddhism correctly is your choice of teacher or mentor

I would like to introduce you to my mentor in life, Daisaku Ikeda.

As Nichiren Daishonin encouraged in a letter sent to his followers in 1275“Therefore, I say to you, (my disciples), try practicing as the Lotus Sutra teaches, exerting yourselves without begrudging your lives! Test the truth of Buddhism now! Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.”  The remains my encouragement today, test the truth of Buddhism for yourself now!.

And to the Soka Gakkai – the worldwide support and group of individuals who empower others to revolutionise their own, precious lives in their own unique way.

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