Autism/Asperger's/Alzheimer's?



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Claradoon
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18 Sep 2010, 10:30 pm

I've wondered for a long time whether Alzheimer's might be made of the same stuff as Autism and Asperger's. Mostly I'm basing the idea on my mother's Alzheimer's - she died at 89, and I think she possibly started at 60. And I turned 60 last week. Is it possible that the "treatment" of Alzheimer's might be improved by seeing it as a process, not an illness?

Anyhow - some similarities:
both neurological,
certain diagnosis only by autopsy,
interim diagnosis by observation of behaviour.
no physical pain, as far as I know.

Prime symptom: memory loss. Now let's look at this closely. What harm is memory loss? The harm is the inability to live in "our world" - we have created a world that is dangerous to people without memory. Mostly we cope at home by child-proofing the house. Sometimes we learn the hard way - my mother filled the kettle, put it on the burner, pressed On, and turned the burner to High. And high is how the kitchen burned. So we removed the fuse that runs the oven/stove, and brought a microwave.

This is occupational therapy. It is not a reason to put somebody in a home - any more than I should be put in a home because I break things.

I'm thinking of a condition where perspective becomes completely changed, therby alienating the person from the family and the rest of the world.

But is living in one's own world a reason to put somebody in a locked ward?

I know that Asperger's "made" me nuts - but that's not true. It was the demands to be "normal" - and the desperation with which I tried to be 'normal' - that did me in. Could it be that the demands to be normal cause much of the difficulty with Alzheimer's?


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Philologos
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18 Sep 2010, 10:53 pm

I would have to think this out carefully.I agree, it is the pressures of an alien world that make me and a stAxk of associates sick, But link with Alzheimers?

My father - all his life pretty alienated from his family and not that happy with some other parts of the world - started to mellow drastically once he was free from my motrher and other familial demands. Then gradually Alzheimer's moved in, and he is pretty easy in his head EXCEPT for being confused and unable to communicate. There is Asperger's in the family in various strengths - DO these link? Let me think. Be back if I have something to say.



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buryuntime
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19 Sep 2010, 12:09 am

Fizzgiz wrote:
http://www.autismtoday.com/articles/autism%20to%20alzheimer%27s.asp
http://www.autismhelpforyou.com/Autism% ... mpared.htm
http://alzheimers.about.com/od/readerss ... _story.htm

Great topic. Loved learning about this connection. :D

The first two links claim mercury and vaccines are connected to autism. The third is just a personal story.

I don't think they're related. Autism is a part of who you are, because you are born with it. Part of your identity. Alzheimer's is something nobody wants. Is there really any benefit to developing Alzheimer's?



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19 Sep 2010, 12:40 am

I agree that the second link is strictly about vaccines and mercury, but the first one is about a lining in the brain, and toxins (specifically heavy metals). And both of them are about Autism AND Alzheimer's. The third is just a personal story with an interesting perspective. I can't say that I can think of any benefit to developing Alzheimer's.



Callista
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19 Sep 2010, 2:49 am

No, there's no evidence.

Alzheimer's and Down syndrome are related; people with DS tend to get early-onset Alzheimer's. That's the only connection I know of. Autism and Alzheimer's have no connection.

But just because Alzheimer's and autism are both neurological doesn't mean they're related. There are so many neurological disorders with so many causes that it doesn't make sense to think they're related.

There is one "degenerative" thing related to autism, but it's not Alzheimer's; it's "regression" (I put this in quotation marks because it's not, as is implied, stepping backward in development; rather it's losing access to the most precariously retained skills, probably in an effort to preserve one's remaining energy and ability to think). It's a relatively rare phenomenon that happens when your environment is too demanding, and eventually it results in your losing skills and "regressing" because you haven't got enough processing power to retain it all. But this doesn't necessarily (or even usually) happen past middle age; it's actually most common in the toddler or pre-teen years, then again in the teens, and then again during early to middle adulthood. When it happens in childhood, it's called "childhood disintegrative disorder" or "regressive autism." (It can probably happen just on its own without anyone actually pushing too hard--it's just that the world itself, just everyday, is too much, and skills get dropped.) When things change and more is demanded of the individual, regressions can happen. We don't know a lot about it because it's a pretty rare phenomenon; but it exists, and is a part of the spectrum, and is therefore interesting to anyone who's studying autism.


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pgd
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19 Sep 2010, 4:12 am

Autism - Asperger are present from birth vs Alzheimer's which is an age-related, non-reversible brain disorder that develops over a period of years.

That's my understanding.

http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/alzh ... isease.htm



Claradoon
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19 Sep 2010, 5:54 am

Sorry, I didn't mean that they are related. Maybe parallel - maybe it's not an illness. Since I don't consider my Asperger's an illness, and since my problems have improved so much now that I don't have to try to be normal -

<gasp> What I'm trying to ask is - how sick can Trying-To-Be-Normal make a person?

For me with Asperger's, Trying-To-Be-Normal came to total disability. But the more I let go of Normal and allow Asperger's, the more I heal.

Are there other conditions, not necessarily related to autism, having disability resulting from Trying-To-Be-Normal? Maybe Alzheimer's is like that?

Again - not necessarily related, but having that trait in common.


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Claradoon
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19 Sep 2010, 5:57 am

Philologos wrote:
I would have to think this out carefully.I agree, it is the pressures of an alien world that make me and a stAxk of associates sick, But link with Alzheimers?

Beautifully put, Philologos. "The pressures of an alien world." That's exactly what I'm trying to say, and I want to explore whether autism is the only condition with that result? I did not mean that they're related, but that's something to think about too.


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Claradoon
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19 Sep 2010, 6:01 am

Fizzgiz wrote:
http://www.autismtoday.com/articles/autism%20to%20alzheimer%27s.asp
http://www.autismhelpforyou.com/Autism% ... mpared.htm
http://alzheimers.about.com/od/readerss ... _story.htm

Great topic. Loved learning about this connection. :D

Thank you, Fizzgiz - but I didn't mean that they're connected. I'm trying to say something more like, if autism isn't a disease, then are there other conditions like that? Conditions that are treated like disease but are more of a difference in perception?


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Claradoon
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19 Sep 2010, 6:10 am

Callista wrote:
No, there's no evidence.

Alzheimer's and Down syndrome are related; people with DS tend to get early-onset Alzheimer's. That's the only connection I know of. Autism and Alzheimer's have no connection.

But just because Alzheimer's and autism are both neurological doesn't mean they're related. There are so many neurological disorders with so many causes that it doesn't make sense to think they're related.

There is one "degenerative" thing related to autism, but it's not Alzheimer's; it's "regression" (I put this in quotation marks because it's not, as is implied, stepping backward in development; rather it's losing access to the most precariously retained skills, probably in an effort to preserve one's remaining energy and ability to think). It's a relatively rare phenomenon that happens when your environment is too demanding, and eventually it results in your losing skills and "regressing" because you haven't got enough processing power to retain it all. But this doesn't necessarily (or even usually) happen past middle age; it's actually most common in the toddler or pre-teen years, then again in the teens, and then again during early to middle adulthood. When it happens in childhood, it's called "childhood disintegrative disorder" or "regressive autism." (It can probably happen just on its own without anyone actually pushing too hard--it's just that the world itself, just everyday, is too much, and skills get dropped.) When things change and more is demanded of the individual, regressions can happen. We don't know a lot about it because it's a pretty rare phenomenon; but it exists, and is a part of the spectrum, and is therefore interesting to anyone who's studying autism.

Callista, I love your posts, they are so precise and solid. I tried to snip a bit to make it shorter to respond to, but you don't waste any words!

I didn't know about the link between Down's & Asperger's. I find that encouraging, because it seems to me that society is becoming more accepting of Down's.

I am not positing a physical link between Asperger's and Alzheimer's. I am looking at the similarities and wondering if we should create improved living conditions for Alzheimer's, as we try to do with Asperger's.

I'm saying that there could be a thousand realities, and we don't have to lock people up because they live in another reality. There are issues of hygiene and safety, but even then, why do we think these people are "sick"?


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Claradoon
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19 Sep 2010, 6:21 am

pgd wrote:
Autism - Asperger are present from birth vs Alzheimer's which is an age-related, non-reversible brain disorder that develops over a period of years.

That's my understanding.

http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/alzh ... isease.htm

I see what you mean but I'm trying to look at AD from a different viewpoint. A few decades ago, people with autism were deemed to have non-reversible brain disorder. They were locked up in institutions where the pressure to be "Normal" could be maximized. I'm not saying there's a link of any kind, just a similarity which might point to Alzheimer's being another example of extreme difference from the majority. In that light, could treatment include acceptance? Maybe I should be talking about dementia.


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Ravenclawgurl
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19 Sep 2010, 8:01 am

the only similarity is the executive functioning difficulties



Fizzgiz
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19 Sep 2010, 8:24 am

Hmmm. I see what you mean. I believe Learning Disorders are like that. I watched this great video a little while back that showed what it was like to have a LD. They call it a disorder, but in reality it is just a different perception. The video was outrageous in that the guy had a room full of teachers, parents , and other people who work with LD. He showed them exactly what it feels like to have it, through a series if exercises. It was so good. My Mom is LD, and she was crying when she watched it, because it was so accurate. I think it should be a must see for anyone that works with anyone who has any learning difficulty. It helped me understand what it is like for my son to try to write with his dyspraxia. I can't describe it better, but here is the link to the guys site. The video I'm talking about is called, "How Difficult Can This Be?" Both my Mom and I took it out from the library. http://www.ricklavoie.com/videos.html



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19 Sep 2010, 9:44 am

Don't know if this is related to what you mean, but both my parents are little cognitively impaired from strokes. Mobility-wise they're fine, and the cognitive impairment isn't really that much.

But I've seen how some people treat them differently the instant they pick up on it. And sometimes that (other people's behavior toward them) is more impairing than the impairment itself. So, like autism, at least part of the problem is how society reacts to the condition.



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