Monday, December 26, 2011

Don't Know Much About Psychology

(I warn you in advance that I don't have much of a point here.)

I have a cousin who is now twenty.  His father is 65 (second marriage) and has single-parented him since he was two or three.  Now, I have NO qualifications in psych, but a five-year-old could diagnose this child with autism spectrum disorder.  (Or Asperger's.  Or whatever.)  To spare you the long list, I've put it at the bottom of the post.  He has... maybe two friends?  At all.  He creeped out my sister's very sweet, tolerant roommates until he was no longer welcome. 

He does all the classic behaviors: avoidance of eye contact, inability to respond to normal social cues, easily overstimulated, stereotypical arm flapping, gross and fine motor issues, poor muscle tone, severe social developmental delays.

My uncle's response?  "No!  He doesn't have autism/ Asperger's/ anything wrong!  He's just a little clumsy."  This would be fine, but the kid worships his father, and won't listen to anyone else.  We fear that he will never listen to anyone else on this problem; he's old enough to develop his own stubborn opinions.  Last year he was in college, the same one as my sister; he failed out. She tried to help: set up appointments with the special ed center, with tutors... he never went to any of them because 'he was doing okay.'

How do you help those who won't help themselves?

(Everyone in my family has a serious mad on about my uncle, too.)

Autism Spectrum Disorder

Must meet criteria A, B, C, and D: (edited by me to include my cousin's issues)

A. Persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction
, all 3 of the following:

1. Deficits in social-emotional reciprocity; abnormal social approach and failure of normal conversation through reduced sharing of interests, emotions, and affect and response

2. Deficits in nonverbal communication; poorly integrated- verbal and nonverbal communication, abnormalities in eye contact and body-language, deficits in understanding and use of nonverbal communication, reduced facial expression and gestures.

3. Deficits in developing and maintaining relationships: difficulties adjusting behavior to suit different social contexts, difficulties in sharing imaginative play and in making friends, absence of interest in [most] people

B. Restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, and activities

1. Stereotyped or repetitive motor movements (simple motor stereotypies, repetitive idiosyncratic phrases).

2. Ritualized patterns of verbal and nonverbal behavior

3. [Obsession with computer games to the exclusion of all else]

4. Hyper-reactivity to sensory input [difficulty with lots of noise or stimulation].

C. Symptoms must be present in early childhood [so very much]

D. Symptoms together limit and impair everyday functioning.

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