Sunday, June 26, 2011

More about My Autism

I want to take a moment to explain about the type of autism that I have.  I have been using the term PDD-NOS quite often and I don't think that I have elaborated enough about exactly what type of autism this is.  To start off, I want to say that PDD-NOS is not typical for autism.  No two cases are the same.  This specific diagnosis shows some characteristics of autism, but not enough to be diagnosed as any of the major categories.  It can go undiagnosed, or misdiagnosed for years, like in my case, because of the lack of solid criteria.

I am going to quote some criteria I found that is used for diagnosing PDD-NOS from Autism Speaks:

When might a person receive a diagnosis of PDD-NOS?
That will vary, of course, but in one study, researchers found that those with PDD-NOS could be placed in one of three very different subgroups:
  • A high-functioning group (24%) who resembled people with Asperger syndrome but had transient language delay or mild cognitive impairment (such that they could not receive the Asperger diagnosis which requires no speech or cognitive delay).
  • A group (24%) who resembled people with autism but who had a late age of onset, or otherwise did not meet the criteria for autism.
  • A group (52%) who were autistic-like, but displayed fewer stereotyped and repetitive behavior.
I would have to say that I am in the first group, or the high functioning group.  I did have a language delay when I was younger.  I was developing normally until age two when I lost my language skills.  I had to start from scratch and did not start speaking again until the following summer.

This delay has affected me ever since then.  I found myself behind in development when compared to other people in my age group, even in my graduating class.  When I graduated from high school, I could not help feeling that there had been a mistake, never mind that I graduated with a 3.83 GPA and as a member of the National Honor Society.  It was like I was a sixteen year old who had graduated from high school early.  For all practical purposes, I was sixteen in terms of development due to the loss of language skills at age two.

I still don't know what caused it and pointing blame is not going to change anything, so I have learned to live with it.  I hope that I can use my perspective to help others to better understand autism.

4. Walker, D.R., Thompson, A., Zwaigenbaum, L, Goldberg, J., Bryson, S.E., Mahoney, W.J., Strawbridge, C.P., & Szatmari, P. (2004). Specifying PDD-NOS: A comparison of PDD-NOS, Asperger syndrome, and autism. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 43(2), 172-80.  Abstract

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