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Old 03-06-2008, 09:13 AM   #1
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Echolalia in Asperger's/Autism: Gender Bias in Autism?

My niece, who is now 17, was diagnosed at age 10 with Asperger's, but with echolalia as a small child. However, as I read info on echolalia, it sounds like it is is strictly repetition of other people's utterances. She, on the other hand, repeats herself--at least the last syllable or sound of words at the end of a sentence. She did copy other utterances when she was little. In fact, her conversation consisted of repeating verbatim lines from Disney movies. She does not do this now, although she still does the "reverse" stuttering thing every now and then. When she is stressed, she flaps her hands or makes quiet grunting noises. Can echolalia present with end of word stuttering?

She is currently being reassessed by a doctor who has autism spectrum experience--her current psychiatrist (not the person who originally diagnosed her) does not think she has Asperger's or autism at all. He is not convinced that girls should even be diagnosed with this disorder. I know this is controversial topic right now and, being I am no expert on this topic, I hesitate to add any comments, except to say if it's not autism, than what is it? Clearly something is wrong and to suggest that it can't be autism if the affected person is a girl seems dismissive and leaves parents and affected people in a major dilemma. I'm curious to hear what others have to say about this.

 
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Old 03-07-2008, 12:32 AM   #2
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Re: Echolalia in Asperger's/Autism: Gender Bias in Autism?

Her parents are wise to have her reassessed by a doctor who has autism spectrum experience. Attitudes like her psychiatrist are the reason so many of us "girls" have fallen through the cracks. They don't know how our symptoms look, they don't understand how much we can manipulate our behavior so we appear to "fit in". You might also want to check with the nearest Autism society to see who they recommend for Asperger's in your area.

My preference is for an Asperger's specialist to say "it isn't Asperger's", than for a run-of-the mill, general purpose psychiatrist, psychologist, or social worker to proclaim it, when they probably wouldn't recognize Asperger's in a female if she jumped up and slapped them upside the head. I figured it out myself, and when I told my psychologist of 17 years, she declared that I didn't have Asperger's. However, two experts said I did, and only when I finally went to a specialist in Aspergers did I get the help dealing with social problems that I had needed for so many years. The new psychologist asked questions and focused on behaviors and events that went right over the head of my prior psychologist, who tried to attribute all my problems to male/female power struggles, dysfunctional family, authority problems, and sexual issues. She wouldn't listen when I would tell her that didn't sound right to me, didn't seem to fit my situation, and things weren't getting better. Now, don't get me wrong. When I first went to her I was a mess from my dysfunctional family issues and a divorce. She helped me tremendously with those issues. However, after many years there were still a lot of problems that she wasn't helping with, which turned out to be the Asperger's problems. She just didn't have the proper training to help me with that.

I went to a conference last week, and am interested in an fMRI study on Aspergers they are doing in my area. I was told that all the studies so far were on males. That it would be difficult to get a female in the study, lot of hoops to jump through regarding possible pregnancy, etc. So how the heck are they going to find out about females if we aren't even allowed to be in the studies???? Gender Bias - you better believe it!

 
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Old 03-07-2008, 09:58 AM   #3
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Re: Echolalia in Asperger's/Autism: Gender Bias in Autism?

Thanks for your insight. It is especially valuable since you've experienced this stuff first hand! Frankly, I'm not sure if what she has is Asperger's, high-functioning autism, or something completely different. All I know for sure is that she has pretty serious functional impairments (eg can't remember which bus stop she needs to get off at to get home, gets lost in her own neighborhood, suffers from chronic exhaustion and naps almost every day after school, etc) and is not getting the help she needs because of some arbitrary labeling issues. She is the sweetest-natured and most accomodating young lady that I think you hit the nail on the head--she goes to tremendous lengths to fit in (probably why she's so tired) and that ultimately hurts her in getting the help she needs.

She is also very, very small for her age. She developed normally in all other physical ways, but is noticeably short--around 4'10"--in a family of tall Nordic ethnicity. Is short stature associated with Asperger's/autism? I've wondered if she has some sort of undiagnosed genetic syndrome that might account for all of these issues.

 
Old 03-07-2008, 11:05 AM   #4
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Re: Echolalia in Asperger's/Autism: Gender Bias in Autism?

roses4lace is quite right when she said that girls with ASDs "fall through the cracks." Our symptoms tend to be milder because we can hide them better, but that doesn't mean that we don't have ASDs. The reason I went undiagnosed for so long (besides the fact that Asperger's wasn't known about when I was a child) is because I don't have horrible social deficits. I'm "quirky" and don't fit in with the crowd, but I can function. My Asperger's is definied by the "special interests" and the sensory issues- I am the textbook case of AS when it comes to those two areas.

It sounds as if your niece has visual-spatial problems, and you may want to consider looking up Nonverbal Learning Disorder (NLD). It is now being debated whether Asperger's is a form of high-functioning autism or a form of NLD. Many with AS have comorbid NLD. I have never been officially diagnosed with NLD, but I believe that I have it. I have horrible visual-spatial skills (for example, I still have great difficulty telling my left from my right), and my verbal IQ is much, much higher than my performance IQ, the main symptom of NLD.

As for the echolalia, people with high-functioning forms of autism like Asperger's tend not to have the type of echolalia that is characterized by repeating other people's words/sentences. Ours tends to be what is called delayed echolalia, and it mostly comes in the form of reciting lines from movies and/or TV shows, like how you said your niece did with the Disney movies. I still recite movie/TV quotes, practically every day. It's a good activity to keep away boredom.
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Old 03-07-2008, 11:39 AM   #5
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Re: Echolalia in Asperger's/Autism: Gender Bias in Autism?

I HAVE A SON WHO HAS ASPERGERS & HAS A WONDERFUL MERMORY IT MAYBE THAT SHE FORGETS BECAUSE SHE IS OVERWELMED WITH CONFUSION AROUND HER IF SHE IS NOT IN THE RIGHT PLACEMENT SHE MAY NOT BE ABLE TO FILTER OUT WHAT IS GOING ON AROUND HER & SHE GETS CAUGHT UP IN EVERYTHING MY SON COULD NOT SKATE FOR A LONG TIME BECAUSE HE HAD TO BE ABLE TO FILTER OUT THE LIGHTS & MUSIC & SIGNS THAT HE HAD TO READ EVERYTHING THESE CHILDREN ARE VERY SMART BUT SEEM TO LACK COMMEN SENSE THEY ARE VERBAL BUT NOT ALWAYS ON TOPIC. THEY ALWAYS HAVE A SKILL OR A NATUARUL KNOWLEDGE OF SOMETHING MY SON NEVER FORGETS ANYTHING MY PROBLEM IS I NEED TO KNOW HOW TO BUILD ON THESE SKILLS TO HELP HIM HAVE a INDEPENDENT FUTURE
Quote:
Originally Posted by mmanion View Post
Thanks for your insight. It is especially valuable since you've experienced this stuff first hand! Frankly, I'm not sure if what she has is Asperger's, high-functioning autism, or something completely different. All I know for sure is that she has pretty serious functional impairments (eg can't remember which bus stop she needs to get off at to get home, gets lost in her own neighborhood, suffers from chronic exhaustion and naps almost every day after school, etc) and is not getting the help she needs because of some arbitrary labeling issues. She is the sweetest-natured and most accomodating young lady that I think you hit the nail on the head--she goes to tremendous lengths to fit in (probably why she's so tired) and that ultimately hurts her in getting the help she needs.

She is also very, very small for her age. She developed normally in all other physical ways, but is noticeably short--around 4'10"--in a family of tall Nordic ethnicity. Is short stature associated with Asperger's/autism? I've wondered if she has some sort of undiagnosed genetic syndrome that might account for all of these issues.

 
Old 03-08-2008, 10:08 AM   #6
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Re: Echolalia in Asperger's/Autism: Gender Bias in Autism?

Re: visual-spatial problems. My niece is a marvelous artist and she loves to draw. However, she tends to recreate drawings she's seen other places rather than coming up with her own pictures. In other words, she seems to have a very good grasp of the technical skills for drawing, but not of the abstract skills for creating. She is not as strong with sculpture and proportion as she is with drawing.

Last edited by mmanion; 03-08-2008 at 01:37 PM. Reason: Invited my sister to the forum and I want to ease into the discussion re: my niece.

 
Old 03-09-2008, 03:21 AM   #7
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Re: Echolalia in Asperger's/Autism: Gender Bias in Autism?

mmanion,
I could be described similar to your niece. I'm not an artist. However, I take other people's ideas, layouts, systems, reports, methods - whatever, and tweak them some or a little and make them my own. To other people it looks like I'm very creative, and they don't believe me when I tell them I'm not. I have great difficulty coming up with anything original, but give me something to work with, and I'm full of ideas of how to make it better.

Also, my memory has been extremely poor since childhood. I made good grades, but not how other students did. I could not study the week before the test; I had to study the day of the test, or the study hall just before the test, because that's as long as I could remember the answers. Ask me the same questions the next day, and I couldn't answer. I can barely remember what someone told me the day before just in normal conversations, and usually have to get them to remind me. Once I hear a bit of the story, I remember enough to go forward, but not enough to relate it to someone else. I rarely ever remember jokes. My grandmother drove people wild because she would tell the same stories over and over. Didn't bother me, because it sounded like a new story each time to me! I've watched movies again 4-5 months later, and not recognized that I had ever watched them, but somehow knew the endings.

Needless to say, I have hundreds of scraps of paper laying around, with notes on everything. A friend gave me a PDA which is wonderful for keeping all those scraps of paper out of my purse. It has my phone numbers, gas MPG, notes about my car type and model, parts lists, clothing sizes of me and my family, basic genealogy stuff including what I need to locate next time I go to "that county", etc. It has been a life saver for me. I can't use the appointment part, because it's too difficult to remember to type it in, and I forget to look at the PDA until after the event is over. I get agitated if I have to type very much with that tiny stylus (it's a motor skills problem).

I do have a lot of material "memorized", I guess some would call it. Billing codes from when I worked. Common names of fossils. How to fix a lot of problems on computers. Oddball trivia information. Surnames I'm researching for my genealogy, and which last names are in my database. I retain things that cause me trouble or too much effort. But it doesn't seem like I've remembered much, until I'm faced with other people who don't know any of it.

Each person with Asperger's is different, with a lot of common problems that make our lives difficult. Frequently the same problem manifests in many different situations, so it looks different to anyone who doesn't dig into the underlying problem. It even looks different to us. We need helpers, counselors, teachers, etc, around us who can help us generalize our specific problems. We can see the details of the current problem, but rarely recognize that this particular problem is just the 14th way that the same underlying problem has manifested for us this year. Once we (or our caregivers) recognize the underlying problem, solutions that work (or workarounds) can usually be found.

 
Old 04-12-2008, 10:08 AM   #8
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Re: Echolalia in Asperger's/Autism: Gender Bias in Autism?

Hello, My son is 13 years old and my husband and I are at our ropes end! We are currently undergoing evaluation for Asperger's for our son. He is an only child and up till recently we were told that he had ADHD. We have had him on medication for this and it only seem to highen his agrevasion. He will throw such tanrums ( short of throwing himself on the floor) that we have had to call the police to get involved.
He lies almost at a constant rate. Steals from others mostly at school now. He also has started acting like he sick all the time now. His grandmother and grandfather act as tho there is nothing wrong and says we are too hard on him. But, how are we supposed to turn our heads and act the same way when he steals or is lying about something that we know, for a fact, that he did. Yesterday he told me to shut up and called me the lier when I confronted him about it. He acts as though we have no right to dicipline him, or take away objects in his possesion as a diciplinary action.
He doesn't do any homework and as a result to that he has failed in most of his school work. He is in the 7th grade now and I fear that if he doesn't start doing his school work he will flunk in the future grades. He will make a new friend and then act out in front of them or be mean to them or even call them derogatory names in which causes a chain reaction to it and they no longer want to be his real friend.
He can be annoying by making noises or yapping about somthing that he has absolutely no knowledge of and makes even the adults around him upset. He has even gone do far as telly other adults they are doing things wrong or try to tell them how to be or do something.
He is very smart.. He has always been on the A-B honor role up until this year. We do realize that puberty may have some part in this but it is hard to understand that he can act the way he does.
We are at the point now that we are having a problem taking him out with us on adult social, such as dinner, golfing with other adults, ect..., activities for the fear of his acting out. He just doesn't seem to think he has to listen to us and do anything that is socially expected of him for the age of 13.
Thank you for listening at the end of my rope.

 
Old 04-12-2008, 10:30 AM   #9
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Re: Echolalia in Asperger's/Autism: Gender Bias in Autism?

A small person 4'10" in a family of Nordic-tall types is very telling.

genetics and inherited traits are very important. When someone is that small, when virtually everyone else is big and blond, either she is not from that family at all (adopted?)or she might have an inherited condition causing her small stature and all the other symptoms. perhaps a recessive gene received from each parent.

Therefore, the symptoms that seem like autism or AS or whatever, can be traced back to this defect that also causes small stature.

I feel her small size is the big red flag here.
I cannot believe no doc has ever put two and two together. But perhaps genetic testing has already been done...

Last edited by golfhat; 04-12-2008 at 10:33 AM.

 
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