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Old 07-13-2006, 06:16 PM   #1
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Autism and Frontal Lobe Dementia

I am going to start a new thread with a question that has been hanging around in my mind. Does anyone have any evidence (anecdotal or otherwise) that there may be a genetic connection between autism and frontal lobe dementia?

This may be a strange question, so I will explain a little. My father is in his late 50s. About five years ago he was diagnosed with Pick's disease (frontal lobe dementia). The symptoms began at least five years before that. The first thing to go was his personality and "common sense". He has progressed to the point that he is now in "day care" and is living in the past with limited connection to the present. He remembers me, but he does not remember the names of my children.

Looking back into my family tree (that which I can see since my birth mother was adopted), there is no evidece of autism. Pick's disease itself is very rare and seems to come out of nowhere. I did just learn of some autism in a distant branch of my husband's family, but it is somewhere in the cousins.

So, where did the autism come from? Could there be some connection to Pick's disease (frontal lobe dementia)?

I suppose in the long run, "where" the autism came from is irrelevant, but it is a curious question.

Liz H.

 
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Old 07-13-2006, 09:06 PM   #2
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Re: Autism and Frontal Lobe Dementia

autism is as we were told a combination of enviromental and genetic factors... basically crap to cover up that they dont know what causes it.

there are tons of theories out there and i say pick the one that suits you
my husband and i are on the wagon that respects neurodiversity. we dont believe in a cure. autism will probably not be able to be eradicated despite what science and exorcists think (dont laugh, there was a case THIS YEAR of an autstic child being killed during and exorcism to cure her of her autism). this however is not a popular view.

there are certain genes that have been identified as being "autistic" and the problem is that most people have them. they just get "switched on" in certain people and here is where it all falls apart. the why behind the "switch" is just driving the scientific and parental communities crazy. there could be a multitude of anwsers that could be correct.

my husband is of the opinion and it may sound loopy but it also may be right... that autism could be the next step in human evolution. the autistic brain is literally a different brain than the neurotypical brain. more storage capacity... thought is organized different... its just different. and when autism and aspergers work RIGHT they can be better brains. this is where my husbans starts to make a scary sort of sense... evolution occurs because of stressers enviromental or whatever. we adapted through out history to survive whatever nature could throw at us and now we have practically beat nature... so what is stress now? technology. now we have to beat technological stress, information overload... everyday living has become exceedingly complex... think about all of the multitasking it takes just to drive a car... to control a hunk of metal and glass speeding down the road at 50 miles an hour with the only thing saving you from certain doom is how fast your brain processes imput. thats alot of stress... and we do it several times a day so to combat this my husband is starting to think autism (once it has worked out the kinks like every step in evolution has) is that weapon in human survival.

now whether or not that makes sense of if you believe it or i even I believe it doesnt matter because it is just one theory that cant be tested in the mess of them

chances are that cara's autism came from a genetic code that one of or several of your or your husbands family members had. chances are that it COULD be relate to the neurology of your father... but there would be no conclusive way to test that. i am of the opinion that if a family has any kind of neurological disorders that just having a different neurology period would increase your likely hood of having any other neurological disorders. its sort of like dominos... one difference can effect everything. basically though the last uncharted territory that man has on this planet is the human brain. with everything they know about it there is 100 times more they dont... 1000 times more they dont.

its just human nature to wonder where and why and to find connections and patterns everywhere and even though we 100% except our son just the way he is and he cant embarass me now matter what he does (like wetting out at the grocery store monday) my husband and i still intreged with the idea of what autism is and what it could be and who isaac got what from (i blame my husband for isaac's stubborn streak). but yeah, in the end it is irrelevant isaac is isaac and i wouldnt trade him if the law would let me! even if i tell him that i am going to put him on a yard sale (he thinks i am stupid when i say that) i wouldnt change the person he is as long as he is the best him he can be and he is happy its all good

sorry so long but i enjoy a good ramble from time to time!

 
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Old 07-13-2006, 11:14 PM   #3
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Re: Autism and Frontal Lobe Dementia

The reason why there's more "storage capacity" in autistic brains, both Kanner's autism and Asperger's, is because their brains have more gray matter (neurons) in proportion to white matter (connective tissues and myelin). Everyone's born with extra neurons, but during adolescent, the "normal" brain goes through a sort of "pruning" process, where the excess neurons are purged, and the connections between the neurons that have already been used are strengthened. This is when higher cognitive functions and advanced problem solving abilities are made, and why a 16-year-old can solve an algebraic equation and a typical ten-year-old cannot. However, it is theorized that autistics do not undergo this "pruning" process (obsessive-compulsives don't, either- I have both OCD and Asperger's). With excess gray matter throughout their entire life, several of the characteristic symptoms occur: strong rote memory, perseverations, and different problem solving abilities. Personally, I think it applies more to Asperger's, and explains why most Aspies have NVLD (Nonverbal Learning Disorder) and trouble with visual-spatial skills. I'm one of them. I, too, am a supporter of neurodiversity. Autistics are special, and shouldn't be eliminated; many of the most brilliant people in history have been autistic in some way or another. It comes with lots of deficits and problems, but also some redeeming qualities, the more redeeming qualities correlating with the higher functioning the autism. I have what I would consider a moderate case of Asperger's, and I've struggled a lot in my life, and I've struggled far, far less than a lot of autistics. However, I wouldn't trade it for the world because it makes me, me. What success I've made so far in my life I do indeed add to my Asperger's and its screwed-up brain circuitry...
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Old 07-14-2006, 06:47 AM   #4
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Re: Autism and Frontal Lobe Dementia

As usual, interesting post Gatsby!

When I read Roger Bannister's story, I wonder if his interest and specialization in neurology was an attempt to help him undestand why he himself felt different from other boys when he was growing up.

 
Old 07-14-2006, 09:48 AM   #5
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Re: Autism and Frontal Lobe Dementia

Hey, 9CatMom! That very well may have been why Bannister was so into neurology. I know that's why I'm going into neuropyschology- not only does it intensely interest me, but I want to understand why my brain is different, not just that it is...
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Old 07-14-2006, 07:31 PM   #6
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Re: Autism and Frontal Lobe Dementia

Gatsby,

That is exactly what Roger Bannister said. The "why" of things fascinated him. I find him an intensely fascinating individual. He is quite unlike any milers of his generation or any other. That he had a life outside of athletics is what fascinates me most about him.

 
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