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Autism Spectrum Disorders
  Over the past sixty years, we’ve witnessed a phenomenal growth in the number of new psychiatric illnesses.  The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, first published in 1952, originally listed about 100 categories of illness.  By the year 2000, that number had tripled.  We’ve become accustomed to hearing in the news about “learning disabilities,”...
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A recent interview on the blog Technoccult with neurodiversity advocate Kassiane (she didn’t wish to give her last name), highlighted some key points about neurodiversity.  In defining neurodiversity, she made an important distinction between the word and the movement, explaining:  “Neurodiversity, the word, simply means the whole variety of different brain wirings people have…from the different kinds of normal...
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While autistic individuals are known to suffer from deficits in social communication, it is less often recognized that they possess specific strengths in other areas.  One strength relates to their ability to see details.  In fact, they can pick out details in a more complex visual design better than so-called “neuro-typical (e.g. “normal”) people (see examples...
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Temple Grandin is probably the most famous autistic person living today.  Her life will be chronicled on an HBO special starting in February, 2010.  Among her many achievements is the development of a “squeeze machine.”  Because of her autism, she resists the touch of others and doesn’t like to be hugged.  But she craves the...
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Intelligence tests have often been used to differentiate “high functioning” from “low functioning” individuals with autism.  But a recent study published in the journal Psychological Science suggests that “low functioning” children with autism may in fact score much higher if an alternative intelligence test–the Raven’s Progressive Matrices– is used instead of the more conventional Wechsler Intelligence...
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