how does one approach a person who is autistic?

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by jefhatfield, Jan 18, 2006.

  1. jefhatfield Retired

    jefhatfield

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    #1
    i have a brilliant friend, who actually at times comes across as retarded, who is an idiot-savant and also suffers from the extreme depression and anxiety that could come along with being autistic

    his wife suffers in silence and i was wondering if someone very ill like that, also in denial of any problems, should be left alone or seek help

    on the outside, things look fine since he is high functioning/high achiever and makes a good living but he seems to self medicate his condition with alcohol

    anyone with experience with autism is welcome to give me suggestions...i have looked at books and many sites about autism in adults but am unsure how to deal with this sensitive situation and i don't want him to become another statistic of the disease, which is quite grim for undiagnosed adult autistics...nervous breakdown, suicide, work conflicts, all of which can lead to alcohol and drug problems, etc
     
  2. jefhatfield thread starter Retired

    jefhatfield

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    #2
    if a person has a severe problem and are sufferers who are known for their denial, in this case autism/asperger's syndrome, or any other problem denial ridden like heroin addiction, addiction to alcohol, alzheimer's, etc, should a group of people (loved ones) approach the afflicted person, or have a doctor do that?

    and what if the person, as they usually are, is not willing to see a doctor?

    it has come to the point where i don't think he knows when to bathe, keep eating places sanitary (which in not doing led to an almost fatal episode of food poisoning), or know when not to drink and drive (to alleviate social anxiety symptoms), so the whole process of dysfunction could be fatal

    in the movie "rain man" with tom cruise and dustin hoffman, the character mr. hoffman portrayed had to eventually go back to the institution where he could be helped through life...i know in this case with my friend, he doesn't need institutions but he does need help
     
  3. iBlue macrumors Core

    iBlue

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    #3
    wow, that's a tough one. autistics do not like being taken away from their rituals and routines, but exceptions are sometimes made when someone they care about gently coaxes them.
    in this instance i think perhaps the key is with the wife, she has to be able to help him to keep up with things like bathing and when to lay off the sauce. you can't force him of course but she probably has more influence than imagined.
    i was not total sure from your description but is she ill too? also are you certain he has autism/asperger's syndrome?
     
  4. jefhatfield thread starter Retired

    jefhatfield

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    #4
    all the books i have read about the disease is virtually like his diary...very uncanny

    some of his rituals are extremely dangerous, and besides the drinking and driving, he has this unexplainable need to drive directly after a long flight which leaves him jetlagged...in his mind he probably feels he can chase off the unpleasant effects of drinking too much or being jet lagged by getting behind the wheel

    when he is behind the wheel, it's the only time he probably feels in control...and it's usually not at a sober or alert time

    asperger's is definitely not something simply pesky like hay fever and it's behaviors and rituals can hurt others besides the afflicted
     
  5. iBlue macrumors Core

    iBlue

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    #5
    i didn't think about the driving after his drinking... that is indeed alarming. does his wife have no pull over his activities? seems someone may need to step up to the plate a bit. :confused: i'm sorry to hear this, that is not a good situation.
     
  6. jefhatfield thread starter Retired

    jefhatfield

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    #6
    self medicating with alcohol or drugs is common with mental illness/disease/cognitive difference (new term), especially with social anxiety, aspergers, and panic attacks more than other diseases or syndromes

    after doing quite a bit of research, i found the life expectancy of an adult undiagnosed/untreated with this disease is less than one year, past age 18! - (suicide, drug overdose, drunken car accident, home accident while intoxicated, etc) are especially rampant with asperger's syndrome and this is one of my best friends i am talking about
     
  7. kretzy macrumors 604

    kretzy

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    #7
    This is a bit off topic, but for a really interesting insight into autism/aspergers, I would highly recommend a book called "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime" by Mark Haddon. While very entertaining and at times funny, it gave me an understanding of how people with autism think and react to the world around them.
     
  8. janey macrumors 603

    janey

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    #8
    19 cannot be the correct number. Seems a bit too young :(

    As for spouse/family member/close friend/sibling/parent-of-person-with-Asperger's support groups, there's one i know about that's rather high volume specifically about parenting & autistic kids. But there are MANY people out there who fall into that group (in fact, it's a pretty big topic that i came to discuss with some people at a gathering recently, ended up with the general consensus that there isn't much you can do :( ). Most likely people have started forums/mailing lists/groups like that, you might want to look into it. It's not easy, most people get burnt out quickly, but there isn't that much you can do, short of radical and almost irrational therapy and involuntary commitment, and unpleasant things like that.


    Best of luck. :(
     
  9. jefhatfield thread starter Retired

    jefhatfield

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    #9
    here's my guess about that statistic...if a person could somehow go all the way through childhood with this awful disease/syndrome/cognitive difference untreated, then they really must be hurting by adulthood and all the odds are stacked up against them...it's very likely by 18 someone is already self medicating with illegal drugs and alcohol which we all know is a deadly combination

    and maybe some really old asperger's people live their whole life unreported so they are not a part of the sample...if they were, of course the life expectancy of an adult asperger's sufferer could dramtically go up with that more accurate sample population

    it's kind of like the statistic that a ball turrent gunner on a heavy bomber in world war II had a life expectancy of less than one hour in combat...first of all let's look at the facts...in world war II, many were trained for air combat, and other combat but did not see action (like my father), not all bombing runs got attacked by enemy fighters and flak/anti aircraft guns, and some later trained aircrew of heavy bombers in world war II were almost always escorted by fighter aircraft (which saved more bombers and crew) which were able to reach longer ranges later in the war, and the bombing runs became shorter and shorter as the war went on...so what i am saying is it depends when and where you were as a ball turrent gunner on a heavy bomber in world war II
     
  10. 63dot macrumors 603

    63dot

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    #10
    I approached a friend with another in an intervention for an high functioning autistic adult, but it was a mess, but now the skeleton is out of the closet. I myself had years of panic attacks and I never did anything about it until my friends, real friends, helped me out. I was resistant at first, but proper treatment changed my life for the better. I had a tough girlfriend literally drag me out of the house so I could socialize. It was painful and got me strong enough to go off to college. Typically, the agoraphobia and panic attacks led me to dropping out. Some years later, she came back into my life, dragged me out of the house and made sure I got back to college and finish my AA and BA, and later enter graduate school. It was an uphill battle and I was kicking and screaming, but this "therapy" worked and I was able to actually finish things I started, even if it involved working with people in a social setting. I guess it was tough love.

    But back to my friend with HFA, I also noticed his social anxiety has some similarities to my former girlfriend (another girl) who suffers from schizophrenia. And then I found this link:

    www.usnews.com/blogs/on-parenting/2008/03/31/autism-and-schizophrenia-linked.html

    I am convinced that many disorders given tidy little definitions have genetic and environmental links, and science is doing half the job. The other half of the job is for agoraphobics, autistic people, people with depression, and people with anxiety needing helping friends and most of all, needing to recognize they have a problem that needs to be admitted to oneself.

    It's long been known alcoholics and drug addicts needed to be honest about themselves, but people with mental, emotional, and social disorders need to have the same level of courage and not hide behind a wall of shame.
     
  11. PowerFullMac macrumors 601

    PowerFullMac

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    #11
    No, they can't.
     
  12. Sesshi macrumors G3

    Sesshi

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    #12
    I don't think you can just diagnose these issues yourself and decide what needs to be done. Maybe he's just an idiot about certain things, and I'm not being funny or anything. People can be you know. Also, he needn't be autistic but simply on a level of substance abuse you don't know about. There are a myriad of possibilities. As for Asperger sufferers being in self-denial, etc I doubt it.

    I wouldn't start from your concern about his mental health, but if he is drinking to excess then a concern for his drinking. Maybe he's doing something else unbeknownst to you.

    EDIT: Curse you threadomancer!!!! I totally did not nook at the date.
     
  13. Mord macrumors G4

    Mord

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    #13
    Depeneds entirely on the personality of the person, I have allot of friends on the spectrum and most of them are genuinely lovely, headstrong and a wee bit arrogant but not to the point of causing others harm. A few I know are just complete twunts and are horrifically unpleasant to deal with, I put this down to a natural level of twuntishness which is made worse in ways by the condition.

    Some people are just twunts, thus some aspergic people are twunts and exhibit their twuntishness in aspergic ways, I don't think the condition is inherently negative merely different.

    Even though this is an old old thread I'll chime in with my views on the original topic:

    Aspies do have a tendency to abuse intoxicants, the world makes little sense to them so they turn to intoxicants to escape, or even in some cases understand others, people on the autistic spectrum usually have lower levels of serotonin leading to depression, a grim outlook on life and a lack of empathy so given an intoxicant that raises serotonin levels such as an amphetamine or even alcohol to some degree they "fix" the problem, albeit temporarily and in an all too often self-destructive way, the same is true of those who suffer from ADHD, they tend to be prone to stimulant addictive, gouging on caffeine nicotine cocaine and amphetamines in an attempt to raise their dopamine levels back to normal.

    Most aspergic people I know have no wish to "fix" themselves though do see the benefit of doing so temporarily simply for insight into the functioning of others, hence most of them indulge in a little MDMA occasionally and seem to be better off for it.

    Personally I quit drinking like that about a year ago and quit completely last march, I feel a hell of allot better for it.
     
  14. PowerFullMac macrumors 601

    PowerFullMac

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    #14
    If someone is causing hall to others because they have autism, it's eather coz they have HFA or very bad Asperger's. Asperger's is actually known to make people nice, dependable etc.

    Yes, people with Asperger's are not all nice, but this characteristic is not because of Asperger's.
     
  15. rhsgolfer33 macrumors 6502a

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    #15
    So this persons behavior of self-medicating his autism with alcohol and driving his vehicle can't hurt others?

    Seems to me that behavior may be related to his autism and could definitely hurt people.
     
  16. PowerFullMac macrumors 601

    PowerFullMac

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    #16
    This is because of his attitude to it, not because of autistic traits.

    Also, the post I quoted was specifically referring to Asperger's Syndrome and I know for a fact it dosent make you drink more than anyone else would.
     
  17. rhsgolfer33 macrumors 6502a

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    #17
    Who's to say his attitude toward drinking and drive is not a result of his Autism or Asperger's?

    I'd like to see the research to back that fact up. There is very little research in this area and most of the research suggests and proposes increased levels of alcohol abuse among Asperger's and Autistic patients.

    For instance, "Asperger's Sydrome and Alcohol: Drinking to Cope" by Matthew Tinsley and Sarah Hendrickx proposes increased alcohol abuse among those with Asperger's. One of the authors, Matthew Tinsley, is an alcoholic Asperger's individual. Additionally, in "The Biology of Autistic Syndromes," it is reported that "alcohol abuse is probably much over-represented" among individuals with Asperger's. Furthermore, in his book "A Guide to Asperger's Syndrome," Christopher Gillberg reports that it is "quite common for people with Asperger syndrome to start drinking a lot of alcohol towards the end of adolescence.... In other instances, the person with Asperger syndrome may have noted tht getting drunk takes him/her "away" from the social demands of the situation. A Swedish and British study both suggest that the rate of alcohol abuse may be extremely high in Asperger syndrome. When people with Asperger syndrome abuse alcohol it is often according to a patter which sets them apart from others who abuse. They seem to decide on the exact quantity that they aim to drink every day, and then make it a 'golden rule' to stick to that routine."

    It seems to me that though there is not an excessive volume of research out there on the link between Asperger's, Autism, and alcoholism, most of the current research points towards increased alcohol abuse and different patterns of alcohol abuse among Aspergers or Autistic individuals.
     
  18. PowerFullMac macrumors 601

    PowerFullMac

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    #18
    The stuff you said relates, again, to how perticular people deal with not understanding the world.

    Aiming to drink certain amounts everyday is caused by Asperger's but it's something people with Asperger's do with a lot of things and a lot of them have routines for everything, too.

    I'm gonna post a poll on a Asperger's/autism forum I'm a member of on this topic and see what the results are, and I'll link you to it... If people with Asperger's themselves say this is not the case then it's obviously not.

    I myself am officially diagnosed with Asperger's so I do know what I'm talking about.
     
  19. rhsgolfer33 macrumors 6502a

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    #19
    Yeah, thats the point. There is likely a higher prevalence of alcohol abuse among people with Asperger's and Autism, its a direct consequence of their Asperger's and Autism; so yes, Asperger's and Autism likely does lead to increased alcohol abuse, a behavior that, in the OPs friends case, puts himself and others at great risk. Alcohol abuse in general has the ability to do harm to a lot of other people other than the person abusing the alcohol.

    Individual experience hardly means you know what you're talking about when speaking about an entire population of human beings; your traits can't be generalized to every individual with Asperger's or in some cases any other individual on the planet. Additionally, an unscientific poll conducted informally on the internet has very little meaning, especially in light of real research.
     
  20. PowerFullMac macrumors 601

    PowerFullMac

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    #20
    But these traits occuring in relation to alchol is very rare.

    I normally would agree that personal experience means very little in cases like this but when it comes to autism it's a whole different matter. People with forms of autism can't understand normal people but in the same way normal people can't understand us. A normal person saying they understand what it's like to have a form of autism is like a man saying he knows how it feels to be pregnant.
     
  21. rhsgolfer33 macrumors 6502a

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    #21
    The traits occurring in relation to alcohol aren't rare, did you read the research above? Alcoholism is over-represented in people with Asperger's and Autism. That means there is a higher prevalance of alcoholism in people with Asperger's and Autism. Additionally, the way that Asperger's and Autistic individuals abuse alcohol is consitent with what you would expect of an Asperger's or Autistic individual, ie the patterns.

    Personal experience still means little when you are generallizing to an entire population regardless of the traits you poses, be it Asperger's or pregnancy; it is no substitute for research. Even the research I discovered on the subject is not extremely strong; its an ill researched area. It isn't about understanding people with Autism or Asperger's, its about whether there is a increased prevalance of alcohol abuse among people with Asperger's or Autism, and current research suggests there is. There are various theories suggested for why there is a higher tendency of alcohol abuse among these groups. I will never understand people with Asperger's and Autism, I understand that, but that doesn't mean highly educated people researching the syndrome don't have enough understanding of how Asperger's affects people and their bodies to conduct research into alcohol abuse and reasons for alcohol abuse in Asperger and Autistic people.

    We're clearly analyzing this at different levels and will probably never see eye to eye on this, so we should probably just agree to disagree...
     
  22. spoon man macrumors 6502a

    spoon man

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    #22
    I think this needs to be pointed out but being autistic is NOT a disease as you have put it.It is Genetic you can't catch it like a common cold the fact you have said it is a disease means that you have'nt really read up on it that much and instead you just been watching rain man.Unfortunetly im not sure about advise in adults Being as the only two members in my family are still young my sister being one of them good luck tho but and try not to watch any more films....
     
  23. PowerFullMac macrumors 601

    PowerFullMac

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    #23
    The way Asperger's works is a person with it can become obsessed with absolutely anything at all, literally anything in the world, its like a spinner with everything in the world on it... For some people, this spinner lands on drinking.

    No research will make you understand what it's like in the mind of someone with a autistic spectrum disorder.

    As for your research, you yourself admitted it's weak... The book was probably written so the author could get a bit of cash.

    I do agree that I cant judge millions of people from my own traits, which is why I suggested the poll, but apparently a poll which would be answered by millions of people with forms of autism is not good enough for you.

    It is officially classified as a disease but I think of it more as a gift with a few negative things attached to it... After all, if I was a normal teenager I would probably be playing loud aggressive music on my phone while wearing a hoodie in the street but instead I am learning to program in C and browsing a Apple forum.
     
  24. rhsgolfer33 macrumors 6502a

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    #24
    The research is not about understanding what its like, its about whether people with Autism and Asperger's have an increased change of alcohol abuse related to their diseas, and they do. It is not about understanding people with autism, at all.

    Yes, it isn't the strongest research on earth, but it is far far stronger than a poll done informally on the internet. First off, there are 3 books mentioned there, so its somewhat unlikely that they all colluded to make money. They are written by academic and research professional interested in studying Autism and Asperger's, they are considered professional and good research. You're right, an unscientific poll conducted on an internet forum is not good enough for me, I actually have an understanding of how statistics work; if you want to prove this to me you can randomly select a few hundred people with Asperer's and Autism and have them fill out a professionally designed survey related to Asperger's, Autism, and alcohol abuse, you could then compile the results and run certain statistical tests on the data, I would then believe you (but all the current research suggest you would only prove what I've said). Doing a survey on the internet only proves what you said for the users of that website, it is hardly valid when looking at entire groups of people. The users of the website are probably some of the higher function Asperger's and Autistic individuals, like you said, its a spectrum syndrome, so differences could show up among high and low end of the spectrum Autistic and Asperger's individuals; more research is need in this area.
     
  25. PowerFullMac macrumors 601

    PowerFullMac

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    #25
    You can't go around saying a group of people are a certain way without actually understanding them in the same way you can't fix a computer if you know nothing about them.

    All autism research is vauge at the moment so the books you talked about could easily be wrong, there are probably other books which say the complete opposite.
     

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