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TODAY'S TOPIC - AUTISM

Autism is a developmental disorder that affects the way a child communicates and interacts. It can be generalized as ASD (autism spectrum disorder) that includes a range of different manifestations that varying in degree of severity. ASD includes Asperger’s syndrome (high-functioning autism), autism, and PDD-NOS (pervasive developmental disorders-not otherwise specified).


From the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke: “Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a range of complex neuro-development disorders, characterized by social impairments, communication difficulties, and restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behavior. Autistic disorder, sometimes called autism or classical ASD, is the most severe form of ASD, while other conditions along the spectrum include a milder form known as Asperger syndrome, the rare condition called Rett syndrome, and childhood dis-integrative disorder and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (usually referred to as PDD-NOS). Although ASD varies significantly in character and severity, it occurs in all ethnic and socioeconomic groups and affects every age group. Experts estimate that three to six children out of every 1,000 will have ASD. Males are four times more likely to have ASD than females.”


This article goes on to describe some of the signs of autism in this way, impaired social interaction, children may fail to respond to their names, they often avoid eye contact with other people, they have difficulty interpreting what others are thinking or feeling because they can’t understand social cues, such as tone of voice or facial expressions, and don’t watch other people’s faces for clues about appropriate behavior. They lack empathy. Many engage in repetitive movements such as rocking and twirling, or in self-abusive behavior such as biting or head-banging.


They also tend to start speaking later than other children and may refer to themselves by name instead of “I” or “me.” Children with ASD don’t know how to play interactively with other children. Some speak in a sing-song voice about a narrow range of favorite topics, with little regard for the interests of the person to whom they are speaking. Another characteristic of autistic children is they are very sensory sensitive. This could be hot or cold, touch, taste, or smell. This is important with essential oils since some may not be able to have oils applied directly but may need them applied to the feet or with diffusion where they do not have such a strong sensory impact.


A summary of the relationship of Asperger syndrome, Autism, and ADHD

Because symptoms are similar between these disorders confusion may exist with the inexperienced in diagnosis as well as proper response. (for those that have children with these disorders it is not difficult to understand the difference.) The following summary addresses the similarities and differences.


Autism is a developmental disorder that affects the way a child communicates and interacts. It can be generalized as ASD (autism spectrum disorder) that includes a range of different manifestations that varying in degree of severity. ASD includes Asperger’s syndrome (high-functioning autism), autism, and PDD-NOS (pervasive developmental disorders-not otherwise specified).


ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) is a neuro-behavioral disorder that causes an inability to focus and listen to direction. In older literature the term ADD or “ADD with hyperactivity” was used for this same disorder.


One of the notable differences some have noted is that those with autism do not learn well from experience (or coping) but rather by rote or memorization. Most love structure and will repeat very well learned structure. On the other hand those with ADHD will learn from experiences and are able to extrapolate this learning to other experiences.

It is believed the root causes of the two disorders are different but since they are both developmental disorders and both affect children in communication, social interaction, and behavioral characteristics they can be confused and even misdiagnosed. The website www.retrainthebrain.com gives the following lists of the behaviors occurring in Autism and ADHD:


Autism Behavioral Checklist

· Difficulty mixing with other children

· No real fear of danger

· Tantrums: displays extreme distress for no apparent reason

· Inappropriate giggling or laughing

· May not want cuddling or act cuddly

· Noticeable physical over activity or extreme under activity

· Little or no eye contact

· Works impulsively; often makes careless mistakes: work is sloppy*

· Uneven gross/fine motor skills*


ADHD Behavioral Checklist

· Cannot talk or play quietly; disrupts others with talk or actions

· Difficult awaiting turn in games or activities

· Engages in potentially dangerous activities

· Plays without normal caution or consideration of consequences

· Severe temper tantrums

· Interrupts, disrupts, talks and acts inappropriately

· When younger, difficulty accepting soothing or holding

· Always on the move, overactive, even during sleep

· Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly

· Often does not give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in school work or other activities

· Uneven gross/fine motor skills


*editor's note: Some that have had experience with children with these disorders disagree with some points. For instance a child with Asperger Syndrome is very structured in what they do and would not be considered sloppy. What may appear to us to be a careless mistake is not to them from their point of view. This same child may also have very good motor skills. Also the difficulty in communication skills is much different between autistic and ADHD children.


A common symptom between autism and ADHD is that either may suffer from gross and fine motor skills as well as the impulsive driven behaviors. In some cases, the autism behaviors reveal a deficit in being able to respond emotionally.


Essential Oils and Autism and ADHD. Like other health concerns these disorders may be helped at multiple levels. Since many of the symptoms (behaviors) are common between the two disorders there will be benefits from the same oils. As you work with the oils you will find what works best for your child as well as the mode of application.