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Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

SUMMARY OF THE HELP SUMMIT conference in Los Angeles (Autism)

Causes of Autism [Amaral, Hertz-Picciotto, Sebat, Van de Water]
Conclusion of yearly scans with 215 families who have children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

  • Trajectory of brain development is the most distinguished feature: Circumference in infancy is larger and there is more brain volume;
  • Children with ASD have bigger frontal lobes;
  • Corpus Callosum segmentation has not much difference, but the connections going from one part of frontal lobe to the other are abnormal (Callosal fibers projecting to lateral frontal regions are abnormal);
  • With 7/8 years old children with ASD, the Amygdala has adult size (7.5% bilateral enlargement); If Amygdala does not work well then an individual can be either too worried/anxiety, or fearless; There is a reduced neuron number in the Amygdala; 18% increase of microglial cells;
  • There is Neuro inflammation;
  • Microglial activation and increased microglial density has been observed in the dorsolateral cortex (inflammatory process)
  • Many individuals with ASD have no detectable alteration in brain morphology.

Sexuality and adolescents/adults [Gerhardt, Peter]


  • Less then 1 out of 3 schools provides sexual education.
  • Many individuals with ASD do not know when & whom to ask questions.
  • Many have low self-esteem and may do anything to be accepted by peers (going into juvenile system).
  • Prevalence of sexual abuse: 30%-90% being victims.

Self-protection (American Academy of Pediatrics, 1996; Nehring, 2005; Roth & Morse, 199; Volkmar & Wiesner, 2004). Teach:

  • That refusing to be touched is a right;
  • That secrets about being touches are not ok;
  • Self-protection skills;
  • Who can or cannot touch the individual and where on his/her body;
  • How and when to say ‘No’;
  • How to ask for assistance;
  • How to recall remote events and convey where an individual touched him/her.

How to teach?:

  • Medical and nursing textbooks; library
  • Google (with limitations)
  • Homemade digital photos and videos
  • Patient education materials (not of nudity)

– Instruction:

  • Be frank during instruction;
  • Provide clear visual and verbal examples;
  • Avoid euphemisms; Use proper names of body parts and teach what improper names are;
  • Teach good touch versus bad touch; personal boundaries/personal spaces; masturbation (“private touching”);
  • avoidance of danger/abuse prevention; social skills and relationship building; dating skill; personal responsibility and values; public versus private behavior.

Research findings:

  • Between 1907 and 1957 some 60.000 individuals with developmental disability were sterilized without their consent or at times, knowledge.
  • Starting late 1800’s, laws were passed banning marriage and sexual intercourse involving women with developmental disability or epilepsy (Sobsey, 1994).
  • Stokes, Newton & Kaur (2007) found that individuals with ASD are more likely then typical peers to engage in inappropriate courting behaviors; to focus attention on celebrities, strangers, colleagues, and exes, and to pursue their target for longer length of time (e.g., stalking).
  • Griffiths (1999) found that most learners with developmental disability receive sexuality education after having engaged in sexual behavior that is considered inappropriate, offensive or potentially dangerous.
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