A Note on Downloads

The content in this entire Coping With Autism page can be downloaded as part of a single document below.

Also, downloadable from this page is 'Matt's Daily Health Guide', my attempt to summarize general health related behaviors that I think everyone should consider. There are many recommendations therein that can be used to guide your care of your child, and yourself.

Strong Interpersonal Relationships

People evolved to need people. It was a protective adaptation that caused groups to want to adhere, since we are safer when in groups. When we don’t get contact with other people, we fall apart. Children in Romanian and Chinese orphanages who are deprived of human contact, exercise and other essentials of life develop autistic behaviors and ultimately die in their first decade. Autistic individuals who cope through withdrawal likely suffer some of the same effects of lost human interaction, including stress response elevation and depressed levels of crucial neurotransmitters like serotonin. Authentic relationships and good social support are key buffers to stress.

Animal Models

This need for contact is apparent in animals as well. Do nothing more dramatic than pick a rat up and handle it fifteen minutes a day for the first few weeks of its life, put it back in its case with the unhandled controls, come back two years later… and the handled rat is spared the entire feed forward cascade of hippocampal damage, memory less, and elevated cortisol levels that unhandled rats experience.

Rat mothers who spend more time licking and grooming their pups in those critical first few weeks induce the same handling phenomenon. Rats develop starkly different personalities depending upon how they are reared. Specifically, if mom is attentive and regularly licks and grooms them, they become well adjusted little rodents, mellow and curious and non neurotic. If mom is neglectful, her pups grow up to be timid, jumpy and stressed out.

What This Means for Autism

The break down of community that results from international business, suburbanization, the dominance of the car in our lives, easy divorce, and many other factors of modern society is generally playing a role in elevating stress levels in our lives. This stress is transmitted through the mother to the child, increasing the likelihood of development of many varied conditions, likely including autism. We just don’t get enough quality time with people these days.

And, intensive parental nurture is a crucial component of decreasing the severity of autism over time. As the autistic child ages, the family needs to be very attentive to making sure the child gets as much quality interaction with others as is possible. For the autistic individual, withdrawal into his own world feels good in the moment, but ultimately is a maladaptive strategy that feeds forward into even greater levels of dysfunction.


Your Contact Information

Your Feedback