By Teresa Conrick
If you never saw the film, Rainman (1988) , you don´t know that classic line -- Ten minutes to Wapner -- which of course meant, Judge Wapner from, The People´s Court. That quote became a tragic joke, a good laugh at those sick or disabled, right up there with, I´ve fallen and I can´t get up. It was a line made famous by Dustin Hoffman in his superior role as an autistic adult, Raymond Babbitt, with his obsessional routine of watching, The People´s Court
I will smile here at my own obsessional quote, one that I mention frequently as I believe it to be one of the most important sentences about Autism:
SINCE 1938, there have come to our attention a number of children whose condition differs so markedly and uniquely from anything reported so far, that each case merits-and, I hope, will eventually receive-a detailed consideration of its fascinating peculiarities.
Written by Dr. Leo Kanner in 1943, it too could be looked at as a tragic joke, as the ¨detailed considerations¨ since 1938, have been missed by researchers and doctors for decades, in so many ways. The lack of alarm that a condition, disabling and ¨peculiar¨, was brand new and rare. For over 50 years, the rates continued to be low until the vaccine schedule increased dramatically. Pesticides, like vaccines, have increased and much research shows both of these as damaging to the HUMAN MICROBIOME.
One of the most ¨ peculiar¨ pieces to Autism has been described here in the DSM as diagnostic criteria:
Restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities, as manifested by at least two of the following, currently or by history (examples are illustrative, not exhaustive; see text):
- Stereotyped or repetitive motor movements, use of objects, or speech (e.g., simple motor stereotypies, lining up toys or flipping objects, echolalia, idiosyncratic phrases).
In those first children described by Kanner, he mentions quite a bit about their restrictive, repetitive -- obsessive behaviors:
-- He wandered about smiling, making stereotyped movements with his fingers, crossing them about in the air. He shook his head from side to side, whispering or humming the same three-note tune. He spun with great pleasure anything he could seize upon to spin. He kept throwing things on the floor, seeming to delight in the sounds they made. He arranged beads, sticks, or blocks in groups of different series of colors....Most of his actions were repetitions carried out in exactly the same way in which they had been performed originally. If he spun a block, he must always start with the same face uppermost. ..... There were also innumerable verbal rituals recurring all day long. ...his mother had to conform or else he squealed, cried, and strained every muscle in his neck in tension.
--- To a certain extent, he likes to stick to the same thing. On one of the bookshelves we had three pieces in a certain arrangement. Whenever this was changed, he always rearranged it in the old pattern.
--- his first move in entering the office (or any other room) was to turn the lights on and off. He was in the habit of saying .,almost every day, "Don't throw the dog off the balcony."He took a small blanket and kept shaking it, delightedly shouting, "Ee! Ee I" He could continue in this manner for a long time and showed great irritation when he was interfered with. All these and many other things were not only repetitions but recurred day after day with almost photographic sameness.
--- Repetitious as a baby, and obsessive now: holds things in hands, takes things to bed with her, repeats phrases, gets stuck on an idea, game, etc.,
--- He became upset by any change of an accustomed pattern: "if he notices change, he is very fussy and cries." But he himself liked to pull blinds up and down, to tear cardboard boxes into small pieces and play with them for hours, and to close and open the wings of doors.
--- He has gradually shown a marked tendency toward developing one special interest which will completely dominate his day's activities. He talks of little else while the interest exists, he frets when he is not able to indulge in it (by seeing it, coming in contact,with it, drawing pictures of it), and it is difficult to get his attention because of his preoccupation.
--- Since he talked, there has been a tendency to repeat over and over one word or statement.
...obsessive questions.....When he is interested in a thing, you cannot change it.....Mild obsessive trends were reported, such as pushing aside the first spoonful of every dish..
---There was very marked obsessiveness. Daily routine must be adhered to rigidly; any slightest change of the pattern called forth outbursts of panic. There was endless repetition of sentences....She insists on the repetition of the same routine always. Interruption of the routine is one of the most frequent occasions for her outbursts. Her own activities are simple and repetitious.
Kanner´s summary in a nutshell - The child's behavior is governed by an anxiously obsessive desire for the maintenance of sameness….This insistence on sameness led several of the children to become greatly disturbed upon the sight of-anything broken or incomplete....A great part of the day was spent in demanding not only the sameness of the wording, of a request but also the sameness of the sequence of events.....obsessiveness, stereotypy, and echolalia
The problem was that Kanner had no idea that, what was going on, was medical and instead used a psychological slant to explain these behaviors and to blame the parents. Today, more and more research shows that the obsessiveness, stereotypy, and echolalia involved in a diagnosis of AUTISM seems to be coming from the gut, in that stew of bacteria and viruses called the MICROBIOME . I can forgive Kanner. Who knew? But to see anymore wasted money in 2017 and beyond, on AUTISM research blaming GENES or PARENTS, is just INSANE. So let´s take a look:
ATLANTA, Georgia – A rapidly emerging field of research indicates that approximately 100 trillion microbes and more than 3 million microbial genes in the human gut may play a significant role in human health and disease.1,2 It is also becoming evident that the intestinal microflora regulates brain function and behavior, and may thus influence the pathophysiology of various neuropsychiatric disorders including anxiety, depression, and autism.3,4 ...Now, preliminary findings of research presented at the 2016 Annual Meeting of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) in Atlanta, Georgia, indicate a likely connection between obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and a disrupted gut microbial milieu.5..This chronic, relatively common, and frequently debilitating psychiatric syndrome is characterized by recurrent intrusive thoughts (obsessions) that trigger anxiety and prompt repetitive mental or behavioral acts (compulsions) performed by the affected individual to control or diminish that anxiety. The researchers extracted DNA from stool samples. ...In general, the samples collected from individuals diagnosed with OCD show lower abundance and lower diversity of microbial populations, as compared to the samples from typical control participants.
ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION CONFERENCE 2017
SAN FRANCISCO – Patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder have a gut bacterial microbiome marked by diminished species diversity and abundance, compared with that of healthy controls, according to the first study to examine the issue...Results of this pilot study also suggest that OCD patients with tic disorder have a distinctly different gut microbiome, compared with other OCD patients, ...Moreover, rodent studies suggest that manipulation of the gut microbiome using a probiotic can diminish pathologic anxiety (Behav Pharmacol. 2014 Feb;25:71-9). And anxiety is a predominant symptom in OCD,...In addition to the decreased abundance and diversity of bacteria present in the microbiomes of the OCD patients, compared with controls, another key finding was that the OCD patients had increased levels of systemic inflammation.
After the boy was put on a prescription for antibiotic amoxicillin to treat strep throat, he was suddenly able to make eye contact, his speech development improved, and he had a new drive and energy — none of which his parents had ever observed before the antibiotic. Autism spectrum disorders (ASD), affect one in 68 children, and the prevalence of diagnoses are growing, according to Autism Speaks. Researchers are increasingly focusing their efforts into studying the gut microbiome’s role in ASD, which experts call the “gut-brain” connection. Current research has demonstrated the type of bacteria inside a child’s gut plays a role in their disorder that transmits to the brain. Rodakis’s child isn’t the only one to have ASD-related symptomatic responses to antibiotics, which is why researchers believe there could be a key to understanding the core biology of autism.
It’s not that antibiotics should be used by parents to curb their child’s autism symptoms, but instead research efforts need to be invested into understanding why they have any effect on autism at all.
My daughter, Megan, exhibits many obsessive/compulsive behaviors:
- As a toddler when regressing into the behaviors of autism, she had to carry 2 magnetic letters in her hands all day and sleep with them.
- Watching the same shows, DVDś and songs over and over. Christmas songs ALL year long!
- Turning light switches on and off repeatedly. Closing and opening doors repeatedly.
- Stereotyped movements with her hands in front of her eyes.
- Non-verbal echolalia - Meg is non-verbal but she freezes up or has vocal tics until WE SAY the same thing over and over. For example, before she goes to bed, every night, she must hear repeatedly, french fries tomorrow, cookies tomorrow, french fries tomorrow-- in that order or it must be started over.
- Vocal tics over and over.
- Touches or smells over and over.
- Fixated on water fountains, constantly requesting to drink from it.
- Obsessed with Youtube videos of ballpits and Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer, sung in ANY language
- Routines for bathing and eating, bedtime, in the car etc….this obviously can lead to frustration and aggression.
- If something is out of place, like a rug is turned or the salt shaker is moved, she must fix it--- BUT this and other behaviors diminish or stop when on Azithromycin for Strep or other treatments targeting the Microbiome.
We are light years ahead of when Kanner wrote about Autism and even from when Rainman was made. It´s a painful life for far too many and those diagnosed deserve Immune and Microbiome treatments to help stop these debilitating behaviors.
If you can, leave a comment about your child´s Obsessions, Compulsions and Autism. Thank you.
Teresa Conrick is Science Editor for Age of Autism.