Monday, January 30, 2012

DSM-5 and Proposed Changes to ASD

Jack Dikian
January 2012

It has been 17 years since the last significant overhaul of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). The planned fifth edition of the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is due for publication in May 2013.

And whilst the proposed changes to DSM-IV diagnoses are many and include Asperger syndrome, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Bipolar disorder, Depression, Dissociative identity disorder, Hypersexual disorder, etc, the proposed changes to the diagnostic criteria for Autism has received much concern by many.

The proposed change includes consolidating autism spectrum disorder and eliminating Asperger syndrome and Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD.-NOS). The new criteria would also require a person to exhibit three social interaction and communication deficits and a minimum of two repetitive behaviors. In contrast, the current requirement is exhibiting 6 or more of 12 behaviors to be diagnosed as autistic.

Concerns are numerous and aired by families of autistic children and adults, practitioners, and researchers. Families are worried that if the proposed changes are accepted, their access to support services might diminish. Others are concerned, understandably, that with these changes will impair the ability of health officials and researchers to compare future rates of autism spectrum disorders to past rates.

For example, a recent Yale University study found that out of a group of patients diagnosed with autism participating in a 1994 field trial, roughly half wouldn’t be considered autistic anymore under new guidelines proposed by the American Psychiatric Association (APA).

The following link takes you the APA’s DSM-5 development site.

Friday, January 20, 2012

12 cases of Tourette-like symptoms appear at a school

Jack Dikian
January 2012

Tourette syndrome is usually an inherited neuropsychiatric disorder with onset in childhood, and characterized by multiple physical motor and vocal tics. As we know these tics characteristically wax and wane, can be suppressed temporarily, and are preceded by a premonitory urge. Tourette's syndrome afflicts three out of every 1000 children between 6 and 17 in the United States.

We heard this week that in LEROY, N.Y, 12 high school girls have developed involuntary tics and other symptoms (likened to conversion disorder). Doctor report that at least 10 of the girls are suffering from a psychological condition usually brought on by stress or a frightening condition.

Environmental factors, latent side-effects from drugs or vaccines like Guardasil, trauma or genetic factors have been ruled out. One practitioner suggested that groups of cases, such as this, often start with one individual – and it's possible that one of those girls has a condition like Tourette's and her tics were subconsciously picked up by other girls.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Humble People Offer More Help To Others

Jack Dikian
January 2012

According to research findings published online in the Journal of Positive Psychology, arrogant people are less likely than those who are humble to offer help to someone in need.

Lead author Jordan LaBouff, a lecturer in psychology at the University of Maine (research work while a doctoral candidate at Baylor University) said students in an experiment were asked how many hours during the coming three weeks they would be willing to meet with an injured student to provide aid. Humble persons offered more time to help than less humble ones.

In other work, when students were asked to associate as quickly as possible traits that applied to themselves, as well as “agreeableness”, humility predicted helping others consistently.

It seems the research indicates that humility is a positive quality with potential benefits. Many factors (such as time pressure, number of bystanders, momentary feelings of empathy, etc) influence whether people will volunteer to help a fellow human in need, it appears that humble people, on average, are more helpful than individuals who are egotistical or conceited.