Friday, January 15, 2010

Sorting It Out

I came across another article that I had saved at about the same time as the NYT article was written, about five or so years ago. This one (“Autism Spectrum Disorders: Sorting It Out”) was published Dr. Martin Kutscher and I found it on a pediatric neurology website (again, contact me if you would like a copy of the entire article).

I’m glad I discovered this one, because it gives a clear differentiation between NLD and other spectrum disorders. Some of the characteristics of Nonverbal Learning Disability that Dr. Kutscher describes are right on target when it comes to my son. Others do not fit him at all. The take-away, I think, goes back to that saying I’ve quoted here before: If you know one person with autism, you know one person with autism.

One distinction between the two articles I’ve cited in the past two days is the age group under assessment. The Times write-up discussed the challenges faced by adults with social communication problems. Dr. Kutscher consistently refers to “children” and – in fact – closes his article with a cheer, “Good luck with the children!”

I just have to look at my nearly-six-foot nineteen-year-old to recall that these children grow up and still face the same challenges, but on a whole new level. It is not the challenge of dealing with a debilitating or possibly life-threatening disease (my sister is currently battling cancer). It is, rather, the challenge of fitting in socially, academically, professionally; the challenge of forming emotional bonds with friends; the challenge of succeeding in life without having been given the instruction booklet.

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