Our interest in these drugs was due in part to their psychotomimetic effect, hoping thereby that the autistic defenses of schizophrenic children might be broken down. Of equal interest, on a theoretical basis, is the serotonin inhibiting effect and of greater interest is their effect on the autonomic and central nervous system. Brodie has described the effects of LSD and other hallucinogenic agents as "arousal and increased responsiveness to sensory stimuli, preponderance of sympathetic activity and increased skeletal muscle tone and activity." Of particular interest is their tonic effect on the vascular bed especially of the brain, as has been shown with UML in vascular headaches. The known effects of these drugs on perception further increases¬ their interest in the treatment of schizophrenia.
Such drugs were of interest to us for the treatment of childhood schizophrenia since our definition of this condition is a disorder in maturation characterized by an embryonic primitive plasticity in all areas of integrative brain functioning from which behavior subsequently arises. This includes all autonomic functions, perception, emotion, intelligence. It was hoped that 'these drugs might prove some-what specific in modifying the basic process as well as the secondary symptoms. Autism is seen as a withdrawal or denial defense against disturbing sensations arising from disturbed autonomic function and perceptual function and anxiety in the young child with lagging and atypical maturation. It was hoped that this autism might be disrupted and that more normal autonomic functions in the vascular bed, brain, intestines, skin and other organs as well as in perception would permit more normal development.
Facial emotion perception is significantly affected in autism spectrum disorder, yet little is known about how individuals with autism spectrum disorder misinterpret facial expressions that result in their difficulty in accurately recognizing emotion in faces. This study examined facial emotion perception in 45 verbal adults with autism spectrum disorder and 30 age- and gender-matched volunteers without autism spectrum disorder to identify patterns of emotion misinterpretation during face processing that contribute to emotion recognition impairments in autism. Results revealed that difficulty distinguishing emotional from neutral facial expressions characterized much of the emotion perception impairments exhibited by participants with autism spectrum disorder. In particular, adults with autism spectrum disorder uniquely misinterpreted happy faces as neutral, and were significantly more likely than typical volunteers to attribute negative valence to nonemotional faces. The over-attribution of emotions to neutral faces was significantly related to greater communication and emotional intelligence impairments in individuals with autism spectrum disorder. These findings suggest a potential negative bias toward the interpretation of facial expressions and may have implications for interventions designed to remediate emotion perception in autism spectrum disorder.
While autism is a developmental disorder, sometimes a devastating one, there is always within the autism a unique and sometimes strangely gifted individual. The great psychoanalyst Winicott used to feel that there was something like a tulip in every person and this was their essence and that this internal part of them was inaccessible to the person themselves and should not be meddled with or touched by psychoanalysis or anything else and one wonders if there is not some autistic essence like this tulip which needs to be respected and not meddled with.
Oliver Sacks, "Rage For Order," episode of Oliver Sacks: The Mind Traveller
When parents say,
I wish my child did not have autism,
what they're really saying is,
I wish the autistic child I have did not exist, and I had a different (non-autistic) child instead. ...
This is what we hear when you mourn over our existence. This is what we hear when you pray for a cure. This is what we know, when you tell us of your fondest hopes and dreams for us: that your greatest wish is that one day we will cease to be, and strangers you can love will move in behind our faces.
You didn't lose a child to autism. You lost a child because the child you waited for never came into existence. That isn't the fault of the autistic child who does exist, and it shouldn't be our burden. We need and deserve families who can see us and value us for ourselves, not families whose vision of us is obscured by the ghosts of children who never lived. Grieve if you must, for your own lost dreams. But don't mourn for us. We are alive. We are real. And we're here waiting for you.
Thirty years ago it seemed right that there be no stigma in education and that everyone should get the same start in life, but there are problems in mixing everyone together. I was never happy about the inclusion of children with severe autistic problems in schools, for example, and I certainly don't think it is working today.