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Carol Kryder LMFT
Carol Kryder LMFT, Mental Health Professional
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 808
Experience:  APA Board Certified, Diplomate,Substance Abuse Professional, 20 years family therapy experience
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Can children suffer from discrete traits of autistic spectrum

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Can children suffer from discrete traits of autistic spectrum disorder without fulfilling the full diagnostic criteria? My daughter, aged 11, who was diagnosed with Dylexia at 6, and ADHD at 8, has struggled hugely with the transition to secondary school - so much so that she is attending part time, mainly based within the Learning Support Unit, where she can cope best. Her levels of anxiety and distress have been significant. She is academically able in many areas with a high verbal IQ and a strong creative ability. Her teachers within the Learning Support Unit have commented upon her difficulties with social communication; poor social skills, literal thinking, catastrophic and black and white thinking, lack of tolerance to change. We were a ware of all this, but thought it was part of her ADHD. Her psychiatrist has commented upon her 'complex presentation', but suggested that her verbal abilities ruled out Aspergers Syndrome.
Hello and thanks for using

The short answer to your question is "yes." Autism exists on a continuum and it is certainly possible to have autistic traits without meeting the criteria for full-blown autism.

You have had your daughter evaluated by a psychiatrist, who has ruled out Asperger's Syndrome, but she indeed does display many of the traits. Patients with Asperger's Syndrome often have good verbal ability, but due to their poor reading of social cues will not participate in conversations because they find they are rejected by peers. Thus they have high levels of anxiety and depression and often are given anti-depressants.

You may find comfort in reading some books by Temple Grandin, PhD. She is a college professor who was diagnosed autistic at the age of two and has gone on to have a distinguished career. She has written at least six books on autism. You will enjoy them.

Your daughter is getting the help she needs, and as long as attention is given to her particular traits, such as the poor social skills, literal thinking, lack of tolerance to change, she should be able to finish her studies and will probably excell at a career in which she has an interest.

If this has been helpful please press the "Accept" button. If you need clarification on anything I have said, let me know.

Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Thanks, XXXXX XXXXX sounds fine - and very reassuring. Steve and I are of the view that Martha will eventually find a niche. Before I accept your reply, please clarify 'continuum' in relation to autism - I am vaguely aware that there is a school of thought that links Dylexia, Dyspraxia and ADD/ADHD to an autistic continuum. Can you suggest some references in relation this, please? Thanks, Ruth.
Autism is thought of as a continuum, much like anxiety. Example: there is simple anxiety, then comes severe anxiety, then OCD, then PTSD and then Dissociative Identity Disorder. All of them exist under the umbrella of anxiety disorders, but obviously DID is much more severe than simple anxiety.

Autism occurs in the same way. We don't know enough about it to say why or how it happens. We know that some children have a "flavor" of the symptoms, while others are severely incapacitated.

The idea of all these conditions possibly existing on a continuum is just beginning to enjoy some credibility. I am not aware of the most recent research on this isue, but you may find these links helpful:

What I do know is that Martha will indeed find a niche. With support of parents like you she will not let this stop her. She will do well.
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