Internet Mental Health

AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER






Internet Mental Health Quality of Life Scale

Big 5 Factors Of Mental Illness And Code For This Disorder
(The "6th Big Factor" of Mental Health, "Physical Health", Is Coded Normal or Green)

  • From early childhood had:

    • Restricted, repetitive behaviors: e.g., strange ritualistic behaviors or mannerisms; obsessive or repetitive routines.

    • Persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction: e.g., lack of understanding of how to talk or play with others; trouble reading social cues or recognizing other people's feelings.

  • Not due to a more serious mental disorder.

Prediction

    Onset in early childhood (but may not become fully manifest until social demands exceed limited capacities, or may be masked by learned strategies in later life); is lifelong.

Problems

    Occupational-Economic Problems:

    • In Western countries, the labour force participation rate for adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is 34%, compared with 54% for all individuals with disabilities, and 83% for individuals without disabilities.

    • Severely affected individuals are unable to speak, and require assistance with everyday functions (e.g., feeding, dressing); whereas mildly affected individuals have normal language and adaptive functioning.

    Disinhibited (Disinhibition):

    • Lower functioning individuals exhibit aggressiveness, self-injurious behaviors (head banging, bitting), and temper tantrums (in younger children).

    Developmentally Delayed (Impaired Intellect):

    • Almost half of children and adolescents with this disorder have from mild to profound Intellectual Disability (formerly termed mental retardation). Higher functioning individuals with this disorder may have normal intelligence and language development.

    • Restricted repetitive behaviors:

      • Stereotyped or repetitive motor movements, use of objects, or speech (e.g., flapping hands or rocking body)

      • Insistence on sameness, inflexible adherence to routines, or ritualized patterns of verbal or nonverbal behavior (e.g., extreme distress at small changes, difficultties with transitions, rigid thinking patterns, greeting rituals, need to take same route to eat same food every day)

      • Highly restricted, fixated interests that are abnormal in intensity or focus (e.g., strong attachment to or preoccupation with unusual objects, excessively circumscreibed or perseverative interests)

      • Hyper- or hyporeactivity to sensory input or unusual interest in sensory aspects of the environment (e.g., apparent indifference to pain/temperature, adverse response to specific sounds or textures, excessive smelling or touching of objects, visual fascination with lights or movement)

    • Persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction:

      • Deficits in social-emotional reciprocity, ranging, for example, from abnormal social approach and failure of normal back-and-forth conversation; to reduced sharing of interests, emotions, or affect; to failure to initiate or respond to social interactions

      • Deficits in nonverbal communicative behaviors used for social interaction, ranging, for example, from poorly integrated verbal and nonverbal communication; to abnormalities in eye contact and body language or deficits in understanding and use of gestures; to a total lack of facial expressions and nonverbal communication

      • Deficits in developing, maintaining, and understanding relationships, ranging, for example, from difficulties adjusting behavior to suit various social contexts; to difficulties in sharing imaginative play or in making friends; to absence of interest in peers

    • Many have symptoms of distractibility and hyperactivity (and may be diagnosed as ADHD prior to this diagnosis)

    Detached (Detachment):

    • Are socially isolated (because of their trouble reading social cues and recognizing other people's feelings).

    • Their social disabilities may worsen with time.

    Negative Emotions (Negative Emotion):

    • May have inappropriate moods (e.g., giggling or weeping for no reason, or have an apparent absence of emotional reactions).

    • Lack of fear in response to real danger; excessive fearfulness in response to harmless objects.

    • Victimization in school leads to development of depression and anxiety in adolescence and young adulthood.

    • Adults may become depressed when they realize the extent of their disability.

    Medical:

    • Physical clumsiness may contribute to peer rejection.

    • 25% develop seizures (particularly in adolescence).

    • Sleep problems, constipation, and extreme and narrow food preferences frequently occur.




Explanation Of Terms And Symbols

Internet Mental Health Quality of Life Scale

Early Warning Signs Of Autism Spectrum Disorder

The first warning often is that the infant doesn't smile or respond to cuddling. At age 2, the child may not develop speech, or has delayed speech development. The two-year old develops odd, restricted, repetitive behaviors and absence of normal play. The three-year old remains withdrawn and socially detached, and may engage in rocking, head banging, hand flapping or finger flicking. The toddler may develop extreme responses to specific sounds or textures, and an abnormal fascination with lights and spinning objects. Although it is very difficult to accept, eventually parents know something is very wrong because their child fails to develop normal social and communication abilities. Life at home often becomes very difficult because of the child's insistence on routines and aversion to change, especially in terms of his/her very restricted diet.

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Diagnostic Criteria

Childhood Autism F84.0 - ICD10 Description, World Health Organization

A type of pervasive developmental disorder that is defined by: (a) the presence of abnormal or impaired development that is manifest before the age of three years, and (b) the characteristic type of abnormal functioning in all the three areas of psychopathology: reciprocal social interaction, communication, and restricted, stereotyped, repetitive behavior. In addition to these specific diagnostic features, a range of other nonspecific problems are common, such as phobias, sleeping and eating disturbances, temper tantrums, and (self-directed) aggression.

    F84.1 Atypical Autism
    A type of pervasive developmental disorder that differs from childhood autism either in age of onset or in failing to fulfil all three sets of diagnostic criteria. This subcategory should be used when there is abnormal and impaired development that is present only after age three years, and a lack of sufficient demonstrable abnormalities in one or two of the three areas of psychopathology required for the diagnosis of autism (namely, reciprocal social interactions, communication, and restricted, stereotyped, repetitive behavior) in spite of characteristic abnormalities in the other area(s). Atypical autism arises most often in profoundly retarded individuals and in individuals with a severe specific developmental disorder of receptive language.
Autism Spectrum Disorder - Diagnostic Criteria, American Psychiatric Association

An individual diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder needs to meet all of the following criteria:

  • Persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction across multiple contexts, as manifested by the following, currently or by history (examples are illustrative, not exhaustive):

    • Deficits in social-emotional reciprocity, ranging, for example, from abnormal social approach and failure of normal back-and-forth conversation; to reduced sharing of interests, emotions, or affect; to failure to initiate or respond to social interactions.

    • Deficits in nonverbal communicative behaviors used for social interaction, ranging, for example, from poorly integrated verbal and nonverbal communication; to abnormalities in eye contact and body language or deficits in understanding and use of gestures; to a total lack of facial expressions and nonverbal communication.

    • Deficits in developing, maintaining, and understanding relationships, ranging, for example, from difficulties adjusting behavior to suit various social contexts; to difficulties in sharing imaginative play or in making friends; to absence of interest in peers.

  • 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):

    • Stereotyped or repetitive motor movements, use of objects, or speech (e.g., simple motor stereotypies, lining up toys or flipping objects, echolalia, idiosyncratic phrases).

    • Insistence on sameness, inflexible adherence to routines, or ritualized patterns of verbal or nonverbal behavior (e.g., extreme distress at small changes, difficultties with transitions, rigid thinking patterns, greeting rituals, need to take same route to eat same food every day).

    • Highly restricted, fixated interests that are abnormal in intensity or focus (e.g., strong attachment to or preoccupation with unusual objects, excessively circumscreibed or perseverative interests).

    • Hyper- or hyporeactivity to sensory input or unusual interest in sensory aspects of the environment (e.g., apparent indifferene to pain/temperature, adverse response to specific sounds or textures, excessive smelling or touching of objects, visual fascination with lights or movement).

  • Symptoms must be present in the early developmental period (but may not become fully manifest until social demands exceed limited capacities, or may be masked by learned strategies in later life).

  • Symptoms cause clinically significant impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of current functioning.

  • These disturbances are not better explained by intellectual disability (intellectual developmental disorder) or global Developmentally Delayed. Intellectual disability and autism spectrum disorder frequently co-occur; to make comorbid diagnoses of autism spectrum disorder and intellectual disability, social communication should be below that expected for general developmental level.

    Note: Individuals with a well-established DSM-IV diagnosis of autistic disorder, Asperger's disorder, or pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified should be given the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder. Individuals who have marked deficits in social communication, but lack restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, should be evaluated for social (pragmatic) communication disorder.

Asperger's Disorder Is Now Diagnosed As Higher Functioning Autistic Spectrum Disorder

Asperger Syndrome F84.5 - ICD10 Description, World Health Organization

A disorder of uncertain nosological validity, characterized by the same type of qualitative abnormalities of reciprocal social interaction that typify autism, together with a restricted, stereotyped, repetitive repertoire of interests and activities. It differs from autism primarily in the fact that there is no general delay or retardation in language or in cognitive development. This disorder is often associated with marked clumsiness. There is a strong tendency for the abnormalities to persist into adolescence and adult life. Psychotic episodes occasionally occur in early adult life.
Autistic Spectrum Disorder - Diagnostic Criteria, American Psychiatric Association
Asperger's disorder no longer exists as a separate diagnosis. Instead, Asperger's disorder is now seen as merely higher functioning autism spectrum disorder. The diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder now encompasses the previous DSM-IV autistic disorder (autism), Asperger's disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified. Autism spectrum disorder is characterized by (1) deficits in social communication and social interaction and (2) restricted repetitive behaviors, interests, and activities (RRBs). Because both components are required for diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder, social communication disorder is diagnosed if no RRBs are present.

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Diagnostic Features

Individuals with this disorder must show symptoms from early childhood, even if those symptoms are not recognized until later. This disorder is characterized by (1) deficits in social communication and social interaction and (2) restricted repetitive behaviors, interests, and activities (RRBs). Because both components are required for diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder, social communication disorder is diagnosed if no RRBs are present. These individuals are socially isolated (because of their trouble reading social cues and recognizing other people's feelings, plus their avoidance of eye contact). They obsessively pursue a single interest and talk about little else. They show repetitive, obsessional, and/or perfectionistic behaviors. They usually are overly dependent on routines, highly sensitive to changes in their environment, or intensely focused on inappropriate items. The symptoms of individuals with this disorder fall on a continuum, with some individuals showing mild symptoms and others having much more severe symptoms. Higher functioning individuals with this disorder may have normal intellectual capacity and language development. However, lower functioning individuals with this disorder frequently have low intellectual capacity and delayed speech. One quarter of children with autism have epilepsy. Long-term outcome in adulthood is variable; the majority can not live independently, and are dependent upon community or parental support. Most adults with this disorder are unemployed, single and socially isolated.

New Evidence Shows That Autism Begins During Pregnancy

Researchers have found that there are patches of disorganization in the neocortex of the frontal and temporal lobes of the brains of children with autism. These brain abnormalities are present in the second and third trimester of pregnancy. This research conclusively shows that autism begins during pregnancy, but what causes this prenatal brain disorganization is still not known.

Outcome

One research study found that, "although a minority of adults had achieved relatively high levels of independence, most remained very dependent on their families or other support services. Few lived alone, had close friends, or permanent employment. Communication generally was impaired, and reading and spelling abilities were poor. Stereotyped behaviours or interests frequently persisted into adulthood. Overall, only 12% were rated as having a 'Very Good' outcome; 10% were rated as 'Good' and 19% as 'Fair'. The majority was rated as having a 'Poor' (46%) or 'Very Poor' (12%) outcome. Individuals with a childhood performance IQ of at least 70 had a significantly better outcome than those with an IQ below this."

Effective Therapies

No medication is effective against the core features of this disorder. However, risperidone and aripiprazole reduce aggression, and methylphenidate reduces hyperactivity. Early intensive behavioral intervention (EIBI) is one of the most widely used treatments for children with autism spectrum disorder. Research supports the use of EIBI for some children with ASD. However, the quality of this evidence is low as only a small number of children were involved in the studies and only one study randomly assigned children to groups. There is a lack of evidence for most other forms of psychosocial intervention. There is consensus that children with ASD need a structured educational approach with explicit teaching. Efficacy has been shown for 2 of the structured educational models, the Early Start Denver Model and the Treatment and Education of Autism and related Communication handicapped Children program.

Ineffective therapies

Vitamins and dietary supplements are ineffective for this disorder.

Overburdening Caregivers

In many developed countries, there is little or no community support given to individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) once they become adults. Thus the devoted parents of these individuals are usually left to shoulder the entire burden of caregiving for ASD adults - which often is incredibly demanding. That is why it is essential that governments subsidize community supports for adults with ASD.

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Rating Scales

Which Behavioral Dimensions Are Involved?

Research has shown that there are 5 major dimensions (the "Big 5 Factors") of personality disorders and other mental disorders. There are two free online personality tests that assess your personality in terms of the "Big 5 dimensions of personality". Although not computerized online, the Big Five Inventory (BFI) is a 44-item test often used in personality research.

This website uses these 5 major dimensions of human behavior to describe all mental disorders. (This website adds one more dimension, "Physical Health", but our discussion will focus on the first 5 major dimensions.)

These major dimensions of human behavior seem to represent the major dimensions whereby our early evolutionary ancestors chose their hunting companions or spouse. To maximize their chance for survival, our ancestors wanted companions who were agreeable, conscientious, intelligent, sociable, emotionally stable, and physically healthy.

Which Dimensions of Human Behavior are Impaired in Autism Spectrum Disorder?

THE POSITIVE SIDE OF THE "BIG 5" PERSONALITY DIMENSIONS THE NEGATIVE SIDE OF THE "BIG 5" PERSONALITY DIMENSIONS DESCRIPTION (Where red = this disorder)
Agreeableness Antagonism       Agreeableness
Conscientiousness Disinhibition       Conscientiousness
Openness/Intellect Low Openness/Intellect       Low Openness/Intellect (Cognitive Impairment)
Sociability (Extraversion) Detachment       Detachment
Emotional Stability Negative Emotion       Emotional Stability


The 5 Major Dimensions of Mental Illness

The Big 5 Factors or dimensions of mental illness each has a healthy side and an unhealthy side. Thus the Big 5 Factors are: (1) Agreeableness vs. Antagonism, (2) Conscientiousness vs. Disinhibition, (3) Openness/Intellect vs. Low Openness/Intellect, (4) Sociability (Extraversion) vs. Detachment (Introversion), and (5) Emotional Stability vs. Negative Emotion.



The Following Pictures Are From The 2/6/2018 SpaceX Falcon Heavy Launch

AGREEABLENESS VS. ANTAGONISM
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Agreeableness (Agreeable)
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Description: Agreeableness is synonymous with compassion and politeness. Compassion reflects empathy, sympathy, and caring for others. Politeness reflects respect for others. Agreeable people are interested in others, and they make people feel comfortable. The Agreeableness dimension measures the behaviors that are central to the concept of JUSTICE (fair, honest, and helpful behavior - living in harmony with others, neither harming nor allowing harm). (This dimension appears to measure the behaviors that differentiate friend from foe.)
Descriptors: Compassionate, polite, warm, friendly, helpful, unselfish, generous, modest.
Language Characteristics: Pleasure talk, agreement, compliments, empathy, few personal attacks, few commands or global rejections, many self-references, few negations, few swear words, few threats, many insight words.
Research: Higher scores on Agreeableness are associated with deeper relationships. *MRI research found that Agreeableness was associated with increased volume in regions that process information about the intentions and mental states of other individuals.
"I am helpful and unselfish with others."
"I have a forgiving nature."
"I am generally trusting."
"I am considerate and kind to almost everyone."
"I like to cooperate with others."
"I don't find fault with others."
"I don't start quarrels with others."
"I am not cold and aloof."
"I am not rude to others."
"I feel other's emotions."
"I inquire about others' well-being."
"I sympathize with others' feelings."
"I take an interest in other people's lives."
"I like to do things for others."
"I respect authority."
"I hate to seem pushy."
"I avoid imposing my will on others."
"I rarely put people under pressure."
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Antagonism (Antagonistic)
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Description: Antagonism is synonymous with competition and aggression. Antagonistic people are self-interested, and do not see others positively.
Descriptors: Manipulative, deceitful, grandiose, callous, disrespectful, unfriendly, suspicious, uncooperative, malicious.
Language Characteristics: Problem talk, dissatisfaction, little empathy, many personal attacks, many commands or global rejections, few self-references, many negations, many swear words, many threats, little politeness, few insight words.
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* Callousness:
"It's no big deal if I hurt other people's feelings."
"Being rude and unfriendly is just a part of who I am."
"I often get into physical fights."
"I enjoy making people in control look stupid."
"I am not interested in other people's problems."
"I can't be bothered with other's needs."
"I am indifferent to the feelings of others."
"I don't have a soft side."
"I take no time for others."
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* Deceitfulness:
"I don't hesitate to cheat if it gets me ahead."
"Lying comes easily to me."
"I use people to get what I want."
"People don't realize that I'm flattering them to get something."
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* Manipulativeness:
"I use people to get what I want."
"It is easy for me to take advantage of others."
"I'm good at conning people."
"I am out for my own personal gain."
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* Grandiosity:
"I'm better than almost everyone else."
"I often have to deal with people who are less important than me."
"To be honest, I'm just more important than other people."
"I deserve special treatment."
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* Suspiciousness:
"It seems like I'm always getting a “raw deal” from others."
"I suspect that even my so-called 'friends' betray me a lot."
"Others would take advantage of me if they could."
"Plenty of people are out to get me."
"I'm always on my guard for someone trying to trick or harm me."
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* Hostility:
"I am easily angered."
"I get irritated easily by all sorts of things."
"I am usually pretty hostile."
"I always make sure I get back at people who wrong me."
"I resent being told what to do, even by people in charge."
"I insult people."
"I seek conflict."
"I love a good fight."
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("Agreeableness vs. Antagonism" modified from "PID-5" by Kreuger RF, Derringer J, Markon KE, Watson D, Skodol AE and Between facets and domains: 10 aspects of the Big Five)
*MRI Research: Testing predictions from personality neuroscience. Brain structure and the big five.




CONSCIENTIOUSNESS VS. DISINHIBITION
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Conscientiousness (Conscientious)
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Description: Conscientiousness is synonymous with being self-disciplined, industrious and orderly. The Conscientiousness dimension measures the behaviors that are central to the concept of SELF-CONTROL - organizing and controlling one's behavior in order to achieve one's goals. (This dimension appears to measure the behaviors that differentiate behavioral order and inhibition from chaos and disinhibition.)
Descriptors: Industrious, self-disciplined, rule-abiding, organized
Language Characteristics: Many positive emotion words (e.g. happy, good), few negative emotion words (e.g. hate, bad), more perspective, careful to check that information is conveyed correctly, straight to the point, formal, few negations, few swear words, few references to friends, few disfluencies or filler words, many insight words, not impulsive.
Research: Higher scores on Conscientiousness predict greater success in school and at work. *MRI research found that Conscientiousness was associated with increased volume in the lateral prefrontal cortex, a region involved in planning and the voluntary control of behavior.
"I do a thorough job. I want everything to be 'just right'. I want every detail taken care of."
"I am careful."
"I am a reliable hard-worker."
"I am organized. I follow a schedule and always know what I am doing."
"I like order. I keep things tidy."
"I see that rules are observed."
"I do things efficiently. I get things done quickly."
"I carry out my plans and finish what I start."
"I am not easily distracted."
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Rigid Perfectionism (Excessive Conscientiousness)
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"Even though it drives other people crazy, I insist on absolute perfection in everything I do."
"I simply won't put up with things being out of their proper places."
"People complain about my need to have everything all arranged."
"People tell me that I focus too much on minor details."
"I have a strict way of doing things."
"I postpone decisions."
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Disinhibition (Disinhibited)
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Description: Disinhibition is synonymous with being distractible, impulsive and disorganized.
Descriptors: Distractible, impulsive, irresponsible, disorganised, unreliable, careless, forgetful
Language Characteristics: Few positive emotion words, many negative emotion words, less perspective, less careful, more vague, informal, many negations, many swear words, many references to friends (e.g. pal, buddy), many disfluencies or filler words, few insight words, impulsive.
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* Irresponsibility:
"I've skipped town to avoid responsibilities."
"I just skip appointments or meetings if I'm not in the mood."
"I'm often pretty careless with my own and others' things."
"Others see me as irresponsible."
"I make promises that I don't really intend to keep."
"I often forget to pay my bills."
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* Impulsivity:
"I usually do things on impulse without thinking about what might happen as a result."
"Even though I know better, I can't stop making rash decisions."
"I feel like I act totally on impulse."
"I'm not good at planning ahead."
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* Distractibility:
"I can't focus on things for very long."
"I am easily distracted."
"I have trouble pursuing specific goals even for short periods of time."
"I can't achieve goals because other things capture my attention."
"I often make mistakes because I don't pay close attention."
"I waste my time ."
"I find it difficult to get down to work."
"I mess things up."
"I don't put my mind on the task at hand."
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* Reckless Risk Taking:
"I like to take risks."
"I have no limits when it comes to doing dangerous things."
"People would describe me as reckless."
"I don't think about getting hurt when I'm doing things that might be dangerous."
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* Hyperactivity:
"I move excessively (e.g., can't sit still; restless; always on the go)."
"I'm starting lots more projects than usual or doing more risky things than usual."
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* Over-Talkativeness:
"I talk excessively (e.g., I butt into conversations; I complete people's sentences)."
"Often I talk constantly and cannot be interrupted."
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* Elation:
"I feel much more happy, cheerful, or self-confident than usual."
"I'm sleeping a lot less than usual, but I still have a lot of energy."
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("Conscientiousness vs. Disinhibition" modified from "PID-5" by Kreuger RF, Derringer J, Markon KE, Watson D, Skodol AE and Between facets and domains: 10 aspects of the Big Five)
*MRI Research: Testing predictions from personality neuroscience. Brain structure and the big five.




OPENNESS/INTELLECT vs. LOW OPENNESS/INTELLECT
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Openness/Intellect (Open-Minded)
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Description: Openness/Intellect (or "Openness To Experience") is synonymous with being open-minded and creative. The Openness/Intellect dimension measures the behaviors that are central to the concept of WISDOM - having experience, knowledge, and good judgment. (This dimension appears to measure the behaviors that differentiate open-minded from close-minded individuals.) Open-minded people are usually creative, sophisticated, intellectual, curious and interested in art.
Descriptors: Receptive to new ideas, curious, imaginative, creative, unconventional
Language Characteristics: Many positive emotion words (e.g. happy, good), high meaning elaboration, more perspective, politeness, few self-references, complex sentence constructions, few causation words, many inclusive words (e.g. with, and), few third person pronouns, many tentative words (e.g. maybe, guess), many insight words (e.g. think, see), few filler words and within-utterance pauses, stronger uncommon verbs.
Research: Higher scores on Openness/Intellect are associated with greater creativity and general intelligence. *MRI research found that Openness/Intellect did not have any significant correlation with the volume of any localized brain structure.
Relationship To General Intelligence: Research has shown that Openness/Intellect can be separated into 2 factors: Openness and Intellect. Intellect was independently associated with general intelligence (g) and with verbal and nonverbal intelligence about equally. Openness was independently associated only with verbal intelligence.
Example: This video shows how we see what we want to see. What we pay attention to (or what we believe about the world) blinds us to reality. (Exit YouTube after first video.)
"I am original, and come up with new ideas."
"I am curious about many different things."
"I am quick to understand things."
"I can handle a lot of information."
"I like to solve complex problems."
"I have a rich vocabulary."
"I think quickly and formulate ideas clearly."
"I enjoy the beauty of nature."
"I believe in the importance of art."
"I love to reflect on things."
"I get deeply immersed in music."
"I see beauty in things that others might not notice."
"I need a creative outlet."
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Closed To Experience (Low Openness/Intellect)
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Description: Low Openness/Intellect (or "Closed To Experience") is synonymous with being closed-minded and uncreative. Low Openness/Intellect is associated with narrow-mindedness, unimaginativeness and ignorance.
Descriptors: Narrow-minded, conservative, ignorant, simple
Language Characteristics: Few positive emotion words, low meaning elaboration, less perspective, less politeness, few positive emotion words, many self-references, simple sentence construction, many causation words (e.g. because, hence), many third person pronouns, few tentative words, few insight words, many filler words and within-utterance pauses, milder verbs.
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"I prefer work that is routine."
"I have difficulty understanding abstract ideas."
"I think slowly."
"People find it hard to follow my logic or understand my thoughts."
"I avoid philosophical discussions."
"I avoid difficult reading material."
"People find it hard to follow my logic or understand my thoughts."
"I have few artistic interests."
"I seldom notice the emotional aspects of paintings and pictures."
"I do not like poetry."
"I seldom get lost in thought."
"I seldom daydream."
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Cognitive Impairment
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* Memory Impairment: (When Severe)
"I have difficulty learning new things, or remembering things that happened a few days ago."
"I often forget a conversation I had the day before."
"I often forget to take my medications, or to keep my appointments."
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* Impaired Reasoning: (When Severe)
"My judgment or ability to solve problems isn't good."
"I have difficulty understanding abstract ideas."
"I think slowly."
"People find it hard to follow my logic or understand my thoughts."
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Psychoticism
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* Eccentricity:
"I often have thoughts that make sense to me but that other people say are strange."
"Others seem to think I'm quite odd or unusual."
"My thoughts are strange and unpredictable."
"My thoughts often don’t make sense to others."
"Other people seem to think my behavior is weird."
"I have several habits that others find eccentric or strange."
"My thoughts often go off in odd or unusual directions."
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* Unusual Beliefs and Experiences:
"I often have unusual experiences, such as sensing the presence of someone who isn't actually there."
"I've had some really weird experiences that are very difficult to explain."
"I have seen things that weren’t really there."
"I have some unusual abilities, like sometimes knowing exactly what someone is thinking."
"I sometimes have heard things that others couldn’t hear."
"Sometimes I can influence other people just by sending my thoughts to them."
"I often see unusual connections between things that most people miss."
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* Perceptual Dysregulation:
"Things around me often feel unreal, or more real than usual."
"Sometimes I get this weird feeling that parts of my body feel like they're dead or not really me."
"It's weird, but sometimes ordinary objects seem to be a different shape than usual."
"Sometimes I feel 'controlled' by thoughts that belong to someone else."
"Sometimes I think someone else is removing thoughts from my head."
"I have periods in which I feel disconnected from the world or from myself."
"I can have trouble telling the difference between dreams and waking life."
"I often 'zone out' and then suddenly come to and realize that a lot of time has passed."
"Sometimes when I look at a familiar object, it's somehow like I'm seeing it for the first time."
"People often talk about me doing things I don't remember at all."
"I often can't control what I think about."
"I often see vivid dream-like images when I’m falling asleep or waking up."
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("OPENNESS TO EXPERIENCE vs. BEING CLOSED TO EXPERIENCE" modified from "PID-5" by Kreuger RF, Derringer J, Markon KE, Watson D, Skodol AE and Between facets and domains: 10 aspects of the Big Five)
*MRI Research: Testing predictions from personality neuroscience. Brain structure and the big five.




SOCIABILITY (EXTRAVERSION) vs. DETACHMENT
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Sociability (Sociable)
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Description: Sociability (Extraversion) is synonymous with being enthusiastic and assertive. Assertiveness encompasses traits relating to leadership, dominance, and drive. Enthusiasm encompasses both outgoing friendliness or sociability and the tendency to experience and express positive emotion. Extraverts tend to engage in social interaction; they are enthusiastic, risk-taking, talkative and assertive. The Extraversion dimension measures the behaviors that are central to the concept of SOCIABILITY - seeking and enjoying companionship. (This dimension appears to measure the behaviors that differentiate approach from avoidance.)
Descriptors: Sociable, gregarious, reward-seeking, talkative.
Language Characteristics: Many topics, higher verbal output, think out loud, pleasure talk, agreement, compliment, positive emotion words, sympathetic, concerned about hearer (but not empathetic), simple constructions, few unfilled pauses, few negations, few tentative words, informal language, many swear words, exaggeration (e.g. really), many words related to humans (e.g. man, pal), poor vocabulary.
Research: Higher scores on Sociability (extraversion) are associated with greater happiness and broader social connections. *MRI research found that Sociability (extraversion) was associated with increased volume of medial orbitofrontal cortex, a region involved in processing reward information.
"I'm talkative"
"I'm not reserved."
"I'm full of energy."
"I generate a lot of enthusiasm."
"I'm not quiet."
"I have an assertive personality."
"I'm not shy or inhibited."
"I am outgoing and sociable."
"I make friends easily."
"I warm up quickly to others."
"I show my feelings when I'm happy."
"I have a lot of fun."
"I laugh a lot."
"I take charge."
"I have a strong personality."
"I know how to captivate people."
"I see myself as a good leader."
"I can talk others into doing things."
"I am the first to act."
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Attention Seeking (Excessive Sociability)
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"I like to draw attention to myself."
"I crave attention."
"I do things to make sure people notice me."
"I do things so that people just have to admire me."
"My behavior is often bold and grabs peoples' attention."
.
Detachment (Detached)
.
Description: Detachment is synonymous with being reserved and quiet.
Descriptors: Withdrawn, anhedonic (pleasureless), intimacy avoiding, Detached, shy, passive, solitary, moody
Language Characteristics: Single topic, doesn't think out loud, problem talk, dissatisfaction, negative emotion words, not sympathetic, elaborated sentence constructions, many unfilled pauses, formal language, many negations, many tentative words (e.g. maybe, guess), few swear words, little exaggeration, few words related to humans, rich vocabulary.
.
* Social Withdrawal:
"I don’t like to get too close to people."
"I don't deal with people unless I have to."
"I'm not interested in making friends."
"I don’t like spending time with others."
"I say as little as possible when dealing with people."
"I keep to myself."
"I am hard to get to know."
"I reveal little about myself."
"I do not have an assertive personality."
"I lack the talent for influencing people."
"I wait for others to lead the way."
"I hold back my opinions."
.
* Intimacy Avoidance:
"I steer clear of romantic relationships."
"I prefer to keep romance out of my life."
"I prefer being alone to having a close romantic partner."
"I'm just not very interested in having sexual relationships."
"II break off relationships if they start to get close."
.
* Anhedonia (Lack of Pleasure):
"I often feel like nothing I do really matters."
"I almost never enjoy life."
"Nothing seems to make me feel good."
"Nothing seems to interest me very much."
"I almost never feel happy about my day-to-day activities."
"I rarely get enthusiastic about anything."
"I don't get as much pleasure out of things as others seem to."
.
* Restricted Emotions:
"I don't show emotions strongly."
"I don't get emotional."
"I never show emotions to others."
"I don't have very long-lasting emotional reactions to things."
"People tell me it's difficult to know what I'm feeling."
"I am not a very enthusiastic person."
.
("Sociability vs. Detachment" modified from "PID-5" by Kreuger RF, Derringer J, Markon KE, Watson D, Skodol AE and Between facets and domains: 10 aspects of the Big Five)
*MRI Research: Testing predictions from personality neuroscience. Brain structure and the big five.




EMOTIONAL STABILITY VS. NEGATIVE EMOTION
.
Emotional Stability (Emotionally Stable)
.
Description: Emotional Stability is synonymous with being calm and emotionally stable. The Emotional Stability dimension measures the behaviors that are central to the concept of COURAGE - having calm composure and endurance when confronting adversity. (This dimension appears to measure the behaviors that differentiate safety from danger.)
Descriptors: Calm, even-tempered, peaceful, confident
Language Characteristics: Pleasure talk, agreement, compliment, low verbal productivity, few repetitions, neutral content, calm, few self-references, many short silent pauses, few long silent pauses, many tentative words, few aquiescence, little exaggeration, less frustration, low concreteness.
"I am relaxed, and I handle stress well."
"I am emotionally stable, and not easily upset."
"I remain calm in tense situations."
"I rarely get irritated."
"I keep my emotions under control."
"I rarely lose my composure."
"I am not easily annoyed."
"I seldom feel blue."
"I feel comfortable with myself."
"I rarely feel depressed."
"I am not embarrassed easily."
.
Negative Emotion (Negative Emotions)
.
Description: Degree to which people experience persistent anxiety or depression and are easily upset. (This could be thought of as high threat sensitivity or low stress tolerance.)
Descriptors: Emotionally unstable, anxious, separation-insecure, depressed, self-conscious, oversensitive, vulnerable.
Language Characteristics: Problem talk, dissatisfaction, high verbal productivity, many repetitions, polarised content, stressed, many self-references, few short silent pauses, many long silent pauses, few tentative words, more aquiescence, many self references, exaggeration, frustration, high concreteness.
Research: Lower scores on Emotional Stability are associated with unhappiness, dysfunctional relationships, and mental health problems. *MRI research found that Low Emotional Stability (= Negative Emotion or Neuroticism) was associated with increased volume of brain regions associated with threat, punishment, and negative emotions.
.
* Emotional Instability:
"I get emotional easily, often for very little reason."
"I get emotional over every little thing."
"My emotions are unpredictable."
"I never know where my emotions will go from moment to moment."
"I am a highly emotional person."
"I have much stronger emotional reactions than almost everyone else."
"My emotions sometimes change for no good reason."
"I get angry easily."
"I get upset easily."
"I change my mood a lot."
"I am a person whose moods go up and down easily."
"I get easily agitated."
"I can be stirred up easily."
.
* Anxiety:
"I worry about almost everything."
"I'm always fearful or on edge about bad things that might happen."
"I always expect the worst to happen."
"I am a very anxious person."
"I get very nervous when I think about the future."
"I often worry that something bad will happen due to mistakes I made in the past."
"I am filled with doubts about things."
"I feel threatened easily."
"I am afraid of many things."
.
* Separation Insecurity:
"I fear being alone in life more than anything else."
"I can't stand being left alone, even for a few hours."
"I’d rather be in a bad relationship than be alone."
"I'll do just about anything to keep someone from abandoning me."
"I dread being without someone to love me."
.
* Submissiveness:
"I usually do what others think I should do."
"I do what other people tell me to do."
"I change what I do depending on what others want."
.
* Perseveration:
"I get stuck on one way of doing things, even when it's clear it won't work."
"I get stuck on things a lot."
"It is hard for me to shift from one activity to another."
"I get fixated on certain things and can’t stop."
"I feel compelled to go on with things even when it makes little sense to do so."
"I keep approaching things the same way, even when it isn’t working."
.
* Depressed Mood:
"I have no worth as a person."
"Everything seems pointless to me."
"I often feel like a failure."
"The world would be better off if I were dead."
"The future looks really hopeless to me."
"I often feel just miserable."
"I'm very dissatisfied with myself."
"I often feel like nothing I do really matters."
"I know I'll commit suicide sooner or later."
"I talk about suicide a lot."
"I feel guilty much of the time."
"I'm so ashamed by how I've let people down in lots of little ways."
"I am easily discouraged."
"I become overwhelmed by events."
.
("Emotional Stability vs. Negative Emotion" modified from "PID-5" by Kreuger RF, Derringer J, Markon KE, Watson D, Skodol AE and Between facets and domains: 10 aspects of the Big Five)
*MRI Research: Testing predictions from personality neuroscience. Brain structure and the big five.


The "Big 5 Factors" of Personality as Shown In Dogs

The same "Big 5 Factors" of personality found in humans can be found in dogs. This makes sense because dogs, like humans, are a social species.



AGREEABLENESS VS. ANTAGONISM
.
Agreeableness ("Friend")
.
Dog is friendly towards unfamiliar people.
Dog is friendly towards other dogs.
When off leash, dog comes immediately when called.
Dog willingly shares toys with other dogs.
Dog leaves food or objects alone when told to do so.
.
Antagonism ("Foe")
.
Dog is dominant over other dogs.
Dog is assertive with other dogs (e.g., if in a home with other dogs, when greeting).
Dog behaves aggressively towards unfamiliar people.
Dog shows aggression when nervous or fearful.
Dog aggressively guards coveted items (e.g., stolen item, treats, food bowl).
Dog is quick to sneak out through open doors, gates.

CONSCIENTIOUSNESS VS. DISINHIBITION
.
Conscientiousness ("Self-Controlled")
.
Dog works at tasks (e.g., getting treats out of a dispenser, shredding toys) until entirely finished.
Dog works hard all day herding or pulling a sleigh (if a "working dog" on the farm or in the snow).*
Dog is curious.
.
Disinhibition ("Disinhibited")
.
Dog is boisterous.
Dog seeks constant activity.
Dog is very excitable around other dogs.

OPENNESS/INTELLECT vs. LOW OPENNESS/INTELLECT
.
Open To Experience ("Open-Minded")
.
Dog is able to focus on a task in a distracting situation (e.g., loud or busy places, around other dogs).
.
Closed To Experience ("Closed-Minded")
.
Dog is slow to respond to corrections.
Dog ignores commands.
Dog is slow to learn new tricks or tasks.

SOCIABILITY (EXTRAVERSION) vs. DETACHMENT
.
Sociability ("Approach")
.
Dog is attention seeking (e.g., nuzzling, pawing or jumping up on family members looking for attention and physical contact).*
Dog seeks companionship from people.
Dog is affectionate.
.
Detachment ("Avoidance")
.
Dog is aloof.
Dog gets bored in play quickly.
Dog is lethargic.

EMOTIONAL STABILITY VS. NEGATIVE EMOTION
.
Emotional Stability ("Safety")
.
Dog tends to be calm.
Dog is relaxed when greeting people.
Dog is confident.
Dog adapts easily to new situations and environments.
.
Negative Emotion ("Danger")
.
Dog is anxious.
Dog is shy.
Dog behaves fearfully towards unfamiliar people.
Dog exhibits fearful behaviors when restrained.
Dog avoids other dogs.
Dog behaves fearfully towards other dogs.
Dog behaves submissively (e.g., rolls over, avoids eye contact, licks lips) when greeting other dogs.
.
Modified from Jones, A. C. (2009). Development and validation of a dog personality questionnaire. Ph.D. Thesis. University of Texas, Austin.

* New items added by Phillip W. Long MD


Personality Difference Between Dogs and Humans

Dogs and humans are strikingly similar on 4 of the "Big 5 Factors" of personality. However, dogs and humans are quite different on the "Conscientiousness" factor - because the canine brain is designed for hunting, not building. That's why dogs don't build dog houses.

The Brain and the "Big-5 Factors" of Personality In A Social Species

The "Big-5 Factors" of personality represent basic brain functions in social species. For example, when a male approaches a female, the female must: (1) decide whether the male is friend or foe ["Agreeableness"], (2) decide if this represents safety or danger ["Emotional Stability"], (3) decide whether to approach or avoid him ["Sociability"], (4) decide whether to be self-controlled or disinhibited ["Conscientiousness"], and (5) learn from this experience ["Openness to Experience"].

The "Big-5 Factors" of Human and Cat Personality

Cats are a social species, but less social than dogs. Nevertheless, cats also show the "Big 5 Factors" of personality.




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Treatment Guidelines



World Health Organization Behavioral Disorder Treatment Guidelines

Download Printable Version

Developmental Surveillance and Screening: American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), July 2006

Early identification of developmental disorders is critical to the well-being of children and their families. It is an integral function of the primary-care medical home and an appropriate responsibility of all pediatric health care professionals.

AAP recommends that developmental surveillance be incorporated at every well-child preventive care visit. Any concerns raised during surveillance should be addressed promptly with standardized developmental screening tests. In addition, screening tests should be administered regularly at the 9-, 18-, and 24- or 30-month visits.

The early identification of developmental problems should lead to further developmental and medical evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment, including early developmental intervention. Children diagnosed with developmental disorders should be identified as children with special health care needs, and chronic-condition management should be initiated. Identification of a developmental disorder and its underlying etiology may also drive a range of treatment planning, from medical treatment of the child to genetic counseling for his or her parents.

Developmental Surveillance and Screening for Autism Spectrum Disorder: American Academy of Neurology and the Child Neurology Society

Clinical Practice Recommendations:

  1. Developmental surveillance should be performed at all well-child visits from infancy through school age, and at any age thereafter if concerns are raised about social acceptance, learning, or behavior.
  2. Recommended developmental screening tools include the Ages and Stages Questionnaire, the BRIGANCE� Screens, the Child Development Inventories, and the Parents' Evaluations of Developmental Status.
  3. Because of the lack of sensitivity and specificity, the Denver-II (DDST-II) and the Revised Denver Pre-Screening Developmental Questionnaire (R-DPDQ) are not recommended for appropriate primary-care developmental surveillance.
  4. Further developmental evaluation is required whenever a child fails to meet any of the following milestones: babbling by 12 months; gesturing (e.g., pointing, waving bye-bye) by 12 months; single words by 16 months; two-word spontaneous (not just echolalic) phrases by 24 months; loss of any language or social skills at any age.
  5. Siblings of children with autism should be monitored carefully for acquisition of social, communication, and play skills, and the occurrence of maladaptive behaviors. Screening should be performed not only for autism-related symptoms but also for language delays, learning difficulties, social problems, and anxiety or depressive symptoms.
  6. For all children failing routine developmental surveillance procedures, screening specifically for autism should be performed using one of the validated instruments.
  7. Laboratory investigations, including audiologic assessment and lead screening, are recommended for any child with Developmentally Delayed and/or autism. Early referral for a formal audiologic assessment should include behavioral audiometric measures, assessment of middle ear function, and electrophysiologic procedures using experienced pediatric audiologists with current audiologic testing methods and technologies. Lead screening should be performed in any child with Developmentally Delayed and pica. Additional periodic screening should be considered if the pica persists.

Diagnosis and Evaluation for Autism Spectrum Disorder: American Academy of Neurology and the Child Neurology Society

Clinical Practice Recommendations:

  1. Genetic testing in children with autism, specifically high-resolution chromosome studies (karyotype) and DNA analysis for Fragile X, should be performed in the presence of intellectual disability (or if intellectual disability cannot be excluded), if there is a family history of Fragile X or undiagnosed intellectual disability, or if dysmorphic features are present. However, there is little likelihood of positive karyotype or Fragile X testing in the presence of high-functioning autism.
  2. Selective metabolic testing should be initiated by the presence of suggestive clinical and physical findings such as the following: evidence of lethargy, cyclic vomiting, or early seizures; presence of dysmorphic or coarse features; evidence of intellectual disability cannot be ruled out; or if occurrence or adequacy of newborn screening is questionable.
  3. There is inadequate evidence to recommend an electroencephalogram study in all individuals with autism. Indications for an adequate sleep-deprived electroencephalogram with appropriate sampling of slow wave sleep include clinical seizures or suspicion of subclinical seizures and a history of regression (clinically significant loss of social and communicative function) at any age, but especially in toddlers and preschoolers.
  4. Recording of event-related potentials and magnetoencephalography are research tools at the present time, without evidence of routine clinical utility.
  5. There is no clinical evidence to support the role of routine clinical neuroimaging in the diagnostic evaluation of autism, even in the presence of megalencephaly.
  6. There is inadequate supporting evidence for hair analysis, celiac antibodies, allergy testing (particularly food allergies for gluten, casein, Candida, and other molds), immunologic or neurochemical abnormalities, micronutrients such as vitamin levels, intestinal permeability studies, stool analysis, urinary peptides, mitochondrial disorders (including lactate and pyruvate), thyroid function tests, or erythrocyte glutathione peroxidase studies.

Practice Parameter for the Assessment and Treatment of Children and Adolescents With Autism Spectrum Disorder
Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (2014)

TREATMENT

Behavioral

Behavioral interventions such as Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) are informed by basic and empirically supported learning principles. A widely disseminated comprehensive ABA program is Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention for young children, based on the work of Lovaas et al.

Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention is intensive and highly individualized, with up to 40 hours per week of one-to-one direct teaching, initially using discrete trials to teach simple skills and progressing to more complex skills such as initiating verbal behavior. A meta-analysis found Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention effective for young children but stressed the need for more rigorous research to extend the findings.

Behavioral techniques are particularly useful when maladaptive behaviors interfere with the provision of a comprehensive intervention program. In such situations, a functional analysis of the target behavior is performed, in which patterns of reinforcement are identified and then various behavioral techniques are used to promote a desired behavioral alternative. ABA techniques have been repeatedly shown to have efficacy for specific problem behaviors, and ABA has been found to be effective as applied to academic tasks, adaptive living skills, communication, social skills, and vocational skills.

Because most children with ASD tend to learn tasks in isolation, an explicit focus on generalization is important

Communication

Communication is a major focus of intervention and typically will be addressed in the child's individualized educational plan in coordination with the speech-language pathologist. Children who do not yet use words can be helped through the use of alternative communication modalities, such as sign language, communication boards, visual supports, picture exchange, and other forms of augmentative communication. There is some evidence for the efficacy of the Picture Exchange Communication System, sign language, activity schedules, and voice output communication aids.

For individuals with fluent speech, the focus should be on pragmatic language skills training. Children and adolescents with fluent speech may, for example, be highly verbal but have severely impaired pragmatic language skills that can be addressed through explicit teaching. Many programs to enhance social reciprocity and pragmatic language skills are currently available.

Educational

There is consensus that children with ASD need a structured educational approach with explicit teaching.

Programs shown to be effective typically involve planned, intensive, individualized intervention with an experienced, interdisciplinary team of providers, and family involvement to ensure generalization of skills. The educational plan should reflect an accurate assessment of the child's strengths and vulnerabilities, with an explicit description of services to be provided, goals and objectives, and procedures for monitoring effectiveness. Although the curricula used vary across programs, they often share goals of enhancing verbal and nonverbal communication, academic skills, and social, motor, and behavioral capabilities. In some instances, particularly for younger children, a parent-education and home component may be important. Development of an appropriate individualized educational plan is central in providing effective service to the child and family. Efficacy has been shown for 2 of the structured educational models, the Early Start Denver Model and the Treatment and Education of Autism and related Communication handicapped Children program, but significant challenges remain in disseminating knowledge about effective interventions to educators.

Other Interventions

There is a lack of evidence for most other forms of psychosocial intervention, although cognitive behavioral therapy has shown efficacy for anxiety and anger management in high functioning youth with ASD.

Studies of sensory oriented interventions, such as auditory integration training, sensory integration therapy, and touch therapy/massage, have contained methodologic flaws and have yet to show replicable improvements.

There is also limited evidence thus far for what are usually termed developmental, social-pragmatic models of intervention, such as Developmental-Individual Difference-Relationship Based/Floortime, Relationship Development Intervention, Social Communication Emotional Regulation and Transactional Support, and Play and Language for Autistic Youths, which generally use naturalistic techniques in the child's community setting to develop social communication abilities. Children with ASD are psychiatrically hospitalized at substantially higher rates than the non-ASD child population. The efficacy of this intervention is unknown, although there is preliminary evidence for the efficacy of hospital psychiatry units that specialize in the population

Pharmacotherapy

Pharmacologic interventions may increase the ability of persons with ASD to profit from educational and other interventions and to remain in less restrictive environments through the management of severe and challenging behaviors. Frequent targets for pharmacologic intervention include associated comorbid conditions (e.g., anxiety, depression) and other features, such as aggression, self-injurious behavior, hyperactivity, inattention, compulsive-like behaviors, repetitive or stereotypic behaviors, and sleep disturbances. As with other children and adolescents, various considerations should inform pharmacologic treatment.

Risperidone and aripiprazole have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of irritability, consisting primarily of physical aggression and severe tantrum behavior, associated with autism.

Combining medication with parent training is moderately more efficacious than medication alone for decreasing serious behavioral disturbance and modestly more efficacious for adaptive functioning. Individuals with ASD may be nonverbal, so treatment response is often judged by caregiver report and observation of specific behaviors. Although this may help document the effectiveness of the selected medication, one must remember that an overall goal of treatment is to facilitate the child's adjustment and engagement with educational intervention. Several objective rating scales also are available to help monitor treatment response.

Physician Followup

Children's and families' need for help and support will change over time. The clinician should develop a long-term collaboration with the family and realize that service utilization may be sporadic. For very young children, issues of diagnosis and identification of treatment programs often will be most important. For school-age children, psychopharmacologic and behavioral issues typically become more prominent. For adolescents, vocational and prevocational training and thoughtful planning for independence/self-sufficiency is important. As part of this long-term engagement, parents and siblings of children with ASD will need support. Although raising a child with autism presents major challenges, rates of parental separation and divorce are not higher among parents of children with ASD than those with non-ASD children

Alternative/Complementary Treatments

Although most alternative or complementary treatment approaches have very limited empirical support for their use in children with ASD, they are commonly pursued by families. It is important that the clinician be able to discuss these treatments with parents, recognizing the motivation for parents to seek all possible treatments. In most instances, these treatments have little or no proved benefit but also have little risk. In a few instances, the treatment has been repeatedly shown not to work (e.g., intravenous infusion of secretin and oral vitamin B6 and magnesium), or randomized controlled evidence does not support its use (e.g., the gluten-free, casein-free diet, omega-3 fatty acids, and oral human immunoglobulin). Some treatments have greater potential risk to the child directly (e.g., mortality and morbidity associated with chelation) or from side effects owing to contaminants in �natural� compounds or indirectly (e.g., by diverting financial or psychosocial resources).

Although more controlled studies of these treatments are needed, it is important that the family be able to voice their questions to health care providers. Families may be guided to the growing body of work on evidence-based treatments in autism.

Treatment


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Improving Positive Behavior

Philosophers for the past 2,500 years have taught that it is very beneficial to start the day with goal-setting, and end the day with a brief review.

This habit of planning your day in the morning, and reviewing your day in the evening, is a time-proven technique for more successful living.

Note: When each of the following videos finishes; you must exit YouTube (by manually closing the window) in order to return to this webpage.



Morning Meditation (5-Minute Video)



Evening Meditation (5-Minute Video)



Life Satisfaction Scale (Video)



Healthy Social Behavior Scale (Video)



Mental Health Scale (Video)

Why We All Need to Practice Emotional First Aid



The Philosophy Of Stoicism (5 minute video)

Stoicism 101 (52 minute video)



The Roman emperor and Stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius ruled from 161 to 180 A.D.

Inspirational Videos

  • His Holiness Pope Francis is one of the few world leaders that champions universal love, brotherhood, and peace (TED talk)

    Life Is About Interactions (His Holiness Pope Francis)

    Quite a few years of life have strengthened my conviction that each and everyone's existence is deeply tied to that of others: life is not time merely passing by, life is about interactions.

    As I meet, or lend an ear to those who are sick, to the migrants who face terrible hardships in search of a brighter future, to prison inmates who carry a hell of pain inside their hearts, and to those, many of them young, who cannot find a job, I often find myself wondering: "Why them and not me?" I, myself, was born in a family of migrants; my father, my grandparents, like many other Italians, left for Argentina and met the fate of those who are left with nothing. I could have very well ended up among today's "discarded" people. And that's why I always ask myself, deep in my heart: "Why them and not me?"

    First and foremost, I would love it if this meeting could help to remind us that we all need each other, none of us is an island, an autonomous and independent "I," separated from the other, and we can only build the future by standing together, including everyone. We don’t think about it often, but everything is connected, and we need to restore our connections to a healthy state. Even the harsh judgment I hold in my heart against my brother or my sister, the open wound that was never cured, the offense that was never forgiven, the rancor that is only going to hurt me, are all instances of a fight that I carry within me, a flare deep in my heart that needs to be extinguished before it goes up in flames, leaving only ashes behind.

    Many of us, nowadays, seem to believe that a happy future is something impossible to achieve. While such concerns must be taken very seriously, they are not invincible. They can be overcome when we don't lock our door to the outside world. Happiness can only be discovered as a gift of harmony between the whole and each single component. Even science – and you know it better than I do – points to an understanding of reality as a place where every element connects and interacts with everything else.

    Social Inclusion (Solidarity)

    And this brings me to my second message. How wonderful would it be if the growth of scientific and technological innovation would come along with more equality and social inclusion. How wonderful would it be, while we discover faraway planets, to rediscover the needs of the brothers and sisters orbiting around us. How wonderful would it be if solidarity, this beautiful and, at times, inconvenient word, were not simply reduced to social work, and became, instead, the default attitude in political, economic and scientific choices, as well as in the relationships among individuals, peoples and countries. Only by educating people to a true solidarity will we be able to overcome the "culture of waste," which doesn't concern only food and goods but, first and foremost, the people who are cast aside by our techno-economic systems which, without even realizing it, are now putting products at their core, instead of people.

    Solidarity is a term that many wish to erase from the dictionary. Solidarity, however, is not an automatic mechanism. It cannot be programmed or controlled. It is a free response born from the heart of each and everyone. Yes, a free response! When one realizes that life, even in the middle of so many contradictions, is a gift, that love is the source and the meaning of life, how can they withhold their urge to do good to another fellow being? In order to do good, we need memory, we need courage and we need creativity. Good intentions and conventional formulas, so often used to appease our conscience, are not enough. Let us help each other, all together, to remember that the other is not a statistic or a number. The other has a face. The "you" is always a real presence, a person to take care of.

    Compassion

    There is a parable Jesus told to help us understand the difference between those who'd rather not be bothered and those who take care of the other. I am sure you have heard it before. It is the Parable of the Good Samaritan. When Jesus was asked: "Who is my neighbor?" - namely, "Who should I take care of?" - he told this story, the story of a man who had been assaulted, robbed, beaten and abandoned along a dirt road. Upon seeing him, a priest and a Levite, two very influential people of the time, walked past him without stopping to help. After a while, a Samaritan, a very much despised ethnicity at the time, walked by. Seeing the injured man lying on the ground, he did not ignore him as if he weren't even there. Instead, he felt compassion for this man, which compelled him to act in a very concrete manner. He poured oil and wine on the wounds of the helpless man, brought him to a hostel and paid out of his pocket for him to be assisted.

    The story of the Good Samaritan is the story of today’s humanity. People's paths are riddled with suffering, as everything is centered around money, and things, instead of people. And often there is this habit, by people who call themselves "respectable," of not taking care of the others, thus leaving behind thousands of human beings, or entire populations, on the side of the road. Fortunately, there are also those who are creating a new world by taking care of the other, even out of their own pockets. Mother Teresa actually said: "One cannot love, unless it is at their own expense." We have so much to do, and we must do it together. But how can we do that with all the evil we breathe every day? Thank God, no system can nullify our desire to open up to the good, to compassion and to our capacity to react against evil, all of which stem from deep within our hearts. Now you might tell me, "Sure, these are beautiful words, but I am not the Good Samaritan, nor Mother Teresa of Calcutta." On the contrary: we are precious, each and every one of us. Each and every one of us is irreplaceable in the eyes of God. Through the darkness of today's conflicts, each and every one of us can become a bright candle, a reminder that light will overcome darkness, and never the other way around.

    Hope

    To Christians, the future does have a name, and its name is Hope. Feeling hopeful does not mean to be optimistically naïve and ignore the tragedy humanity is facing. Hope is the virtue of a heart that doesn't lock itself into darkness, that doesn't dwell on the past, does not simply get by in the present, but is able to see a tomorrow. Hope is the door that opens onto the future. Hope is a humble, hidden seed of life that, with time, will develop into a large tree. It is like some invisible yeast that allows the whole dough to grow, that brings flavor to all aspects of life. And it can do so much, because a tiny flicker of light that feeds on hope is enough to shatter the shield of darkness. A single individual is enough for hope to exist, and that individual can be you. And then there will be another "you," and another "you," and it turns into an "us." And so, does hope begin when we have an "us?" No. Hope began with one "you." When there is an "us," there begins a revolution.

    Tenderness

    The third message I would like to share today is, indeed, about revolution: the revolution of tenderness. And what is tenderness? It is the love that comes close and becomes real. It is a movement that starts from our heart and reaches the eyes, the ears and the hands. Tenderness means to use our eyes to see the other, our ears to hear the other, to listen to the children, the poor, those who are afraid of the future. To listen also to the silent cry of our common home, of our sick and polluted earth. Tenderness means to use our hands and our heart to comfort the other, to take care of those in need.

    Tenderness is the language of the young children, of those who need the other. A child’s love for mom and dad grows through their touch, their gaze, their voice, their tenderness. I like when I hear parents talk to their babies, adapting to the little child, sharing the same level of communication. This is tenderness: being on the same level as the other. God himself descended into Jesus to be on our level. This is the same path the Good Samaritan took. This is the path that Jesus himself took. He lowered himself, he lived his entire human existence practicing the real, concrete language of love. Yes, tenderness is the path of choice for the strongest, most courageous men and women. Tenderness is not weakness; it is fortitude. It is the path of solidarity, the path of humility. Please, allow me to say it loud and clear: the more powerful you are, the more your actions will have an impact on people, the more responsible you are to act humbly. If you don’t, your power will ruin you, and you will ruin the other. There is a saying in Argentina: "Power is like drinking gin on an empty stomach." You feel dizzy, you get drunk, you lose your balance, and you will end up hurting yourself and those around you, if you don’t connect your power with humility and tenderness. Through humility and concrete love, on the other hand, power – the highest, the strongest one – becomes a service, a force for good.

    The future of humankind isn't exclusively in the hands of politicians, of great leaders, of big companies. Yes, they do hold an enormous responsibility. But the future is, most of all, in the hands of those people who recognize the other as a "you" and themselves as part of an "us." We all need each other. And so, please, think of me as well with tenderness, so that I can fulfill the task I have been given for the good of the other, of each and every one, of all of you, of all of us.

  • The Surgeon General’s prescription of happiness (TEDMED talk)

    The Surgeon General’s prescription of happiness (Dr. Vivek Murthy)

    Disagreement With This Video (By Editor, Phillip W. Long MD)

    I have been trained in public health as well as psychiatry, and I strongly disagee with those in public health, like the U.S. Surgeon General, who fail to mention that our greatest public health emergency is climate change. I believe that it is absurd to suggest, as the U.S. Surgeon General has, that severe public health problems (like childhood poverty causing poor academic achievement) can be fixed by simply teaching students gratitude and meditation. The Surgeon General mentions that this approach was tried at San Francisco's Visitacion Valley Middle School, and it was a great success. This is incorrect. Currently, 80% of San Fransisco's middle schools academically perform better than this school. I invite you to watch this video by the Surgeon General, then compare it to the next video given by Dr. Courtney Howard.

    Happiness Increases Health

    If there was a factor in your life that could reduce your risk of having a heart attack or stroke, that could increase your chances of living longer, that would make your children less likely to engage in crime or use drugs, and that would even increase your success in losing weight, what would that factor be?

    It turns out, it would be happiness.

    By happiness, I don't mean the feeling that comes from indulgence or hedonism, I mean the long-term emotional well-being that comes from fulfillment, purpose, connectedness and love.

    Happiness affects us on a biological level. Happy people have lower levels of cortisol, a key stess hormone. They have more favorable heart rates and blood pressures. They have stronger immune systems, and they have lower levels of inflammatory markers, like c-reactive protein which has been linked to coronary heart disease.

    It turns out, even when you control for smoking, physical activity and other health behaviors, happy people live longer. There's something about happiness that seems to be protective.

    Now I want to be clear. White happiness is an important factor in improving health, it's certainly not the only one. We know that good nutrition, exercise, and sleep are essential tools for preventing illness. Whether we are living with depression or with diabetes, treatment is essential too. Yet among all these factors for improving health, happiness stands out as a largely untapped and unrecognized resource that has the potential to transform health for individuals and for communities...

    (As a physician) the most common condition I treated was unhappiness. It stems from isolation, from lack of meaning, and from a loss of self-worth... (People) are constantly surrounded by news stories and narratives that only remind them time and time again of all the things they have to be worried about. All this unhappiness is important because unhappiness is a risk factor for illness.

    You may ask yourself does happiness really lead to better health? Isn't it the other way around? Doesn't happiness result from good health and favourable circumstances? We may sometimes think, I'll be happy if only I lose 15 more pounds, or if I get a better job, or if I make just a little more money. But the truth is happiness if far more driven by how we process life events than by the events themselves.

    So if happiness is protective, the key question is, can we create it. The answer is yes, and the way we do that is surprisingly simple, and it largely costs nothing.

    Gratitude

    The research tells us that gratitude exercises, meditation, physical exercise, and social connectedness are just a few of the tools we can use to increase happiness. Take gratitude for example, one study participants and randomized them to three different groups. In one group, the gratitude group, participants were asked to write down five things they were grateful for. In the second group, the hassle group, the participants were asked to write down 5 things that hassled them. In the third group, they were asked to write down five things that happened without a positive or negative slant.

    Now at the end of ten weeks, it turns out the participants in the gratitude group experience a greater level of optimism, and they had a more positive view of their life. But they also exercise by 1.5 hours more on average per week. They also slept better, and they had fewer physical symptoms like pain, nausea, and headaches.

    The simple practice of gratitude had the power to increase their happiness and to change their health behavior and their health outcomes.

    Meditation

    Perhaps one of the most powerful examples of cultivating happiness comes from Visitacion Valley Middle School in San Francisco, California.

    Some years ago, Visitation was struggling. They were struggling with low test scores, with high suspension rates, and with so much community violence that they had to hire a full time grief counselor at the school. They tried all kinds of things to help. They started after-school programs, sports programs, peer counseling programs, but all without much luck.

    Then one day they decided to take a leap of faith. What if, they asked themselves, we use meditation as a tool to reduce stress and increase happiness for our students? So they created two 15-minute quiet time meditation sessions during each school day. They taught the teachers and the students how to meditate. They taught the administrators how to meditate as well.

    Within a year, something incredible happened. Suspension rates dropped by 45%. Teacher absenteeism dropped by 30%. Test scores and grade point averages rose markedly. The students reported they were less anxious and they were sleeping better.

    The self-reported happiness scores of the students went from one of the lower scores in San Francisco to the highest score in the entire district. As one student put it, "our school went from being a place of anger, sadness, and fear, to a place where we could be happy"....

    The Visitacion Valley Middle School model is being replicated at other schools now with comparable results. What is so striking about these tools for increasing happiness, meditation, gratitude, social connection, and exercise, is that they are simple and accessible.

    We have become accustomed to thinking that complex problems require complex solutions. But that's not always the case. Sometimes simple solutions can enable us to take on some of our most intractable problems. That's what happiness can do when it comes to health.

    Creating Happiness In The Lives Of Others

    If you think about it, all of us have the power to create happiness in our lives. But we also have the power to create happiness in the lives of others. If you need proof of this, I'd ask you to join me in a short exercise I learned from the legendary Mr. Rogers (host of a children's show).

    Close your eyes for 10 seconds with me and think about the people who have brought kindness, understanding, and joy into your life over the years - the people you remember that helped you to be happy. [audience pauses 10 seconds to do this]

    I remembered my wife Alice, my mother, my father, my sister. They have brought happiness, joy, and health into my life for so many years. Each of us has the power to touch other people's lives. Sometimes it's just a simple gesture or a kind word.

    Imagine if happiness and emotional well-being were prioritized in our schools as much as test scores and grades. Imagine if cultivating happiness was a priority in our workplaces. Imagine if our policymakers understood emotional well-being to be the fuel that enables us to be healthy, productive, and strong.

    So as we grapple with the challenges of how to create a healthier, stronger world, let us remember that happiness is a powerful tool for health. Let us remember that we can create happiness in our lives, and in the lives of the people around us. Let us call ourselves and each to action to ensure that emotional well-being is part of our policies, part of our institutions, and part of our way of life.

    If we do this, we will create a world that is full of joy, a world that is full of health, the world that our children deserve.

  • Healthy Planet, Healthy People: Dr. Courtney Howard (TED talk)

    This talk puts the previous talk by the U.S. Surgeon General to shame. Dr. Howard correctly states that our greatest public health emergency is climate change. If our environment collapses, and we start to starve, teaching people to count their blessings and to meditate will do little. Dr. Howard lists the many things we can do to decrease climate change. (However, we don't know if it is already too late, but at least we can try. P.S. In April 2018, Cape Town South Africa will run out of water and its citizens may thus be forced to leave. For years, there has been a devastating drought in all of East Africa, most of the Middle East, and from there over to Vietnam. This drought has decimated food production - now many of these nations are on the verge of starvation. All of this is the result of climate change.)

  • What the 1% Don't Want You to Know (Moyers & Company)

    Our society is becoming uglier: increased homelessness, increased poverty, increased drug addiction, deterioration of public education, increased political polarization, and increased income inequality. This video explains how much of this societal ugliness can be traced back to the rapidly increasing concentration of wealth in the hands of a very few, extremely rich oligarchs. This interview is with the economist Paul Krugman, who won the Nobel Prize for Economics. (The fabulously rich oil- and coal-barons are denying climate change and are actively opposing restrictions on the burning of fossil fuels.)

  • Maybe we're dark: Andrew Brash (TEDx talk)

    Ambition can put the blinders on people, and drive us to sacrifice caring for others. Climber, teacher, and author Andrew Brash tells how he gave up his summit of Everest to save another climber's life. Looking back on this, Andrew now realizes the human cost of overarching ambition.

  • Medical miracle on Everest (TED talk)

    What makes this story so inspirational is that it is a story of heroism and self-sacrifice. How one climber could have survived, but instead died while trying to help his friend. How another climber knew that he was freezing to death, but chose to spend his final moments phoning his pregnant wife to say goodbye. How two climbers who were already in safety chose to climb back up Everest to rescue others. How one climber who was left for dead spent 36 hours covered by snow, then decided that he would not die this way, and actually made it down Everest to safety. This story illustrates just how noble people can be when they face death.

  • What keeps us happy and healthy as we go through life? (TED talk)

  • Fulfilling trauma's hidden promise (TEDMED talk)

  • What makes life worth living in the face of death (TEDMED talk)

  • Secrets of Centenarians (NHK Documentary)

    This documentary reports the findings of a scientific study on the factors that allow people to live past 100.

  • 10 ways to have a better conversation (TED talk)

    Ten ways to have a better conversation (Celeste Headlee)

    We've all had really great conversations. We've had them before. We know what it's like. The kind of conversation where you walk away feeling engaged and inspired, or where you feel like you've made a real connection or you've been perfectly understood. There is no reason why most of your interactions can't be like that.

    So I have 10 basic rules. I'm going to walk you through all of them, but honestly, if you just choose one of them and master it, you'll already enjoy better conversations.

    Number one: Don't multitask.

    And I don't mean just set down your cell phone or your tablet or your car keys or whatever is in your hand. I mean, be present. Be in that moment. Don't think about your argument you had with your boss. Don't think about what you're going to have for dinner. If you want to get out of the conversation, get out of the conversation, but don't be half in it and half out of it.

    Number two: Don't pontificate.

    If you want to state your opinion without any opportunity for response or argument or pushback or growth, write a blog.

    Now, there's a really good reason why I don't allow pundits on my show: Because they're really boring. If they're conservative, they're going to hate Obama and food stamps and abortion. If they're liberal, they're going to hate big banks and oil corporations and Dick Cheney. Totally predictable. And you don't want to be like that.

    You need to enter every conversation assuming that you have something to learn. The famed therapist M. Scott Peck said that true listening requires a setting aside of oneself. And sometimes that means setting aside your personal opinion. He said that sensing this acceptance, the speaker will become less and less vulnerable and more and more likely to open up the inner recesses of his or her mind to the listener. Again, assume that you have something to learn.

    Bill Nye: "Everyone you will ever meet knows something that you don't." I put it this way: Everybody is an expert in something.

    Number three: Use open-ended questions.

    In this case, take a cue from journalists. Start your questions with who, what, when, where, why or how. If you put in a complicated question, you're going to get a simple answer out. If I ask you, "Were you terrified?" you're going to respond to the most powerful word in that sentence, which is "terrified," and the answer is "Yes, I was" or "No, I wasn't." "Were you angry?" "Yes, I was very angry." Let them describe it. They're the ones that know. Try asking them things like, "What was that like?" "How did that feel?" Because then they might have to stop for a moment and think about it, and you're going to get a much more interesting response.

    Number four: Go with the flow.

    That means thoughts will come into your mind and you need to let them go out of your mind. We've heard interviews often in which a guest is talking for several minutes and then the host comes back in and asks a question which seems like it comes out of nowhere, or it's already been answered. That means the host probably stopped listening two minutes ago because he thought of this really clever question, and he was just bound and determined to say that. And we do the exact same thing. We're sitting there having a conversation with someone, and then we remember that time that we met Hugh Jackman in a coffee shop.

    And we stop listening. Stories and ideas are going to come to you. You need to let them come and let them go.

    Number five: If you don't know, say that you don't know.

    Now, people on the radio, especially on NPR, are much more aware that they're going on the record, and so they're more careful about what they claim to be an expert in and what they claim to know for sure. Do that. Err on the side of caution. Talk should not be cheap.

    Number six: Don't equate your experience with theirs.

    If they're talking about having lost a family member, don't start talking about the time you lost a family member. If they're talking about the trouble they're having at work, don't tell them about how much you hate your job. It's not the same. It is never the same. All experiences are individual. And, more importantly, it is not about you. You don't need to take that moment to prove how amazing you are or how much you've suffered. Somebody asked Stephen Hawking once what his IQ was, and he said, "I have no idea. People who brag about their IQs are losers."

    Conversations are not a promotional opportunity.

    Number seven: Try not to repeat yourself.

    It's condescending, and it's really boring, and we tend to do it a lot. Especially in work conversations or in conversations with our kids, we have a point to make, so we just keep rephrasing it over and over. Don't do that.

    Number eight: Stay out of the weeds.

    Frankly, people don't care about the years, the names, the dates, all those details that you're struggling to come up with in your mind. They don't care. What they care about is you. They care about what you're like, what you have in common. So forget the details. Leave them out.

    Number nine: Listen.

    I cannot tell you how many really important people have said that listening is perhaps the most, the number one most important skill that you could develop. Buddha said, and I'm paraphrasing, "If your mouth is open, you're not learning." And Calvin Coolidge said, "No man ever listened his way out of a job."

    Why do we not listen to each other? Number one, we'd rather talk. When I'm talking, I'm in control. I don't have to hear anything I'm not interested in. I'm the center of attention. I can bolster my own identity. But there's another reason: We get distracted. The average person talks at about 225 word per minute, but we can listen at up to 500 words per minute. So our minds are filling in those other 275 words. And look, I know, it takes effort and energy to actually pay attention to someone, but if you can't do that, you're not in a conversation. You're just two people shouting out barely related sentences in the same place.

    You have to listen to one another. Stephen Covey said it very beautifully. He said, "Most of us don't listen with the intent to understand. We listen with the intent to reply."

    Number 10: Be brief.

    "A good conversation is like a miniskirt; short enough to retain interest, but long enough to cover the subject." -- My Sister

    All of this boils down to the same basic concept, and it is this one: Be interested in other people.

  • An Example Of Mindfulness Meditation (10 minute video)

    In the 5th century BCE, Buddha spent 6 years of his life mastering mindfulness meditation. He then decided to look beyond meditation. Buddha concluded that simply emptying the mind of thought is calming, but otherwise it accomplishes little - since "You return to the same world". Instead, Buddha taught that we should change our world by seeking enlightenment through practicing compassion, and living a calm, peaceful, happy life.

  • 100 People: A World Portrait (TEDMED talk)

  • Mindfulness Training: A simple way to break a bad habit (TEDMED talk)

  • If we can’t cure the patient, can the community do it? (TEDMED talk)

  • What if "it's the environment, stupid"? (TEDMED talk)

Physical Exercise: Vital For Self-Help




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  • The best summary on bad research is given by Laura Arnold in this TEDx lecture. If you read nothing else about research, you owe it to yourself to watch this short video - it is excellent!

  • The power of asking "what if?"

  • The active placebo effect: 2300 years ago, the Greek Stoic philosophers taught that it is not the objective event, but our subjective judgment about the event, that determines our behavior. The active placebo effect bears witness to this ancient wisdom.

  • Criteria For High Quality Research Studies

  • It is troubling that a recent study found that two-thirds of important psychological research studies couldn't be replicated. High quality research must meet the following criteria:

    • Randomized Controlled Trial:
      Ask: Was the trial randomized? Was the randomization procedure described and was it appropriate? The best research design is to have research subjects randomly assigned to an experimental or control group. It is essential that confounding factors be controlled for by having a control group or comparator condition (no intervention, placebo, care as usual etc.).

    • Representative Sample:
      Ask: Do the research subjects represent a normal cross-section of the population being studied? Many psychological research studies using university students are flawed because their subjects are not representative of the normal population since they are all W.E.I.R.D. (White, Educated, Intelligent, Rich, and living in a Democracy).

    • Single Blind Trial:
      Ask: Was the treatment allocation concealed? It is essential that the research subjects are kept "blind" as to whether they are in the experimental or control group (in order to control for any placebo effects).

    • Double Blind Trial (Better Than Single Blind Trial):
      Ask: Were blind outcome assessments conducted? In a double blind study, neither the research subjects nor the outcome assessors know if the research subject is in the experimental or control group. This controls for both the placebo effect and assessor bias.

    • Baseline Comparability:
      Ask: Were groups similar at baseline on prognostic indicators? The experimental and control groups must be shown to be comparable at the beginning of the study.

    • Confounding Factors:
      Ask: Were there factors, that weren't controlled for, that could have seriously distorted the study's results? For example, research studies on the effectiveness of mindfulness cognitive therapy in preventing depressive relapse forgot to control for whether the research subjects were also simultaneously receiving antidepressant medication or other psychological treatments for depression.

    • Intervention Integrity:
      Ask: Was the research study protocal strictly followed? The research subjects must be shown to be compliant (e.g., taking their pills, attending therapy) and the therapists must be shown to be reliably delivering the intervention (e.g., staying on the research protocol).

    • Statistical analysis:
      Ask: Was a statistical power calculation described? The study should discuss its statistical power analysis; that is whether the study size is large enough to statistically detect a difference between the experimental and control group (should it occur) and usually this requires at least 50 research subjects in the study.

      Ask: Are the results both statistically significant and clinically significant? The results should be both statistically significant (with a p-value <0.05) and clinically significant using some measure of Effect Size such as Standardized Mean Difference (e.g., Cohen's d >= 0.33). The summary statistics should report what percentage of the total variance of the dependent variable (e.g., outcome) can be explained by the independent variable (e.g., intervention). In clinical studies, the study should report the number needed to treat for an additional beneficial outcome (NNTB), and the number needed to treat for an additional harmful outcome (NNTH).

        Number Needed To Benefit (NNTB): This is defined as the number of patients that need to be treated for one of them to benefit compared with a control in a clinical trial. (It is defined as the inverse of the absolute risk reduction.) Note: Statistically, the NNTB depends on which control group is used for comparison - e.g., active treatment vs. placebo treatment, or active treatment vs. no treatment.

        Number Needed To Harm (NNTH): This is defined as the number of patients that need to be treated for one of them to be harmed compared with a control in a clinical trial. (It is defined as the inverse of the absolute increase in risk of harm.)

        Tomlinson found “an NNTB of 5 or less was probably associated with a meaningful health benefit,” while “an NNTB of 15 or more was quite certain to be associated with at most a small net health benefit.”

      Ask: Does the researcher accept full responsibility for the study's statistical analysis? The researcher should not just hand over the study's raw data to a corporation (that may have $1,000 million invested in the study) to do the statistical analysis.

    • Completeness of follow-up data:
      Ask: Was the number of withdrawals or dropouts in each group mentioned, and were reasons given for these withdrawals or dropouts? Less than 20% of the research subjects should drop out of the study. The intervention effect should persist over an adequate length of time.

    • Handling of missing data:
      Ask: Was the statistical analysis conducted on the intention-to-treat sample? There must be use of intention-to-treat analysis (as opposed to a completers-only analysis). In this way, all of the research subjects that started the study are included in the final statistical analysis. A completers-only analysis would disregard those research subjects that dropped out.

    • Replication of Findings:
      Ask: Can other researchers replicate this study's results? The research study's methodology should be clearly described so that the study can be easily replicated. The researcher's raw data should be available to other researchers to review (in order to detect errors or fraud).

    • Fraud:
      Ask: Is there a suspicion of fraud? In a research study, examine the independent and dependent variables that are always measured as a positive whole number (e.g., a variable measured on a 5-point Likert-type scale ranging from "1 = definitely false to 5 = definitely true" etc.). For each of these variables, look at their sample size (n), mean (M) and standard deviation (SD) before they undergo statistical analysis. There is a high suspicion of fraud in a study's statistics:

      • If the M is mathematically impossible (online calculator): This is one of the easiest ways to mathematically detect fraud. The mean (M) is defined as "the sum (Sum) of the values of each observation divided by the total number (n) of observations". So: M = Sum/n. Thus: (Sum) = (M) multiplied by (n). We know that, if a variable is always measured as a positive whole number, the sum of these observations always has to be a whole number. For these variables to test for fraud: calculate (M) multiplied by (n). This calculates the Sum which MUST be a positive whole number. If the calculated Sum isn't a positive whole number; the reported mean (M) is mathematically impossible - thus the researcher either cooked the data or made a mistake. A recent study of 260 research papers published in highly reputable psychological journals found that 1 in 2 of these research papers reported at least one impossible value, and 1 in 5 of these research papers reported multiple impossible values. When the authors of the 21 worst offending research papers were asked for their raw data (so that its reliability could be checked) - 57% angrily refused. Yet such release of raw data to other researchers is required by most scientific journals. (Here is an example of a research paper filled with mathematically impossible means.)

      • If the SD is mathematically impossible (online calculator): When researchers fraudulently "cook" their data, they may accidently give their data a mean and standard deviation that is mathematically impossible for a (normally distributed) strictly positive variable (because the "cooked" M and SD would mathematically require the strictly positive variable's range of data to include negative numbers). For a normally distributed sample of size of 25-70, this occurs when the SD is greater than one-half of the M; for a sample size of 70+, this occurs when the SD is greater than one-third of the M [using these formulas].

      • If the SD/M is very small (i.e., the variable's standard deviation is very small compared to the mean suggesting data smoothing).

      • If the SD's are almost identical (i.e., the variables have different means but almost identical standard deviations).

      • If the 4th digit of the values of the variables aren't uniformly distributed - since each should occur 10% of the time (Benford's Law).

      • If the researcher is legally prevented from publishing negative findings about a drug or therapy because that would violate the "nondisclosure of trade secrets" clause in the research contract (i.e., it is a "trade secret" that the drug or therapy is ineffective - hence this can not be "disclosed"). Approximately half of all registered clinical trials fail to publish their results.

      • If the researcher refuses to release his raw data to fellow researchers (so that they can check its validity). In order to be published in most scientific journals, a researcher must promise to share his raw data with fellow researchers. Thus a researcher's refusal to do so is almost a sure indicator of fraud.

      • If the research study's data contradicts the study's own conclusions - surprisingly, this often occurs.

  • Calling Bullshit In The Age of Big Data - "Bullshit is language, statistical figures, data graphics, and other forms of presentation intended to persuade by impressing and overwhelming a reader or listener, with a blatant disregard for truth and logical coherence." Reading the syllabus of this university course should be required reading for every student of mental health. This syllabus is absolutely fantastic!

  • Statistical Methods in Psychology Journals: Guidelines and Explanations - American Psychologist 1999

  • Not All Scientific Studies Are Created Equal - video

  • The efficacy of psychological, educational, and behavioral treatment

  • Estimating the reproducibility of psychological science

  • Psychologists grapple with validity of research

  • Industry sponsorship and research outcome (Review) - Cochrane Library

  • 'We've been deceived': Many clinical trial results are never published - (text and video)

  • Junk science misleading doctors and researchers

  • Junk science under spotlight after controversial firm buys Canadian journals

  • Medicine with a side of mysticism: Top hospitals promote unproven therapies - Are some doctors becoming modern witchdoctors?

  • When Evidence Says No, But Doctors Say Yes


Research Topics

Autism Spectrum Disorder - Latest Research (2016-2017)


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