Saturday, 28 June 2014

Traumatic Brain Injury and Autism, linked again, but not in a good way

It came as no surprise to me that many people involved in high profile mass shootings suffer from mild autism (Asperger’s).  What did surprise me was that so many people with TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) also commit such crimes.  Indeed in a recent study (see later) of 239 killers, 28% appear to have autism and 21% suffered from TBI.

Indeed the name used by the Austrian, Hans Asperger, in 1943 for his newly identified condition was “Autistic Psychopathy”, it was only many decades later when his work was discovered for the English-speaking world by Lorna Wing in 1981, that the condition became known as Asperger’s.  Wing did not like the term “Autistic Psychopathy” that Asperger had chosen, because she thought it would apply sociopathic (violent) behaviour to the lay public.

Wing recently passed away and the New York Times wrote a nice article about her.

Her paper, that first established Asperger’s syndrome, is here:-

Since this paper was published only in 1981, it is hardly surprising that so few older adults have been diagnosed with Asperger’s.  Indeed it was a full ten years later, in 1991, that an authoritative English translation of Asperger's work was made by Uta Frith; before that Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) remained virtually unknown.

As we have noted before, Psychiatrists and Psychologists like to take their time; no Space Race or Manhattan Project in their little world.  Still, half a century is pretty slow.

People suggesting an autism “epidemic” might take note that only 25 years ago, absolutely nobody bothered to diagnose mild cases of autism, they did not even have a word for it.  Those of you still wondering why your doctor still knows so little about autism, might also take note.

Now I understand why there were no Aspies in my school, when I was a child.  They had not been invented.  I had assumed that Asperger’s syndrome was of the same era as the man himself, but Hans Asperger died in 1980.

I had no idea it took Psychiatrists, Psychologists, and yes, Doctors, half a century to absorb, accept, and begin to act on a new idea;  all because Asperger spoke/wrote in that “extremely rare” German language.  Incidentally, 50 million Americans claim German ancestry, not to mention that the British royal family is actually German; the House of Windsor is really the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, before some image building took place in 1917 during WW1.

So don’t raise your expectations of these people too high, for the next half century.  Hopefully they have figured out Google Translate.

Here is the Pediatrician, Professor Hans Asperger at work in Austria; nice drawing on the black board:-



Asperger’s (Autistic  Psychopathy) and  TBI among Mass Murderers

In the recent study of 239 mass murderers almost 50% had either ASD or head injury /TBI, the other half suffered from “psychological stresses”.

At least the author has clearly read about Hans Asperger, he suggests a new diagnosis, Criminal Autistic Psychopathy, as a subcategory of Asperger's syndrome.

I will not dwell on the murder angle, other than to say that perhaps if people with Asperger’s were actively included at school, they would ultimately lead happier and more successful lives.  The percentage that currently go on to have very violent thoughts, might not then do so, and the tiny percentage of those might not act on those very thoughts.

I should point out that I do not find it odd at all that the boy with Asperger’s in my elder son’s class keeps telling him “I will kill you and your parents”, to which Ted, now 14,  says “but I won’t let you” and the response is “but I will wait until you are not there”.  I am not seriously worried that he will do this, but if I was his parent, I would be very concerned that he says/thinks such things.

Fortunately there are no serial killers with Classic Autism, so no need to lock up Ted’s brother.


We have come across TBI several times in this blog, and I note that many people coming to this blog are TBI sufferers.

Both ASD and TBI are associated various degrees of mood disorder.  These feelings are driven by neurological changes that are usually ignored, or treated rather crudely with drugs that rarely seem to work entirely as intended. 

I think the world of autism could learn much from the mood disorders that follow TBI.

Epilepsy occurs very frequently in both ASD and TBI.

The third condition that we might usefully consider is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  This condition is also associated with severely affected mood.  Army veterans returning from recent conflicts can be greatly affected by PTSD.  We came across the military type of PTSD in the post about the hormone TRH.  One of the many roles of TRH in the body seems to be linked to mood, and very specifically suicide.  The US military is funding development of a TRH nasal spray to reduce the incidence of suicide.  They cannot give antidepressants, like Prozac, because a well-known side effect is suicidal thought.  TRH is included in my autism PolyPill.

People with Asperger’s do have an elevated risk of suicide, another reason to sniff some TRH, perhaps?

The Link between ASD, TBI and PTSD

The above conditions are very different, but they share some similar symptoms relating to mood disorders.  By understanding the neurological underpinnings of the mood disorder in one condition, we might well learn something useful for the others.

The research into TBI seems to focus on better surviving the first few hours.  We saw in earlier posts that by giving intravenously either statins, or the female hormone progesterone, in the Emergency Room, there was a marked increase in survivability.  Progesterone and statins are both highly neuroprotective.

When Michael Schumacher had his TBI in a recent skiing accident, I was saying to myself “give him progesterone”, I very much doubt the French neurologists did.  They probably do not read American/English research.

In the case of autism, very recent research has shown an excess of male hormones in the amniotic fluid of mothers who give birth to a baby that will later be diagnosed with autism.  We also have seen how some people with mild autism treat themselves with progesterone to feel better.

Many years ago pregnant women were often prescribed progesterone and/or estrogen, now it seems to be limited to some women undergoing infertility treatment.  Perhaps giving progesterone might reduce the incidence of autism?

Statins are a known treatment for cytokine storms and are included in my autism PolyPill.

Once back home, people recovering from TBI and PTSD do seem to face similar treatment to adults with autism; they get ignored.

Due to all the recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, we do hear quite frequently about the consequences of untreated PTSD.  There are also very many cases of TBI, resulting from motor vehicle accidents (cars, bikes, quad bikes etc), sports accidents (skiing) and shootings (particularly in the US).  It seems that in many cases there can outwardly be a physical recovery, but personality has altered.  As we have seen in this blog, all the various hormones and neurotransmitters are interrelated and so any neurological damage will have multiple knock-on effects.  This will consequently transform, for better or worse, someone’s personality.  I used to know a person once, who was about to marry for the third time.  The second wife had been hit by a bus while crossing the street, and I remember how odd it sounded what he said next, “when she got better, she was a different person and I had to divorce her”.  The change in personality makes perfect sense, we are all the result of the particular homeostasis our brains settled at.  So some people are gregarious, others are loners, and a very small number become psychopaths.

If we more fully understood how the brain works, most types of mood disorder would likely be treatable.  Since people with TBI and mild autism are now easily identifiable, there is yet another reason to accelerate this research.  A frequent justification for the low expenditure on autism research is that “you don’t die from autism”.  Well, the above research shows that plenty of people do die from autism, just not the ones you expected.

Just to give the full picture, sadly people with severer types of autism have substantially elevated risk of mortality in their early years, due to seizures, drowning and other accidents.  There is research showing this, but it also shows up any time you see cause of death on the samples from brain tissue banks, used in autism studies.  This is why it is very important to teach people with severer autism to be confident swimmers, however hard it might seem.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

NAC and Rotten Eggs – Where to draw the line?

One effective intervention in autism, particularly to reduce stereotypy, is N-acetylcysteine (NAC).  Here NAC is being used as an anti-oxidant in its own right and as a precursor to the body’s own main anti-oxidant, called GSH.  Classic autism is associated with oxidative stress and so NAC should be beneficial.

In much of Europe, NAC is seen primarily as a pharmaceutical, in North America, and much of the rest of the world, NAC is primarily just another supplement.

As a drug, it is mainly used as a so-called mucolytic agent, and as such is used as a cough medicine, because it breaks down mucus and liquefies it, making it easier to cough up.  It is frequently prescribed by doctors for children, but only in some parts of the world.

The problem with NAC, and all supplements, is quality control.  There is pressure to drive down prices and so quality will vary.  NAC is not particularly stable (it is labile) and so it tends to break down and release some foul smelling compounds.

For those who remember chemistry from school, the chemical formula is C5H9NO3S and the following chemical structure:

The smell of rotten eggs is associated with H2S, hydrogen sulphide/sulfide.  The ‘S’ in NAC is sulphur/sulfur and so when it breaks down or oxidizes you get a nasty smell.

The question is how much of a smell is normal and how much means your cheap NAC capsule has spoiled to the point of being worthless?

There is plenty of online discussion on this subject among regular users of NAC.  As usual, much is nonsense; some people are even saying that NAC has to stink and that it is a sign that it is good.

When it is freshly produced, there should be very little smell.  When you open the pharmaceutical NAC from its blister pack there is no smell whatsoever.

Cheap NAC

Since you need large amounts of NAC for treating autism, I found a brand of the cheap NAC capsules, but I always open the individual capsules and mix them in juice.  I never had any stinky bad egg smell until recently.  Now as soon as I open the jar, let alone the capsule, there is a potent smell.  Try a jar from a different batch, same smell.  More to the point, I have noticed small signs of stereotypy when Monty, aged 10 with ASD, goes for a swim.  He is swimming in the water and then starts wiggling his fingers and looking at them.

So I have decided to switch to the pharmaceutical NAC, which where we live is called Fluimucil and is made in Switzerland.  You buy it in the pharmacy over the counter, but without a prescription.  The cheap NAC does not say where it is made, or even have a use by date.  I suspect that different batches are made by totally different producers, whichever offers the lowest price.

The well-known expensive brand of NAC sold in the US is actually produced in Europe, if it turns out to be Swiss, we can probably guess who is making it for them.

It is clear that when the cheap NAC is very fresh, it works fine, but I want a product that functions as it should, 100% of the time.

I will see if the small re-emerging signs of stereotypy disappear with the Swiss NAC.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

PANDAS, PANS, Penguins and Autism

Anyone with a serious interest in autism should also be aware of PANDAS (Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections) and PANS (Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome).  These are two syndromes which have acute onset of symptoms very similar to some of those found in autism.  It is claimed to affect 1 in every 200 children in the US.

The good news is that a very thorough and dedicated doctor called Susan Swedo has worked logically through from starting to identify the syndrome, all the way through to treating it.  Good job Susan.

Though she insists that PANDAS and PANS are distinct from autism, one can only wonder how many other distinct, but yet to be identified, syndromes exist that also present with autism-like symptoms.

Thanks to the efforts of Dr Swedo and the US NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health), these two conditions have been remarkably well investigated, in a very short period of time.  It shows what medical science can achieve when the right people are in charge.  It is odd that such effective clinical attention has not been focused on autism itself.

Here is a very recent presentation given by Dr Swedo, which really covers all the important aspects of both PANS and PANDAS.  For those with a serious interest, have a look though this post and then watch the presentation, to get the most from it.

Dr Susan Swedo (click for IPad users)

Penguins and PANDAS

One of the reasons I was so impressed by how PANDAS has been addressed, as opposed to the much more common autism, is the before and after data.  For example, many people talk about regressive autism, but nobody quantifies from what, to what.  Some children went from a spoken vocabulary of 10 words to 2 words, while others went from 500 words to zero; there is a profound (and relevant) difference.

In the case of PANS and PANDAS we have the before and after artwork from the affected kids. As usual, a picture is worth a thousand words.

I have no great panda pictures, but Monty aged 10 with ASD, brought back his artwork from school last week and pride of place goes to his picture of two penguins.  We were all more than a little taken aback to see it.  Did he really draw this? Unassisted?  It looks much more like the work of his big brother.  Even his assistant was surprised and confirmed that this was the result of his work in the art room for a double lesson.  I never expected to be displaying Monty’s artwork to the world.

Later in this post you will see the before and after PANDAS artwork.


When I first came across a condition known as PANDAS or PANS, I did not take that much notice; with such a name I assumed it was nonsense.   Researchers should give a serious syndrome a serious name/acronym.

I imagine that with the ever widening of the diagnosis of autism, some people with PANDAS (Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections) /PANS (Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome) have been misdiagnosed as autistic and vice versa.

When you look at the symptoms and apparent cause of PANDAS/PANS you may wonder how many other similar conditions exist within the myriad of conditions leading to autism.

The shocking regression in cognitive function (illustrated by children’s drawings further down the page) produced by this condition and the fact that it can be reversed, should really be carefully evaluated in comparison to regressive autism.

It would be appear that all of this is caused by an immune system gone “haywire”.  I wonder how many other immune dysfunctions leading to regression and odd behaviours will be identified in future decades.

The treatment for all these current, and future, conditions are likely to revolve around immunomodulatory therapy, ranging from very cheap steroids (prednisone) to the very expensive, like IVIG (Intravenous immunoglobulin)

If you have a case of regressive autism and the expert says it does not fit the definition of PANDAS/PANS, he might think the case is closed.  Perhaps it should not be.

I suggest that immune over-activation is involved in both groups of autism:-

Early onset autism
In these cases the immune activation is secondary; when it occurs the existing autism just gets much worse.  In some cases these flare-ups are evidently caused by food allergies/intolerance or pollen allergies.

Regressive Autism
I think that in mild cases, some autism may be solely an over-activation of the immune system, without any of the channelopathies and other dysfunctions common in classic autism.  I would put PANS/PANDAS is this category.  I suggest that many other cases of regressive autism could be traced back to allergies and food intolerance, which triggered an immune over-response.

It does seem that many regressions followed a viral infection, and of course, many people believe their regression was triggered by vaccines.  I expect in most cases the vaccine is just a scapegoat, but I very much doubt it is in every case.   
I do not expect there will be any research in this area, because the results would inevitably be misinterpreted by the public.  What a pity.

If we better understood what events could radically disrupt brain function, we might be able to better understand how to treat the resulting neuropsychiatric phenomena, known as regressive autism, PANDAS, PANS and other, yet to be invented, acronyms.

A serious condition with some serious followers

Many people’s knowledge of autism seems to come from sound bites from scientific luminaries like Oprah, Jenny McCarthy and even Donald Trump.  Somewhat remarkably, the PANS doctors are actually a very serious bunch, under the umbrella of the International OCD Foundation (and the NIMH).  This foundation is a serious organisation with a scientific advisory board loaded with people from top US Medical Schools.

Not only have they concisely explained the symptoms, but they have also found therapies; albeit, they do not really know why they work.

The US National Institute of Mental Health has great information.

There is also a very serious parent run organisation called PANDAS Network.


In the early 1990s, 50 years after Kanner noticed autism, researchers in the US noticed what they thought was an odd acute-onset type of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).  At first it was thought that only streptococcal infections and Scarlet fever triggered this abrupt regression in the child’s behaviour and cognitive performance.  The first name they came up with was PANDAS, (Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections); when reports came in that many other infections caused acute regression the name got changed to PANS (Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome). 

Symptoms of PANS

It is pretty clear to me that some people diagnosed with regressive autism actually have PANS.  I have from two sources a list of symptoms:-

International OCD Foundation
  • Acute sudden onset of OCD
  • Challenges with eating, and at the extreme end, anorexia
  • Sensory issues such as sensitivity to clothes, sound, and light
  • Handwriting noticeably deteriorates
  • Urinary frequency or bedwetting
  • Small motor skills deteriorate - a craft project from yesterday is now impossible to complete (see images below)
  • Tics
  • Inattentive, distractible, unable to focus and has difficulties with memory
  • Overnight onset of anxiety or panic attacks over things that were no big deal a few days ago, such as thunderstorms or bugs
  • Suddenly unable to separate from their caregiver, or to sleep alone
  • Screaming for hours on end
  • Fear of germs and other more traditional-looking OCD symptoms

US National Institute of Mental Health
  • Severe separation anxiety (e.g., child can't leave parent's side or needs to sleep on floor next to parent's bed, etc.)
  • Generalized anxiety. which may progress to episodes of panic and a "terror-stricken look"
  • Motoric hyperactivity, abnormal movements, and a sense of restlessness
  • Sensory abnormalities, including hyper-sensitivity to light or sounds, distortions of visual perceptions, and occasionally, visual or auditory hallucinations
  • Concentration difficulties, and loss of academic abilities, particularly in math and visual-spatial areas
  • Increased urinary frequency and a new onset of bed-wetting
  • Irritability (sometimes with aggression) and emotional liability. Abrupt onset of depression can also occur, with thoughts about suicide.
  • Developmental regression, including temper tantrums, "baby talk" and handwriting deterioration (also related to motor symptoms)

In case you want to see what they mean by regression, look at these pictures drawn by a child with PANDAS before and after treatment.  Panel A is before and Panel B is after.   Source International OCD Foundation


Compared to Autism, a very refreshing approach is taken to treating PANS.

The treatments include:-
·        Treatment with antibiotics to eradicate the infection, if it is still present.
·        Immune-based therapies such as

o   corticosteroids (such as prednisone).

The good news about the immune therapies is that the treatment gains were maintained long-term, which is exactly what you would want to see. 
Therapeutic plasma exchange and intravenous immunoglobulin for obsessive-compulsive disorder and tic disorders in childhood

Implications for Autism

In spite of what your doctor might tell you, if your child has regressive autism, you would be well advised to check and re-check that he/she does not have PANS or a (yet to be identified) variant thereof. 

The immune-based therapies that ultimately are proved to be successful in PANS are highly likely to be helpful in treating the kind of autism in which the immune system remains in a state of over-activation.  Also the immune-therapies being trialled for autism, if successful, might very likely be helpful alternative therapies for PANS; the therapy I have in mind is TSO.

Classic early-onset autism, as researched in post-mortem studies at the Courchesne lab and elsewhere, is associated with physical brain abnormalities, that should be irreversible.  It would seem that PANS is something entirely different and should be treatable and potentially fully recoverable.

For those of you unaware of Courchesne, here is a short video; he is quoted by many of the leading autism researchers, so I hope he has got things right.

Where does regressive autism fit in?  I really doubt that all those people with regressive autism have the physical brain abnormalities of classic autism.  Research has shown that regressive autism has even higher bio-markers of neuroinflammation than classic autism.  Perhaps regressive autism is neuroinflammation, without physical brain abnormalities?

Just as PANS is a mini-spectrum of conditions, pathologically distinct from early onset autism, I suspect that regressive autism is equally pathologically distinct from early onset autism.

Why does it matter?  Well if you want to treat something, it helps to know what you are dealing with.

PANS looks like it has some clever people working on it.  Regressive autism, which may indeed be the most prevalent type, is in need of some similarly clever people.


If regressive autism is your area of interest, I would suggest you look very carefully at PANS/PANDAS and the therapies that have been shown to be effective.

If you have PANS/PANDAS, taking a look at the experimental immunomodulatory therapy used in autism might be very worthwhile, for example the TSO therapy from Coronado Bioscience.

We know that PANS/PANDAS is caused by an ongoing inappropriate immune response, but we do not know how this is mediated into the odd behaviours.  One possible mechanism would be via a weakening of the blood brain barrier (BBB).  

It has been shown that the similar mechanism controls the BBB and the gut immune barrier.   Clever research into Celiac Disease has resulted in the discovery of Zonulin, which is now known to be the only physiological modulator of both these barriers.  Using a type of laboratory test called ELISA, it is now possible to measure Zonulin levels.  If people diagnosed with PANS/PANDAS were shown to have low Zonulin levels, we could assume that the BBB was compromised; this would certainly advance understanding of the condition. It would of course point the way to new therapies.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Cognitive Enhancement, Classic Autism and School

The school year is coming to an end and now we get the results of assessment week, the end of year tests.

Personally I never liked exams, or rather revising for them, but for teachers, assessment is a big part of what they do.  I used to be asked at the start of the school year for a list of benchmarks to measure my son Monty’s progress during the year, since the usual benchmarks were seen not as applicable.  Then we would spend lots of time discussing the list.

Typical kids just follow the standard curriculum and get their standardized progress tests.  If you follow an ABA program, you are constantly measuring performance and you only progress when you master a skill, so it is like continuous assessment.

Monty, aged 10 with ASD, goes to a very small international school.  So there is no special needs teacher, no IEP (individual educational plan), just a nice friendly environment.  This works very well because it means you can build your own educational system, not restricted by any rigid rules.

From the age of about four years old till seven or eight, in effect, Monty’s curriculum was the ABBLS (Assessment of Basic Language and Learning Skills), which is a rather intimidating list of 544 skills from 25 skill areas including language, social interaction, self-help, academic and motor skills that most typically developing children acquire prior to entering kindergarten.  These are very basic skills, that we never had to teach to Ted, Monty’s big brother, but without these skills you really cannot do much. They are the basic skills on which everything else is built.  It includes things like toilet training, stacking coloured blocks in order and, at the intellectual end, involves ultra-basic speech, being about to count and being able to read.

When your child has just a handful of these 544 skills, it appears that you have a mountain to climb; indeed you do.

Fortunately for us, Monty’s then Assistant and best pal, Irena, took on much of this daunting task.  He did become verbal, he did learn to read, he learned how to write and yes, finally, got to grips with numeracy.  (All without any help from drugs)  

This all occurred in parallel with going to "school".  The learning all occurred at home, school was just for practice.

Back then, the end of year report did not really have much importance.

At some point you do hope that school will actually be a place for learning.

It does appear that in many cases of “inclusion”, school is little more than daycare.  Some special schools are brilliant, but even if you live near one, they tend to be hugely expensive and access is highly restricted.

My observation of the limited number of people with autism I am familiar with, is that they tend not to get on with each other; they actually like to be around nice friendly neurotypical kids.  Until you get to secondary school, many kids are nice to special needs kids.  After that, most really are not nice at all, and any idea of going to school for “socialization” becomes nonsense, because the “normal” kids openly seem to ignore, provoke and even hate the kids with HFA/Asperger’s.  Sad, but true.

What is Normal for Kids with Classic Autism?

Most kids with classic autism end up in a special school, or a special needs unit attached to a mainstream school.

One of our former 1:1 assistants was a trainee at the local special school and later became a teacher at another one.  We discussed what went on there and I did visit a few the school a few times.  It was much better than I expected, but was more about keeping the kids calm and under control, than academic advancement.  There were 6 kids per member of staff and the kids had very mixed ability, they were just grouped by age.

I took a look at Treehouse, the leading autism school in London, to see what is in their curriculum.

In the US there are many such schools.  In Europe, Treehouse is quite well known, because it seems to be unique.  One of our former ABA consultants from the US used to work at Treehouse and another former one is on the Board of Governors.  Our current ABA consultant was doing her PhD in Behavioral Science in the US, when the founders of Treehouse visited the leading US autism schools for inspiration many years ago.  A small world indeed.

In fact the Treehouse curriculum bears little resemblance to what goes on in mainstream schools.

I really do not understand what kids with classic autism can achieve in big mainstream schools, even with an assistant.  I just discussed this with Monty’s teacher, how can you “include” a child who has no understanding of what you are teaching the other kids?

Two year ago I agreed with our school to hold Monty back by two years, to be at his academic level, so he is two years older than most of his classmates.  There is no rush to get to secondary/high school.

The question I have had for a long time is whether Monty will be able to learn at school.  To date he has had thousands of hours of 1:1 learning at home, following his home program, which now combines ABA-based learning of things like social skills, conversation etc., with academic work like numeracy and verbal comprehension.

School for Learning?

My plan, when I realized that drug interventions do really cognitively improve autism, was to retain my model of school in the morning and 1:1 learning at home in the afternoon and aim for a time when school could genuinely be for learning.

The good news is that we really do seem to have reached that point.

I had the end of year meeting with Monty’s class teacher and it was almost as if we were discussing a regular kid.  For a start, we were discussing results from standard tests for science, maths and English provided by Cambridge University for international schools following their primary curriculum, so much less scope for the usual “sympathy grading”.

Lots of kids do get extra time in tests, for example if they have dyslexia.  Why not for autism?    The Asperger’s boy in Monty’s brother’s class gets an easier English test and extra time.

In Monty’s case, I did not want extra time; anyway he does not need it.  If he does not understand what to do, extra time is no help.  The question was whether his assistant should give him any “hints” as to what the questions mean, when she knows he really does know the answer. (e.g. when asked verbally by the teacher, so not in writing,  "what is the next factor of 5, after 30")

We had this debate and we agreed; no help of any kind.  That way at least the test tells us something useful.  If the test is based on prompting/help, how big was the prompt?  Better to see the real result and then we can do the “oh, but he really can do that”.

So this year was the first time we have the same tests as the other kids and definitely no help.  This is the result:-

Speaking and Listening        C+
Reading                                 B+
Writing                                   B+
Mathematics                          C+
Science                                  A-
ICT                                         A+
Music                                      A
Art                                           A

Well the results show Monty ended Year 3 ahead of anyone’s expectations, including the teacher.

I think the art teacher was probably being over generous, which is what tends to happen (sympathy grading).  ICT (Information and Communication Technology) is pretty basic at this level, but Monty can do it all.  When it comes to music, Monty is in his element; he can read music, plays his piano and has started to sing.

So the grades seem to be genuine, and he was not at the bottom of the class in any subject. That might not be a common educational benchmark, but I think it is a pretty good one to see if “inclusion” is really working.

As I said to his present teacher, only two years ago he was hitting his then class teacher, assistant and even, on rare occasions, his classmates.  Back then there was very little learning going on at school and not much social interaction either.

Cognitive Enhancement

Along with greatly improved social skills, simple conversation with peers, and even some sporting ability, has come cognitive enhancement.  He still is not “normal”, but it is a remarkable transition nonetheless.

How far he can get following the mainstream curriculum is an open question, but it is far further than anyone could have dreamed of, until he started his drug therapy.

I continue to be amazed, but the gains are almost entirely reversed if he stops taking his drugs.