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THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN AUTISTIC SPECTRUM CONDITIONS AND SCHIZOPHRENIA

1. In those who have Schizophrenia, particularly the paranoid subtype, fantastic delusions of grandeur or persecution often occur. Someone with this type of Schizophrenia may believe they have wrote, for example, the British National Anthem or famous songs such as 'Bridge over Troubled Water', 'Imagine', 'American Pie' and 'Waterloo Sunset' or famous hymns such as 'Abide with me'.

They may believe they were precocious as children, thinking that they have wrote the Lord's Prayer on their 4th birthday or they painted the 'Mona Lisa' at the age of five or that they wrote all the Lord of the Rings books, or that they have been featured as the subject on programmes such as 'This Is Your Life', 'QED' and 'The South Bank Show'. They may say all this despite clear and obvious evidence to the contrary, such as them claiming sickness benefit or that they haven't worked for 15 years, or are an Electrician, a Dustbin man, a Bingo Caller, or a Shift worker.

Extreme paranoid delusions can occur in Schizophrenia, such as the sufferer believing that his/her thoughts are being controlled by others, are being broadcast aloud to the public by television or radio, that they are being criticised on the TV or radio news or that the Secret Service or MI5 is spying on them because the British government has marked them down as a dangerous subversive. Someone suffering from Schizophrenia might see people across the street talking among themselves and then immediately believe they are talking about him or her.

A Schizophrenic often experiences visual hallucinations, in which they will see something that no one else does. They also suffer from auditory hallucinations, causing the individual with the illness to hear voices that no one else can. The voice or voices will feed information to the individual or may even argue among themselves, along with making negative comments about an event that has occurred in the schizophrenic's life or even about a certain person/persons or institutions, be it an enemy, acquaintance, an actor, a politician, a rock star or the local Member of Parliament for where the Schizophrenic lives.

In a minority of cases, the voice or voices can also instruct the sufferer to do something bold and dramatic but despite what you read in the newspapers and hear on Television, the majority of Schizophrenics aren't violent.

I have mentioned above the "Positive" symptoms of Schizophrenia. There are also "Negative" symptoms such as poverty of speech, flatness of affect and response.


2. Most people who go on to develop Schizophrenia and most other mental illnesses function well, even brilliantly, in mainstream society and everyday life before their illness started. Theirs, along with nearly all other mental illness sufferers, is an "NT" or "Normal" mind that has become ill, usually at some point between the ages of 15 and 30.

The Schizophrenic symptoms of delusions and hallucinations aren't seen in children at the ages of 6, 7 and 8 and the individual who goes onto develop Schizophrenia often was an healthy, ordinary individual before their illness stuck, who had no problem fitting into society. If you ask a Schizophrenic or someone with OCD, Bi-polar or Paranoid Psychosis how they were before they were ill, in most cases they will be able to tell you. Someone who goes on to develop these conditions doesn't usually blurt embarrassing remarks out in public such as "That man's fat isn't he?" in front of that man's face, or ask loudly "Why does my nan smell?" in their grandmother's presence. Those who have developed the above conditions don't usually have any obsessions or routines when young. They have filters in their brains to what noises and sensory stimuli is relevant and which to ignore. People with Autism and AS have no filters, hense why they are hypersensitive to sensory stimuli, such as sound, smell, touch and taste.

That is not to say that individuals with Autism and AS can and do develop mental health problems, but that isn't the original issue. Also, mental health can worsen once a person develops Schizophrenia, whereas with Autism and AS some, but not all of the symptoms can actually reduce or even disappear as the individual becomes older, whilst they retain the basic characteristics and difficulties. The condition never disappears entirely. It often depends on how old one is when diagnosed with Autism or AS with regards to how they fare in life. Early diagnosis and intervention helps greatly.

When an individual has Asperger's Syndrome or even Autism and doesn't receive a diagnosis or isn't made aware of their condition, they know they are different but can't understand why. In marked contrast to most of those who develop OCD, Schizophrenia or manic depressive psychosis, or what is commonly termed Bi-Polar nowadays, those with Autistic Spectrum Conditions from very early on stand out as being 'odd' in some way. What they know at age 10 is what they will know if they live to be 120. It is all they have ever known and it is all they will ever know.


3. Schizophrenia can be controlled and suppressed by medication. There are no medications you can take to control the basic conditions of ASC's, though the anger and anxiety aspects of them can be managed and controlled. It is almost certain that you are born with Autism and Asperger's Syndrome. You can't get rid of Autism. You can't get rid of Asperger's Syndrome. It is part of who and what you are, just like, unfortunately, psychopathy is.
4. Psychotic episodes occur in Schizophrenia sufferers when they are ill. They don't occur in a person who has ASC's. There is no detachment from reality in people with Autism or Asperger's Syndrome, unless they are suffering from mental illness as well.
5. The need for everything belonging in the same place or lining up objects doesn't occur with people with Schizophrenia.
6. Children who fall ill with Schizophrenia and other mental illnesses develop ordinarily or are advanced in terms of spoken language, social and interactional skills and intelligence. Childhood Schizophrenia can occur before the age of 15 but it is very rare. The earliest ever recorded case is seven years of age.

Communication is a major difference between the two conditions. Some Autistic people can't speak or if they can it is often in a monotone voice. Those who develop Schizophrenia don't have spoken language or communication problems, unless they had a stammer or a speech impediment, but that is only a minority of Schizophrenia sufferers. Certain forms of Schizophrenia can make one incoherent or withdrawn, but before the illness struck, a someone with it may have been extremely articulate and eloquent, the type who was able to make black appear white and the kind of person who had the "gift of the gab".

Those with Schizophrenia aren't particularly confused by sayings, clichés and metaphors at any time in their lives, like those with Autism and AS are often are, particularly in their early years.


7. Savant skills or special abilities are not seen and don't occur in Schizophrenia sufferers, though the Schizophrenic may believe that he has special powers, but this is part of the illness.
8. The behaviour of a person with Schizophrenia often appears to be ordinary between psychotic episodes, or at least more ordinary than that of people with either Autism or Asperger's Syndrome.
9. AS and Autism are developmental conditions. Schizophrenia is a mental illness.
10. The difficulty with fine motor skills seen in those with Asperger's Syndrome doesn't occur in those with Schizophrenia. Their fine motor skills are average and standard to what can be expected.
11. Intense obsessions and routines don't occur in people who have Schizophrenia. They are commonly seen in people who have Autistic Spectrum Conditions and occur constantly.
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