Have any studies been done to connect cerebellar ataxia and aspergers?

In looking at some of the signs of Aspergers and some of the issues I see in my husband and other ataxians, I see many similarities--need for routine and order, not able to reach out in friendships, not being able to read other people, etc. As both seem to present themselves in the cerebellum, couldn't there be a connection? I feel as if the doctors who specialize in Ataxia don't seem to address the behavioral issues connected with it. Does anyone else see a connection?



Steven, thanks for replying. Do you see a connection or are you saying that there have been some studies done?

Well, I know myself I have good friendships and love my friends and can connect with them. I have only been diagnosed with ataxia for around two years. One of the things I see is that as I continue to get weaker or where I can’t do things for myself this disease is very isolating even with friends that we I already have.

Hi Nosy,
This article might help you: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0361923005002790

Good luck in your research.

yes, my husband is sure he is an undiagnosed Aspie (my son is aspie) but as someone else said, Ataxia symptoms will also make it hard to socialise and join in. However eye contact (to a face in a fixed position) shouldn't be so hard, empathy and warmth at first contact, stress due to changes in plans - all likely to be more aspie than ataxia. Not easy for anyone with either diagnosis. It has occurred to me that there could be a link or at least that symptoms of one will aggravate the other.

Nosy, here is another article with a few more details.

No way, I don’t think so, that is personally how I feel. Though when my ataxia is bad I don xtra feel like talking I don’t think that it is related in anyway!

Not all Ataxias are alike, Displaymom, and I seem to remember reading that some people on this website have children with autism, but I could be wrong… Could the same gene that causes ataxia cause Asperger or vice versa?

If you read the articles above, you will see that researchers are looking into a connection between autism and Asperger which is part of the autism spectrum . It probably depends on the cause of ataxia and the part of the cerebellum affected by it.

There are cases of autism with movements disorders, and what is ataxia but a movement disorder?.. In any case, this is getting too complicated for my damaged brain :wink:

Take care!

Sorry, I meant to say that scientists are looking for a connection between autism/Asperger and movements disorders…

May I make a suggestion? Many international gluten medical experts have connected neurological problems with gluten sensitivity. Diseases such as schizophrenia and ADHA have been cured on a gluten-free diet. I am gluten-sensitive and when i eat gluten by mistake, I experience mood swings and brain fog.

Mayo Clinic and Johns Hopkins have incorporated the gluten issue in their latest medical textbook that talks about all this. Also, free info from Dr Peter Osborne's newlsetter is excellent. He hosted the Functional Medicine Summit recently.

Here is a link from Dr Tom O'Bryan (hope it still works as I paid for it), with all the latest international medical expert information. Much of the research says everyone should be gluten-free. Gluten affects the brain as well as the gut.

For me, I think it’s more that the ataxia is making me socially isolated, self-conscious, etc…not that I had aspegers type traits before. Even simple things that you wouldn’t think are related to ataxia but are a symptom of aspergers, I think can be explained by the ataxia. For example, the need for order/control. This was never a strong trait of mine ( too far to the other extreme, to be honest!) , but with the ataxia, it is harder if plans change, or things aren’t where I expect them to be.

A few for instances:

If someone says they will be by to visit in half an hour, it’s now more important to be that’s it’s somewhere near that time. Because generally I’m in my robe in my room. If company is coming I put on clothes ( hard and takes awhile), brush my hair, use the bathroom etc…all things that I wouldn’t have even thought about before, but now all require effort and I have to pace myself so I’m not worn out when company gets here. Then I have to make my way down the hall to the living room, where there isn’t a lot to do. Which also takes effort. If they get here in 5 minutes instead of 30, I’m still trying to get ready. If they don’t show up. I spent a lot of effort for no reason.

Or putting my glasses in the same spot. Before, I’d misplace them all the time, and it was annoying, but no big deal. Now if I misplace them it is VERY hard to get around to search for them, especially if they have fallen behind some furniture. As a matter if fact they have been missing for 3 days!

Doesn’t mean there isn’t a link that effects some people, but definitely don’t think it’s all.

Also I think it would be more unusual if there weren’t some people on this forum who had children with ADHD or Aspergers. They are both relatively common, and if you get a bunch of people on any forum topic they will bring up things like that occassionally, and readers with similar situations will chime in. I don’t think it matters if the forum is about
is ataxia or cooking or politics.

I see a conection in myself I was diagnosed OCD in 2007 (although thats the only thing the doctors agree on) (Ive been told Im bi-polar, have severe anxiety, a sex addict, have poor impulse control) (every doctor has a different opinion) I was diagnosed SCA in 2014 & I have always had a different, certain way of doing things, a certain order things must be done or be!

There is a psychological category in the DSM directory labeled "HIghly Sensitive" that has been relabeled from "Overly Sensitive" The book by Elaine Aron, The Highly Sensitive Person.is the bible about HSPs. I am an HSp and find that I am more sensitive than most to many things that seem to be related to Ataxia and I am learning to manage the issues: Diet, Emotions, and Intorversian. Hope this helps. What a complicated issue we humans deal with just to be healthy! I am grateful tfor all the recent discoveries about these issues.

There is abundant documented research that many adults and children have been healed from Aspergers, ADHD, and other nuerological challenges by switching to the gluten-free diet with the aid of a gluten medical expert.

I do notice that I am much more sensitive to a lot of noise and overstimulation than I used to be. But it’s hard to sort out what is due to becoming used to being alone almost all the time, as opposed to a few years ago when I had a full time job, husband and house full of kids. But yeah, I didn’t used to get anxious or irritable just from loud people ( my family is full of them) but now I do, pretty quickly. Also, my ataxia developed very quickly and very severely, so don’t know if the different types have anything to do with it.

Thank you all for your input and I hope we can continue this discussion.

My husband has a diagnosis of CA, but of unknown type. I was reading up on Aspergers and saw many similarities in the identifiers. He does have many friends, but I would not call any of them close friends. He makes friends at the shops and the bank, but I would call these surface friends. He will call my friends to tell them something witty that he has been thinking about for days. He has a good sense of humor, even if it is a bit slapstick at times. What I wonder is if what he has is really Aspergers and not one of the SA's that can be identified. Perhaps a strain of Asperger's that presents itself as a progressive gait issue. Are they the same?

He is in his late fifties now and I have only been with him for about 12 years, so I can't tell you anything about his behavior before he got the wobblies.

Looking forward to hearing everyone's comments. As someone mentioned, everyone with CA is different. I am just hoping to maybe jump-start another theory that may be able to help others.

Nosy, you may want to read a book called “Shadow Syndrome” by John Ratey. I think you will find it very interesting. I read this book years ago trying to find an answer for a relative who seemed to have a few off behavior traits, but not full blown. It opened my eyes to the fact that there are biological explanations for behaviors. Quite a fascinating read.
Best wishes.

Thank you Cicina. I will look for it. I think I might also try the gluten free diet.

My son has Aspergers and ADHD

I work for the National Autistic Society and also have a son with Aspergers.
I do not feel that Ataxia and Aspergers are related other than when you have Ataxia your social skills are tested and you may experience traits of Aspergers due to the fact you have Ataxia. I have SCA6 and yes, I have lost my confidence and social skills cos I feel embarrassed and I am angry but I definitely don’t compare myself to someone with Aspergers. Maybe it’s just coincidence.