thoughts and ideas about XXY

some thoughts ….

– a survey of XXY about being left-handed or right-handed

( I recently found out with help of an autism specialist that I’m actually left-handed explaining a lot of difficulties with direction of rotation since childhood)

– a survey of XXY about enhanced sensory perception (yes/no, and which senses are affected most often: hearing, visuals, taste, tactile, smell)

(there are communalities between small-scale polls in autism forums and the british XXY forum, both resulting in enhanced sensory issues with hearing and visuals)

if ADD/ADHD are rather symptoms than syndroms (about 50 % of people with autism also have ADHD, about 60 % of people with XXY have also ADHD), and mainly the result of different sensory perception…. it would mean that XXY is one of many possible conditions to obtain a different perception in general.

The idea of, e.g. self-stimulating behavior or special interests as a strategy to manage too much incoming information, social stress, sensory overload, mental overload, etc… is relatively new (but included in the latest DMS-V for diagnosing autism spectrum conditions). If both behavior (stimming and special interests) is less defined, people have to look for other „bad“ copying strategies, like frequent meltdowns, attention deficits, hyperactivity, etc…

(in the few studies about autistic symptomes in XXY, XXY reveal less special interests, repetition behavior as non-XXY autistic people, which could mean that XXY are less able to self-regulate themselves)

Attending symptoms like bad time management, organisation, planning, etc… are shared by all conditions (XXY, ADHD, autism) as a result of executive dysfunctions (something’s working wrong in the frontal lobes).

For a long time, in Germany even now, nobody thought of communalities between these conditions because all symptoms were related to the lack of testosterone. This is another fact I’m quite curious about because hormone imbalances are also reported in autism (and gender dysphoria seems to be more frequent in autism than in the general population), and some autistic women reported too high testosterone values.

I guess the discussion about these relations often stutters because of the usage of the term „autism“: Autism is highly negatively connotated. Nobody wants to be referred to. Parents are often shocked even hearing about this possibility. I approach this topic rather from bottom-up thinking. I gather as much information as possible trying to puzzle it together. I follow the principle of neurodiversity, i.e., the different perception doesn’t express a disorder but a difference. Maybe, this approach gets lost in this strong desire of having categories and stamps, coming with DSM-V and diagnosis (good read: Frances, Allen (2013). Saving Normal: An Insider’s Revolt Against Out-of-Control Psychiatric Diagnosis, DSM-5).

My intention is not to put XXY in additional categories but to destigmatize the existing categories.

Why I support N#mber

While the german version N#MMER already launched, the english version will be available soon in September 2015 and the worldwide first magazine for people with ADHD and autism edited and written by concerned people themselves. You’ll read interviews with Temple Grandin and Sascha Lobo and…

https://nummer-magazin.de/ see also https://twitter.com/Number_Magazine

a text about 47,XXY as symptomes of ADD/ADHD as well as autism are more prevalent in people with 47,XXY. In my opinion, the magazine covers a lot of difficulties concerning the behavior of people with 47,XXY. I had light bulb moments in nearly every text. As I wrote my text for N#MMER in October 2014, I didn’t have such profound knowledge about 47,XXY, and I looked for proof for any statement in the article. It’s the reason for which the text might have appeared in a school’s magazine rather and is clearly different compared with the other texts. Anyway, I hope I could raise awareness towards the characteristics of Klinefelter/47,XXY. American self-support organisations (like AXYS) assume that a certain number of people with 47,XXY is present among people with autism and ADHD.

To clarify: 47,XXY =/= autism spectrum disorders! The prevalence for autism (and ADHD) is significantly enhanced but far away from 100 % (rather between 10 and 30 % for autism).

Autism Spectrum Disorders and 47,XXY:

Figure 1: The diagram shows the results of the Social Responsiveness Score (SRS) measuring the degree of autistic traits.

  • control group (con): 25
  • extra X: 65 (cut-off for autism: 70)
  • diagnosed people with autism (ASD): 95

Source: https://vimeo.com/130199302

Fig 1. ADI-R-Score

Figure 2: The result of the ADI-R test of autism in the three core domains. The horizontal line depicts the threshold value for clinical relevance, the points mark the individual persons with 47,XXY.

10 persons lied above the cut-off in all domains, 11 persons in 2 domains and 13 in one domain. 17 persons were below the cut-off in all domains. The most prevalent domain has been communication (domain 2), the rarest domain has been stereotype behavior (domain 3). Altogether 27 % of people with 47,XXY fulfilled the diagnose criteria for autism spectrum disorder.

Source: Bruining et al. (2009) bzw. https://factsaboutklinefelter.com/verhalten/

ADHD and 47,XXY:

  • Brian B. Doyle (2006) estimated 80 %
  • Tartaglia et al. (2012) found about 36 %,with the vast majority favoring the inattentive subtype (ADD)
  • Cederlöf et al. (2014) examined 86 000 controls and 860 47,XXY: 6 times higher risk of autism and ADHD.
  • Skakkebaek et al. (2014) founds 63 % ADHD in 47,XXY

Thus there is strong evidence for a link between 47,XXY and ADHD/autism, besides the fact all three conditions show major impairments of executive functions.

  1. Bruining et al. (2009) suggests in figure 2 that domain 3 (rituals, routines and obsessive behavior) is weaker in 47,XXY than in idiopathic (male!) autism.
  2. Tartaglia et al. (2012) states that the quiet subtype of ADHD (also called ADD, without hyperactivity and impulsivity) is dominant in 47,XXY.

Speculating:

People with autism who reveal less symptoms of domain 3 (rocking, flapping, obsessive behavior, mainstream special interests) may be easily overlooked (-> high number of unknown cases in girls and women as well as ‚quiet‘ boys and men).

About 90 % of media reports about attention-deficit disorders deal with hyperactive and impulsive behavior although only 10 % of all tests confirm this diagnose. 30 % of all diagnoses present the inattentive subtype with quiet, non-disturbing dreamers. (the remaining 60 % present the combined type), source: http://weltsichtig.de/typisch-adhs-aber-halo/

Thus there is a large number of unknown cases, again in girls and women with ADD but also quiet boys and men).

If the phenotype of 47,XXY is similar to that of females with ADD and/or autism, both neurologic conditions will be discovered more infrequently in 47,XXY (boys with 47,XXY are often described as shy, passive and quiet).

Result:

Therefore it is important to use any opportunity to address these potential secondary diagnoses as therapeutical approaches, national support and accomodations are much better for people with ADHD and/or autism than for people with a diagnose „Klinefelter syndrome“. Moreover, addressing the hormone deficit is not sufficient to treat all side-effects of having Klinefelter syndrome:

Surprisingly, testosterone levels were not associated with these psychological and social health measures, even though low testosterone has been widely believed to underlie many of these symptoms. “Based on this finding, it is not clear that the testosterone therapy commonly given during puberty will remedy many of the problems that children with Klinefelter syndrome experience,” says Dr. Fennoy.

Whether hormonal therapy plays a role during development or not, the researchers emphasize that early intervention to address psychosocial health risks will help patients and their families manage some of the chronic aspects of Klinefelter syndrome.

Source: http://newsroom.cumc.columbia.edu/blog/2015/08/25/developing-a-new-tool-to-detect-a-frequently-missed-sex-chromosome-disorder-in-boys/

What people with 47,XXY and relatives can do:

If you have the feeling there is more to you than low testosterone values and associated infertility, go to a psychiatrist or psychologist.

When people with 47,XXY are bullied in school, physical appearance may be the cause (weak muscles, body composition, breast development, shame having a shower or in the changing room) but also autistic behavior (difficulties with coordination, shyness, bluntness, naivety, imitating others, isolation and more prone to be a victim). Please take care of your children not to be in agony throughout their school time! They will suffer from bullying, post-traumatic anxiety and depression also throughout their lifetime.

Receiving a dual or secondary diagnose will provide additional therapy approaches and support besides hormone replacement therapy.

It’s essential to inform your environment and the relative’s environment about 47,XXY. If physical symptomes are merely present but behaviorial symptomes are more obvious, it probably makes no sense to hold a long talk about Klinefelter syndrome. A lot of people who are not familiar with Klinefelter may conclude that Klinefelter is equivalent for hormone deficit, needs hormone therapy and subsequent all deficits will be cured. Then it’s possibly more senseful to inform about the secondary diagnose. The genetic reason is rather interesting for academics.

Draw your information and guidelines from concerned people themselves! I linked numberous autistic bloggers in my blog writing about their life and everydaylife with autism. Be skeptical when doubtful things arise like cure of autism with helpf of diets, glute-free food, homeopathy, MMS, etc. A great majority of enlightened people with autism rejects ABA and Autism-Speaks.

Read and spread the word for N#MBER! Diagnosed 47,XXY could be helped with additional diagnoses addressing their psychosocial health. Diagnosed people with autism and/or ADHD might have a genetic underpinning of their presumed primary diagnose. It doesn’t mean that the diagnose is wrong but physical health may also play a role, like enhanced risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, autoimmune disorders, and cancer.

Lack of Impulse Control: When Communication is Overdosed.

Recently, I published a blog text about online dependence leading to a greater dispute about the question whether online communication could be considered as addictive behavior.

I understand the intention of people with autism to refuse their special interests and excessive online communication to be considered as addictive behavior. As I went into behavorial therapy a few years ago, I accidently happened to meet a specialist for prevention of addiction – not online but drugs in general. Addictive behavior is divided into substance (alcohol, drugs) and non-substance (buying, betting, sports, internet). It is caused by loosing impulse control and leads to self-damaging behavior without recognizing it.

As I tapped into the trap of addictive behavior, I was far away from knowing about my neurologic conditions. Executive dysfunctions are core features of autism and 47,XXY. My former therapist didn’t know about my conditions, either, and did consider my online addictive behavior as main reason for difficulties in everydaylife. He tried to shift my focus to (offline) everydaylife but I didn’t succeed because of my verbal communication difficulties.

I tried a cold turkey because I thought my internet behavior is the main reason. Ok, ten years ago, it would have been possible to stay out of the virtual world for a certain period. Today, however, in 2015, situation has changed. Moreover, the majority of my special interests is only possible with aid of internet tools, like weather charts, radar, weather data in general and a lot of other things, like writing blogs, communicating with journalists, etc. A cold turkey would have destroyed me in the long term since I had difficulties to manage my everydaylife.

Therefore I’d like to emphasize it for everyone of you who wants to slam this in my face „I’m not addicted, I need it to survive!!“: A therapist without any knowledge about the cause of „online addictive behavior“ is capable of producing serious damage to a not-recognized autist or XXY forcing him to a cold turkey! Psychologists specialised in addictive behavior should be aware of internet addictive behavior as a symptome, as it is also written in Allen Frances “Saving Normal: An Insider’s Revolt Against Out-of-Control Psychiatric Diagnosis, DSM-5, Big Pharma, and the Medicalization of Ordinary Life

I didn’t make official definitions. We have to deal with offical definitions also for autism which are probably insulting for us, like special interests seen as a symptom of a disability as well as lack of eye contact which is common in other cultures in the world. So please don’t blame me for using the the ICD-10 definition for addictive behavior:

  1. A strong wish or kind of obsession to consume substance causing addiction.
  2. Reduced ability to control start, termination and quantity of the substance.
  3. Physical acute delirium when consumption is finished or reduced.
  4. Proof of tolerance: To obtain the effect of originally lower amounts of the substance, increasingly higher amounts are necessary.
  5. Progressing negligence of other interests and pleasure in favour of the consumption of the addictive drug and/or enhanced expenditure of time to acquire and consume the substance or to recover from the effects.
  6. Persistent drug abuse despite the evidence of clearly damaging consequences (physical, psychological and social)

Source: http://www.suchtmr.de/index.php?id=140

The factors 1-5 seem to be typical for special interests in autism spectrum conditions. Moreover, we feel much more relaxed communicating in a written form instead of a phone call or a face-to-face meeting. I don’t want to list up all advantages. Most of you know them well, otherwise you wouldn’t read my blog.

Despite having great advantages of using internet excessively, I had some serious negative impact I can’t blend out.

In 2003, I missed the famous aurora in Central Europe because I preferred to chat instead of going onto the balcony.
In 2005, I missed a tornado because I preferred to chat in ICQ and write in a weather forum instead of going outdoor.
I cancelled a dinner with a friend he made for me with high effords because I preferred to stay at home and chat. I rapidly lost concentration and focus on reading scientific books and papers well as learning for exams if a computer stood nearby in the same room. I also felt uncomfortable when I couldn’t go online for a longer time than a few hours.

I almost fucked up my studies because I lost the balance of being online and offline (number 5)

Being excessively online (or using a computer in general) had also serious physical consequences: I ate too much fast food because cooking prevented me from staying online. I lacked physical training and was rapidly exhausted in rare occasions like hiking tours. As a result of sitting for hours and days, I tended to have frequent gastrointestinal troubles and constipation. Physical and sleep hygiene has been suffering, too. I couldn’t manage my everydaylife anymore (number 6)

I was asked whether the inability to manage everydaylife is the cause or effect of being online.

In the case of people with social communication difficulties, it might be both of it. On the one hand, social communication and chances to manage everydaylife with internet tools, is a blessing for us. We need it to express our feelings and wishes, opinion and existence. We stay in persistent contact with people we like and people who help us. We will likely have a much harder time without it, especially if the social environment isn’t holding but detrimental. All of us benefitting from this opportunity shouldn’t be blamed as addictive or even pathologic.

I guess… when it comes to therapy and addictive behavior is mentioned either by your parents, friends or therapist, addictive behavior may arise as a primary diagnosis. The reason to write this blog text is, to look behind the obvious symptomes and to look for the true reasons. As ADD, ADHD, autism, diabetes, osteoporosis, etc… may all result from having 47,XXY or related genetic conditions, some primary diagnoses turn out to be wrong (the genetic condition is the primary diagnosis, and autism the result of it).

The term for your behavior may be still addictive behavior, it doesn’t matter for officials if you like it or not.

So why changing behavior which seems to help us?

There are at least some exceptions. There is no black and  white in any behavior.

Whether you’re autistic or not, everyone needs sufficient sleep, good food and physical as well as mental health. It’s important to retain control. Control your feelings when you’re at work (not having emotional outbursts in front of your boss), control spending money if you’re strapped, control to handle your daily work.

I experienced to loose control of nearly any important piece of my life.

To balance online and offline life (our body lives offline and we will die offline, children are born offline), I prefer to do hiking tours when I’m disconnected from the internet. In the nature I can relax, get fresh air, free thinking and develope ideas. I can forget things at least for a short time stressing me. Keeping my sleep hygiene under control means I need to go in bed early enough if I have an appointment or work to do the next day.

Depending on the amount of support in everydaylife, some of us need a job to survive. It’s nice to have special interests like video games or writing hundreds of blog entries. Are they sufficient to earn money with it? Some people with autism are working as game developers, others are writing books or drawing cartoons. Even someone who has a spleen to identify train types may work someday at a railway company. I was fascinated by weather and studied meteorology.

In my opinion, it’s even possible as a person with autism or genetically determined difficulties with impulse control, not to use autism as an excuse to loose control but to look for possibilities to stay fit for everydaylife. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a world where everybody is taking care of your difficulties. Unfortunately, there are still situations where we need these offline skills like having a phone call with officials, going shopping, having a job interview, etc.

I certainly know it’s not easy to learn it, especially when your neurologic package is enhanced by anxiety, traumatic experience and depression.

If I look back, I know it’s possible to increase life quality and still remaining in contact with all online contacts I won in the recent couple of years. Life quality for me includes physical health (enough sport, balanced food, enough sleep), the feeling of well-being when I’m hiking alone in the mountains, as well as managing the to-do-list of necessary and rarely loved things in everydaylife. Sometimes, I fail doing so but I don’t blame myself for it. I know I’m more rapidly exhausted as a neurodiverse person. It’s ok to fail.

*

A minor remark on the opinion online addictive behavior is an artificial diagnose to create a lucrative profession for therapists

I had rather negative experience coming with a suspicion of a diagnosis. „You can’t have it.“ – „It’s something different. You pretend to have it“ – „It doesn’t exist, it’s just fiction to feed the pharma industry.“

A lot of people with autism and attention-deficit disorder will experience that, too, especially when it comes to seek for a diagnosis and disclosure afterwards. For those of us having doubts about potential addictive behavior with internet, don’t deny to have had these experiences.

Whether the term addictive behavior and standard therapy to reduce it without taking the environment into account, is the right path when you benefit from more internet usage than the average population, is another question to discuss. However, there are much more than us really suffering from it, or having had at least a history of negative impact (like myself). I’m able to admit that and try to focus on the advantages now and in the future.

Neueste wissenschaftliche Erkenntnisse über 47,XXY und Klinefelter-Syndrom (2015)

Vor kurzem ist ein neuer wissenschaftlicher Artikel aus Dänemark erschienen, und zwar von Skakkebaek et al. (2015). Er trägt den Titel

Neuropsychology and socioeconomic aspects of Klinefelter syndrome: new developments

Die Absicht der Autoren war, vom Hörensagen und kleinen Studien wegzugehen und stattdessen die neuesten Artikel mit groß angelegten Studien zusammenzufassen. Daher gibt es kaum Erwähnungen von Genderidentität, Reizfilterschwäche und anderen Themen, zu denen es bisher kaum Studien gibt. Die Autoren sind Teil einer großen Klinik mit mehr als 300 Betroffenen und haben im Laufe der vergangenen Jahre beträchtliches klinisches Wissen angesammelt. Entsprechend konnten sie große klinische Studien mit Klinefelter-Betroffenen durchführen.

Zusammenfassung

Blau markiert eigene Anmerkungen

Verbaler Ausdruck, Verhalten und psychische Begleitdiagnosen

Die Mehrheit der XXY-Menschen hat Defizite bei den verbalen Fähigkeiten, entsprechend sind die IQ-Werte auch leicht unterdurchschnittlich. Am häufigsten sind eine verzögerte Sprachentwicklung im Kindesalter, generelle Lernbehinderungen beim Lesen und Buchstabieren, flüssigem Sprechen, bei Satzbau, Wortfindung, Verständnis und Entschlüsselung mündlicher Informationen sowie eine verzögerte Verarbeitung des Gesagten. Ebenso sind die Exekutivfunktionen betroffen (Aufmerksamkeit, Pläne machen, Anpassungsfähigkeit der Impulskontrolle (response inhibition flexibility).

Im Gegensatz dazu gibt es keine Beeinträchtigung im räumlichen und visuellen Sehen sowie des Leistungs-IQ (performance IQ). Studien des amerikanischen Kinderpsychiaters Jay Giedd zeigen sogar, dass das visuelle und räumliche Denken der XXY eine Stärke ist. Viele XXY haben außerdem ein gutes Bildergedächtnis.

XXY-Menschen weisen ein charakteristisches Persönlichkeitsprofil auf, das aus höherer emotionaler Instabilität (Neurotizismus) und geringerer Extrovertiertheit, Offenheit gegenüber Erfahrungen und Pflichtbewusstsein besteht. Einzelbeobachtungen von XXY-Menschen bestätigen das – Ängstlichkeit, erhöhe emotionale Erregbarkeit, emotionale Schwierigkeiten, Schüchternheit, ruhiges, passives, verschlossenes Verhalten und Schwierigkeiten im Umgang mit Veränderungen treten gehäuft auf.

Bei XXY werden generell gehäuft Depressionen diagnostiziert ( 70 % bei XXY vs. 35 % bei der Normalbevölkerung), Autismus (11-27 % vs. 2-3 % bei Buben und Männern) sowie ADHS (63 % vs. 5 %), ebenso Angsterkrankungen und Schizophrenie. XXY leiden häufiger unter psychischem Stress und höherer emotionaler Instabilität, was zu Depressionen und Angsterkrankungen beiträgt.

Unterschiede in den Gehirnregionen

  • Das Gesamtgehirnvolumen sowie die der grauen und weißen Materie sind deutlich kleiner.
  • Ebenfalls kleiner sind die des Schläfenlappens, Hippocampus und der Amygdala.
  • Außer einer Studie zeigen alle keine Korrelation zwischen Gehirnvolumen und kognitiver Leistung. Bedeutender scheinen daher kleinräumigere Gehirnunterschiede.
  • XXY-Menschen zeigen eine verringerte Aktivität in den Gehirnregionen, die mit der Verarbeitung von Gesichtsausdruck (untere Schläfenregionen) und des limbischen Systems (Amygdala, Insula) zusammenhängen.

Inwiefern die Herkunft des X-Chromosoms von Mutter oder Vater, die Inaktivierung des zweiten X-Chromosoms und die CAG-Repeat-Länge des Androgen-Rezeptors eine Rolle spielen, ist noch ungeklärt.

Bildung, Lebensstandard, Sterblichkeit und Kriminalität

Zahlreiche Studien deuten darauf hin, dass Verhaltensauffälligkeiten, Lernbehinderungen, niedrige Bildungsabschlüsse und Kriminalität vorhanden sind. Ebenso führen viele aber auch ein normales Leben und der Einfluss der Klinefelter-Syndroms verringert sich mit fortschreitendem Alter. Das soziale Umfeld und frühzeitiges Eingreifen sind sehr wichtig. In Ländern und Regionen mit wenig erfahrenen Spezialisten ist der therapeutische Nutzen möglicherweise weniger zufriedenstellend, und im zunehmenden Alter können sich depressive Verstimmungen und Ängste eher verschlimmern.

XXY-Menschen sind deutlich seltener in einer Beziehung, gehen später in eine solche und werden seltener und später Vater. Immerhin 25 % der in Dänemark registrierten XXY-Männer sind Vater geworden, vermutlich großteils aufgrund von Spendersamen.

Niedrige Bildungsabschlüsse führen zu geringerem Einkommen während der gesamten Lebenszeit, viele scheiden vorzeitig aus dem Arbeitsleben aus (43,5 versus 60,3 Jahre). Die Sterblichkeit ist fast doppelt so hoch, wenngleich teilweise durch Zusammenleben mit dem Partner und Bildungsabschluss beeinflusst (ohne diese weniger auffällig). Die Kriminalität war generell unauffälliger, wenn man den sozialen und wirtschaftlichen Hintergrund berücksichtigt hat.

Nur 25 % der XXY werden diagnostiziert, die Mehrheit erst im Erwachsenenalter.

Daraus resultieren zahlreiche Probleme:

1. Alle derzeitigen XXY-Studien unterliegen möglicherweise einem Selektionsdruck und das derzeitige Wissen umfasst nicht die nichtdiagnostizierten Fälle.

2. 90 % der XXY bleiben bis zum 15. Lebensalter unentdeckt; damit wird ein wichtiges Fenster verpasst, wo man Symptome korrigieren oder abschwächen kann.

3. Das derzeitige Diagnoseverfahren sollte geändert werden, und ein neues eingeführt werden, z.B. XXY durch den Guthrie-Test bei Neugeborenen zu diagnostizieren.

Eine frühzeitige Diagnose kann dazu beitragen, die kognitiven Funktionen, Lernen, verbale Fähigkeiten und Verhalten zu verbessern, vorausgesetzt, die frühzeitige Testosteronergänzungstherapie ist effizient und neuropsychologische Intervention vor der Pubertät effektiv.

Ebenso kann die körperliche Gesundheit verbessert werden, da eine erhöhte Gefahr für Typ-2-Diabetes, metabolisches Syndrom und Osteoporose bestehen.

Schlussfolgerung:

Der neurokognitive Phänotyp des Klinefelter-Syndroms ist klar abnormal und die Notwendigkeit psychologischer und kognitiver Behandlung ist in vielen Fällen offensichtlich. Abnormal mag aus klinischer Sicht richtig sein, aus Sicht eines XXY würde ich trotz aller Probleme VERSCHIEDEN sagen.

***

Weitere (eigene) Anmerkungen:

1. In der Genetik und Verhaltenswissenschaft konzentriert man sich normalerweise auf Defizitdenken bei genetischen Anomalien, dennoch wäre es für uns Betroffene hilfreich, wenn man auch Stärken und positive Eigenschaften hervorheben würde.

2. Die große Mehrheit dieser Studien verwendet den Begriff „Männer oder Buben mit Klinefelter-Syndrom“, womit stets eine Minderheit an XXY-Menschen vernachlässigt wird, die sich nicht als Männer identifiziert. Entweder weil sie intersexuell geboren wurden, oder als Transgender, die als Heranwachsender oder Erwachsener später als Frau durchgehen wollen. Andere identifizieren sich zwar als Mann, aber lehnen die Maskulinisierung durch die Testosterontherapie dennoch ab. Ein paar XXY haben außerdem das Androgen-Insensitivitäts-Syndrom (CAIS) und Testosterontherapie ist für sie keine geeignete Therapie. In der XXY-Community wird heftig darüber gestritten, ob ein frühzeitiges Eingreifen durch Testosterontherapie für alle XXY-Kinder einen Nutzen darstellt, da Transgender oder Personen, die nicht maskulinisiert werden wollen, mitunter nicht dafür geeignet sind oder stattdessen sogar eine Östrogentherapie benötigen. In diesen Fällen scheint der Begriff Klinefelter-Syndrom (der sich auf Hypogonadismus = Testosterondefizit bezieht) nicht angemessen.

Auf meine Nachfrage haben die Autoren geantwortet, dass sie bisher ein paar XXY-Menschen trafen, die schwul sind und sehr wenige als intersex und transgender identifizieren. Dennoch zeigt ihre Forschung keine Hinweise darauf, dass dies häufiger bei XXY als unter Männern allgemein vorkommt. In ihrer Klinik betreuen sie auch Transgender und CAIS-Menschen und sind daher im Umgang mit dieser Patientengruppe vertraut.

Sie raten zur Testosteronergänzung nicht als Allheilmittel, sondern zu einer maßgeschneiderten Therapie für den Einzelnen. Manche erhalten Spritzen, andere Gelanwendung auf die Haut. Sie raten außerdem jedem dazu, beide Formen zu benutzen, um zu entscheiden, was das beste für den einzelnen Patienten ist.

3. Die Reizfilterschwäche wird bisher nur stiefmütterlich in der Forschung behandelt. Es gibt darüber bisher nur eine Studie, die bestätigt, dass Reizfilterschwäche bei XXY gehäuft auftritt.

Van Rijn et al, Psychophysiological Markers of Vulnerability to Psychopathology in Men with an Extra X Chromosome (XXY), PLoS ONE, 6(5): 2011

Bei AXYS gibt es dazu einen Handout über sensory processing disorder sowie zahlreiche Berichte über motorische Schwierigkeiten, die ebenfalls bekräftigen, dass die Reizverarbeitung bei XXY anders funktioniert. Umfragen in der XXY-Community zeigen außerdem, dass sich die Reizsensitivität nicht nur auf Geräusche beschränkt, sondern alle Sinne umfasst, ebenso Sehen (Bewegungen), Geruch/Geschmack und Berührungen. Viele XXY sind außerdem emotional sehr sensibel bis hochsensibel („6. Sinn“).

Verbale Defizite, Sensibilität und Motorik („Sensomotorik“) zählen zu den wichtigsten Merkmale des autistischen Spektrums. Mitunter handelt es sich bei XXY um einen möglichen spezifischen Subtyp der breiten „Autismus-Landschaft“, der eher dem weiblichen Autismus ähnelt:

Furthermore, when analyzing results of the SRS, girls were found to have more difficulty with comprehending social cues, such as understanding the tones or facial expressions of others, understanding jokes or idioms and how to engage in a two-way conversation. Boys were found to have deficits in those domains as well as in the realm of repetitive and self-stimulatory behaviors, such as hand flapping, body rocking or scripted talk. (Quelle)

Brain, behavior and life of XXY people: a new study (2015)

The entire title of the paper is „Neuropsychology and socioeconomic aspects of Klinefelter syndrome: new developments“ by Skakkebaek et al. (2015)

I will summarize the most important findings of the paper and will add some points I missed to be discussed.

Behavior, psychiatric conditions and brain differences:

Verbal abilities are most severely affected, IQ scores are slightly lower than average.

The majority suffers from …

  • delayed early language development
  • general learning disabilities in reading and spelling
  • impairments with production of syntax, phonemic processing, word retrieval, comprehension, encoding verbal information and decreased processing speed, verbal fluency
  • executive dysfunctions related to attention, response inhibition flexibility and planning

In contrast, visiospatial function and performance IQ seem to be unaffected. (1)

There is a charateristic personality profile of XXY people, displaying a higher level of neuroticism (emotional instability) and lower levels of extraversion, openness to experience and conscientiousness.

These data are confirmed by anecdotal descriptions revealing

  • anxiety
  • increased emotional arousal
  • serious emotional difficulties
  • being unassertive
  • quiet
  • passive with withdrawn behaviour
  • having difficulties in approaching new events

Psychiatric conditions associated with XXY

  • Depression (35 % in general population, 70 % in XXY)
  • Anxiety
  • Schizophrenia
  • Autism (prevalence of 1 % in the general population, 11-27 % in XXY)
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity syndrome (5 % in general, 63 % in XXY)

XXY is often associated with increased level of psychological distress. Higher levels of emotional instability contribute to increased risk of depression and anxiety.

Brain differences

  • Global brain volume, total brain volume, total gray and white matter volumes were found to be significantly smaller in XXY.
  • Volumes of temporal lobe, hippocampus and amygdala were also smaller.
  • All studies except one didn’t find any correlation between cognitive performance scores and brain volumes.

It is assumed that microchanges of brain structures are more important.

Van Rijn examined the brain activity during social judgements of faces and found that XXY people had decreased activity in brain regions related to face processing (inferior temporal regions) and to the limbic system (amygdala, insula). Two other studies found that decreased language activation and/or decreased language lateralization in the posterior temporal language regions were present.

There is still uncertainty about the exact mechanisms of parental origin of the extra X chromsoome, X-chromosome inactivation and androgen recepter CAG repeat length.

Education, living, mortality and criminality

Several studies suggest that behavioral problems, learning disorders, poor educational outcome and criminal conduct could be seen.

It is also emphasized that many led normal lives and the impact of syndromal effects subsided with advancing age. (2)

XXY men  …

  • have significantly fewer partnerships
  • enter later into such partnerships
  • achieve fewer fatherhoods and for those who had luck they occur later

However, at least 25 % of all Danish Klinefelter Syndrome were registered as fathers, probably mostly due to donor semen donation.

Data also show that …

  • educational level is low leading to a lower income throughout their lifetime and that many retire early (43,5 vs. 60,3 years)
  • mortality is almost doubled, partly influenced by cohabitation and educational status (without them, less prominent)
  • criminality is enhanced for sexual abuse, arson, burglary and ‚other offenses‘ but decreased for traffic crimes (3)

If the social and economic background is taken into account, the risk is generally reduced.

XXY are relatively seldom diagnosed…. There are long delays and frequent-false negatives. Only about 25 % are diagnosed, and the majority has to wait until adulthood.

Several problems follow:

1. all current XXY studies may have selection bias and the present knowledge may not cover the undiagnosed cases.

2. 90 % of XXY remain undiagnosed until after 15 years of age, missing an important window of opportunity for correcting or alleviating the symptoms

3. we should change our current diagnostic strategy and introduce a new one, diagnosing XXY on blood from neonatal heel prick test (Guthrie test).

Early diagnosis would improve

  • cognitive functions, learning, verbal abilities and behavior, if it turns out that early testosterone supplementation is efficient, and that neuropsychological intervention before puberty is effective.(4)
  • the unhealthy body composition, with increased risk of type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome seen in adulthood, as well as bone structure.

Future:

Studies are currently missing focusing on proper treatment or intervention to better the phenotype.

neurocognitive deficits, linked to dyslexia and other learning-related problems, may well lead to poor socioal and economic outcome.

A holistic approach is needed.

Conclusion:

The neurocognitive phenotype of Klinefelter syndrome is clearly abnormal (5) and the need for psychological and cognitive treatment in many cases is evident.

*

Remarks on statements:

(1) „visiospatial function“ seems to be unaffected.  Studies by Jay Giedd show that visual and spatial thinking of XXY people are actually a strength of their thinking architecture. So, visiospatial function isn’t only normal but better pronounced. A lot of XXY people have a good visual memory.

(2) The social environment and intervention is very important. In countries and regions with poor density of experienced specialists, therapeutic outcome will be probably less satisfying, and increasing age could strengthen depressive mood and anxiety.

(3) The enhanced risk to commit crimes of sexual abuse [and arson] could probably be related to inappropriate testosterone supplement therapy. Overdosing testosterone might enhance emotional instability and overemphasize masculine behavior of males. It would be interesting to know whether the participants were already taking testosterone supplements and whether on a daily basis (self-medication) or in larger intervals (injections).

(4) It is important to emphasize that testosterone supplement is neither a one-cure-for-everything therapy nor necessarily suited for all children and adolescents. See additional remarks.

(5) The neurocognitive phenotype of Klinefelter syndrome is clearly DIFFERENT.

Additional remarks:

1. Though I know that science in genetics and behavior usually concentrates on deficit thinking in genetic anomalies, it would be helpful for us affected persons to highlight strengths and positive outcome. Anecdotal descriptions reveal enhanced sense of creativity, sensitivity, social justice, honesty, enhanced detail perception, good visual memory/long-term memory, good with animals.

2. In the vast majority of these studies and papers, the term „men or boys with Klinefelter syndrome“ is used, neglecting a minority of XXY people who do not identify as men, for different reasons… Either there are born intersex, or born as transgender preferring to transition into female later as a teenager or adult. Some identify as male but don’t feel well with masculinization through testosterone supplement therapy, either. A few XXY are also reported to have androgen insensitivity syndrome and testosterone therapy will probably not work for them.

One of the most difficult and heavily discussed topics in the XXY community is whether early intervention with testosterone therapy is a benefit for all XXY children, as transgender or persons who don’t want to be masculinized may not be suited to receive additional testosterone or even require estrogen therapy instead.  In these cases, the term Klinefelter’s syndrome referring to hypogonadism (testosterone deficit) doesn not seem to be appropriate.

I hope we – as XXY community and individuals – are able to convince the scientific community to put more focus on gender identity in XXY before recommending one-size-fit-all-cures for young XXY.

3. I missed some lines about sensory processing disorder. There is only one study about that:

Van Rijn et al, Psychophysiological Markers of Vulnerability to Psychopathology in Men with an Extra X Chromosome (XXY), PLoS ONE, 6(5): 2011

confirming sensory gating disorder in XXY (in other words, XXY often have difficulties to filter out background noise/distraction)

The existence of a handout about sensory processing disorder on AXYS as well as several reports about motoric difficulties suggest that sensory processing and integration disorder is likely to be common in XXY.

Anecdotal evidence is furthermore given about enhanced sensitivity to sensory stimuli like noise, light, motions, smell/taste and touch suggesting a crucial commonality with autism spectrum conditions. One should probably think of XXY as possible specific subtype of the large autism landscape.

7 months of research: a personal review

This blog entry is a translation of „Über 8000 Zugriffe: Zeit für ein Resumee“.

I started researching XXY in April 2014 and began this blog on 8th May 2014. The most surprising facts have been the following:

XXY is not necessarily Klinefelter’s syndrome

Klinefelter’s syndrome describes possible effects of testosterone deficit. In addition to that, a certain number of people with additional X chromosome are not suited for testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) because they have normal testosterone values, they are happy with their body or they do not even identify as males. The only communality is the additional X chromosome. Moreover it should be emphasized that XXY people are more than just a syndrome (as the term „Klinefelter males“ suggests), they have strengths.

Emotional distress is not exclusively connected to testosterone deficit and infertility

Different polls and studies revealed the association between depressions and testosterone deficit is rather indirectly given. TRT improves energy, endurance and general well-being with most (not all) XXY but serious effects may arise from communication difficulties like identification of facial expressions (e.g. sad versus angry) and interpreting tone of the voice (prosody). Misunderstandings and difficulties to maintain relationship with others often result. Research also showed that the ability to put oneself in the other’s shoes („theory of mind“) is also impaired but mainly „for the moment“ as processing time is delayed in XXY. Impaired impulse control and executive functions (consequences of actions, processing new information, sudden changes) add to the daily challenges of many XXY.

Many XXY have sensory gating disorder

Polls in XXY forums and groups, personal communication and my own experience, as well as at least one research study suggest enhanced prevalence for sensory gating disorder in XXY, in a wider sense called as sensory processing disorder encompassing sense of balance as well as motoric skills. The most affected sense seem to be hearing (oversensitivity to noise) and vision (sensitivty to flickering and bright light) but occasionally touch and smell are also reported.

Psychiatric diagnoses like ADHD and autism have higher prevalence in XXY

Commonly, a large number of unknown XXY cases is assumed to be present and it is difficult to estimate the overall number of co-morbid ADHD, autism and further psychiatric conditions. Depending on studies (mostly with relatively small numbers of participants and lacking statistical evidence), 60-80 % of XXY have additional ADHD, with about 50 % inattentive subtype (quiet, not hyperactive but often distracted). In 30-50 %, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is diagnosed – with all subtypes like PDD-NOS (e.g. 30 % in the Netherlands), Asperger’s syndrome as well as high functional autism – which gives further evidence that intelligence in XXY is not lower but even higher than average.

There is a study about stigmatization of children with ADHD through labels which reveals that parents are mostly concerned about the symptomes but the diagnose itself barely enhances the stigma. The possibility to benefit from therapeutical support and services compensates this fear.

According to DSM-V and latest research (see e.g. Temple Grandin, The autistic brain), sensory gating disorder, avoiding eye contact and executive dysfunctions are core symptomes of autism. It might be assumed that the majority of XXY therefore shows autistic-like symptomes and traits and are rather on the autistic spectrum than on the neurotypical spectrum (feel free to test yourself here).

Conflicting information about the use of testosterone injections versus transdermal (gel) applications

Current state for me has been the statement that viable sperm is mostly available during puberty and adolesence but this ability will be increasingly lost between 20 and 30. US studies show viable sperm even in adulthood which partly depends on the application before. Injections result in too rapid increasing testosterone values killing remnant sperms while gel application provides lower but constant doses. In USA, aromatase inhibitors are used together with TRT. Aromatase is an enzyme converting testosterone into estrogen (called aromatization). Increasing estrogen increases the risk of gynecomastia and breast tumors. Moreover, inhibited conversion increases endogenous testosterone production helping to maintain fertility with XXY. So far, aromatase inhibitors are used with off-label indication, though, and possible side effects do not seem well studied. Injections show another disadvantage as sudden rise and subsequent decline might favour mood swings (instead of fighting them).

Lack of longitudinal studes in all areas of XXY

Considering possible effects of testosterone deficit in XXY, like diabetes, osteoporosis, poor muscle mass as well as social behavior and general well-being, statistic significant long-term studies are missing so far. Most studies refer to cross-sections (at a certain point of time) but with inhomogenous treatment. The only long-term study has not been controlled by placebos.  Most indications for improvements by TRT refer to men with normal chromosome type (46,XY). Anecdotal evidence is also given for XXY males with respect to libido, energy, endurance and attention.

Negative feedback can be mostly deduced to incompetent medical treatment (lacking knowledge of the physician) as XXY specials are rather seldom worldwide. The few XXY specialists have only few XXY patients and might underestimate the degree of the XXY spectrum. Inappropiate treatment also occurres with XXY who do not identify as males.

Intersexuality might be but has not to be present

Leading associations and support groups often ignore this taboo: In contrast to XY, XXY humans rather have a female body composition and tend to be emotionally more sensitive than XY males. Intersexuality might be present anatomically but also males who do not idenfity as males.  They all belong to the XXY spectrum and discussion about intersexuality should not be excluded in support groups and organisations.

Both genes and hormones serve as cause for XXY traits

A large number of genes is situated on the X chromosome influencing the neural brain development. The second X chromosome with remaining active genes enhances the number of active X chromosome genes in general (so-called gene dosage effect). Further genes have been identified to affect the physical phenotype of XXY.

Regarding testosterone deficit, there are barely any measurements of prenatal testosterone values. Anecdotal evidence exists for testosterone deficit during mini puberty (small penis and missing genitals) in the first three months after birth, as well as during puberty and later in adulthood. Evidence for testosterone deficit in fetus might be given by measuring the 2D:4D ratio of finger lengths. It correlates with the relation of estradiol to testosterone during fetus stage. A more reliable estimations originates from measuring the ano-scrotal distance. Studies show conflicting results, though. 

Conclusion:

Independent of temporal occurrence of testosterone deficit, the second X chromosome is always present and researchers still do not know which genes are still active and responsible for the diversity of the XXY spectrum, e.g. XXY showing strong testosterone deficits and weak deficits, showing strong and weak autistic traits, some having gynecomastia and dyslexia and others not.

Both genes and hormones contribute to the brain development and brain differences have also been found in XXY.

Certain strengths and talents seem to be more prevalent in XXY

XXY pay more attentation to details, tend to think in pictures or patterns, and are often creative people. Deficits in communication and social interaction with peers might result in strengths like attending to special interests and becoming experts in their fields. XXY are mathematicians, graphic designers, photographers, artists and musicians as well as engineers. Apart from their profession, XXY are often said to be more sensitive, having a great sense for social injustice, honesty (to the degree of bluntness), long-term memory as well as love to animals.

Summary

XXY is a genetic variation adding another facet of diversity to XX and XY. XXY often comes along with sensory processing disorders affecting one or more senses. Sensory gating disorder also allows for a sharpened glance to details and is possibly responsible for improved long-term memory skills anchoring the information. As a result, XXY may accumulate large amounts of knowledge in their area of interest (too much incoming information needs large memory storage).

Only few of us will be able to reproduce, to forward genes but – in the context of advocates for abortion and prenatal gene tests – we still have a right to live! Parents will never decide FOR their kids whether they want to have kids later, neither with XX nor with XY. Having kids will be the private matter of the kid. Some XXY decide for donor sperm or adoption. Nature always finds a way raising children – even if it’s not the own child.

My hope and engagement for the future:

I wish an open-minded and frank discussion within the XXY spectrum but also between XXY and practising physicians. Scientific evidence is given that XXY is much more than what is told by many local support groups and testosterone treatment appears to be more complex than suggested by specialists. In some countries like the Netherlands, specialists already work together successfully, i.e., researchers, psychiatrists, psychologists, endocrinologists and urologists and neurologists. XXY is more than just replacing a hormone deficit. Its certainly not a one-size-fits-all condition. We need individual treatment! Confidence in the treatment is very important and sometimes the sole sheet anchor for XXY who have to deal with difficulties at so many levels. The most important thing for me is, however, being appreciated for my strengths and talents. Comprehension and accomodation make it easier to overcome the difficulties in communication and interaction.