Talk:Autism/Archive 3

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Increase in autism[edit]

From the article: There has been an explosion worldwide in reported cases of autism over the last ten years. In the last decade, the population of the United States has increased by 13%. There has been an increase in non-autism-related disabilities of 16%. The increase in autism diagnoses is 173%.
However, the accompanying chart seems to suggest numbers that are a lot larger. How come? Junes 07:50, 24 August 2005 (UTC)

Great catch! Those statistics are based on the twenty-first report to congress by the U.S. department of education (which was probably in one of the references). Anyway, I updated the passage with newer numbers and clarified the source of statistics in the image --Ryan Norton T | @ | C 10:02, 24 August 2005 (UTC)
I think it's a little confusing and would be much improved by replacing it with data that simply shows the number of diagnosed cases per year. Tempshill 16:54, 24 August 2005 (UTC)
I can do that in the image - would you suggest doing the same in the article or stating the percentage of what the image shows in the article? --Ryan Norton T | @ | C 17:44, 24 August 2005 (UTC)
OK, I think I did a decent job this time - now I'm using a numerically-based image and I just reworded the first paragraph to not use statistics... --Ryan Norton T | @ | C 18:13, 24 August 2005 (UTC)

This is an Excellent page.


(My stepson has Aspergers...)


This article is very long. 12:56, 24 August 2005 (UTC)

I'm 22 years old, and I'm still autistic. This has always been an issue for me, and evidently, there is no known cure. I don't see how I can cope with it. Cedric J. Lessig 10:50 pm, 27 Jan 2006

How can autistic people like me get health insurance? —Gm1121983 2:53 pm, 21 March 2006

Dr Patricia Rodier, And Her Research Into Brain Stem/HOX Gene Links[edit]

First of all, forgive me if my edit is not up to usual Wikipedia standards, as I am a complete newcomer and have only just created an account! However, I was compelled to add to the talk discussion on this article. Under the section on "Brain Trauma", there is no mention of Dr Patricia Rodier and her work on the connections between the microstructures (and deviations from the norm thereof) of the brain stem and autistic spectrum conditions. Her work was covered in great detail in an article in Scientific American (issue dated January 2000), said article having been made public domain: the article is called The Early Origins Of Autism (click link to be taken to the article, and note that the text formatting on that page is not conducive to easy reading!). I have been in touch recently with Dr Rodier, and from her correspondence was motivated to contact Siemens Medical with respect to the possibility that MRI scanners may have the necessary resolution to home in on these brain structure changes as a diagnostic tool. Siemens Medical kindly sent me (via snail mail) a huge sheaf of documentation covering their MRI scanner systems, and scanner technology is, according to this documentation, approaching the resolution needed for such an application. I would consider it appropriate to add references to Dr Rodier and her work in this article (at the moment my editing skills are insufficient for me to undertake this task) and so if there is anyone associated with this page who could perform the requisite editing while maintaining the high standard of the article, I would be grateful for their time and effort in this endeavour.

The article expands upon the brain stem changes and couples them to HOX genes, said coupling having been demonstrated experimentally in the laboratory using transgenic mice. Again, an addition to the article mentioning this would be welcome.

As for my own compelling interest in this topic - I was diagnosed in late adult life with an autistic spectrum condition. As can be seen from the above, it need not necessarily constitute a cognitive impairment! Calilasseia 13:20, 24 August 2005 (UTC)

Kim Peek appropriateness?[edit]

Is the inclusion of Kim Peek appropriate in this article? As the Kim Peek article says, "Kim Peek was born with macrocephaly and missing corpus callosum." This is not autism. Or, rather, he may be autistic, too, but these other problems are not problems of autistics. And his picture is on the front page of Wikipedia in the context of the autism article. Tempshill 17:21, 24 August 2005 (UTC)

Yes, the picture choice was unfortunate (I thought the temple gradin one or one of the others would get picked). Also, I'm fairly sure that Peek is not behaviourally autistic either... which makes it even more peculiar. IIRC the Rain Main movie took Kim Peek as an example and modified it to be an autistic savant, thus the confusion (I'm not sure who modified the caption to read an autistic savant but I really do not believe its accurate...). --Ryan Norton T | @ | C 17:39, 24 August 2005 (UTC)
OK, I fixed the factual error in the image caption --Ryan Norton T | @ | C 18:13, 24 August 2005 (UTC)
What is the source that Kim Peek was (impliedly) the chief inspiration for Rainman? I attended a discussion led by Dr. Rimland several years ago, in which he said that his own son was a major model for Dustin Hoffman in portraying Raymond. Dr. Rimland said that his son's first reaction to meeting Hoffman in person was to tell him "You look older than your picture." -- Cecropia | explains it all ® 18:53, 24 August 2005 (UTC)
I'll source that too I guess --Ryan Norton T | @ | C 22:14, 24 August 2005 (UTC)

Word Choice?[edit]

Would it be more correct to say "Persons with Autism" rather than "Autistics" ? I remember when I worked at a tutoring center for children with Down's, Tourette's, Autism, we had to say "Children with Autism" and such (As the main teacher would say: "They're people first, Autism is part of who they are.")

Just a question :) User:Kvidell

Actually, "persons with autism" is offensive to autistics. It would be like saying "persons with deafness" or "persons with homosexuality" or "persons with left-handedness". --Jose
  • Autism is sort of an exception to the rule, as autistics is a more well-known term. For example, even on Asperger's syndrome you'd say "People with Asperger's syndrome", but the term autistics is so well known and is a dictionary term in a lot of dictionaries that it is generally more expected to say autistic rather than "People with autism". --Ryan Norton T | @ | C 00:02, 25 August 2005 (UTC)
The way I understand it: Some autistic people prefer to be called "autistics" or "autistic people" because person-with language is used for illnesses (a person with AIDS, for instance.) It gives the impression that the autism is something that can be removed. --Bluejay Young 18:31, 15 September 2005 (UTC)

It might make sense, but then we use person-with language on the Asperger's page. Some people might get offended, but then many more will simply not understand if we use "aspie" or something. Ryan Norton T | @ | C 19:03, 15 September 2005 (UTC)

Most parents I've worked with prefer child with autism to "autistic" -- I can't say it's "generally more expected" to say "autistics." And I don't know that saying "person with" gives the impression that autism can be removed -- i.e., person with diabetes, person with artificial limbs...

Certainly, the parents prefer "child with autism". They want to believe that the child exists separately from his or her neurology. I'm not saying that what the parents want doesn't matter, but they have to face reality sooner or later. --Bluejay Young 21:38, 18 December 2005 (UTC)
Please don't generalize too much -- I'm a parent of a person on the spectrum, and my wife and I strongly prefer the "autistic person" form (as does our offspring), and do many other parents we are in touch with through various blogs and forums. -- DaveSeidel 00:48, 19 December 2005 (UTC)
I think it comes down to choice. I've been diagnosed with autism since 1970 and I use both forms. Among autistics, that's what I say and how I think of myself but when I talk to professionals and parents I usually use the 'person with' form so that people don't get hung up by terminology but listen to what I have to say. (Lindsay Weekes, 24 September 2005)

OK - I did a bit of cleanup on this subject and explained it in the text also. Ryan Norton T | @ | C 09:23, 24 September 2005 (UTC)

As a reference to readers, see the person-first terminology article. Neurodivergent 20:42, 15 December 2005 (UTC)

I think this reflects part of the controversy: whether autism is a trait (difference) or a handicap (deficit). I don't think we can resolve this issue here, but the article needs to make it clear there are two different ways to see it. I'm not sure, but I imagine something can be gleaned from the way deaf people view things. --Leifern 01:03, 19 December 2005 (UTC)

I think the reason Asperger's Syndrome is treated differently is because it's two words. There are some people who feel the terms "aspergian" or "aspergic" are appropriate, however many others feel that AS is just another flavour of autism and any new term would be redundant. I personally describe myself using the terms "I was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome" and therefore "I am autistic" or "I am an Aspie". I almost never say "I have AS". If anything, it has me. :-/ 14:35, 12 January 2006 (UTC)
The primary distinction in this case is not the word itself but rather wether one uses "am"/"is" or "have" when refering to Autism/Aspergers. Am and is imply a personality (a concept I agree with being an Aspie) where as have impyls a disease that can be cured. I really quite like User: sentiment that AS has me. Symmetric Chaos 12:31, 28 February 2006 (UTC)

The Kim Peek Photo[edit]

I would like to register a complaint about using the Kim Peek photo for the front page of Wikipedia. The photo plays to the prejudice that people with a disability or exceptionality are, of necessity, "odd" looking. This affirms in the popular mind that "different" means "abnormal" in a readily identifiable physical sense, which leads to a very unhelpful objectification of human beings. Some disabilities are accompanied by physical manifestations, some are not. Autism does not have any characteristic appearance. Why did we not use the picture of Temple Grandin, who is quite deeply autistic, or of the "little professor"? -- Cecropia | explains it all ® 18:48, 24 August 2005 (UTC)

I agree. The choice of that picture is unfortunate. Guettarda 18:59, 24 August 2005 (UTC)
I don't know... maybe I should talk to Raul about it? --Ryan Norton T | @ | C 22:10, 24 August 2005 (UTC)
Well, it's water over the dam now, but I'm not sure Raul would have used it if he had thought about it. -- Cecropia | explains it all ® 22:12, 24 August 2005 (UTC)
Considering Kim Peek is the most famous autistic person, I don't really see what there is to object to. If the featured article was "President of the United States", I would probably use a picture of George Bush, because despite the fact that he's truely awful (in my not-so-neutral point of view) it's clearly related. For the same reason, Kim Peek was the obvious choice of the pictures on this page. →Raul654 23:57, August 24, 2005 (UTC)
Also, while I'm on the subject, we're supposed to avoid fair use images on the main page, which automatically excludes 3 of the 5 photos in this article. →Raul654 00:02, August 25, 2005 (UTC)
Except Kim Peek is not technically autistic (its an unfortunate incident in history that the rain man character was modified)... also the temple gradin photo is not fair use IIRC. Anyway, thanks for your hard work Raul :). --Ryan Norton T | @ | C 00:04, 25 August 2005 (UTC)
Um, yes, Kim Peek is autistic - he's an autistic savant. Hell, his own article says so. →Raul654 00:06, August 25, 2005 (UTC)
Yes, and that was wrong too which I changed hours ago... --Ryan Norton T | @ | C 00:12, 25 August 2005 (UTC)
It appears you are in fact correct [2], so I've reverted back to your version. →Raul654 00:22, August 25, 2005 (UTC)
When did Kim Peek become "the most famous autistic person"? In the community of those familiar with autism, I would say Temple Grandin is the "most famous." -- Cecropia | explains it all ® 07:37, 25 August 2005 (UTC)
Kim Peek is possibly more familiar to those who are not familiar with autism, maybe (despite it being a common misperception/stereotype). Even though Temple Grandin is more well-known to professionals/autistics I think when a lot of normal people think autism they think of the movie "rain man". An interesting conversation, though - as I thought Temple Grandin was more well-known worldwide now... goes to show something about the staying power of hollywood I guess :) --Ryan Norton T | @ | C 08:40, 25 August 2005 (UTC)
I'm an Asperger autistic, I've been reading about autism since '84, and I never heard of Kim Peek. When Rain Man came out, I read that the character was based on several people including a pair of autistic savant twins (George and Charles, Oliver Sacks wrote about them) and Joe Sullivan. Hoffman actually got to know Sullivan and a couple of other autistics as well as Kim Peek. As Peek is not autistic I agree that the picture should be changed, and I agree with the suggestion that Temple Grandin's picture should be used since she is autistic, a public figure, and as ar as I know, non-controversial. --Bluejay Young 18:47, 15 September 2005 (UTC)

Facilitated communication[edit]

Woa, woa, woa! Where the heck is the section on Facilitated communication? this was a huge "leap" in communication for those with autism; schools were set up, classes trained, methods implemented. However in double blind studies years later proved it completely bunk. This isn't a moot issue for autism, this was a Big Deal(tm). There should be something on it in here. JoeSmack (talk) 23:25, August 24, 2005 (UTC)

Well then, this is Wikipedia, the encyclopedia "anyone can edit," soooo.... -- Cecropia | explains it all ® 07:49, 25 August 2005 (UTC)
Be sure to include the fact that facilitated communication does work for a very small number of autistics, as an intro to doing their own typing. The way it works in real life is not very similar to the way it was touted. It was originally developed as a way of helping spastics to type. There are probably some online autistics who can explain how it's used. --Bluejay Young 18:55, 15 September 2005 (UTC)
In fact, I have more to say about FC now that I know someone I trust in my circle of internet acquaintances is using it. If you want to know about valid and legitimate use of FC, go to Ballastexistenz. She not only explains it, but she also explains how some autistic people really can do one-fingered typing without looking at the keyboard. It is a skill, similar to standard touch typing. --Bluejay Young 23:19, 13 May 2006 (UTC)
And if you want to watch her do it, go here:

I think her current address is ballastexistenz at autistics dot org if you have any questions. --Bluejay Young 01:53, 21 May 2006 (UTC)

Kim Peek picture removed[edit]

As discussed it as too little to do with the article to say... for completeness here it is along with the source for the rain man claim...

Kim Peek was the screen writer's inspiration for Dustin Hoffman's character in the film Rain Man, who modified Dustin Hoffman's character to be an autistic savant[1]. Photograph courtesy Darold A. Treffert, M.D., and Wisconsin Medical Society.
  1. ^ "Kim Peek-The Real Rain Man". Retrieved July 30, 2005. 
I've reverted for the reasons I just stated above - Kim Peek *is* the most famous autistic person. It clearly belongs in the article. →Raul654 00:01, August 25, 2005 (UTC)
Again, I ask: in whose estimation? Peek is perhaps the most notable example of what is called "autistic savantism," though that was a sort of PC modification of the prior term, which was "idiot savant." But savantism is exceedingly rare in autism, though it has the most interest among the great unwashed masses. Rainman is a very good movie concerning autism, but in real world terms, Temple Grandin is an actual autistic, was perhaps the first to be able to give insight into autism from the POV of one with a severe case of the disorder. She helped raise autistics from the status of freak-show curiosity, specifically using her autistic skills to create revolutionary (and widely used) methods for the human treatment of food animals. Fame by Hollywood should not be encouraged. -- Cecropia | explains it all ® 07:47, 25 August 2005 (UTC)

A Possible Contributor to the Recent Increase in Autism[edit]

A researcher, Dr. Rochelle Newman, at the University of Maryland recently found that TV background noise slows the development of a baby's ability to distinguish words, such as her/his name. I suggest that this might explain some of the increase in autism. References:


and The Washington Post, April 24, 2005, p. B5 Pdn 03:16, 25 August 2005 (UTC)

Hey, yes -- let's allow perfectly unsubstantiated ideas for causes of autism. Why bother with science and data when you can just read a Washington Post article and figure this all out for yourself?
There's no need to snark. It's a common mistake to confuse language developmental delay with autism, plenty of doctors confuse the two or consider language delay to be "on the spectrum". --Bluejay Young 19:00, 15 September 2005 (UTC)


"Very few physicians today solely use the DSM-IV criteria for determining a diagnosis of autism, which are based on the absence or delay of certain developmental milestones. Many physicians instead use an alternate means (or a combination thereof) to more accurately determine a diagnosis."

"Physicians" ought to be changed to "clinicians" in both cases, yes? Although physicians may at times initially earmark a kid for diagnosis, diagnosing is done by clinical psychologists, not general medical doctors. I've never seen a doctor administer a kid an ADOS at a yearly checkup.

Possibly. Much of that sentence pair is redundant, if there are other means in use then listing them is useful, in whcih case there would need to be a reason to leave the bit about what physicians or clinicians do _not_ do in. For the moment, I boiled down teh current version a bit - "to establish a diagnosis of" is indistinguishable in meaning from "to diagnose" for instance. -->"Few clinicians today use only the DSM-IV criteria, which are based on the absence or delay of certain developmental milestones, to diagnose autism. " TUrning that into "Clinicians today use ..... as well as the DSM-IV..." seems likely to be a further improvement, to me. Should diagnostic criteria be in the History section? Midgley 15:01, 22 March 2006 (UTC)


"There is great diversity in the skills and behaviors of individuals diagnosed as autistic, and physicians will often arrive at different conclusions about the appropriate diagnosis."

"Physicians" needs to be changed to "clinicians". Again, physicians are not doing diagnosis.

Hey all - I'm changing this, as there doesn't seem to be any disagreement.

Etymology and Greek script[edit]

I just added a brief etymology of the word "autism" in the history section of the article using a hard copy of the Oxford English Dictionary I happen to have handy. I wanted to make clear that the word "autism" comes from the Greek word for "self" (from which we also get "automatic", "autonomy", etc.) However, in the interests of accuracy, I would like to type the Greek word "autos" using Greek script. However, I have no idea how to do this. Would somebody more familiar with using Greek script on Wikipedia care to do this? The OED's etymology gives it as thus:

alpha - ypsilon (with apostrophe accent above) - tau - omicron (with acute accent) - sigma

Sorry that I don't know the right terminology for Greek diacritics! --Humehwy 07:25, August 31, 2005 (UTC)

Crypto sensitivity syndrome[edit]

As of 2003, some psychiatric professionals propose redefining Asperger's autism along with some other autistic spectrum conditions and renaming them to "Crypto Sensitivity Syndrome" [3]. However, this is somewhat controversial with people, as some believe there are faults in the proposal such as associating fungus in the nails with the syndrome, while many more question the need for a new diagnosis when there are already existing ones [4] [5].

Are there any more concrete or reputable references for the alleged redefinition of certain autistic spectrum disorders as falling under 'crypto sensitivity syndrome?' A PubMed search turns up nothing referring to such a syndrome, and the only references found via Google are to two webpages published by laypeople, both of whom cite essentially the same relatively unprofessionally written document, and neither of whom provides any reference whatsoever to any discussion within the actual psychiatric community.

Here are the only two real references I could locate; all other mentions on the web refer to one of these two pages.

I strongly believe references to this 'syndrome' should be removed from the Wikipedia entry on autism unless further verification can be provided. I've removed it for now.

Sounds fair. I kept it in the article because it was already there, although I admit I had quite a bit of trouble finding references for it. I went ahead and removed the footnotes referenced for it also Ryan Norton T | @ | C 03:36, 8 September 2005 (UTC)
Excellent writeup on the adults-w-autism part, thanks! Ryan Norton T | @ | C 05:55, 8 September 2005 (UTC)
I was around, years ago (late '90s), right around when this "cryptosensitivity syndrome" was first being promoted by someone who frequently trolled autism forums trying to stir up trouble. It is his invention. No professionals have ever seriously considered it to my knowledge, to replace autism or Asperger's or anything else. I do not have a reference for it unfortunately except my own blog entry on the topic, that I wrote during the time when Crypto Sensitivity seemed to be making a bizarre comeback. It's like an urban myth that's gotten out of control. The person's name, who invented it, was variously Mike Hack or Mike Hackett. Anbuend 17:39, 28 May 2006 (UTC)
Editing again to say I finally found a fairly typical discussion thread referencing this "syndrome", which if you click "newer" you can read the rest of the discussion. The "cryptose" link is the link to the "crypto sensitivity" criteria, by their creator ("eyreland"). Anbuend 17:57, 28 May 2006 (UTC)

The Neanderthal theory[edit]

I see that the reference to the Neanderthal was removed a couple of month ago. Looking at the discussion for this it seems like some people obviously with a pro-disorder view of autism wrote in favor of it's removal.

Here are some of the misunderstandings:

1. Autism is present at the same levels in every ethnic group. Not true. Autism is very uncommon in black Africans. It is not uncommon in AFROAMERICANS, but this is another discussion altogether. Asperger's syndrom, which is high-function autism, is very rare in Afroamericans, and everyone basically knows about this. There is NO study of prevalence of AS in the US categorized by racial origin. However, the fact that virtually nobody knows a black Aspie speaks for itself.

2. Neanderthals were disordered if they had autistic traits. This claim of course is nonsense. Neanderthals didn't "have" autism, they originated the differences in social behaviors, the differences in non-verbal communications and the differences in mating and sexuality. This of course did not make them disordered! It is when these traits are out of their original environment that they cause trouble. For instance, in IRL meetings between people with asperger traits there is no evident problem with social behaviors, communication or anything else. They seem to get along pretty well.

3. The single-gene versus multiple-gene reasoning. If autistic genes entered human populations by hybridization, it is clear that it couldn't have been a single gene. It must have been many genes, and these genes are expected to have been diluted into the entire population. The only reason we have higher concentration of these genes in autistics is because of asortative mating. The social differences will lead to asortative mating, and the autistic population is very much involved in asortative mating. The result of the Aspie-quiz, obviously also removed from wikipedia, clearly is indicative that most of the 100 traits surveys show a common feature. They are at their highest in the diagnosed AS-group, lower in self-identified Aspie, end intermediate in AD/HD. In no case is a trait universally present in one group but not in the other. This supports the theory that autistic traits are not something only autistics have. Basically *everybody* has these, and this is exactly what we would expect from ancient hybridization. Aspie-quiz evaluation

So, in conclusion, about the only viable reason why the neanderthal theory were removed is because some people didn't like it. I have no idea why far more implausible theories like Simon-Baron Cohens "extreme maleness" are still there. Aspie males are certainly not at the extreme of the male spectrum. Extreme maleness involves building hierarchies, participating in wars and violence, none of which Aspie males seems to want to indulge in.

I'm tired but (2) is COMPLETE NONSENSE - many autistics get along better in IRC or whatever but there are a bunch who get along better in real life. And to say that even those who IRC " there is no evident problem with social behaviors, communication or anything else" is.... just plain wrong. The only verifiability is a shaky website with the theory on it by a layperson - which does not make it credible (there has to be some actual scientific backing behind it, ESPECIALLY for a subject like this). If you are going to make the argument here you are going to need references to back up EACH of your claims. Ryan Norton T | @ | C 09:29, 8 September 2005 (UTC)

I don't particularily see what is nonsense about this. I suppose you have the scientific papers to back up that the problems that exist between autistics and non-autistics are general and apply to both autistic/autistic relations and autistic/non-autistic relations? AFAIK, researchers studying autism does not do this in groups of autistics but in laboratories like they are studying rats!

Besides, we've had a gathering here in Sweden three years in a row targeted for *only* autistics. Close to a hundred autistics participated. I've not yet heard anybody claim their social problems remained in this environment.

Im an Aspie and on every ocassion I have had to talk to other Autistic/AS people I have found communication considerably more difficult. Symmetric Chaos 12:39, 28 February 2006 (UTC)

And if you cared to study the Aspie-quiz, which also have been banned, you'd notice the questions aren't particularily targeted at disordered behaviors. Most questions concern preferences. Can you perhaps explain to me why behavioral preferences are linked to autism? Does any of the featured theories actually explain anything more than a tiny bit of what autism is? How is it that explaining a tiny bit of autism could be considered scientifically sound? Isn't this a typical example of ignoring evidences?

As the Neanderthal theory is just a theory, it doesn't need massive support to back it up. The usability of a scientific theory to a large part depends if it can predict unknown facts. There are several significant predictions that follows from the Neanderthal Theory:

1. It predicts that autism is linked to probable Neanderthal origin traits like red hair, freckles, RH factor and more

2. It predicts that facebilnd people will do better on Neanderthal faces.

3. It predicts that Neanderthal culture was not typical of modern hunter-gatherers.

4. It predicts the origin of animal domestication

5. It predicts that autistics will get along much better amongst themselves, and will tend to find a partner that is also autistic

6. It predicts the function of various sexual deviations and that these are linked to autistic traits.

7. It predicts that autistic genes will have a peculiar profile. When meassured for within haplotype variability the age will center around 30,000 to 50,000 years. When compared to other haplotypes they will be several 100,000s of years old. This profile is created as Neanderthal DNA went through a bottleneck as it entered modern humans with low-level hybridization. This bottleneck almost eliminated it's diversity, but left it's differences from Hss genes intact.

8. It predicts the reason for low-functioning autism. According to another autism theory, autism is two-factor. One factor is random in nature and creates low-functioning autstics. The other factor is related to the Asperger-profile which creates high-functioning autistics. Using the Neanderthal theory as a basis, it seems rather likely that autoimmune disease and low-functioning autism is related to genetic admixture between different species. When certain genes comes together they will cause disease. This also explains why Afroamericans have high levels of autism and low levels of AS. Afroamericans still posses a lot more of the offensive genes that mostly have been selected out in Eurasian populations.

9. Because it predicts that low-functioning autism is related to genetic admixture between species, it also predicts that the rise in autism, apart from increased awearness, also is related to racial admixture. It would predict that this rise is related to amount of blacks in western countries.

Theories are meant to be disproved, and I haven't seen you or anybody else disprove it. You are just expressing your bad feelings about what the theory implicates.

Finally, you claim I should be able to prove all my points but how could anybody prove points that haven't been researched?

Problem #1 - zero solid evidence on Neanderthal ancesntry in modern humans. All evidence that exists (like mtDNA) are resoundingly against Neanderthal ancestry. Guettarda 18:02, 8 September 2005 (UTC)

As for problem #1, there is no consensus on this yet. The strict out of Africa theory postulates that there were ZERO input from archaic Eurasian humans. This means *no* gene should show an age above 50,000 years. There are already several genes that are much older than this and that are rooted in Eurasia. Additionally, there is the probable hybrid from Portugal, the "sudden" appearance of the Upper Paleolithic *in Europe*, and not in Africa. There is not even a consensus if the all the mtDNA lineages really are of African origin. Recent back-migration into Africa is never taken into account when trying to prove the African origin of mtDNA. The M lineage now is believed to be of Asian, and not African origin.

And what about the Neanderthal DNA samples a couple years ago? Didn't they represent haplotypes nowhere near what was found in Europe? Do you have a citation challenging the results?
As for the "no gene older than 50,000 years...huh? How does a strict African origin hypothesis mean no genes should be older than 50k? The out of Africa hypothesis does not postulate creation 50k years ago... As for backmigration - of whom, and when? I assume from what you are saying is that there is evidence of backmigration from archaic hs populations back into Africa? Again, can you provide some refs for this?
As for where the Upper Palaeolithic first appears - I fail to see your point. Guettarda 19:22, 8 September 2005 (UTC)

The Neanderthal DNA samples that have been extracted are all from the control regions of mtDNA. While it is true that the Neanderthal sequences have a lot of differences from modern human sequences, it is also a fact that almost every mutation in the Neanderthal sequence can also be found in modern human sequences. You can observe this yourself in this comparison: mtDNA sequences. The other objection to relying too much on mtDNA is thar in a species of crickets that is know to have hybridized, there is no sign of this in mtDNA, while it can be observed in nuclear DNA (see reference in Neanderthal theory section "Could Neanderthals really be a true species?"

The out of Africa theory postulates that no Eurasian gene could be older than the original migration from Africa, which is placed at 50,000 to 85,000 years ago. Clearly, if there are older genes in Eurasia they must have entered modern humans from archaics. In Africa, genes could be older of course, but not outside of Africa.

There are several known sources of backmigration into Africa. The most recent ones are from the arabic expansion and the colonization. Other probable back-migrations are of Berbers, which show a close relationship to Iberians. This migration probably occured at the last glacial maximum. Even older occurences are more speculative, but the oldest, indisputable evidences of modern humans are from LiuJiang, China and Israel. In Isreal modern humans were pushed back into Africa, as is evidenced by Neanderthal types here at a later date. Refs for this are part of the Neanderthal theory.

THe point of the Upper Paleolithic as an European phenomen is that an inbred, African, population couldn't possibly in a short period of time do all this technology advances when they had been in statis for 100,000s of years. This clearly is the result of "hybrid vigor".

  • Can you please supply a real ref, not something off your web site, for the mtDNA stuff? DNA sequencing isn't about looking at any given base pair, it's about sequences. Bp's in isolation are meaningless.
  • I realise that mtDNA does not show up if the introgression was male neanderthal/female amhs. But the it would show up in the Y-chromosomal geneologies, and again, these are as narrow as mt trees.
  • Ok, so by "no gene is older than..." you mean, no gene restricted to Eurasia. This is not actually true - not with nuclear genes. Anyway - what genes? Please supply a ref.
  • As for the backmigrations...can you supply refs? "There are several known sources of backmigration into Africa" is meaningless. Known by whom? The Berber backmigration is recent, amhs, not archaic.
  • Inbred? Statis? "This clearly is the result of "hybrid vigor"". Clearly? Clear to whom? Where has a role for heterosis in cultural change been established...or even suggested? Who has controlled for a far more obvious driver of cultural change - new environments? There is nothing clear in this conjecture. Far more importantly, if these hybrids were the basis of a new, superior population, that hybrid population would have left an overwhelming genetic footprint. The debate is between whether there is 0% neanderthal contributions to amhs, or whether there is <<1%, an undetectable signature. The difference between 0 and undetectable is real, and is interesting, but if there had been a hybridisation even of any significance, it would be very clearly detectable. Guettarda 20:08, 8 September 2005 (UTC)

Refs: Y PDHA1 DRD7 Alan Templeton Bushmen - one of the "oldest" African population - group with Asians origin of Berber

Besides, your claim that there is 0% or <<1% Neanderthal contribution is clearly not based in reality. Genetics doesn't work like that. If an gene like mtDNA is gone, you cannot use it to calculate Neanderthal contribution. There are numerous reasons why mtDNA might be missing even if Neanderthal contribution for different genes range from 0 to 100%. You cannot gain better figures for Neanderthal contribution simply by sequencing more modern mtDNA. If Neanderthal mtDNA were lost by genetic drift, you can sequence the entire humanity and you will still not find any Neanderthal mtDNA. This does not mean Neanderthal genetic contribution is 0%. We really need relevant Neanderthal nuclear DNA instead, like the DRD4 7R allele, the CFTR gene, the PDHA1 gene, the MOXA1 gene. Until we have those your claims about <<1% contribution is just speculation.

As for the mtDNAs on my site. These are SEQUENCES and not BP. All of them were imported from a large gene-bank. I then estimated a "reference" sequence for PAN, and to make it more readable only differences from the reference sequence are shown. The point is that changes in the control region of mtDNA are not random. Certain sites are "hot spots" that frequently mutate. This makes genealogies only based on partial mtDNA sequences problematic. Basically all the differences between AMH and Neanderthal sequences are in hot spots.

There is a couple of possible scenarios for genes introgressed from Neanderthals:

1. Negative genes. All of these would be gone.

2. Selective neutral genes. Since Neanderthals are minority contributors, most of the neutral genes would also be gone. Mostly genes that are linked to positive genes are retained.

3. Selective positive genes. These could be of 100% Neanderthal contribution (and introduced to Africa by back-breeding with a selective sweep). They could also be involved in balanced selection with Hss genes.

I think we have gone beside the point. I don't need to prove Neanderthal contribution. As long as there is considerable controversy on this topic among professionals, argument #1 simply is not a problem for the Neanderthal Theory.

Reference: The Neanderthal theory of the autism spectrum

I'm anything but pro-cure and I think there's not enough evidence to justify including the Neanderthal theory at length in the article -- a brief mention is enough, stating that this is controversial. Plus the fact that in my experience it's so far mostly believers in New Age and otherkin who take the Neanderthal idea seriously. Other people think that Neanderthals are the basis for belief in things like elves and that children with regressive autism might be a source for the changeling myth. This is interesting from a folkloric perspective, but otherwise there isn't yet enough info about Neanderthals to go on. --Bluejay Young 19:07, 15 September 2005 (UTC)

It's not going in there... period. See the talk page archives here and the AfD on the article for why (Hint: original research). Ryan Norton T | @ | C 22:00, 15 September 2005 (UTC)

  • Ryan, the article about the neanderthal theory was not removed, inspite your and other peoples attempts to remove it. I think this merits the inclusion of a brief link on the autism page. --Rdos 19:20, 21 September 2005 (UTC)

Very well. Note that since it has a wiki article we don't do an external link, rather we just mention the page link in see also, which I've done. Let me know if that looks ok for you Ryan Norton T | @ | C 02:13, 22 September 2005 (UTC)

I know nothing much about autism and have no axe to grind. However, I was surprised on this article to find the link to RDos's Neanderthal Theory site which appeared to be 'original reseacrh'. Before coming across this bit of the discussion, I did a Google search and after a few minutes' searching couldn't find any refs to this theory that weren't just references to RDos's site. Hence I deleted the Neanderthal Theory refs. From a quick scan, the above discussion seems to me to be discussing the merits of the theory, which is beside the point. If it's original research, however promising, it shouldn't be included in the article. If I shouldn't have done this, please reinstate the links. Ben Finn 21:34, 27 December 2005 (UTC)
Is there a link to the exact definition of 'original research' in Wikipedia? If something is discussed as much as this theory obviously is here in this talk page, then perhaps it ceases to be 'original research'. I could give examples of other information which only appears in web pages which is notable enough to be encyclopedic. Neurodivergent 16:12, 28 December 2005 (UTC)

Can we just get some realistic proof from people who are not complete racists. I mean really the guy that started this article wrote that quote "It predicts the function of various sexual deviations and that these are linked to autistic traits." SEXUAL DEVIANTS!?!?!? Symmetric Chaos 12:43, 28 February 2006 (UTC)

Removed Sensory Integration Dysfunction[edit]

I've changed the wording of the Sensory Integration Dysunction section to make it more neutral. Not everybody agrees with the notion that sensitivity is a dysfunction, and there is virtually no PublMed support for such a disorder. If the treatment for SID is useful it could be included somewhere else without making people believe that sensory problems necessarily must be a disorder --Rdos 17:18, 12 September 2005 (UTC)

If you have a problem with the wording then you should mention that "some people disagree with the wording of this", not just chop out a perfectly valid wikilink to a "disorder" that probably most professionals agree is part of autism Ryan Norton T | @ | C 18:06, 12 September 2005 (UTC)
If you could backup the existence of such a disorder it can be left there, but I'm pretty sure you can't. The situation for SID is exactly the same as for Crypto Sensitivity Syndrome. It only exists in the minds of the people promoting the treatments. --Rdos 18:16, 12 September 2005 (UTC)
Changed to alternative wording. If this is not in Ryans taste either, I propose he add the disclaimer himself, if he has any sense of neutrality (doubtful) --Rdos 19:26, 12 September 2005 (UTC)
Nah, I'm just the one who got this to featured article status :).... I couldn't POSSIBLY be neutral... ug. Listen, SID is not accepted as a diagnosis by most phsychiatrists (sp) but the symptoms are for autism, and adding a long disclaimer here mucks up an otherwise unconfusing section. I'll try to shorten it here. Ryan Norton T | @ | C 20:43, 12 September 2005 (UTC)

Anyway, sorry for being snippy earlier - is the current way OK with you :)? Ryan Norton T | @ | C 22:20, 12 September 2005 (UTC)

vaccine theory[edit]

This is just another indication that this article has no NPOV. The vaccine theory, popular with PARENTS of autistics has zero support as being credible. Many large studies have been done that cannot confirm it. This should make it obsolete in a featured article about autism, other than as an entry in the historical section. --Rdos 04:24, 13 September 2005 (UTC)

sigh did you read it? It was rather soundly refuted. It belongs here though because its a very popular theory. Speaking of which it would be nice if you would stop being so combative all the time :). Ryan Norton T | @ | C 04:54, 13 September 2005 (UTC)


It seems a shame to have the son-rise section in there under treatments and not mention that it has NO empirical evidence to support it, or that the diagnosis of the son the program was named for was questionable. If we're going to include treatments, ought we give a sense of what is and is not supported?

Ditto for the gluten casin -- this is, at best, a controversial treatment. For parents and others coming to this page, a note on the pros and cons and data for these treatments seems vital.

Yes, I agree. I'll look into it, in the mean time feel free to edit it!!! Ryan Norton T | @ | C 17:39, 23 September 2005 (UTC)
I definitely think gluten and casin should be retained as these actually are things that can make autistics feel better, and without any kind of ABA therapy and without any kind of possible side-effects --Rdos 18:20, 24 September 2005 (UTC)

Rdos-- "can make autistics feel better" is actually a big claim, and unless there's any data to support that claim it might not be the right information to put up on this page. And I'd argue that gluten-casin diets do have side effects for some kids, like gastrointestinal distress (diarrea, etc). And what about the "side effects" of parents and families wasting time and energy on treatments that don't actually make their kids feel better? Show me some data...

[6] [7] The main problem is the researchers attempts to try to prove that symptoms of autism are caused by gluten. The objective instead should be to do prevalence studies of gluten sensitivity in autistics. I might include this as a question in Aspie-quiz III. --Rdos 11:18, 1 October 2005 (UTC)

Thanks for the articles, RDOS. At the very least, it seems worth mentioning that the gluten-casin is controversial. The son-rise, however, has ZERO data to support it, as even the developers acknowledge.

Rdos's challenges[edit]

You've been on other pages saying things like " I disagree as to the NPOV of autism related pages" and "The norm is that questionable treatments are presented in central parts of the articles while anti-cure ideas are at best mentioned in "passing"". So let's address these things here rather on other pages and AfDs, ok?

Here's what you said:

  • SID has been retained, and there is absolutely no research supporting this "disorder", neither is it included in DSM. THe only reason it is there is because it supports the negative view of autism
    • SID has not been retained here - the only mention of it is that autism has "symptoms like those found in SID".
  • The vaccine theory, although thoroughly discarded in every study, is also retained.
    • And why should it be discarded? At WORST its very historical like the extreme-male brain theory.
  • Simon Baron Cohens "extreme maleness" theory is also feature, even if it has zero support in research. About the only supportive evidence is that psychiatry think the male-female ration is 4:1. AFAIK, this is only because the diagnostic criteria is centered around men. IOW, this is circle reasoning.
    • Again - it doesn't really matter because its a historical theory that was popular a while long ago but not today....
  • All the disorder-based research has been retained while every other POV has either been deleted or delegated to small sections outside of the main article [...] you are required to add material that is in disagreement with this view, whether it is onl hearsay in the autistic community or not
    • Could you please specific? Much of the "disorder-based" research here is historical and even the ones that arn't have many verifiable and peer-reviewed backing them up. I thought the anti-cure perspective was well-represented here. Please give me specific examples.

Ryan Norton T | @ | C 20:36, 24 September 2005 (UTC)

OK, I guess I will have to defend myself then? ;-)

  • SID. OK, I suppose the current state is ok. However, it is also mentioned in the "Autism as a spectrum disorder section".
  • Vaccine theory and extreme maleness. If you read those sections carefully you will problably understand that they are historical, but they are not presented in historical sections of the article. Causal readers will probably think these are serious and still relevant. Cohen's theory is presented under "models" section, which reads as the current state.
  • Disorder perspective. In the "Theories of the etiology of autism", there are a long row of disorder theories, including viral infection, vaccines, brain damage and some others, but the pure difference "theory" is not presented! In the "remedition" section, ABA, son-rise, diet and computers are suggested, but no intervention is not presented! The "autism culture" concept is instead presented in the sociology section. I find this quite problematic, especially for Swedish readers where there is a sociologist named Eva Kärfve that is disputing all neuropsychiatric conditions, and instead blame parents for being bad. This is what I meant when I wrote that disorder-based research were presented in central parts (models, etiology, remedition) while non-cure ideas are in the "sociology" section. Maybe the problems aren't as bad as I presented them, but historical theories should be presented as historical, and the anti-cure perspective should be part of model, etiology and remedy sections. If that is fixed, I guess I will be content ;-) --Rdos 15:33, 25 September 2005 (UTC)

While I'm at it, I suppose I should mention that not everybody believe that the main symptoms of autism, like social differculties, non-verbal communication differculties and theory-of-mind abilities are general. Some believe these are confined to autistic - non-autistic relations only. There is certainly no support for them being general because there is no research on this.--Rdos 18:24, 25 September 2005 (UTC)

As a note -- although I think Baron-Cohen's work is EXTREMELY problematic and I don't really buy the "extreme male brain" stuff, I don't think it makes any sense to call it a "historical" approach -- he's out there pushing it NOW. There was a B-C NYTimes full page editorial about a month ago proposing that autism is caused by too much prenatal testosterone (without, of course, much testosterone data, and only the vague "autistic kids are kinda like non-empathetic boys, right?" stuff). His autism as extreme mail brain book is only a few years old. He's submitting and publishing articles on this -- and people are listening. It may not be rigorous, or right, but it's hardly done and over with.

I suppose this is the research methodology that Ryan advocates. As long as it describes autism as a horrible disorder, it obviously doesn't matter if the theories have any substance to the or not. Besides, the only maleness in autism is in diagnostic criteria, which of course is not the truth about autism. --Rdos 07:55, 1 October 2005 (UTC)

I think Baron-Cohen needs to explain this (from Aspie-quiz I):

  • Do you dislike or have difficulty with team sports and other group endeavours? (highest correlation, 63%, and typical female trait to dislike this)
  • Do you feel stress, panic or have a brain malfunction in unfamiliar or demanding situations? (46%, apparently anti-male)
  • Do you have difficulties judging distances, height, depth or speed? (45%, anti-male)

He will need to do even more exlaining in the new version, where many new questions have received relevance. --Rdos 08:04, 1 October 2005 (UTC)

*sigh* Please stop quoting that inane aspie-quiz. Anyway, I do agree you have some good points up there. First give me a chance to response though please:

  1. "Autism as a spectrum disorder section" - I'm not exactly sure what the problem is here but I can reword it to point to the symptoms of SID rather then it itself
  2. "Vaccine theories not historic et al." - that's what NPOV is though - as I said before many people don't consider these historic, so we can't just we say they are. I could try to emphasize that negative points a bit more, maybe in some cases saying that many professionals consider it historic, etc...
  3. "Disorder perspective" - well, I guess I could. My thought though is that it was just inferred by previous text.

Also, your assertion about me trying to advocate it as a "horrible disorder" is ridiculous - the only reason I haven't responded/changed anything in the article is because of time. Ryan Norton T | @ | C 09:44, 4 October 2005 (UTC)

The extreme male brain theory does NOT HAVE A SINGLE FUCKING THING TO DO WITH MEN. The extreme male brain theory is based on systemising vs empathising comparasins. It was named the extreme male brain theory because men often fal in systemisizing. Arguments both for and against the theory seem to focus on masculine v feminine traits not the theory itself. Symmetric Chaos 12:49, 28 February 2006 (UTC)

I agree. The theory has to do with neurological and innate skill differences. Masculinity and femeininity (gender roles) are cultural constructs, and really have little or nothing to do with neurology. The most notable aspect of Baron-Cohen's theory is that it neatly explains the differential diagnostic rate in males vs. females. Neurodivergent 15:15, 28 February 2006 (UTC)
To rely on the perceived diagnostic gender prevalence of AS is not sound. The theory simply falls apart with this fictive construct. For instance in the thousands of answers I've received to Aspie-quiz, women with a dx have 10-15 points *higher* score than men. This difference have been persistent in all three version, it did not change much as I wrote more questions (and proposedly added more male traits). It also survived attempts of gender-based correction on questions. It is not very true either that Aspies are not empathic. It seems like highly sensitive and empathic Aspies get big problems. Also, special interests seems to be a male thing, but it only makes up a tiny bit of the traits correlated with the autism spectrum. The typical female problems are simply not part of the dx. --Rdos 20:51, 1 March 2006 (UTC)
We can't draw too many conclussions from something like that. It's not a randomized sample. Furthermore, I'd bet that the number of males who take the test is much larger than the number of females, correct? (I'm guessing about 4:1?) With those who actually are preocupied enough to take such a test, I wouldn't expect to see much of a difference in scoring across sexes. As to why females score higher, I can only guess that for a female to go and take that test, the severity of the condition needs to be greater (in average). Neurodivergent 21:18, 1 March 2006 (UTC)
Absolutely not. There is no 4:1 relation as to who takes the test. Version I: AS/HFA: 70 males, 84 females. Version II: AS/HFA: 335 males, 236 females. Version III: AS/HFA: 1133 males, 696 females. Version II: Total: 738 males, 724 females. Version III: Total: 3335 males, 2335 females. This gives relations of 1:1.2, 1.4:1, 1.6:1 for AS/HFA and 1:1, 1.4:1 for total. None of these are even close to the proposed 4:1 relation. It is also notable that version III has most answers from people outside of the autistic community (it hasn't been announced there). --Rdos 06:00, 2 March 2006 (UTC)
Yep, that's counter-intuitive, and I'm not sure how it can be explained. Perhaps you're right, and the diagnostics are biased instead (i.e. parents worry more when a boy isn't talking than when a girl isn't). Neurodivergent 14:31, 2 March 2006 (UTC)
Another possibility is that given that females talk earlier and socialize earlier in average, this is enough to skew the diagnostic rates. However, when they reach adulthood, the difference disappears. Neurodivergent 14:36, 2 March 2006 (UTC)
This is all testable, BTW. You could take random general-population groups of males and females (perhaps brother and sister pairs), and give them the Aspie Quiz or the AQ test. Then you'd compare their scores. According to Baron-Cohen, males would score higher in average. Neurodivergent 14:41, 2 March 2006 (UTC)
Another indication that "self-perception" means a lot is the score distribution. Even though version I was highly experimental, it seems got better selectivity on various questions than follow-ups. It is also interesting that in the first releases, the self-identification group scored higher than the diagnosed group. In later versions this was reversed. I think this is at least partly due to that the first quizes being mostly answered by highly self-aware people, and the latter to less self-aware. Many of the evaluations are available here [[8]] --Rdos 14:53, 2 March 2006 (UTC)
Neurodivergent, I'm interested in your idea that "for a female to go and take that test, the severity of the condition needs to be greater (in average)". What are you basing this on? Just curious, --Bluejay Young 08:46, 2 March 2006 (UTC)
That's just the only explanation I could come up with for a greater female score. In other words, some males may go because they're curious. Females may go when they are worried. Neurodivergent 14:31, 2 March 2006 (UTC)
I could offer some other explainations myself. It might be that females and males have different levels of "self-perception". Females might more easily recognize their own problems, possibly because they are expected to be more social. I don't think the hypothesis that females needs to be more worried holds. There seems to be equal proportions of answers from both diagnosed and undiagnosed, with a slightly higher male-to-female ratio for diagnosed. I think because the dx is geared towards typical male problems, parents will more easily seek diagnosis for a male. --Rdos 14:45, 2 March 2006 (UTC)

Looking at the referer statistics for version III, there is another indication that dx is gender skewed. For (self/real) diagnosed AS/HFA males score 121 on AS and 82 on NT while females score 129 on AS and 73 on NT. These results are after correction for gender-bias in questions. If you look at the non-AS/HFA, males score 79 on AS and 109 on NT while females score 81 on AS and 111 on NT. IOW, there is a tiny 2 point difference in the "NT-group" while the difference is 8-9 points in the AS/HFA group. The difference in the NT-group also is only that females get 2 points higher on both scales, while in the AS-group females score 8 points higher on AS-scale and 9 points lower on NT scale --Rdos 15:10, 2 March 2006 (UTC)

face processing/gaze abnormalities[edit]

It seems worth adding in some of the face processing abnormality in autism in the characteristics section, probably under social development. The lack of normal eye contact is such a big diagnosis indicator for autism and one of the big things that gets people into doctor's offices. There's also really great eyetracking and imaging data on abnormal face processing in autism -- i.e., kids with autism fixating on people's mouths when speaking to them rather than the eyes, lack of normal brain activation to faces, etc... This seems like a big part of the social deficits of autism, and right now it isn't even mentioned.

What do you think?

Good point. It would be great if something like that was expanded. I'll try to look into it when I have time, but to anyone - feel free to add it yourself! Ryan Norton T | @ | C 22:42, 28 September 2005 (UTC)

Face blindness is not a big part of "social deficits" of autism. It has 48% correlation. Eye contact is even less correlated with a mere 37% correlation

Here are traits with higher correlation:

  • Do you have problems distinguishing voices from background noise, or from other voices? (57%)
  • Do you notice small sounds that others don't, and feel pained by loud or irritating noise? (56%)
  • Do you have values & views that are either very old-fashioned or way ahead of their time? (53%)
  • Do you more easily get very upset over 'minor' things (e.g. losing your favourite pen) than over which others get upset about (e.g. a relative passing away)? (52%)


I see no aparent "deficit" behind this, nor any role for testosterone.--Rdos 07:37, 1 October 2005 (UTC)

A) Please stop using your own site as a reference, Rdos. B) What I see there is original research without sources. Ryan Norton T | @ | C 07:44, 1 October 2005 (UTC)
I can use it as references as much as I want. The Aspie-quiz builds on nearly 4000 answers, so it is relevant. I will publish the current version as original research with far-reaching consequences for Baron-Cohen and his supporters.--Rdos 08:07, 1 October 2005 (UTC)

Face processing differences/difficulties support: Ovid MEDLINE(R) Dawson G. Webb SJ. McPartland J. Understanding the nature of face processing impairment in autism: insights from behavioral and electrophysiological studies. [Journal Article] Developmental Neuropsychology. 27(3):403-24, 2005. --- reduced attention in autistic kids to the eyes, slower behavioral processing of faces, slower brain processing of faces as shown by ERP.

Ovid MEDLINE(R) Dalton KM. Nacewicz BM. Johnstone T. Schaefer HS. Gernsbacher MA. Goldsmith HH. Alexander AL. Davidson RJ. Gaze fixation and the neural circuitry of face processing in autism. [Journal Article] Nature Neuroscience. 8(4):519-26, 2005 Apr. --- less attention to the eyes, less face-related brain activity (fusiform face area and amygdala)

Schultz et al., submitted for publication Schultz, R.T., Win, L., Jackowski, A., Klin, A., Staib, L., Papademetris, X., Babitz, T., Carter, E., Klaiman, C., Fieler, A., Volkmar, F., submitted for publication. Brain Morphology in Autism Spectrum Disorders: an MRI Study. -- less fusiform face area to neutral faces than typically developing individuals. The degree of FFA activation WAS CORRELATED WITH SOCIAL IMPAIRMENT AS MEASURED IN THE SOCIAL DOMAIN OF THE ADOS.

Ovid MEDLINE(R) Schultz RT. Developmental deficits in social perception in autism: the role of the amygdala and fusiform face area. [Review] [177 refs] [Journal Article. Review] International Journal of Developmental Neuroscience. 23(2-3):125-41, 2005 Apr-May. -- Review of brain research, eyetracking research, etc. on face processing abnormalities in autism.

I actually do agree with you that face-processing might be a major *difference* that cause many of the social problems. What I didn't like in your argumentation earlier was the argumentation that this necesarily represents a deficit. We actually don't know why autistics prefer not to look other people in the eyes, and why prosapagnosia exists. I have my own ideas as to the background of prosapagnosia, but I guess Ryan don't want to here it as it is described on my web-site without proper references ;-) --Rdos 15:48, 3 October 2005 (UTC)

To clarify, then -- what is the difference between "a difference that causes many of the social problems" and a deficit?

A whole lot of difference. A deficit is something that is independent of environment, while a difference might potentially not be. If it is a difference, there is every reason to believe that people with the same difference will not have any "social deficits" among themselves. --Rdos 18:17, 4 October 2005 (UTC)


I was just wondering, there are symptoms that are shared by autism and social phobia. For example, a social phobic may avoid eye contact as well, simply because it makes him nervous. How do you distinguish between autism and social phobia? Scorpionman 02:36, 20 October 2005 (UTC)

One pronounced way is the sensory issues an autistic has. There are other ways too but I imagine that's the easiest. Ryan Norton T | @ | C 02:49, 20 October 2005 (UTC)
Sensory issues are not required for autism, though (as with anything in autism it seems). One sure way to distinguish is that autistics don't just avoid socializing, they generally lack the skills to do so. For example, in a group conversation the autistic has very little idea of when is a good time to chime in or of what things to say would be considered acceptable/relevant in that social situation. As a result, the autistic person could develop something equivalent to severe social phobia. I'm sure many autistics just don't like to socialize, period. Neurodivergent 17:33, 17 November 2005 (UTC)

I'd be careful about calling that a diagnosis difference, as a lot of kids and adults with autism don't have pronounced sensory issues. In social anxiety, the anxiety caused by social situations is primarily driven by a fear of embarrassment -- fear that you will do something in a social situation that will make others laugh/think less of you etc. DSM criteria for social phobia:

A. A persistent fear of one or more social or performance situations in which the person is exposed to unfamiliar people or to possible scrutiny by others. The individual fears that he or she will act in a way (or show anxiety symptoms) that will be embarrassing and humiliating. B. Exposure to the feared situation almost invariably provokes anxiety, which may take the form of a situationally bound or situationally pre-disposed Panic Attack. C. The person recognizes that this fear is unreasonable or excessive. D. The feared situations are avoided or else are endured with intense anxiety and distress. E. The avoidance, anxious anticipation, or distress in the feared social or performance situation(s) interferes significantly with the person's normal routine, occupational (academic) functioning, or social activities or relationships, or there is marked distress about having the phobia. F. In individuals under age 18 years, the duration is at least 6 months. G. The fear or avoidance is not due to direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., drugs, medications) or a general medical condition not better accounted for by another mental disorder...

In autism/autism spectrum disorders, although anxiety in social situations may be present it is not the defining symptom of the disorder. And while social situations can tend to cause distress, in many kids social contact is in itself aversive -- not aversive because of embarrassment fears. Autism criteria: (1) qualitative impairment in social interaction, as manifested by at least two of the following: (gaze issues, lack of peer relationships, lack of social/emotional reciprocity, etc.) 2) qualitative impairments in communication, as manifested by at least one of the following: (lack of speech, inability to sustain a conversation with others, idiosyncratic language use, lack of make-believe play, etc.) 3) (3) restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests, and activities as manifested by at least one of the following: (inflexible routines, preoccupations with parts of objects, motor mannerisms, etc.)

I'm curious about the reference to autistic individuals having "imaginary companions." I've never heard of this before and, just speaking from experience and intuition, it doesn't seem to fit with an autistic person's seeming lack of interest in social interaction. Why would a person who is basically not a social being have to compensate by internalizing an imaginary companion?--Leftymn 23:08, 26 May 2006 (UTC)

Not being a social doesn't mean you don't want to be social and hence imaginary friends are created for this role. (Though I know nothing.) Skinnyweed 01:53, 27 May 2006 (UTC)
There are also reasons for having imaginary friends other than compensating for social loneliness. And yes, autistics who communicate report having imaginary friends and even their own worlds (not to be confused with the "in her own world" stereotype often used to describe an autistic who seems not to perceive reality -- the operative word being seems). There have been several overgeneralizations made about autistics through the decades; first it was that we were trapped in a fantasy world and could not perceive reality. Then, it was decided that we did not fantasize or daydream at all and were incapable of it -- still the prevalent view, as evidenced by this article. As always, listening to autistics speak (or write) for themselves, rather than making assumptions, is the key. --Bluejay Young 14:46, 27 May 2006 (UTC)
Thanks for the feedback on the idea of imaginary companions. I don't believe, however, that the prevalent view on daydreaming is as you've suggested. Perhaps an ignorant minority believe this, but I would wager that the vast majority of those having an interest in autistic individuals are quite aware that much daydreaming goes on. As to listening to autistic persons being the "key" to understanding, I think that is obvious. There's still a gap, however, and that's why I asked the question. Thanks again.--Leftymn 02:14, 28 May 2006 (UTC)

Thimerosal theory[edit]

Back on September 19th, someone at inserted the comment:

However, The Centers for Disease Control reports that the FDA in 1999 recommended that Thimerosal no longer be used in vaccine preparations. And while Thimerosal isn't utilized anymore, Autism rates have not dropped accordingly.

Then yesterday, someone at (the same person, perhaps?) added:

The CDC and all major credible medical organizations have discredited this theory of autism. There were also studies done in Europe where these controversial vaccines were totally banned and cases of autism rose rather than declined.

No citations were given for either of these assertions. It would be great to see something to back this up. Can anyone provide citations for this info? (If not, these assertions do not belong in a Wikipedia article.) StepsTogether 00:35, 21 October 2005 (UTC)

I removed this paragraph, because at least part of it is factually incorrect: However, The Centers for Disease Control reports that the FDA in 1999 recommended that Thimerosal no longer be used in vaccine preparations. And while Thimerosal isn't utilized anymore, Autism rates have not dropped accordingly. The CDC and all major credible medical organizations have discredited this theory of autism. There were also studies done in Europe where these controversial vaccines were totally banned and cases of autism rose rather than declined.
According to a FAQ on the CDC website, some flu vaccines given to children/infants still contain thimerosal as a preservative and other vaccines contain 'trace' amounts (<1 ppm); that same FAQ also notes that children in the UK still get DTP vaccinations containing thimerosal as preservative. While exposure of children to thimerosal through vaccines has been greatly reducted, it's not correct to claim that it "isn't utilized anymore".
The CDC's "At-a-glance" on autism states: "The weight of currently available scientific evidence does not support the hypothesis that vaccines cause autism. We recognize there is considerable public interest in this issue, and therefore support additional research regarding this hypothesis." While this certainly doesn't favour the thimerosal-autism claims, it's not quite as conclusive as "that paragraph implies".
Combined with the lack of cites, I felt this was better removed. I'm not entirely happy about that, because there *is* a great deal of scepticism about the theory and I don't think the remaining text makes that as clear at it ought, but I'd rather leave that to somebody who can do a better job summing up that scepticism than I can. --Calair 06:59, 2 November 2005 (UTC)
However, the California Department of Developmental Services (DDS), considered to have the best reporting system for autism in the US - considered by who? --Calair 23:37, 2 November 2005 (UTC)
Original assertion came directly from the Los Angeles Times website, which now charges for direct access to article. A citation link to an indirect source has been added. Ombudsman 00:19, 3 November 2005 (UTC)
Thanks, that makes me happier (especially since the article explains why CA figures are considered particularly reliable). --Calair 03:56, 3 November 2005 (UTC)

Thimerosal and Denmark[edit]

I added Madsen's paper in Pediatrics 2003;112:604-6 PMID 12949291 about the rising rates of autism in Denmark despite thimerosal being discontinued there in 1992, making the link between autism and thimerosal very unlikely. Andrew73 22:00, 14 December 2005 (UTC)

I've further clarified that the amount of thimerosal used in vaccines decreased over the interval in Madsen et al.'s study in response to User:Leifern's view that it was an "unreferenced allegation." It is stated clearly in their Pediatrics paper PMID 12949291. Andrew73 03:15, 15 December 2005 (UTC)

large-scale POV/inaccurate edit[edit]

I reverted a MASSIVE edit by There is a lot of good stuff in there, but for the most part it is largely POV, uses inspeak (neurotypical), and is inaccurate and does not cite sources (" Approximately 50% of people described as "savants" are autistic, although only 10% of autistics are considered savants").

Here's an example of how to fix this:

"Despite the mention of delays in imaginative play, autistic people are just as imaginative as neurotypical people. However, they tend to show it in different ways, such as sitting and quietly imagining a different world without acting it out, or "becoming" a different person rather than having an imaginary friend."

The first sentence is POV since it asserts that "autistic people are just as imaginative as neurotypical people". It is also defensive and there is no need to do that here. Also, don't use neurotypical - most people won't understand it and it itself is somewhat controversial - just use non-autistics. As for the second sentence while it may be true it is completely unreferenced which is unacceptable for an article here (and I do not remember this in the current references).

I am strongly in favour of emphasizing and including everywhere I can that autistics possess imagination. (suppressing my urge to rant briefly on perception of autistics as lacking emotion, imagination, etc.) There is plenty of anecdotal evidence supporting what said, what we have to do is cite articles where autistics describe their imaginary play.
I thought the statistics he gave for savants were based partly on the old Wired article (where did Wired get them? They didn't come from Rimland). I'm not against the use of "neurotypical" if it is defined within the article, but I never insist on it. --Bluejay Young 18:37, 29 October 2005 (UTC)

Important Omission[edit]

Only therapists, family and close friends can judge whether someone can be diagnosed with any of these spectrum disorders.

What about the person in question; isn't their own assessment, as much or more than any 'close friend,' relevant?

Autism in "Twilight Zone" series[edit]

One episode from the original "Twilight Zone" TV series was called "Silent Snow, Secret Snow," having to do with a boy who closes up to the outside world, as a dreamy voice says, more or less, "not a seed into a flower, but a flower into a seed." I've taken this as a metaphor for autism. Does anyone remember this? Am I correct, or is this something else?

I can't find it listed at List of The Twilight Zone episodes - Tεxτurε 22:32, 15 November 2005 (UTC)
That wasn't The Twilight Zone. It was Night Gallery. The narrator was Orson Welles. Many people have historically mistaken the protagonist's pathological withdrawal for autism. Find out a bit more here: Silent Snow, Secret Snow. --Bluejay Young 08:05, 16 November 2005 (UTC)

Introduction POV - Environmental triggers[edit]

From the introduction: "Although the specific etiology of autism is unknown, autism most likely results from genetically mediated vulnerability to environmental triggers." This is quite a bit POV. This is a belief, speculation, and if included, the article should mention that it is speculation, not "most likely." Has "most likely" been proven? Identical twin studies put the heritability of autism at 90%. Why not 100%? I truly belive that can easily be explained through human error in the studies (after all, the diagnostic is subjective.) No significant difference has been found between studies of fraternal twins vs. other sibblings. That in itself is a good indication that we're talking about something that's purely genetic. So I could easily say that "Although the specific etiology of autism is unknown, autism most likely results purely as a manifestation of genetic variations." And this would be a very fair evaluation, where "most likely" can be backed up. Neurodivergent 17:53, 17 November 2005 (UTC)

I agree that the statement cited is POV. This particular sentence caught my eye also. The article mentions that the heritability of autism may be as much as 100%. So even if someone knew nothing about the autism literature, that person should question whether it is "most likely" brought on by environmental triggers. My understanding, however, is that the consensus opinion among researchers in the field is that autism is essentially genetic; a genetic contribution may be as much as 100%, but that even if it is less, the difference may be due to the fact that some interventions seem to work to some degree, so the contribution of environmental triggers may still be 0% (environmental interventions may be able to help an autistic but this doesn't mean that some detrimental environmental factor contributed to autism being manifest). The statement cited should be changed. As is, it defintely represents a minority view. -DoctorW 07:13, 18 November 2005 (UTC)
There is widespread agreement that genetics plays a role, but to say it is 100% genetic is patently false and well, stupid. The truth is, mainstream scientists have absolutely no idea what causes, contributes to, or mediates autism. They don't even know what autism really is. We should present all these explanations as theories, but to make it seem like there is a consensus in the medical or scientific community (whatever that is) is absolutely unacceptable. --Leifern 13:54, 18 November 2005 (UTC)
Why would it be false and stupid? Both the belief that it is 100% genetic, and the belief that it is partly environmental are both simply beliefs. There's no conclussive proof either way. As far as I'm concerned researchers can keep looking for environmental triggers all they want. (I do think that one environmental trigger, stress, could in theory make the symptoms of autism more noticeable). When a twin study puts the heritability of autism at 90%, that doesn't necessarily mean that someone's autism is 90% genetic and the other 10% was caused by the environment. It could mean that there were errors in evaluating 10% of the twins, in one of the following ways:
  • Some of them may have neurological or psychological trauma or damage -- environmentally triggered if you will -- that behaviorally looks like autism. (Given that it's a small minority of cases, it would be incorrect to claim that this is in fact autism too.)
  • At the time of the evaluation, there might have been enough developmental differences between the twins for one of them to cross the diagnostic threshold. One of the twins may have simply been behaving in an unusual way during that time.
  • Researchers simply made mistakes in their diagnostics.
Needless to say, the 100% genetic view is compatible with the pro-neurodiversity view, and the partly environmental view is compatible with the pro-disease view of autism. Both views are equally notable IMHO. Neurodivergent 15:42, 18 November 2005 (UTC)
BTW, why delete the sentence on heritability between 80% and 100%? Is that even disputed? If so, what is the heritability range that is not disputed? Is the heritability of autism not important enough to be mentioned in the article? Neurodivergent 15:54, 18 November 2005 (UTC)
According to Vijendra K. Singh, environmental triggers comprise 80-90% of the causative factors. Wakefield and others have found measles titers in the gut and cerebrospinal fluid, with MMR vaccine markers, sufficient to cause autistic enterocolitis, which further substantiates likelihood that genetics merely plays a role in susceptibility, rather than being a primary cause, particularly in regressive cases. The entirely dubious heritability statistic should be deleted. Ombudsman 17:13, 18 November 2005 (UTC)
I've seen Singh's claim. Does he ever explain what he bases that on? Why is the heritability statistic dubious? Are you doubting all the identical twin studies? Should I cite them all? Maybe I need to create a Autism twin studies or Autism heritability article to explore that. What do you think? Neurodivergent 18:27, 18 November 2005 (UTC)

Reset tab: I think the underlying hypothesis is that something like 80%-90% of people who are diagnosed "autistic" (whatever that means anymore) have certain genetic markers not commonly found in typical people. But this can be easily confused with the hypothesis that autism can be 80-90% explained by genetic factors. In other words, scientists are struck by the fact that autistic individuals often have relatives who are also autistic, but that does not explain why autism occurs. Nor does it explain why most autistic individuals have parents and grandparents who are typical. This is not as simple as hemophilia, so the genetic component takes a lot more explanation than simply throwing out "80%-90%." So when I hear medical doctors and the like say "oh, it's hereditary" as an explanation, they're being stupid. There are plenty of conditions for which there is a hereditary predisposition, but there's an environmental triggering event - cancer may be an example, or heart disease, and probably diabetes, alcoholism, etc. Nobody would shrug at a case of lung cancer and say "it's hereditary." --Leifern 18:49, 18 November 2005 (UTC)

As to why parents and grandparents are typical, that's easy. I'll give you a possible model (not saying this is the model). There are 3 gene variations required for autism. If you only have 2, then you're not autistic (maybe you're ADHD or something). Each of the 3 alleles has low prevalence, but not that low, let's say around 15% in average. So an autistic child could be the result of parents where, for example, the dad has 2 alleles and the mom 1. Clearly, a child could also inherit "normal" alleles from either parent in each case, so the child has little odds of being autistic. In this 2-1 example, I'd say the odds are rougly 12% for any of their children of being autistic. Couples where both parents have the 3 alleles would be very rare due simply to low prevalence (but clearly also because autistics are not good with relationships). I think the example is clear enough, but I can elaborate if needed. Neurodivergent 20:05, 18 November 2005 (UTC)

Clearly there are conditions that are 100% genetic (Down's syndrome, Fragile-X syndrome). Are doctors being stupid when they say "ok, it's genetic" in these cases? (In these two particular examples I wouldn't argue they are not pathological, but I digress). In other words, your analogies do nothing to address the question as to whether autism is 100% genetic or not. We already know conditions which are partly genetic but environmentally triggered exist, and conditions which are totally genetic exist. So what? Neurodivergent 20:05, 18 November 2005 (UTC)
Well, those conditions that are a result of chromosomal abnormality (as those you mentioned) are different from those that are hereditary. The point is that almost every disease and condition have some hereditary factor, but many are also triggered or aggrevated by environmental conditions. --Leifern 12:58, 19 November 2005 (UTC)
As to the cancer analogy, I'm wondering if cancer studies on identical twins would yield 90% co-occurrence and 5-10% on fraternal twins. Clearly, if there's a known range of heritability for cancer (which I'd venture is fairly low) I'd say that's notable enough to be mentioned in the Cancer article. With cancer, specific environmental factors have been proven, which is not the case in autism. (Notwithstanding Wakefield, which I understand has not been replicated and has been largely discredited). Neurodivergent 20:05, 18 November 2005 (UTC)
I'd also note that propensity to allergies or to intestinal problems does not answer the 100% genetic position. Different propensities to various things could easily be part of the genetic profile of autism. Neurodivergent 20:21, 18 November 2005 (UTC)
It depends on what you mean by the percentages. I think it is obvious that hereditary factors play a decisive role in at least some cases, but that doesn't mean that the mere presence of certain markers can be used to diagnose autism. To repeat the point above, someone may have the genetic marker that enables "autism," but that the condition only manifests itself if the person is subject to certain environmental shocks. --Leifern 12:58, 19 November 2005 (UTC)
I'll argue it a different way. With 7 alleles linked to autism (that's just the ones found so far) it's obvious we're dealing with many different conditions which are now under the umbrella "autism". Arguably, several of those have already been found: Fragile-X, Rett syndrome, Tuberous sclerosis, phenylketonuria, and even rubeola (4 of those I understand are fully genetic). So there could be an autism-i condition which follows a model similar to my example, and there could be an autism-j condition, which as you suggest, is environmentally triggered. But given twin study results, it's obvious the vast majority of these sub-conditions are fully genetic, and a small minority environmentally triggered. So I'll grant you that given any kid labeled "autistic", there might be a 80%-90% chance his condition is 100% genetic and 10%-20% of the time environmentally triggered (which is important as some kinds of environmental causes imply brain damage and may be treatable.) Neurodivergent 14:29, 19 November 2005 (UTC)
Fragile-X and Rett syndrome have been decyphered because their etiology is relatively simple. I predict that some autism sub-conditions are the result of the combination of high-frequency non-pathogenic alleles (which will baffle researchers). I wonder if researchers are focusing on low-frequency alleles, in which case they would be going down the wrong track and are never going to figure it out. I could come up with a 4- or 5-allele model where each allele has more than 50% frequency when on its own; in other words, the neurotypical alleles could be the non-normal ones. Neurodivergent 14:29, 19 November 2005 (UTC)

BTW, the new wording, "growing suspicion", while not as bad as "most likely", is still POV. Is it citable that suspicion is growing? My read on the situation is that, with the discrediting of the vaccine link, suspicion took a hit. Neurodivergent 04:44, 19 November 2005 (UTC)

The vaccine link is far from discredited - see article on Thimerosal - what has been discredited are the vain attempts at discrediting it, which have largely been reduced to ad hominem attacks of the proponents of the link and tobacco company type defensive maneuvers. "Suspicion" is in fact too weak a word. --Leifern 12:58, 19 November 2005 (UTC)
Well, the Lancet retracted the original study. The results and their interpretation have been questioned. Many of his own collegues have retracted. Furthermore, Wakefield was paid to come up with the results. I think at this point it makes more sense to argue refrigerator mother. Neurodivergent 14:39, 19 November 2005 (UTC)

On the issue of the wording in the second sentence ("most likely," "researchers believe," or "growing suspicion"): Although Neurodivergent intended "researchers believe" to solve the POV problem, I do not believe it does; "researchers believe" may very likely be read as a consensus view among researchers. There's no need to exclude minority views, but an encyclopedic entry should not imply that a minority view is a majority or consensus view, even if it is just a belief. I myself know for a fact that children who were correctly diagnosed (according to the current diagnostic) as autistic can "recover" to virtually normal functioning in every area of life, as I have seen it myself in several cases that I have followed very closely from diagnosis to the present over a ten-year period. The majority view in the field is that this can't happen, so I think it would be inappropriate to use the venue of an encyclopedia entry to make my argument. The encyclopedia needs to represent minority views (if they do so at all) as being held by "some researchers" or, more generously, by "many researchers." -DoctorW 23:45, 23 November 2005 (UTC)

Your new wording is much better, thanks. Neurodivergent 00:27, 24 November 2005 (UTC)
As to the view that autism is incurable, I think it's more a debate as to whether someone can really stop being autistic. They say that as a cautionary statement, i.e. your child can reach a pretty good functioning level, but don't expect their neurology to become non-autistic. I understand what you mean, from personal experience. My dad was likely HFA as a child and now functions so close to NT that he would not be diagnosed. But it's likely that he does remain neurologically different to this day, with notable advantages. A famous example is Raun Kaufman of the Son-Rise program who is claimed to have been autistic and now says "there's no trace" of his autism. In the autistic community those are referred to as Uncle-Tom Autistics if I'm not mistaken. The question is whether autism is a behavior or a neurological profile. I think it's the latter. Neurodivergent 00:36, 24 November 2005 (UTC) link[edit]

The Colour-se7en link doesn't seem as if it should be here -- it's a new site with very little unique content, and few visitors so far. I deleted the link from the AS and savant pages a couple of weeks ago, and from the AS page today. I think it probably should go from this page as well; if it stays, then there's really no justification for removing any autism-related site, and you end up with a huge link list. ManekiNeko | Talk 01:02, 22 November 2005 (UTC)

Who researches autism?[edit]

It seems to me that the reference in the introduction to "debate" in the "scientific community" should be more specific in two ways. It would be a plus to indicate (if it can do so very briefly) that the debate takes place in the context of research. Also, it should mention (and link to) the fields that study autism, and the appropriate place for that is in the introduction, as an important part of the context for the subject. There is already a linked mention of Psychiatry and Physiology; Psychology should be included. I have to admit I am not sufficiently familiar with other fields (psychology is immense as it is), to know which other fields have made contributions that meet the threshold of substantial. Other editors here may add fields as they see fit. I would only caution that good judgement be used; for example, I know prominent researchers of autism in departments with names that are some variation on "Human Development," but they are essentially developmental psychology, thus a branch of psychology. -DoctorW 01:41, 24 November 2005 (UTC)

You can add neurobiology and developmental embryology to the list of contributing disciplines, along with the analysis of the interaction between critical developmental genes and teratogens. I've already mentioned Dr Rodier in several places in Talk pages on autism & related subjects (partly because I'm surprised her work hasn't gained more prominence since being published in Scientific American) - plus there's a substantial team working in concert with her at the University of Rochester Medical Center ... a quick check on the names in that latter page should provide a substantial list of contributing fields to accompany the named individuals. Not the only researchers by any stretch of the imagination, but since you asked for specifics, I thought I'd supply some for any list you wish to create. Calilasseia 09:27, 10 January 2006 (UTC)

There are at least 3 studies that have tried to link HOXA1 and HOXB1 to autism, but no luck. That's probably why her work hasn't gained more prominence. Neurodivergent 15:25, 10 January 2006 (UTC)
I've found other papers on PubMed that conflict with these findings. Details in the Heritability of autism article. The problem here is that while a single allelic variant of HOXA1 or HOXB1 is probably insufficient to trigger the developmental cascade resulting in the brainstem differences found in both humans and transgenic mice, multiple allelic variants combining may provide a satisfactory model. Indeed there is redundancy across HOXA1 and HOXB1, demonstrated courtesy of the fact that transgenic mice with variant alleles in both genes exhibit a much more profound spectrum of developmental differences than those mice expressing variance in alleles in one of the genes alone. Again, relevant papers linked in the heritability article. Given that the HOXA1 relation to the brainstem relates to diagnostic criteria derived independently of genetic research (e.g., the auditory brainstem response test alighted upon by Dr Simon Baron-Cohen et al), I suspect that further work in this area will prove enlightening. Additionally, Rodier opened up the possibility that these allelic variants interact with as-yet undiscovered teratogens : valproic acid studies with transgenic mice produced similar brainstem changes. The fact that these candidate genes govern a developmental mechanism that is sensitive to the effects of a range of known teratogens (namely valproic acid and thalidomide) suggests that a search for a combination of variant alleles and teratogens coupling with those variant alleles would be fruitful. If someone supplied me with the research funds, I'd jump at the chance to investigate this! Calilasseia 00:13, 11 January 2006 (UTC)
Perhaps, but it looks like there are a number of other loci which are much more promising. I suppose it's possible for someone to have HOXA1/HOXB1 and appear autistic, but given current findings, this is not how most cases come about. In reality there doesn't appear to be an "autism gene" or even a number of genes. There could be hundreds of genes which contribute slightly one way or another. It doesn't look like they will ever be able to come up with a genetic test that can accurately predict that someone is autistic. The best possible test might give a result like this: Your child has a 10% chance of being 'normal', 30% chance of being 'high-functioning', and 60% chance of being a classic autistic. Neurodivergent 14:06, 11 January 2006 (UTC)

Heritability of autism[edit]

I've started an article titled Heritability of autism. You're all welcome to help build it. I don't intend it to be a POV fork in case you're wondering. Neurodivergent 15:21, 24 November 2005 (UTC)

I've added to that article of yours - information on Dr Patricia Rodier, her work on HOX genes and their relationship to autistic spectrum conditions. Since yours is a new article, I feel somewhat more confident about my edit contributions there than in the full-blown featured article on autism. If anyone would care to examine my addition, and determine if the addition is of a reasonable standard, I'd appreciate some feedback. Who knows, I may someday attain the editing standards that allow me to add material on Rodier's work to the main article with some confidence! Calilasseia 17:49, 24 November 2005 (UTC)

Looks good. I'd like to document every single genetic finding of significance there, with prevalence information. Neurodivergent 18:45, 24 November 2005 (UTC)

With autism[edit]

I'd like to take issue with the article using 'with autism' all over even though the autistic community clearly prefers autistic. You'd be hard pressed to find an autistic person who prefers 'with autism'. Go ask in (Usenet) which is preferred. Neurodivergent 14:38, 14 December 2005 (UTC)

I agree, and additionally I find the "person with autism" usage to be awkward and stilted. -- ManekiNeko | Talk 22:59, 14 December 2005 (UTC)
I'm in school for occupational therapy, and one of the things we learned is that we refer to patients in 'patient-first' terminology. Hence, we say a person with autism, as opposed to the autistic person. The latter version is more demeaning. Imagine saying "Get the autistic person to help us!" vs. "Get the person with autism to help us." It ends up putting more of a label on the person with autisim.--aishel 00:18, 15 December 2005 (UTC)
That's addressed in the new Terminology section and in the person-first terminology article. I'd argue that autistic is preferable for the same reason that deaf person is preferable to person with deafness. In these cases it's advisable to see what the actual affected persons think. In the case of epilepsy, for example, persons with epilepsy will tell you they prefer person-first terminology. In the case of autistics, despite the fact that many can't communicate, at least the opinion of those who can is known. Neurodivergent 00:53, 15 December 2005 (UTC)
That's very interesting! I did not know that. Thank you for enlightening me. --aishel 00:58, 15 December 2005 (UTC)
Great, so would anyone be opposed to changing the article? I'm thinking we'd put a note in the Terminology section stating that the article will use autistic, plus a (see talk page) note. Neurodivergent 01:27, 15 December 2005 (UTC)
One would think that if a system of reference were to be used to refer to a person or a condition, then it should be held for all conditions. Thus, the question is whether a person suffering a certain condition should be defined by that condition, i.e. an autistic person. There is difficulty with this method in situations where the title might be deemed derogatory, such as a person with mental health problems might be referred to as a mental person. Furthermore, if we were to choose the method of defining a person by their condition than we might come to difficulty with people with multiple conditions- for example a person with asthma, autism and mental health issues might be a mental, autistic, asthmatic person. There might also be cases where a definitive -ic is confusing, such as a person with primary sclerosing cholangitis, who might be a primary sclerosing cholangitic. Surely rather than making an exception in this one case (as we so often do in the English language) we would be better off preserving a common system for referring to patients with conditions- i.e. person with autism.
The difference between autism and many other conditions were "patients" prefer the person with terminology, is that autism to a large degree is your "self" and natural way of being. That's why many people don't want their personalities to be identified as diseases, which person with terminology essentially do. Autistic describes a persons autism as something inherent in his/her way of being. Person with autism means the way of being is something that should be eliminated and cured. --Rdos 14:04, 24 April 2006 (UTC)

'New cases' in California[edit]

Another pending issue in this article as well as in the autism epidemic article is references to decrease in 'new cases' of autism in California. Looking at the data itself [9] (it's quite informative, btw, and I might post an analysis) what the articles refer to is a decrease in the increase of total caseload handled by the state. From one quarter to the next, some new kids enter the system, and others obviously leave. Kids leave because the state cannot keep them indefinitely (I think age 18 is the cap) but I'm sure some are deemed recovered, some move out of the state or leave for other reasons. So the difference in caseload is not just kids going into the California system ('new cases'); it's kids going in minus those leaving. I'm guessing close to 4000 per year are entering the system, i.e. about 1.25% of all kids born in any given year. This is rather high, considering that we're not talking Asperger's. I'm guessing kids are entering the system at different ages, and awareness hasn't totally caught up. Clearly, the increase in caseload every quarter cannot itself increase indefinitely -- pretty soon everyone in California would be in the DDS. Neurodivergent 01:25, 15 December 2005 (UTC)

Basic problem with the premise[edit]

I find myself itching to make changes to the article, but it all comes down to one problem with it: the premise that autism is a single condition the way Downs syndrome, Turners syndrome, etc., is. If one is willing to question that premise and assume that the broad term "autism" in fact refers to a number of different conditions with different etiology but vaguely similar manifestations, all the theories and ideas about etiology, treatment/remediation, etc. may or may not be true. I'm not sure how to resolve this in the article, but we'll continue to have unnecessary disagreements if we continue to act on the shaky premise that it's all one thing. --Leifern 14:35, 15 December 2005 (UTC)

With all the gene loci identified so far, findings which seem to vary depending on the region looked at or family sample, I'd say the evidence is pretty conclussive that there are many different conditions that fall under the umbrella "autism". (Many of those conditions arguably are already known). Unfortunately, the science hasn't caught up with that fact, and we can't document conditions we don't know about. What this article does really is document an entry in the DSM-IV. Neurodivergent 14:51, 15 December 2005 (UTC)
And the irony of that is that very few believe that psychiatry plays much of a role at all - which means that the DSM-IV perspective is the least valid of all. --Leifern 15:14, 15 December 2005 (UTC)
It is not necesary that autism is many conditions just because the genetic background is very diverse. I see it as one condition that is related to us being a hybrid species. The comorbidities instead should be classfied as autistic traits. We will research the connection between autistic traits and neurodiversity traits in the next Aspie-quiz --Rdos 05:49, 16 December 2005 (UTC)
One could argue that it is a single phenotype manifested through a hundred different genotypes and a few phenocopies, but I think that once the specific genotypes are found, new names will be proposed, as has occurred with Rett syndrome. Neurodivergent 19:19, 16 December 2005 (UTC)

Bleuler date wrong[edit]

I checked the American Journal of Insanity for 1912 and couldn't find any paper by Bleuler. I haven't deleted this date, as I can't think of a substitute for what it clearly a very important fact: the first use of the word autism to describe a behavioral disorder. If anyone can help, it would be good.


I actually find it more objectionable to categorize autism as a psychiatric disorder than a communication disorder, and many don't think the term "disorder" should apply at all. Having said that, the main problem is that the definition and diagnostic criteria are lousy for this condition. We might want to consider the purpose of categorization for this article as well. In the meanwhile, I'm reverting. --Leifern 12:53, 1 January 2006 (UTC)

DAN! etc.[edit]

These need to be cited and they seem like an ad...

As for the discussion above as autism as a seperate condition - the problem is that people believe they are seperate conditions (well, less and less now) but it definately is easier to treat it as one condition for the purpose of this article, and it tends to make more sense to keep it in the spectrum-articles. As is I think it does a good job of "differentiating" (if that were possible) the conditions.

Finally, as for Liefern's comment "in the meanwhile, I'm reverting" - the point of removing that cat was to avoid revert wars. Incidentally it would probably be better off to have those listed as "conditions", rather than "disorders". But I digress, my theory of it preventing revert wars has proven mostly incorrect in the past so it is a moot issue.

WhiteNight T | @ | C 16:45, 3 January 2006 (UTC)

MB12 and Enzymes and...portal?[edit]

MB12...we need to expand it.And add in the Enzymes too...shall we have a portal? Tdxiang 陈 鼎 翔 (Talk) Chat with Tdxiang on IRC! My Rfa

An autism portal? Sounds interesting. I like the idea, but we can make one for all mental illnesses such as dyslexia and stuff like that. --Terence Ong Talk 12:22, 11 January 2006 (UTC)
It wasn't cited so I just removed it - the content was
Methylcobalamin B-12 is a vitamin. When injected in the buttocks, it produces glutathoine,which helps to detox the body.
Honestly, I don't know if this is widely used enough to go here anyway. At any rate, if someone really wants it here, you really need a solid reference of some kind WhiteNight T | @ | C 20:28, 11 January 2006 (UTC)

where to put other medical findings[edit]

There is a little edit war going on at autistic enterocolitis. This is NOT a request for making it worse! Rather, I note that this article doesn't have reference to the GI problems common in the autistic kids nor anything about copper metabolism. Other medical matters probably need to be included. I'd eventually like to see the autistic enterocolitis article be about that specific category and have other medical stuff here. Any thoughts on where that ought to go? Steve Holland MD Kd4ttc 23:53, 13 January 2006 (UTC)

Autism and Kanner's syndrome[edit]

It seems to me that there is much less mention of the term Kanner's syndrome in contrast to Asperger's, so maybe it could be mentioned more, perhaps in the header too..

Focus on disorder/cure (or at least mainstream view) in links?[edit]

I realize the need to curb excessive references and links at the bottom of this article, but I noticed that the ones which remain are mostly those which refer to autism from the cure-it or disordered standpoint. Is this intentional; for instance, should not be listed under "resources" because it is opposed to the dominant culture's view (and therefore more appropriate in the Controversies in autism article instead)? Bluejay Young 09:49, 22 January 2006 (UTC)

No way. It's the standard in most articles, when there's disagreement in the world about the subject, to include more than one-side views when there are opposing ones to give a fuller picture. --Mistress Selina Kyle (Α⇔Ω ¦ ⇒✉) 11:40, 22 January 2006 (UTC)
The single-minded viewpoint is common in most autism-related articles on Wikipedia, and the one's with differing views are VfD periodically until they eventually becomes deleted. Must be the curebie maffia that is behind this. BTW, I was under the impression that single-mindedness was an autistic trait, but it seems to cluster with curebees. --Rdos 20:29, 22 January 2006 (UTC)
In that case, I will be happy to put some of those links back. Thank you for clearing this up. Bluejay Young 18:56, 26 January 2006 (UTC)
Also, why is there a blog section of the links? I thought blogs were considered among the least noteworthy of websites, so it doesn't make sense to have a blog section when it is necessary to keep external links very short. Q0 17:56, 3 February 2006 (UTC)
With the way blogs have been turning up news and becoming a force to be reckoned with by CNN and others, maybe they're not considered something that can just be tossed off and dismissed any more. Perhaps it depends on the blog. I imagine if it's something mature and thought-provoking it would be alright. Two or three, as examples, at least. Bluejay Young 04:43, 4 February 2006 (UTC)

Antisocial personality disorder[edit]

Can autism be interchangeable with antisocial personality disorder? It seems to me that some of the symptoms are shared (i.e., lack of emotion). Scorpionman 04:30, 26 January 2006 (UTC)

No way. Not at all! Autism is definitely not a personality disorder. Kd4ttc 14:32, 26 January 2006 (UTC)
Not only that, but your idea that autistics lack emotion is outdated. This is now known to be completely untrue. You might want to read Clara Claiborne Park's books The Siege and Exiting Nirvana about her autistic daughter. Bluejay Young 18:52, 26 January 2006 (UTC)
Isn't it also false that people with antisocial personality disorder lack emotion? Q0 01:33, 27 January 2006 (UTC)
Let's not beat up on Scorpionman too much. It was initially a question on categorization. Medical classification, that is, diagnosis, often deals with illnesses that share symptoms. Cough can be present in both pneumonia and congestive heart failure, and you would be surprised how hard it can be to distinguish the two even with a chest x-ray. The antisocial personality disorder is where there are a pattern of behaviors that hurt others. The brain is funcitonal, but the choices of behavior that are made include several of the following problems: failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest, deceitfulness, as indicated by repeated lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure, impulsivity or failure to plan ahead, irritability and aggressiveness, as indicated by repeated physical fights or assaults, reckless disregard for safety of self or others, consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure to sustain consistent work behavior or honor financial obligations, or lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another. In contrast, in Autism you have a brain that is dysfunctional, with inability to organize incoming communication or sensation and inability to express themselves normally. In both cases the presence or absence of emotion are not really an issus. Even in the antisocial personality disorder there may be emotion even with no remorse. Kd4ttc 16:20, 27 January 2006 (UTC)
Sure. I was going only by Scorpionman's exact words and didn't realize he was asking about categorization. Bluejay Young 06:00, 30 January 2006 (UTC) Apokrif 18:32, 27 January 2006 (UTC)
Apokrif: You need to amplify on that. Kd4ttc 17:07, 29 January 2006 (UTC)
I wasn't emphasizing on the lack of emotion, as you've just said. I was just using it as an example. There are a host of symptoms that may be shared, as the above website said (although I doubt that the kid had asperger's; he probably had a form of personality disorder that was confused with autism). I was diagnosed with Asperger's myself; it actually runs in my family. My grandfather has it, my dad has it, my brother has it, and I have it. Generally, I don't lack emotions. But when hanging around social circles that I usually am on the outside of, I can't stand them showing positive emotions. My biggest symptom of Asperger's is outbursts of anger (which are common to autistics and those with personality disorders). But I'm not really malicious; I do have a strong sense of regret after having done something bad or stupid, which is usually what keeps me from doing such things. I've also pointed out similarities between social phobia and autism; please see the autism talk page. Scorpionman 19:55, 30 January 2006 (UTC)
These were really timely comments. Just yesterday a patient presented to my clinic with a long history of digestive complaints. They were vague, but triggered by milk or sugar. I then got out of him that his mom used to cook with special grains, milk free, and sugar and food dye free. I had just read about that diet approach in Asperger's syndrome, and asked if he had trouble in social situations. That got quite a surprised reaction from him. He hates social chit chat and people around him get uncomfortable with him in those situations. His father was the same way. I'll be doing an EGD and colonoscopy and will see what he has. Dr. Holland Kd4ttc 04:04, 2 February 2006 (UTC)
Yes, autism does have several links to the gut. I've been diagnosed with this disorder myself and I don't do well socially. When I'm standing in a room full of people talking and laughing, and no one is paying any attention to me, I feel very uncomfortable and sometimes get angry because I'm not recieving any attention. But I do all right when someone starts talking to me. I mostly rely on others to help me into social situations; if I go by myself I'll have a panic attack! I was listening to Dr. Tony Attwood awhile ago and he was talking about symptoms that I definitely have. I actually had a friend once who had Aspergers syndrome, and he met all of the criteria. He and I would play and he would basically be the boss. I tried to suggest what to play and he often didn't agree with it. Also, we went to the same school, and he was very sensitive to the noise there. He also got unreasonably irritated at me and other students and it would get to the point where we wouldn't talk to each other for the rest of the day. But we would usually get back together eventually and we still make contact with each other. I read the big discussion on the Aspergers syndrome talk page and I am also a big science fiction buff (although I haven't memorized any Dr. Who episodes). I am an Aspie but I don't agree that all Aspies are science fiction buffs, and not all science fiction buffs are Aspies. Some may be interested in literature, and some may be into actual science (as opposed to the fictional literature). My dad is a railfan, and my mom does get irritated at him for it. My interests tend to change, but they almost always have something to do with science or science fiction! Scorpionman 21:29, 10 February 2006 (UTC)

Diet section[edit]

The diet section seems to just mention that diet is an option. In contrast, in the real world, the gluten free/caseine free diet is very widely used by autism patients. Shouldn't this section be worded more strongly? Kd4ttc 23:16, 1 February 2006 (UTC)

Sure,but there is one thing.Kids now no longer need GFCF...just use digestive enzymes!Strange but true, and can someone comment on this enzymes stuff? Tdxiang 陈 鼎 翔 (Talk) Chat with Tdxiang on IRC! My Rfa

Nothing about MCDD[edit]

I gave readed this article and i am missing the mentiion of MCDD.

Methods and ethiology sections[edit]

I find these sections chaotic. What is the reason for this division? I would propose to extract the causes & ethiology sections into a separate article and merge with the Asperger's syndrom "causes" section. I did re-write the "causes" section of the Asperger's article to separate theories according to different views of autism. I would suggest this should be done here as well, but I find it rather hard to do when methods and ethiology are separated. --Rdos 15:00, 6 February 2006 (UTC)

I personally do like the division. Models that attempt to explain autistic behavior are different to theories that propose specific physical factors that may cause autism. Granted, some (like the mirror neuron theory) should probably be moved to the other section. Neurodivergent 19:08, 6 February 2006 (UTC)

Gold salts[edit]

There has been an ongoing discussion in gold salts about how much material about gold salts in autism should be incorporated into the gold salts article. Given that the use of gold salts in autism is investigational, a few sentences, not paragraphs would be more appropriate in the gold salts article. I figured that this material would be more appropriate in the autism article. Andrew73

The gold salt section were moved with the therapies section to Autism therapies. Further comments should be made in the new article --Rdos 16:48, 15 February 2006 (UTC)

Autism therapy section[edit]

I think this section should be split out of the main autism article and put in Autism therapies or something similar. Wikipedia still complains about the size of the article, even after I've moved models & etiology sections to a new article. Thoughts? --Rdos 06:46, 15 February 2006 (UTC)

That's fine, but you should also leave the section title where it was and add a main tag. Neurodivergent 14:21, 15 February 2006 (UTC)
Better now? --Rdos 16:45, 15 February 2006 (UTC)
Yes. I left a comment in Talk:Causes of autism. Neurodivergent 17:40, 15 February 2006 (UTC)

I think there is also a need to migrate some references / links and so on from the autism article to the Causes of autism and Autism therapies articles. I suggest people familiar with these move them. --Rdos 16:45, 15 February 2006 (UTC)

I'm not particularly happy that this featured article is currently broken. The footnotes should have been moved at the same time as the new split articles created, and not left for others to tidy up afterwards. I'll move the footnotes but obviously the references will be much harder to move and probably require help from the original authors. Colin 19:03, 15 February 2006 (UTC)

At least I am a lot more happy about the article now that it isn't cluttered with wild speculations about "cures" and causes. This should have been done a long time ago. As for footnotes, I think you did a good job with them. The best part is that the autism article now isn't cluttered with speculative "research" foot-notes! --Rdos 19:27, 15 February 2006 (UTC)

Relative prevalence of savantism[edit]

This may be a tangent to a previous discussion, and I was going to place it in Autistic savant, but this article seems to get more attention :-) Is there any research that demonstrates that savantism is more prevalent among autists than in the general population? It seems to me that non-autistic people can have extraordinary mental abilities as well, and those might go under-reported as they're not as interesting as the autistic savant. I 18:25, 2 March 2006 (UTC)

I understand it's 10% of autistics and 0.5% of the general population. Rimland I believe made the observation first. I've also heard 30%. Judging 'savantism' is a bit subjective. For example, an extraordinarily good computer programmer may be said to have 'savant skills'. Also, recent research by Mottron-Dawson is challenging the notion that autistics are cognitively impaired. It would appear that, at least based on the Raven IQ test, autistics as a group are cognitively above the general population. Neurodivergent 19:01, 2 March 2006 (UTC)
Would that be Rimland's chapter in the (1978) book by Serban? If so, I'm afraid that would considered to be a bit dated now. Mottron, to the best of my knowledge, only does research into the abilities of autistic savants, not into its general prevalence. I could be mistaken of course (this is from memory), but a reference to a peer-reviewed article would be nice. I 14:15, 5 March 2006 (UTC)
You're right. Any prevalence of autistic characteristics published around 1980 probably makes no sense now (divide by 3 or so). Mottron-Dawson is in French. Here's a translation: [10]. This poster is remarkable as well: [11] (has an error in the test norming, but the graphs are basically sound). Neurodivergent 23:44, 5 March 2006 (UTC)
Well, neither of those seem to be relevant to savantism. I'm aware of studies regarding autistic task performance (and have designed one or two myself), but what I'm looking for is evidence that *exceptional* mental abilities are more prevalent among autists than the general population. If it isn't, then much information about autistic savantism may be misleading, as it implies a connection between autism and savantism which may be spurious. I 9:40, 10 March 2006 (UTC)

Social Development[edit]

Firstly, I want to say what an excellent article this is and I am really grateful that so many people have spent a lot of time and effort in producing it. It seems a little mean that I should edit it, even a little, but I have and will explain my reasons here.

My son is autistic, and is determined as moderate to severe on the Spectrum, and his diagnosis was based on behaviours that I also manifested less extremely at the same ages. I amended the Theory of Mind as it seemed too definitive, that any diagnosis of autism included an absence of ToM. From my own observations, and I will happily admit to bias, is that my son has perhaps a diminished or abstract understanding of ToM - but can judge likely reactions by other people to events, he just cannot seem to do it intuitively. If there is a study giving a 100% result of a lack of empathy, and it is cited, then I would have little argument in reverting to the previous text. As I also said before, I manifested mild autistic behaviour in my developmental years and I am fully aware of the potential reaction to both my edits and this discussion topic.

I also made the social alienation aspect less definitive. If there is anything I can do as a parent, it is to promote social interaction from my son. This does not mean he is not often solitary, and usually within a crowd, but he can interact with some of his peer group and does not unduly appear to be withdrawn or anxious. A lot of this can be credited to the children (especially his cousins and other family children) who are aware of but do not make anything of his condition. Whilst this is an ongoing situation, I would comment that my son does not manifest any indication of social exclusion. Again, my experience is that whilst I can be solitary, I am rarely lonely and can forge relationships.

I welcome any comments, and will answer non-pervasive questions about my son. I would also suggest a quick look at my userpage might be useful.

LessHeard vanU 13:07, 9 March 2006 (UTC)

If not too invasive a question, I would be interested to know what kind of practitioner diagnosed your son, and what kind of therapy or intervention he is receiving. -- Cecropia 20:25, 11 March 2006 (UTC)
I am happy to provide the following answers, in good faith.
He was diagnosed by a Consultant in Learning Disabilities, after a referral from the Local Health Authority (LHA) Child Development Centre (CDC). He was assessed by the CDC following concern about his language development/use and behaviours expressed by staff at his pre-school nursery.
The nursery was provided funding to finance the provision of one to one support during the schooling element of the care. When he entered regular state education we sought, and were eventually granted, full time one to one assistance both in the and out of the classroom. As part of his "Statemented Needs" he also receives regular assesments from a visiting Speech and Language Therapist. He is also seen by an Educational Psychologist, a Behavioral Support individual, a Communications team, a Child Development Consultant and a Neurodevelopmental Psychiatrist at various times in a school year. The aim is to support him within the mainstream education syllabus - although at the end of the last school year it was considered that his development was not such that he should "move up" with his peers, but repeat the school year.
He has very recently been prescribed Risperidone, an antipsychotic to help with promoting his going to sleep. It is understood that a benificial side effect can be help with concentration.
His situation is under constant review.LessHeard vanU 21:42, 11 March 2006 (UTC)
Thank you for the detailed response. So your son has been in "the loop," as it were, for about two years, and the authorities seem to be forthcoming with services. My experience is in the US, with my younger daughter, an autistic friend of my older (not autistic) daughter and a number of others. A few more questions occur to me: Does you son speak? If so, at what age? Do you have much decision-making ability as to what therapies your son receives? Are you satisfied with the course of therapy thus far? Cheers, Cecropia 23:10, 11 March 2006 (UTC)
The authorities are forthcoming with services because we took them to a Tribunal after they offered only 12 (later 15) hours support in a 30 hour school week! The Tribunal required that the Education Authority supply support for the entire school day, including breaks and lunchtime, which was more than we thought we would get. The level of support is to increase as the school week does. It seems that we presented a very good case.
My son does speak, and at his last assesment (when aged 6) was deemed to speak at a level of 3 to 4 years. This "delay" in speech has been consistent during the assesment period. As you may know the 3-4 age of speech development is a crucial one, he just got there late.
We do not have a decision-making role in the matter of therapies. We are included in all aspects of discussion regarding therapy, and all decisions - and alternatives - are explained to us, but we are content that it is the experts in the field who decide on the course of therapy. Since, as you will have noted, there is quite a few inputs into the decision making process we realise that any policy will be concensual under current practice. As such, we are satisfied with the course of therapy our son has received. We see he is progressing, and that he is not unduly frustrated or anxious as regards the effect of his condition. People WILL be made aware should we ever feel that best practice is not being followed with regard to his therapy.
Can I ask you a question? Is your interest professional as well as personal? I have noted some differences in the US perceptions and attitudes toward Autism - indeed I am thinking of asking some of "our" people if they would like to contribute to this article if they are familiar with Wikipedia/the Internet/computers - and am wondering how our experiences may inform your thoughts regarding your daughters treatment/therapy. If it is personal only I would be happy to continue this discussion on "my talk" page (or yours). I don't want to clutter up this page with specific details on just one or two individuals which is not germane to the subject matter.
That said, I hope your little girl - and your other daughters friend - are happy and getting all the help they need.LessHeard vanU 11:51, 12 March 2006 (UTC)
You may say that my interest is personal, since I am not a practitioner but, as my daughter was diagnosed nearly a decade ago, I've seen vast changes in the perceptions and therapies for autism, so some of what I say here may be of more general interest to readers here. If you wish to chit-chat about more personal issues of our autistic children, we may discuss those on your talk page, if you like.
Just to set out one point: it would seem the US experience is much different than in GB. The Americans with Disabilities Act (1990, I think) requires that all children with a disability receive a "free and appropriate education." In plain terms, this doesn't mean that they are entitled to the absolute best education available (the magazine TV shows notwithstanding) but that they receive an education appropriate to their disability: i.e., they can't simply be "warehoused," nor should you put all handicapped kids in a "disabilities class" where the methods may be appropriate to one kind of disability but not another. But beyond that, the level of service is heavily dependent on the individual school district.
Autism is one of the named disabilities that are automatically entitled to special ed support, so it is very important to get a diagnosis and, in the US, this can only be done by a Medical Doctor. In the case of autism, this is often done by a neurologist or psychiatrist. A therapist, psychologist, etc., can't give a diagnosis unless they are also MDs.
The one thing that you mentioned that made my ears perk up was that your son is mainstreamed but is being left back a year. I am not a doctor and I don't want to encourage you to seek a change if you're happy with your situation--you're a lot closer (about 3,000 miles and several degress of separation) to your sitution than I. Where I am, a child will generally not be left back because of a disability. If the child is not able to keep up with his/her grade level the child will not be mainstreamed but will be put in one of a series of special education situations. We had a hard time even getting a diagnosis for our daughter. She was placed into special ed at a private school when she was 3 and they didn't do much for her. She didn't speak, she didn't socialize, she was fairly docile (unless crossed) and would not even notice your presence unless you literally got right in her face. Despite the fact that she presented with classic autistic behavior, noone (except me and then my wife) considered that she might be autistic. She stimmed, she had echolalia, she drew away if you tried to touch or hold her, and she spent endless hours examining individual grains of sand. When they were able to give her a specialized IQ test, she scored a 64. Finally, when she was ready to transition to the public (state) school system, we brought her to a psychiatrist skilled in learning disabilities and he gave a diagnosis of Autistic Disorder (not Asperger's) after spending two hours with her. He also predicted a good outcome with appropriate therapies.
Now while the school district has the ultimate say on what services are provided, our district is willing to yield to parents' wishes where possible. The local cooperative education service (multi-district) had just begun a pioneering ABA program and she was placed in it at kindergarten age. To make a long story short, they advanced her as she was able. She started on a 1:1 program, then added some 2:1, then this become almost all 3:1. She then "graduated" after several years to a guided program at a host school where she had one or two mainstream classes with an aide. As of this school year (she is in 8th grade), still under special ed guidance, she is fully mainstreamed. She almost made an A+ average and her last measured IQ was 124. Next year she will probably return "to district" for high school. She is still quite definitely autistic, but most people wouldn't have a clue to this.
My point in all this is both to express a hope and a caution. Some parents we know are anxious to have their child mainstreamed, and sometimes this seems to be at least partly motivated by the natural human belief that if you treat a person in a "normal" way, they will be "normal." We didn't want our daughter to be mainstreamed one minute before she was ready. She has progressed more dramatically than any other autistic child I personally know of, so what I am saying is: perhaps you may just consider whether you might enquire as to whether mainstreaming at this point is the very best thing. Cheers, Cecropia 07:23, 14 March 2006 (UTC)
Thank you for your full and considered reply and, on the basis that we are discussing general considerations which may be affected owing to our different circumstances, I am more than happy to continue this correspondence here (and I apologise if my tone indicated that I thought our personal experiences may be in the nature of "chit chat".) To answer your last point first; my wife and I absolutely believe that exposure to mainstream education is the preferred option, since "normal" society is where our child is going to spend all of his life - within it or seperated from it.
Not only are there some differences in our cultures generally, but also local issues informed our choice. We live in a low population density rural area, where most of the social services are centralised. There is only one alternative available to our child if he is not placed within an assisted mainstream school, and that facility takes all children with special educational needs not provided for within mainstream schooling. We feel that the special educational facility has difficult choices in applying its resources across the spectrum of educational need, and that the more passive needs of some children with comprehension difficulties may be obscured by the overt behavioural characteristics of other children. We are also fortunate that our local school already had an inclusive policy, and that staff were familiar with dealing with Statemented children. Had we been living in another type of area we may have come to a different conclusion, and we are aware that the specialist facility is an option that will remain open throughout the educational process.
As with yourself, we are unable to demand the best education for our child. We can, however, expect (and demand) appropriate access to the National Curriculum. Where this is not possible owing to a disability manifested by the child, then that child must be provided with a Statement of Needs detailing the assistance required to provide that access. It was this Statement that we successfully challanged at Tribunal, resulting in the fulltime one to one support he now enjoys. Since the behaviours he models are not in the more extreme range, and he appears to have some social behaviour functionality, we hope that in adapting to his current environment he will reap further benefits in an ability in dealing with society generally in the future. That is, we feel that he is learning more than just educational subjects in being schooled with a cross section of society. We do not believe that his condition denies him any opportunity that would be better allowed within a specialist environment.
Of course, circumstances can change. 22:26, 15 March 2006 (UTC)
Oh, it appears that my pc disconnected whilst writing the above! I will sign this off.LessHeard vanU 22:40, 15 March 2006 (UTC)
It also appears my brain disconnected regarding my son being held back a year... in the small village school my son attends different age groupings are taught in the same class. His immediate peergroup did join another class, but he is familiar with many of his now current class. He is not the only child "held back", as this is a policy within the school to sometimes delay progression to the next class if circumstances demand. Pupils need not wait the entire year before moving on. The reasons were explained to us, and we agreed. In that our child has one to one assistance in learning, it was also felt that the classroom agenda could be modified so that he was not merely repeating the previous years study programme. It is expected that he will be able to participate fully with his peer group when he does attend the next class.LessHeard vanU 23:02, 15 March 2006 (UTC)