General Purpose AUTISM Thread

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General Purpose AUTISM Thread

Postby annie aronburg » Wed Apr 01, 2009 11:18 am

"O Oysters," said the Carpenter,
"You've had a pleasant run!
Shall we be trotting home again?'
But answer came there none--
And this was scarcely odd, because
They'd eaten every one.
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KSU professor Gertrude 'Trudy' Steuernagel's son Sky Walker.

Postby catbirdsteed » Mon Apr 13, 2009 11:55 pm

"general purpose Autism thread"? what is the point of that? ... teuer.html

KSU professor Gertrude 'Trudy' Steuernagel's son Sky Walker pleads not guilty in her beating death.

RAVENNA — Lawyers for Sky Walker, the man charged with the murder of his mother, Kent State University professor Gertrude "Trudy" Steuernagel, entered a not guilty plea for him Friday in Portage County Common Pleas Court.

Walker, who is 18 and has severe autism, did not appear in court for the hearing. At an arraignment last month, when Walker appeared by video from Portage County Jail, he was so agitated and combative he had to be put in a restraint chair and wear a helmet-style mask. This time, his court-appointed guardian appeared on his behalf.

A court-ordered report on whether Walker is competent to stand trial has not yet been filed. A competency hearing will follow.

Police checking Steuernagel's home after she failed to show up for classes at KSU Jan. 29 found her badly beaten.
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Postby catbirdsteed » Sat Apr 25, 2009 12:14 am

I get it now, it's AUTISM awareness month! But shouldn't that give us more latitude for having multiple autism threads? Well, there is not the interest in the issue to warrant it. Annie, your "how aspergerian are you ?" thread did get some real traction. The issue is not null and void here. I'm seeing however, that there is not much real interest here in the biological nuts and bolts issues regarding how these conditions develop and how they can be mitigated. So it goes. ... ove-2.html

Various passages cut and pasted as a very sketchy overview.

My assessment has been that the vaccines very well can incite these autistic tendencies, and that the way we eat, or feed those who cannot discern, is of the utmost importance in the long run for our mental and emotional well being. Granted, there are some exceptions, and a few of us can eat almost anything and remain sane and healthy. I fear that those fewer are becoming more scarce as the decades go by.

"My sons think they know everything. Where to find the hidden Christmas presents, whom to blame when a toy gets broken, and how to manipulate their parents into just one more bedtime book. Four-year-old Ty and six-year-old Max think they are brilliant, but really, they are clueless when it comes to one important thing in their lives. They have no idea that they used to have autism.

They no longer require any behavioral therapies and are indistinguishable from their peers. In fact, we did not feel the need to tell their teachers at school about their previous diagnoses.

1 in 150 people will be diagnosed each year with autism, making it more common in children than cancer, diabetes, and AIDS combined. Regressive autism will impact 36,000 normally developing children this year alone. Autism is assumed to be a lifelong condition, and there is no agreement on causes or treatments.

I heard from a friend about the gluten-free, casein-free diet (eliminating wheat and dairy products). Since I like to approach changes scientifically, I decided to try an experiment while my husband was out of town for a week. I eliminated all dairy products from Max’s diet for seven days and did not tell my husband about it.

When he came home, he was overwhelmed with the changes in our son."Max is 50 percent a different child. I’ve gotten more eye contact from him in one hour than I have in the past year. What happened?"

In the past twenty years, there have been over 500,000 reports of adverse vaccine reactions, including over 12,000 deaths. It is apparent from the VAERS database that other parents have been vocal for a few decades now about the adverse vaccine reactions they observed in their children. And some experts estimate that only 10 percent of reactions are even reported.

These statistics make me question how effective the VAERS mechanism is if feedback from parents has not resulted in a more conservative schedule. In fact the opposite seems to be the case, with the vaccine schedule expanding from 10 shots to 36 shots in the last 25 years."

Yeah i know that DAN has been infiltrated by Scientology MD's. Certainly that will deter many folks from accepting the metabolic realities described. Very Sad on both counts.
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Postby stefano » Tue May 05, 2009 5:11 am

From The Economist:

Genius locus

There is strong evidence for a link between genius and autism. In the first of three articles about the brain this week, we ask how that link works, and whether “neurotypicals” can benefit from the knowledge.

THAT genius is unusual goes without saying. But is it so unusual that it requires the brains of those that possess it to be unusual in others ways, too? A link between artistic genius on the one hand and schizophrenia and manic-depression on the other, is widely debated. However another link, between savant syndrome and autism, is well established. It is, for example, the subject of films such as “Rain Man”, illustrated above.

A study published this week by Patricia Howlin of King’s College, London, reinforces this point. It suggests that as many as 30% of autistic people have some sort of savant-like capability in areas such as calculation or music. Moreover, it is widely acknowledged that some of the symptoms associated with autism, including poor communication skills and an obsession with detail, are also exhibited by many creative types, particularly in the fields of science, engineering, music, drawing and painting. Indeed, there is now a cottage industry in re-interpreting the lives of geniuses in the context of suggestions that they might belong, or have belonged, on the “autistic spectrum”, as the range of syndromes that include autistic symptoms is now dubbed.

So what is the link? And can an understanding of it be used to release flashes of genius in those whose brains are, in the delightfully condescending term used by researchers in the area, “neurotypical”? Those were the questions addressed by papers (one of them Dr Howlin’s) published this week in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. The society, Britain’s premier scientific club and the oldest scientific body in the world, produces such transactions from time to time, to allow investigators in particular fields to chew over the state of the art. The latest edition is the outcome of a conference held jointly with the British Academy (a similar, though younger, organisation for the humanities and social sciences) last September.

A spectrum of belief

A standard diagnosis of autism requires three things to be present in an individual. Two of these three, impairments in social interaction and in communication with other people, are the results of autists lacking empathy or, in technical jargon, a “theory of mind”. In other words they cannot, as even fairly young neurotypicals can, put themselves in the position of another being and ask themselves what that other is thinking. The third criterion, however, is that a person has what are known as restrictive and repetitive behaviours and interests, or RRBI, in the jargon.

Until recently, the feeling among many researchers was that the first two features were crucial to someone becoming a savant. The idea was that mental resources which would have been used for interaction and communication could be redeployed to develop expertise in some arbitrary task. Now, though, that consensus is shifting. Several of the volume’s authors argue that it is the third feature, RRBI, that permits people to become savants.

Francesca Happé of King’s College, London, is one of them. As she observes, obsessional interests and repetitive behaviours would allow someone to practice, albeit inadvertently, whichever skill they were obsessed by. Malcolm Gladwell, in a book called “Outliers” which collated research done on outstanding people, suggested that anyone could become an expert in anything by practising for 10,000 hours. It would not be hard for an autistic individual to clock up that level of practice for the sort of skills, such as mathematical puzzles, that many neurotypicals would rapidly give up on.

Many, but not all. Dr Happé has drawn on a study of almost 13,000 individual twins to show that childhood talent in fields such as music and art is often associated with RRBIs, even in those who are not diagnosed as classically autistic. She speculates that the abilities of savants in areas that neurotypicals tend to find pointless or boring may result from an ability to see differences where a neurotypical would see only similarities. As she puts it, “the child with autism who would happily spend hours spinning coins, or watching drops of water fall from his fingers, might be considered a connoisseur, seeing minute differences between events that others regard as pure repetition.”

Simon Baron-Cohen, a doyen of the field who works at Cambridge University, draws similar conclusions. He suggests the secret of becoming a savant is “hyper-systematising and hyper-attention to detail”. But he adds sensory hypersensitivity to the list. His team have shown one example of this using what is known as the Freiburg visual acuity and contrast test, which asks people to identify the gap in a letter “c” presented in four different orientations. Those on the autistic spectrum do significantly better at this than do neurotypicals. That might help explain Dr Happé’s observations about coins and raindrops.

Insight, too, is given by autists themselves. Temple Grandin is a professor of animal science at Colorado State University. She also writes about her experience of being autistic. As she describes in the volume, one of the differences she perceives between her experience and that of most neurotypicals is that she thinks in images. She says her mind is like an internet search engine that searches for photographs. To form concepts, she sorts these pictures into categories. She does not, however, claim that all autistic people think like this. To the contrary, she describes two other sorts: pattern thinkers who excel at maths and music, and verbal specialists who are good at talking and writing, but lack visual skills. The latter might not qualify as autistic under a traditional diagnosis, but slip into the broader autistic spectrum.

The question of how the autistic brain differs physically from that of neurotypicals was addressed by Manuel Casanova of the University of Louisville, in Kentucky. Dr Casanova has spent many years dissecting both. His conclusion is that the main difference is in the structure of the small columns of nerve cells that are packed together to form the cerebral cortex. The cortical columns of those on the autistic spectrum are narrower than those of neurotypicals, and their cells are organised differently.

The upshot of these differences is that the columns in an autistic brain seem to be more connected than normal with their close neighbours, and less connected with their distant ones. Though it is an interpretative stretch, that pattern of connection might reduce a person’s ability to generalise (since disparate data are less easily integrated) and increase his ability to concentrate (by drawing together similar inputs).
Rain and sunshine

Given such anatomical differences, then, what hope is there for the neurotypical who would like to be a savant? Some, possibly. There are examples of people suddenly developing extraordinary skills in painting and music in adult life as a result of brain damage caused by accidents or strokes. That, perhaps, is too high a price to pay. But Allan Snyder of the University of Sydney has been able to induce what looks like a temporary version of this phenomenon using magnetism.

Dr Snyder argues that savant skills are latent in everyone, but that access to them is inhibited in non-savants by other neurological processes. He is able to remove this inhibition using a technique called repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation.

Applying a magnetic field to part of the brain disrupts the electrical activity of the nerve cells for a few seconds. Applying such a field repeatedly can have effects that last for an hour or so. The technique has been approved for the treatment of depression, and is being tested against several other conditions, including Parkinson’s disease and migraines. Dr Snyder, however, has found that stimulating an area called the left anterior temporal lobe improves people’s ability to draw things like animals and faces from memory. It helps them, too, with other tasks savants do famously well—proofreading, for example, and estimating the number of objects in a large group, such as a pile of match sticks. It also reduces “false” memories (savants tend to remember things literally, rather than constructing a mnemonic narrative and remembering that).

There are, however, examples of people who seem very neurotypical indeed achieving savant-like skills through sheer diligence. Probably the most famous is that of London taxi drivers, who must master the Knowledge—ie, the location of 25,000 streets, and the quickest ways between them—to qualify for a licence.

The expert here is Eleanor Maguire of University College, London, who famously showed a few years ago that the shape of the hippocampus, a part of the brain involved in long-term learning, changes in London cabbies. Dr Maguire and her team have now turned their attention to how cabbies learn the Knowledge.

The prodigious geographical knowledge of the average cabbie is, indeed, savant-like. But Dr Maguire recently found that it comes at a cost. Cabbies, on average, are worse than random control subjects and—horror—also worse than bus drivers, at memory tests such as word-pairing. Surprisingly, that is also true of their general spatial memory. Nothing comes for nothing, it seems, and genius has its price.

Savant syndrome, then, is a case where the politically correct euphemism “differently abled” has real meaning. The conclusion that should be drawn, perhaps, is not that neurotypicals should attempt to ape savants, but that savants—even those who are not geniuses—should be welcomed for what they are, and found a more honoured place in society.
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Postby chiggerbit » Sun Jun 14, 2009 10:42 pm

Is there anyone reading this thread who knows anything about a couple of questions I have, which are:

Does Aspergers or other autism syndome categories tend to affect a persons comfort in driving?

With regard to face blindness, has anyone ever heard of "car blindness"? They all look alike to me, except for color. I can never tell the make.
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Postby monster » Thu Jun 18, 2009 8:16 pm

"I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline."
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Postby monster » Sun Sep 06, 2009 4:31 pm

"I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline."
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Postby nathan28 » Mon Sep 07, 2009 10:10 am

monster wrote:

Along the same lines, but more detailed:

I'll post it later, but two recent studies/metastudies concluded that *under*exposure to sunlight causes something like 10X more deaths in the US and costs about 5X more than the results of overexposure.


"Sunscreen: The Most Ironic Carcinogen Ever!"

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Postby §ê¢rꆧ » Mon Sep 07, 2009 10:23 am

chiggerbit wrote:Is there anyone reading this thread who knows anything about a couple of questions I have, which are:

Does Aspergers or other autism syndome categories tend to affect a persons comfort in driving?

With regard to face blindness, has anyone ever heard of "car blindness"? They all look alike to me, except for color. I can never tell the make.

I don't know anything aside from personal experience (and I don't have any kind of diagnoses for Asperger's but I can related to the ideas associated with it somewhat). I'm very comfortable driving, but I can't tell cars apart either! I think it is different for people who see cars as objects of desire, or at least that's how I've explained my car-blindness to myself.
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Postby monster » Mon Sep 07, 2009 2:24 pm

nathan28 wrote:"Sunscreen: The Most Ironic Carcinogen Ever!"

"I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline."
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Re: General Purpose AUTISM Thread

Postby elfismiles » Mon Dec 14, 2015 1:17 pm

Autism More Common When Antidepressants Are Taken During Pregnancy
New study's authors caution that disorder's cause remains elusive.
by John Tozzi
December 14, 2015 — 10:00 AM CST

Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, and their generics are among the most commonly prescribed antidepressants in the U.S. Research now suggests taking them during pregnancy may increase the chances your child will have autism.

Autism spectrum disorder—a developmental condition characterized by trouble communicating and speaking—is estimated to affect 1.5 percent to 2 percent of U.S. children, depending on how it's measured, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Meanwhile, about 11 percent of Americans over the age of 12 take antidepressants, according to the latest data from the CDC.

A study published Monday in JAMA Pediatrics lends insight into one factor that may influence rising rates of autism spectrum disorder, including Asperger syndrome. Only a few other studies have examined links to antidepressants and pregnancy—the latest from the University of Montreal is the largest of its kind.

Researchers analyzed provincial health records of more than 145,000 pregnancies and births in Quebec from 1998 to 2009. Children with autism were found to be born more often to mothers who took antidepressants than to those who didn't. While the study offers no definitive answers, the effect persisted when researchers sought to adjust for the possibility that depression itself raised the risk. Psychiatric disorders, both during pregnancy and after birth, have been linked to other developmental problems.

Scientists don't fully understand the causes of autism, though many suspect a mix of genetics and environmental factors. Trying to gauge the role of medications during pregnancy is difficult—experts cautioned that there isn't any clear evidence that allowing depression to continue untreated is safer than taking antidepressants.

“There’s no good study design to tease those apart,” said Siobhan Dolan, a professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine who isn't involved in the study. “It’s not, ‘medication is bad and being a depressed mother is a perfectly fine outcome.’ There’s an impact of having depression and trying to raise a child."

Bryan H. King, a psychiatrist at Seattle Children's Hospital, wrote in an editorial accompanying the study that further research is unlikely to reveal "a straight line" between the use of antidepressants during pregnancy and autism. Also, the Quebec study wasn't a randomized control trial, the gold standard for establishing the effects of a particular drug. Instead, it looked at medical records retrospectively, which means that unforeseen factors could account for any link between antidepressant use and autism.

Still, the JAMA authors said women who took a common class of antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, during the second and third trimesters were more than twice as likely than other women to have children who later developed autism.

The overall likelihood of a child developing autism remains small. If taking antidepressants during pregnancy were to double the risk of a child developing autism, “it means going from 1 percent to 2 percent," says Anick Bérard, a co-author of the study and professor of pharmacy at the University of Montreal.

Bérard says women with mild or moderate depression may want to consider non drug approaches, such as therapy or exercise, that have been shown to alleviate symptoms. “What we’re trying to do with this study is basically to give data to women,” she says. “I’m not trying to scare women, but women need to be aware of the risks and benefits of what they’re doing." ... -pregnancy
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