How to think of the risks of Autism. "As a statistically minded neuroscientist, I suggest a different approach that relies on a concept we are familiar with: relative odds. As a single common measuring stick to compare odds, I have chosen the “risk ratio,” a measure that allows the bigger picture to come into focus."
A succint NYT op-ed that is also a good primer on assessing health risks in general as well as the impact of media coverage on skewing risk perception.
posted by storybored
on Mar 30, 2014 -
Rather than being oblivious, autistic people take in too much and learn too fast.
While they may appear bereft of emotion, the Markrams insist they are actually overwhelmed not only by their own emotions, but by the emotions of others.
Consequently, the brain architecture of autism is not just defined by its weaknesses, but also by its inherent strengths. The developmental disorder now believed to affect around 1 percent of the population is not characterized by lack of empathy, the Markrams claim. Social difficulties and odd behavior result from trying to cope with a world that’s just too much. [more inside]
posted by latkes
on Dec 15, 2013 -
is a severely autistic thirteen year old artist whose prolific drawn art, animation, films, photographs and clay sculptures
all share a distinctly colorful, vibrant and upbeat style. Her mother maintains an online gallery of her work, as well as sharing her story as it develops on the site and in a blog
. She has also notably used Rickrolling
as inspiration to create beautiful art
. [more inside]
posted by byanyothername
on Dec 9, 2013 -
Researchers using eye-tracking technology found that 3-year-olds diagnosed with autism looked less at people’s eyes when they were babies than children who did not develop autism. But contrary to what the researchers expected, the difference was not apparent at birth. It emerged when babies were 2 to 6 months old, and autism experts said that may suggest a window during which the progression toward autism can be halted or slowed. Article in the NYT
. Also SciAm
. Reduced eye contact for autistic babies has been documented previously (e.g.
), but this study captures the exact window of the decline. [more inside]
posted by RedOrGreen
on Nov 6, 2013 -
Darius McCollum was recently arrested in New York for stealing a Trailways bus. Evidently he drove the bus to a Manhattan hotel where he picked up a flight crew and drove them to JFK Airport. On the way back to a New Jersey bus depot, he was pulled over by the cops. This wasn't the first time Mr. McCollum was arrested while (unlawfully) transporting the public. In fact, it was the 29th time
. [more inside]
posted by mark7570
on Jul 17, 2013 -
Mark Holman was a severely disabled teenager who had been living in an institution since his mother became ill. Upon her death, her lawyer petitioned for his guardianship before Judge Kristen Booth Glen, who asked a simple question: when did you last see Mark?
"I haven't seen him since he was eight or nine," responded the lawyer. "His mother used to bring him to our office with his brother, just to show him my face and so forth and so on, so I haven't seen him probably since 1995 or 1996."
Appalled by both the poor standard of care in Mark's case and the breathtaking lack of regulations compelling anything better, Judge Glen set about writing an opinion that would change the way trusts for people with disabilities are managed in New York State
in very, very significant ways.
posted by KathrynT
on Jul 15, 2013 -
"A quarter of U.S. households have a member with special needs. More than 8% of kids under 15 have a disability, and half of those are deemed severe. What we share in common with the parents of all those special-needs children is that our kids have almost nothing in common [...] "Saying you study autism is like saying you study the world of non-elephant animals." Special-needs parents do share one thing: the eviscerating cost of our children."
Paying for a Special Needs Child
. [more inside]
posted by RedOrGreen
on Jun 27, 2013 -
"My name is Chris Murray, and I'm an artist
and I'm very talented... And I’m a dairy stocker at the Edge of the Woods organic grocery store in New Haven, Connecticut." [more inside]
posted by Toekneesan
on Jun 1, 2013 -
A lighthearted [blah blah blah]
Because whenever you describe something as 'lighthearted' it usually means they've taken a serious subject and can't talk about it properly. This father seems to have genuinely managed to talk about having an autistic son, and the ups and downs that entails. [more inside]
posted by lucullus
on Apr 7, 2013 -
"In May 2013, "Asperger's Syndrome" will be removed as a diagnosis from the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), leaving "high functioning autism" in its place. I agree with this change. Given the importance of the manual, however, it's caused a lot of consternation and caused me to reflect upon my experiences."—Anonymous
Pedagogy of the Depressed: my experiences as a special ed student in the 1990s
, an anonymous Boing Boing article
posted by Toekneesan
on Jan 5, 2013 -
How do I empower someone without language, sign, or gesture? What is it like to experience aphasia, dysnomia, auditory and visual distortions, and variable physical sensations? At times I imagine that entering into my son's sensory world—his own particular neurocosm, perhaps I should say—is a bit like walking into Lewis Carroll's Wood With No Names ...
English professor Amy Leal wrote about her young son's son's unexplained regressions and loss of skills last year in Little Boy Lost
. This year she returns with a beautiful and heartbreaking study of her son's condition in Dream Map to a Mind Seized
posted by Joe in Australia
on Dec 9, 2012 -
Is Everyone on the Spectrum?
"In the nineties, clinicians began reconceptualizing autism from a singular disorder to a cluster of related conditions on a spectrum of severity; as the criteria broadened to encompass less acutely impaired people—such as the more verbal group diagnosed with Asperger’s—prevalence rose dramatically. Before 1980, one in 2,000 children was thought to be autistic. By 2007, the Centers for Disease Control were reporting that one in 152 American children had an autism-spectrum disorder. Two years later, the CDC updated the ratio to one in 110. This past March, the CDC revised the number upward again, to one in 88 (one in 54, if you just count boys, who are five times as likely to have one as girls). A South Korean study from last year put the number even higher, at one in 38. And in New Jersey, according to the latest numbers, an improbable one in 29 boys is on the spectrum."
posted by bookman117
on Nov 8, 2012 -
Is autism an autoimmune disorder?
"The prevalence of inflammatory diseases in general has increased significantly in the past 60 years. As a group, they include asthma, now estimated to affect 1 in 10 children — at least double the prevalence of 1980 — and autoimmune disorders, which afflict 1 in 20.
Both are linked to autism, especially in the mother. One large Danish study, which included nearly 700,000 births over a decade, found that a mother’s rheumatoid arthritis, a degenerative disease of the joints, elevated a child’s risk of autism by 80 percent. Her celiac disease, an inflammatory disease prompted by proteins in wheat and other grains, increased it 350 percent. Genetic studies tell a similar tale. Gene variants associated with autoimmune disease — genes of the immune system — also increase the risk of autism, especially when they occur in the mother." [more inside]
posted by bookman117
on Aug 27, 2012 -
How Humankind's Theory of Mind Could Have Produced God
"As a direct consequence of the evolution of the human social brain, and owing to the importance of our theory-of-mind skills in that process, we sometimes can't help but see intentions, desires, and beliefs in things that haven't even a smidgeon of a neural system... More than a few of us have kicked our broken-down vehicles in the sides and verbally abused our incompetent computers.... So it would appear that having a theory of mind was so useful for our ancestors in explaining and predicting other people's behaviors that it has completely flooded our evolved social brains. As a result, today we overshoot our mental-state attributions to things that are, in reality, completely mindless. And all of this leads us, rather inevitably, to a very important question: What if I were to tell you that God's mental states, too, were all in your mind?" [more inside]
posted by bookman117
on Jul 21, 2012 -
Snow White's Scary Adventures - A Retrospective
[via mefi projects
The author can't post it here for obvious reasons, but I can. I think. Now to wipe these tears from my eyes...
Tomorrow, May 31st, will be the last day of operation for the ride Snow White's Scary Adventures at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World. The ride has played a significant role in my family's life for the past decade (my son is autistic, and has ridden the ride more than 3,400 times), and I wrote a retrospective about the history of the ride. This is a subject that is too close for me to post on the Blue, but Matthowie and Jessamyn both suggested that I post about it here. The linked blog post itself contains links to a four part series about my son, and also a link in the footnotes to the single best reference site on the web for the ride in all its permutations. I know it's just a silly old fairy tale dark ride, and not on many people's "must-see" list when they come to Disney World, but I hope my article can help at least a few people understand why it really is an important piece of history.
posted by COD
on May 30, 2012 -
The etiology of Autism
remains a mystery. However, three research teams have for the first time linked a gene
to certain forms of autism. This is a great step in the search of what causes this disease.
posted by dov3
on Apr 6, 2012 -
Navigating Love and Autism
- When kissing feels like "mashing your face against someone else’s" and you experience mindblindness, how do you build a relationship? Is it even possible?
posted by tomswift
on Dec 26, 2011 -
Just wait till we're alone together. Then I will tell you something new, something cold, something sleepy, something of cease and peace and the long bright curve of space. Go upstairs to your room. I will be waiting for you...
As a rare October blizzard drifts a blanket of white across the Northeast just before Halloween, what better time to settle in and read (or watch) Conrad Aiken's
most famous short story, "Silent Snow, Secret Snow."
About a small boy who increasingly slips into an ominous fantasy of isolation and endless snow, it could be viewed as a metaphor about autism, Asperger's syndrome, and even schizophrenia before such conditions even had names. In addition to the 1934 short story, the tale has also been adapted as a creepy
1966 black-and-white short film
(also at the Internet Archive
) and as a Night Gallery
) narrated by Orson Welles. Or for a more academic take, see the essay "The Delicious Progress"
examining Aiken's use of white as a symbol of psychological regression.
posted by Rhaomi
on Oct 29, 2011 -
It's long been thought
that there is a high incidence of autism (and autism-related disorders like Asperger's) in IT fields. Now one company is looking
to turn that into sales. [more inside]
posted by Chrysostom
on Sep 22, 2011 -
Autistic and Seeking a Place in the World.
Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter Amy Harmon spent a year observing a young man with autism named Justin Canha, who took part in a new kind of “transition to adulthood” program for special education students at Montclair High School in NJ. The experimental program was intended to ready him for an independent life as an adult and integrate him into the community. [more inside]
posted by zarq
on Sep 18, 2011 -
Seth Mnookin courageously fought heroin addiction and re-launched himself as a well-regarded writer. His new book The Panic Virus
raised several questions about the science behind claims that vaccinations contribute to autism, and that the consequences of doing so resulted in the reemergence of formerly eradicated diseases such as measles and whooping cough. In that light, he recently criticized a new PBS Series
which, despite strong scientific evidence to the contrary, again suggests the vaccination-autism connection. This led to a classless attack
on Mnookin's former struggles with addiction. His pained response
posted by littlemanclan
on Apr 22, 2011 -
From an early age, it was clear that Carly Fleishmann had autism. Furthermore, she couldn't speak, and professionals who had diagnosed her considered her moderately to severely cognitively impaired. Therapy helped, but she still wasn't able to speak. Then at age ten, working with a computer equipped with pictures and symbols, she started typing and spelling words. She started with single words, then wrote sentences, describing how she felt, and how she wanted people to treat her
. Her story has been presented on a variety of shows
, often with insight provided by Carly that she typed with one finger
. As her writing ability has improved over the years, she has shared her thoughts through her blog
(and as a guest on Larry King's blog
), on her own Twitter feed
, and Facebook page
. Now 16, she recently appeared again on TV, talking through her writing
). [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief
on Apr 21, 2011 -