Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Clinic Notes: Let's Just Bury our Heads in the Ground and Autism Will Go Away

Well here's a cheap and quick way to cure autism--just say it is not a medical disorder or disability but a "socially created disability," whatever that is. Apparently, that's what President Obama's nominee Ari Ne'eman to a national disability council is saying. Mr. Ne'emans, who has very mild Asperger's, is against investing money in anti-cure autism research. Well, that's going to thrill parents who bring their children with autism to my clinic. I glad that Mr. Ne'emans has overcome his disorder and is in a position to be nominated, but I don't think he would be any parent of a child with autism first choice. I doubt that he has seen children with autism banging their heads or biting themselves. Or children with autism who have developmental delays in all areas including language. I don't know how this was socially created. Perhaps the next time a mother brings her child with autism to my clinic complaining that throwing feces is a problem at home and school I will just say, "That's just a socially created disability."

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Clinic Notes: Darwin and Autism

Autism is considered to be a genetic disorder by many and numerous researchers are looking for the "autism gene." The concordance rate for autism (the probability for getting autism) is 60% for identical twins, but drops to between 4-8% for fraternal twins and non-twin siblings. In most cases, the number of individuals with a genetic disorder remains constant in within a population unless an individual with the disorder breeds. In the past ten years there has been an explosion in the number of children diagnosed with autism. If autism is a genetic disorder, then why the dramatic increase? Is it evolving in the population? That would not make sense. Natural selection couldn't be operating here and mutations are unlikely with such an explosion of cases. I wonder if epigenetic markers could be a factor. Epigenetic markers sit on genes and tell them to switch on and off. Stress, diet, etc can cause epigenetic marks can switch genes on and off and affect what is passed on the offspring. So if this idea is correct, and I admit this is a long shot, what happened to the parents of the children with autism that perhaps affected the wiring of their brains? Please email me with your hypotheses.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Clinic Notes: Autism and Diet Redux

Okay another study, this one by Dr. Timothy Buie of Harvard Medical School, says that digestive problems are not more common in kids with autism and special diets do not work. Furthermore, there is no evidence of a "leaky gut" as reported by Andrew Wakefield who first suggested the link between autism and the mercury preservative in measles vaccine. The scientific evidence is overwhelming, but the myth persists. Many children who come to my clinic are on a gluten free diet, but I've never seen any improvement and I have seen very few children with autism who have digestive problems other than being finicky eaters. The special diets cause no harm, other than in some cases, depriving the child of therapies like ABA, which require more effort