Autism research at the crossroads

By bobb | Fri, 27/1/2023 - 07:35

Brady Huggett

In April of 2021, Emilie Wigdor finished up a paper titled “The female protective effect against autism spectrum disorder” and put it on the pre-print server medRxiv. Wigdor is a Ph.D. student in human genetics at the University of Cambridge and the Wellcome Sanger Institute in the United Kingdom, and the paper had taken three years to complete. It was also the first paper on which she was first author. She was proud of that, and she took to Twitter to promote the work in an 11-part thread.

It’s time to embrace ‘profound autism’

By bobb | Fri, 28/10/2022 - 10:22

Alison Singer

Earlier this month, I attended the Autism-Europe International Congress in Kraków, Poland, where the theme was “Happy Journey Through Life.” Although this sounds like an admirable goal, I would not choose the word “happy” to describe my daughter Jodie’s life with profound autism, nor would many other families who struggle with the day-to-day challenges of life on the profound end of the autism spectrum, a reality that is largely invisible to mainstream society.

DSM-5 revision tweaks autism entry for clarity

By bobb | Sat, 19/3/2022 - 07:15

Peter Hess

Two changes to the criteria for diagnosing autism are slated for release tomorrow in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, Text Revision (DSM-5-TR), published by the American Psychiatric Association. The small changes add clarity and nuance to how the reference text defines autism, but they are unlikely to change diagnostic practice, experts say.

CDC: Autism prevalence in children up significantly from 2016 to 2018, and that's actually a good thing

By bobb | Sun, 26/12/2021 - 07:50

Sam Farmer

Rather than interpret the results of this study as implying that autism is a growing epidemic and a condition which therefore is to be feared, view it instead as being reflective of the natural neurological diversity inherent in humanity, carrying unique challenges as well as strengths.

More celebrities are coming out as autistic. That makes a huge difference.

By bobb | Sun, 19/9/2021 - 07:14

Zack Budryk

Anthony Hopkins, Wentworth Miller and others are showing us that autism is more varied than it once seemed to be.

In late July, actor Wentworth Miller of “Prison Break” and “Legends of Tomorrow” posted an image of a white square to Instagram, accompanied by the revelation that he had been formally diagnosed as autistic a year before.

“This isn’t something I’d change. No. I get — got — immediately [that] being autistic is central to who I am. To everything I’ve achieved/articulated,” Miller wrote.

Are We Giving Autistic Children PTSD From School?

By bobb | Tue, 7/9/2021 - 10:20

When we don't understand autistic kids we create a toxic environment for them.

Posted August 31, 2021 | Reviewed by Tyler Woods

Key points

  • We must understand the behavior of autistic children to help them.
  • Responding without understanding diminishes the personhood, self-esteem and trust of autistic kids.
  • Providing an environment sensitive to the needs of autistic students benefits all students.

For most autistic children, school can be a toxic environment. Working on the advice of experts, school staff aim to have autistic children’s behavior conform to neurotypical expectations. The more a child is indistinguishable from mainstream peers, the more successful the school intervention is believed to be.

USA: What the Heck Is ABA, Anyway?

By bobb | Thu, 20/5/2021 - 09:16

Amy S.F. Lutz

How can something be both "torture" and "best practice" in autism intervention?

Key points

Applied behavior analysis, or ABA, describes an umbrella of interventions based on the principles of operant conditioning.
These principles shape the learning and behavior of all of us, disabled or not.
Attacks on ABA as "torture" reflect a deep misunderstanding of what is actually considered best practice by many researchers and clinicians.