Monday, October 10, 2011


Kids? What's happening to them?

They're being studied, measured, medicated, tested, taught how to play, and communicate with other kids and adults.

A kid with communication problems, who doesn't pay attention or talk, or reach out to play with other kids, is said to have "Asperger's." In 1944, Austrian pediatrician Hans Asperger, who studied thousands of patients, published a paper defining people who are "autistic" as impaired in social interaction.

Okay, back then it was a major, fascinating new idea.

In the 70's and 80's the theory emerged that these disorders had to do with females -- mothers, who were college graduates, marrying college graduates -- that people of similar temperament were mating. By the 90's, the categories of unions that produced autistic children were proved by statistics that showed (are still showing today), that those who have higher than average levels of autistic traits, without any full blown disorder, are marrying and having children at a higher rate than ever before -- thus, we have more autistic children.

Okay, autism was affecting a lot of people, and more and more research was important, and being funded.

Today, there are tons of articles, photos, advice, pills, and talk about autistic children and why, nowadays, there are more autistic children. Is it chemicals -- stuff in the air, in the home, in everything -- in furniture? cars? food? pets, clothes. toys,. games, electrical outlets? Do kids get it from watching television?

Wise men -- doctors nad, scientists -- have come up with diagnoses: Hyperlexia, Dyslexia, Angelman Syndrome, Autism Dementia; Alexia, Rett Syndrome,- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, (ADHD), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. (OCD), etc. etc.

Hmm. Do I have Asperger's? I'm verbally adept, and definitely impaired socially -- I don't like parties, have very few friends -- write them -- rarely, hardly ever, even chat with them on the phone for more than a minute.

I can't help mentioning my personal mother/wife, experience -- and EM logic. It seem to me that as you're growing up, you make choices about who to play with, what's fun, what interests you. The choices you make very early on are what you see, hear, and feel from your parents and family.

Is Asperger's like Altzheimer's -- a disease that can be seen in MRI brain scans? Or is it an affliction that's been created by medical doctors and scientists attempting to explain, treat, help people -- make, in fact, a big business over what happens to people as they grow up in today's world?

Yes, MRI's, scans have been made. Thus far, Asperger's is not seen, not yet diagnosed by brain scans.

Could autism be normal functioning of a certain type of mind? While I'm asking myself this quietly, I read about the Director of the Autism Research Center of London's University of Cambridge, Simon Baron Cohen. He said that autistic behavior can been seen in any group of people who have had strong math, science and tech skills, people who can be sorted out by socio-economic standing, relationships, and psychiatric profile -- people with depression, bi-polar disorders, and substance abuse issues.

Cohen reminded his colleagues that their tendency to mate with others of similar background is also typical -- birds of a feather, flock together.

Other scientists, with high ranking credits, agree. Others are horrified by this idea.

I feel like a kid -- I'm trying to figure out if "autism" is a real disease?

I feel (don't know, just feel) that many fears, many things that depress us and haunt us have been created by what we see, feel, hear, watch, use, buy, crave, participate in, learn from observing, identify with in our everyday more complicated, confusing world.

Yes, I think we have created "autism."


Anonymous said...

This is an interesting and hard topic to grasp =autism. I have noticed in the past few yrs it seems more children are being diagnosed with this problem. Not sure if genetics, environmental air pollunts, or just the fact we are more aware of the symotoms is causing this rise. It is a sad story to discuss as there seems to be no cure. /but, it is good to talk about it to help dispell some of our fears. kam Kathleen Ann McGee

Linda Phillips said...

All I know on this subject, which indeed is baffling, is that I know of 2 people with children with Asperger's. In both cases, the children (one a young adult) are functional and able to do many things. One is a teenager who does fairly well in school, but they are both lacking in social skills.

It is a true enigma and very hard on the parents of course. It also makes great sense that if these people marry, that they would marry people with the same or similar disorders. They can relate with each other in a way that others could not.

Anonymous said...

Actually, we know very little about what pictures of the brain actually mean, it's something new and interesting that is underdevelopment it doesn't necessarily answer questions or correlate with information we observe. There is a continuum with in a diagnosis or DSM label of Autism with subgroups identified and Asperger's is just one of the subgroups. As new social science research and medical research grow there is a growing information about the pathology. Currently, and this can change quickly, genetics are believed to play a major role. We need to educate people about Autism and the subgroups because it will help Parents and children cope if there is understanding. Thanks Em for contributing to an interest in this difficulty. Hugs, H.

Linda Phillips said...

Thanks Heather, as usual for your wise and well informed words. I love reading your comments.