By Karen Kaplan
March 27, 2014, 3:29 p.m.
Brain tissue samples from children with autism look markedly different than the brain tissue of other kids, researchers say.
The physiological differences could explain many of the well-known symptoms of autism spectrum disorders, and they suggest that the developmental problems that lead to autism begin before birth.
A group of scientists from around the country obtained frozen cubes of brain tissue from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center. The cubes, measuring one or two cubic centimeters, were taken from children ages 2 to 15 who had died.
The samples were from three brain regions in the cortex: the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, the posterior superior temporal cortex and the occipital cortex. These parts of the brain play a role in social cognition, inhibition and abstract reasoning.
There’s a powerful piece of writing by Tommy Christopher on Mediate about a major US network excusing the murder of a disabled child.
People with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) are routinely slandered in the news media, even by parents of autistic children, but nothing comes remotely close to a CBS News report that sickly excuses the murder of 14 year-old Alex Spourdalakis by his mother and an accomplice. The report has spurred a petition to have CBS News take it down, but they really need to air a complete retraction, and discipline everyone involved in this travesty.
In another powerful piece for ABC Australia Stella Young details harrowing case after harrowing case of:
Disabled people who have died at the hands of family members, and so often the media uses terms like ‘compassionate homicide’ or ‘mercy killing’ to describe the actions. But the killing of a disabled person is not ‘compassionate’. It is not ‘euthanasia’. It is murder.
Like Christopher, Young makes this point:
While the disability support system may indeed be woefully inadequate to support these parents, it cannot possibly be used to justify murder.
Of course not, but I do wonder if there is not a collective responsibility. A community, neighbours, relatives, who let down those disabled people. Professionals who, like is often reported when a child is neglected and murdered, who saw warning signs but failed to take action?
If we can understand racism or homophobia as being something pervasive, as not limited to ‘bad’ and ‘good’ individuals, as not a personalised ‘sin’, then surely disabalism is also a collective and pervasive issue? That disabalism killed these people?
If these parents were killing their kids because they’re gay then we’d understand that the parents are personally responsible but also that the community let them get away with it and allowed that level of hate to fester?
I must admit, the timing of this “award” is rather amusingly fortuitous, because it was just on Friday that Andrew Wakefield published a tirade on the antivaccine crank blog Age of Autism that is just as misguided, wrong-headed, and inept as anything that Mike Adams, or Teresa Conrick has written entitled Patterns In Chaos: Child Psychiatry, Violence and Autism. In fact, it sounds very much like the anti-psychiatry rants recently written in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Newtown, CT by a deranged gunman named Adam Lanza that I deconstructed last week.
Like Conrick, Wakefield begins by correctly countering the misinformation rampant in the media in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting that Lanza had Asperger’s syndrome and correctly asserting that there is no good evidence of a link between autism or autism spectrum disorders and an increased propensity for violence and mass murder. Unfortunately, Wakefield then does what antivaccinationists do so well and proposes an alternate explanation that involves the same confusion of correlation with causation that Mike Adams and Teresa Conrick fell for, tying them to vaccines:
And for those at risk - young people receiving off-license mind-bending drugs, an urgent overview of individual indication, efficacy, compliance, and adverse effects must be undertaken, funded by the relevant players in the pharmaceutical industry and conducted independently of any other input from them.
Tragically, predictably, there will be more events like that at Sandy Hook Elementary. The vast number of individuals with developmental disorders presages such events. This is not because of their diagnosis, per se, but rather I would suggest, because they may be at increased risk for adverse reactions (due to pre-existing conditions) and are being inappropriately medicated with drugs for which violence is a recognized adverse reaction. These drugs are being prescribed by a “mainstream” medical system that, through clinical neglect, has run dry on alternative treatments for autism spectrum disorders while enjoying Parma’s inducements way too much to look for any.
My opinion is neither mine alone, nor is it new. In attempting to make sense of the “senseless” it offers both tangible reasons and approaches to prevention. It is not enough that our hearts break for those affected; we are compelled to act. Perhaps inevitably, I am left with a mental image of Pharma lobbyists scaling Capitol Hill like an army of Orcs closing on Helm’s Deep. It’s a hideous sight.
Autism likely has deep genetic roots, but the latest research provides hope that some learning techniques can lessen symptoms of the developmental disorder.
In children with the mildest cases of autism, these techniques resulted in changes in their brains that made them “indistinguishable” from those of unaffected children of the same age — essentially normalizing them, according to Geraldine Dawson in the department of psychiatry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
The results, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, are validation for the Early Start Denver Model (ESDM), a behavioral intervention program that involves intensive engagement with children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Specially trained counselors work with children twice a day in two-hour sessions, five days a week. In 2009, Dawson’s group reported on related work that showed that children with autism who received this intervention beginning at 18 months for about two years showed an average improvement in IQ scores of 17.6 points, and dramatic gains in adapting so-called normal developmental behaviors, such as brushing their teeth and engaging with family members during meals.