#1 By: Maggie Koerth-Baker, August 14th, 2013 16:23
#2 By: Tribune1984, August 14th, 2013 16:59
I believe that Birth is highly correlated with autism.
#3 By: Maggie Koerth-Baker, August 14th, 2013 18:04
That's a pretty good analysis, right there.
#4 By: William_Holz, August 14th, 2013 18:45
Wow. . . you're right!
#5 By: Elizabeth Geno, August 14th, 2013 20:13
I followed up on the oxytocin as autism mitigator line, and it gave me an idea about a sudden change in my own ability to understand other people.
I have Asperger's and have always had difficulty interpreting other people's expressions and feelings, but ever since I fell in love my social skills have increased by an order of magnitude or two. MIght there be a connection, or does love have that effect on everyone? I don't just feel kindly towards my fellow beings, I think I can actually understand things I never did before (inquiry has shown that to be correct).
#6 By: David Forbes, August 14th, 2013 22:26
Having a parent with an extremely analytical mind might have something to do with it as well. I thought about this as I was sitting in the waiting room at my son's Aspergers group, and got to talking with a couple other dads there about consciousness. I don't think any random 3 dads would have had that conversation.
#7 By: Noah Django Gross, August 14th, 2013 23:30
I know a woman that this may apply to. I don't know where on the spectrum she falls, but she seems like she is autistic on some level. However, based on things she's told me about her dad, and what her boyfriend told me about dealing with her dad, I'm pretty sure he is for sure some kind of autist. The question in my mind is: did she simply inherit her father's autism, or is she completely neurotypical but was taught to think like her dad? Or is it a combination, or am I stating the same thing two different ways? In any event, she is humblingly intelligent.
#8 By: David Forbes, August 15th, 2013 00:31
I see it as a a type of brain. Who knows why brains develop as they do, given the parents each person has. Breeding humans is so complicated that generalities may be all we get.
#9 By: Anton Gully, August 15th, 2013 08:55
But autism is a spectrum. On the one hand there are plenty of high-functioning people with Asperger's syndrome, because how they are has been given a label and that label has been placed on a chart. It's the same science method that allows you to describe many CEOs as sociopaths. At the other end of the autism spectrum there are people for whom "shits and giggles" is a literal thing - and that's not a slam against disability.
There was a show on the UK Channel 4 called "Young, Autistic and Stagestruck" about a group of autistic kids and that's EXACTLY the spectrum of behaviour they showed. There's too much of this Rainman thinking that autism is a superpower, meanwhile some of these parents are dealing with 14 stone teenagers who bite and scratch and crap themselves.
I don't think having philosophical parents has anything to do with it.
#10 By: William_Holz, August 15th, 2013 17:36
No, I bet you're on to something. I think loving somebody teaches you to humanize, and helps you appreciate other members of humanity by proxy. It shows you that people are complicated and often really interesting and that with the bad can come a lot of good.
I'm sure it's more complicated than that, but our minds are so AMAZING and we can do so much with them, it's just that they're also complicated and it's really hard to study something when it's the only thing you have to study WITH
#11 By: havocp, August 15th, 2013 18:02
It's depressing that there's so much research on autism, but so much of it is this "correlates with autism" junk. Autism is not a known single-cause thing. It is more a group of observable behaviors that can be measured dimensionally, analogous to intelligence or fever or personality. There's plenty of research pointing to "the autisms" (the idea that many different things may produce autism) and also to "broad autism phenotype" (the idea that the autism spectrum continues right into the population as a whole, and diagnosable autism is just the 99th percentile marker or so of autistic traits).
It would be far more informative if autism research took dimensional measures: IQ, some rating of social behavior, some rating of unusual sensory response, some rating of medical conditions (such as immune, gastrointestinal, seizures, etc.), parent education/socioeconomics, etc. Then correlate those measures rather than just correlating "autism or not."
Would we expect "low IQ" or "high IQ" or "fever" or "introverted" to correlate with a bunch of stuff? Yes. Would it tell us much? Not really. We have to dig deeper before we'll be able to see which people a given correlation relates to, and why. Autism is the same way.
If you're trying to apply autism research to any particular individual you simply can't. Some people with autism are just very analytic or "think in pictures" or otherwise have a mind that's tuned for things other than social interaction. Some seem to be overwhelmed by sensory input in ways that are extremely disabling. Some seem to have a collection of medical issues where autism is only one of the effects. Someone with autism may be entirely disabled requiring 24-hour care or may be a billionaire genius.
Because of all these "correlate with autism" studies, we know that some unknown large percentage of young children who have enough observable autistic traits to be diagnosed will have trouble when older, but nobody can tell which nonverbal child is Einstein or Temple Grandin, and which nonverbal child will need 24-hour care forever.
So it's just ridiculous and almost useless to do research that correlates this single yes-or-no "has autism" with anything. It's time to unpack autism into component parts.
btw autism research that does unpack it tells us a ton about non-autistic people as well, since autism is likely just the extreme end of a dimension (or dimensions) we all vary along.
#12 By: Maggie Koerth-Baker, August 19th, 2013 16:23
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