The War on Autism

In the field of autism advocacy some proponents believe that using terms like “War on Autism” is a pejorative term that emphasizes violence. For those that believe that they do not need a cure the War on Autism is tantamount to genocide. Despite available scientific evidence these advocates maintain that autism is the result of a normal variability in the human genome and thus they deny changes in prevalence rates as well as the need for treatment or further research. If war demands combatants and conflicts it will also propitiate a social reaction against the same. In this case some proponents within the Neurodiversity movement could be considered the anti-war activists. This tug of war dynamics has created a peculiar nosological dilemma that puts autism at the borderland between the social and medical sciences.

It may be that the present thinking of the Neurodiversity proponents emulates the romanticism of other medical conditions. In the Victorian era it was believed that tuberculosis, or the White Plague, conferred subjects heightened sensitivity. This was the disease of the artists. Higher class men and women would purposefully pale their skin to imitate the consumptive appearance of tuberculosis. According to Wikipedia, “Even after medical knowledge of the disease had accumulated, the redemptive-spiritual perspective of the disease has remained popular” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_tuberculosis). Romantics wanted the so-called positives of the condition and made up stories of previous historical figures as having died from tuberculosis. This is not a far cry for what is happening at present in autism.

I have done a good number of research studies in the field of autism. My results indicate that autistic individuals have a defect of cell migration during brain development. Primitive neurons are forced to migrate towards the cortex at an inopportune time and their functional integration with other cells is faulty. Within the cerebral cortex migrating cells aggregate in columnar arrangements that serve as nurseries for maturing microprocessors. The fact that some autistic individuals have more of these microprocessing units is tantamount to poverty in the face of plenty. The findings go a long way towards explaining some of the negatives (e.g., sensory problems, seizures) as well as positives (e.g., splinter skills) observed in autism spectrum disorder. For my part I do not imbue autism with romantic feelings. Seizures, anxiety/depression, hyper/hyposensitivity, intellectual disability/cognitive impairment, when present, are all medical symptoms in need of both accommodations and treatment. These impairments need to be acknowledged rather than romanticized.

The rising prevalence rates for autism convey a sense of “urgency” within our society. The indignation that something may be affecting our children rallies our efforts in trying to find a cure. Whether it is a war or a crusade against autism, the words are all symbolic. We may be naïve in lumping what may be multiple causative disorders into one. However, the War on Autism is meant to provide political consolidation to our efforts to sponsor more research into accommodations and treatment.

When I visit my autistic grandson I see a stack of papers strewn across the breakfast room table. They are the large number of medical bills for services that have ultimately increased his quality of life. They are also a reminder of the financial anxiety that often looms in my family. As I go thought the house I see a room devoted to his physical therapy with mattresses covering the floor. Having a therapist come to the house or taking him to a hospital clinic is part of the weekly routine. As I go into the pantry there is a stack of diaper boxes along with the special food for his dietary requirements. A jacket on a chair is the latest physical therapy device for helping with posture and coordinating my grandson’s motor movements. When talking about a War on Autism, the words may be symbolic, but all around me I see the ravages  of the battle as it is being fought.

12 responses to “The War on Autism

  1. I wonder why many neurodiversity advocates feel like they are being “targeted”. Many of them can pass for normal, and it is not known if they ever needed disability services. Even if they did, I highly doubt that they are the primary focus of autism research.

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  2. Dr. Casanova – Thank you for pointing out that TB was a desired malady of the past, how people tried to portray themselves as spiritually superior for having this disorder, and claiming prominent historical figures also as having TB!!!

    Also, the sanitariums were often beautiful places to go to for a rest cure. Asylums for the mentally ill had the same appeal. But those who were admitted for psychologic problems soon came face to face with people afflicted by schizophrenia (a euphemism for dementia praecox). Soon they came to blame doctors and nurses for causing the unhappy circumstances of people with delusions and hallucinations.

    Thorazine in the 1950s appeared to be a miracle treatment, and the idea that the mentally ill could be discharged from institutions. Discharged where? To begin gainful employment? To become self-sufficient? Or to be cared for by elderly parents?

    The Mental Patients’ Liberation Front were prominent in advocating for closure of state hospitals, which led to many seriously mentally ill people becoming homeless. In my view Neurodiversity advocates are diverting attention from the lifespan care needs of autistic adults, all of whom were autistic from early childhood. Autism cannot be missed in childhood.

    Patience, aka Eileen Nicole Simon

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A excellent post as always Manuel you dare not to tow the line when it comes to “autism politics” the politics which are not accepting of certain realities when it comes to autism. Every person with autism is different so your young Grandson’s story and reality is equal to anyone else and should rightly be heard. With the information processing aspects of autism which include agnosias, apraxias, aphasias, learning disabilities, gut/auto-immune disorders, metabolic disorders, tissue connectivity disorders and mild brain injury as well as identity/personality types and associated mental health issues it is time to look at the “guts” of what “autism” is. Kindest regards Paul

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  4. Oh well. I’ll come back to the false dichotomy further on.

    Once I’ve got my book project out of the way, I hope to find time to properly study your studies of these neuronal arrangements. But for the meantime just a few thoughts on your post here.

    This following really isn’t very scientific, neutral, language (with particular reference to the words I’ve *astericked*):
    “Primitive neurons are *forced* to migrate towards the cortex at an *inopportune* time and their functional integration with other cells is *faulty*.

    “Primitive neurons are forced”

    Who forces them?

    “at an inopportune time”

    Has anyone complained about this bad timing? When was the opportune time agreed?

    “and their functional integration with other cells is faulty.”

    Which quality control parameters were not complied with?

    In the above you are assuming that there is a “correct” way that the brain “should” develop. But there isn’t. Such false “should be” thinking is very common in bio-human sciencies. We probably weren’t design-oops/ evolved to think objectively about ourselves.

    “My results indicate that autistic individuals have a defect”

    Meanwhile some people may think you have a defect too but are too tactful to point it out!

    “cells aggregate in columnar arrangements that serve as nurseries for maturing microprocessors.”

    Oh, the brain as computer. Another very tempting but multiplely misleading analogy! (See my book.)

    And now some more debatably scientific language:
    “columnar arrangements that serve as nurseries for maturing microprocessors.”

    Or altenatively serving as elderly homes for senilifying ‘microprocessors’?

    Anyway, that false dichotomy. I’ll begin slowly. All the world’s experts have been saying for years that mercury pollution has been making us a bit thick. (Well, maybe they can speak for themselves at least.) Meanwhile Robin P Clarke was predicting from the antiinnatia theory of autism that all those experts were 100% wrong and the mercury pollution would actually be making us LESS thick. And then went on to show that was indeed the case:
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/273789709_Rising-falling_mercury_pollution_causing_the_rising-falling_IQ_of_the_Lynn-Flynn_effect_as_predicted_by_the_antiinnatia_theory_of_autism_and_IQ

    Now would you not agree that variance of IQ is generally-speaking just part of normal human variation? (A huge number of experts think so!) And that high IQ is not some sort of “disorder”, perhaps caused by the brain “maturing” “too quickly”? And yet also I have shown that that high IQ can be caused by mercury pollution.

    The false dilemma is between (a) something being part of normal variation and (b) the same thing being a “pathology” caused by a harmful factor. There is no reason why autism (like that IQ) cannot be both (a) part of normal variation (as the antiinnatia theory explains) AND simultaneously made more prevalent by the introduction of a new toxic factor causing the increase of autism.

    (By the way, you could perhaps make a note that that antiinnatia theory of autism was and is all about gene-expression, hence “anti-” “innate”. Needless to say no-one’s talking about gene-expression in autism research now.)

    I could explain all this in full-enough detail here but I expect your wordpress would burst in protest. Anyway it’s all explained in my book (Experts Lying to You!) http://www.pseudoexpertise.com which I have just now finished writing. Ironically I only at the last moment added a paragraph about a study by a certain duo of Casanovas, which I’ll quote here….

    Oh well, I’m writing this as the very last bit of this book (gasp!), and I can now latest-update that Casanova et al. (2016) have just now reported that:
    “we find that the majority of genes that confer high risk for autism are located within the nucleus and function as nuclear epigenetic regulators.”
    and
    “it is clear that the majority…. are tightly linked with general dysregulation of gene expression, ”
    Well, what a surprise.

    (End of quote.)

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    • I am always amazed at your analytical mind and certainly your reading of the pertinent literature. As to the migrational abnormalities the proper term is heterochronous migration and the tombstones of the same are the small islands of neurons found in the white matter (hterotopias) and the presence of focal malformations of the cerebral cortex (focal cortical dysplasias). Thanks for your comments.

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      • “I am always amazed at your analytical mind and certainly your reading of the pertinent literature.”
        Perhaps. But you don’t see (a) the huge amount of the pertinent literature which I haven’t read, and (b) how sslloowww I am at getting just about all things done. And on account of that (a) and (b) I would be rated academically (if anyone was (were) rating me academically) as what bookmakers kindly call an “also ran”, or even more an “also moved along the course a bit”.
        Meanwhile I see your site does html tags! (The h3 might not work.)

        Liked by 1 person

      • Your comments remind me of Jonathan Mitchell every time I speak to him. I can see the great potential but can also attest to some of the disability caused by autism….In regards to the computer site and features related to the same, I am very naive regarding the technology. I do not even know what h3 means.

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      • I do not even know what h3 means.
        If it’s any solace, this site didn’t seem to know either. It’s just a tag that defines a line as heading level 3. (Like I used an “i” tag to make that italic.) Having spent several hours this week failing to convert my book into a Kindle mobi file, I’m not considering myself a total computer-whizz either. Though I rationalise on the basis that it’s just a particularly large and complex document which consequently gives the various conversion systems binary indigestion.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. My experience is that in just about all fields of discourse/politics, the most noise tends to come from the most fanatical. And fanaticism tends to manifest with single-minded simplicitudes.

    So in autism we have:
    1) fanatical parents who “know” for a “proven” fact that vaccines are the cause of the huge increase of autism (“vaccine-damaged children”).
    2) “Neurodiversity ” autism pride fanatics convinced that there’s been no increase and that autism is something for all autistics to be proud of relative to the inferior typicals.
    3) the medical authority fanatics convinced that autism hasn’t increased either and is just genetic.
    And then there’s 4)….

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  6. There is no such thing in autism as “medical authority fanatics” who do not believe there has been an increase in autism.

    Most serious doctors do agree there has been an increase in autism,but it is neither related to vaccines,nor related to any single cause.There are any number of drugs,chemicals,and toxins babies are exposed to in the womb,that either cause autism directly,or lead to epigenetic changes that can cause autism,or developmental disabilities in children,grandchildren,etc.These are drugs or chemicals that did not exist 100 years ago.

    Likewise,we are continually finding previously unknown genetic and metabolic disorders,that we now know can cause autism.Like Manuel’s grandson,I have been diagnosed with an extremely rare genetic disease,one that can involve both the brain and the immune system.Once it is officially documented,I will be the first known case in the USA.I also have a more severe form of one of the metabolic disorders now known associated associated with autism.None of this stuff was known to exist as recently as the 1990s.I have a very complex picture,and before treatment a very high level of disability.I have benefited greatly from the research and advances of the last fifteen years or so.These advances have allowed me to function on some degree of a normal level.Research like this will continue,in spite of the whining and complaining from the likes of Steve Silberman,who in the grand scheme of things relating to the advancement science are little more than an annoying swarm of insects,who it is best to ignore as much as possible.

    Liked by 1 person

    • “There is no such thing in autism as “medical authority fanatics” who do not believe there has been an increase in autism.”

      I had in mind there not specifically doctors or researchers or officials but rather the inhabitants of the “left-brain-right-brain” (lbrb) blog who are even more dogmatic and inflexible than the “authorities” themselves. I guess you may not have had them in mind.

      “Most serious doctors
      Do you meet many unserious ones? And how do you recognise the serious from the un?

      “do agree there has been an increase in autism,”
      But that “most” might be much less than all.

      “but it is neither related to vaccines”
      as I too think.

      “nor related to any single cause”
      My book details the evidence that the increase has been almost entirely due to one cause. A source of mercury and the list is short.

      “There are any number of drugs,chemicals,and toxins….”
      ..and we can rule just about all of them out (see my book!), especially as the introduction of non-gamma-2 amalgams sufficiently accounts for all the increase data on its own. But sure not the entire causality.

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  7. My first two sons suffered asphyxia at birth, and my second son required lengthy resuscitation. My second son was also severely jaundiced. Therefore, my focus for the past 50+ years has been how the brain is affected by oxygen insufficiency at birth, and how that might derail normal maturation.

    The article by WF Windle in the October 1969 issue of the Scientific American explained for me the developmental language problems of my first two sons. Windle found damage in the brainstem auditory pathway, most severe in the inferior colliculus (plural colliculi). The damage was found only after Seymour Kety at NIMH suggested looking at the inferior colliculus. Kety’s research on cerebral circulation led to discovery of higher blood flow in the inferior colliculi than anywhere else in the brain. His paper is free online: Kety SS. Regional neurochemistry and its application to brain function. Bull N Y Acad Med. 1962 Dec;38:799-812.

    Maturation of the brain did not follow a normal course in monkeys subjected to asphyxia, and was described by: Faro MD & Windle WF. Transneuronal degeneration in brains of monkeys asphyxiated at birth. Exp Neurol. 1969 May;24(1):38-53. I believe the neuropathological slides might be available from the University of California at Los Angeles, where they have a collection of Windle’s research materials. It would be interesting to look at these slides for mini-column aberrations in the cerebral cortex.

    Autism has many causes, prenatal rubella infection, prenatal exposure to valproic acid (Depakote), premature birth, genetic disorders like PKU or adenylosuccinate lyase deficiency, as well as genetic structural disorders like tuberous sclerosis or neurofibromatosis, and postnatal lead poisoning. Birth complications have for decades been linked to autism, but continue to be denied by medical experts.

    I have come to believe the increase in autism prevalence could be the result of clamping the umbilical cord immediately after birth. This became standard practice in the mid 1980s, whereas traditional textbooks taught that pulsations of the cord should cease before tying or clamping it. Pulsations in the cord are evidence that the fetal heart valves have not yet closed; thus blood-flow to the lungs not fully established, and a brief period of asphyxia likely to occur.

    Patience, aka Eileen Nicole Simon

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