Archive for the ‘Autism’ Category

The Rare Event: Toyota, Tasers, and Autism

Saturday, December 12th, 2009

The issue of sudden, rapid acceleration in Toyota vehicles presents an interesting case study of how our society approaches rare hazardous events, and a consideration of this history can shed light on how other such instances are handled that are of more direct interest to us here.The issue of sudden, rapid acceleration in Toyota vehicles presents an interesting case study of how our society approaches rare hazardous events, and a consideration of this history can shed light on how other such instances are handled that are of more direct interest to us here. It turns out that this issue has been with us for some time. About 1000 suspicious acceleration events have been recorded over eight years, with some 19 deaths registered in Toyotas since 2002.

Complaints of sudden, unintended acceleration rose rapidly after Toyota replaced mechanical throttles with electronic controls in 2002. By the time that this problem received significant attention, however, the hypothesis of causation by floor mats interfering with the gas pedal was well entrenched. So that hypothesis continued to be advanced even after it ceased to be very credible. After all, the problem occurred even in vehicles where the floor mats had been removed, and where nothing was engaging the gas pedal (as at a stoplight). As recently as a few months ago, our National Highway Safety Administration saw no reason to inquire beyond the mundane hypothesis involving floor mats. And the recall of 4.2 million cars is majorly targeted to the replacement of gas pedals so that they will be less confused by the floor mats.


The Medical Mismanagement of Autism

Saturday, August 29th, 2009

Neurofeedback addresses itself to the underlying issue in the classic autistic symptoms, which is brain disregulation.We should be grateful, I suppose, that autism is now finally getting attention from the medical community. As late as the 1990’s, parents were still being blamed for the condition by their pediatricians. And until recently the attempts by DAN doctors (Defeat Autism Now) to get at the medical roots of the condition were mocked by their medical colleagues. But the developing mainline approach to autism exhibits the tendencies typical for modern medicine, which is to target the symptoms rather than the condition that gives rise to them.

What follows is an actual case description of the treatment of sleep disorder and self-injurious behavior in the Child and Adolescent Psychopathology Department of Sainte-Anne’ s Hospital. One of the children presenting with severe autistic behavior exhibited persistent sleep disorder and motor instability even with the standard multidisciplinary program at the hospital. This led to successive prescriptions of several different psychotropic drugs:


Oxidative Stress in Autism

Tuesday, November 6th, 2007

One of the maddening aspects of the dismissal of the environmental hypothesis for autism is that the counter-evidence provided is never allowed to be seen in context. The environmental hypothesis is rejected in favor of an ostensibly “pure” genetic hypothesis and that’s that. Evidence for the genetic hypothesis—which is indeed plentiful—is allowed to displace the environmental hypothesis as if the one excluded the other.

It is of course much more “ecological” to assume that just as the genetics of autism is turning out to be complex, environmental influences are likely to be complex as well. Ruling out environmental factors is not at all a trivial matter, and epidemiology is not up to the task. We are now aided in this discussion by a new study just published in the American Journal of Biochemistry and Biotechnology {4(2), 73-84 (2008!)}. The lead author, Elizabeth M. Sajdel-Sukowska, is at the Harvard Department of Psychiatry.

The overarching model is that oxidative stress wreaks havoc with brain function; mercury contributes famously to such oxidative stress; and the autistic brain may have difficulty with detoxing mercury itself, or it may have difficulty with mounting counter-measures, as with anti-oxidants such as selenium and glutathione.


Sense and Nonsense on Autism: Beyond Genetics

Wednesday, August 1st, 2007

Sense and Nonsense about Autism: Beyond Genetics
beach “Autism is currently, in our view, the most important and the fastest-evolving disorder in all of medical science and promises to remain so for the foreseeable future.” —-Dr. Jeffrey A. Lieberman, chairman of the department of psychiatry at Columbia University’s school of medicine.

A few months back David Kirby (author of the book “Evidence of Harm”) interviewed Katy Wright about her autistic child Christian, and more specifically the recovery that he was beginning to make with biomedical treatments that have been developed over the years by the MDs and Ph.D.s involved with the organization Defeat Autism Now (DAN). (

Katy makes no bones about what she believes happened to her son: “I believe that Christian’s regression and subsequent autism was the result of receiving six vaccines during one office visit at two months of age,” she wrote. “He screamed for twelve hours and had a 104 degree fever nearly the entire time. His vaccines contained thimerosal,” the mercury-based preservative. “It is devastating,” she added, “because so much of this is preventable.” (more…)

Autism: The Integration Deficit Disorder

Friday, September 29th, 2006

The story on autism is at once highly promising and depressingly grim. The promising part is that the condition is coming to be understood and so remedies are forthcoming. The grim part has to do with the recognition that this is entirely a man-caused disease. Nature did not conspire against our children in this case. We did so inadvertently, but the mistakes we made are being propagated forward by default and also by design. And therein lies the scandal. We can lay the blame for continuing autism epidemic at the feet of the Centers for Disease Control, of the Food and Drug Administration, of the National Institutes of Health, and of Big PhRMA. Even the Environmental Protection Agency does not entirely escape blame.

Some decades ago an autistic child was brought to the Harvard Medical School and the Chair summoned the class of medical students and urged them all to become acquainted with this case. He said to them: “You may never have a chance to see another case like this in your entire career.” Decades later, the incidence of autism in male children has risen to 1% in this country, and a recent paper in the premier Journal Lancet reported incidence to be 2% among boys in Great Britain. That’s the country that tried to discredit Roger Wakefield, MD for suggesting that the country’s vaccination policy was a contributing cause in the epidemic. (more…)

Autism and Emotionality

Thursday, March 24th, 2005

The March 12 issue of Science News previews an article about to be published in Nature Neuroscience which proposes that autistic children actually experience intense emotional reactions when looking at faces, and hence avoid eye contact. In a controlled fMRI study comparing autistic children with normals, they found as expected that the autistic children averted their gaze from images of faces presented to them in the chamber, but in the event of familiar faces, or of those with obvious emotional expressions, their amygdalas registered a strong response. No such activations were observed among normals. At the same time, the brain regions associated with facial perception showed minimal activity in the autistics.

As it happens, a strikingly evocative story was just told by a home-NF-user parent of a PDD child on the autism list server:

“It is interesting how the level of awareness on a child manifests in the weirdest ways…
N has been progressively getting more aware, and the last three weeks he was angry. This is a sweetie 6-year-old boy, and the more aware he was getting, the more aggressive and angry he became… A few days ago, he walked up to me and punched me in the eye… Then he cried his eyes out, begging for forgiveness and saying over and over he did not know why he did it… (more…)


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