Autism: The Theories Behind the Cause

Every moment that I’m not at work or feeding/playing with my children, I find myself reading about Autism. Wes and I both are obsessed. I realized yesterday, as we were at the Gateway Mall hanging out with the kids, that our every conversation is about autism: what we’ve read lately, who we’ve talked to lately about it, which new theories we’ve researched. I think it will be this way for a long, long time.

We watched a documentary called “Decoding Autism” on Friday night. They went through a variety of theories and tests on it.

I didn’t realize that when you have one kid on the spectrum your chances of having another are increased. Great. They talked a lot about whether it’s environmental or genetics. Autism affects 1 in 70 boys. Did you know that? That seems high. Why is it so high?

It’s a pretty controversial topic, where no one seems to listen to each other. Many doctors think it’s genetic*, (*Note that this gene finding only accounts for 15% of autistic children). Parents blame vaccines. Others say it’s pollution, toxins in our environment, and others say food allergies.

There are thousands of parents out there who firmly believe that their child was perfectly find and developing language normally but then got the MMR vaccine and regressed right after that. Doctors avidly dispute this, of course, and say it’s just a correlation because the age when kids receive the MMR is the same age where autism can finally be noticed. I just find it interesting that everyone is talking and no one is agreeing.

I’ll get into all the possible treatments another day, but some parents swear by restricting certain types of foods and that it has cured their children. Doctors say there is no evidence that this is the case. And they are right – because who would pay for a study about how taking out all additive foods can help with autism? KRAFT? I think not.

No, what they ARE spending money on are studies where the medical community benefits for being brilliant.

For example, they are studying brain patterns in little kids with older autistic siblings for early detection. They study electrical stimulation in these toddlers to see if they can identify Autism earlier.

The Institute of Health is funding a project on older kids 8-18 on the spectrum using Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS).

All this research and the fact that everything is still so debatable would be fascinating to me if it weren’t MY kid that had it.


6 thoughts on “Autism: The Theories Behind the Cause

  1. You're right, it is fascinating when you can distance yourself because it doesn't directly effect you. I have no doubt that the complexities and conflicts are incredibly frustrating and enraging when you're looking for concrete answers.I've thought about the increased diagnosis and other mental disorders, and wondered if this is because some factor is increasing the incidence, or if this is simply a matter of science finally getting an understanding of what would in previous generations have merely been considered the "weird guy," someone who simply may not have survived in eras when survival was more difficult. I can't say.What we have studied on the issue of vaccination has lead me to conclude that vaccination isn't likely to be a factor (which isn't to say that there aren't other reasons to be informed on and conscious about vaccination, imo). But given the diversity of legitimate arguments, I respect those who come to another conclusion.Sorry, I have no answers, no help. Hope you're able to find some comfort somewhere on the issue.

  2. Amber, I've talked with my good friend Rebecca. She is a special Ed Educator and has a 15 year old son who is on the severe end of the spectrum.. She and her husband have done an awesome job with their son, Nate. When I asked about books and information that you might find helpful she suggested you look into. ABA (applied behavioral analysis). A behavioral teaching method they have use to teach Nate appropriate behaviors. Also she said you need to watch the movie about Dr. Temple Grandin. She is an autistic who has accomplished a whole lot in life. Rebecca said seeing that movie really helped her. I hope you find this info helpful

  3. Thanks Weezer – the pre-school we are applying to is really well respected and uses the ABA therapy model. We are also exploring a variety of other therapies as well. And many people have recommended that movie – we need to Netflix it!

  4. I have a friend with autistic twin grandchildren who believes in the gluten free/additive free diet. She tried it for herself–she has rheumatoid arthritis, and stopped taking her medication. The diet helped her pain so much that her daughter put the twins on it, and they have seen great improvements in their learning and behavior. They eat Ezekiel bread, raw milk etc. Her daughter has recently written a cookbook of foods they have come up with that follows this diet. I would almost be a believer, except that she has also bought into the conspiracy theories of vaccines and that medical field is only out for themselves to get rich and is basically poisoning us all. With Troy being a very specialized doctor who helps very sick children with his MD and researches for cures of autoimmune diseases with his PhD. I find her outlook on medicine offensive. Plus she no longer can walk. RA has frozen her knees in a bent position. I believe in keeping an open mind. I believe in most types of healing, and feel blessed that we have so many different cultural practices available to us.I'm proud of your open mindedness as you explore and research this awful disorder! Love you!

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