Autism Reality

A Spectrum of Perspectives About Autism

Much of what passes for discussion of autism issues on the internet is either congratulatory back slapping and in group high fives or it is bitter acrimonious sniping. I have been pleased over the last few days to be able to engage in rational e-mail discussion with Lisa Jo Rudy of About Autism.com. Ms. Rudy is the parent of a higher functioning autistic child. My son is diagnosed with a lower functioning classic Autism Disorder. Her site tends to feature links to several prominent anti-autism cure, neurodiversity blog sites such as Autism Vox, Neurodiversity, Autism Hub, Autism Diva, Mom-NOS etc.

Notwithstanding her affinity for the neurodiversity perspective and my aversion to that socio-political movement we were able to exchange views rationally on such topics as curing autism, autism realities etc. I give Ms. Rudy most of the credit for that. She has also taken the generous step of referencing my perspective and this blog site on About Autism.com actions which I genuinely appreciate. I thank Ms. Rudy for her calm rational discussion of autism issues with someone from outside the neurodiversity perspective. Ms. Rudy’s words about a spectrum of autism perspectives are worth remembering.

A Spectrum of Perspectives on the Autism Spectrum
If autism is a spectrum disorder, then it seems reasonable that there should be a spectrum of perspectives on that disorder. At one end of that spectrum are the neurodiversity advocates who feel that autism is a difference to be celebrated; on the other end are those who work toward and advocate a cure for autism. Both groups are passionate, and both believe deeply in their own points of view – with some people, like me, sharing elements from both perspectives.

Harold Doherty is a Canadian blogger and the father of a young man with classic autism. Having seen some of the more frightening ways in which the world can treat a person with profound autism, he believes strongly in the importance of seeking treatments and potential cures. All this while supporting and loving his son:

“I love my son dearly. I have just returned from walking about our community with him, enjoying his company. As I typed this note he very affectionately grabbed me from behind and hugged me – while squeezing forcefully on my windpipe. He did so without any aggressive intent but without understanding the potential consequences of his actions.

That is autism reality.”

http://autism.about.com/

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March 27, 2007 Posted by | autism cure, autism spectrum disorder, Lisal Jo Rudy, low functioning autism, neurodiversity | 2 Comments

Strange Son Online Autism Community – A Welcome Autism Internet Addition

We are forming a new online social network to connect people who want to share their knowledge and/or learn about helping kids with autism communicate better. You can upload videos, exchange information on the Community Forum or share your experience on your personal Blog. Please join us in our ‘grassroots’ movement to help non-verbal and “low-communicating” kids with autism to communicate better and get a better education!

http://strangeson.com/index.php?page=home

As the above excerpt sets out, Strange Son author Portia Iversen has established an online community to help non-verbal & low-communicating children with autism. This is a very welcome addition to the internet autism world which to date has been largely dominated by persons advocating AGAINST autism treatment and cure, even mention of the realities of life faced by lower functioning autistic persons. I encourage parents and caregivers of persons with low functioning, non-communicative autistic children to visit the site and join the community.

Thanks to Lisa Jo Rudy at About Autism.com for bringing this site to my attention.

March 26, 2007 Posted by | About Autism, autism cure, autism disorder, autism education, autism treatment, Lisa Jo Rudy, low functioning autism, Portia Iversen, Strange Son | Leave a comment

Cure Autism Now & Autism Speaks Contributions to Autism Genome Project

Almost lost in all the recent excitement about the Autism Genome Project was the substantial contributions of Cure Autism Now and Autism Speaks which recently merged based on their mutual commitment to accelerate and fund biomedical research into the causes, prevention, treatments and cure for autism spectrum disorders; to increase awareness of the nation’s fastest-growing developmental disorder; and to advocate for the needs of affected individuals and families. A gene bank created in 1997 by Cure Autism Now, later joined by UCLA was a precursor to the massive data bank assembled for the Autism Genome Project which kick started in 2002 with funding by Autism Speaks and the National Institute of Health.

“The UCLA Center for Autism Research and Treatment at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior is among 13 centers in the world to discover two genetic links that cause autism, according to a school press release.

The five year study, which was published in the Feb. 18 online edition of the journal Nature Genetics, came from results from a scan of the world’s largest collection of DNA samples from families affected by this disorder.

The study was led by the Autism Genome Project, an international consortium of scientists from 50 institutions in 19 countries. Founded in 2002 with funding from the nonprofit Autism Speaks and the National Institutes of Health, the group shared DNA samples, data and expertise in a coordinated effort to identify autism-susceptibility genes, according to the press release.

Results of the two-pronged approach implicated both a previously unidentified region of chromosome 11 and neurexin 1, a member of a gene family believed to play a key role in communication between brain cells. The neurexin finding highlighted a group of brain cells called glutamate neurons and the genes affecting their development and function, suggesting that they play a critical role in autism spectrum disorders, also according to the press release.

In 1997, the citizens group Cure Autism Now (CAN) created a gene bank in order to advance genetic research on autism. UCLA partnered with CAN to add more than 400 families to the bank, known as the Autism Genetic Resource Exchange.

Autism is a complex brain disorder that strikes in early childhood, often affecting children as young as 2 or 3. The condition disrupts a child’s ability to communicate and develop social relationships and is often accompanied by acute behavioral challenges. While the cause remains unknown, scientists suspect the disease is highly hereditary.”

http://www.canyon-news.com/artman/publish/article_5323.php

February 26, 2007 Posted by | autism cure, autism disorder, Autism Genome Project, autism speaks, autism treatment, biomedical, Cure Autism Now, UCLA | Leave a comment