Autism

Just found an interest blog, PsyBlog. At the moment its taking a look at research on emotion including we appraise emotions, empathy, Alexithyma (the inability to identify emotions) and emotional processing in Autism.

The results showed that individuals with ASDs did not automatically mimic facial expressions they saw in the pictures, as did the control group. On the other hand, they had no problem imitating facial expression explicitly, indeed they were better at imitation than the control group.

Lack of empathy is one of the telltale symptoms of Autistic Spectrum Disorders. See Asperger’s and the Emotions of Shapes, Music and Emotion, Emotion and Autism and Babies, Emotions and the Future.

The face is central to reading and displaying emotion and there is a lot of interesting research on how the face display’s emotions. A pioneer in this field is Paul Ekman and there is an interesting web site, DataFace, that has a lot more material on the subject.

Finally an interesting video debunking body language or at least the common understanding of it. Its an hour long lecture by Dr. Janet Bavelas. I’ve only watched the first few minutes but Dr Bavelas got my attention by offering $1000 of her own monday to anyone ‘For scientific evidence that any nonverbal behaviour reliably detects a psychological state which that person does not know or does not wish to reveal’.

Autism, Television, Web/Tech

Dr Temple Grandin has a legendary ability to read the animal mind and understand animal behaviour when no one else can. But this is no feat … of telepathy; her explanation is simple. She’s convinced she experiences the world much as an animal does and that it’s all down to her autistic brain.

This is a documentary broadcast on the BBC earlier this year that I managed to miss but I’m delighted to find that it can be found on Google Video. I’ve heard Dr Grandin speaking on the radio and she is very engaging so I’m looking forward to watching this.

The Woman Who Thinks Like A Cow

ADD / ADHD, ADD / ADHD Diagnosis, ADD / ADHD Medication, ADD / ADHD Treatment, Auditory, Autism, Autism and Mercury, Autism Tests & Diagnosis, Autism Treatment, Balance & Coordination, Books, Commercial Dyslexia Centres & Treatments, Dore Achievement Centres, Dyscalculia, Dyslexia, Dyslexia Testing & Diagnosis, Dyslexia Treatment, Dyspraxia, Food and Drink, Franchised Dyslexia Treatments, Games, History, Medication, Memory, Music, Science, Sports, Television, Visual, Web/Tech

Over the last few weeks this website has been attracting comments from various members and ex-members of staff of the Dore Achievement Centres. This has come to the attention of the CEO of UK branch, Bob Clarke, who has posted comments on Myomancy and also to Wynford Dore himself who has phoned me. Conversations with Wynford are always enjoyable but challenging because Wynford believes so passionately about what he does. So when Myomancy runs a negative story about the Dore Program he tends to forget all the places on Myomancy where I’ve said the Dore Program works and that it changes lives.

In light of all this I thought it wise to make a clear statement to all my readers about why I devote a considerable amount of time and money to running Myomancy.

  • The goal of Myomancy is to provide independent information on treatments for dyslexia, ADHD and autism so that parents and sufferers can make an informed choice about what is the best approach for them.
  • Myomancy is a blog, a personal web site. It represents my views and my views alone on all things connected with ADHD, dyslexia and Autism.
  • These views are researched and expressed on Myomancy to the best of my abilities but I am not a scientist, teacher or a professional writer. I am just someone who’s life was changed by the Dore Program and felt a need to express myself.
  • I believe in free speech which is why I allow anyone to post comments on the articles regardless of whether they are for or against my views. Only post that are illegal or purely offensive are removed.
  • Myomancy generates a small amount of income for advertising. I would like it to be more so that I can afford to spend more time on Myomancy. It is up to the reader to decide what, if any, impact that has on the independence of Myomancy.

With reference to the above I have removed one comment from the website that is highly critical of the Dore Program and, based on additional evidence I have at my disposal, is completely false.

Autism, Autism Tests & Diagnosis

Mind Hacks has some details on a study that links the size of your head at birth to your IQ. Last year, Myomancy covered a study linking head size to autism.
The implications of both these studies are significant if their findings are confirmed. It might gives us a way of identifying those babies at risk of autism. It may also give rise to less desirable behaviour such as parents worrying that their child’s normal size head means that the child won’t be smart.

Autism

Hitting the headlines this morning is a news story about how the age of the father affects the child’s chance of being autistic. It appears the age of the mother makes no difference. The headlines are based on a new study, Advancing Paternal Age and Autism, published in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

The study was done in Israel using data collected by the Draft Board. All men and most women have to serve time in the Israel armed forces or equivalent unless they have a serious medical condition that prevents it, such as autism. By comparing the parental ages of those who where freed from the draft due to autism and those who weren’t the researchers found that there was a six-fold increase chance of having an autistic child if the father was over 40. The data suggested that the chance doubled every tens older the father got.

With more and more people putting off having children until they are in their thirties or later, it is likely the incidences of autism will continue to rise.

ADD / ADHD, Autism, Balance & Coordination, Brain & Body, Dyslexia

There are many milestones in motor development as infants turn into toddlers but how important is crawling as milestone?

Education and developmental problems such as ADHD and dyslexia have been linked to infants not crawling or only briefly crawling before learning to walk. Key to this theory are primitive reflexes that help an infant learn to control their body but fade as the infant develops. In some children the reflexes are retained and they handicap the infant’s development just as stabilisers on a bike help a child to learn to ride but if they are left on, they hold the child back.

Continue Reading

Autism and Mercury, Food and Drink

The US FDA sets the limits of tuna’s mercury content to 1000 parts per billion (ppb). However Defenders of Wildlife have just release a large document showing that tuna’s mercury content from some countries is at 1500 (ppb).

According to the document Is Our Tuna “Family-Safe”? Mercury in America’s Favorite Fish [ PDF ] tins of fish from Ecuador, Mexico and Costa Rica had dangerously high mercury concentrations. It is worrying as people are being encouraged to eat more fish because of the benefits of omega 3. The whole tuna / mercury problem makes having a safe but effective omega 3 diet hard.

This study does not appeared to have peer-review and the document is more like a glossy sales brochure than a scientific study so please read with a suitably sized pinch of salt.

For more information on the tuna / mercury health risks, see The Omega 3 Diet.

Autism, Autism and Mercury

A couple who claimed that RhoGAM shots the mother received during pregnancy had caused their children to be autistic have had their lawsuit thrown out by a US federal judge. They were blaming thimerosal, a mercury based preservative but the judge was not impressed with the expert testimony by Dr Geier.

  • When subjected to extensive cross-examination, Geier could not point to a single study that conclusively determined that any amount of mercury could cause the specific neurological disorder of autism.
  • Geier’s conclusion that the peer-reviewed literature he has relied upon supports his theory that autism can be caused by thimerosal is flatly contradicted by all of the epidemiological studies available at this time.
  • Geier’s testimony was excluded or accorded little or no weight in more than ten of the vaccine cases. In one case, the special master who presided over the case referred to him as “intellectually dishonest.” In another case, the special master referred to him as “a professional witness in areas for which he has no training, expertise, and experience.”

The judge’s memorandum has been posted at CaseWatch. Further coverage on EBD Blog

Autism, Autism Tests & Diagnosis

The BBC is reporting that one in 100 British children may have some form of autism. This figure comes from research by Dr Gillian Baird who is a Consultant Developmental Paediatrician at Guy’s Hospital in London.

Researchers from Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital in south London, publishing their findings in the Lancet, looked at a group of 57,000 children aged nine and 10 in 2001.
Current provision for those with the disability is deeply inadequate given the scale of the need Mike Collins, National Autistic Society
They identified 255 who had already been diagnosed as having autistic disorders and 1,515 judged to be possible undetected cases.
A randomly selected sub-group of 255 children was chosen for in-depth clinical assessment.
The prevalence of “classic” childhood autism was 39 per 10,000, and that of other ASDs 77 per 10,000.
In total, autistic disorders affected 116 per 10,000 children.
The researchers extrapolated their findings to suggest one in 100 British children may have some form of autism.

The research has been published in The Lancet. I don’t have access to the full study so its not clear how they identified autism and autistic spectrum disorders. This is the key to the research. Are they throwing the net so large they are catching dyslexics or people with ADHD?