Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Truth About Autism: Scientists Reconsider What They Think They Know

Autistics like Baggs are now leading a nascent civil rights movement. "I remember in '99," she says, "seeing a number of gay pride Web sites. I envied how many there were and wished there was something like that for autism. Now there is." The message: We're here. We're weird. Get used to it.

This movement is being fueled by a small but growing cadre of neuropsychological researchers who are taking a fresh look at the nature of autism itself. The condition, they say, shouldn't be thought of as a disease to be eradicated. It may be that the autistic brain is not defective but simply different -- an example of the variety of human development. These researchers assert that the focus on finding a cure for autism -- the disease model -- has kept science from asking fundamental questions about how autistic brains function.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Autism can even be a source of gentle humor. One of of my favorite lines is from an Elvis Presley movie (the title escapes me) where the King improbably plays a doctor (a pediatrician yet, I seem to recall!) A mother brings her problem child in to see Dr. Elvis....

Dr. Elvis: "Is he autistic?"

Mom: "Naw. He doesn't draw at all."

Anonymous said...

And, of course, there's "Rain Man" with Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman. It's actually a very funny movie, though funny in a touching kind of way....

Anonymous said...

The film "Rain Man" was based on the combined autitstic and "idiot savant" mental capabilities of both Kim Peek and Bill Sackter.

People with autism may have developed the syndrome due to lack of certain brain proteins when developing after conception, and/or some kinds of genetic brain structure aberrations, among other causes. UC Davis, near Sacramento, has a "MIND Institute" that studies aspects of autism origins and treatment.

These people certainly do "think differently," and I'm glad there is increasing recognition that instead of treating autism as if it were an illness, based on a disease model, since the condition is permanent, that different perspectives and analyses of autism as an aspect or variation of mind, requiring a different approach, are slowly becoming more common and enlightened.

KiwiRed said...

'Mozart and the Whale' is a better (albeit lightweight) movie about autistics, and 'Snow Cake' is the best-received movie (as in, received best by autistic adults I've talked to who have seen it) with an autistic main character

Anonymous said...

Having worked with autistic people, I can tell you that it is not some little difference. Although there are some people that are mildly affected, and functional, autism is not some chic condition. I'm not sure what the definition of a disease should be, but Autism is at least a huge disability.

Stan