22 November 2009


"Parents of autistic children have persuaded the federal government and private foundations to increase funding for research that in theory will find the cause of what is actually a number of different conditions; the habit of diagnosing a child as belonging to an 'autistic spectrum' implies, incorrectly, a single cause for a condition that varies in severity. This is not a wise strategy, and applying it to other disorders sounds absurd... oncologists do not use the concept 'cancer spectrum' because they have learned that, for example, leukemia, tumors of the colon, and breast cancer are caused by different genes and life experiences. " Article.

Sorry... this article is maddening in that it seems to imply that if only these children lived long ago, their parents would have whooped 'em but good and they'd not have all these fake symptoms. I mean, it's suggested bipolar disorder is diagnosed in part because of parents feel guilty because of their lax parenting:

"These symptoms can in part be the product of permissive socialization practices by parents who are reluctant to induce anxiety or guilt in children placed in surrogate care because both parents are working."

I'm sorry, that gets me. I don't think it's *ideal* to have two working parents but HELLOOO... talk about kicking someone when they're down... sometimes moms have to work...

Imagine feeling a little guilt about leaving Joey in daycare. Now he's autistic and it's all your fault! If ONLY you had been there for him! You bad mom! (Wow. I feel enough guilt, and I don't even work outside the home. I cannot imagine piledriving into another mom like that. Wow again.)

Let's see... does he kick any puppies during the writing of his post? Not that I can tell, but he does manage to take a few swipes at the poor and disadvantaged. They need to just clean their acts up, guys.

"Anxiety disorder, depression, criminality, and drug addiction are more frequent among youth and adults who grew up in poorer families with less-educated parents, whether in developed or less-well-developed societies. The fact that academic failure, conduct disorder, substance abuse, anxiety disorder, and depression are more strongly associated with the education and income of the family of rearing than with a particular gene implies that scientists have to balance their study of the genetic causes of illness with probes of the environmental contributions and clinicians should consider therapeutic strategies other than drugs."

Translation: You think your kid has problems? Suck it up and deal with it because it's all environmental. And it's your fault you don't have a college diploma and three million bucks, and YOU have made your child's environment really crappy. Go home and quit whining. Oh! And if you think that a drug might help your kid with a problem, maybe it's because you're poor, illeducated and stupid. Bet people like you can't even read a label.

Dang. This doctor's from Harvard? I think I'd rather have Supernanny in my home before taking advice from this dude. What do you make of it?


  1. I will play devil's advocate here, if I may. The first paragraph you referenced, I agree with a bit. No, I do not have an autistic child. But I have an autisitc nephew and I am very close to his mother, my only full blood sister. We talk every day.

    And I think he is truly autistic. I don't agree with this author that this is largely a behovioral problem. We had never heard of autism before his diagnosis (he's 17.)My nephew is verbal, and is fairly high functioning, though it is very hard to carry on a conversation with him. Though he can snawer direct questions, he is very repetitive in his speech. But at least we know the sound of his voice.

    Because of my sister and her search for help and support, I know that autism is real.To think that someone's kid would really go throughout their whole childhood never saying a word because of some behavioral issue is absurd.

    That said, I do get a bit uncomfartable with the balnket use of the "autism spectrum". It attempts to diagnose when there is no clear diagnosis and I don't like that.

    There are times when I think ADD and ADHD are very much linked to behavior, diet, overstimulation by media, etc. I wonder if this author was inadvertently confusing autism with some of the other disorders in children routinely treated with drugs?

  2. I DO understand a bit of concern he seems to have in that medical judgment relies heavily on parental feedback. I think that if doctors spent a bit more time in looking at behaviours or if a more reliable test were developed, some of the BORDERLINE cases may not be diagnosed as autism... or more likely, WOULD be diagnosed. I've seen doctors NOT diagnose close cases and just say, "Come back in two years if you're still suspicious."

    You've just spent $1000 and waited for this specialist appointment eight months. "Come back in two years" is not practical.

    I guess I don't see OVERdiagnosis, at least in specialist's offices. I can't imagine they hand them out like candy at the GP office either, though I could be wrong.

  3. So is that doctor implying that "good parenting" avoids

    * Having bionic hearing and freaking out in elevators.

    * Being incapable of controlling the bladder because the morphine in the food numbed certain sensations (this is true for my daughter).

    * Struggling to speak well until the late teens because it took time to find the right speech and language program.


    Also, and now I'm going anonymous here. I have a sister who was diagnosed as an adult with bipolar. She had the signs in her childhood and was a very difficult child to raise. My parents were generally very strict with us, and it did not help. They tried experimenting with being her best friend, giving her extra positive attention, basically everything the psychiatrist recommended (imagine taking your kid to see one in the 1970s--it just wasn't done), being extremely strict. She still had problems because her biochemistry is off.

  4. Anonymous, bad as things are today, I cannot IMAGINE going through psychiatrist-recommended stuff in the 70's. I mean, we went through seeing specialists in the mid-90's and that was bad enough. They frankly admitted they didn't really know how to help but would try anyway. What else can you do?

  5. Honestly, I wouldn't take this person too seriously. I mean how can such blanket statements be accurate? I double-dog-dare him to give a parent some respite care by taking care of their son or daughter on the autistic spectrum for an afternoon. I think it would be a completely different article if that were the case.

    I am increasingly suspicious of Harvard professors' take on psychological issues. Read this blog by Paul Solomon about the rise of ADHD meds and a certain Harvard prof.

    I'm trying hard not to become a total cynic. I really do want to maintain my belief that doctors are in the "helping" profession. But, you know, maybe it really is just about money.

    Sorry to go off subject a bit. I really do feel for you. It's like a nightmare where you know what's going on in your world and everyone else is denying its existence.

    Give your kids a hug knowing that you are The Mama Bear that will demand the services they deserve! Go Mama Bear!!


Non-troll comments always welcome! :)