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Monday, May 16, 2011

So Many Questions.

Over the previous week I have been receiving updates via various Facebook 'friends' who have been in attendance at the International Meeting for Autism Research. Apart from the interesting studies up for discussion, there's been a fascinating parade of characters turning up in photos from the event. Shannon from Thinking Person's Guide to Autism, Alex Plank from WrongPlanet, John Elder Robison, author of Look Me In The Eye, and the more recent Be Different, 'Sullivan' of leftbrainrightbrain blog, Alison Singer from Autism Science Foundation and many more. San Diego really looked like the place to be in the last week if you had any interest in Autism. If you are interested in hearing about some of the studies presented there, head over to see Shannon's write up at

 Up for discussion are many recent studies addressing a wide range of issues, including the financial burden for families caring for a child/ren with an Autism diagnosis. Although I have to admit I did wonder why there was a need for a study on this when it seems like a no brainer to me. I suppose you need the research results to make the argument for better resourcing. If you cant show need you cant ask for greater support.

Anyway during some recent episodes of insomnia I was reflecting on the research being discussed and so many questions arose. I wish I had access to a website where you could pose questions related to research and their findings to get some answers at 1.30am.  Since I don't know of any site like that, for now I will put them up here for discussion and perhaps someone might even offer some answers.

- Is there a recognised difference between those who have Autism at birth and regressive ASD?
- Do those who regress have more severe symptoms over time?
- Is regressive Autism the reason why so much research and current theories of aetiology focus on environmental factors?
- Is it not possible that some children inherit ASD in the same way they inherit brown eyes? Purely genetic at the time of conception rather than experiencing an in utero or post natal environmental trigger?

This last question is the one that bugs me most. After reading the BAP scores people left here a couple of weeks ago this seems a plausible theory. If anyone can answer or point me in the direction of some research I'd be most appreciative. I really need to get some sleep.


  1. Hahaha, go down two posts Madmother.

  2. I don't know of any research. Much of the problem is that it's hard to trace autism in a family tree, because so many people in previous generations were either undiagnosed or misdiagnosed.

    But read the blogs of autistic people, and you'll find, over and over, that people who are clearly autistic show up through the generations. I have a great-aunt who had all the markers of autism and ended up in state mental institutions, where she was misdiagnosed as intellectually disabled and schizophrenic. Then there was my father, who was a walking textbook case for the male presentation of Asperger's Syndrome. And then there is me. And those are just the folks I know about.

    I realize that all this is anecdotal, but given the lack of diagnosis in the past, it's probably the best we can do right now.

  3. Yes Rachel, I think the reason there's so many unanswered questions is because the increase of correct diagnosis and the science are both so frustratingly new.

  4. I wonder. I'd really like to see a lot of autism twin studies... the scientific community has always learned so much about nature vs. nurture by twin studies. I've met identical twins who have completely different manifestations of ASD and I've met identical twins where only one of them fell on the spectrum. It just fascinates me.