Tag Archives | research

Latest research suggests that antidepressants are causing fish to be autistic

autistic fish

Autistic fish?

A new study coming out of NewScientist.com says Antidepressants in water trigger autism genes in fish and suggests “only 324 genes associated with autism in humans appeared to be significantly altered” due to there being antidepressants in the water.

First of all, I’m no scientist so I’d probably sound pretty funny to one when I ask exactly what genes or parts of the brain in a fish can so closely resemble that of a human that they could be absolutely certain. I’ve sounded pretty funny asking dumber questions though.

The “well, isn’t that just ironic” part of me finds it to be perfectly laughable when you consider how many years and how many doctors prescribed antidepressants as a treatment for autism. If the stuff diluted in water can trigger it… what does the concentrated stuff do to people/kids that already have autism?

Not that it matters much since new studies have found that antidepressants don’t really work as a method for treatment for autism anyway.

Which would make sense if this fish thing actually does hold water. Ooh… bad expression to use.

Somehow, fish in autism just seems extremely odd. Even more so than when scientist worked to re-create autism in mice.

Granted, it is extremely important to continue the work to discover the cause, or maybe not what causes it, rather what is the fundamental difference in people that makes one autistic or not autistic… still though, I can’t help but feel that they’re really stretching for answers with studies such as this.

I would love to be in a boardroom when someone says “how about we spend tons of money and see if these drugs make these fish autistic” and the people with money go “Sure! Great idea!”

Because I can’t get money for much of anything around my house and that person sounds like someone I really need to learn from.

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Being accepting of autistics that wish for a cure for autism

A recent news story, filled with a lot of science and interesting information, also included the insight from a man with autism, named Jeff Hudale.

You can read the news story here, in fact, I suggest you do: What’s Different About The Brains Of People With Autism?

Now, the science behind the story and the things that they are finding out about the human brain, specifically the differences between the typical and autistic brains, are really quite amazing.

But I would like to focus on the very last part of this piece, where Jeff Hudale states:

“I don’t want to quit until they finally can get this set right and get this thing eradicated,” he says. “I’d like to have some semblance of, just be a regular person like everybody else.”

There’s been a lot of talk about this through out the autism community but despite the attention it’s attracting, I see very very little (none to be honest) support or even acceptance of his feelings.

The general consensus that I see from people is that it’s sad that he feels this way and that he’s simply confused. That somehow it’s the life time of bullying, judging and other messages he receives either intentionally or unintentionally, that has caused this man to think of his autism in such a negative light.

There’s a lot to take in there as you begin to wonder if his parents had pushed for a cure or treated him differently because he was “broken.” Keep in mind, at 40+ years old, his diagnosis came at a much different time than how things are today.

Was he raised to be proud of himself or to always be aware of his differences. Did he read a lot of what the media had to say about autism and reflect those things inward?

Did years of bullying or lack of friends cause him to hate autism for making him the way he is?

Generally, it comes down to outside forces.

Put it this way, when we generalize his reaction into a “who said what to make him feel this way”, we are sort of dismissing him entirely and “putting the blame” on others.

That’s a nice way to look at it, to be honest. It means there is nothing wrong with him, it’s society that got to him and made him think this way.

However, the “nice way to look at it” isn’t always the honest way to look at it.

See, I like this news article because it’s honest and real. He is not the first autistic I’ve heard of, or even talked to, that has expressed a desire to be rid of autism. Or to use the “fighting words” version… to be cured.

I think, and this may just be me, but not everyone needs to “just accept it” and “just be proud of it”… some people don’t and never will. They simply wish that they do not have autism.

While it’s not the approach I take nor is it what I suggest, as it is obviously negative and self defeating, it is a reality.

not okIt’s a reality that should not be hidden or ignored.

Sure we could just say that Mr. Hudale should just be happy with himself despite what anyone else thinks but that’s what we think of his life.

That might not be so easy for him to think, nor is it a requirement. We can’t just demand that of him.

Wouldn’t that be more of the “stop thinking so differently and conform to what the rest of us believe!” mentality anyway?

Besides, this line of thinking ignores the simple fact of what autism really is… a disorder or disability.

There are a great many struggles, heart aches, things you can’t do, negative messages and so much more that you have to live with for your entire life when you have autism.

Some examples for some autistics include never going anywhere loud (concerts, subways, movies, etc), never being able to play sports, never being able to make friends and the list goes on and on. I couldn’t possibly list every possible thing that autism could limit or cause you to never experience at all.

There is just so much negative in life that comes with having a disability (or disorder) that it would be a bit naive to assume that it’s only due to bullies or other people that a person would wish to not have that disability.

Now, I’m not saying that it’s never the case. I think it’s safe to say that some people do hate autism or what ever disability they may have simply because of how it causes others to treat them or how others look at them.

Perhaps some of those people could grow to accept and maybe even love having autism if only people were more accepting of them.

But I think it would be a stretch to think that is true of every single person.

Some people may just wish to no longer have autism because they simply do not want to have autism. No matter their age, no matter what others say or do, no matter what you or I think they should feel… they just don’t want to be autistic anymore.

And we need to be accepting of that too.

Acceptance means we that don’t judge people for how they feel or what they think whether or not we agree or even understand it.

That goes for people who are not proud of having autism. Not just the people that are.

Let’s talk to them. Not ignore or dismiss them.

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Dear researchers, being pregnant is linked to autism. You’re welcome.

Dear researchers,

I am writing to you to ask you to please stop.

autism moms causesStop trying to find a way to blame mothers. Stop reaching for any and every single thing you can think of to link to a cause of autism.

Stop scaring people. Stop making people think that they have to move, lose weight, have kids early, wait for a second child and any number of other things that you’re scaring people to death with.

Stop making moms think that having a fever will cause autism but taking Tylenol for a fever will cause autism too. Stop making moms think that they have to space out their pregnancies but they also can’t be too old.

Just stop!

I understand you’re just trying to find the truth. I understand that you’re just trying to get more information.

However, this is getting beyond ridiculous.

I have put together this small list of the most recent studies just to give you some small idea of just how out of hand this is becoming.

Ways to blame moms for autism

Closely spaced births:

Premature birth:

Prenatal “complications”:

Not using prenatal vitamins:

Living close to a freeway:

Being overweight:


Having a fever:

Being pregnant linked to autism

At this point, can we all just agree that being pregnant is a link to autism? Giving birth is a link to autism. Being alive is a link to autism.

No, they’re not the causes but they are linked! Breathing is linked to autism. Opening your eyes is linked to autism. A heart beat is linked to autism.

The refrigerator mom theory is dead and in the past. Can you please just leave it in the past?

Enough is enough.

Stop pointing fingers.

Now you know that being born is a link to autism, you can start putting your time, energy and money into doing something that is actually helpful.

You’re welcome.

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Autism Study of the Month: Co-occurring Conditions and Change in Diagnosis in Autism Spectrum Disorders

autism magnetsCo-occurring Conditions and Change in Diagnosis in Autism Spectrum Disorders

Source: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/129/2/e305.abstract?sid=17b1810d-43f8-4c01-aff1-94a64941a94b


OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to investigate descriptive characteristics and co-occurring neurodevelopmental and psychiatric conditions in young children, children, and adolescents with a current and consistent or past but not current (PBNC) diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and how such characteristics and conditions may engender a change in diagnosis of an ASD.

METHODS: Cross-sectional data of 1366 children with a parent-reported current or PBNC ASD diagnosis were obtained from the National Survey of Children’s Health 2007 data set across 3 developmental stages: young children (aged 3–5 years), children (aged 6–11 years), and adolescents (aged 12–17 years). Multinomial logistic regression was used to examine demographic characteristics and co-occurring conditions that differentiate the groups with a current ASD from groups with a PBNC ASD.

RESULTS: Results indicated the co-occurring conditions that distinguish groups currently diagnosed with an ASD from groups with a PBNC ASD diagnosis. In young children, current moderate/severe learning disability, and current moderate/severe developmental delay; in children, past speech problem, current moderate/severe anxiety, and past hearing problem; and in adolescents, current moderate/severe speech problem, current mild seizure/epilepsy, and past hearing problem.

CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that the presence of co-occurring psychiatric and neurodevelopmental conditions are associated with a change in ASD diagnosis. Questions remain as to whether changes in diagnosis of an ASD are due to true etiologic differences or shifts in diagnostic determination.


They studied differing age groups of children that were previously diagnosed with autism and found that some of them no longer fit the criteria for a diagnosis.

By the way, PBNC means Past But Not Current… as in, they had the diagnosis but now they do not.

What they do not know is why. Is it because they “grew out of it” or because they’re simply able to “fake it” now as they’ve grown and learned or is it something else?

My Opinion

This is simply my opinion of the story, stop reading if you do not want opinions and are happy just having read the details of the original study itself.

Now, the big problem with studies like this is the the amount of questions is brings up but obvious lack of answers. These types of scenarios tend to leave a lot open to the imagination and the media will simply eat that right up.

Some examples:

Can some children simply ‘grow out’ of autism? One mother tells how her son’s life has been transformed

Autism: Can it be outgrown?

These articles are full of assumptions right out of the gate.. dangerous assumptions. It’s one thing to give parents false hope when it’s possible there is none but it’s another to give them license to just do nothing. You see, while this certainly doesn’t say that all children will grow out of it, it does raise the question in some people’s minds… which may lead them to just leave it up to fate… chance… God. Which ever. They can now stop trying to improve their child’s life because if it’s meant to be… they’ll just grow out of it!

For all we know, it could be that the data they used before was faulty, perhaps many of those children were wrongly diagnosed…. perhaps these doctors are much better (or worse) at recognizing autism symptoms than the doctors that previously diagnosed the children?

We just don’t know. And therefore, to throw around statements such as the one in this news piece is very presumptuous and further more, dangerous.

In my opinion, you have to remember that autism is diagnosed by doctors that observe behaviors in a person. This means that these children truly can learn how to do the things that they couldn’t before, some of those things being criteria based symptoms that define autism. In other words, maybe a child masters the repetitive behaviors, the speech problems and continue to have other struggles in their lives. This would meant that they would no longer fit the criteria for an autism diagnosis and yet, they still very clearly have autism.

Then there truly are those that are misdiagnosed to begin with. There are possible reasons… for example, out growing may very well be a possible reason. But there are also other very likely possible reasons.


“Autism Study of the Month”
The purpose of the Autism Study of the Month series is to provide unpolluted (by the media) information about the studies released at least once a month in the study of possible Autism causes or risks.
You will find links to the actual studies, get to read the “abstract” of the study and, when possible, get the PR release from the source.
When it comes to science, let’s leave the media out of it.

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Please be careful what you take away from the news or other media sources

Recently, a study was rehashed (it’s been done before) stating that intelligent people that have babies are more likely to have children with Autism than other parents.

This irks me for many reasons, which I will get into in a bit but there’s a bigger problem and that’s the spin that the media puts on stories like this.

Here are just a few of the headlines around the internet all reporting the exact same study:

  • Couple who meet at work have autistic babies?
  • Rise in autism ‘may be linked to clever parents’
  • Autism: The Result of Math Whiz X 2?
  • Intelligent Parents Have Higher Risk of Having an Autistic Child
  • Couples in Science Field at Risk of Having Autistic Children
  • Is the changing role of women in our society behind the rise in autism in the past 30 years?

Do you see the differences?

Where to begin?

First of all, let’s go back to Wired Magazine, circa 2001: http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/9.12/aspergers.html

That’s right… 10 years ago.

That means that if this truly is a new study, it’s a study that people have now spent money on twice to come up with the same result. That’s not really a bad thing as it may reinforce the findings, meaning it’s more likely true. The problem is that neither of these studies dig deep enough to come up with real answers.

Being smart is pretty vague. Which is where the assortment of headlines come from… is it math? Science? Both working at the same place? What if only one of the parents is smart? What if the parents are super smart??

Women’s Lib?

For those of you who had to read the last headline twice to believe it really said what it said… the article itself doesn’t get any better.

Here is a paragraph from that article:

Until relatively recently in our history, being exceptionally bright was not much use to you if you were female. In Victorian Britain, for example, the opportunities for a woman to earn her living through brainpower alone were extremely limited.

Essentially, this news source revisits the old “refrigerator mom” theory of Autism, where it was believed that mothers that were cold towards their children somehow caused it in them. Only, in this case, it’s the evolution of women becoming smart (because they weren’t smart before?!?!) is the cause.

If only women had stayed in the kitchen and cooked and cleaned… we wouldn’t have this rise in Autism diagnosis rates. Right?

This particular news story puts a lot of unnecessary blame on moms.

Check your sources

If it’s not obvious enough yet that news sources spin stories as they see fit, then I’d suggest you stop reading the news.

Again, all of these headlines come from the same original source… a study that says that Autism diagnosis rates are higher than average when both parents are in “higher intelligence” jobs such as technology, medical, science or engineering.

It does not say anything about working together, how they’d meet, which field in particular they’d work in and most certainly doesn’t put any of the blame on women for being smart.

In fact, out of the (currently) 25 news sources I’ve found on this, there is only 1 that has put this particular women’s lib spin on it. The rest talk about both parents.

The results trickle down differently depending on which news source you read… when really, everyone should be forming opinions on the story, not the spin.

Take the Women’s Views on News for example. They only read the one news source… can you guess which news source they read?

You can read their story on this here: http://www.womensviewsonnews.org/2011/11/professor-says-womens-changing-roles-to-blame-for-rise-in-autism/

Yup, they found the one that attacks women’s lib, putting the blame for Autism on women in the work force. As a result, there’s a lot of very unhappy women with the professor that came up with the theories behind the study. He didn’t even perform the study! And he certainly didn’t say anything about moms in the work force.

So a guy has a theory, a university conducts a study, the results are vague, a crappy news source puts a wild spin on it and a whole bunch of women all hate the guy that came up with the original theory.

See how that works?

The problems with this study in general

Ok, now that I have the big elephant in the room covered, let’s talk about the study itself.

Here is the way I see it.

1. Every single news source put some kind of a spin on the study in an attempt to get the most readers but not one of them explored the possibility of the parents having undiagnosed Autism themselves… or at least, somewhere in their family history.
Think about it… they’re smart, they work in the smart places (like Silicon Valley) and they get together and have children… wouldn’t it make sense that people with a history of Autism be more likely to have autistic children? If they’re truly that smart and being smart causes Autism… why couldn’t one assume that the parents might be somewhere on the spectrum?

2.  The only things that being smart has ever produced is a lack of sex life in college and a higher paying job after college. To think that two smart brains producing a baby would cause it to have genetic anomalies that produces Autism in a child is just… well, it’s a pretty big stretch of the imagination. At least, it is without the addition of some other factor, such as what I said in #1.

3. Give me 30 mins and I’ll give you 50 different studies that all have found “the cause” or at the very least, the thing that “increases the risk” of Autism. If I believed every single new study that came out, well… I’d just have to conclude that being alive causes Autism because at this point, just when I think they’ve covered everything… a new study comes out within the next week.

4. As I’ve said over and over… “smart people” is far too vague. How smart? Just clever? Did they have smart parents? Were they the first smart people in their family? What if they’re smart but don’t work in smart places? How do you explain the children with Autism for couples that don’t attend college and have no jobs?
There’s just too many holes to fill.

It’s the News job to interpret, not reproduce

The news agencies take a story and rewrite it and put it out in a way that you’ll understand and will get the most readers. It’s not their job to take a story, copy it and print it. So you’ll never get what the study actually said.

The more vague a study is, the larger the spin that can be placed on it.

When you find a new study in the news, go to http://news.google.com and look up other news sources that cover the same story, or go find the study yourself and check it out. Because reading from just one news source can be dangerous sometimes.

news spin

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