Dachel and her open letter to Baron-Cohen

Dachel's letter deserves a blow-by-blow dissection, but I'll focus on this last bit of ignorance: "I'd like you to show us the 30, 50, and 70 year old adults who display the same symptoms of classic autism that we see in children, the non-verbal adults in diapers, banging holes in walls and spinning in circles. I can guarantee it will get media coverage everywhere."


Coleman (2005) writes:
“In fact, the autistic syndromes share many of the characteristics of the mental retardation syndromes. Both groups of syndromes begin to impair the brain in almost all cases during the gestational neurodevelopmental time frame; they are both present at birth but are not usually clinically apparent. They both have family histories with inheritance patterns that sweep across the landscape of genetics, from classical Mendelian to maternal inheritance patterns to trinucleotide repeat disorders to large numbers of sporadic cases. Twin, family, and linkage data and case histories reveal that the inheritance pattern in autism is very complex (for review, see Folstein & Rosen-Sheidley 2001). Although a percentage of children in both groups of syndromes develop epilepsy, the autistic syndromes actually include a higher prevalence of children with seizure disorders than do the population with severe mental retardation syndromes (Gillberg & Coleman 2000a). Children with autism do not have the same neuropsychological profile as youngsters classified as retarded; nevertheless, IQ is the single best predictor of outcome in both syndromes (Gillberg & Coleman 2000b). And, most important, the two syndromes overlap in the majority of children who are classified as autistic (Jacobson & Janicki 1983; Bryson et al. 1988); in most studies IQ is below 70 in 70% of individuals who are defined as having autism.”

Coleman, Mary. Neurology of Autism.
Cary, NC, USA: Oxford University Press, Incorporated, 2005. p 5.

Where are they, Dachel? Where they have been all along! In institutions, group homes, or home with their parents or other caregivers. What is it exactly that these people cannot understand? There is absolutely NO indication that the number of classic autism/mental retardation lowest functioning individuals has increased. What has changed societally is that these children are no longer automatically or routinely institutionalized as children.

Baron-Cohen responded to Dachel's letter today; far more gracefully than I would have. Especially when you have comments like this one:

You make very good points here. Is it grandiosity and ego that keep SB-C going or is there more to his role?
Either way, it is time for this Bettleheimish character to be properly investigated and then subsequently booted." --Teresa Conrick

"This kind of inappropriate "speculating" without testing, data, and research is not only insulting but borders on reckless behavior. You have a position that gives you a type of authority and for you to post, publish, report, or comment on "speculative" theories that harm autism research, autism families, and especially individuals affected by autism is harmful and therefore puts you in a position of questionable motivation with your research." ----Teresa Conrick

So, as to the last post by Conrick, how dare Baron-Cohen do what scientists do? Hypothesize and then proceed to test the hypothesis. Shame on him. Instead it's perfectly acceptable for desperate and occasionally delusional parents to "theorize" all kinds of ludicrous things regarding their child's disability and engage in sham treatments, or worse, untested, unproven, potentially dangerous treatments based on the misguided assumptions concerning the genesis of their child's impairment. That's perectly acceptable.

As to comparing him to Bettelheim? It completely betrays Conrick's total and thorough ignorance. She responded to a post I made at AoA (covered in another post), attempting to trash my paper on theory of mind, trash me, and Baron-Cohen to boot. Her contempt for Baron-Cohen, for anyone who focuses on autism as anything other than vaccine damage, is vast and apparently bottomless. It is without reason, without rationality, and reprehensible.

She commented she felt sorry for my students. Apparently, she has worked or still does in special education. Let me explicitly clear: if I understood that my child was being taught, assisted, helped, etc. by someone who held this view of my child's autism, this person would be nowhere near my child. I do not deny that vaccine damage occurs. I do not deny a person's account of their child's immediate adverse effect. That is separate and distinct from autism. Autism and vaccine damage can and apparently do co-exist, witness the Cedillo family. But I will not allow my child to be placed in the care of someone who is so entrenched in absolutism that she would see my children as vaccine damaged goods who ought to be getting all sorts of woo therapies so that they can be recovered. I would not allow someone who is so vitriolic towards one of the lead researchers into autism and Asperger's anywhere near my children. Period.

For your Bettelheim comparison, among so many other posts that rise to the level of lunacy, only overshadowed by Dachel and Blanco's posts, you win the Nowhere near my kids award.

I'd hate for anyone to ever mistake where I stand on something, so I'm working hard to emulate my children's complete honesty. How am I doing so far?


Lisa said...

You are doing a fine job Kim - my admiration for you and your lovely family grows day by day.

Keep fightin' the woo!

KWombles said...

Thanks, Lisa! :-)

Will do! I'm working on my black belt in woo-fighing, don't you know?