Tag Archives: research

Autism and the “complex social environment”

Mike Stanton’s post Of mice and men and autistic fruit flies includes the following criticism of an autism related study using fruit flies:

But autistic fruit flies? Autism is a complex social disorder. Fruit flies are not complex social beings.

My first thought was, if autism is a “complex social disorder” it is only because we live in a complex social environment. In the comments, Amanda disagrees with Mike that autism is a social disorder at all, and I think I agree with her.

True, autism is measured against the “norms” of the complex social environment in which we live, but the “condition” of autism exists independently of those norms. If those norms didn’t exist, or if our social environment was different, those who are autistic in our world would still be autistic in this alternate world.

Mike’s commentary also includes a passage with which I wholeheartedly agree:

They showed diminished social interaction but improved cognitive performance compared to neurotypical mice. This is automatically seen as a deficit. But surely progress is driven by those individuals who turn their back on the herd and consider the external world?

Kristina Chew also has some thoughts on the studies, and Mike’s post, in her post Can Animals Have Autism?

Autism on 60 Minutes – 18 Feb 07

I’ve already set the DVR to record this. Though the teaser article gives a little preview of what they’ll talk about, I’ll withold any comments until I’ve had a chance to watch it.

With no known cause or cure for autism yet, researchers are trying to detect the earliest signs of the disorder so they can begin treatment earlier, giving parents some hope against a condition the government now says affects about one in every 150 children.

60 Minutes correspondent Lesley Stahl reports on ongoing research this Sunday, Feb. 18, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.