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Men, Empathy, and Autism (Long Read)
Chronicle of Higher Education ^ | From the issue dated March 5, 2004 | DAVID COHEN

Posted on 03/14/2004 8:29:45 AM PST by shrinkermd

On a first meeting in his office here at the University of Cambridge, Simon Baron-Cohen comes off as a poster boy for the empathetic scholar. He pulls a chair close, looks directly into his visitor's eyes with a steady gaze, and pays close attention to the ensuing conversation, not only to the actual words spoken but also to the body language that can reveal so much. His own voice is soft and easy, conveying a deep understanding that has helped make him one of his country's most listened-to autism researchers over the past 20 years.

Last summer Mr. Baron-Cohen's words struck a chord much farther afield, crossing the ocean and penetrating scholarly stateside barriers where resistance was expected, and some still remains. As well as being a reminder of the fast-growing international nature of autism research, his newfound recognition coincides with an American-government effort to investigate the condition and why the number of children diagnosed with autism has skyrocketed in recent years.

The 45-year-old professor of developmental psychopathology's photogenic face and media-savvy style haven't exactly impeded his growing recognition either. His crossover appeal has been likened to that of Steven Pinker, the Harvard psychologist and best-selling author who is, as it happens, an old chum, and whose words of praise ("one of the most brilliant research psychologists of his generation") adorn the jacket of Mr. Baron-Cohen's latest book. "They're both handsome guys who know how to articulate very complex ideas in a way that's very appealing to the public," says Helen Tager-Flusberg, a neurobiologist who has worked with both men.

It is Mr. Baron-Cohen's theory about empathy, in particular, that is generating a buzz among researchers and the public alike. His new work, The Essential Difference: The Truth About the Male and Female Brain (Perseus Publishing, 2003), suggests that the capacity for empathy is the critical cognitive difference between men and women. He goes on to speculate that the empathy gap between genders could provide a key for understanding autism, which afflicts one in every 250 American children -- the vast majority of them boys, including this reporter's 4-year-old son.

A Guy Thing?

Some parents of autists have charged that mercury-containing vaccines caused their children's disorder, but most researchers, including Mr. Baron-Cohen and others here at Cambridge's Autism Research Center, discount that theory. Scholars have reached no consensus on the condition's likely cause, let alone what could be its most effective treatment or possible cure, which is another of the reasons Mr. Baron-Cohen finds himself playing to an attentive audience these days.

The Cambridge scholar identifies empathy as "the drive to identify another person's emotions and thoughts, and to respond to them with an appropriate emotion." At the core of his thesis, he postulates that the natural wiring of the human brain tends either toward a capacity for empathy or toward one for understanding systems. He labels them E-type and S-type brains.

Although the scholar's office is small, he draws his chair a bit closer to allow for a clearer look at a little chart he uses to explain the scoring on questionnaires that the center gives to subjects. One corner of the frame shades into deep blue, the other into pink.

"We find," he explains, "that women on average tend to score in this light blue area, so their empathy is better than average. But their systematizing is not as strong as their empathy." Moving a finger across the frame, he continues: "Now here. Men on average are in the pink range -- they're interested in how things work, in systems, and less interested in talking about, say, emotional problems."

The final point of the demonstration, and the book's clincher, is that autism represents nothing less (or more) than an "extreme version" of the male brain. As Mr. Baron-Cohen tells it, it's almost like an exaggerated guy thing, a disorder in which autists tend to be more male than most men.

But he takes pains to distance his work from the "Mars and Venus" tradition. Imagining that "men are from Mars and woman are from Venus," is not helpful scientifically, writes Mr. Baron-Cohen, "and distracts us from the serious fact that both sexes have evolved on the same planet." Not to mention any autistic offspring they may have.

An 'Extreme Aloneness'

Childhood autism was first described in 1943 by Leo Kanner, a child psychiatrist at the Johns Hopkins University, who spent five years studying 11 children possessed with an "extreme aloneness from the beginning of life." He borrowed the word "autism," derived from the Greek autos, meaning "self," from the Swiss researcher Eugen Bleuler, who had used it in another context some three decades earlier. Unbeknown to Kanner or any of his American colleagues, the same condition was being studied simultaneously in Europe. It was identified with the same name only a year later, by a pediatrician in Vienna named Hans Asperger, after whom a high-functioning version of autism is named.

No two young autists are the same. Some will manage to lead relatively ordinary, even intellectually exceptional, lives, while others may need to be institutionalized. But what such youngsters share, both men saw, is an iron-walled detachment from the physical environment and an indifference to other people, along with profound difficulties with communication and imaginative play.

Among the behaviors most linked to the disorder are poor language and social skills, and a propensity for repetitive, frequently obsessional behavior, including hand-flapping, toe-walking, and self-injury. Autistic kids will often repeat the same words or phrases over and over, or immerse themselves in weirdly narrow interests, spinning to the sound of a rock album until they drop or else, perhaps, staring at a leaf on a tree until the sun goes down.

Clinicians since Kanner have debated the degree of conventional intelligence possessed by autists, with the usual assumption being that most of them exhibit some mental retardation.

One of the implications of Mr. Baron-Cohen's paradigm is that the opposite could be true, at least insofar as the "extreme" brain can be taken to mean one possessed of an extreme intelligence.

This is one of a number of areas where Mr. Baron-Cohen's current findings dovetail with some of his previous work. He has argued that a number of great scholars -- both men and women -- may themselves have possessed such a highly intelligent, "extreme" brain. One of the latest book's case studies involves an award-winning Cambridge scholar who, in a typical autistic touch, is terrified of talking on the telephone.

Mr. Baron-Cohen, along with the mathematician Ioan M. James of the University of Oxford, recently made scientific headlines by arguing that at least three of the well-known personality traits of Einstein and Newton -- obsessive interests, difficulty in social relationships, and profound communication problems -- suggested that these men were autistic. He even has his suspicions about the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. And why not? Academe is a place "of strong and narrow interests, even obsessions," he says with a shrug.

The Testosterone Theory

Mr. Baron-Cohen's latest findings in the psychological realm also fit with his continuing work on autism's biological roots. His next book, scheduled for publication this summer, looks at amniotic testosterone levels, which go to the heart -- or brain -- of his overriding theory on the condition.

Testosterone, he proposes, is the biological basis for the prenatal development of the autistic child. It starts in the womb, where some individuals receive an exceptionally high dose of the hormone, leading to the "extreme maleness" of the condition. Based on their study of thousands of samples of amniotic fluid, Mr. Baron-Cohen and his colleagues at the autism center have documented that children who experienced high-prenatal testosterone levels make less eye contact as toddlers and have lower communication skills at age 4, though he admits the evidence for any relationship between fetal testosterone and autism has yet to be established.

In different studies, Mr. Baron-Cohen's group is using scanning techniques to examine how the brains of autists respond to different social and emotional situations. They are also examining the genetics of the syndrome and developing new diagnostic tests.

If further research substantiates Mr. Baron-Cohen's testosterone hypothesis, he says, it would revolutionize the way in which autism is understood and initially diagnosed, possibly opening the door to far earlier intervention with intensive behavioral therapies. But it would also "open up an ethical can of worms with regard to terminations of pregnancy as well. ... I mean, what would be lost, as well as gained, by that?" he asks.

Politically Incorrect

For now, however, he has enough controversy on his plate.

The Essential Difference is Mr. Baron-Cohen's third book about autism. Here in Britain, it is subtitled Men, Women and the Extreme Male Brain. Although the psychologist had already drawn many of its conclusions as long ago as the late 1990s, he sat on them until now, he says, because for a long time the American cultural climate, in particular, did not seem quite ready for a gender-based theory of autism.

In America, academic attitudes "are much more PC," he says ruefully, so the book may still be "more shocking to an American reader" because "in some ways what I'm saying is not a PC argument."

At a popular level, some of those anxieties have proved true. Writing in the online magazine Salon, one reviewer, Amy Reiter, slammed the book for appearing "to reinforce the worst kind of gender stereotypes." Over all, one couldn't help but feel sorry for the scientist, she wrote, but "maybe that's the empathizer in me."

Responding to the review, one reader said that, while she had little empathy for Mr. Baron-Cohen, "or any ideologue attempting to utilize science to further a political doctrine," she couldn't help but feel "deeply embarrassed" for Cambridge on account of the work.

Many others feel differently. Whether or not one agrees with Mr. Baron-Cohen's approach, sexual politics, or science, noted one reviewer in the British newspaper The Guardian, his book's argument is "a treat for those who simply enjoy a good idea." And when the magazine Newsweek recently invited Mr. Baron-Cohen to take part in an online discussion about his theory, the publication unexpectedly found itself flooded with hundreds of inquiries from ordinary readers across the world.

Autism researchers have tended to be responsive, too, and, PC or not, American scholars are among those singing Mr. Baron-Cohen's praises the most loudly.

Whatever the shortcomings of assigning gender labels of this type, his work is "probably the most important thing to happen to autism research in the past 50 years," says Peter B. Rosenberger, an assistant professor of neurology at the Harvard Medical School.

Reflecting on his current work as director of the learning-disorders program at Massachusetts General Hospital, which is affiliated with Harvard University, Dr. Rosenberger points out that, until Mr. Baron-Cohen first began exploring the relationship between empathy and autism, valuable research time was wasted in trans-Atlantic squabbles about definitions rather than treatments.

While aspects of Kanner's definition have indeed been refined by later researchers, the name autism -- and its mystery -- has stuck, notes Dr. Rosenberger, even as the work of somebody like Mr. Baron-Cohen has shrunk the distance between researchers in the United States and Europe.

Rising Numbers

Not so its reported incidence. In Kanner's time, autism was thought to occur in perhaps one in every 10,000 children; a decade ago that number had jumped fourfold. Epidemiologists attribute today's figure of one in 250 partly to improved screening, greater public awareness, and a wider understanding of the autism spectrum. But a fuller explanation of the dramatic rise remains almost as elusive as the possibility of ever finding a cure.

"Until Baron-Cohen came along, nobody had even looked into a specific deficit that causes the autism syndrome, separating it from everything else," explains Dr. Rosenberger, whose only regret about his counterpart's work is that it has taken until now for it to begin to enjoy a measure of stateside recognition.

His view is echoed by another high-profile researcher, Geraldine Dawson, a professor of psychology and director of the University of Washington's Autism Center in Seattle.

Ms. Dawson, a pioneer in the early detection of autism, likens Mr. Baron-Cohen's contributions to those that once helped clinicians understand heart disease. At one time, cardiologists interacted with patients only after the onset of problems, and doctors tended to focus on determining whether people had suffered heart attacks. Only when researchers began looking at underlying areas like blood pressure and cholesterol levels did they make significant progress in diagnosing and treating the disease, as well as preventing its occurrence.

What Mr. Baron-Cohen "is doing is to think about one way in which we can consider autism along a dimension -- and from his perspective, of course, the dimension he attaches to it is one of genders," says Ms. Dawson. Researchers need to investigate whether that hypothesis is accurate, but the dimensional approach he is taking "is right on target," she says.

Certainly, Mr. Baron-Cohen has had good timing. Last fall a committee charged by Congress to coordinate autism research unveiled a federal "road map" at a major conference in Washington -- one of many such gatherings to be held in the United States and abroad this past year. While vague on details, the plan for the first time established interagency priorities for scientific research into autism, including the hunt to isolate its genetic and nongenetic components. The road map envisages coordinated action between federal agencies to promote biomedical research, wider availability of intensive behavioral therapy to assist speech development, and stronger research into earlier screening and diagnosis.

On the latter front, in particular, Mr. Baron-Cohen figures as "a very insightful presence, somebody who pushes things as far as they can go, which is what I think he's done with this book," says Ms. Tager-Flusberg, a professor of anatomy and neurology at Boston University Medical School and a past collaborator with the British professor.

While the notion that autism is some sort of extreme male cognitive style is not entirely new, "Simon has sharpened the subject, crystallizing what the particular attributes are when it comes to the autism spectrum," says Ms. Tager-Flusberg.

What About the Girls?

Not every scholar in the field gives Mr. Baron-Cohen's ideas such a welcome reception. Martha R. Herbert, an assistant professor in neurology at Harvard Medical School, says, "I'm just not convinced that this really explains everything." Although willing to entertain the idea of an extreme, testosterone-soaked male brain as an exacerbating factor in autism, she says, "I'm not clear that it's a prime factor." And, she asks, what does his theory say about autistic girls, who account for one in 10 cases of those who suffer from the condition? "Obviously, if it's testosterone, that would be consistent with there being more boys who are autistic. But why would there be any girls at all?"

All girls are exposed to low levels of testosterone in the womb. But girls start from a lower base line than boys, leading Mr. Baron-Cohen to speculate that they may require a bigger dose of whatever it is that causes the hormone to be elevated. For Dr. Herbert, that explanation only raises as many questions as it answers. "I'm sorry, I can't buy into it as an exclusive model -- he just doesn't present enough evidence to support it."

G. Robert DeLong, a professor of pediatrics at Duke University, agrees, saying that the thesis "has to be considered somewhat facile at this point. But it's provocative."

For now, Mr. Baron-Cohen is pleased that his work is being thought of at all, especially across the Atlantic where so much autism research is happening. He seems genuinely relieved that more American scholars than not appear to agree with Mr. Pinker's view of his work as being "neither politically correct nor politically oblivious." Still, he knows his latest idea is far from the mainstream. "Certainly in the U.S., it could well be seen as eccentric," admits the Cambridge professor, as he tucks the pink and blue E-S chart away.

Mr. Baron-Cohen enjoys a few minutes of respite in his office before heading off down the hall to rejoin his young team. But as tranquil as this moment feels on a gray-lidded English day, the scholar well knows that life remains horribly quieter for the millions who live with autism -- the same individuals who could yet benefit from the empathetic message he has attempted to send.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Extended News; Philosophy; Unclassified
KEYWORDS: autism; differences; males; men; testosterone; women
Almost a century ago James developed the dualism of "tender-minded (basically compassionate) and tough-minded (basically results oriented). This proved to easily factored out of most personality tests and today is found in the 16 PF Personality Test.

Seemingly, we re-discover things all the time. I would hope Baron-Cohen and Pinker could both give some credit where credit is due. This is one danger of claims that sexual differences not only exist but are operant in autism. Tough vs Tender minded has a large literature with considerable empirical support. Ignoring what has been done seems to be both dishonest and ignorant.

The other danger I see, is to replicate the problem that Bruno Bettleheim caused when he theorized that autistic children had been raised by cold mothers --eventually called "schizophrenogenic mothers." This proved false, but caused unbelievable pain in families with an autistic child. Raising false hopes is bad enough but sometimes we also falsely blame the innocent in so doing.

Caution would seem to be the watchword. It is nice the psychologists have re-discovered something from a 100 years ago and also re-discovered women and men are different, but extrapolating from this to an etiology for autism seems far fetched to me.

1 posted on 03/14/2004 8:29:45 AM PST by shrinkermd
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To: shrinkermd
Bump for later read -- this looks very interesting.

Some people have claimed men and women are basically the same, except for the effects of environmental conditioning. It's one of those ideas that's so stupid, only a liberal "intellectual" could believe it.

Now that the idea has finally fallen away, it may open new doors for productive research.
2 posted on 03/14/2004 8:46:31 AM PST by 68skylark
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To: shrinkermd
It's interesting, and THANK you for posting it.

I'm not sure I buy it. My daughter Caitlin is mildly autistic and is highly funtioning. While she shares many common autistic traits, ( repetetive behavior, social and language problems, no imitative play, emotional delay) she is one of the most compassionate people you will ever meet.

While she is often CLUELESS socially around peers, she is tender and kind to anyone or anything she sees hurting or sad, and she will go to huge lengths to try and help or comfort. She has a gentle touch with animals, and can often relate to THEM better than she does to people.




3 posted on 03/14/2004 8:47:17 AM PST by tiamat ("Just a Bronze-Age Gal, Trapped in a Techno World!")
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To: shrinkermd
These are going to be very hot topics over the next few decades, given the rapidly increasing ability to tease out the genetic and developmental basis that seems to underlie much (perhaps the majority) of the expression of "personality traits".

One thing I’d note is that this society (like most human societies) tend to *very* highly reward the extreme outliers along many continuums which clearly have a strong generic and developmental component, for examples professional athletes and classical musicians.
4 posted on 03/14/2004 8:54:27 AM PST by M. Dodge Thomas (More of the same, only with more zeros on the end.)
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To: shrinkermd
"Based on their study of thousands of samples of amniotic fluid, Mr. Baron-Cohen and his colleagues at the autism center have documented that children who experienced high-prenatal testosterone levels make less eye contact as toddlers and have lower communication skills at age 4, though he admits the evidence for any relationship between fetal testosterone and autism has yet to be established."

?? Hmmmm.............so he's just throwing this out there?
5 posted on 03/14/2004 8:56:40 AM PST by nuconvert (CAUTION: I'm an acquaintance of someone labelled :"an obstinate supporter of dangerous fantasies")
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To: nuconvert
According to the author: "Baby girls, on the other hand, follow a different, parallel path. They appear to respond to distress in other people more readily than do boys. They will make eye contact with others more readily. The pattern continues through life, although at differing levels with individuals. These differences don't represent "better" or "worse" values. Human males and females are overall equally intelligent. That intelligence is expressed in different ways. More to the point, men and women have both E and S traits, individually manifest over a wide spectrum. Extremes are few, but he notes extreme Es are more socially comfortable and acceptable than the autistic extreme S personalities."

When he measures testosterone it is possible he is finding another difference between men and women.

6 posted on 03/14/2004 9:28:31 AM PST by shrinkermd
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To: shrinkermd
and a propensity for repetitive, frequently obsessional behavior,

Does hitting refresh repeatedly when on the FreeRepublic latest threads page count?

7 posted on 03/14/2004 11:01:28 AM PST by KarlInOhio (Bill Clinton is the Neville Chamberlain of the War on Terror.)
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To: tiamat
I'm not sure I buy it. My daughter Caitlin is mildly autistic and is highly funtioning. While she shares many common autistic traits, ( repetetive behavior, social and language problems, no imitative play, emotional delay) she is one of the most compassionate people you will ever meet.

My son is also autistic and shares those characteristics. He may be clueless about social interactions, but he is very compassionate, too.

8 posted on 03/14/2004 11:05:35 AM PST by conservative cat
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To: nuconvert
?? Hmmmm.............so he's just throwing this out there?

And why shouldn't he? He's not labeling it as a proven fact, merely discussing an observation.

It may spur someone else to do further research and either prove it or disprove it.

9 posted on 03/14/2004 11:44:41 AM PST by BfloGuy (The past is like a different country, they do things different there.)
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To: shrinkermd
Isn't testosterone poisoning a "marthaburk" feminst studies argument? All testosterone is eeeevil.

I bet they will also rediscover phrenology. (bump on head science)
10 posted on 03/14/2004 12:24:04 PM PST by longtermmemmory (Vote!)
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To: conservative cat; tiamat
in this usage, compassion and empathy are not equivalent.

case in point: I am a very compassionate man. I am also completely clueless when it comes to social interactions dependant upon interpreting the other party's emotional state.

hrmn...
my viva-voce verbal skills are awful.
my systems analysis skills are excellent.
I loathe telephones.
I hyperfocus on tasks.
hrmn...

The author of the book might consider me autistic.
*shrugging*
11 posted on 03/14/2004 12:44:51 PM PST by King Prout (MECCA ET MEDINA DELENDAE SUNT!)
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To: King Prout
I don't think so!

Just one of those poor people lke me who mispent their youth reading science fiction and playing RPGs!


Geeks of the world, UNITE!

LOL!

12 posted on 03/14/2004 1:19:48 PM PST by tiamat ("Just a Bronze-Age Gal, Trapped in a Techno World!")
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To: conservative cat
One of the things you can say about autistic kids is that they are ALL different.

I have yet to meet one that is a "typical" autistic.

Tell you what: a lot of them are very bright, too. The notion that most show "some retardation" is bunk. Lots of autistic kids are smarter than average, and some of them are brilliant.



13 posted on 03/14/2004 1:24:19 PM PST by tiamat ("Just a Bronze-Age Gal, Trapped in a Techno World!")
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To: tiamat
bump to read later
14 posted on 03/14/2004 1:27:05 PM PST by merry10
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To: Rabid Dog
Interesting read
15 posted on 03/14/2004 1:28:34 PM PST by merry10
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To: tiamat
Tell you what: a lot of them are very bright, too. The notion that most show "some retardation" is bunk. Lots of autistic kids are smarter than average, and some of them are brilliant.

The difference between retardation and brilliance may just be the degree to which the subject is interested in the subjects that the tester thinks are important

16 posted on 03/14/2004 1:37:45 PM PST by SauronOfMordor (No anchovies!)
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To: tiamat
You played with rocket propelled grenades while growing up? Must have been a tough neighborhood.
17 posted on 03/14/2004 2:10:15 PM PST by 68skylark
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To: KarlInOhio
Good one -- it's good to know I'm not the only one who does that!
18 posted on 03/14/2004 2:11:06 PM PST by 68skylark
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To: shrinkermd
Although the psychologist had already drawn many of its conclusions as long ago as the late 1990s, he sat on them until now, he says, because for a long time the American cultural climate, in particular, did not seem quite ready for a gender-based theory of autism.

This makes me wonder how many other scientists are supressing their research results because they're worried about the fallout from PC libs.

19 posted on 03/14/2004 2:14:02 PM PST by 68skylark
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To: All
Are any of you familiar with the book "You Just Don't Understand" by Deborah Tannen? To me, I think that's the single best book I've ever read about personalities, and male-female differences. I'm just wondering if anyone else has a reaction to it.
20 posted on 03/14/2004 2:19:45 PM PST by 68skylark
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To: 68skylark; King Prout
68skylark wrote:

You played with rocket propelled grenades while growing up? Must have been a tough neighborhood.





LOL!

You gotta know it, Baby, I was born in Detroit and grew up two blocks off of Woodward Avenue! Sex, drugs, rock n roll, you tell me what you want, I'll give you what you need!

No really

RPGs is "Role Playing Games" . Played with paper, pencil, dice, and sometimes, little miniature lead figures.

"Dungeons and Dragons" is an RPG.

And Prout here and I share a dirty little secret .
21 posted on 03/14/2004 2:20:50 PM PST by tiamat ("Just a Bronze-Age Gal, Trapped in a Techno World!")
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To: tiamat; 68skylark
And Prout here and I share a dirty little secret.

*looking in trousers...*

as to RPGs in the halcyon days of my misspent youth... I played with both kinds, actually... though i suppose the type that went "whoooooshBOOM!" might be better termed a LARP

22 posted on 03/14/2004 2:28:12 PM PST by King Prout (MECCA ET MEDINA DELENDAE SUNT!)
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To: SauronOfMordor
SauronOfMordor wrote:



The difference between retardation and brilliance may just be the degree to which the subject is interested in the subjects that the tester thinks are important







I've woked with Downe's Syndrome kids. Most of whom were cheerful, friendly and very eager to please. Bend over backwards to accomplish a task and were VERY interested. they want to do it, because *YOU* want them to do it. Despite that, often just could not manage.

I've also worked with kids in the "gifted" range. Kids whom I know to be math whizzes, reading several grades above their peers, maybe musical and have a couple of languages on them, and just could care LESS about doing school-work. Bored out of their SKULLS.
23 posted on 03/14/2004 2:33:04 PM PST by tiamat ("Just a Bronze-Age Gal, Trapped in a Techno World!")
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To: shrinkermd
Some parents of autists have charged that mercury-containing vaccines caused their children's disorder.

This is the reason for the skyrocketing increase in autism. Babies whose system cannot excrete the mercury normally are at high risk of autism. Why any "doctor" would inject mercury, a deadly neurotoxin, into an infant, is beyond me.

24 posted on 03/14/2004 2:35:04 PM PST by Trickyguy
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To: tiamat
Okay -- I knew I should recognize RPG from something other than a military context. I myself have some dungeons & dragons experience in my misspent youth.
25 posted on 03/14/2004 2:41:46 PM PST by 68skylark
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To: 68skylark
I figured you were military. LOL!

Bunch of the guys I played with were, too.

Must be a while since you've played, huh?

;-)
26 posted on 03/14/2004 2:48:14 PM PST by tiamat ("Just a Bronze-Age Gal, Trapped in a Techno World!")
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To: King Prout
Hmmmm.... my husband likes to blow things up, too.

We used to refer to him and his buddy as "Gomez and Uncle Fester".
27 posted on 03/14/2004 2:50:19 PM PST by tiamat ("Just a Bronze-Age Gal, Trapped in a Techno World!")
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To: conservative cat
My 4 yr old son can be this way as well. If you even pretend cry, he comes and gives you a kiss.
28 posted on 03/14/2004 2:51:23 PM PST by cupcakes
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To: tiamat
"dat blow'd up REAL good, Skeeter!"
"aww, t'weren't nuthin'. Hey y'all, wahwch'IS!"
29 posted on 03/14/2004 2:52:24 PM PST by King Prout (MECCA ET MEDINA DELENDAE SUNT!)
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To: tiamat
Agree tiamat--you get my son in the right mood and you can find out just how many words he knows, but he will not use any of them in expressive language and still screams and uses body language to assert himself. Many of these children are very bright and probably have access in their heads to just as many words as their "normal" counterparts, but they just can't bridge that gap to expressive communication.
30 posted on 03/14/2004 2:55:32 PM PST by cupcakes
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To: cupcakes
I feel for you.

Caitlin used to scream. Made for WONDERFUL gettogethers with the in-laws, let me tell you.

And people will say "discipline problem" or "it's the mother's fault".

I tell people to think of Caitlin as an "English as a Second Language " person, because it really Is a language problem.

It helps.
31 posted on 03/14/2004 3:01:43 PM PST by tiamat ("Just a Bronze-Age Gal, Trapped in a Techno World!")
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To: King Prout
King Prout wrote:

"dat blow'd up REAL good, Skeeter!"
"aww, t'weren't nuthin'. Hey y'all, wahwch'IS!"




LOL!

I lived in THAT neighborhood,too!

The week of Fourth of July is very LOUD in Ypsilanti, aka "Ypsitucky".

Usually there was a "Hold muh beer", in there somewhere as well.


32 posted on 03/14/2004 3:05:29 PM PST by tiamat ("Just a Bronze-Age Gal, Trapped in a Techno World!")
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To: tiamat
Thanks for the info. That seems so much like my son. He even has to think a moment on what you say before he reacts--it reminds me so much of someone who knew English as a second language and had to process the English in their native tongue in their heads before they could understand it.
My son is only 4, but you can tell him to open the curtains and even though he's done it and heard it a thousand times, there will be a pause before he does it.

I've also realized he is a strong visual learner. It is how he learned to open the curtains. He could know every word, but unless you show him once or twice the action with the words, he won't get it.
Thanks for the thoughts. I just hope it gets better and I am praying that the son I am expecting in a couple of months does not have to deal with the same issues.
33 posted on 03/14/2004 3:08:10 PM PST by cupcakes
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To: tiamat
Must be a while since you've played, huh?

It's been awhile since I've done D&D -- though I may still have a lot of playing soldier ahead of me.

34 posted on 03/14/2004 3:10:15 PM PST by 68skylark
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To: tiamat
When the researchers start documenting more of what us as careproviders see it will be more benificial to other with disabilities to follow.

Stop treating the Labels put on kids in clinic and start treating the kids as individuals.

I got this deal to fill out by a student at Oregon Health Sciences for her thesis it was so far out there none of us filled it out.

It was all about the names and labels one prefers for their disabled child/adult loved ones. To PC termonlogy. Who gives a crap.

Back in the day they use to lump all kids with severe Cerebral Palsy into one catagory as parents we all knew different each child is an individual just as non disabled kids are.

When my son can't breath he wants medical treatment not disbelief from the medical community that he has lived 24yrs with abilities of a newborn and the intelligence beyond the avg. person and why is he so pro life. Damn treat his asthema so he can breathe and if you are in such disbelief take the time to sit down and share our life for a moment or shut the hell up.

I by accident saw a man once that was going into surgery he as God as my witness looked like the beast in beauty and the beast and then some but I got the opertunity to look into his eyes and I saw his soul it was warm and loving. The nurse with me got visibly upset at seeing him and quickly turned to me to see my reaction. I looked back at him and her with a smile of love.

Then we have humans who are charismatic and beuatiful in accordance with society and they have empty souls.

Tiamat they (society) either get it or they don't. Enjoy the gift God gave you. Even on the long I am tired days we have a gift given for us to care for and love. Don't know why I just know God does.

I am sure he will let me know if it pertains to his plan when I meet him on judgement day.
35 posted on 03/14/2004 3:12:41 PM PST by oceanperch (`It's A Boy Address:http://community-2.webtv.net/YaquinaBay/LangleyPortar)
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To: tiamat
I've also worked with kids in the "gifted" range. Kids whom I know to be math whizzes, reading several grades above their peers, maybe musical and have a couple of languages on them, and just could care LESS about doing school-work. Bored out of their SKULLS.

That's me! I still hate school.

It's funny you brought that up, because I've just been going through some old papers and I found most of my old report cards. Going back to kindergarten, they all say the same thing: "Mr. Jeeves is extremely bright but he doesn't care about doing class assignments. He plays by himself and ignores the other kids. He is the best reader I've ever taught, but he needs to particpate more in class."

How come they never could believe I found their whole curriculum stupefyingly pointless? It has to be worse today, the way everything is dumbed down to the level of the slowest learners in class. Our education system is choking the life out of the next generation of geniuses we will eventually need as leaders.

But maybe that's the whole point.

36 posted on 03/14/2004 3:24:17 PM PST by Mr. Jeeves
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To: King Prout
Yeah well I share your traits I guess I am a female with autistic traits.

I rarely feel empathy like all my girlfriends who cry at the drop of a hat. I always try to understand why women cry and get so emotional and I don't so not to be insensitive towards them. Just figured my brain is chemically wired differently.

Get very frustrated trying to verbalize what I am thinking can type it out better.

Don't have much negative feelings either tend to always be upbeat and happy except when sick or extremly tired.

Rarely get depressed and I think life is great but the Doctors all say I am a uni polar aka manic. Hey as long as I sleep it's all good IMO.
37 posted on 03/14/2004 3:28:45 PM PST by oceanperch (`It's A Boy Address:http://community-2.webtv.net/YaquinaBay/LangleyPortar)
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To: shrinkermd
...the problem that Bruno Bettleheim caused when he theorized that autistic children had been raised by cold mothers --eventually called "schizophrenogenic mothers."

Several decades ago I was told by a professor of special ed, that mothers of autistic children had erected a statue of Bruno Bettleheim and met beneath it to feed the pigeons. (I have trouble with the humor impaired, so I think I better label this as a joke.)

A lot of people think there is a hereditary component here. It is possible that Bettleheim simple saw some cold mothers and misinterpreted the cause. If autism occurs as the extreme end of a natural continuum, then people should be careful not to marry people with the same extreme traits.

I'm not convinced that empathy is the key to this. There is a female autistic architect and writer who asserts that her autism manifests as an exaggerated, overwhelming empathy. (For animals, not people, however.)

38 posted on 03/14/2004 3:30:11 PM PST by js1138
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To: 68skylark
Bless you and thank you for your service!

Don't leave home without your D20 and your percentiles!

:-)
39 posted on 03/14/2004 3:31:25 PM PST by tiamat ("Just a Bronze-Age Gal, Trapped in a Techno World!")
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To: Mr. Jeeves
I would have loved to have tutured you!

One of the BEST compliments i ver got was "Mrs. Tiamat, I like you. You're weird! "

And I think the "dumbing down" is the point in some circles!
40 posted on 03/14/2004 3:33:37 PM PST by tiamat ("Just a Bronze-Age Gal, Trapped in a Techno World!")
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To: tiamat
My son uses a single head switch to activate a communication system to communicate to society.

At home we use eye gaze and body gestures if he has an emergency he blows with all his might via the trach and it quacks like a duck. LOL

Now that he is an adult male he doesn't communicate much with me on details just like a man. Unless it is of extreme interest to him.

Lucky for him I enjoy being a domesticate. Oh I guess a today's woman would call me an uneducated servant. LOL
41 posted on 03/14/2004 3:39:26 PM PST by oceanperch (`It's A Boy Address:http://community-2.webtv.net/YaquinaBay/LangleyPortar)
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To: oceanperch
LOL!

Hello FRiend.

And HELLO! to your son. One of my favorite teachers had a son with CP.

I know whereof you speak.

People laugh at me because I refer to Caitlin as "My wealth" and "My gift from God".

It took me forever to get pregnant. Not through lack of trying!

I miscarried twice. I had to have a C section to have her , and I will not be able to have any other kids. I figure there has to be a reason that SHE is MY baby!

I take such joy in her. She is kind, and funny and quirky.

My blessing.

42 posted on 03/14/2004 3:39:58 PM PST by tiamat ("Just a Bronze-Age Gal, Trapped in a Techno World!")
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To: oceanperch
You're such a good Mom!

I would not say "Undeducated Servant". I would say "House-hold Goddess"!

;-)
43 posted on 03/14/2004 3:50:08 PM PST by tiamat ("Just a Bronze-Age Gal, Trapped in a Techno World!")
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To: tiamat
Agree having King Vanity is like having six kids and a husband.

So I chose to just care for him and three Labrador Retreivers.

He is soon to be 25. The dogs are 13, 9 and my new k-9 baby is 12weeks old.

Potty training is very rough. I forgot. Really enjoying his puppy antics and loving him.

It has been 9yrs since I had a pup now a days they have all kinds of cool tools to help with parenting skills.

Love the idea that he can go to his crib/crate for naps and I have one in the van for travel. In the old days I had puppies chew wheelchair lift wires. That puppy is now 13yrs old and so crippled up he uses the wheelchair lift to get in and out.: )

Speaking of domestic I need to get off of here and get King Vanity up for shower/grooming time. I take 10 minutes to shower and get ready he takes two hrs. Well thus his nickname.
44 posted on 03/14/2004 4:00:21 PM PST by oceanperch (`It's A Boy Address:http://community-2.webtv.net/YaquinaBay/LangleyPortar)
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To: tiamat
Thanks my friend just brought me a sticker that says "Queen Bee" LOL
45 posted on 03/14/2004 4:02:09 PM PST by oceanperch (`It's A Boy Address:http://community-2.webtv.net/YaquinaBay/LangleyPortar)
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To: tiamat
Coool so you understand the "either you get it or you don't' when people enquire about our kids.

Like a duck to water we have alot of Ducky freinds as it sounds you do too!

46 posted on 03/14/2004 4:06:15 PM PST by oceanperch (`It's A Boy Address:http://community-2.webtv.net/YaquinaBay/LangleyPortar)
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To: tiamat
I'm not sure I buy it. My daughter Caitlin is mildly autistic and is highly funtioning. While she shares many common autistic traits, ( repetetive behavior, social and language problems, no imitative play, emotional delay) she is one of the most compassionate people you will ever meet.

That was freaky, my daughter Caitlin (same spelling) has mild autism and is high functioning as well. I thought when I was reading the first sentence of your post, that it was mine

47 posted on 04/01/2004 10:32:13 AM PST by RepubMommy
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