The Autism Question — Cedar Sanderson

The Autism Question — Cedar Sanderson

The recent discovery of what may cause autism was first brought to my attention by Peter Grant’s blog. I’ve since seen it several times since then, posted by gleeful optimists, but my first reaction wasn’t sheer joy. You see, I have a little sister who is autistic. However, as Peter points out, many creative type folks – including many people I know, and perhaps even myself, also show signs of autism.

 

The problem is, what was once a nebulous diagnosis limited to those who were almost completely withdrawn from the world is now applied to anyone who displays social awkwardness. I’m not going to get into the subtle workings of the brain, in any depth, as I’m not the person to talk to about thingies in the brainies (although perhaps one of those worthies will drop by in comments).

 

I’ll start with the International Handbook of Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorders. “Autistic spectrum disorders (ASDs) are characterized by impaired social interactions and communication, as well as restricted and repetitive behaviors and interests. Impairment in each of these dimensions can vary in severity, and symptomatologies among individuals with ASDs are often quite diverse. Over the past 20 years, there has been a marked increase in the diagnosis of individuals with ASDs. In 1966, Lotter undertook the first epidemiological study of autism, estimating the prevalence of autism disorder to be 4.5/10,000. Two decades later, the estimate rose to 10.1/10,000. Currently, the community prevalence of ASDs is estimated to be at least 36.4/10,000, with some estimates as high as 67/10,000. It has been suggested that this increase in the number of cases of ASDs is due, at least in part, to more inclusionary definitions of disorders within the autism spectrum. While more in-depth discussion of this increase in ASD prevalence can be found elsewhere, there is at least some suggestion that changes in prevalence may be due to changes in, and broadening of, the diagnostic conceptualization of ASD. “

 

However, while at one end of the diagnostic criteria lies my sister, who is a lovely person, mentally about four, physically around thirty, on the other is me. You all know me, some have met me in person. I’ve never been tested for autism, I refused to even consider it when it was suggested not too long ago. I’m a functional adult, and I don’t need that label hung on me. Because the ‘high functioning’ end of autism, which was recently (and still, I think) called Aspergers, is more a psychological diagnosis than a physical one.

 

While doing research for this essay, I came across an article that was published in the New York Times, entitled “I had Asperger Syndrome. Briefly.” which succinctly lays out my concerns with the over-diagnosis of people with autism. “I exhibited a “qualified impairment in social interaction,” specifically “failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to developmental level” (I had few friends) and a “lack of spontaneous seeking to share enjoyment, interests, or achievements with other people” (I spent a lot of time by myself in my room reading novels and listening to music, and when I did hang out with other kids I often tried to speak like an E. M. Forster narrator, annoying them). I exhibited an “encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus” (I memorized poems and spent a lot of time playing the guitar and writing terrible poems and novels).” Nugent goes on to explain that as he got older, and developed, his mother, who had diagnosed him and applied the label to him, realized that he was not on the autism spectrum.

 

While the Federal Education code lays out a much stricter criteria for diagnosis, we have already seen that parents and doctors adhere to no such standards. Which brings me back to the article and study published in the Daily Mail.

 

If, and it is a very big if, they have truly discovered the cause of autism and Aspergers, what do they propose to do with that? While perhaps such treatment could reveal my sister, as we glimpse her now through a veil, an engaging person with an impish sense of humor, a temper, and a distinct personality. Then the veil falls again and she is out of reach. I would go far for a treatment that would lift the veil forever. But what if it doesn’t work? And how will we know? Will they decide to use people like my sister, deeming them not contributors to society, as guinea pigs. Yes, I know that would be unethical and illegal with today’s laws… If a fetus capable of drawing breath for their first cry can be deemed a non-person, what protects my sister?

And that same treatment, the neural pruning, if applied to an adult, what would happen? Would we creatives lose our social awkwardness, that need to flee a crowd because it’s all just too much, the shying away from direct contact that overwhelms us? Or would we also lose our weirdness, that which makes us Odd and able to create? No-one knows. We simply don’t know what the brain does, internally, well enough to plunge into declaration of a ‘cure” much less implementing it.

 

I’m never one to seize on a ‘new discovery’ and this one has me taking a step back and hesi – no, I’ll admit, the first words out of my mouth on reading it were unladylike. I immediately saw where it could go, and folks, it ain’t pretty.

 

I’ll finish up with this: the history of eugenics and mental retardation. “ In this country, attempts to eradicate the population of individuals with mental retardation can be traced back to the emergence of eugenics in the latter half of the 19th century. Francis Galton’s theory of eugenics was aimed at improving the “inborn qualities of a race.” One of the objectives of proponents of this “science” was to colonize and sterilize all undesirable subgroups in the United States. Half of the states adopted laws that forbade marriage for individuals who had mental or emotional impairments. In the 20th century, sterilization was used as a means of controlled breeding. In 1911, the American Breeders Association was established to study the reduction of the mentally retarded population. By 1926, sterilization laws had been passed in 23 states that made sterilization mandatory for “mentally deficient” individuals when recommended by the courts (Rubin & Rosseler, 1994). These laws ultimately resulted in the involuntary sterilization of over 60,000 individuals with mental retardation and mental illness by the year 1960 (Reilly, 1991).” Later in that same article, “There are no national or even regional statistics reported in any publication on the incidence of elective abortion that follows a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome. The only information available is from those individual diagnostic or treatment facilities that maintain such records and permit disclosure. Although current statistics were not available, between 1984 and 1987, 88% of the women at Washington University Medical Center who were informed that they were carrying a fetus with Down syndrome elected to abort the fetus (H. Beaver, personal communication, February 24, 1993). Similarly, P. DaVee of Indianapolis University Hospital reported that of the 1,125 clients tested in 1993, 29 (2.6%) indicated abnormal fetuses (personal communication, December 13, 1993). Although statistics were not available, she reported that most of the abnormalities were Down syndrome. DaVee concurred that, based upon her experience, nearly all of the fetuses carrying Down syndrome were aborted. These findings appear to indicate that genetic testing as a logical extension of eugenics is indeed being used as a means to screen for and then prevent the birth of persons with Down syndrome.” (Ethical and legal issues regarding selective abortion of fetuses with Down syndrome By: Glover NM, Glover SJ, Mental Retardation, 00476765, Aug, 1996, Vol. 34, Issue 4)

 

I had a personal brush with this. While pregnant with my son, I had an ultrasound. That evening, we got a rather concerned-sounding voice mail from the doctor, telling us that the fetus had a marker for Down’s, and we needed to come in for an appointment to discuss options. My immediate reaction was again explosive, unladylike, unprintable, and boiled down to “he’s 27 weeks old. There is only one option, and that is we will love him.” For those wondering, short legs run in the family on his paternal side, and he inherited short femurs… but nothing else. He’s a bright, energetic, engaging young man now, at nine years of age.

 

Before we start looking at cures, we must look at the consequences. What happens without those neurons? If you treat very early in life, then the person will never miss them. But we might also miss out on what would have been. Do we risk the people we already have, to see a cure for those who are coming now? How much of the autism spectrum is real, and how much a convenient excuse for people with an agenda? And when will pregnant mothers start making decisions about their children based on some genetic test which might or might not be a reality?

 

I can’t begin to answer all the questions. Nor can the scientists who did the original study. Perhaps in time, we can be more certain. But not yet, and I wouldn’t be willing to risk my precious sister to it.

407 responses to “The Autism Question — Cedar Sanderson

  1. In the last 30 years or so it seems everybody has something that doctors can treat. You go to a doctor for either a physical or with some complaint and the next thing you know you are on some long term prescription for some condition that cannot be cured only managed. The diagnostic manuals have widened the descriptions to many conditions, syndromes, and other maladies to the point of absurdity and worse it is now hurting people who actually have the real disease,syndrome or condition. The current crop of drugs being used to treat all these conditions seem to have one thing in common and that is if they are effective at all they cause bad things in people who do not really need them. This has naturally led the medical profession to either reformulate or lessen dosages.

    We are over prescribed, over diagnosed and are unhealthier as a result. The bad news is that we cannot simply ignore doctors because we really really need them but relying on them too much can kill you.

    • We’ve encountered that, with an overzealous doctor prescribing unneeded medication that could have caused harm had the person not stopped taking it. But these days they *need* to find something wrong, in order to justify their billing.

      • my mom’s uncle spent years in a chemically induced stupor that left him non-functional. He started having some sort of issue and his doctor kept adding medicine to treat each new symptom until he was a quivering blob in a wheelchair who could be spoon fed but didn’t communicate much outside of the occasional bout of anger. Finally after 20 years or so his doctor died, and his new one looked at his records and freaked out. He dropped nearly half of his medicines, and changed a few others and withing a week was his pre-afliction self, and driving himself to and from doctors appointments.
        He said all he recalled from the time was being very ,very tired and just wanting to sleep. Sadly we only got him back for about 6 months before someone ran a stop sign and killed him.

    • Birthday girl

      Yes. Whenever I go to the doctor, which is rare because I’m basically healthy, I get asked 3 or 4 times what medications I’m on — which is none. The staff just can’t grasp that I’m not on any meds … it must be very rare for them …

      • Right now we don’t even have painkillers in the house. We should probably get some though the reason why we don’t is that we rarely use them that we’ve never got around to needing to buy some

        • Birthday girl

          Ya know, I might be at “that age” … I’ve found recently that taking an Aleve at bedtime really helps me sleep better and reduces my chronic plantar fascitis (and yes, I stretch, etc. daily as well). Maybe there is a good reason a lot of folks are on daily anti-inflammatories … but I’m still resisting that …

        • I’ve got some aspirin in the medicine cabinet that I picked up after my root canal. It was a “just in case” purchase that, fortunately, wasn’t needed. On the other hand, I wish I’d thought to pick it up *before* the root canal. The work was needed after a tooth died, and I had a very, very painful 36 hours over the course of that weekend.

          That was a while ago, and I suspect I probably ought to check the “use by” date on the aspirin bottle. I think I’ve used it exactly once.

      • We have painkillers, the usual stuff for decongestants and coughs, throat lozenges for the various plagues our son takes home as souvenirs from the petri dish that’s school. Painkillers for me if there’s actually something that prevents me from functioning (think ‘nerve being crushed between joints / tension migraines). But I’ve apparently got a really high pain threshold and rarely need medication. I get surprised looks when I say I’m not on any constant medication (“Do vitamins count?” I usually ask.)

    • The veil of mystery disappears when you realize that doctors (1) know nothing about science,and have no training in it; (2)have been trained to be obedient servants of the Establishment; and (3)will chase every cultural marxist fad, however toxic, without a second thought.

      • Medicine as a cultural fashion statement. Read something like that in a Louis L’Amour western – old doc snorting at a bad diagnosis previously rendered.

      • I must respectfully disagree. I dropped out of Johns Hopkins, but hung around to court my Lady. I don’t think an awful lot of doctors, but they are trained in the sciences to some degree. Does it make any permanent impression? That’s another issue, but most of them have had at least some training.

        As graduates of American colleges, they are certainly exposed to the toxic Marxist twaddle loose in academia. I doubt that many of the rank and file take it all that seriously, but it does permiate the system.

        Those that fancy themselves as Intellectuals doubtless buy a good deal of the academic idiocy that passes for thought, but I’ve run into plenty who were too busy trying to do their freaking jobs (loaded as they are with paperwork that GS clerks are going to second guess) to have such pretentions.

      • Wayne Blackburn

        I don’t know where you are, to have met such doctors, but that certainly does not describe many of the doctors I have met. In fact, I would say that it would take an extremely loose interpretation of those statements to describe ANY doctor I know.

  2. Okay, I admit before clicking through the link I thought, “Ted Nugent used to be autistic?”

    For a good novel on this subject, and the possible consequences of finding a ‘cure’, I recommend The Speed of Dark.

    • LOL – I hadn’t even thought of that. Should have used the guy’s whole name.

    • Birthday girl

      Good grief, Speed of Dark is > $11 on Kindle … umm … I’ll check the library.

      See, pricing really does matter …

    • That book was my first thought as well. It should be required reading for anyone considering tinkering in this area

      • Flowers for Algernon is also a good book about tinkering with mental issues. It’s on mental retardation rather than autism, but I think the message is much the same.

      • It’s a really good book. Highly recommend. (Except for the Epilogue.)
        The Epilogue pissed me off. We should have left the protagonist in the park, knowing that one way or the other, the person we had come to like was about to cease to exist.
        Rather than have a tacked on attempt to make the ending less bittersweet.

  3. Pingback: Asking Questions | Cedar Writes

  4. Josh A. Kruschke

    Why the fuck can we not just let people be?

    (Pardon the language, but certain words are needed to convey certain feelings.)

    • Because walking on the other side of the road when other people have problems is not going to happen.

      Involuntary commitment of suicidal people, for instance, often results in their being released in three days — and so happy to have be forcibly stopped that they will track down the staff to thank them before leaving.

      • Josh A. Kruschke

        Mary,

        Ah, because we might help someone, we feel we have the right to fix people. Often is not a certainty. Every evil perpetrated in the name of Eugenics is predicated on the belief that some know what’s best for others.

        True help and change must come from within. The best we can do as outside observers is offer advice and support.

        If someone is struggling, I try to help them, period. I do not try to live their life for them. 

        I have not lived your life or I do not live inside your head, so I do not purport to know what is best for you.

        We either own our own bodies or we don’t.

        On to suicide that was brought up and off topic. If suicidal, I would try to help them find a reason to live, and would sugest seeking professional help.

        Any changes that need to happen have to come from within. They can not be forced from without.

        Three days? Do you actually think they solved what ever life problem or brain chemical issue in three days.

        Cure… Fuck.

        How about we ask people if they want to be cured first.

        “You have every right to live your life as you see fit, but only if I think you are doing it right.”

        The left takes this to the extreme, but we on the right fall into the trap ourselves. Most of the time we have a hard enough time running our own lives with any measure of success, but some how we feel qualified to make life and death decisions for others.

        That we are only allowed to risk or give our lives for others. That it is some how wrong to decide to end our life for personal reasons.

        I’ll try to help. I’ll even suggest you get professional help, but there is a reason that it is so hard to commit someone against their will.

        • Ah, because we might help someone, we feel we have the right to fix people. Often is not a certainty.

          So we should only do sure things?

          No– error on the side of life. Exactly the opposite of the error of eugenics.

          Never mind that, traditionally, very few people are satisfied with destroying only themselves, so there are practical reasons to back up the moral ones.\

          If someone is struggling, I try to help them, period. I do not try to live their life for them.

          And there you dive off after even more of a strawman than the question of eugenics.

          • While you may own your own body, you have an obligation to dispose of it properly. When a suicide lingers long enough to clean up the personal effects and medical waste left behind I will accept it as a purely personal decision.

            Denying your self-termination imposes burdens on others is profoundly dishonest.

            • Josh A. Kruschke

              RES,

              We can’t legally make arrangements for the collection and deposition of our remains so therefor suicide needs to remain illegal? A little circular don’t you think, because if suicide was legal then we could legal make arrangements, and it wouldn’t be anymore of a problem than anyother death.

              Death is inconvenant for the living all around. 

              At no point did I say it wouldn’t be hard for those that continue on after we are gone.

              • When the contracted party fails to perform, who sues for breach of contract? Who has standing?

                For that matter, once you have committed suicide you are trespassing on another’s property (or, if you prefer, illegally dumping waste on another’s property) and likely doing material harm to that property.

                • Josh A. Kruschke

                  RES,

                  It called your estate, and whom ever is made or is your executor. 

                  Also, it still your property untill it has been probated and whom ever take ownership does.

                  How would you, if you died naturally, insure your wishes are carried out. The same mechanisms would still be in effect.

                  • If we’re not allowed to be cruel to other people or to animals, we shouldn’t be allowed to be cruel to ourselves, either.

                    • Which is to say that if you wouldn’t slit your dog’s cute little doggy wrists, don’t do that to Mr. Body, either. If you wouldn’t put a plastic bag over your cat’s head or drown kittens, why do you think it’s right if it’s you?

                      And yes, usually people with even terminal illnesses who want to kill themselves have brains with a more terminal depression and coping problem than the rest of their body has with living. Don’t let your brain drag you into being abusive to yourself.

                    • Really? You’re going to stand forth in a Geek Community and denounce self-abuse?

                    • Arrrgggghhh!!

                  • Josh, how many suicides do you think bother leaving a will? Based on observation of of human behaviour, my impression is that suicide is normally an impulsive act, even if one long contemplated. The evidence of Dr. Kevorkian’s experiments and those of various European nations where self-termination is encouraged are of only limited use, given that their clientele is … unusual.

                    No will means no probate. Your corpse is still abandoned property, at best.

                    It might be an idea to follow the Chinese example and simply allow harvesting of usable organs for recycling to the living; an Anarcho-Capitalist society doesn’t seem to offer much basis for forbidding selling of your own body parts. It might be a way to leave a moderate estate. It would also create a special interest to lobby for legalization of suicide, complete with clinics to not only safely and painlessly effect post-birth abortion but to reclaim all useful parts. It’s the GREEN way to go!

                    • Josh A. Kruschke

                      RES,

                      “No will means no probate. Your corpse is still abandoned property, at best.”

                      Sorry, I used probate incorrectly to mean the process by which the state detirmines the destribution of your estate. See…

                      http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/how-estate-settled-if-theres-32442.html

                      Have I mentioned Anarcho-Capitalism? The confustion is that I have been arguing from what is and isn’t legal and posible in todays society and culture. 

                      “Based on observation of of human behaviour, my impression is that suicide is normally an impulsive act, even if one long contemplated.”

                      Our observations (perception of reality) are often not supported by statistical data or the facts. But that’s not here nor there as I’m not basing my augment on knowing the motivations of others, but on not being omniscient enough to know what is best for others, I leave that up to them. As long as they are not harming anyone else they should be allowed to chart the course of their own life. (That not an excuse to cry harm to get people to do what you want that is the tactic of the PC crowd.) I mean harm at the level of robing someone else of their life along with your own harm.

                      I believe people should choose life over death, but I’m out about to start forcing my morality onto others. That would make me no better than the Bloombergs of the world.

                      And be honest RES do you really want me to feel justified in making life choices for you or anyone else?

                    • Suicide is a life choice? We are not talking here about how somebody leads their life but how they leave it.

                      You want the State to have a role in disposition of your estate?

                      Can a person, in your scheme, hire somebody to assassinate oneself? Is it less suicide if I give you ten bucks to pull the trigger than if I pull it myself? Even though evidence abounds that I would likely flinch involuntarily and merely permanently impair myself?

                      Where do you draw the line? Do you endorse a legal regime allowing a person to sell himself into slavery? Does your failure to support such a principle constitute telling others how they may (or may not) live their lives?

                      If you can’t grasp the essential difference between making suicide non-legal, and think that puts you on the side of the Bloombergs of the world I recommend you look up William F. Buckley, Jr.’s position on shoving little old ladies around.

                    • Josh A. Kruschke

                      RES,

                      Suicide is a life choice? We are not talking here about how somebody leads their life but how they leave it.

                      Yes.

                      If I choose to give up my life in combat, say jump on a grenade to save my friends lives, you might possible want to give me the highest award possible in the military.

                      I choose to give up my life because do not want to go through 6 months of agonizing pain. That is some how wrong.

                      Sometimes you don’t get to choose how you leave this world. Death just comes by to snatches you away, But sometimes you do, and it’s the last life choice you will ever make.

                      The rest… Well I don’t live in an AC society I live in the USofA and must deal with the laws as is.

                      The post by Cedar is about people feeling they have the right to fix people.

                      I’ve just been discussing the morality of how some feel justified in fixing people even if they don’t want to be fixed.

                      I thought people were tiered of me droning in about an AC society.

                      If you want to talk about it we can?

                      😉

                      If you can’t grasp the essential difference between making suicide non-legal, and think that puts you on the side of the Bloombergs of the world I recommend you look up William F. Buckley, Jr.’s position on shoving little old ladies around.

                      🙂

                      Just because you believe you are justified in pushing the the little old lady doesn’t mean the little old lady is going to agree with you or be grateful to you.

                      Just because you feel justified in your actions and Bloomberg isn’t doesn’t mean that both of your motivation are not the same, that being trying to save people from themselves.

                    • How about if you suicide for the reason George Sanders did?

                      The first instance you sight is no, in fact, suicide. It is an act of self-sacrifice. The difference was (supposedly) modeled by Jesus the Nazarene. If he possessed the authority he claimed his death was avoidable (not merely surmountable.) So, too, did every martyr who died rather than renounce Faith.

                      As for shoving little old ladies about, your callousness in the presence of imminent danger expresses your inability to conceive of the quantum gradients between ordering people about, restraining your desire to help and indifference to the well-being of others. It is not all one vast slippery slope down which you fall the moment you shout “Watch-out, Granny!”

                    • Josh A. Kruschke

                      RES,

                      I’m all for help and encouraging people.

                      I didn’t say the first example was suicide, but it is a example of an action of self-harm that will lead to my death. According to you, I can kill myself, I just can’t set out to kill myself, except if I’m martyring myself for a cause, because Jesus.

                       🙂

                    • Okay, Josh, you’ve got me: I have no objection to you engaging in self-harm that leads to your death. Anybody incapable of distinguishing between giving up one’s life and throwing away one’s life doesn’t strike me as much of a loss.

                      But if somebody shoves you in front of a bus I might give in to the urge to shove you out from its path, just because I like pushing people around.

                      BTW: the CDC offers the following definitioin of suicide, “Death caused by self-directed injurious behavior with any intent to die as a result of the behavior.”

                      Emphasis added to highlight the fundamental distinctions between the two types of acts you conflated.

                    • Josh A. Kruschke

                      RES,

                      “Anybody incapable of distinguishing between giving up one’s life and throwing away one’s life doesn’t strike me as much of a loss.”

                      What this is you judging what someone else does based on your morals and limited understanding of what they are going threw.

                      “Death caused by self-directed injurious behavior with any intent to die as a result of the behavior.”

                      There is a reason I used the example of throw oneself on a grenade.

                      Taking morality out of it.

                      The only deference between throwing oneself on a grenade and throwing oneself of a bridge. Both can lead to deaths from injurious behaviours with the intent to die as a result.

                      The CDC definition makes no distinction as to what might motivate someone. It is you that are viewing others actions and making a moralistic decluration as to the validity of their actions.

                      What you fail to realize is the only person who’s opinion matters is the person about to take the action.

                      I too feel that commiting suicide is a waist of their life and potential, but it’s their life, not your, to do with as they will.

                      We make a blanket statement of “Suicide Bad” when what we mean us giving up ones life for no good reason is bad. 

                      Like we have anysay in how others deal and react to the world. All we can do is be there for them if they ask for help. On that note we might want to stop stigmatizing those with mental issues and feeling overwhelmed and depressed by life. People need to feel compfortable seeking help. This is the focus in the mental health fields especialy those dealing with Vets. We don’t need to handling this in a reactionary way after the problem has already manifested.

                      How about we as a society through parents and guardians focus on teaching the skills of self-reliance, mental resiliency, and how to deal with disappointment and adversity  in productive ways. 

                      We used to teach social and Life skills. Now we seem to just focus on academics as if acadimics will impart the skills needed to be a happy productive member of society.

                      So, RES, you get up on your moral high horse, but that’s not going to convince or give someone a reason to live if they have chosen other wise. Because your belief that suicide is “throwing away one’s life” is not going to hold much water with those who truly want to leave this mortal coil and not just using it as a cry for help.

                      RES I see “Time Enough for Love” would have been a really short book if you had written it.

                      😉

                      We each have to determine what our life is worth and our reason to get out of bed in the morning. No one else can do that for us.

                    • Josh,
                      Recognizing your demonstrated inability to make a significant moral distinction does not constitute me climbing aboard a “moral high horse” so much as it represents your inability to stay in a moral saddle. By raising the principle of non-interference as your highest standard you are climbing aboard a horse so high you’ve lost sight of the ground, as witness your refusal to distinguish between self-sacrifice and self-destruction.

                      The soldier who throws himself on a grenade is not doing so with the intent of ending his life, it is a price he volunteers to pay in order to protect others. Dying is not his intention, saving others is. By taking morality out of it you have rendered all action devoid of context. Perhaps you think that soldier should poll the foxhole to determine whether those being saved are willing to accept salvation at such cost. (BTW – in most such scenarios, the diving soldier is already doomed; close enough to dive on a grenade is probably too close to survive it.)

                      Refusing to interfere in another person’s life is a moral act. Your denial of moral content while proclaiming your own superior morality (which is what your “hands off” morality presumes to be) renders your arguments incoherent and fundamentally based on falsehood.

                      You might also contemplate that if called to address somebody contemplating suicide my arguments would be somewhat different than those made in an internet forum, that I would not offer an atheist religiously founded reasons to live, nor would I make Christian arguments for eschewing suicide to a Muslim or Buddhist.

                      As for your ramblings about stigmatizing mental health issues, the need for people to feel comfortable seeking help, Time Enough For Love, the roles of society in support of parents and guardians — you are assuming much about me that is entirely of your own imagination, crafting a straw man rather than addressing the arguments actually made. While pretentious it is not very persuasive. But have fun pounding your bass drum — I expect it is much easier than listening to what people are saying.

                    • Josh A. Kruschke

                      RES,

                      What you fail to realize is I do make moral distinctions about what is right and what is wrong. What I do not do is demand you live by my standards. I do not purport to know what is best for you or egotistical to try to demand you live by my morality.

                      And I have demonstrated that I know the difference between Self-Sacrifice and Self-Destruction. Again…

                      Self-Sacrificed being willing to die for a cause or others.

                      Self-Destruction being willing to die for oneself.

                      Is a Jehadi blowing him self up sacrfice or destruction?

                      Is Suicide-Mission a misnomer?

                      RES it doesn’t matter how you answer those questions, because it’s not going to change how I answer them. 

                      What I haven’t done is automatically assumed that we have the right to interfere in how someone conducts their life if they are not harming anyone else. Either you have the right to conduct your life they way you see fit or you don’t.

                      Who gets to determine what is and is not acceptable levels of self-destructive behaviour. There is no morality in the definition of suicide I just pointed it out. (And throwing yourself on the grenade is dying so other don’t. Yes the point is saving others lives by giving up yours.)  I was just pointing out that your morality, where you draw your lines, and my morality, where I draw my lines, are not necessarily the same or going to match up with the individual that no longer wants to continue living.

                      Why do you keep framing this as if what I believe on this subject is important? It’s not. The suicidal or the ones you need to convince suicide is bad not me.

                      I believe suicide as away of avoiding life’s problems is the easy way out. It’s the cowards way out.

                      But what I believe and what you believe don’t mean squat to someone who has given up on life.

                      Let’s get back to my original question, “Why the fuck can we not just let people be?” Who was it that was pointing out that America was built on the idea of minding our own business?

                      Now I’m going to ask…

                      Do we even know what our business even is anymore?

                      Because you and the Bloombergs of the world believe you have the right to save people from their self-destructive actions and behavior. 

                    • I am not sure you comprehend what was originally said at the beginning of this particular line of conversation: Many formally suicidal people are thankful that others ‘cared enough’ to have interfered, and gave them a second chance to decide whether or not to live.

                      That you see an equivalence between a person who has decided that they cannot deal with living and the person who is willing to die for a cause does not mean that this is what the rest of us think. Most people see a distinct difference.

                      Suicide is a deliberate decision to end one’s own life usually involving feelings of extreme hopelessness and despair.

                      The person who commits a suicidal act for a cause is a different case. The Japanese Kamikaze pilot, choosing a ‘suicidal’ actor that I am familiar with, was taught to believe he was giving his life for the greater good. (At the same time he was ‘helpfully’ provided with a plane with no landing gear, so once he took off he had little choice about dying.)

                      Regarding actions of self-sacrifice, such flinging your body on a grenade, the time involved in such actions usually does not allow for consideration. This is acting on an initial impulse. In those rare cases where people have survived such actions they have testified that they were not thinking of the cost to themselves, they just did it.

                      Meanwhile, please think this over carefully: To insist that we should ‘just let people be’ is an imposition of a morality.

                    • Josh A. Kruschke

                      CACS,

                      “That you see an equivalence between a person who has decided that they cannot deal with living and the person who is willing to die for a cause…”

                      Not equivalent, but that the end result is the same, and the only difference is that we individually attribute different acceptance an validity to those actions. One is seen as morally acceptable and the other is not. 

                      “…does not mean that this is what the rest of us think. Most people see a distinct difference.”

                      Exactly! Different people and different cultures have drawn different lines of acceptance on suicide as a valid option. Just because you or I might not see suicide as valid doesn’t mean others including the one in the process of choosing differently might not see it as a good idea and a valid option. If you happen to run across someone that is contemplating suicide, you might want to have a better argument ready and a better reason to live, than just suicide is dad and morally wrong.

                      “Suicide is a deliberate decision to end one’s own life usually involving feelings of extreme hopelessness and despair.”

                      Usually? Do we have statistical data to back this up or is this how you feel? Women and Teens that have a low success rate per attempt, this not conclusive but suggest to me and others that those that choose suicide for purely emotional reason use suicide as a cry for help. Those that are more likely to succeed are Males and those over 45 that see suicide from a more logical perspective. They see suicide as a valid alternative to end a bad situation. It’s a logical calculation. One you might feel is based in faulty assumption and on a faulty perception of the world.

                      “Regarding actions of self-sacrifice, such flinging your body on a grenade, the time involved in such actions usually does not allow for consideration. This is acting on an initial impulse. In those rare cases where people have survived such actions they have testified that they were not thinking of the cost to themselves, they just did it.”

                      It’s part of the training. They made the choice before hand to sacrifice their life and well-being for their comrades and for the cause. That they  didn’t hesaitate shows how deeply the training and commitment was.

                      “Meanwhile, please think this over carefully: To insist that we should ‘just let people be’ is an imposition of a morality.”

                      Correct: it demanding equality of Liberty…Right Liberty… Rights and Responsibilities is a two way street. We have a bad habit of demanding other respect our rights while feeling justified intruding on others.

                      I’ve muddle the language. When I said RES is demanding we live be his morality of right and wrong. He make decisions based on incomplete knowledge while calming to know what is best. Now RES might have knowledge the one making a decision doesn’t have, just as the one making the decision is the one actually living in side of their own head with the actual knowledge of my they are doing the things they are doing or contemplating. 

                      I’m not against influencing those around us, it’s actually impossible not to, of trying to get people to see things my way, but what I am against is using force. I’m against tactics like do this, or I’ll lock you up until you agree with me, or here take this drug or ‘cure’ you will see it my way, or putting a gun to there head believe this or else. People are ultimately  responsible for the decisions we take the state of our life. Not you, not I, not the government, not anyone else we are selves.

                      They themselves have to choose to live.

                      We need to be their for people around us. When I say, ‘just let people be’ I mean we need to stop meddling in other peoples lives, start focusing on our own. Stop pretending we know what is best for everyone around us when most of the time we barely know what is best for ourselves.

                    • Suggest you google ’causes of suicide attempts’, you will find: Depression, Major Depression. In the case of teens correlations have been found with the use of anti-depressants and a link has been seen with sleep problems.

                      From the NHS site:

                      …Most people who choose to end their lives do so for complex reasons. Research has shown that in the UK many people who die by suicide have a mental illness, most commonly depression or an alcohol problem.
                      In many cases, suicide is also linked to feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness.

                    • Josh A. Kruschke

                      CACS,

                      They Get the 90% caused by depression stat by having a pretty loose definition of depression lumping similar but not necessarily the same mental issues.

                      A google Thomas Joiner + Suicide  for current research. 

                    • Josh, I do not usually address a poster directly, but here I shall.

                      I happen to know far more about clinical depression and depressives than I would care to. I am not unacquainted with suicides and suicidal people. Unfortunately your track record leads me to believe that were I to tell you about the details you would likely dismiss that as anecdotal, and continue to press on.

                      I request that you to drop the subject. The horse is not only dead, the puddle which you are flailing no longer bears any resemblance of ever having been one.

                    • Josh A. Kruschke

                      CACS,

                      Do mean like having a father diagnosed Bipolar that was hit by a car and was killed crossing the street August 1st, 1996. Rulled an accident, but you wonder. Or his Father my grandfather spent the last 20yrs or so of his life on antidepresent fighting depression.

                      You mean like having to come to grip with the fact I wasn’t there for my dad, because I had joined the Navy and was off living my life.

                      You mean something like that?

                    • Josh A. Kruschke

                      CACS,

                      Sorry that could have use some editing. Still waking up.

                    • Josh, as you admit you don’t care I shall not endeavor to answer the juvenile questions you posed, especially as your posing of them demonstrates the opposite of comprehension of the distinctions being made.

                      One of your errors, Josh, is in assuming that a suicide’s act is a private one which imposes no burdens on others. I have refuted that premise while your rebuttal consisted merely of ways to mitigate those costs. It has long been established by Social Anthropologists (it was old when I studied it three decades ago) that suicide and homicide stem from the same root, aggression turned inward or outward — but still a hostile act. Knowing what you are talking about is a fundamental requirement of any discussion and I’ve yet to see more than a sophopmore’s understanding of suicide in any of your arguments.

                      Another error is presuming that suicide is not a profoundly irrational act — acknowledged but not recognized in your nod toward its being rooted in depression, a form of mental illness which voids any claim of self-governance. To accord the mentally ill with the same deference accorded the competent is essentially dishonest as well as unjust.

                      As to your question of who gets to determine … the answer, as it always must be, is them what are in position to so must determine. Only a fool denies the realities of the world’s power structures. The better question is under what grounds ought we make such determination? Great latitude is allowable here, with deference always to individual autonomy. But when a person isn’t competent, through inebriation, drug use, depression (aka, chemical imbalance of the brain) or immaturity we recognize the duty of others to act on their behalf, in their interest as we believe they would were they competent.

                      Accusing others of climbing upon a moral high horse (please note that my arguments have been pragmatic), engaging in name-calling (Bloombergism) while perching your own argument upon a high moral principle of non-interference leaves me wondering whether you are engaged in hypocrisy or acute lack of self-awareness. Certainly it bespeaks a callowness undermining any arguments you make, as does the absolutism of the principle you espouse.

                      Far from framing this as if your beliefs on the subject are important, my point has been that as a matter of social policy the way this topic is approached is serious, your dismissal of such significance notwithstanding. That you imagine I care what you think — rather than being motivated by a compulsion to not leave erratic arguments unrebutted — suggests a degree of personalization of the discussion blinding you to the wider context.

                      I have not been the one pewling about being picked on, hurling accusations of argument in bad faith, engaging in name-calling or asserting a binary principle. Having recognized a level of inter-dependence, acknowledged that my actions entail costs for others and that complex problems require complex approaches, I am quite willing to assert that under certain exigent circumstances we all have a duty to interfere in others’ acts of imminent self-destruction. We can opt to refrain from that duty but to do so requires full consideration of the implications of the decision, not juvenile “not my job” reflexive argument.

                    • Josh A. Kruschke

                      RES,

                      “Josh, as you admit you don’t care I shall not endeavor to answer the juvenile questions you posed, especially as your posing of them demonstrates the opposite of comprehension of the distinctions being made.”

                      Not agreeing with your conclusions does not denote incomprehension of the issues at hand. “If you would only see it my way you would agree with me.” *Sigh*

                      “One of your errors, Josh, is in assuming that a suicide’s act is a private one which imposes no burdens on others.

                      Name One act in life that doesn’t have consequences, costs or burdens. You say this like regular old death by natural or accidental causes has no cost or that they must be less burddensom than suicide. I said it’s a private choice one made internaly in your head. 

                      “I have refuted that premise while your rebuttal consisted merely of ways to mitigate those costs.”

                      As with any death the responsible thing to do is try to mitigate the impact on those left behind. 

                      “It has long been established by Social Anthropologists (it was old when I studied it three decades ago) that suicide and homicide stem from the same root, aggression turned inward or outward — but still a hostile act.”

                      Did you just give me the science is settled speach?

                      In this theory I’m assuming they are equating suicide with unjustifiable homicide only. Because sometime homicide is justifiable. And we “wouldn’t” want to imply that some times killing oneself might be justified.

                      Knowing what you are talking about is a fundamental requirement of any discussion and I’ve yet to see more than a sophopmore’s understanding of suicide in any of your arguments.

                      Agreed! So you might want to update your knowledge base (30yrs?). A good place to start would be with Thomas Joiner:

                      The transcript to a good interview of 

                      http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=126365907

                      “Another error is presuming that suicide is not a profoundly irrational act — acknowledged but not recognized in your nod toward its being rooted in depression, a form of mental illness which voids any claim of self-governance. To accord the mentally ill with the same deference accorded the competent is essentially dishonest as well as unjust.”

                       Are you equating irrationality with metal illness?

                      As you have ignored again, my point that often there is a measure of logic used in deciding to give up ones life. But as with most failure of logic the failure stims from a failure of percetion. “They no longer value their life, feel the world would be better without them and no longer fear death.”– To paraphrase Thomas Joiner.

                      A deep apathy or even a belief of wanting to save their loved ones from watching them go through a protracted illness irrespective of what their loved ones would actually want. 

                      “As to your question of who gets to determine … the answer, as it always must be, is them what are in position to so must determine. Only a fool denies the realities of the world’s power structures.

                      I can almost agree with family and friends having this right to impose their will on loved ones. They are at lest in some what of a position to have a clue; though they are often caught unaware of the inner-workings of their closest family. But “world’s power structures”? Are you talking heartless/ soulless / bureaucracy? Or Mental Health Professionals? 

                      “The better question is under what grounds ought we make such determination? Great latitude is allowable here, with deference always to individual autonomy. But when a person isn’t competent, through inebriation, drug use, depression (aka, chemical imbalance of the brain) or immaturity we recognize the duty of others to act on their behalf, in their interest as we believe they would were they competent.”

                      You have listed conditions that lead to a loss competence, but still have not demonstrated how you determine competence. Is it totally subjective like porn will just know it when we see it? Which leads us to…

                      “Accusing others of climbing upon a moral high horse (please note that my arguments have been pragmatic), engaging in name-calling (Bloombergism)…”

                      I’m sory, I’ll stop labeling your position Bloombergian if you will stop labeling mine as sophomoric, juvenile or foolish. Just kidding. If you honestly think this than continue. 

                      Hmmm… “pragmatic”? I will agree that you feel that you are being pragmatic and sinsible. 

                      “…while perching your own argument upon a high moral principle of non-interference leaves me wondering whether you are engaged in hypocrisy or acute lack of self-awareness. Certainly it bespeaks a callowness undermining any arguments you make, as does the absolutism of the principle you espouse.”

                      Again you demonstrate a lack of understanding of my position, that it is not “principle of non-interference” but of erroring on the side if the individual.

                      “Far from framing this as if your beliefs on the subject are important, my point has been that as a matter of social policy the way this topic is approached is serious, your dismissal of such significance notwithstanding.”

                      I find this troubling that you don’t think I take this seriously. As I find this belief that we have the right to fix people the underlying justification for all the evil of the 20th Century.

                      “That you imagine I care what you think — rather than being motivated by a compulsion to not leave erratic arguments unrebutted — suggests a degree of personalization of the discussion blinding you to the wider context.”

                      Ditto

                      “I have not been the one pewling about being picked on,…

                      Can you quote one time in this conversation that I have done this?

                      “…hurling accusations of argument in bad faith,…

                      What is this statement but an accusation that I’m arguing in bad faith.

                      “…engaging in name-calling…”

                      Yes! You never call anyone fool or juvenile or sophomoric… Oh, wait never mind.

                      “…or asserting a binary principle.

                      The oposite of Suicide is Living for Others. Dying for others and self are on the same of spectrum. So what Binary Opposition have I espoused?

                      “Having recognized a level of inter-dependence, acknowledged that my actions entail costs for others and that complex problems require complex approaches, I am quite willing to assert that under certain exigent circumstances we all have a duty to interfere in others’ acts of imminent self-destruction. We can opt to refrain from that duty but to do so requires full consideration of the implications of the decision, not juvenile…”

                      Agreed up to the point you have not defined what ‘interfere in others’ acts of imminent self-destruction’ entails. 

                      “… “not my job” reflexive argument.”

                      It’s not that it’s “not my job” It’s that “I’m not God!” And neither is anyone else. People have to be receptive to and choose to fix themselves.

                    • I expect we can all agree that this has reached an impasse on the fundamental issue, so I part with a couple ad hoc observations.

                      Not agreeing with your conclusions does not denote incomprehension of the issues at hand. “If you would only see it my way you would agree with me.” *Sigh*

                      It is not your failure to agree but rather your failure to accurately reprise or directly rebut which stands in evidence of your incomprehension.

                      The oposite of Suicide is Living for Others. Dying for others and self are on the same of spectrum. So what Binary Opposition have I espoused?

                      You have ignored the vast spectrum between the two poles you’ve asserted. This habit is why I have despaired of your capacity to understand arguments.

                      It is also a false choice: the opposite of suicide is living for yourself. Period. Full Stop.

                    • Josh A. Kruschke

                      Sarah,

                      Sorry, I know you asked us to drop this but I can’t let this go unanswered. 

                      ————————— ——

                      “You have ignored the vast spectrum between the two poles you’ve asserted. This habit is why I have despaired of your capacity to understand arguments.

                      It is also a false choice: the opposite of suicide is living for yourself. Period. Full Stop.”

                      RES,

                      You are the one presenting the false choice argument. Presenting the only valid choices are the ones your morals say are right.

                      I believe It is I that is looking at the full spectrum of life death and the motivations of why we might choose one over the other.

                      Let’s put this in a graph.

                      West to East we have on the West side Life, and on the East side Death.

                      North and South we have reasons why we might choose West/Life or East/Death. On the North side we have Self, and on the South side we have others.

                      RES, I’m not the one presenting and limiting the choices to the only valid or moral (Your Morals or Societies) ones are from the South side of the graph, that we can only choose from  the South side ignoring the North.

                      The NorthEast (Dying for Self) and the SouthWest (Living for Others) are the true opposites as I stated.

                      If I don’t play by your Moralistic Rules then I just must not understand. I find this almost childlike in it’s demand that I must just see it your way.  I have tried to show by examples that you are not yourself looking at the whole spectrum of Life Death and why we choose either. Though we did not choose to come into this world, we do have the ability and some measure of control to choose when we leave it.

                      I do believe we should do everything in our power to postpone death as long as possible even though often it is out of our hands.

                      Thomas Joiner’s points to one of the reasons irrespective of mental health  that people take their own life is they feel the world and those around them would be better off without them. In this case you have to find and convence them to either live for themselves or it’s not what those around them really want.

                      This last is what happens in most of the examples given in the links mary and others provided. They haven’t found their reason to live. They just lost the reason, they felt, to kill themselves.

                      Keeping the focus only on the South Side of the graph of only living and dying for others might be why police, firefighters, EMS, doctors, solders… suicide rates are as high as they are. Death becomes familiar and they lose their fear of it, stop valuing their own life (Lose what ever anchor they had in the Northwest Quadrant.), and come to believe that world and those around you would be better off whithout them… We, I hope, see where this is leading, that these thoughts put us in the Dying for (what they percieve to be) Others quadrent. So, is this good or bad? Is it suicide if you feel you are dying for the good of others? If you clasify this too as Suicide not just dying for onself then the opposite is Living for Oneself as you pointed out.  The for quadrents of life/death  self/others was what I was trying to illustrate when I wrote the statement, “The oposite of Suicide is Living for Others. Dying for others and self are on the same of spectrum. So what Binary Opposition have I espoused?” We had been only classifying suicide as dying for oneself. I didn’t go into the detail needed to articulate my position, I will grant you that. 

                      The line on what is and isn’t suicide movies depending on circumstance and what others morals tell them it is. You will look at the situation and based on your morals decide if someone dying is suicide (or as your theory described it as self-harm or self-homicide) or justified. 

                      Some back ground before we look at the North falf of the graph.

                      A choice has at lest two options. Right or left, up or down, life or death…

                      You are walking down a path and you come to a fork. One path is labeled  Life and the other Death. If both paths are open then that is choice and free-will comes into play. But if someone has built a barrier to one of the paths, they have robbed you of choice and free-will. They have robbed you of your liberty. They have made you either a slave or dependent. We build barriers on bothsides all the time. You have become a danger to others you have lost the right to continue on the path of Life. You have become a danger to yourself you are no longer allowed to choose the path of death. (An aside: Bloomberg,  feels others are on the path of death, so he feels justified limiting others choices, in effect giving them no choice and stilling their free will.)

                      Now let’s focus on the Northside of the graph.

                      The Northwest quadrent is the quadrent Ayn Rand championed, and wrote a whole big book Contrasting the opposites of Living for Oneself and Dying for Others. RES, you can PERIOD! me all you want, but the only way Living for Oneself is the opisite of Dying for Oneself is if you descount the South side of the graph/spectrum.

                      A lot of people thingk that it is moraly wrong to just live for oneself is just wrong and it can be if you discoute others or try to live at their expense. Sometimes it is morally justifiable to live for onself instead of others. Should I choose to destitute myself for a family member or other that chooses to not take any responsibility for themselves? 

                      Now let’s look at the Northeast Quadrant. Dying for Self. (Or more accurately chosing the time of your death for yourown reasons.) RES you and others have stated this is never a valid choice, and believe you have the right to put up barriers to prevent them from making this choice, ineffect giving them no choices and robbing them of their free will. And in effect invalidating the other choices. You can’t dictate to others what choices thay can make then claim that they have free will.

                      The funny, as in ironic, thing is that last night after this brouhaha ended I went out to the movies and saw “The Giver.” At the end of the movie there is an enteresting exchange between Jeff Bridges & Meryl Streep at the end of the movie.

                      Sarah, though stories are not reality, they often do allow us to explore the human condition though we want no the true out come of ideas until they are tried in the real world. Often I hear we know what will happen if we try this. Often we can be pretty accurate in our predictions and often we are just wrong. All I know for sure is that we humans have free will an along with this is the ability to get things amazingly right and horribly wrong.

                      And I feel we get things horribly wrong more often than not when we limit or try to control free will the choice people can make. The only valid reason I know for limiting a persons free-will, freedom of choice, Liberty is if it harms the Rights of others. What is harm deferent people draw their lines as to what is and what is not harm in different places. We live in a world of Grey and we will disagree on where the lines should be drawn.

                    • Josh A. Kruschke

                      Correction:

                      …feel justified pushing the little old lady out from in front of the bus…

                    • I though I had heard it on Firing Line, and it may have been used there as well, but, from the Wikki article on William F. Buckley, Jr.:

                      As he wrote in his memoirs, “To say that the CIA and the KGB engage in similar practices is the equivalent of saying that the man who pushes an old lady into the path of a hurtling bus is not to be distinguished from the man who pushes an old lady out of the path of a hurtling bus: on the grounds that, after all, in both cases someone is pushing old ladies around.

                    • Josh A. Kruschke

                      CACS,

                      Yes, I ‘m aware that RES was Implying that I was using a false equivalency.

                      Thank You though for providing the information.

                      🙂

                    • If someone really wants to kill himself, you can’t stop him.

                      Hence, if you can stop someone from killing himself he probably doesn’t want to so maybe you should stop him.

                      I like the Robert Service poem someone posted. Encourage all to fight to the end.

                    • Josh A. Kruschke

                      The Quitter

                    • A favorite poetical exploration of that topic.

                    • And yet your reply demonstrated utter lack of such awareness.

                      You cannot reasonably expect us to keep track of all the things of which you are unaware.

                      This is not about suicide, it is about the discussion just concluded, it is about how we engage in debate on line.

                    • Josh A. Kruschke

                      RES,

                      OK, I see that now.

                      See how a direct statement works instead of saying you just don’t get my point or what we are saying. I can not read your mind.

                      If your reader missed a point, you might want to state how they missed it and in what way instead of belittleing them by calling the names like fool and sophomoric.

                      You new exactly how I missed your point, but instead…

                      *Sigh*

                    • This is my final comment, offered only in hope it can be clear enough to be instructive.

                      If your reader missed a point, you might want to state how they missed it and in what way instead of belittleing them by calling the names like fool and sophomoric.

                      You missed my point. I have belittled your arguments as foolish and sophomoric, I have made no statements about you.

                      It is generally desirable to ignore minor points that may have been missed, in order to avoid excessively long, detailed posts which tend to bore and even annoy readers. This is especially true of posts which contain multiple typing and grammatical flaws. Such comments are readily confused for those of trolls.

                      To be clear, I had not been sure whether you comprehended my reference to Mr. Buckley’s metaphor, nor did I care — it was not material to the original argument. Only when you responded insultingly to another commenter, one who clearly did not think you had grasped the metaphor, did I saw fit to address your rudeness.

                    • Just a brief kibbitz directed at both (all?) participants to this walls-o-text thread that I’ve been trying to ignore: private e-mail is a very good medium for long, involved discussions.

                      Just sayin’…

                    • Josh A. Kruschke

                      RES,

                      When I thanked CACS it was ment with sincerity, as she took the time to try and correct my misunderstanding by providing me with the information shecthought I was lacking.

                      And I appreciated the effort it took to look it up and provide me with the information.

                      I started off by say it was unnecessary (though I now see I was mistaken), and then to thank her for doing so away. It was not meant as sarcasm.

                      So CACS, and others, I’m sorry for any hurt feeling that I have caused. It was not my intent.

                  • So you can commit suicide, having named your worst enemy as your executor and so stuck him with the problem of cleaning up?

                    • Josh A. Kruschke

                      🙂

                    • How — revealing.

                      Notice that Josh is perfectly fine with people shoving all their responsibilities off on others, as that little smiley reveals in the teeth of all his other assertions.

                    • Josh is young. He will probably eventually know better. Can we drop this topic. For various reasons it makes me uncomfortable, and it’s clear it’s not changing any minds.

                    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                      I’m all for dropping it. I haven’t been responding to the topic but it’s getting old IMO.

                    • Josh A. Kruschke

                      Will do.

                    • Josh A. Kruschke

                      Mary,

                      The smileface was because I din’t think you were serious with that suggestion, and I giggled. As an excutor you would want to pic some you fill would carry out your wishes. I doubt that would be your worst enemy.

                      🙂 Now I’m giggling again.

                    • Because suicide is such a funny subject. /eyeroll/

          • Josh A. Kruschke

            Foxfier,

            Eugenics is the original theme of Cedar’s post.

            Mary brought suicide up and an example of when it’s ok to try to fix people.

            I guess I wasn ‘t supposed to continue to talk about or put it in context of the overal discussion.

            • Feel free to react to the actual points made, instead of jumping on a self-pity train and declaring yourself a martyr.

              You weren’t told to shut up, you encountered disagreement that offered counterpoints.

              • Josh A. Kruschke

                Foxfier,

                You accused me of bring up eugenics as a Straw-man as a way of avoiding answering Mary’s question.

                I answered her question in the context of the larger discussion.

                The conversation was almost diverted onto how best help those that who are suicidal vs do we have the right to interfere with some else life if only person they are harming is themselves.

                At lest RES was making the argument that committing suicide harms your loved ones.

                We hadn’t gotten to who’s right trump who’s in this situation.

                Foxfier, you might want to step back and review this sub-thread from the beginning.

                • Foxfier, you might want to step back and review this sub-thread from the beginning.

                  You might want to go and read what people actually said.

                  You said:
                  You accused me of bring up eugenics as a Straw-man as a way of avoiding answering Mary’s question.

                  When I pointed out that your accusation about wanting to live others’ lives for them was a strawman. I even directly quoted what I was responding to so that you cannot reasonably be confused by it if you BOTHER TO PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT PEOPLE SAY, INSTEAD OF WHAT YOU WANT TO HEAR.

                  I pointed out that eugenics made the opposite of the (you claim) “mistake” of stopping someone from killing themselves.

                  • Josh A. Kruschke

                    Foxfier,

                    Josh A. Kruschke | August 25, 2014 at 7:56 am | Reply
                    Why the fuck can we not just let people be?

                    (Pardon the language, but certain words are needed to convey certain feelings.)

                    My original comment to Cedar’s post.

                    Mary | August 25, 2014 at 8:46 am | Reply
                    Because walking on the other side of the road when other people have problems is not going to happen.

                    Involuntary commitment of suicidal people, for instance, often results in their being released in three days — and so happy to have be forcibly stopped that they will track down the staff to thank them before leaving.

                    Mary’s response to my comment. Paraphrasing: Often we can’t walk away when people are introuble. Example: take suicides often they even thank us for involuntarily restraning them for their own good.  

                    Josh A. Kruschke | August 25, 2014 at 9:53 pm | Reply
                    Mary,

                    Ah, because we might help someone, we feel we have the right to fix people. Often is not a certainty. Every evil perpetrated in the name of Eugenics is predicated on the belief that some know what’s best for others.

                    The original topic was people feeling they have the right to cure Autism. If you feel you have a right to stop, someone from out right killing themselves, then the Bloombergs of the world are right and justified in stopping us from slowly killing ourselves.  And this is all predicated on the belief that others know what is best for individuals and for the Society as a whole. This is for your own good and this is for the good of all both come from the same misconception that we can objectively know enough about individuals and society as a whole to make choices of others.

                    We either own our own bodies or we don’t.

                    We either have the right to pursue our own ideas of happens or we don’t. There is this Idea of Right Liberty: that we must balance our rights against the rights of others, but that doesn’t mean every yahoo gets the right to claim harm along with an automatic veto. (RES) 

                    On to suicide that was brought up and off topic. If suicidal, I would try to help them find a reason to live, and would sugest seeking professional help.

                    I do try, in the following, address Mary’s points on suicide. 

                    Any changes that need to happen have to come from within. They can not be forced from without.

                    Three days? Do you actually think they solved what ever life problem or brain chemical issue in three days.

                    Cure… Fuck.

                    How about we ask people if they want to be cured first.

                    [Edit out of a horrible restament of the central theme.]

                    The left takes this to the extreme, but we on the right fall into the trap ourselves. Most of the time we have a hard enough time running our own lives with any measure of success, but some how we feel qualified to make life and death decisions for others.

                    We don’t go to the extremes of the left but we do practice this in our own ways.

                    That we are only allowed to risk or give our lives for others. That it is some how wrong to decide to end our life for personal reasons.

                    My own aside on something I find ironic. 

                    I’ll try to help. I’ll even suggest you get professional help, but there is a reason that it is so hard to commit someone against their will.

                    A final thought.

                    Foxfier | August 25, 2014 at 10:12 pm | Reply
                    Ah, because we might help someone, we feel we have the right to fix people. Often is not a certainty.

                    So we should only do sure things?

                    No– error on the side of life. Exactly the opposite of the error of eugenics.

                    My quote was in refurence to Mary’s belief the we migh help, so therefor we have a right to force people to do something against their will.

                    This is the same sentiment as expressed in, “If we can just save one child.”

                    Never mind that, traditionally, very few people are satisfied with destroying only themselves, so there are practical reasons to back up the moral ones.\

                    Someone might abuse their freedom so we needed to limit the freedoms of everyone.

                    Really did you just make one of the favorite tropes and justification of the left. ” There are fat people in the world so we need to control what people eat.” “Someone might murder some or use it to kill themselves, so we need to institute massive gun control for everyone.”

                    Beside what you our forth as fact is blatantly false, that the vast majority of people that commit suicide do not try to take others with them. I want you to follow my link that I provided on Suicide stats then google mass shootings.

                    If someone is struggling, I try to help them, period. I do not try to live their life for them.

                    And there you dive off after even more of a strawman than the question of eugenics.

                    Yes you quoted me implying that it was a straw-man more than the question of eugenics.

                    1) What you quoted is statement belief. How am I aurguing for or against what I believe I’m doing.

                    2) Euginics is about culling undesirable trates from society, either through out killing of those with those traits or the preventing of them reproducing. It about doing what they think is best for others indivdualy and for society as a whole. 

                    I believe that more evil has been done in the name of this is for your or society’s own good than any other.

                    So when some uses this a a justification for interfering in someone else’s life. I see it as a red flag and step back and ask, “What the fuck gives you the right.”

                    (This is about adults people supposedly in charge of their own lives, and not the parent child relationship.)

                    Now onto this bit of imparted wisdom:

                    BOTHER TO PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT PEOPLE SAY, INSTEAD OF WHAT YOU WANT TO HEAR.

                    I pointed out that eugenics made the opposite of the (you claim) “mistake” of stopping someone from killing themselves.

                    You might want to follow your own advice.

                    I did not conflate eugenics and stoping someone from killing them selves. I only tried to point out that people belief that they have a right to interfere in others lives for their own good is the bases for both cases.

                    • If you feel you have a right to stop, someone from out right killing themselves, then the Bloombergs of the world are right and justified in stopping us from slowly killing ourselves.

                      No, actually, it doesn’t. With the right set of assumptions an argument for it can be made, but it’s definitely not anything like the statement of fact you wish to insist it is.
                      Also, you later in the same comment say:
                      I did not conflate eugenics and stoping someone from killing them selves.

                      It’s getting pretty clear that there are several issues where you substitute passion for reason, which would be not so bad if you didn’t insist on spraying it on everyone else.

        • Yes, actually, they do often fix their problems in three days. This is because their problems are often far from as profound as you seem to think they are.

          here’s some stats:
          http://slatestarcodex.com/2013/04/25/in-defense-of-psych-treatment-for-attempted-suicide/

          • Sigh. As someone who HAS been suicidal (long ago. As a teen) even an hour can make a difference. Just a distraction and something you have to do is enough to haul you out of the spiral.
            People in their right mind don’t make rational decisions Josh.

            • Having to something for someone else or care for them can pull you out of a bad spiral. Sometimes all it takes is a change of scene.

            • I’m coming to recognize exactly how much of my mom’s “you just don’t do this” stuff has a basis in hitting the Black Dog with a stick to keep him from biting you– wondering if our habit of “I had a dream where something happened to you– are you alright?” has some basis in subconscious recognition of warning signs triggering a bad dream.

              That said, I am so. Bloody. Sick. of people using the “I was suicidal!” thing to elevate their views above all others.
              Not you, obviously– you’re just one of the few that I’ve seen willing to mention their temptation as support to an option, not as an “I win” card, is what made me think of it…. Really pisses me off when I know that a lot of folks who still fight with it will NEVER talk about it, and definitely won’t flop it out at the least chance. There are a lot of flavors of suicidal, and since at least the 70s anybody who’s even a little quiet has been hammered with stuff to suggest it to them. If you’re even a little suggestible and don’t have a strong background of “NO!!!!”….

              *shudder*
              No wonder there’s more suicide than murder.

              • I wasn’t trying to trump anything, just explain how I know a distraction can help and save a life. And yeah, I know you weren’t accusing me.
                There were days in my thirties too, where it was like “I’ll wait till Dan is home. I can’t leave the kids unwatched.” — most of this was driven internally and had nothing to do with circumstances.
                Right now we’re having a heck of a time explaining to friends why our house search is in the city, where I can walk places. Well… because that’s how I control it. I have to be where I can WALK and see people, or I spiral. Too much in my own head. Now, most of these neighborhoods are lefty and expensive, but I’ve learned what I need and I control myself.
                And yep, my family has the same tradition. I’ve been creeped for two weeks by vivid dreams of washing a body for burial.

                • Odd you use the word spiral– we get “spun up,” although we tend to channel it into anger, since it’ll suck you right down if anything else.

                  ****

                  Neighborhoods– have you looked into ’50 to ’70s suburbs? In our area they’re usually too old to be desirable and too new to be hip, but with lots of empty nesters who are now channeling their efforts into the yard.
                  It’s probably different, there, but it’s delightful to see their efforts here.

                  • The problem is that suburbs feel unnatural to me, and that I need somewhere to walk TO. As in, if there’s a museum or a shop nearby or something, then I’ll get my butt out of the house. Otherwise I find excuses.

                    • There are things to walk to in my neighborhood. stores, supermarkets etc.Also schools hospital drs offices.

                  • describes my neighborhood. however, we have mix types of families. 1/2 the place is detached homes, the other half is rentals. the rentals are apts, townhomes and 1 family homes. most of the 1 family homes are ranch(1 story) houses. It’s ’70s+ because before the 70’s our county was farmland.

          • Then again, they don’t have to solve all their problems in three days. Just give them enough room to realize there are other options, other approaches, etc.

          • Josh A. Kruschke

            Mary,

            “But most of the stories I can generate from my personal experience are nothing more dramatic. It’s people who were found by their parents or partners or friends, dragged kicking and screaming to the hospital, treated for a couple of days, and by Day 3 they’re saying oh my god I made a horrible mistake I can’t believe what almost happened.

            And I know what the response will be – that of course they’d say that to their psychiatrists, they’re trying to get judged Officially Sane so they can get discharged and maybe try again. I accept that as a possibility, but since this whole section is about totally useless anecdotal data, let me just say I don’t feel like that was what was happening. I met people who were going out of their way to look for and thank their psychiatrist when he was busy in his office after the discharge papers had already been signed and they were on their way out. One time I met a patient at the bus stop a few days after she had been discharged, and she asked me to thank my boss and the rest of the team for what must have been the umpteenth time.

            Finally, I have some personal friends who have attempted suicide. In every case I am incredibly glad they remain alive, and more importantly, usually they are as well. And I know there’s social pressure here – that psychiatrists aren’t the only ones you have a vested interest in appearing cheerful to – but some are very close to me indeed and I do not believe they would lie about something this important.

            – From the linked article.

            I’m not going to argue that Scott is wrong for feeling the way he does.

            But the common theme in those stories presented is that they changed their minds.

            And I would not object to a three day waiting period for adults over 21 for those impulsive types.

            But the underlying problems will not be change that caused their thoughts of suicide in three days.

            The stats:

            https://www.afsp.org/understanding-suicide/facts-and-figures

            Bipolar disorder or what ever they are calling it now runs in my family. My Dad and Granddad both had been diagnosed with it.

            But you need to realize you can not fix people at most all you can do is be their for them and sadly that might be enough. It’s a helpless shitty feeling but that is reality.

            • You assume that there are fundamental underlying problems. There often aren’t.

              Witness that when Great Britain switched from coal gas — high in carbon monoxide, ideal for suicide — to natural gas, suicide rates declined by one third.

              Similarly, you can decrease suicides by putting up nets to catch people as they fall from bridges. This does not increase suicides at nearby bridges, even ones within easy walking distance. Heck, you can decrease suicides by painting the bridge bright blue.

              Either it’s a lot easier to fix people than you think, or many people who attempt suicide aren’t broken.

              • Wayne Blackburn

                Or at least not as badly broken as they think they are.

              • Josh A. Kruschke

                Mary,

                It depends on age and gender.

                3 times as many Women attempt suicide as men, but men are 4 times as likely to succeed.

                Is this due to the stereotypical women are more emotional and use it as a cry for help, and guys are more logical and not f’n around.

                The highest rate of success are with people over 45.

                Teen as with wimen do not have a very high success rate, I’m assuming they are using suiced as a cry for help.

                I’m not against helping those that will accept help. I wouldn’t lock you in a room against your will without you being a danger to others. I wouldn’t lock you into a life without give it the same level of consideration.

                • I mistrust any ideologue who calls on us to follow any principles regardless of cost, because in real life, the cost is mounds of corpses.

                  I really mistrust an ideologue who pours scorn on the notion that we should consider the corpses we know are coming if we apply his principle.

                  I will not follow your principle off a cliff.

                  • Josh A. Kruschke

                    Mary,

                    “I mistrust any ideologue who calls on us to follow any principles regardless of cost, because in real life, the cost is mounds of corpses.”

                    Sense you guy want to bring my ideology into the discussion. Yes the cost is mounds of corpse.

                    “Anarchists did not try to carry out genocide against the Armenians in Turkey; they did not deliberately starve millions of Ukrainians; they did not create a system of death camps to kill Jews, gypsies, and Slavs in Europe; they did not fire-bomb scores of large German and Japanese cities and drop nuclear bombs on two of them; they did not carry out a ‘Great Leap Forward’ that killed scores of millions of Chinese; they did not attempt to kill everybody with any appreciable education in Cambodia; they did not launch one aggressive war after another; they did not implement trade sanctions that killed perhaps 500,000 Iraqi children.

                    In debates between anarchists and statists, the burden of proof clearly should rest on those who place their trust in the state. Anarchy’s mayhem is wholly conjectural; the state’s mayhem is undeniably, factually horrendous.”

                    –Robert Higgs

                    I tried to keep the topic on rights and peoples belief that they can and have a right fix people.

                    “I really mistrust an ideologue who pours scorn on the notion that we should consider the corpses we know are coming if we apply his principle.”

                    Ditto! I feel the same. I mistrust an ideologue that ignors all corpses already pilled high in the name of States ambitions.

                    “I will not follow your principle off a cliff.”

                    You do not needed to follow the States are doing a credible job of pushing you off.

                  • You have never been in a position to kill that many people. Do not laud yourself on your not doing something you can’t.

    • As Mary says, there are people who genuinely need help. I’ve seen “not my problem” answers and they’re the wrong ones. I’ve also seen people (My mother for example) brushed off for genuine issues because ‘you’re a woman you’re supposed to be depressed’ (This was 26ish years ago so that attitude is, at least, less prevalent). Then there’s the ‘tough it out crowd’ who sometimes need to be dragged kicking and screaming ‘It’s just a flesh wound!’ to getting help. You’re a vet you should have seen quite a bit of that. As with all things there’s a balance to be struck and in this case it’s not being struck very well.

      • There’s also another side to the “you’re a woman” coin. It’s the men don’t get that pseudo diagnosis.
        Finding a good doc that will talk to you and not at you is damned hard.

        Please be reminded that Marxism is dependent upon the concept that people are NOT unique or individual but are interchangeable widgets. Any deviation from the “norm” as determined from on high must be ridiculed or medicated out of existence. If some of these efforts turn out like Miranda, they consider it acceptable losses.

      • Josh A. Kruschke

        Wyrdbard,

        There is a difference between people needing help, and you and others giving them the help you think they need.

        • Of course.

          We should only be allowed to give people the help that you think they need.

          • Josh A. Kruschke

            Foxfier,

            No, it’s what they think that is inportant, not what you think or I think.

            If they are not a danger to anyone else, leave them the hell alone.

            • No, it’s what they think that is inportant, not what you think or I think.

              No, because you already dismissed what THEY think when they’re in their right mind as unimportant.

              Then there’s the nonsense about giving people what they need, instead of what we think they need– as if there was an objective way to identify what someone needs, and those who give what they THINK someone needs are only doing so out of some sort of perverse desire to impose their will on others.

    • The question is if people’s lives would really be better with this changed or not. If it would improve their lives, how can we ethically deny them the improvement?

      But since some of these people are also the ones who obsess over topics and find new solutions to them, we also rob society of improvements in the process.

      • Certain parties (aka The Powers That Be and The Status Quo) don’t always appreciate the advances and improvements, which tend to be disruptive and require large bureaucratic entities to respond more quickly than they are comfortable with acting.

        Far better to moderate the rate of innovation, in order to fully milk the existing technology avoid the upheaval consequent to such innovations, many of which may well prove dead ends (e.g., Betamax Tape, Laserdisks.)

        Besides, you cannot always be sure that the Right People will be the ones to prosper.

      • *dryly* A rather lot of the “improvements” involved seem to be for the comfort of others….

        K, snark aside, that does open an option– folks who are high functioning autistic and don’t wish to be, with a ton of double-guards to prevent pressure, could volunteer to be test subjects.

      • Josh A. Kruschke

        David,

        It’s not our choice to make.

  5. I’ve been wondering for a while if the change in emphasis in our diet from proteins to carbs might explain part of the rise in Autism cases. This on the theory that changes in the diet effect the intestinal flora, and changes in the intestinal flora effect the brain. (Or is that affect? I have trouble distinguishing those two words.)

    In which case, it took two generations to get here, it might take two generations to get back.

    Just a thought, probably wrong. I haven’t researched it.

    I’ve also wondered if eventually autism would be “cured” the same way they’re “curing” Down syndrome. ::shudder::

    And I’m thankful that no one has ever suggested drugging my children.

    • I’d suggest that the rise in autism diagnoses has far more to do with the ever-loosening definition of autism than it does with diet. As you’ll see in the studies I cited, I’m not the only one who thinks this.

      • That’s kind of what I was thinking.

        In the early days of Autism, it was a fairly strict set of conditions needing to be met for diagnosis. Over time, they “learn” that it’s more prevalent and loosen the definition.

        • There may also be a funding element involved. School districts here get access to funding for special education for children with disabilities. In my state it starts with the state and I would be surprised if there are not also federal block grants. The more disabled you find, the more funding you get to help them, “and other low incidence disabilities”
          So taking a kid and shuffling him off into a “disabled” class might do the kid some good, but it will also increase the stats and will help qualify for more money to help the kids with we don’t have the money to treat with now.
          That is a powerful driving force, don’t you think?
          And does anyone think the poor kid may be affected by being shuffled off into the “disabled” queue for the rest of his life?

          • Younger son? High IQ and disability. we had to fight to move him to the GOOD school. We figure he was paying three teacher’s salaries, and they did nothing special for him.

          • The pediatrician in the family (in practice 40+ years) observed that as soon as there’s money for a psychological something, diagnoses go up. Granted, she’s also been heard to observe that every teenager (and pretty much every boy between the ages of three and eight) goes through oppositional defiant disorder at some point.

          • “And does anyone think the poor kid may be affected by being shuffled off into the “disabled” queue for the rest of his life?”

            Well, I wasn’t for life, per se, but most of my younger life I was labeled “learning disabled.” Speech classes, remedial everything, the works… much to the consternation of my folks.

            Then they decided to i.q. test me, and whoosh! Away went the peaceful, quiet, “disabled” classes where I could get my homework done in an hour and goof off for six, in with the “gifted” classes, which were mostly a different kind of stupid (but more active/stupid). The curriculum, not the other kids, that is.

            Yes, I believe being labeled “disabled” affects people. To this day I still look with much distrust on anything that smacks of Intellectualism, or What Smart People Think. *chuckle*

      • I know that’s going on. I just don’t think that’s all that’s going on. (After all, just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean that they aren’t after you.)

        One thing that really annoys me though, is the expectation that the kids who have been labeled are expected to behave better than the “normal” kids, or it’s a big problem. I’ve run into this repeatedly with my daughter, and had a recent incident with my son that had me shaking my head and saying, “Really? How do you expect a teenaged boy to react when you hand him a major disappointment like that? Especially in a situation where he believes he has no recourse?” (He did have recourse, and reacting calmly would have fixed the problem much sooner, but he didn’t know that.)

        • To actually test your theory we’d have to do a broad based study and try and interpolate and extrapolate data from medieval periods… and given that carbohydrates have been a staple for millenia in most settled populations. If you look at what people ate in settled countries from very early days it was some form of grain (varied from wheat to rye to rice and a whole bunch of other things) or other starch (Potatoes and Taro being others I’ve run across). Usually the meat animals also served some other purpose (Milk, wool, work beasts, etc.). The poor ate the goat when it keeled over because it’s milk and wool were more important than its meat. So there’s another impression to sort through what changes have actually occurred dietarily over a long enough period of time to have any noticeable effect and has the last century or so of change actually done more than muddy the issue and make it harder to study without actually producing any substantive change? (I don’t know the answer to this question.)

          • The key thing here is that the grain we’re eating now is NOT the grain we previously ate. The last 100 years have seen a complete revolution in hybridization of wheat (for instance) that has substantially changed the nutritional and biological profile of it. Read Dr. William Davis (“Wheat Belly”) on this – changed my life.

      • “It has been suggested that this increase in the number of cases of ASDs is due, at least in part, to more inclusionary definitions of disorders within the autism spectrum. ”

        Um, yes. Duh. They have to use old definitions to get anywhere close to a true read on this (whether they are increasing or not). I think it’s kind of like ADHD now, the DX that is being assigned to a lot of people who are maybe a bit socially awkward, but not truly autistic.

        I don’t have problems with a loosened definition per se, but to mention an increase in cases without mentioning that you broadened the definition is deeply dishonest, imo.

    • There has been some evidence to suggest a ketogenic diet can alleviate some symptoms of autism. It’s thought that the effects may be related to gut flora changes, and possibly the shift in what fuels the brain (pure glucose vs. some glucose and mostly ketones).

      • Ummm….
        No.

        It can have an effect on seizure disorders, but not on autism.

      • It has been my experience (with Cedar’s autistic sister, Juniper) that this is true. I’ve been gradually finding various things that help her function better, with fewer temper tantrums, and one of the things that does help is a low-carb diet with quite a bit of added coconut oil. Other things that help (and have been tested by stopping them for a while, then starting again) are Vit. D3; diatomaceous earth; a gluten-free diet (she has celiac disease, as do I and her grandmother); several other supplements; and an anti-depressant, although she seldom needs that while she’s getting the coconut oil, D3, and diatomaceous earth.

        • Never thought about ingesting diatomaceous earth. I used it as a filter when I worked as a zinc plater, but I never knew you could eat it.

          • It’s great for killing cockroaches. I assume the ingestable version has something in it to keep from microcutting up your innards like it does to the cockroaches’ exoskeletons.

            • Nope. In theory, it works on bugs because it’s dry and they’re tiny– little cuts and sucks up the juice. Kinda hard to manage that much for something even mouse sized…..

            • Wayne Blackburn

              It’s not good if you get too much in your lungs, but mostly, soft tissues with mucous membranes just let it slide on by, as I understand it.

          • Make sure you get food grade.

            It’s also rather good for getting rid of fleas– sprinkle it in the carpets, vacuum in a few days, it supposedly works like little caltrops between the fleas’ plates.

          • Wayne Blackburn

            I don’t know what other health effects it has, but it will tend to rid you of digestive tract parasites, like tapeworm.

            • I smell a marketing opportunity. Sell tapeworm pills as DietBuddy(tm), followed by ByeByeBuddy(tm) Diatomacious Earth Pills for when one’s weight is down to where one wants it.

              Perhaps I should set up a KickStarter campaign…

    • My grandmother and at least one of her sisters were pretty much by-the-book high functioning autistics, with my grandmother being the least well socialized or however you put it. (It’s actually why my mom dislikes the idea of home schooling, because they were taught by their mom, and mom’s dad was a solid Odd, but… k, enough digression, point is that they were probably what would be safely classed as autistic now, but grandma was considered just ornery and her sister was just “artistic.”)

      There have always been folks who were just strange, although it’s much easier to mask with highly formal social interactions. I’ve heard of some folks using classic manners to help their kids interact, since it’s a rule-set.

      Kind of like with Down’s, it’s also very probable that severely autistic folks simply did not survive for long.

      • I was only talking about increases in numbers, not ultimate causes. Such as, someone who would have a 50/50 chance genetically of Autism being expressed under one diet might, instead of being just odd, or eccentric, or something else entirely, might have a 70/30 chance of it under another diet.

        And certainly the people not surviving with it before is quite possible. The current theory for Victor of Averyon is that he was abandoned into the wild because he had problems (whether or not they were autism or something else), not that he had problems because he was abandoned.
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victor_of_Aveyron

        He improved considerably when he had someone to work with him extensively (still not up to normal though). That probably would not have been possible for someone who just had enough to get by

        • Especially for something as hard to put a finger on as HFA– and considering that there is history of folks either actively or passively killing their kids, disabled or just in the way– it’s pretty much impossible to get a measurement.

      • “it’s also very probable that severely autistic folks simply did not survive for long.”

        Somebody once pointed out how the descriptions of changelings often followed autism very closely. When you read how changelings were treated, it’s pretty chilling.

      • This.

        As well as autism (and the associated complete lack of survival instinct) my oldest daughter has 2 genetic anomalies, and a host of medical problems. (Yes, she’s adopted. Yes, we knew enough about her condition that we initially brought her home on hospice care.)

        Two decades ago, she would never have made it even 6 months. Now, she’s 10 (going on 3), stable and happy.

    • Affect.

      if you wanted to use “effect” you have to say that they effect a chance in the brain.

    • I’ve been wanting to read this book. Thanks for mentioning it, Jasini.

    • Temple Grandin’s books have been a big help to me, raising an autistic daughter. Temple is very intelligent and is able to live independently; Juniper functions on the level of a three-year-old for the most part, and barring a miracle will never live independently. But it still helps to be able to get inside an autistic person’s brain a little bit.

  6. David Beatty

    In a word … precisely.

  7. I’ve actually been through this. Both of my children are diagnosed on the autistic spectrum. There is no test for autism. It’s just a doctor watching your kid for fifteen minutes in their office (your kid’s natural environment, right?) and a large series of behavioral checkboxes that are checked off by a mom and/or dad who are probably feeling a bit desperate to help a child who is not succeeding (by whose standards? Usually the school’s…)
    I can tell you that my kids have a genuine difficultly in dealing with social situations. Much more so than myself who was pretty much the definition of wallflower when younger and a decided introvert today. I can also tell you that very little “prescribed” by either school or doctor did beans for either child.
    On one hand, I would love to have a clinical test for autism. I think being able to know exactly what goes awry is a good thing. On the other hand though, you have the folks who think that then needs to be “fixed” or “eliminated.” Knowledge can be a wonderful thing. What we do with it can be hell on earth. But I am leery of tossing the knowledge because some would use it for evil.

    • Fifteen minutes? My goodness, to get my son diagnosed ASD took six months and repeated visits, including a final three-hour one with a panel of trained child psychologists. (And the diagnosis was thirty pages of specific descriptions—most of which fit my husband pretty well, no surprise to either of us.)

      Mind you, the next step in the game was to go to the school district and have *them* work an evaluation as well, in order to craft an IEP. There are no meds involved, just trained aides; the idea is to teach him the tools that my husband had to craft on his own. (My husband does not “read” as autistic to anyone, just as an introvert. Heck, I explain why he’s not at parties by simply saying, “He’s antisocial” and people accept that.) And there has been a great improvement in his interactions, such that by the time he gets to high school, people might not know *he’s* ASD either. Won’t change the diagnosis, but it will make it easier for him to be in the world.

  8. ” nearly all of the fetuses carrying Down syndrome were aborted.”

    Worse than that. A lot of healthy babies with false positives were aborted. Do the math:

    Test accuracy is about 99%.
    Incidence rate is about one in 4000.

    Therefore of 4,000,000 pregnant women, 1000 have a baby with Downs Syndrome. 990 will be told so by testing; 10 will get a false negative. Of the 3,999,000 carrying a healthy baby, 39,990 will get a false positive, and the rest will be told so.

    But abortions are carried out by test result, not actually having the disease.

    • “Well, in order to make an omelet ….”

    • Not Down’s syndrome, but because I started having pre-eclampsia three months int he pregnancy, they ASSURED me Robert had 99.9% chance of being mentally retarded. (I don’t even know if that’s true!) The pressure to abort was crazy intense AND when I refused they went after Dan to convince me to do “the right thing” and when he refused they decided he was abusing me and forcing me to risk my life in this pregnancy that might kill me and which was almost for sure going to produce a “vegetable.” I’m here and boy has graduated suma cum laude from biochem. PFUI.

      • Birthday girl

        Have you considered sending a copy of his diploma and photo to that Dr? Basically to say nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah …

        I was pressured to have amnio with my 2nd pregnancy — first pregnancy spontaneously miscarried, and I wasn’t going to risk that again, so refused anything more invasive than a blood draw. The pressure was immense and the doctor came to dislike me for that stubbornness, I think. If I knew then what I knew now, I think I would have changed doctors mid-pregnancy. Doctors just aren’t used to patients with brains and willpower.

      • Summa cum laude, but not alla cum laude? Pffff: slacker.

        • er… it was the highest his school gave?

          • Quit raining on my butchering-of-latin jokes, or I’ll make the kid cry some more.

            • No. Don’t hurt the grandson!

              • Seriously, there’s nowhere funny I can take that. “He hurts himself!” nope. “If you do not relent, I shall-” Negative: nowhere good to take that one. I blame his mouth. Those cuspids are causing him some grief. And molars, too, we think. We’ve got some stuff that seems to be helping (he’s napping, instead of crying himself hoarse on my knee, like he did a couple of days last week).

                • This may be in the realm of Schadenfreude but once again I am glad my daughter is the way she is. The most she did while teething was run a fever and get a little more whiny/clingy. I don’t know what we did to have such an easy going child but I thank Prime Cause that it is so. And worry that the other shoe is going to drop in about 12 years.

                  Good luck with the Wee One.

                  • He’s having the issue of “extremely early teething” that I had with my older son. when they’re three months old they just DON’T get that you can’t fix the pain immediately. And it’s harrowing for the parent.

                    • Oh. Yeah. Dang. We were lucky The Little Mouse didn’t do that early. I can see how that would make a three month old completely inconsolable.

                  • My thanks. He’s generally something approaching an angel. I presume he and Number 2 (as yet in potentia) had some kind of powwow in a dimension barely related to this one, where he said something like, “I’ll go in first, and lull them into a false sense of security, then you show and POW!” And a buddy (with three hellions of his own) recommended a thing, which combined with adhering to himself’s routine and a little diluted clove oil is helping a lot. It looks like he’s pushing between four and six, cuspids and molars. And at three months on the nose. Precocious child is precocious.

                    • Wayne Blackburn

                      My first one came in and seemed ok, if a little active, then when the second one came, it turned into a war zone between the two.

                • Maybe “Great! Got any way I can get him to not cry?”

                  • “Oh, I’ve got plenty of way to shut him up!” See, even that makes me twitch. Yeah, new parent, and all, and it shows. I’m cool with that. My child is double precocious, apparently. He gets it from my side, from Mrs. Dave’s side, and from Avo’s side. So, trebly so? Eh. We’ve got some things that’re helping. He’s getting his naps, and isn’t hurting, and while I’m aware of issues, that’s the thing of chief importance to me. At this time. Man, how much of parenting is just saying, “well, he’s not in pain, and seems all right, and whatever else we’ll leave in His hands and do what we can to mitigate”? Yeesh.

                    • Man, how much of parenting is just saying, “well, he’s not in pain, and seems all right, and whatever else we’ll leave in His hands and do what we can to mitigate”? Yeesh.

                      A lot.

                      When they’re a little bigger, there’s also the “can I drop what I am doing at every point in time and give them attention? And is it a good idea in this specific case?”

                    • “well, he’s not in pain, and seems all right, and whatever else we’ll leave in His hands and do what we can to mitigate”?
                      ———————

                      Heard a speaker describing elements of child-raising once. With the first kid, when the pacifier hits the floor, Mommy polishes it off and makes sure that none of the icky floor cooties are on it before putting it back in the child’s mouth. By the time child #3 rolls around, it’s more along the lines of, “The pacifier fell in the dog food? Don’t worry about it. The dog will be fine.”

                      😛

                  • You mean, you don’t just push the off button?

                    • They come with an off button? Why was this not in the manual?

                    • YOU GOT A MANUAL? We didn’t even get that! 🙂

                    • Oh, there’s plenty of manuals available. Usually not for the right model, though.

                    • While the wife was pregnant we got a lot of books on raising kids. For any point one book made, there was another book saying “You do that and you’ll ruin your kids.” I just accepted early on we’d ruined our kid an stopped worrying about it. As long as she’s happy and not about to do something incredibly Lemming like, I call it a victory.

                    • My wife and I usually just tell my son that he’s got to have something to tell his therapist later on in life anyways.

                      The irony here is that my son is far, far better adjusted than anyone else I’ve known at his age. He’s who he is and he doesn’t really care what anyone else thinks of it. Sure, he’s going to the gym with me, but that’s more for him than anyone else (although he does admit that he wants to look sexy with his shirt off).

                • Hang on, Three months?! Poor darlin’!

                  Poor parents too. My utmost sympathies! I’d be a wreck.

                  • Teething at three months? I do hope he is not still nursing, as you love your wife.

                    • I nursed mine through teething. They’re breastfed. Rhys remembers me stifling screams and just hanging onto pillows really tightly.

                    • Robert did this. I nursed him to a year and a half. I just say this because, yes, I want a medal.

                    • All three of mine had teeth when they nursed. First two only bit when they thought it was funny. Our son, though… well, it’s a good thing he was already a year old, because he bit when he thought it was funny, or when he was tired, or when he was really hungry, or when he was bored, or….

                    • Robert was three months old, so… no clue. Vampire baby.

                    • Speaking of vampire babies, he’s decided to forgo that gauche two-on-top, two-on-the-bottom look that all the other children do. Wee Dave is pushing out upper cuspids. That’s right: my child is growing fangs. Be warned…

                      Upside is he’s not causing Mrs. Dave any pain. Yet, at least.

    • And given the lawsuits for “wrongful life,” a doctor is going to error on the side of claiming the kid could have Down’s.

      Not sure if “in trying to kill everyone with Down’s, they also kill some folks who don’t” is exactly worse or not, from my point of view, but it does speak to their point of view….

  9. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    I remember hearing that the head of ACT-UP, a very vocal gay-rights group, did not want research into genetic causes of homosexuality. The reason was that if there was a “genetic test” for homosexuality, he believed parents would abort children who would be gay. Mind you, I suspect that if there was a “genetic test” for homosexuality, people who were normally “pro-choice” would want to attempt to make illegal to abort a child for being “homosexual”.

    • No they wouldn’t. They might make noises, but a lot of those people are the ones who WOULD abort their gay children. Hear them when they think they’re alone.

      • For a lot of that crowd, children are social markers. “We have two beautiful children. Chad has been the star soccer player on his team since he started playing at 18 months, and he’s thinking of going for captain of the football team. I’m not sure if he’ll have time between the AP classes his freshman year and his volunteer community work. Barbie is trying out for Julliard next spring, and I’ve told her that we’ll still love her, even if she isn’t the youngest ballerina/violin virtuoso/actress/opera singer in their history, but I’m not sure she’s hearing me.”

        • Right up to that point where their little precious cracks under the pressure and either acts out in rebellion or just turns to drugs. After that the proud parents are strangely silent.
          Not to worry. Wee Dave shall be a strong boy, a clever sort. You’ll know you’ve done well when he ventures out into the forest and brings back his kill for mama to cool for supper.
          Or he may take after his daddy. If so then Ghod help us all.

          • Well, I’ve got strong jeans (seriously, you can’t tear these things *rimshot*) and it’s quite possible he’ll be a carbon copy of me, as I am of my father. And, yes, it’s a possibility that should scare many. Not us, as it simply swells our ranks, but many others. (Disclaimer: when I say “us,” his mother and I are slightly terrified that we’ll get to raise another me, and also exhilarated. If we can survive that, we can survive anything.)

            • Wayne Blackburn

              As opposed to me, where my parents WISHED my sons to be more like me… (Not that I was perfect or anything, but I WAS much quieter than either of them).

        • Why Muffy how WONDERFUL for you! Simply top drawer! (I heard that entire thing said through a mouth that never quite opens.)

      • Yes. They are exactly the people who sneer and say, how many more black criminals and people on welfare would there be without abortion.

    • I thought the objection to looking for the cause of homosexuality was that if a cause was found then we would be a good way towards finding a *cure*.

    • There’s a gay pro-life group that was founded by a man who heard of the possibility and concluded he didn’t want the consequences.

      • That’s somewhat ironic. Usually the people who are pro-gay are also pro-choice. “Her body, her choice” and all that. Apparently some choices are more acceptable than others though.

        • Many conversions to pro-life stem from the realization that the convert would not allow it for something personally familiar.

    • Marvel Comics long ago genetically mapped the “X Gene” that makes people mutants. And yet, strangely, aside from one very brief storyline that someone else brought to my attention, the idea of fetal mutant testing has been quietly avoided by Marvel. This is despite the fact that with the setting as it is now, it ought to be easy enough to do.

      • I vaguely remember something in the cartoon where Professor X mentioned that the gene has to activate for you to be an identifiable mutant– so the gene is there for everybody, but it has to have the right parts and then it has to get going. Early expression, like Nightcrawler/Kurt W, is unusual.

        So you could prove that someone was definitely not a mutant, but that would be a rather small group.

        This is from roughly twenty year old memory, though.

        • I don’t think the comic books went that same route. And the comic books also have mutants as a separate kind of human. Homo Mutatis vs Homo Sapien.

          How grounded that is in semi-plausible science is anyone’s guess, of course.

          • The comic books change continuity more often than costumes, though– and it’s Magneto that insists that it’s a truly different species.

            • Magneto, who had three children with a normal woman. . . .

              • Eeee-yeaaaaaah…. Never claimed the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants was big on logic.

                • The irony is that they managed to develop a plausible reason for that name — Magneto being ironic.

                • Oh, for goodness sakes!! You’re talking about a series begun nearly fifty years ago, intended for a market of (mostly) adolescent and pre-adolescent boys, which has had multiple multiple writers and editors and you are looking for logic?

                  You might as well search for consistency and logic in American foreign policy over that same period.

                  Well, okay — the comic books probably do a better job of it.

        • Then they thought it through and worked out a relatively logical way to avoid the question.

        • From what I’ve seen, there’s some that are early expression, and some that kick in at a certain point in puberty (Kitty Pryde being one of the more detailed examples.)

          There was a very tragic story lately where one teenager manifested some seriously lethal powers (I think he basically secreted some kind of chemical into the air that people around him would spontaneously combust. He unwittingly killed everyone he passed – including his own family.) Wolverine was sent to explain what happened to the poor, traumatized, terrified kid… and essentially euthanize him for his own sake and everybody else’s.

          I think the recent storylines have it that there’s an increase in mutant children, hinting that they are in fact the next evolutionary step. Given the example above one would wonder.

          • Last I heard, they figured out they had Mutant Glut, and handwaved something like 99.9% of all the mutants in existence out of being mutants. (I think it was Scarlet Witch?)

            Meh, I pretty much ignore the comics unless they come up with something awesome, now. They’ve been doing modern art for ages, while the comics and such actually have to tell a coherent story. (Aided by generally explaining what aspects of continuity they’re sticking with inside of the format. You’ll notice I didn’t include movies, there…..)

            • You’re correct. They even had a short-lived comic book that had a couple of characters (one of whom was Bishop) working as cops in the section of New York (I think) that was predominately occupied by mutants. And then just a few months after that book started, they had one of their massive cross-over events that resulted in almost all of the mutants being “de-mutanted” (which, of course, killed the justification behind the new book) pretty much because insane crazy Scarlet Witch said so.

              I think that’s been at least partially undone. Though since I get most of my information third-hand, I can’t be certain.

              • The “uh… nevermind” cycle is getting much faster, and much more hand-wavy.

                They really need to bring back the “What If?” type books they use to have for Superman– let folks get the fan fiction fodder out of their system.

  10. am forever glad I didn’t grow up right now. I’d be drugged to the gills.

  11. I think there are two things at play here. DSM-IV has a diagnosis of PDD-NOS. Pervasive Developmental Delay-Not Otherwise Specified. This is the catch all for autism. It is so broad it includes a large swath of people who have delays of one form or another. If a ddx could be a shrug, this would be it. Second, you have many kids who are perhaps not autistic, but delayed somehow and the parents are panicked. The doctor needs only to label the kid and boom, now you have all kinds of services available to you. Speech therapy, occupational therapy etc. Some doctors err on the side of caution and really see no harm. So what if the kid isn’t autistic? At worst, he’ll get some early intervention therapy he won’t need.

    • The SCHOOL wanted to label #2 son autistic. Instead he had a rare sensory/developmental delay. (His brain was fine, but his senses were giving him weird reports.) And there were apparati (plural of apparatus?) and exercises to help him be “normal” Which is good because he REFUSES to have accommodations. Even though he still has a bit that will never be right. So, he’s a B+ student instead of A. And I’m okay with that.

      • Often the B+ students are the really productive people in life.

        • A students usually don’t have to try. Case in point: I wish I’d developed a work ethic before age thirty. Life wouldn’t be any easier, but I’d have gotten a hell of a lot more accomplished.

          • A students are often developing a burning resentment of the students whom they are shackled to.

          • I skated through school, graduating with a 3.503/4.0 GPA. Made the National Honor Society and NEVER had to study a minute. Not knowing how to study hurt in college when I had a few math classes that forced me to cobble a study method together. And, yeah, to this day I still wing it by the seat of my pants 90% of the time. Bad habits learned early are HARD to break.

            • William O. B'Livion

              Maybe, but as soon as life goes off script folks like you and I don’t even notice.

            • The Paper Chase, the tv show, I think. Student is baffled because he misunderstood something. “But I have an eidetic memory!” he cries. His study group partners wince. As gently as he ever says anything to anyone, the law professor says, “Yes, sir, but you have not learned how to process all the information your gift allows you to store.”

        • Trooth. Oh, yes, trooth.

        • I was “the smart one” in the family. My nearest brother was a bit jealous of me for a while. Well, now HE’S the rocket scientist, so what does that tell you about the value of being “the smart one”? Mind you, I’m happy with my life, but the truth is that he was never NOT smart, just not “gifted.” Whatever. He’s a rocket scientist, he got to help build the propulsion systems on that probe that’s going to Pluto, I think that’s pretty awesomely smart…

      • Encountered something similar with our #2. Very sharp, very verbal, but had a condition where the mechanism to hear the spoken word then capture it on paper did not function correctly. In a nutshell, he couldn’t take usable notes in class. This caught up with him about 4th grade. His mother, who had been a teacher at one time, knew there was a problem and we met with the school to request special needs testing. School didn’t want to do that, too much trouble. That’s the infamous incident where I almost decked a vice principal. He questioned whether we really wanted our son labeled “that way.” The wife grabbed my arm with both hands to keep me from swinging on him and kept hold until I calmed down. Then I told him that I didn’t care what his family kept locked up in the basement, but my wife and I were interested in the truth.
        Testing gave us the answers we needed to do a program of study exercises to ameliorate the problem and his teachers were directed to either provide a zerox of their notes or let him tape the lectures. Dan is forty this year, owns his own business and has two outstanding children who’s only flaw is that they think grampa is kind of cool.

        • two outstanding children who’s only flaw is that they think grampa is kind of cool.
          That’s feature, not a bug! 🙂

    • There was a poem that somehow ended up in my public high school book of collected short stories and poems. I can’t remember the name of the poem, or who wrote it. But the poem is written in the first person, and the speaker bemoans the fact that he or she is the *only* student in the class who doesn’t have any special needs.

  12. I’ve said before that I have ADHD. I don’t hide it in the least. In fact, I wear it with a certain amount of pride, because I have a pretty severe case of it yet I have still accomplished some pretty cool things in my life. However, it’s classified as an autism spectrum disorder.

    So, let’s say that they were able to cure my ADHD. They could make it so I was just like everyone else. I could focus on normal stuff, work like everyone else, all that.

    Honestly, I’d tell them to shove it. ADHD is a cog in the machine that makes me, “me”. That, dyslexia (relatively mild case), and everything else, whether it’s good or bad, shaped who I am and is part of who I am. Yes, I hate the way it makes it difficult for me to complete some tasks, but it’s still part of me.

    Frankly, it took me a long time to actually like who I am. I’ll be damned if they start to make me hate myself all over again.

  13. The idea really should be to treasure every life and learn to appreciate our differences.

    Parents with retarded children have a burden and the rest of us should be expected to help relieve it rather than shrugging shoulders asking why they didn’t kill him. If you want a selfish reason, treating life as precious for simply being life means that when you are sick and in need you are more likely to find care and compassion rather than be subject to a utilitarian decision that you are just not worth it.

    And it should be further noted, the ones that don’t fit are the ones that end up making a difference, and life better and more interesting for everyone.

    • Josh A. Kruschke

      🙂

      • This is going to sound terrible but there it is.

        Expected to help by social convention, like being neighborly, I’m OK with. Forced to help through armed robbery, taxation, not so much.

        • Josh A. Kruschke

          Me neither.

        • Josh A. Kruschke

          Correction:

          I’m for the same.

          I’m for trying to help as a matter of social courtesy, but not of using force.

          Force is the teritory if the Bloomberg of the world. People are slowly killing themselves with food leads to thinking like: Why are you fighting me on banning salt and big gulps. I’m just trying to save your life.

          We have the right to make our own mistakes. To fail, even if that is at life.

          I’m not an advocate for suicide. I’m an advocate for liberty, and part of liberty is being free to make your own mistakes and living or not with the consequences of those decisions.

          I personally think ending your own life is the punkass bitch way of not dealing with life’s difficulties.

          This poem is one of my favorites:

          The Quitter
          by Robert W. Service

          When you’re lost in the Wild, and you’re scared as a child,
          And Death looks you bang in the eye,
          And you’re sore as a boil, it’s according to Hoyle
          To cock your revolver and . . . die.
          But the Code of a Man says: “Fight all you can,”
          And self-dissolution is barred.
          In hunger and woe, oh, it’s easy to blow . . .
          It’s the hell-served-for-breakfast that’s hard.

          “You’re sick of the game!” Well, now, that’s a shame.
          You’re young and you’re brave and you’re bright.
          “You’ve had a raw deal!” I know-but don’t squeal,
          Buck up, do your damnedest, and fight.
          It’s the plugging away that will win you the day,
          So don’t be a piker, old pard!
          Just draw on your grit; it’s so easy to quit:
          It’s the keeping-your-chin-up that’s hard.

          It’s easy to cry that you’re beaten-and die;
          It’s easy to crawfish and crawl;
          But to fight and to fight when hope’s out of sight-
          Why, that’s the best game of them all!
          And though you come out of each grueling bout,
          All broken and beaten and scarred,
          Just have one more try-it’s dead easy to die,
          It’s the keeping-on-living that’s hard.

        • The only thing the state should do is maintain public order, and social institutions have a tendency towards mind-boggling corruption — especially when they are state funded.

          With that said most of us believe that an educated society is necessary for the public order so we don’t object to using public money to fund education. If we hold that all are endowed by their Creator with unalienable rights that line of reasoning will extend to the adult helpless and needy. I don’t have any issue with using tax money to help caregivers of the retarded (or comatose or aged or senile or insane). I would argue that is part of maintaining necessary public order to keep people from crapping on the street and wandering into traffic. The only other option is to kill them which is a violation of everything we stand for.

          • Josh A. Kruschke

            Bill L.

            It’s a good thing we have the state, because we wouldn’t want their families to have to deal with them or if there is no family a church or charity to deal with them.

            😉 Sorry Death or the State are not the only choices.

            • What if the family or church doesn’t deal with them? There is always a need for a last resort.

              State-funded insane asylums go back to colonial times. County-run poorhouses began here before the Civil War. These weren’t great solutions but we are talking last resorts and (and the principle that state involvement is bad/unnecessary).

              I’m in general agreement with you in that cutting taxes and regulation would free up quite a bit of private money to be used for these matters and see far less reason for the state to be involved.

  14. aAlabamaDill

    One of my aunt’s was one of the first forcep delivered babies in the 1930’s. Dr said she would never be right mentally n had nurse set her to the side without care. Grandfather held Dr up against the wall n had to threaten him to get them to first show her to him, second take care of her. She current is afflicted wi BDS, but other than that as normal as anyone in the clan. Has 4 children, something like a dozen grand children and might even have a great g kid. My family tells stories, and I think we have a healthy scepticism of the medical profession because of that.
    Thanks for the words Cedar.

  15. Don’t forget that a lot of political dissidents in the last century got treatment as mental patients in lieu of political imprisonment in a normal prison. Especially in the Soviet Union. So imagine what they could do with a drug that messes with your synapses.

    • That was a thought game I was involved with with a couple of friends: It was the proposal of, “what if the anti-vax people are right and the government is sifting something vile into the vaccines?”
      First we had to figure out what the nasty stuff would do, and what it was for. We settled on something to keep the populace from rioting and acting on ideas like, “why don’t we get new leaders”, or “Why don’t we do things for ourselves”.
      We figured it would have been like the neural pruning. , We referred to it as making Gammas, Deltas and Epsilons as in Brave New World, but chemically, probably by not affecting the supply of neurotransmitters like the way SSRIs work, but by actually blocking specific neuroreceptor sites, probably by using a molecule that would tie up the site more or less permanently. None of us has enough knowledge of brain chemistry to figure what combination of receptors or transmitters.
      We figured side effects risks would be incredible drops in productivity, depression, waves of suicides, and probably increases in drug use as a form of self-medicating.

      Paranoia makes for an interesting discussion when matched with research skills. You can spin really long ropes out of that sort of sand. (However, we never could get very far on Chem-trails, couldn’t come up with a purpose behind that.)

      • Who needs drugs? Give everyone pop culture and fast food and you’re fine. If people fill their heads with mindless blather about whoever we’re told is the Hot New Thing, do they have room left for “Is my congressmen doing the right thing?” How many people can name their congressmen? “Think about Kimye, let us do the thinking for you.”

        Panem et circenses. Why screw with a winning formula.

        • Even Justinian figured out that bread and circuses do not solve all the problems (Nika! Nika!)

          But the question was not, “is this needed”, but rather, “If this were more than a paranoid fantasy, what would it look like.”

      • Contrails are where the gremlins go dancing.

        Hm, preemptive folklore.

      • Miranda!
        Firefly/serenity reference for those sad few who aren’t familiar.

      • Or, the vaccine itself is fine. But…

        The long-running metaplot conspiracy on The X-Files was tied into vaccinations. But iirc the vaccines themselves were fine. It was the vaccination records (which would include just about everyone in the US) that the plotters were interested in.

      • Heh, let’s play with that idea (which is seriously paranoia inducing, well done.)

        What if serious side effects resulted in a rise of actually mentally and developmentally damaged / retarded children… which could possibly explain the ‘rise’ in autism diagnoses…

        Creepy line of thought there.

        (and for any moron who thinks we’re serious, NO, WE ARE NOT. This is called ‘speculation’.)

  16. I’m relatively certain I’ve got Aspergers, not that it really matters. I am who I am and I’ve gotten better at interacting with people. I probably wouldn’t have even known if Wired hadn’t published an article about it way back when.

    At one point I was dating a girl and things seemed to be going well. At some pointed I mentioned in passing that I might have Aspergers. Things quickly ended after that. Apparently my genes might not have been good enough.

    When my wife and I were going through the process of causing the Little Mouse to exist, people kept asking us, given our advanced ages (over 40) if we wanted genetic testing. We kept saying No because we didn’t care how our child came out. I got the feeling most of them thought there was something wrong with us.

    Given our genetic history, the Little Mouse has a lot going against her especially substance abuse histories on both sides and depression. But she will be who she will be and her mother and I will do what we can to help her be the best her she can be. It probably won’t be easy but who’s life is?

    If someone came to me and said “How would you like to go back in time? We’ll take away the social awkwardness but it will remove your ability to focus and memorize and it might lower your IQ.” I’d tell them to stuff it.

    The world doesn’t need more Neurotypicals. Normal people rarely cause history.

    • I have had my suspicions – but my parents have passed and I have no way at this point to find out – that the small green pills I was prescribed for my allergy to Bermuda grass in the 1960s weren’t exactly allergy pills. I do remember going a couple of times to something call the ‘CDL’ when I was around 4 or 5, where I was in a room where I could play by myself or with another child… and it was about then the pills started.

      I remember taking two one day, and I was able to really settle down and concentrate on my work in school. I told my mother, and she told me to never do that again.

      (Shrug.) Oh, well. Hand I got dealt was a pretty good one – born an American which darn near takes the win right there. Got a lovely bride and a wonderful son – I’m a lucky man and I know it.

    • Josh A. Kruschke

      Byron,

      🙂

  17. Interesting timing, as the fraud Andrew Wakefield is trying to resurrect his fraudulent MMR / Autism claims.

  18. The more I read, the more I suspect that Aspergers, ADHD, and Autism have become a school’s way of saying “we can’t maintain discipline, because they never taught us how to control a room full of normal children in Ed School.”. It doesn’t help that I met my Lady while she was attending (and I was dropping out of) Johns Hopkins undergraduate school, and in the five years we hung around the Homewood campus we met two (2!) pre-meds who were worth the oil it would take to fry them in Hell.

    I’m not to the point of damning the “medical establishment” and taking up crystals and the trendy (non-Rhino endangering) parts of Traditional Chinese Medicine, but I have no great respect for doctors. We have met a few good ones over the years, and several that I would like to attend to with an aluminum bat. They get far too much respect, in my opinion, and most of them are basically mechanics.

    • My wife’s a teacher. Imagine trying to control a classroom when 1) you have no way of disciplining kids besides giving them Timeouts, 2) your administration is worried about the number of time outs they are giving out so you probably should keep it down and 3) parents are asking you why you’re picking on their Pride and Joy. (It makes her nuts when she’s in a conference with a parent, says Little Johnny did something wrong then the parent looks at Little Johnny and says “Is this true?” If the kids says no, who are you going to believe? Kind of undermines authority.)(And yes, I know, there are bad teachers out there who really are out to get some kids but not all of them.)

      Imagine trying to teach a room full of kids who know grades don’t matter and they’re going on to the next grade no matter what.

      • Cameras. In. Classrooms! Why is this such a difficult concept for teachers/administrators/legislators to understand? They would protect both students AND teachers! Make ’em live feeds so parents could look in on their kids and teachers in real time. Keep the records as long as the kids are minors then purge them.

        • Don’t kid yourself; the Parents of Precious Snowflakes could watch their spawn pull a knife on a teacher in real time, and STILL blame the teacher.

          I came off in my first post as if I put all the blame on the Education Professionals. I don’t. For some reason, and I have ideas but not proof, the old unwritten agreement between parents and teachers has broken down. Time was, and it was before MY time, when if a teacher went upside a kid’s head hist father would match it on the other side when he got home. Parents only questioned teachers in really clear cut cases of abuse of authority, and often not then. There were problems, but classes by and large kept their collective yaps shut and applied themselves to their lessons. My maternal Grandfather graduated from public high school fluent in Latin and French and with a grasp of basic calculus.

          I’m not at all sure what can be done to reestablish the old agreement, unless it is to move to a voucher system, where all but the core (public) schools have the right to expel. It will make the public schools into even worse zoos, but perhaps it can’t be helped.

          • No respect for the teacher’s authority.

            Teachers don’t have much authority, too.

            We’re all familiar with the teachers not worthy of authority over a dishrag, let alone something with a pulse, and a great many teachers absolutely disrespect the valid authority of parents.

            *shrug*

            I don’t respect my kids’ teacher, but that’s because she’s a ditz who spends too much time angsting on this Odd site called “According to Hoyle” or some such thing.

            • You cannot reasonably have authority without accountability. It takes a frigging act of congress to force any in the education establishment to take responsibility for their mistakes.

        • Because the Teacher’s Union would lose its ever lovin’ mind! “You want to spy on me? You don’t trust me? BIG BROTHER!!!”

          Teachers are an interesting lot. Most of them are dedicated professionals who do what they do because they really want to encourage young minds and shape the future. But you’ve never met a larger group of whiners in your life! If you think the kids look forward to summer break, they have nothing on teachers! And don’t get me started on the whole pay thing. The BLS said that if you look at total compensation per hour worked, the highest compensated profession was public school teacher. And they have tenure. Still they have a lot to whine about. Imagine if your pay was based on whether or not your test scores went up year over year. My wife’s school is highly proficient but because they’re not showing “growth” in test scores (because there is a limit to how high you can push test scores up) they’re starting to be in danger of having the state come down on them. And then you have the admins up the food chain to the state level trying to tell them how to pound sand.

          I love my wife and I would NEVER want her job.

          • Won’t say most, but I strongly suspect a fair number of teachers went into the profession because they hit junior year in a liberal arts college and it suddenly occurred to them that they’d have to fine a job one day. And adding a few teaching credits was the most obvious solution to avoid a life as as a fast food fry cook. A subset of those got into the profession and realized that they really hated the job, but had no other options other than to tough it out, gripe unceasingly, and eventually migrate into administration.
            Not saying all, but enough to explain why most school systems from my outside looking in knothole suck swamp water.

            • You kinda just described my wife. 🙂 She got a BA in psych which is almost useless in and of it self. Went back to become a teacher and realized she really liked it and was good at it. (Maybe the early childhood emphasis as an undergrad helped.) She loves what she does. I am pretty sure most of her co-workers love (or loved at one time) teaching but I’ve met a few like you’re talking about. (It helps if one has a pension for petty power and likes making kids jump through hoops.) They make me twitch. And I’ve heard stories about the burnouts who have stuck around too long.

              I wouldn’t be surprised if low functioning schools act as a clearing house for useless teachers. That would become a death spiral.

          • Teachers Unions, in spite of their advertising claims, do NOT represent teachers’ interests … except as defined by the Union.

            The Union cultivates Teachers’ feelings of being unappreciated, misused and exploited, encouraging them to make pets of their greivances. The Union’s answer to those issues does nothing to address the actual causes of those complaints (in part because many of those complaints are simply fundamental parts of the human condition.)

            Many of the Union “solutions” actively exacerbate the inflammations, for example promulgating professional standards that preclude promotion or pay raises based on performing your job well. When a Teacher who invests energy and time devoloping interesting and enlightening methods of introducing students to new concepts gets paid and promoted the same as the person merely occuppying the classroom, how much effort is required to continue making that extra exertion? When excellence and mediocrity earn the same rewards (or when achieving excellence requires risk-taking) you quickly learn to be mediiocre. When you are forced to contribute your dues to defend some slacker accused of molesting students, what happens to your pride in your profession?

            Their Union is the Grima Wormtongue of teachers.

          • William O. B'Livion

            If you think the kids look forward to summer break, they have nothing on teachers!

            Well, they have to deal with your kids.

            And how many parents look to the start of the school year?

          • A lot of teachers like that they do, but…

            If you haven’t seen “Waiting for Superman”, then you probably should. At the very least, it’ll help you loathe the AFT just a bit more than you already do.

        • Not always effective. The kids learn fast where any gaps are and where the cameras are on the blink. It CAN be quite useful. (I spent 2 years as IT at a school.) Though in response to another comment, the parents may not be convinced of the child’s guilt, but I know, at least at the school I worked for, the cops were. And the aggressive parent looses a great deal of steam when the cop looks at the teacher and goes “Do you want to press charges?”

        • Wayne Blackburn

          They won’t show the video for proof because it could contain someone else’s child, and that is against the child’s rights (However they word it, it’s the same kind of reason that they clear the court for child legal proceedings), or some such BS (yes, this was the reason given for not proving to us that younger son had done what he was accused of on the bus. One of the few real problems we had with our school system).

          • “Children’s rights” are one of the things wrong with the modern education system. Children are deprived of most rights because they’re not sufficiently mature to exercise them. Using “children’s rights” as an excuse to not enforce classroom discipline is a cop-out:-(.

            • I wouldn’t mind so much if they would enumerate the rights, and then consistently enforce them.

              I can’t help but noticing that kids who don’t pose a physical threat tend to have no rights, including being able to be the victim of criminal assault by classmates and theft or illegal discrimination by teachers.

              There’s a thing down in Cali where schools are putting in policies to deal with “minor crimes” on site. Examples they give are “small amounts” of pot and “fights,” with the goal of keeping kids from getting criminal records.
              Listen to the guys they sent out to promote it and pretty quick you figure out that the issue is they got caught sweeping violent assaults and drug dealing under the rug, so they want to have something better to hide behind.

            • Same excuses are used by police unions against making all cops wear body cameras.
              Of course, they can lose the video, like in Seattle not too long ago.

  19. I think I started getting really, really suspicious about the “when in doubt – autism spectrum” diagnoses after reading an article in Discover mag several years ago about how chelation for lead and chelation for aluminum cured some “autistic” children. Um, I thought metals overdoses were metals overdoses?

    • I think that was part of the “mercury in vaccinations causes autism” phenomenon.

      • I wasn’t clear, sorry. If chelation for heavy metal (or aluminum) causes an improvement in symptoms to the point that the symptoms go away completely, than the problem should be called “heavy metal poisoning” or “aluminum poisoning” not autism or autism-spectrum. To say that chewing on paint chips causes autism, which is what this researcher was in effect doing, does not help persuade me that what the child suffered from was “autism.”

        • “Autism” is a name for a collection of symptoms. The same symptoms can have many different causes, which is why I am dubious about ever finding a ‘cure’ for autism.

          • yes, and just as we stopped referring to catatonia in patients once we figured out hypothyroidism, we should not refer to autism in patients with heavy metal poisoning.

  20. I’m an only child. I never socialized. I still have a very hard time connecting names to faces. There are people in our condos who I am always asking my wife – Is Sally the blond board member or the dark haired one? Is Martha the skinny lady who calls the police every week? If she says something about Isaac and sees the blank look she’s learned to say something like – You know – the guy who constantly licks his lips with his tongue tip like a lizard. I dislike crowds and don’t enjoy amusement parks. At a party I find a quiet corner and interact with a handful of people.
    Do I have autistic characteristics? If so I’m quite happy having them. Most of the really horrid decisions I’ve seen people make in life are tied in with pleasing other people and wanting to be part of some group. Most people frankly are not worth the time they take from your day.
    My wife says I am immediately likable to most people. Even dogs like me. I’ve had to push people’s dogs back out of my car at garage sales because they wanted to leave with me. I have no idea why. But authority figures dislike me just as quickly. I almost always have a cop put his hand on his gun as soon as he starts talking to me. School… was a trial.
    I’m just glad I went to school before everybody had to be labelled and classified. That wouldn’t have made it easier.

  21. Birthday girl

    Recalling that Autism/Asperger diagnosees (totally a word) are overwhelmingly male and that on the graphs of mental issues — including both mental illness and IQ — males have a very wide spread compared to females — both more geniuses and more mentally ill/retarded. If you prune away the lower ends of those distributions … well, I have no data for proof, but I firmly believe you will also inadvertently prune away the upper ends of those distributions. There is a reason for those long-tailed graphs and those tails are connected in ways we don’t understand. In other words, this issue may be yet another manifestation of the feminization of western culture — stick your neck out and get chopped. We as a culture already have a history of chopping the lower tail — the Down Syndrome killings are just the latest variation on that — no surprise that chopping at the upper tail is starting.

    I had a childhood like unto Cedar’s — lots of isolation, lots of reading, lots of bad emotional poetry — but I”m not a writer, but a builder, so I would go out and dam up the drainage ditch or build miniature irrigation canals in the garden or whatnot. Water makes any building project 100 times better! My sister got a small set of Legos, but I never had any … oh, wait, I’m over 50 years old and supposed to be past that … well I sublimated that by giving my son all the Legos I ever saw in the store. And yah, I’m VERY socially awkward outside of a task-oriented/transactional type situation. Women’s group at church … sends me running. But I worked very successfully as an engineer and programmer, primarily with male co-workers, for many years and enjoyed it. Is it Asperger or introversion? Whatev …

  22. Developmental disorders – call them what you will – are an accurate test of basic humanity. Those who care for children (or adults) with developmental problems develop a humanity most people never achieve.

    Those who support aborting or sterilizing the afflicted, never rise to the level of basic humanity.

    In my not so humble opinion

  23. mikeweatherford

    I have a daughter who has ADHD. It’s real, in her case, and the medication helps her function in the world. Timmy, our youngest, has a battery of problems, ranging from traumatic brain damage to dyslexia to auditory and vision processing problems. He’s NOT on medication, and won’t be as long as there are other treatment methods available.

    I had a closed-head injury in 1964. The doctors are finally finding that I have several places where I’ve had lesions in my brain, probably since then. Right now, they cause me headaches once in a while. I can live with that — after all, I have for the last 50 years.

  24. Aspergers, hell. I’ve got Asparagus – at least, I will have, when supper rolls around.

    😉

  25. But what if it doesn’t work? And how will we know? Will they decide to use people like my sister, deeming them not contributors to society, as guinea pigs. Yes, I know that would be unethical and illegal with today’s laws… If a fetus capable of drawing breath for their first cry can be deemed a non-person, what protects my sister?

    Pretty much anybody that can’t sufficiently interact to meet the comfort levels of some folks– by youth, age or illness, and probably at some point ideology– is at risk with either a lack of a “no experimenting on humans” rule or a flexible definition of what humans are “really” people with rights.

    • Birthday girl

      Yes, and simple introversion, not to mention Aspergers or whatever, is often seen as a defect these days … sigh ….

      • yes – Introversion is seen as Aspergers. We are not allowed to be introverted, which drives certain people (like myself) nuts.

        • That, frankly, is one of the reasons I smoke. A man sitting on a bench, reading quietly, is seen as needing to be cheered up. A man sitting on a bench, readingquietly while smoking a cigar or a pipe is seen as Doing Something.

          Don’t ask me why.

          • Ok, that statement is almost enough to make me want to start smoking. Almost.

            On Mon, Aug 25, 2014 at 10:32 PM, According To Hoyt wrote:

            > cspschofield commented: “That, frankly, is one of the reasons I smoke. > A man sitting on a bench, reading quietly, is seen as needing to be cheered > up. A man sitting on a bench, readingquietly while smoking a cigar or a > pipe is seen as Doing Something. Don’t ask me why.” >

            • It is tempting, but not quite sufficient reason to smoke. Do you think fuming would work?

              • Depends, how much Nitric acid you want to carry around with you?

                I have a friend who smokes cigars. He regularly gets accosted, while he is out in designated smoking areas and in traffic, by what he calls acid, little, yuppies, who decide to tell him what he is doing hurts children or is morally wrong. He just tells them he is performing a Native America Smudging ceremony and to not be such religious bigots.

                • i was contemplating a diet rich in members of the family Brassicaceae, such as cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and brussels sprouts. Maybe with radishes and cucumbers added. Lots of legumes, too, … and tofu. (But I repeat myself.)

              • if you’re a woman? Crochet.

            • I don’t smoke, but I might cultivate the habit of mouthing an unlit pipe if I thought it would get people to leave me alone. I shall have to contemplate…

          • … oh it’s not limited to men. I liked to sit and read while having a snack of some kind when I was younger, either at a park (while in Europe) or in a mall (in the Philippines). Apparently this meant ‘this girl needs to be flirted with, and she may be amenable to random sex.’

            Or random person seems to think that’s an invitation to start talking to you.

            *sigh*

            • Ya gotta take your pretty girl opportunities when ya can. Ya never know when you’ll have another chance.

              • Yep. Regardless of what they’re doing, if they’re there it means “this girl need to be flirted with, etc”.:-)

            • I’m not young and pretty any more, but it still happens to me. Of course, the last time was at the car dealership, while I was quietly sitting and reading, and a salesman came over to try to convince me we’d actually save money by buying a new car, because they were having a promotion to pay for maintenance for three years. Right.

              If I had been bored, and walking around looking at the cars while I waited, I would have been less annoyed. Still wouldn’t have fallen for that, though.

              Usually, it’s older men who try to strike up a conversation with me while I’m sitting and reading, though. Or writing.

            • I find that having a freshly dug hole, with a body shaped bundle on the ground next to you dissuades a lot of random questions for some reason.

              Oh, people with badges tend to ask questions, but in some places, they won’t be around until well after you’re done anyways. 😀

          • Yea – if I am reading on a bench someone always interrupts. I guess I am NOT doing something. I don’t understand it either. I have learned to read aggressively at people. 😉

      • How true. I read with my own eyes a teacher who said that children have to get used to opening their mouths and turning on their brains. . . yup, in that order.

        She complained that parents asked to have their children not put in her classroom. Me, if I were in a position to so ask, I would produce her article as evidence that she, after allegedly studying introverts, didn’t fathom them in the least.

  26. The problem with our schools is that they are factories for educating children, but children are not widgets and introverts/non-neurotypicals/odds/etc. do not do well in the assembly line that our enlightened educators have devised.

    I will say that while the argument that schools are feminized and harsh on boys has a great deal of validity, the schools are also harsh on girls diagnosed with ADHD or otherwise not “typical”. Young ladies should be able to sit still and attend to their embroidery like gentlewomen. Yeah, I’d’ve thought that attitude would’ve died a long time ago, but it’s alive and well.

    All I can say is thank goodness for homeschooling and if you can, do it.

    • No, they used to be factories for educating children. These days they’re experimental laboratories to test the theories ginned up by the latest crop of masters and doctoral theses spewed out by education major grad student.
      You see, what worked for the majority of average kids simply won’t do these days. Better to try this new shiny idea, and if it doesn’t work, well there’ll be a whole new crop of kids comes along next year. And the one’s we screwed up with our failed experiment? Well can’t make an omelette without breaking some eggs yah know.

      • *looks at the gigantic mess that is the Philippine educational system, thrown into Filipino without having the requisite words necessary to teach 99% of all subjects*

        They brought that idiocy in in 1996 or ’97. I think the schools finally started rebelling in 2010. I don’t think the schools in the provinces paid attention and continued to teach in English for the most part.

        • Do you mean they were attempting to teach in Tagalog without first developing the requisite vocabulary?

          • Yes. Imagine trying to teach 1) math 2) health ed 3) history 4) English 5) sciences… of any kind just off the top of my head. 6) grammar 7) literature and work your way up from there.

            in a language that didn’t have the proper terms or translated terms and concepts for possibly 98% of all technical terms for nearly all subjects bar possibly Filipino.

            It should surprise no-one that the expensive, exclusive, privately funded schools such as Ateneo de Manila refused to jump on the bandwagon.

            The sheer impossibility of trying to teach with such an insane restriction plus the demented, illogical methodology of teaching ‘integrated learning methods’ is WHY I didn’t teach and didn’t bother getting my certificate even though I completed the course. It should also surprise nobody that because of this move, we have people who were fluent in neither language except ‘Filipino slang’ which is what the bright sparks were pointing to as an example of the ‘vibrancy’ of the language, and as proof of ‘Filipino as a living language.’ Oh and said moronic slogans like “If the French, Germans and Japanese can teach in their own tongue, we should too!”

            Even now the dictionary they have is incredibly inadequate.

            Firsthand experience of this is why I hate the SJWs for trying to twist language to incomprehensibility, to pervert it into meaningless noise. They crippled generations of Filipino youth with a scam that raked in money for all the ‘revised’ textbooks that the teachers and students could not read or make heads or tails of.

            Why yes I’m angry about that still, if angry = ‘energy output of pulsars’ enraged.

  27. I really think that some of the problem is the notion, fondly held by many, that “Education should be fun”. Now, HAVING an education is fun. Acquiring one, especially at the early stages (basic math, spelling) is frequently extremely tiresome. But people have it burned into their brains that “education should be fun”, so if a kid isn’t having fun, there’s something WRONG! It doesn’t occur to far too many people to say “Of course the little house ape is clowning around in class; they’re trying to teach him to spell. Punish him until he connects shutting up and doing the work in front of him with not being in trouble, and the problem will go away. When he can read something more advanced than CAT, RAT, MAT give him something with plenty of action and some gore, and he’ll calm right down. Generations before him have, he will too.”

    • “The children themselves eventually come to know that something is wrong, even if they are not able to articulate their knowledge. Of the generations of children who grew up with these pedagogical methods, it is striking how many of the more intelligent among them sense by their early twenties that something is missing from their lives. They don’t know what it is, and they ask me what it could be. I quote them Francis Bacon: “It is a poore Center of a Mans Actions, Himselfe.” They ask me what I mean, and I reply that they have no interests outside themselves, that their world is as small as the day they entered it, and that their horizons have not expanded in the least.

      “”But how do we get interested in something?” they ask.

      “This is where the baleful effect of education as mere entertainment makes itself felt. For to develop an interest requires powers of concentration and an ability to tolerate a degree of boredom while the elements of a skill are learned for the sake of a worthwhile end. Few people are attracted naturally by the vagaries of English spelling or by the rules of simple arithmetic, yet they must be mastered if everyday life in an increasingly complex world is to be negotiated successfully. And it is the plain duty of adults, from the standpoint of their superior knowledge and experience of the world, to impart to children what they need to know so that later they may exercise genuine choice. The demagogic equation of all authority, even over the smallest child, with unjustifiable political authoritarianism leads only to personal and social chaos.”
      From:
      http://www.city-journal.org/html/5_1_oh_to_be.html

    • In my opinion (having attended public school, homeschooled my daughters, and taught for several years in a private school), six years old is too young to be in a classroom setting. So is seven years old — and eight! I honestly don’t think most children are sufficiently mature to handle a classroom setting until they are at least twelve or thirteen. If children were kept at home until that age, and taught by their parents not only academics, but good behavior/manners, when they DID get to the classroom, the teachers would be spending a lot less time keep order, and a lot more time actually teaching!

  28. We have four people in my family with chronic conditions.

    Mine is diabetes. There is no doubt about the diagnosis. An objective blood test showed my blood glucose concentration at 350 milligrams per deciliter, which is about three times normal. This was confirmed by a second blood test showing three times the normal level of glycated hemoglobin and a urine test showing large quantities of glucose in my urine.

    I treat it mostly with exercise and diet. But I also take metformin, which significantly improves the objective laboratory test results of diabetic subjects in large double-blind controlled studies. One can be about as sure as one can be of anything that metformin helps type 2 diabetes. I also take a statin, which seems to significantly reduce cardiovascular morbidity in diabetics, based on the very large JUPITER study; but it must be said that that one’s not nearly as clear-cut.

    It would be nice if all diseases were that objectively diagnosable and treatable.

    I have a daughter with fibromyalgia. The symptoms are entirely subjective. The treatments are difficult to objectively measure. I have come around to the view that it’s a real condition, but I can’t blame people who are skeptical.

    I have a son who has been diagnosed as PDD-NOS. Again, the criteria are extremely wooly and the treatments are even woolier to evaluate. I don’t think anyone who knows him doubts he is “off” in important ways, but it’s tough to get a good handle on.

    When he was young, we took him to a university hospital autism team for evaluation. They concluded he was hyperactive, not autistic. They also mentioned, in passing, that 90% of the cases they evaluated, all of which had been diagnosed as autistic by local physicians, were not in fact autistic. Autism had become a fad diagnosis, more acceptable to parents than mental retardation or hyperactivity or cerebral palsy or schizophrenia.

    I do see signs of hyperactivity in my son. Other evaluators have seen definite indications of autism, though not classical autism or classical Aspberger’s. It seems he’s one of a kind. But it’s hard to resist the autism label when a lot of things do match, and … yes … a diagnosis of autism gets him educational services he would not otherwise get.

    My other son has we don’t know. He feels awful all the time, he sleeps twelve or more hours a day and wakes up feeling like crap, and the twelve hours don’t overlap normal sleeping hours. Since dropping out of high school — he found it impossible to attend — he has become anxious and depressed. We do not know what is ailing him. His doctors do not know what is ailing him. He used to win chess championships and was pulling A’s in his classes when this hit. The early symptoms looked like classic lazy teenage boy and I treated him accordingly; that is, rather harshly when he wouldn’t get out of bed for school. I regret that, because he has not uttered any sentence in my direction consisting of more than three words in almost two years. Whatever he has shows up on no objective laboratory test and has no known treatment. It is awfully tempting to think he is malingering. It is awfully tempting to think that if he is not malingering, then he has had a nervous breakdown, because maybe I put too much pressure to succeed. The thought eats at me. But it is also hard to believe my wife’s basement is all that appealing a future.

    I am skeptical of this latest explanation for autism. There have been so many. One can hope, I suppose. Two things seem clear: Autism is congenital, such that an expert can pick out videos of autistic kids taken before they were diagnosed, often in their first months of life, with 90% accuracy. Autism is also incurable with any treatment we know have, though it can be ameliorated with great effort.

    • My cousin’s young adult-onset schizophrenia started in her late teens/early twenties. And, it started very much like your last son’s problems. In her case she felt she wouldn’t get well and started to get suicidal. She didn’t get help until then btw. Good thoughts for your son.

    • To note the obvious, Pervasive Developmental Delay means the same thing as retarded.
      Heaven forfend that problems not be buried under layers of euphemisms.

      My oldest has PDD-Autism. A generation ago, she would have been classified as retarded. Before that, she’d have been classified as an idiot.
      The changes in terminology don’t really change the underlying problem. They just give people a way to dismiss it. For a while.

      • Juniper’s ‘official’ diagnosis is PDD/Autism. She is mentally retarded with symptoms of autism; She had several tentative diagnoses before a teacher saw the autism when she was almost six. After getting over the initial shock (the only thing I ‘knew’ about autism at that time was that it was incurable and 90% or more of autistic people ended up in institutions), it was helpful to me to have some idea of what was wrong, because then I had a better idea of what to do about it.

      • Only if you mean something like “Retarded Emotionally” or something like that. My son is officially diagnosed with PDD-NOS, and is also Gifted. (And both of those have been tested, it’s not just Mom saying that.)

        My daughter is Autistic, and you underestimate her intelligence at your own risk. (And I do mean risk.) It’s probable that a century ago her intelligence would have been missed, or dismissed as simple animal cunning.

        But Autism and retardation are not synonyms.

        • My son is both PDD-NOS and gifted, also. Two years ahead of his grade in math; that’s the official number, which does not reflect his poor testing skills. At grade level at most other subjects. Two years behind at social studies.

          Yes, various autism spectrum diagnoses have been applied to kids whose real problem is that they aren’t very intelligent. It’s not universal, though.

  29. Nope– no ADHD or Aspergers here. Keep that far away from me. I think that the definition has loosened too much and people who have the real disease are getting lost in the shuffle. Plus I am not social, like to spend time by myself reading, and leave parties because it is too stifling. So does that mean I have Aspergers? Not likely. I had a friend who took the drugs because it sharpened her attention to detail and made it easier to memorize facts. On the other hand, the same drugs stopped her creativity. Creativity imho is one of the symptoms to these people who are trying to make us all normal.

  30. I’m so glad I am not the only one that had that reaction. The idea is terrifying. I’m certain that under the new diagnoses rules, my entire gifted and talented class would have been shoved in this box.

  31. So i’ll preface this with a someone might have already said it but i didn’t read the other comments before commenting.

    First i fully agree with Cedar in the concern that people will jump on the wagon with this article. I personally, Psychology degree in hand, despise when science “proves” something through research. Nothing was proven. The experiment lead to an interesting theory, but that is it. We still don’t “know” if Neural bundling is responsible for Autism. I learned that theory around ten years ago and they can’t prove it. Even cutting someone open will not prove it since neural degradation is too fast.

    With that being said, people like me do want to see a cure for Autism. My son has been diagnosed. With my background, we did not engage in the diagnoses idea willingly. It isn’t that i worry about false positives but more fear of what i should do. He is on the High functioning end of things(It is different than Aspergers. That is a much more elusive diagnosis in my opinion.) and will probably have a rather normal if socially awkward life. Like most of my customers apparently. But i don’t feel that he would “die” should a cure be found for it. He’ll be different in many ways, but he will still be my son.

    I bring this up since i remember the backlash concerns over AHDH. It was the mental issue of the 90’s. And like Autism it seemed that around 95 or 96 almost ever kid in America had it. But the problem wasn’t just in the diagnosis(which i will fully stand by and state was extremely OVER diagnosed.) but in the treatment. Ridillian is a purified form of Cocaine. There were two results. People without out a legit problem became terrifying drug addled people in Schools and those who did have ADHD were basically cursed with withdraw symptoms and later likelihood to abuse drugs. The quick note desires of doctors and parents to fix the problem before it got bad was more destructive than if they had just let it be.

    So i guess where I’m heading with this is that it isn’t bad that a cure is desired. I’m for it. But i agree that it should be handled as true treatment and not some snake oil cure. I don’t we will have to worry about mass Eugenics in regards to Autism, but it is something the APA needs to ensure is both diagnosed and treated correctly.

    • The best treatments for autism at this point are behavioral, not medicinal (though some folk can improve with a change in diet.) My son is high-functioning ASD, not Asperger’s, and the most important thing is that he can’t pick cues out of the air like his contemporaries. But he does do pretty well with guidelines. Currently, we’re working on focus (concentrating on the task at hand and doing it right the first time) and personal space (don’t just go up and hug or otherwise touch somebody; ask permission first.)(We’re having a baby soon and he’s fascinated by other people’s babies.)

      By the time most kids are his age—six—they’ve learned about positive and negative expressions, and know a lot of subtle physical cues that show when something is okay or not okay. He still misses most of that, though we talk him through some of them. “If X is crying, does that mean she’s happy?” “No.” (Thank you, verbal drilling!) As we go on, we will be working on more subtle things, and there are book BY people on the spectrum ABOUT being on the spectrum that we’ll get for him when he’s at the right age. As I said above, he’s improved enormously in the past three years since he was diagnosed, so we look forward to the point when he’ll take over the world.

      • Fully agree on the Behavior modification focus. (Kicking myself for forgetting that in the original post.) The problem shouldn’t be a case of, Autism is Autism so let it be, but more focused on, how do we help them change their behaviors. That was the original problem with ADHD as well(another of the Behavior Disorders.) People want a medication to fix it, and that doesn’t change that the kid doesn’t understand “what” they are doing wrong.

        • My son (who just entered high school) has been taking Life Skills classes for the past year, because of his IEP. He doesn’t like them, but over the course of the past year, I’ve had numerous people tell me how he’s matured, and what a fine young man he’s growing into. Correlation does not equal causation, but I’m not going to fight to have him taken out of them yet.

        • I don’t even think of them as behavior *modification* so much as giving him explanations for the way neurotypical folk behave. He can make his own decisions on how to act, but if he knows how his actions are going to affect those around him, he can make choices that get him the results he wants.

    • I enter into this discussion with trepidation. I agree that ADD became the diagnosis du jour at one point in the 1990s. While Ritalin was the primary drug in use at the time, it is no longer the first choice drug, nor is it the only option in the family of methylphenidate stimulants.

      Best practices would included diagnosis through a pediatric neurologist (because the symptoms could be from a number of other causes). Then, once diagnoised, restructuring and adaptation of environment, along with therapy to learn coping mechanisms, with minimal use of drug to enable the patient to learn to practice their new skills in various situations. Unfortunately this both takes time and is expensive, so most insurers have required a process that involved collecting questionnaires from the child’s caretakers, the pediatrician and possibly a review by a physiologist — and then prescribe drug according to weight.

      There is a real question as to whether Ritalin leads to drug abuse. Not everyone who has been prescribed it has had subsequent issues. I would also question if, perhaps, the unresolved behavioral problems that lead to being prescribed Ritalin might lead to the use of drugs. Consider the following from the Drug-Free World site, which is about as anti-Ritalin as you can get:

      Ritalin itself does not lead the person to other drugs: people take drugs to get rid of unwanted situations or feelings. The drug masks the problem for a time (while the user is high). When the “high” fades, the problem, unwanted condition or situation returns more intensely than before. The user may then turn to stronger drugs since Ritalin no longer “works.”

  32. Colorado Alex

    I remember speaking to a teacher here in Co Springs that works with kids with learning disabilities. She openly admitted that out of her class of 60, only one had a genuine disability.

    I have no doubt that the rise in autism diagnosis is driven in part by parents who want to exploit the system.

    I do have to wonder if age or hormonal birth control plays a part as well.

    • My wife substitute teaches a lot at one of the local alternate schools for troubled kids. Over half the kids there are normal children who were not disclipined by their parents who in turn use the “special needs” crap to make the problem children the school’s problem so they can get rid of them for 6 hours a day.

  33. I’ve mentioned this before, but Google “eugenics” and “Appalachian.” The last time I did, I came across references to Sheriffs and deputies in one mountain county who drove into the poor neighborhoods, grabbed up kids playing, drove them to clinics, and returned them at the end of the day, sterilized, with some vague story about vaccinations.

    • Yup. Involuntary eugenic sterilizations, the very latest in Progressive notions. The reason why history always moved in a leftward direction is that when it doesn’t, they rewrite history so it’s not leftist. Approved by the Supreme Court in Buck vs. Bell.

      The Nazis copied those programs. And the doctors involved were convicted at Nuremberg in spite of citing Buck vs. Bell, and in spite of the way we were still sterilizing them.

  34. My son is streaming his art again. He’s almost done with my cover. I’m not sure what the end details will add. If anyone wants to look… https://furstre.am/stream/Adalore

  35. MadRocketSci

    IDK that I would fear an improved understanding of a condition.

    There was a saying given in my psychology class: If something isn’t causing you a serious problem in life, it’s a psychological trait not a psychological disorder.

    On the other hand, for the people who *are* having problems (which they want to fix) due to some serious and discrete difference in the way their brains are operating, I’m sure they would want any treatments to be informed by a detailed understanding of what is actually going on.

    The real problem comes when *other* people have problems about you, and want to fix them by fixing you. But as far as those people go, I’m not convinced they would be dissuaded from having no idea what they are doing. (Look at the 1920’s lobotomy craze if you want to avoid sleeping for a while) Lack of knowledge doesn’t dissuade them, so I don’t think knowledge is really what encourages them.

    • Potential for bad things… But also…

      I have a friend…husband’s pretty far along the spectrum…gifted…but…permanently semi-employed… Son’s autistic…and probably never going to get out of diapers. (Has not at nine.) She supports them…but was diagnosed with a pretty bad cancer…so that won’t last. She is planning on some sort of home for her child after she passes. He is aware enough to spend many decades crying for his parents.

      Tho, my wife would jump at anything that might help her. That might not be so great….

      For studies, with the first one, meh, not really worth reporting or stressing about. Science does eventually work, but publication pressure is so high that, eg, something like 70% of new cancer drugs don’t reproduce. That, and doctors fail statistics classes.

      People make mistakes. They usually get sorted out eventually. Over time, there is usually a net benefit. Sides, maybe they’ll cure boring idiot syndrome.

      That said, I suspect rising autism is explicable by:
      Having children older….rates of every problem imaginable are associated with late babies.
      The whole mercury thing. See…fish oil does seem to reduce autistic symptoms in some children. This is plausible, even though it appears that most people can convert fatty acids. Thing is, historically, most people have had access to fish or bugs. Nowadays, many people eat neither…pet theory really -based partially on my maximum harm on recommendations principal.* If my guess is correct, having pregnant women avoid fish is the worst thing you could do.

      –Erwin
      *which, BTW, is demonstrated by the whole low fat thing. Started by a doctor ignorant enough to prune half his data. Immediately disproven. But fat makes you fat is such a great story…that we switched to low fat foods. And made them tasty with sugar. Even though the data then was pretty clear that sugar was deadly. Not so much a conspiracy as a testament to american Puritanism and the power of a story. Observable increases in mortality resulting from that policy. Or, how to kill millions with bad epidemiology…

      **funny, how men with aspergers are claimed to be really attractive. Almost as if shallow women marry cute socially impaired computer programmers and immediately start diagnosing. In my day, we just said they were quiet.

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  37. The thing with “autism” is that it isn’t one thing, it’s a whole bunch of things that manifest with similar neuro-developmental symptoms along a consistent symptom spectrum, And yes, the “rise in autism” is largely an expansion of the diagnostic criteria that gathers in anyone showing the symptoms on the spectrum. A century ago there was no autism — the diagnosis wasn’t invented until 1943. (The term was used rarely before then to apply to a set of schizophrenia symptoms.) The number of diagnoses exploded in the 80’s with changes in the diagnostic criteria and the idea of the “autistic spectrum” that brought Asperger’s and pervasive developmental disorders into the spectrum definition..

    So the idea that science can find “the” cause of ASD is pretty hollow. There are a multitude of causes, some genetic, some environmental, some a mix of the two, and most unknown.

    In the popular mind it’s a single condition. Except it’s not. Science continues to discover things that relate to the manifestation of the symptoms, but it’s like finding one tree in the middle of a forest and rushing to proclaim it represents a complete genetic picture of the entire forest.

    There’s no magic bullet.

    • I suspect autism reflects damage to a particular portion of the brain, probably in the midbrain. In that sense it’s specific.

      But lots of things can damage part of the brain. In that sense, autism is a lot of things.

  38. I have two autistic nephews, one, like your sister who is a sweet kid and will always be a sweet kid, and one who went on to college and a football scholarship.

    I had my brushes with the shrinks before autism and Asperger’s became fashionable diagnoses (and thank GOD before Ritalin became a recommended diet supplement for boys’ school breakfasts). I’ve never had myself checked since, since if I didn’t have Asperger’s I might have to accept the fact I’m simply a badly socialized asshole.

  39. I’ve been lurking on this topic for a while now and I’m slow to add my two cents because it stirred up some old shit. I was born with only 10% vision and a host of other problems, hormonal deficiency, hypoglycemia, etc.

    I have also been tested as gifted, in the 99th percentile to be exact.

    I lived in the mountains as a kid and went to an aboriginal school through grade school and high school. The same school where my mother has been working as a principal for the past 20+ years. The teachers there were average to bottom of the barrel with one or two exceptions.

    I did not have any friends until the eighth grade. Not for lack of trying. Every “friend” before then eventually and repeatedly stole from me, demeaned me or tried to beat me up. With only six girls to choose from and the boys being just as bad, alone seemed like the safer bet. So I am used to isolation. Few things make me happier than a good dog, a good horse and lots of space. Though a good book does the trick in a pinch.

    There was no consideration given for my gifts or lack of sight. I was told to bring binoculars to class and copy off the board like everyone else. Needless to say my grades were middling. The isolation and the lack of achievements despite my efforts and mom’s prodding left me feeling depressed, like something was deeply wrong with me. For a few years I was having suicidal thoughts. I never let on though. My parents were both prominent in the community and what Sara says about the horrors of growing up in a village are true. Doubly so if one of your parents is a politician. I was very good at playing close to the chest.

    It was politics that kept me in the school too. I don’t think it would have looked good to have the chief and the principal’s daughter not attending. Not that they were bad parents. They always made time for me and let me pursue out of school activities as much as they could afford to and I had a stable family life. But there were years where the best parts of my day were spent alone. I’ve morned the loss of animals more than I have the loss of some people and I used to prefer the life I led in my head to the real world.

    Let me tell you what I mean by bottom of the barrel. My eleventh grade english and social studies teacher preferred to teach guitar over what he was hired for. My mornings consisted of listening to ode to joy being played over and over again for an entire semester. When I expressed an interest early on and asked him to show me the fingering up close I was scoffed at and told “its not about the fingering its about feeeeling the music!” When I asked him to clarify some written instruction as I was working while the rest of the class was “feeeeling the music” I was flippantly told to figure it out myself. I have a deep appreciation of music, 7 years of classical voice training, but ode to joy has been ruined for me.

    At another incident a year later other students screamed at me for holding the class back when I didn’t understand something and asked about it. Perhaps I was but the teacher didn’t say anything to them and continued the lesson without answering me. I stayed on an extra year so I could graduate under another math teacher because I made no progress that year.

    The environment was pretty toxic. Whenever I tried to sing, usually working to copy notes or catch up on something after school I would be harassed and threatened. The same thing happened when I tried posting my art and stories on the school’s network, (like a bbs but more modern). I was told to fuck off and stop hogging the board, just for posting a few hundred words every week. Not stopping them, not preventing them from posting. Nothing was done to intercede or correct this behaviour even though school staff checked the boards and were present after school. There was more everyday harassment over the years and I was pretty much driven out of class on different occasions with and without teachers present. Some boys once chased me halfway home with sharpened sticks. Again nothing was done to stop any of it.

    To top it all off my papers saying I had completed grade 11 math and grade 12 everything else did not get sent to the government so I am not a high school graduate as I thought I was. I am virtually unemployable because of it, despite having taken 2 years of university and gotten my diploma in graphic and web design as well as almost getting my BFA. Employers in Canada do not trust the university system to turn out competent workers anymore.

    My mom wanted to get me diagnosed with something because she doesn’t believe that someone so gifted could do so poorly. I don’t remember what I said to her when she brought it up but it must have been vile because it has never come up again. One of my university friends insisted that I must be a high functioning autistic but I think that might be more nurture than nature. I’m slow to let people in and when I encounter high levels of bullshit I run the other way. Be it physically or mentally.

    I am not as sociable as my older sister and some of my cousins, a fact which has been rubbed in my nose since I was little, but I am able to interact on a normal level with others and I find it easy to make friends with other nerdy types. I’m able to infer peoples emotions from talking and watching their body language. I am even sympathetic most of the time. Though I have 0 tolerance for drama when I am working.

    I must be a glutton for punishment because I moved back home part time last year to try and get ma papers when the school was offering an adult ed program. They hired a lady who worked in the public system as a student advocate to run it so I was hopeful. Needless to say the online courses they put me through were not meant for genius blind people. Everything was broken down into three paragraph chapters and at crossword puzzles played a large part in the work I was expected to do. The online formatting messed with my text reader and there were no other options for getting the text.

    You should know that given some clean text to work with I can memorize the important parts of a book in a few hours. This was the kind of class where you just had to do a few dozen simple assignments and memorize things. I could have theoretically finished the whole book in a couple months. Again no accommodation was made. The lady threw a fit and quit mid way through the year and I fell behind and dropped out of the program.

    Over the years I’ve been interviewed for and been rejected for everything from reception to stocking shelves to dog wrangler. Most say they need someone who can see or who has graduated high school. I used to think it was funny that somebody thought I wasn’t even good enough to pick up dog shit. Not so funny anymore.

    I’m back in the city now and floundering with freelance work as I try to get my writing career off the ground. My experiences have left me without any sense of self worth and feeling as if I have taken too many wrong turns in life and I’m stuck on a one way to nowhere. I still go through bouts of depression and crippling self doubt but I’m getting up every morning and I’m able to pay rent on time most months.

    I recognize that much of my situation is my own creation. There are places where I should have persisted but I withdrew. Given a better environment or even left on my own I think I could have done better. I know I’m not neurotypical but I don’t think I’m autistic either. Not sure what I am. I am very suspicious of any drugs that would help me be normal. All that crap helped me develop a rich inner world and I am overflowing with stories and ideas for art projects. I don’t want to lose that, no matter how good the exchange. I feel like if I can just muddle through something is bound to get better. My goal is to make enough money to afford a place with room enough for my drawing table and a real bed. Oh and a bike, one of those foldy ones that will fit under the futon. Yes nearly blind person can ride a bike. I can tie my own shoes too.

    Sorry for the long rant. Guess I kinda lost my point in there.

  40. My eldest has Asperger’s Syndrome. Whatever is “wrong” with him, is equally “wrong” with a lot of my relatives. The word for what ails us has changed throughout time- my great grandpa was “eccentric,” my great uncle was “odd,” my uncle was “bad,” and I was “weird.”

    But we’re also interesting, creative, and funny. And useful. Greatgrandad designed stills, then industrial juicers, on a sixth grade education. His sons and daughters were printers, bookbinders, machinists, soldiers, and nurses. His grandsons were mechanics, historians, and soldiers. I’m an editor and a writer. My son designs videogames.

    What if we start purging all the imperfect people from our society, and then discover that we’ve eliminated much of our creative vigor along with them?

    Like you, when I read that article, my first response was not terribly ladylike. The idea of pruning the connections in my brain gives me a visceral disgust, the idea is repellent. Whatever I am, what I feel and think, may well reside in those extra neural pathways in my brain. Without them, I would be someone else entirely.

    • What if we start purging all the imperfect people from our society, and then discover that we’ve eliminated much of our creative vigor along with them?

      I believe it is not a what if proposition. Neurologists studying ADD and ADHD have postulated that there is a sub-set where profound giftedness is part of the mix. The ADD is not a side car, which might be detached, but an integral part. In this case the behaviors are, in part, related to quantity of information processing of which the brain is capable.

      I believe that two stories should be among the required reading for anyone who even suggests engineering a brave new world: Null P by William Tenn and Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut.

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  42. I’m reminded of a book I read, The Gumshoe, The Witch, And The Virtual Corpse (Keith Hartman). It’s set in a future where, among other things, the genetic markers for homosexuality have been found. This resulted in an additional distinction between (at least) the Evangelical Christians and the Roman Catholic Church. The Evangelical Christians made a practice of aborting any fetuses that tested positive for these markers, and within a few years their children were guaranteed to be heterosexual. On the other hand, the RCC took its pro-life position seriously, and fetuses were not aborted even if they were 100% likely to be gay.

    Among the cultural impacts: gays began wearing ornate crucifixes to identify themselves and each other, no matter what religion they actually were; Baptist kids would engage in homosexual behavior as a way of tweaking their elders’ sensibilities.

    Once you can identify a condition, you wind up with the question of what to do about it, and you may not always have a good answer. (E.g., people who may have inherited Tay-Sachs often opt not to be tested because there isn’t anything they can do about it if they test positive.)

    • And how many Evangelical Christians did the author meet before he wrote that book?

      • I have no idea.
        Clicking on the Author link at Amazon shows he has written some on homosexuality, so he may be looking at these things through rainbow colored glasses.

      • I believe that one of the fundamental tenants of Evangelical Christianity is that only One human ever was or could be perfect, and the church is for those who have admitted that they cannot be perfect — that they are sinners in need of a savior.

        There are far more people who identify as Evangelical than manage to consistently live as their belief. (See: the divorce rate statistics for those identifying as Evangelical.) People have done terrible things in the name of Christ. Those who dislike the church see and focus on that and on other things they perceive as failures.

        This tendency moves beyond the issue of religion to politics and more. Without careful self examination it can become the source of blind spots and prejudices. We tend to accept what supports our beliefs, because it resonates with them and therefore seems most true.

        • That’s one of the fundamental tenets of Christianity, namely original sin. As in, older the canon of the Bible.