Originally Posted by angndon
If you look at the symptoms of autism instead of the diagnosis, it's known that various things cause autistic-like symptoms.
Tramatic brain damage can cause Autistic like symptoms (birth injury, hypoxia, encephelopathy, etc).
Toxic brain damage can cause Autistic like symptoms (lead poisoning, mercury poisoning, etc).
Autistic-like symptoms are also seen with genetic disorders like Fragile X, Rhett's syndrome and mitochondrial disorders.
In 1980's autism was 1 in 10,000 today it's 1 in 150. I believe 1 in 10,000 is more than likely genetic. But I also believe that the increase could be due to toxins from vaccines, the environment.
Most every agrees that there are different causes of cancer (environmental, genetic)... why does everyone get so defensive when it comes to what causes autism????
I was born in 1984. Literally from birth I had clear autistic symptoms. My mother was told that girls cannot be autistic and that infants cannot be autistic yet. She dropped it and went on with her life even though I was more than clearly on the spectrum (not that they really thought of it as a spectrum back then). It is only as a teenager that I researched it a bit more. In the 80s, I was not diagnosed. If I were born today, I would be diagnosed from a very young age. Stats like 1 in 10,000 or whatever do not represent reality, they represent social phenomena. No scientist could ever argue (convincingly) that X% of the population is autistic or anything else. They can only argue that X number of people get an official diagnosis of the current socially constructed definition of autism. Until someone can show me a specific diagnosis test which indicates autism and rules out non-autism and then tests an appropriate sample, those stats are just numbers created within a certain social context, by certain people with certain goals, with specifically designed studies, funded by specific people with their own social context. ShaggyDaddy is right. Autism Awareness (god and bad) is the most plausible cause of autism.
Speaking of ShaggyDaddy, besides the fact that you seem to have become the universally admired patriarch of this forum (I would put a smiley but I do not get the different expressions they have unless I read the caption...), it seems that you have the potential to succeed in sociology. Your writings are much better than many of my fellow sociologists. Your idea of autism as the logical next step to specialization is one that I like to sit in my armchair and reflect upon quite a bit. So far, I have managed to integrate it in all of the major school of thought of sociology
With Marx and conflict theory, it just makes sense as an answer to the alienation caused by capitalism.
With structural-functionalism, we can look at it in terms of roles and deviance. More specifically, for society to succeed, we must all fulfill certain roles. If our society calls for geeks and thrives on specialized, anti-social people sitting in front of computers, then those people will exist and will fulfill that role. They will also reproduce and have further specialized kids while society will not try as hard to make them fit other roles to survive. On the other hand, deviance is needed in this model to enforce and determine 'normalcy'. In childhood, this concept is even more important (according to structural-functionalists) because that is where children learn 'normalcy' and norms to follow. Now that many of the deviant behaviours of the past have been normalized, other ones are highlighted. Also, our society also needs people to be very social and able to interact with strangers much more than before. With an increase in the social expectations on children, we would expect to see an increase in pathologizing more awkward or socially inept behaviours.
Ok, I'll stop before getting into symbolic-interactionism or constructionism...
Anyhow, my point is that things such as 'autism' only exist in terms of the meaning we give the words and concepts we use to explain them. Diagnoses and such are not absolute truth, they are theories made up someone's head which only exist within their context. There are a million different ways to conceptualize autism or 'symptoms' it is made up of. 1 in 10,00, 1 in 150 just does not mean anything, especially not that there is some kind of growing epidemic like bird flu or something.