Autism: An Epidemic or a Matter of Definition?
Saturday, May 5, 2012
The last 20 years have seen a dramatic surge in the number of children affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) in California and nationwide.
Symptoms of these neurodevelopmental disorders, which impact a broad cross-section of the population, include impairments in cognitive, communicative, social, and behavioral functioning. Unfortunately, a cure for these deficits remains elusive.
What’s behind this growing public health crisis? Is the increase in ASD cases real or just due to over diagnosis? And what are the ethical, social, and policy implications of how this disorder is defined, diagnosed, and treated in different communities?
In this program scientists presented what current research tell us about ASD and their complex causes, as well indicated promising avenues of future research. Panel members discussed commonly used treatments and their effectiveness, the existing disparities among various communities in accessing health resources provided by the state to avail themselves of these treatments, and how this inequality can be addressed at the social and policy levels.
Featured panelists included: (click name for bio)
Conan Nolan — moderator
Paul H. Patterson, Ph.D.
Anne P. and Benjamin Biaggini Professor of Biological Sciences, California Institute of Technology
B. J. Freeman, Ph.D.
Clinical Psychologist, Autism Spectrum Disorders
Professor Emerita, UCLA School of Medicine
Areva Martin, Esq.
Chairperson & President, Special Needs Network, Inc.
Louis A. Vismara, MD
Policy Consultant to Senator Darrell Steinberg, Office of the President Pro Tempore, State of California
In partnership with the Empowerment Congress and the Office of Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas – with generous support from The California Endowment.
Resources for Further Reading
- Infectious Behavior: Brain-Immune Connections in Autism, Schizophrenia, and Depression
by Paul H. Patterson, Ph.D.
- Overcoming Autism: Finding the Answers, Strategies, and Hope That Can Transform a Child's Life
by Lynn Koegel, Ph.D. and Claire LaZebnik
- Growing Up on the Spectrum: A Guide to Life, Love, and Learning for Teens and Young Adults with Autism and Asperger's
by Lynn Koegel, Ph.D., and Claire LaZebnik
- The Science and Fiction of Autism
by Laura E. Schreibman, Ph.D.
- The Everyday Advocate: Standing Up for Your Child with Autism or Other Special Needs
by Areva Martin, Esq.
- Autism's False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for a Cure
by Paul A. Offit.
- The Myth of Autism: How a Misunderstood Epidemic Is Destroying Our Children
by Michael J. Goldberg, M.D.
- Autism: An Integrated View from Neurocognitive, Clinical, and Intervention Research
by Evelyn McGregor, Maria Nunez, Katie Cebula, Juan Carlos Gomez
- Mindblindness: An Essay on Autism and Theory of Mind
by Simon Baron-Cohen
- Unstrange Minds: Remapping the World of Autism
by Roy Richard Grinker
- Autism Overview: What We Know, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
- Why autism? There is no single answer, by Alan Zarembo, Los Angeles Times, December 11, 2011
- Autism boom: an epidemic of disease or of discovery?, by Alan Zarembo, Los Angeles Times, December 11, 2011 (First of four parts)
- Warrior parents fare best in securing autism services, by Alan Zarembo, Los Angeles Times, December 13, 2011 (Second of four parts)
- Families cling to hope of autism ‘recovery’ , by Alan Zarembo
Los Angeles Times, December 15, 2011 (Third of four parts)
- Autism hidden in plain sight, by Alan Zarembo
Los Angeles Times, December 16, 2011 (Last of four parts)
- My Turn: Autism finds expression in poetry, by Russell Lehman
Special to the Los Angeles Times, December 26, 2011
- I had Asperger syndrome, briefly, by Benjamin Nugent (op-ed contributor),
New York Times, January 31, 2012
- Asperger’s history of overdiagnosis, by Paul Steinberg (op-ed contributor),
New York Times, January 31, 2012
- New definition of autism may exclude many, study suggests, by Benedict Carey,
New York Times, January 19, 2012
- Using videos to help diagnose autism in babies, by Alice Park
Time Healthland, September 6, 2010
- New study suggests autism starts in the womb, by Miriam Falco,
CNN Health Online, November 8, 2011