As you’re probably aware, April is autism awareness month. And here at psych2go, we want to play a part by letting all you people out there get the inside scoop on this much talked about disorder. If you’ve never even heard of it before, [Disclaimer: The following is a definition of Autism taken directly from Wikipedia. Psych2go realizes that not everyone agrees with the mainstream medical definition.] Autism is defined as a neurological disorder characterized by impaired social interactions and other abnormal behavior. But there’s really so much more to it than that. Autism is one of the most fascinating issues in the realm of psychology, and what better time to talk about it than Autism Awareness Month? The truth is that people with Autism are very intriguing and awesome people. Often they function well in society just like everyone else. Although it is definitely a struggle [disclaimer: not everyone with Autism believes that it’s a struggle], people with Autism are certainly capable of living meaningful, successful lives. And that raises another interesting point. How do we know what’s normal? For people with Autism, average people probably seem very strange. It’s all relative. In the end, these people are just different, and that’s okay!
1. Stem Cells May Be A Successful Treatment
One of the most amazing facts that has just been discovered about Autism is that stem cells might help with treatment. Disclaimer: The opinions raised are of Duke University, and are not a reflection of the views of Psych2go. Duke University is behind a study that suggests this novel medical technology could help children deal with Autism symptoms. What they did was give young children umbilical cord blood transfusions, and they also found that the results were even better if they used their the child’s own stem cells rather than someone else’s. Although this trial is still very new, it shows promise. There have been many criticisms, but the study is now entering phase two and hopes to answer a lot of questions that have been raised.
2. Air Pollution May Cause Autism
Autism has been on the rise lately, and researchers are scrambling to find out why. Disclaimer: The Opinion Raised Are Of The University Of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and not a reflection of Psych2go. The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee thinks that this could be the result in the rise of air pollution. That’s what they’ll be exploring in their upcoming study, which has just received a $2.3 million grant from the government. It’s hardly a surprise that pollution can cause problems with people’s health, and multiple studies have proven this to be true.
But what hasn’t been explored fully is whether or not air pollution plays a role in creating brain disorders in children. Amy Kalkbrenner, the leader of this study, has already done past research on air pollution’s effect on baby’s brain while they’re still in the womb, and found that they were most vulnerable during the third trimester, where the neural network is being formed. Referring to her upcoming study, she said, “These results will bring us closer to finding interventions that can reduce the impact of developmental disorders on families.”
3. Vitamin D During Pregnancy May Prevent Autism
Another interesting tidbit of information about Autism that has come to light recently is that Vitamin D may play a vital role in preventing and treating Autism. Disclaimer: The views of the University of Queensland are in no way a reflection of Psych2go. The study, carried out by the University of Queensland, suggests that Vitamin D is essential to the formation of the brain in the early fetal development stages. According to one of the researchers, Darryl Eyles, “We found that pregnant females treated with active vitamin D (a different form than in supplements) in the equivalent of the first trimester of pregnancy produced offspring that did not develop these deficits.” Past research has shown that Vitamin D deficiency is linked with enlarged brains and ventricles – both symptoms of Autism. Both sunlight and supplements are sources of Vitamin D, and this reinforces the need for pregnant women to get all of this vitamin they can (but only if they view Autism as a potential problem, which it may or may not be, depending on your point of view).
4. Robots Are Being Used To Help Kids With Autism
One of the most heartwarming developments in this area is the use of robots to help treat autistic children. Disclaimer: The opinions of Vanderbilt University do not reflect the views of Psych2go. Vanderbilt University is leading the way with a very creative method in tackling one of the biggest obstacles autistic children face – looking people in the eye. As previously mentioned, Autistic people sometimes have trouble interacting socially, and sometimes this becomes an issue, but not always. [Disclaimer: Psych2go does not necessarily agree or disagree with the notion that Autism is a problem that needs to be “cured.”] Vanderbilt University is using robots to help autistic children “practice” socializing. A professor working on the study called Zachary Warren explained that, “A child may not respond to their mother calling their name, but may automatically respond to a robot action or a piece of technology. If we can use that technology to shift how that child responds, then we may have a very valuable system to that child, that family, and maybe for autism intervention.” However, people are skeptical whether robot interaction can be applicable to real life interaction with humans. In addition, many people rightly feel that Autism does not need to be treated, and it shouldn’t be seen as a problem.
5. Do Vaccines Cause Autism?
One of the most controversial debates about this subject in recent years is whether or not vaccines cause Autism. Disclaimer: Psych2go does not adhere to either of these arguments, we merely want to present both sides of the debate without taking one side or another. In addition, many people with Autism rightly believe that there is nothing wrong with them. Most mainstream medical science says that these claims are false, but there have also been the rare University study and professional that questions this narrative. The main qualm so-called “anti-vaccers” have with vaccines is that they often contain potentially harmful chemicals such as mercury and aluminum. And you have to admit, it kind of makes sense that injecting a baby with mercury might not be a great idea. There is also potential corruption within the medical industry. Most of the time, the studies that prove vaccines are safe are funded and set up by the companies that create the vaccines. This reexamination of the safety associated with vaccines might also explain President Trump’s decision to cut funding from vaccinations.
6. Autistic Girls Have More Empathy Than Autistic Boys
It turns out that Autistic boys and girls behave very differently. Disclaimer: The following is a scientific study carried out by Leiden University. Psych2go does not necessarily agree or disagree with their conclusions, we merely wish to present their findings. The disorder apparently affects girls to a much lesser degree, and their social skills function at a much higher level than boys who also have the disorder. They also found something very telling: That girls, whether or not they were Autistic or not, were much more empathetic than their male counterparts. The study was carried out by Leiden University in Holland. One of the researchers explained, “The girls more often responded to the emotion of the person conducting the test with questions such as: ‘Are you OK?’ The boys, on the other hand, looked for a solution to the problem: ‘If you do it like this, you won’t trap your finger.” This suggest that Autistic females have a huge advantage over their male counterparts when it comes to interacting and integrating into society.
7. Did Autism Help Humanity Evolve?
There have been many interesting theories about the role of Autistic people in the past. But perhaps one of the most interesting is the theory that Autistic people could have played a major role in the evolution of the entire human race. Something that hasn’t been mentioned yet is that Autistic people are often incredibly gifted, both in art and technical areas. For example, many extremely talented computer hackers are thought to be autistic males. Those who survived to pass on their genes in early human development included people with Autistic traits, as the human genome today is littered with genes linked to Autism, even in people who are not Autistic. Many professors claim the Autistic people in early human history were the ones driving our evolution forward, with their amazing memory skills and technical ability. This theory is becoming more and more accepted in academia, with some professors, such as Professor Michael Fitzgerald of Ireland stating, “The human race would still be sitting around in caves chattering to each other if it were not for them.” Disclaimer:
8. Schizophrenia And Autism Could Be Related
Another study suggests that autistic people and schizophrenic people may share some genetic similarities. The study shows that autism and schizophrenia might be different reactions to the same genetic abnormality. That abnormality is called 22q11.2 deletion syndrome, and people who have it are 25 times more likely to develop a psychotic condition such as schizophrenia. The study followed autistic and non-autistic children. Through their life. 9 out of 52 of the autistic children developed another psychotic disorder in the future, whereas 10 of the 37 children without autism also developed a psychotic disorder. This reveals that autistic children have no greater risk of developing another psychotic disorder than normal people. This is important because in the past, autistic people were often misdiagnosed with schizophrenia, and this new research show that they are independent of one another.
9. Equine Therapy Is Helping Kids With Autism
There are many alternative forms of therapy for autistic children, and one method that shows a lot of promise is euqine therapy. Disclaimer: Again, Psych2go does not necessarily agree with the fact that Autism is a problem that needs to be treated. We are merely mentioning a treatment system that someone else has proposed. We understand that many people with Autism do not feel they need treatment. For those who don’t know, this is an experimental approach that involves allowing children to interact with horses. In the trial, the autistic children demonstrated a noticeable increase in social skills by the end of the treatment. Through the course of the treatment, the children were taught to groom the horse, and then progressed to riding on the horse’s back. By the end of the program, the children were not only communicating verbally with the horses, they were also interacting with their human instructors. These children displayed impressive increases in social functioning, motor skills, and executive functioning, which is defined as the ability to manage oneself and available resources to achieve a goal.
10. Oxytocin Could Help Kids With Autism
Another more direct form of treatment is simple: prescribe the children Oxytocin. Disclaimer: This is a study by the University of Toulouse, and in no way reflects the opinions of Psych2go. We realize that many feel that the practice of treating Autistic people at infancy is a controversial issue, and we do not condone this. We are merely presenting the findings of this study with no personal connection or support on the part of Psych2go. This comes after a study conducted by the University of Toulouse in France began looking into infants with Prader-Willi syndrome. Prader-Willi syndrome is related to autism, and one in four autistic children have it. The relation between these two disorders has to do with a gene called MAGEL2, which is linked to both autism and Prader-Willi syndrome when it mutates. What they found was that dosing infants younger than 6 months for about a week with oxytocin significantly improved their social skills, most notably suckling and swallowing. The impairment of these two abilities is considered an indicator of autism-related social problems. They also checked in with them 3 years later, and found that 81% of the autistic infants dosed with oxytocin were able to crawl, compared with just 13% of undosed infants. Lack of motor skills is another symptom of autism.