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ANTC68H3 Lecture Notes - Mmr Vaccine, Autism Spectrum, Ethylmercury

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Lecture # 11 Psychological Disorders
Rates of Autism are rising but is it a true epidemic?
Autism Prevalence
o US Department of Education 657% increase from 1993-2003
o 1 in 333 to 1 in 166
o CDC 2013 1 in 88
o In Utah 1 in 47
What is Autism?
o Autism is a neurological disorder characterized by impairments in
social interaction and communication
o Expressions of autism are highly variable
Social Development: Less eye contact, little understanding of
social norms, lack of social intuition, difficulty recognizing
emotion in others
Communication: Speech impairments, may point instead of
Repetitive Behaviours: Body rocking, self-injury, desire for
sameness and routine, arranging things in rows
o Onset: Six Months old
o Most autistic cases are male
o Not a disease, no cure but social skills can improve with treatment
(early recognition and intervention are key)
o Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) which include classical, other
pervasive development disorders and Asperger’s
o Asperger’s Syndrome: form of high-functioning autism (difficulties in
social interaction, single focus on activities, but normal language and
cognitive development)
World Autism Rates only found in developed countries so far
DSM Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders guidebook
used by psychologists to diagnose psychological disorders
o DSM defines which things are psychological disorders and sets out
criteria for diagnosis which is typically based on behavior and not
biological traits
DSM Criteria
o DSM 3: Two versions of Autism, Required all 6 criteria for a diagnosis
o DSM 4: 8/16 criteria and included developmental disorders and

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o Change in DSM led to more autism diagnosis because criteria was
o Some studies have shown that autism prevalence would not have
changed if older diagnostic criteria were used
Medicalization of Education
o IDEA law made it mandatory for US Schools to provide exact counts
with disabilities but this information was provided by educators
administrative based estimates are not necessarily representative of
actual population rates
o Teachers and Educators are more incentivized to identify children
with any type of difficulty as having a medical problem to shrug of
blame and explain why child is failing in regular educational setting
o Funding incentives for labeling children as autistic, same thing seen
with ADD, ADHD
o What is “NORMAL”
Rain Man Effect Awareness
o Rain Man movie Savant character with autism but also prodigious
o Romanticization of Autism Einstein, Mozart, Sheldon Cooper, etc.
Temple Gradin
o Invented Hug Machine, animal biologists,
Autism Awareness
o Awareness from advocacy groups, pediatricians, teachers, internet
o Sensationalism by the media to say autism rates have INCREASED
Researchers give population rates 30-60/10000
Media give individual risk 1 in 333 or 1 in 166
Media use high end rate, percentage increase
Give illusion that that there is scientific accuracy and
objectivity to the rate which isn’t really there
Diagnostic Substitution:
o As autism awareness has increased, diagnosis has increased and
therefore autism rates have increased
o Rates of similar disorders have gone down (intellectual impairments,
learning disabilities) perhaps substitution?
o Awareness has increased funding availability
o Financial incentives may also mean that milder cases are being
classified as autistic
Explanations of Autism
o Autism first described in 1948
o Freudian Refrigerator mothers highly intelligent detached mothers
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