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Department
Anthropology
Course
ANTC68H3
Professor
Bryce
Semester
Winter

Description
ANTC68 WINTER 2013 Lecture # 11 – Psychological Disorders AUTISM  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 words  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 Asperger’s ANTC68 WINTER 2013 o Change in DSM led to more autism diagnosis because criteria was broader 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 abilities 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 ANTC68 WINTER 2013 o Biological/Genetic – 1960s o Environmental – Thimerosal  Thimerosal o When vaccines were developed in the early 20 century, bacterial contamination o Thimerosal – an organgomercurial with antiseptic properties (consisting of ethylmercury) was used o Added to vaccines to prevent bacteria growth especially in multidose vaccines  Mercury o Seen as a toxic element in 1960s o Pesticide and Minamata Disease (methyl mercury) o Symptoms: Staggering Gait, numbness in hands and feet, profound neurological impairment o Thimerosal contains ETHYLMERCURY  Mercury and Thimerosal o Parents linked vaccines using mercury with autism o Problems: no evidence ETHYLMERCURY causes issues in humans, autistic symptoms appear around the same time as vaccines, but that doesn’t mean they’re connected o Symptoms are both neurological but otherwise quite different  MMR Vaccine o Thimerosal is used in the vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella MMR o Lancet 1998 study showed a link between mercury/Thimerosal and autism o Parents were scared, rates of vaccination went down o Measles epidemics started breaking out  Andrew Wakefield o Wakefield, a British gastroenterologist is the lead author of the 1998 study o Didn’t gain much attention until he appeared on televised press conference and said he was concerned about the MMR vaccine o It sparked a public health crisis – measles had been eradicated in England but started breaking out again; a few children died of measles-related complications  Problem? o Independent Review found no link between MMR vaccine and autism o Conflict of Interest – consultant to attorneys representing parents of children allegedly harmed b
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