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December 1, 2011

Autism Research: Is it Helping?

There’s a lot of autism research going on. Are studies helping autistic individuals? Let's take a look at some of the studies out there:

Study Links Low Birth Weight to Autism
Studies Seek Reason for Autism Rise
Study links Extra Brain Cells to Autism
Study links Anti-Depressants to Autism
Study links Autism to Vaccines
Report Says Vaccines Don’t Cause Autism
Report Says Possible Genetic Link to Autism Identified (TBL1X)
Autism linked to too many brain cells.
Controversial Study Shows Mild Autism and Atheism Linked
Intelligent Parents Have Higher Risk of Having Autistic Children
Wealthier Parents More Likely to Have Autistic Children
New Findings Emerge in Multiple Autism Studies
Most Meds Don’t Help Autism Study Shows
Study Shows Autistic Brains Heavier
Autism Brains Organized Differently, say scientists
Autism Offers Distinct Advantages, Researcher Says
Mercury in Vaccines as a Cause for Autism
Major Stress During Pregnancy Linked to Autism
Scientists Say Autism Has a Genetic Component
Pollutions Plays a Role in Autism and Dyslexia (love how they mix the two labels, as if studying autism alone isn’t complex enough)
Study Shows More Neurons in Pre-Frontal Cortex of Autistic Boys (I like this study…more helpful than most, at least in my son’s case)

And the list of studies goes on and on.

As if some people working over there need anti-psychotics, the National Institute of Mental Health says, “Autism studies hold the best promise of revealing what causes autism, how it might be prevented, what treatments are effective, and are…critically important to improving the lives of people with ASD and their families.”
What do these studies have in common?
  1. At the end of every study it often says, “Further studies needed…” At some point, it’d be nice if someone said, “Look, researchers. You’ve got one year and ten rats, and this much funding to figure this stuff out. Win some points. If you can’t. You’re fired.” Kind of like the way you handle football coaches who have too many losing seasons. Never will you hear, “Lost season, weather and attitude may be factors, further game playing needed.” I  know, I know, there are super researchers who care and try hard to find answers. I'm not talking about them. I'm talking about frauds in autism community who get federal grants to research autism and then alter data and use grant money for personal gain. I'm talking about researchers who don't give a damn about autistic individuals. And who waste time, money and energy. I'm talking researchers who fabricate and falsify research.
  2. Little tangible hope in autism studies. Just gathering and guessing. Or regurgitating information from older autism studies. Autism research should be fresh and relevant to the autistic population’s most pressing needs.
  3. Few quality controls over autism studies.
  4. Nothing seems confirmed in studies, merely speculations dangled, until next study, where more speculation is dangled and more studying is needed to study the dangled speculations
  5. Autism Research Institute (ARI) is the only US autism organization to receive a four-star rating for fiscal responsibility from Charity Navigator. Has anybody investigated WHY other autism organizations haven't received a four star?  
From my experience, studies that lead to better autism treatments and cures are often done by researchers in other fields. Yes, it’s true. I find the most helpful things for my helping my son by exploring other research studies. Example, the nicotine patch is used on Alzheimer’s patients. What do Alzheimer patients and some autistics have in common? Blunted choline. So, I figured if a study showed nicotine patch is used to elevate choline in elderly people with dementia who have blunted choline, the nicotine patch may help my autistic son. And nicotine (7mg patch daily, 14 mg patch, as needed) has helped. Since July of 2011, my son is more alert and shows higher cognition, which reduces frustration, thus helps decrease self-abuse, though he still hits himself if he’s sick or startled by loud noises and in some ways, the higher cognition has been more challenging, as he’s doing more things, like trying to run! So, I’m happy and surprised that something so bizarre, like nicotine, is a promising therapy. This encourages me to keeping looking in areas that you don’t normally expect to find clues that lead to better treatments for things like self-injurious behavior and/or seizures in autism.

Kim Oakley