Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The CDC and the Autism Research Paradigm Shift

David Kirby has published, at the Age of Autism, a letter from an official in the Office of CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding in which it is stated that:

While it is important to understand if autism is affecting any group of children disproportionately, it is also important to keep in mind that there are likely multiple causes of the autism spectrum of disorders. Most scientists agree that today's research will show that a person's genetic profile may make them more or less susceptible to ASDs as a result of any number of factors such as infections, the physical environment, chemical exposures, or psychosocial components.

It is not clear from Mr. Kirby's article who the official in the office of Dr. Gerberding was that sent the email or whether that official's view represents the official view of the CDC. But it seems consistent with the autism research paradigm shift proposed by the University of Minnesota:

Autism research is poised for another paradigm shift, from an irreversible condition to a treatable disease. In the revolutionary paradigm, autism is not a rare disorder with a constant rate but frequent condition with a rising incidence. It is a combination of environmental influence and genetic vulnerabilities. It is both preventable and treatable, not by any one method but by a combination of behavioral and biomedical approaches. Autistic kids are not defective, they are sick but otherwise normal kids, and thus, recoverable.

Creating a premier center for effective treatment of autism is not as simple as adding a new wing on a hospital, purchasing the latest medical technology or creating another diagnostic center.

What is needed is a revolutionary clinical effort premised on the paradigm that autism may well be a treatable and preventable disease.

The Autism Knowledge Revolution has been marked by dramatic advances in our understanding of the structural and genetic bases of autism. The autism research paradigm shift, a shift toward investigation of the interaction of genetic susceptibility and environmental triggers may well speed the pace of that knowledge revolution.

Reactionary bloggers at the Autism Hub and Neurodiversity ideological movements will not be happy with the autism research paradigm shift but the maturing of scientific inquiry into autism, the movement past official defensiveness, may someday result in more effective treatment and cures. And those are autism realities that will be happily embraced by most parents of autistic children.




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1 comment:

Tammy Lessick said...

I believe that there are multiple causes for Autism. As the mother of a child diagnosed severe Autism, I would like to see more money put into helping our children directly. More resources and trainging for the teachers and assistants in our children's classrooms. I also wish the gov't would give us bigger tax breaks, since we have to take a lot of money out of our pockets to help our children. I do not begrudge my son anything. My husband and I put ourselves more and more in debt each year for our son's benefit. More and more children being diagnosed with Autism each year. Families across the US are going into debt to take care of their child. Many living on one income. The little money my son gets from SSI doesn't even begin to cover his needs. Thankfully, he has Medicaid. If he didn't, we would probably lose everything.