Friday, December 06, 2013

Detached Children With Autism Theory Faces Serious Challenge

Olga Tennsion Autism Research Centre, Latrobe University

For years the autism professional community accepted the non evidence based speculation that autism disorders were caused by detached, cold mothers.  The professions' embrace of this fantasy caused serious harm to many families.  The other side of the coin is that persons with autism disorders are also cold, detached, do not show typical emotional responses.  The cold autistic persons theory has endured but is now under serious challenge from some of the innovative, fresh thinkers at the Latrobe University's Olga Tennison Autism Research Center.

Our family's personal (anecdotal), direct observation  evidence, if such evidence were not strictly verboten in autism research circles, would demolish the cold kids with autism speculation. Through my autism advocacy in New Brunswick I have met other children with autism disorders, from both ends of the autism spectrum, who have displayed emotional responses once they got to know me, including some wonderful smiles, laughs and humor. Many posts on my Facing Autism in New Brunswick blog and the borders on my blog contain pictures of our wonderful, severely autistic son and his warm embraces and brilliant smile. As direct experience evidence from a family  such evidence is given no weight in autism research circles (as opposed to the serious consideration given by autism professionals to the views of persons with very high functioning autism).

Conor's Mom said he was anxious this past February when I was in the 
local Acute Care Unit for a week with respiratory problems.  In the 
picture above Conor, upon visiting me at the ACU, displays emotional 
response, and support, for his old Dad.

Conor displaying emotional responses to his Mom.

Now comes news from the Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre at Latrobe University in Australia that the detached, cold person with autism theory/speculation is  under serious challenge by researchers at the OTARC.  In essence Heather Nuske and her colleagues at the OTARC are exploring the idea that persons with autism probably (more research is necessary) display typical emotional reactions and attachments to caregivers and  persons with whom they are familiar while showing no, or very little, emotion or attachment to persons with whom they are not familiar.

Personally I am happy to see Ms Nuske and the OTARC challenging the cold autistic kids speculation and believe that their idea is entirely consistent with our experience with our wonderful son Conor. 


Anonymous said...

Harold this is the best post in a long time. It's educational
and positive. This is the type of blog I want to see.

Anonymous said...

This is very true! My son shows great excitement, pleasure, regret and sorrow just like anyone else does. He might not pick up on every social cue, but he has plenty of emotion and attachment to people. Also, you can shoot down the idea that autistic children all have no eye contact. My son has this most of the time.

Anonymous said...

Visions of Kanners 'Refriderator Mother' theory back in the 50-60's. Kripes....can we not get beyond this stuff??

Dawn Bowie

Unknown said...

Dawn, you probably guessed but one of the people I thought of when referring to young people I've met who were autistic with great laughs, smiles, humor was Justin.

Anonymous said...

I had a hunch it was. He is our gentle giant.


Anonymous said...

Children with autism have a very difficult time with social emotions. Can have a hard time understanding other peoples emotions both verbal and non verbal.
They are not detached but can seem that way. For example if you started crying or were embarrassed would Conor know what to do or how to react?

Mommie that Gets It said...

I always enjoy reading your blog. Your posts are informative and heartwarming. :)

Unknown said...

Thank you for your kind words Mommy That Gets It.