Autism: Today or Tomorrow?

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011 No Commented
Categorized Under: Autism

Did you ever wish you could see into the future and wonder how things will change in autism twenty-five years from now? I often have. As a teacher of children with severe autism, and now a consultant and author, I wonder if the new theory of stem cells will be on the front line. I wonder about diets and the change of eating habits. I wonder about education and the changes that will be made to teach our autistic children.

In my newly released book, I discuss a number of possible causes of autism. I also emphasize, as of this day, that we do not know specifically what causes the disability. We only have suggested causes as well as a number of possible contributing factors. So, we can safely say, during the last twenty-five years we have been able to gives names to the various types and degrees. For example, we now use the word autism in a generally casual way.

The same is true with asperger’s. However, we are not so quick to point out that Rett Syndrome and Childhood Disintegrative Syndrome are also categories of autism. We have learned that Dr. Bruno Bettelheim’s early theory that Refrigerator Mothers (mothers, he said, who reacted coldly to their autistic child causing the disability) is not the cause; that certain vaccinations have not been ruled out completely as a cause; and that the brain most likely plays a role as a cause of autism. Still, after all of these years, we do not know the specific cause(s).

It is disturbing to realize we can send a woman and a man to the moon, land a space shuttle, and have astronauts walk around in space, yet, in this same time period we have not reached any kind of clear conclusion about the cause of autism. We have learned to impregnate women, with frozen sperm, which is truly a miracle, but we are still looking to find answers to the puzzle of autism. We have learned how to transplant a human heart, to another human beings body, but we are not any closer to determining what causes autism.

When you think about autism, in this perspective, it makes one wonder – is it truly because it is so difficult for researchers to make such a determination as to the cause of autism? Or, is it that there is not sufficient funding allocated to do the research? Is it because autism is such a puzzling issue, or is it because there are not enough motivated, interested researchers attempting to piece the puzzle together?