Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Autism: A Whole Body Disorder?

In 1943, a child psychiatrist, Leo Kanner M.D., first described autism. Since then, the "blame" for autistic children that had originally been erroneously placed on parents, particularly mothers, has largely disappeared. But before it did, and with the approval of some experts, mothers of children with autism were accused of being too detached, emotionally cold, leading to the "refrigerator mother theory." You can imagine the awful distress and turmoil this created for mothers, and families, already facing enormous challenges in raising a child with autism.
Research was instrumental in dismissing maternal blame theories. What emerged was a focus on the study of the brain of youth and adults with autism. Genetic tests, brain scans, and clinical medication trials continue to reveal how the autistic brain is different. Autism has entered the mainstream of brain research, like the conditions that often accompany it, such as epilepsy, sleep disorders, movement problems, and many psychiatric disorders.

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