Friday, July 18, 2008

JB Handley and John Best pull a rabbit out of Neurodiversity's hat

I was interested to read this post on age of autism and this post on John Best's hating autism blog. As the readers of autism's gadfly will remember, some time ago, I wrote a post about the irony about the war between the mercury militia and the neurodiversity movement when the groups were so strikingly similar in certain respects. At the risk of immodesty it looks like I may have been prescient.
All the more delicious is the irony of the well known adversarial relationship between John Best and Amanda Baggs.

As par for the course of absurd statements that seem to appear from time to time on age of autism is Handley first stating that because gene therapy involves single genes and autism genetics is multifactorial that this makes it unlikely that gene therapy will be able to do anything for autistic people in the foreseeable future. Be that as it may, Handley then goes on to use the apples versus oranges comparison of autism and down's syndrome that the neurodiversity people make with the questionable statistic of the 90% abortion rate of down's fetuses that neurodiversity afficianados spout like whales. He then goes on to contradict himself and make the ill-informed statement that Down's syndrome involves a single gene. JB you might be interested to know that Down's does not involve one gene, it involves an abnormality of an entire chromosome, namely three 21st chromosomes instead of two. This is so different from multigenetic etiologies, it is not an apt comparison. If autism involves multiple genes instead of one chromosome this makes the idea of prenatal screening anytime in the foreseeable future pretty far fetched. Like your detractors in the neurodiversity movement you don't seem to realize this.

Interestingly enough, one of Handley's commenters on the age of autism blog disputed the 90% stastic about Down's syndrome that he and the neurodiversity people quote religiously, giving some evidence it was more like 62%. So how many autistic fetuses would really be aborted?

One can go to and see that the people there had this same idea a long time ago when they look at the cartoon about CAN.

I guess Amanda and her friends there have no plans to sue the mercury militia people for ripping off their idea.

I seem to remember there was some research on Fragile X recently that would dispute the ideas of these two fringe organizations. Wish I knew more so I could comment, but the irony of the war gets sweeter and sweeter. Course no reason why amino acids in a gene's or multiple gene's DNA could not be rearranged somehow to avoid certain mutations that could predispose one to autism. Course admittedly that is a long way off but neither of these two groups don't want to acknowledge this idea. There is also the idea that some sort of diet could be developed for an infant vulnerable to autism due to a genetic metabolic error. This is what happens in phenylketonuria, where a diet free of tyrosine can prevent retardation in an infant. I seem to remember some babies with phenylketonuria have been considered autistic.

Maybe someday I will be able to do more research to dispute the idea, but my autism is too severe for that right now.

However, once again I can have a good laugh at the ironies of this ongoing war between the two groups to inject a little humor into my somewhat difficult life.


Bev said...

Only 62%? That makes it all better, does it?

You have an odd perspective, Mr. Mitchell.

jonathan said...

well only the statistics are questionable bev. Perhaps the person who originally posted this comment on Handley's article at age of autism has an odd perspective. I don't know. No, I am not defending abortions of down's fetuses, nor do i want autistic fetuses aborted, but this should not stop genetic research from going on that could potentially help persons with autism or prevent this tragedy from happening if genetic therapy could be devised that would allow a child to be healthy rather than being autistic.

Ari Ne'eman said...

Where does the 92% figure come from? Peer-reviewed medical research, actually.

In my opinion, that's somewhat more reliable than some statistic someone came up with in an offhand manner in the comments thread on the AoA website. Nonetheless, the standards you choose to associate your name with are your business, Jonathan.

Foresam said...

Ari Ne'eman,
You have a lot of nerve talking about standards to anyone, kid. You associating the word "autism" with yourself instead of "Asperger's" is akin to kicking my son in the teeth. Your intentional obfuscation of the truth about autism discredits all people with Asperger's and this tactic will backfire on you.

The truth will eventually hang you.

Ender said...

John, haven't you said on your site, several times in fact, that Asperger's people need to be cured. Yet you have no business talking about Asperger's if your son is nothing like an aspie considering you have never worked with an aspie. How is Ari calling himself autistic any worse then you calling him autistic. Hell, you have even said every aspie is a future serial killer. Which do you think is a more correct statement. Your just jealous of Ari I think, he gets interviews on a regular basis, you get to write on your blog that is seen by like 15 people on a regular basis. Yeah I think your jealous.

Anonymous said...

John aspergers IS on the autistic spectrum. Why cant you not understand that? Does it mean nothing at all to you that apergers is now not an official diagnosis as so many simpletons were getting this confused, and children with aspergers were not getting the help and support in schools that ALL children with autism need. All children with aspergers will now be diagnosed with ASD.......because aspergers is very much on the autistic spectrum.