Thursday, February 14, 2019

My Autism Parenting Magazine article on male/female sex ratios in autism

About nine months ago,  I posted a piece on this blog in which I discussed the issues of whether or not male to female sex ratios were underestimated in autism.  I also discussed the phenomenon of "social camouflage" which suggests that many female autistics go under the radar due to an ability to mask their symptoms to adapt socially.  This has become a fashionable trope of numerous female neurodiversity proponents.  I stated that there was more info that I had, but would not publish it in that particular piece because I had submitted an article about it and hoped to get it published in a magazine.

Well, it happened.  Autism Parenting Magazine published my piece.  When it got published, a number of people on Facebook and other places were interested in reading it.  Unfortunately it was behind a paywall and the magazine asked me not to release it to the general public.

However, the magazine  a little while ago published my article as a blogpost That is the news for anyone who might be interested in reading this article.  It discusses a variety of issues on why I believe that there is no scientific evidence for the neurodiversity movement's claim that autism has been underestimated in women.  For those who may be interested in this subject, I hope you will read my article and enjoy it.  For those in the ND movement who disagree with me, I hope you'll read it and think twice about alleging that autism ratios have been underestimated in women as fact.  

Thursday, January 31, 2019

How can ASAN manage autism public policy when they can't manage themselves?

In the late 1930's, as baseball legend Babe Ruth's career as a player was winding down, he expressed a desire to manage the New York Yankees.  The team's owner Jacob Rupert replied to the carousing and heavy drinking Ruth, "how can you manage a baseball team when you can't manage yourself?"

This statement rings true for the premiere neurodiversity organization The Autistic Self Advocacy Network as as can be seen in their latest publicly available 2017 990 form spent more than $175,000 than the revenue they took in that year.

In previous blog posts, Ive written that despite the fact Ari Ne'eman, their former CEO, repeatedly criticized the high salaries of the top executives at Autism Speaks, he more than doubled his own salary in a four year period from $40,000 a year to nearly $90,000 a year.  His salary increase from 2011 to 2012 of $40,000 to $65,000, a nearly 62% annual increase was nearly double the increase of the organization's revenue.

Because of the organization's deficit spending, it appears they have begun to economize by paying their new CEO Julia Bascom a salary of slightly less than $70,000, a substantial decrease from Ari Ne'eman's 2015 salary of nearly $90,000 a year.

As can also be seen on the form, their net assets decreased from nearly $350,000 at the beginning of 2017 to just over $170,000 at the end of the year, or a slightly lower amount than the red ink they produced in 2017.  If their expenses versus revenue in 2018 was comparable to the previous year, they have no assets left, but owe some creditors money.

Is this an organization you'd trust to manage your business, financial affairs, public policy recommendations, etc?  A common sense answer would certainly be no.  However, if you're a prominent candidate for President of the United States or the federal government the answer which defies rationality is yes.  When Jeb Bush ran for president in 2016, he consulted this organization.  When Hillary Clinton became the democratic party's nominee in the same year, she also consulted this organization for policy advice and recommendations.  As I've written in a previous blog post Ms. Clinton made a variety of dubious autism policy recommendations after winning the democratic party's nomination in 2016.  These autism talking points were largely based on a conference call she had with ASAN.

I've also written on occasion that the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee has appointed several neurodiversity, anti treatment breakthrough autistics to make policy recommendations to the federal government while appointing zero pro-treatment anti-neurodiversity autistics, despite the fact that two of them expressed a desire to serve and were turned down.  Three of them, Ari Ne'eman, Scott Robertson, and Samantha Crane have had prominent posts within the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network.

ASAN's current autistic representative Samantha Crane, has stated the wandering behaviors of severely autistic children, often resulting in death from accidental drownings and other reasons,are merely problematized by other people, yet are perfectly reasonable.  Their current president Julia Bascom apparently believes the reason severely intellectually disabled autistic persons can't write a blog post as well as she can is that they had bad parents who sheltered and infantalized them.  Amy Lutz, the mother of a severely autistic individual with a tested IQ of 40 has invited Ms. Bascom to come to her home and teach her son how to write a blog post.  So far, Bascom has not accepted.

These are people whom I neither would want to manage my business, finances, or autism policy, though I know those in power disagree. 

But will ASAN go bankrupt in a year or two?  Is all hope lost for this organization which repeatedly engages in deficit spending?  Not necessarily.  As can also seen in their 2017 form they have a benefactor with deep pockets.  The Foundation for an Open Society donated $180,000 to them in 2017.  Though I have not linked to their 2016 form, anyone who cares to peruse it will see they donated $130,000 to them in that year.  This is an organization started by well-known billionaire George Soros.  Perhaps Mr. Soros will bail them out.  The fact that a powerful billionaire supports this philosophy may be the reason the ND movement has made such significant strides in obtaining power within the government as well as private sector organizations such as autism speaks.  This does not bode well for those of us who are part of the #autisticdarkweb.  Not to mention the fact that there are about 20 of us and maybe 5,000 of them.  But the #theautisticdarkweb will continue crusading against this movement we detest so much. 

I don't know if ASAN will spend themselves out of existence, but just in case, I hope that Sam Crane had a good bankruptcy course when she attended Harvard Law School.  I suspect ASAN may need her to do some pro bono work in that regard.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Gadfly published in spectator, a few NDs, including Silberman, mock his disability

In the I've got some good news and bad news to report department, I have, first, some of the best news I've had in a while. I've been published in Spectator Magazine in the UK.  I wrote a short piece discussing the problems with the neurodiversity movement that I've linked to.  This is a prestigious magazine and will hopefully help get the word out about some of the problems with the ND movement.  It took them six months, but they finally published it.

Along with good news, there is also some bad news to report.  My article did not sit well with some of the NDs as can be expected.  Some of them have claimed that everything I wrote about ND was wrong and that my article was poorly researched.  A few of them have stooped to apparently ridiculing my disability as demonstrated in the following screen shot taken from twitter:
It started with a vague comment I don't understand that neurodiversity proponent Sarah Kurchak made about my article which is not included in the screenshot:

I know I'm supposed to ignore these types, but come on. Someone got paid to basically write "the neurodiversity movement has too many women in it... and also I have suspicions that they might fuck." I can't just leave that alone.

An individual who calls himself autvntg joined in the fun and stated that I have an obsession about fucking and my only bitch about autism was that it was stopping me from being laid.

Even more interesting, famed journalist and best selling author of neurotribes Steve Silberman apparently wrote on twitter that autvntg was absolutely right.  Such cruelty among neurodiversity proponents is nothing new.  I did not think Silberman could go any lower than he did when he justified the analogy between autism speaks and nazis and eugenics but I suppose nothing about this man should surprise me anymore.

Since Silberman has blocked me on Twitter, I was not aware that he had even responded to Autvng's comment in this matter, until one of my followers brought this to my attention and showed me this screenshot.  Since Silberman blocked me, I was not able to embed the actual tweet but only this screenshot.  I don't think I can go into Silberman's account and verify that this is real, but I think it's unlikely it's a forgery.

Autvntg and Silberman have apparently not spent much time reading my blog where I talk about my fine motor coordination problems, inability to hold down a job, inability to get things done during the day and stop twiddling (self-stimulation) and the variety of other issues I've written about that have affected me besides celibacy which I do blame on autism.

As some who have followed me over the years know, on occasion, I've responded in an angry fashion when various members of the ND movement cussed at me, insulted my parents and ridiculed my disability. I regret that now and hope from now on I can have a "just the facts ma'am" way of doing things and just report it on this blog or social media, rather than responding in a nasty way. It's not fun to see cruel comments written about me just because I hate this disability and wish there were legitimate treatments and a cure. However, I can take solace in the fact that if I elicited this type of response from Saint Silberman, I must be making an impact. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Finished first draft of "the mu rhythm bluff" screenplay. Now what?

As some people know, nearly six years ago, I wrote and published a novel, "The mu rhythm bluff" about an autistic man who undergoes an experimental treatment to help his autism, but instead it turns him into an expert poker player.  I dreamed of it being a commercial success and being made into a movie, an accomplishment that happens with very few novels.

Getting it published by a commercial house was too difficult, so I decided to take the easy route that has become available in the 21st century, self-publishing it on Amazon.  It basically went nowhere and I probably sold not much more than 200 copies.  

Shortly after I published it, the daughter of a friend of my mom's who worked for the film maker Virgin Produced found the plot of my novel compelling.  She asked me if the rights were available and if I could send her a .pdf copy which she would pass around to her colleagues.  I happily obliged.  She wrote me an email saying 'thank you' and that was the last I heard from her.  What would have been a coup for a mediocre self-published novel did not come to fruition.

I would still be interested in having it made into a movie, so I decided to take a break from some other projects still on the burner and write a screenplay version of it.  I have now done that.  Though it is probably too long and I've written enough material for a two and a half hour movie, so it likely needs significant condensing and reworking.  A screenplay is supposed to be about 120 pages in the correct format, which comes out to approximately a two hour movie.  (A page equals a minute of film time).  With a length of more than 150 pages it is likely too long. 

I'm not even sure I got the format right, but I did my best.  I've heard about software you can buy that does formatting for you, and there's a good chance I will get it.  Next step is to have it printed out so I can have a hard copy.

Self-publishing a book is one thing, but it is probably not feasible for most people to invest in the capital to make it into a movie.  If I ever reach the step where it's ready for submission anywhere, I will certainly have an uphill battle getting it onto the big screen.  Also, I'm not sure how much I like the title "the mu rhythm bluff".  I'd like to call it something else, but I'm dumbstruck as far as thinking of a title is concerned.  I'm not sure how marketable a story about poker would be to the big screen.  There have been some poker movies, but I think most of them were low budget and did not do well.  Rounders with Matt Damon was one that saw the light of day, but was not exactly a box office success.  At the time though, No limit Hold 'Em was not as popular as it is now.

After I'd written four novels without success, I decided to try something new.  Anyone who has spent any minimal amount of time reading this blog knows that it's mostly devoted to scathing criticism of the neurodiversity movement which I detest.  Therefore, I decided I'd write a non-fiction book refuting the tenets of neurodiversity.

I thought it might be easier than fiction, because it did not require the imagination to think of certain things, and I already had a fair amount of material I could recycle from blog posts and other writings.  However, I was certainly wrong.  My disability made it hard for me to concentrate and apply myself as it always does.  The book required an inordinate amount of research and I spent over three years writing it and reading various articles to do the best research to dispute this philosophy.  It was made harder by the fact that in the last few years, more and more has been happening in the neurodiversity world and I had to update the manuscript at various points and there are new things that have happened since that I have not included in the book,  Baron-Cohen's remarks about comparing pro-cure people to nazis and Klansmen the most prominent.  

However, I managed to write a first draft, which I spent time revising and reworking.  I had a manuscript, but the question then as I pose it now was 'now what'.  It was likely not ready for submission and I did not want to spend $3,000 on an editor I could not afford who might not even be helpful, let alone greatly increasing the chances of having it published anywhere.  I did, however, send it along to a few agents who turned it down.  I decided to send it to Jessica Kingsley, which admittedly might not be the best fit for an anti-ND book.  Not surprisingly, they turned it down.

After this, I decided to take a break from the nonfiction book and write a screenplay version of my self-published novel.  Again, I thought this would be an easier project than my last two.  After all, I already had the story written out in prose form and a screenplay is less labor intense than a book length manuscript.  For the second time, I was dead wrong.  I had no familiarity with screenplay format and had to learn from a book and reading examples of screenplays which were made into films that saw the light of day.  Also, condensing a 91,000 word novel into an approximately 120 page screenplay format which would be less than a third of the length of  the novel.  I struggled with this for a time because of my disability, but have finally managed to write a first draft.

I guess the lesson learned in all this is that nothing good comes easily.   

So, again, the question is 'now what?'  I will continue working on this project, but maybe try to devote time to other endeavors, but I'm not sure how far I will go with it.  I realize it is unlikely it will ever be made into a movie, but I can dream can't I?

I may or may not keep readers updated about more work on this screenplay in progress.  However, just in case, stay tuned.  

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Autism Speaks on the record

As many people know, autism speaks dropped the word 'cure' from their mission statement about two years ago.  Until today.  I was unaware they'd given an explanation for this.  They address this issue and other statements in the link I gave in a statement entitled "for the record".

They state that there are multiple autisms and no single cause.  Ergo, there can't be a single cure for autism.  They state science has proved there could never be one cure for all autisms, but they offer no proof for this speculation.  By some convoluted logic that escapes me, they claim because there is no single cure for autism that we should not look to cure anyone's autism at all, even if this were possible.  Why can't we just find a cure for each and every individual that is autistic?

They also dropped the words 'global health crisis' from their mission statements.  Does this mean because there are different autisms, some of them are global health crises and others are not?  Why wouldn't each and every single instance of autism, not be a global health crisis, so why would they drop these words as well?

In contrasting their past mission statement with their present one, it would seem they dropped any indication of autism being any sort of bad thing.  Just what the anti-cure, pro-neurodiversity people would want them to do.  

It's also an interesting coincidence that autism speaks changed their mission statement shortly after the Los Angeles times published a scathing op ed piece about them in the los angeles times, written by neurodiversity advocate and writer, Steve Silberman.  This is also when they put two pro-neurodiversity anti-cure autistic self-advocates, Stephen Shore and Valerie Paradiz, on the board amidst complaints of not having any autistic people on their board of directors.

It's likely the real reason for dropping the word 'cure' from their mission statement is they wanted to appease noisy neurodiversity protesters and they were also worried about their bottom line.

They also stated in their 'for the record' that they had these two autistic members on their board.  Valerie Paradiz was not diagnosed until about the age of 40, many years after her own son was diagnosed, despite the fact she hung out her shingle as an autism consultant, and advertised herself as some sort of autism expert.  It's strange she would not recognize the disorder in herself for so long.

They say they employ a variety of autistics in various positions in their organization, but there is no transparency in who these people are and in what capacity they've served autism speaks.  A couple of persons involved with autism speaks have told me AS does not want to violate these individuals' privacy.  This is despite the fact that they found persons to interview for their autism in the workplace video, publicly showing autistics in a variety of jobs.  This was apparently done to encourage employers to hire autistic people, yet they did not comment on what they did in their own organization.

Another statement in this also caught my eye:

Autism Speaks supports everyone affected by autism and recognizes the diverse viewpoints within our community. By fostering acceptance and understanding of autism, our goal is for all people on spectrum, no matter how they self-identify, to be appreciated for who they are and for the contributions they can make to society.

I'm curious as to what AS means by the statement no matter how they self-identify.  Does this mean that autism speaks supports self-diagnosis and anyone calling themselves autistic, despite lack of clinical symptoms, has a viewpoint they will support?

Another point to ponder is if they support everyone affected by autism's point of view, why would they put two anti-cure pro-neurodiversity individuals on their board and not the pro-cure pro-treatment Roger Kulp who contacted them and wanted to make a contribution, but who was ignored completely?

One of their talking points was that they wanted ASD people to be the best they could be-with autism.  So this means they want people to remain autistic and handicapped.  I want people to be the best they can be WITHOUT autism.  They can never be the best they can be with autism. 

They've also stated in this piece that they oppose aversives as a treatment for autism and do not support or endorse organizations that use them.  However, they have allowed the judge Rottenberg center to advertise their services at their walks. The judge Rottenberg Center has been notorious for being the main practitioner of aversive therapy for autistic persons. Matthew Israel, its founder, was expelled from the Autism Society of America for practicing clinical psychology without a license.   It's possible AS allowed the JRC to advertise at their walks before they wrote 'for the record' and then stopped this practice, but otherwise, this would be an outright fabrication on AS' part. 

Based on these talking points, is Autism Speaks a charity worth supporting and donating to?  Autism's Gadfly does not think so.  

Monday, October 29, 2018

Manuel and Emily Casanova's New Autism Book

Husband and wife researchers Manuel and Emily Casanova have recently come out with a new book about the current state of the art about knowledge of the science of autism, titled "Defining Autism".

Manuel Casanova is a neuropathologist, known for his discovery of abnormalities of minicolumns in the brain having a relationship to the etiology of autism.  He's also experimented in transcranial magnetic stimulation as a treatment for autism.  He's unique to autism scientists in that he has a blog, cortical chauvinism in which he does a good job of explaining the results of very technical scientific research (his own and others)to laypersons such as myself.

His wife, Emily, a Ph.D. scientist, also has a blog "science over cuppa" in which she explains scientific research.  I don't know as much about Emily and her blog, so I won't comment on that further.

I met Manuel some years ago at a conference in Long Beach and had a brief conversation with him, after he gave his presentation.  He spoke of minicolumns, inhibitory neurotransmitters, and the broken shower curtain effect that a lack of inhibitory neurotransmission could cause that would result in problems in an autistic brain.  I knew that norepinephrine was an inhibitory neurotransmitter existing in purkinje cells which have been implicated in autism.  I asked him if norepinephrine could be involved in the etiology of autism and if that related to the problems with autistic minicolumns.  He replied that the neurotransmitter in question that was deficient was GABA, also an inhibitory neurotransmitter.  Purkinje cells in the brain also use these as well as GABA.

Shortly afterward, Dr. C started his blog, cortical chauvinism.  I was one of the first persons to comment on it.  I asked him if he remembered me from our meeting in Long Beach, not expecting he would as we only spoke a moment and he did not know of me before.  I was pleasantly surprised when he said he remembered me.  I commented on his blog not infrequently and we developed a sort of internet friendship.  This resulted in his plugging my novel, "The Mu Rhythm Bluff", asking me for an autobiographical post which he published, as well as republishing posts I'd written about the controversial book "neurotribes" I'd written on autism's gadfly.   I hope to someday again meet Manuel in person. 

There has been a dearth of books explaining the science of autism to the layperson.  Emily and Manuel have done a reasonably good job of closing that gap with their new book.

The first two chapters are written by Manuel.  The first deals with a historical overview of how Leo Kanner discovered, wrote about and promoted autism.  It also deals with Bernard Rimland's influence.  The second does a good job of summarizing an overview of MC's research on minicolumns and work in transcranial magnetic stimulation.  He also describes blatant pathologies in postmortem brains, such as heterotopias, which negates the neurodiversity dictum that an autistic brain is not an abnormal brain, but just an alternatively wired brain--something which unfortunately given today's state of the art is probably not possible to prove in living tissues.  He neglects to cite a lot of the problems in his TMS research such as lack of random assignment of individuals as well as the problems of using a control group of sham TMS treatments which research subjects would be able to differentiate from the real deal, and are a formidable problem in evaluating this as a potential autism treatment.

The subsequent chapters are written by Emily.  One details what is known about the genetics of autism and how certain mutations are involved, both inherited and spontaneous mutations.  She discusses the twin data in autism genetic studies.  One thing she neglects to discuss are the twin studies, such as the one done by Hall et. al. in California showing a higher autism concordance in fraternal twins than in non-twin siblings.  This suggests autism is at least partially environmentally mediated.  A discussion of this study as well as a few others along this line would have made the book better.

Next, Emily discusses known environmental components associated with autism in the past such as thalidomide and CMV.  These also provide evidence against the neurodiversity dictum that autism is solely a natural genetic variation.

The book also discusses autism regression.

It also touches upon oxidative stress and how free radical atoms can result in brain problems in autism and other disorders, as well as mitochondrial influences in autism. Interestingly, it cites a reference showing that women produce far more anti-oxidants than men, leading to a four fold decrease in mutations.  Does that four fold difference sound familiar? 

One of the most interesting portions of the book is a discussion of the neural mechanisms that can cause self-stimulatory behaviors in autistics, such as my twiddling.  This involves an imbalance in areas of the basal ganglia, but I won't discuss further as it might be a spoiler for anyone who wants to read the book.

It also discusses savantism and intellectual disabilities.

The book does fall short in a few areas.  There is no discussion of  Dr. C's (Manuel's) research in gamma resynchronization, and his attempt to integrate TMS with neurofeedback.

The book also goes into arcane areas not pertinent to autism as a lead-in to introduce authors to subjects of autism.  It would be better if the authors could cut to the chase and get into the more relevant topics more quickly.  Also, there was a fair amount of footnoting, which distracted from the regular text.  However, this is just a preference of mine as I don't like footnoted books and articles.

Though the book provides evidence for the validity of high male to female autism sex ratios, it does touch on diagnostic bias without giving much evidence.  Similarly, the book talks about assortative mating without much evidence for its validity. 
Other than these minor flaws.  It's one of the best books on autism ever written in my opinion and I highly recommend it. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Samantha Crane's interesting take on elopement.

Severely autistic children often run away from home for reasons that are not necessarily apparent.  There have been instances when these children have drowned or been hit by cars and killed.  Parents of these kids often have to put locks on doors to prevent them from endangering themselves.  These behaviors are often referred to as "elopement".  

For this reason, the government and other individuals have advocated using tracking devices on these children.  Legislation, called Avonte's law (named after a child with autism who drowned) to get these tracking devices to the public have been proposed in congress.

Ari Ne'eman and other members of the neurodiversity movement have fought these tooth and nail, claiming that this is a violation of autistic individual's  civil rights.

In one article Ari Ne'eman even stated one reason that children elope may be due to physical and sexual abuse from their parents and service providers.

Samantha Crane, a neurodiversity activist and one of the autistic public members of the Interagency Autism, Coordinating Committee, has recently weighed in on this matter on twitter with the following words of wisdom about elopement:

To date, several ND autistics have been appointed to the IACC and zero pro-cure autistics, even though two were nominated and turned down.  Some may not agree with me, but I think I'm being charitable to Samantha in stating that comments such as these from an official of the U.S. government whose policy recommendations are financed with taxpayer money are somewhat insensitive in light of the fact many severely autistic children have died because of this problem.   

At a recent IACC meeting, Ms. Crane played a rather crafty game of bait and switch when Jill Escher, the mother of two severely autistic children, wrote to the IACC complaining that the autism diagnosis was too broad and trivialized the very profound problems of her children.  Ms. Crane's response was "how do you know I don't have seizures, GI problems, or these other problems like Escher's children, but I'm not going to talk about my life." 

This is a woman who has graduated from Harvard law school, never needed a diagnosis until she was in her early 20s (I guess she's now about 35) in order to obtain accommodations to enable her to attend law school.  Why she did not need these as an undergraduate at Swarthmore college and why she did not need a diagnosis in the 1990s in order to obtain services under the IDEA when she was a child will remain a mystery.  This is because when I asked Samantha if she had a legitimate diagnosis and if she could provide documentation either to me or the government she stated she was professionally diagnosed, but I was crossing boundaries by asking these questions.  I complained about her behavior to the president, my senators and congressperson, the secretary of health and human services and Joshua Gordon, director of the NIMH who runs the IACC.  My concerns so far remain unanswered.

Neurodiversity often bullies and harasses people and makes outrageous statements, but very few people want to get involved and complain about them to the government and private sector organizations such as autism speaks.  Many parents are too busy fighting for services for their children or going through the day-to-day hassle that rearing an autistic child entails to put up a fight.

However, considering all of the children who have been killed by elopement, I hope that some parents of severe autistic children will take some sort of action against people such as Ne'eman and Crane. Just think about it.  Their children's lives could be at stake.