The skepdick got to write a paper in Psych class about controversies in autism. I suppose I could have been harsher on the anti-vax people, but so be it. Enjoy.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a range of neurodevelopmental disorders characterized by five separate diagnostic criteria. The most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) lists those criteria as:
Persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction.
Repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities.
Symptoms must be present in early childhood.
Symptoms must cause clinically significant social impairment.
Symptoms are not better explained by intellectual disability or global developmental delay. (DSM-5., 2013, pp. 50-51)
As a spectrum, symptoms are further categorized into three levels of severity. With level 1 ASD the individual “requires support”, level 2 “requires substantial support”, and level 3 the individual requires “very substantial support” (DSM-5., 2013, p. 52).
Autism was first described in 1943 by child psychiatrist Leo Kanner, who identified an unusual pattern of symptoms in children, one of which was the child’s desire to be alone, thus naming the condition, autism, after the Greek work for self (Grandin, 2013, p. 5). Some of the criteria Kanner developed is similar to the DSM-5 criteria we use today, but it took quite a few years before we understood even the basics of autism and there were many controversies along the way.
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The skepdick attended TAM 2013 last weekend. There will be more than a few posts on skepdick.org inspired by the conference, but this one had to be written first.
I discovered the term, “skepticism”, in the fall of 2012; I can’t pinpoint the exact source, but it was probably from something on the radio. When googling this wonderful new term, I came across the Skeptics Guide to the Universe and the Skeptoid podcasts. After listening to a few (hundred) of those podcasts I felt I too might have something to offer the world, so after some deliberation I decided I liked the word skepdick. My friends would agree that I am often accused of coming off like a dick in situations where I feel I’m not being mean at all, but merely showing people that their beliefs are not grounded in reality. Thus was born a skepdick. Imagine my surprise when no one had already claimed the website; looking back perhaps I should have been a little more suspicious of that fact.
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The skepdick heard about a new product claiming to waterproof your cell phone called Liquipel . While the company doesn’t mention nanotechnology in its own website materials, the phrase “watersafe nanotechnology” is mentioned liberally throughout most media reports and if you google waterproof nanotechnology you will find other self-proclaimed nanotech companies like NeverWet. Is this the new frontier in nanotechnology or is the word being used as a gimmick because it sounds sciency? Let’s get out our electron microscope and take a look.
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When the skepdick saw this billboard, my gut reaction (pun intended) was incredulity. Can someone with pancreatic cancer modify their behavior so their cancer will just go away? Of course not, but someone who is obese can lose weight by eating less; cancer is a disease, obesity is not, right? Well, it’s not that simple. Let’s examine the current definitions of disease and see if obesity fits. In a later post we’ll reexamine those definitions and try to come up with something a little more precise.
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The skepdick saw a t-shirt today that said, “One less car” and below it in smaller print, “Key West bike shop.”. Made me want to go to the shop and ask them who proofread their t-shirts. Did they mean that the car was getting smaller? That there was less of it? I know I’m being pedantic, but would “One fewer car” have been that much more difficult to produce? Maybe they charged by the letter.
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