Re: Christ, what an asshole

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Quite.


Posted by: emdash | Link to this comment | 05-22-10 7:04 PM
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It sounds like part of the problem here was not too little respect for science but too much.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-22-10 7:07 PM
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Or, more precisely, respect for science combined with a total lack of understanding of how it works.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-22-10 7:08 PM
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Too much respect for Science!, too little respect for real science.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05-22-10 7:09 PM
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Wakefield is scum, and I hope he thinks about the reappearance of deadly childhood measles in the UK every night. Although I'm sure he doesn't.

The stab at "why are we retreating to the depths of ignorance" foray at the beginning reminds me of this great, fascinating discussion of how Edwardians lost the secret of how to prevent scurvy.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 05-22-10 7:10 PM
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4: Right, that.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-22-10 7:11 PM
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I was blinded by Science!


Posted by: Opinioned Thomas Dolby | Link to this comment | 05-22-10 7:22 PM
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I just can't believe that Jim Carrey and Jenny McCarthy were wrong about this! My faith in celebrity is shaken.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 05-22-10 7:31 PM
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7: Actually, you were blinded with Science. By her.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 05-22-10 7:34 PM
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9: She had a much better ass, so I blame Science!


Posted by: Opinioned Thomas Dolby | Link to this comment | 05-22-10 7:37 PM
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The link in 5 is indeed fascinating.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-22-10 8:03 PM
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Recent papers by Pet/er Bear/man's research group on autism are really fascinating ... amongst other things they can show at a very fine geographical resolution that, in California, the strongest predictor of a cluster of unimmunized children is the geographical proximity of an autism advocacy organization. The overall rate of non-immunization has risen yet remains fairly low across the state on the average -- but there's such a high degree of clustering that, in some school districts, an astonishing number of kids aren't vaccinated and herd immunity is seriously compromised in those locales.

Also, another vote for the link in 5 --what a fantastic case!


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 05-22-10 8:24 PM
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The link in 5 is indeed fascinating.

Very much agreed! And it pretty much requires that I link to this video, which someone (k-sky?) linked to recently as well.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 05-22-10 8:40 PM
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its nice when you can hate dirty fucking hippies guilt-free.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 05-22-10 8:48 PM
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The link in 5 is great, and other things on that site seem pretty entertaining.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05-22-10 8:56 PM
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13: That's a harder song to play than you'd think, I hear tell.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 05-22-10 9:01 PM
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16: Well remembered.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 05-22-10 9:11 PM
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Another endorsement for the link in 5. It's a puzzle, with guys like Wakefield, how much contempt we ought to feel for them, and how much sympathy. Wakefield profited, it's true, but it's not clear to me that he is a con man.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 05-22-10 9:20 PM
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Are you kidding? I don't think of him as a con man; I think of him like a member of the Bush administration. He deliberately weakened a societal safety mechanism for his own profit; it's the same as de-fanging a regulatory industry*. He's a fucking monster.


* It's not an analogy because I'm claiming they are absolutely identical. Sometimes I even get vaccines and regulatory agencies confused. "Let's take Hawaiian Punch to get her OSHA checked out" I'll say by mistake.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05-22-10 9:26 PM
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in California, the strongest predictor of a cluster of unimmunized children is the geographical proximity of an autism advocacy organization.

This doesn't surprise me in the least, but still: wow.

I don't talk to non-vaxing parents anymore about their misguided decision to not provide their kids with protection against a host of childhood diseases that used to carry off probably 3 or 4 out of every 10 children born in early modern England before the age of 5 ... because I found that I could not remain moderate and temperate while banging my head against that stubborn wall of misinformation and willful stupidity...But when I used to argue about the issue, I used to be amazed by the breezy dismissal of the possible negative consequences of the measles. I mean, you know, blindness, sterility and death are amongst the (admittedly rare, but still possible) outcomes of a case of the measles. The idea was that Nature could take care of things. Well, yeah, but that's just the problem. It might be in "Nature's" interest to sacrifice X number of children for the greater good (herd immunity) of the species, but Nature doesn't give a damn about any one of us as individuals.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 05-22-10 11:00 PM
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As I think I mentioned here before, there's a kind of social cache to avoiding vaccines amongst some parents I know, which is frankly disgusting for about 50 different reasons. There is a whole local industry of (no insurance accepted!) pediatricians for rich people who encourage, or at least are very complacent about, avoiding vaccines.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05-22-10 11:23 PM
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None of it is sourced yet, but I always believe anything consistent with my pre-existing notions, so I don't feel any grief.

Fits right in with my notion that mass tort lawyers, besides being personally obnoxious, are a net social negative.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 05-22-10 11:52 PM
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knowing that your children are sharing public spaces with people who just got here from their home in rural Bangladesh or Sarawak tends to reinforce the get-vaccinated message. and then I like to point out that my very children who are playing with anti-vaxxer-X's kids were in rural Bali, like, last week.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 05-23-10 4:19 AM
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If the Channel 4 doc is the one I saw, it was fucking dreadful, unfortunately: it exactly replayed (and thus reaffirmed) the "small truth-teller tilting against giant corrupt interests" meme that Wakefield was also busily working, and -- a la manipulative c0cking humbug Nick Broomfield -- it presented Deer as a puzzled non-scientist everyman who knew nothing about the whole story, only finding it out bit by bit as the documentary unfolded, and he doorstepped a variety of commentators and contributors: which left its pro-science perspective skin-deep, if that. Deer's expertise in the story -- and knowledge of the background science and the world of science -- was treated precisely as if it would have disqualified him, which was not just gutless but in the long run counter-productive.*

A media outlet the cartoon doesn't seem to attack -- at least if it does it's very well buried among the others -- is Private Eye,. which deployed its considerable anti-establishment, "what-they're-not-telling-us" credentials to oublish several pro-Wakefield supplements. PE doesn't have a huge circulation compared to say the Observer, but it is read by ALL london-based media people, and has enormous behind-the-scenes moral clout.

*Obviously my irritation about this is a bit of a side issue -- one bad documentary is just one bad documentary -- but it was real "winning a battle that helps us lose the war" stuff. The doorstepping-everyman technique is hostile to the very notion of disinterested expertise.


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 05-23-10 4:53 AM
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(ps The 2009 Deer documentary the cartoonist cites in his sources is very possibly a different one: the dreadful one I saw was from late 2004, according to my enraged no-caps review that same evening. I never read any of Deer's print journalism, which may indeed be impeccable.)


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 05-23-10 5:22 AM
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21: & 23: Yeah, and it's not like rich little Buffy or Chet isn't ever going to be in a limo driven by some prole , or served by a flight attendent with a cough, and so on.

May the veldt be littered with their carcasses!


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 05-23-10 8:30 AM
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Yeah, the MMR scare is far and away the biggest blot on Private Eye's record, though it's not the only one. I'm not sure if they've ever admitted their foolishness.

in California, the strongest predictor of a cluster of unimmunized children is the geographical proximity of an autism advocacy organization.

This doesn't surprise me in the least, but still: wow.

I'm not sure why this should be surprising. What else is going to be a stronger influence on vaccination rates in developed countries than the presence of people telling you vaccines are evil?


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 05-24-10 2:29 AM
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What a shithead Wakefield is.

My nephew just got diagnosed as high functioning autistic, so this hits close to home. When my mom told me about it she said "I'm not surprised, he's just like you were at that age." Gee, thanks Mom! Is there something you're trying to tell me?

A lot of the trouble with autism is that it's a continuum and it manifests itself differently in different people. If you're looking to make a diagnosis it's not hard to tie together a bunch of odd characteristics and label someone autistic. I suspect that autism advocacy groups are going overboard, but that's what advocacy groups do. I'd be much more suspicious if there was a drug company selling something they claimed helped with autism.

Also, 5 is great. If I ever write a book it will be about how knowledge is lost.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 05-24-10 8:33 AM
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Gee, thanks Mom! Is there something you're trying to tell me?

It sounds like your mom has a copy of my bestselling How to be Subtle, but that she stopped reading before Chapter 3.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-24-10 8:42 AM
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29: I diagnose ADHD! Take your Ritalin, Mom!


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 05-24-10 8:48 AM
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Every Christmas, we gather around the table with a copy of the latest version of the DSM and a bunch of Post-It notes.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-24-10 8:50 AM
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28.2: Oh, she was probably just reaching in a confused way for "Which means he'll be just fine in the end," given your clear level of just-fineness. But yeah, that doesn't sound like a great moment in mothering.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-24-10 8:51 AM
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A lot of the trouble with autism is that it's a continuum and it manifests itself differently in different people. If you're looking to make a diagnosis it's not hard to tie together a bunch of odd characteristics and label someone autistic.

Am I just confused about this, or is the concept of 'autism spectrum' pretty new to the public discourse, say, the past fifteen years or so? Part of what makes conversations about autism so fraught, for me at least, is that when I learned the word, it seemed to be limited to tragically severe situations -- people who would never be able to care for themselves at all, and were extraordinarily difficult to care for. Now, it includes conditions that while difficult, are very compatible with living a reasonable and fulfilling life. But it's hard for me to hear 'autism', and remember that it doesn't necessarily mean "requiring full-time lifelong care." (Or, I guess I do remember that, but my knee-jerk reaction hasn't adjusted yet.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-24-10 9:02 AM
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My nephew just got diagnosed as high functioning autistic, so this hits close to home. When my mom told me about it she said "I'm not surprised, he's just like you were at that age."

My son was similarly placed on the autism spectrum. I had some bad moments, but it soon became apparent to me that he was just a weird little kid, and not appreciably different from his father (or his mother's brother) in this respect.

After intervention by the fine public school system, and the passage of several years, nobody suggests he has a PDD (pervasive development disorder) any more, although he is suspiciously good at chess.

Whether or not he had a disorder that was "cured" is unclear to me. I think I certainly could have used the kind of help he received when I was a kid, but I turned out okay.

When we were dating, my wife used to jokingly call me a high-functioning autistic, back before autism became a serious matter for us. My stock response was to beam proudly and say: "She thinks I'm high-functioning."


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 05-24-10 9:18 AM
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One of the things I specifically despise about Wakefield was that he used to stump around the UK and the Commonwealth claiming that it was all down to measles virus, and then go to the US and support people who were convinced it was all down to mercury and did things like running chelation drips into small children to get the imaginary mercury out until they accidentally chelated all their blood electrolytes.

It's also well worth looking up the testimony of his student, who did most of the DNA work in the original study - it was in a US court case, but it is never mentioned in the UK media, I presume for some strange legal reason. Anyway, the student ran several PCRs looking for those measles viruses, found none. Wakefield then asked him to explain the procedure so he could do it himself - PCR having been invented long after he qualified. When he ran the experiment, he found measles.

Nobody else could ever replicate that result, and the student concluded that he screwed up the protocol and cross-contaminated his sample. PCR works by exponentially multiplying whatever DNA fragments are in the sample, so obviously you need to be very careful indeed about that.

However, he had the result he was looking for, and absolutely no intellectual integrity.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 05-24-10 9:34 AM
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It's worth looking at the diagnosis rates for lots of childhood developmental disorders, or behaviour/psychiatric problems. Because they vary so wildly from place to place it naturally causes a _great deal_ of suspicion.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05-24-10 9:37 AM
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32: Yep, that's exactly my mother's style. She's really good with kids in general (she taught high school for 40 years), but quite odd in her dealing with her own kids. I wouldn't trade her for any other Mom in the world, mind you.

33: Autism spectrum is indeed relatively new, but it makes a lot of sense when you look at the way autistic kids actually behave: There isn't a clear dividing line between non functional, barely functional, and just plain weird. The things that define autism are all sliding scale types of things, like deficits in social skills, sensitivity to noise, compulsive behaviors, and the like.

My theory is that we'll find autism to be merely an extreme manifestation of a perfectly normal variant in human personality types. There is clearly a genetic component, but I suspect we'll find a genetic component to all personality types. The geek stereotype matches something that appears to be cross cultural - I've run into stereotypical geeks from India, China, Egypt, South Africa, Romania, Turkey, and a bunch of other places. That suggests to me the there is a geek phenotype. Crank the geek phenotype up to 11 and you have autism. I suspect, for similar reasons, that there is also a flaming asshole phenotype.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 05-24-10 9:48 AM
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Having gotten a "spectrum disorder" diagnosis for one of our kids shortly after the 1998 article became popularized did cause my wife and I to explore this (and argue about it a bit) somewhat more than was warranted. Everyone was already vaccinated, so no real practical consequences of the flirtation. Even so, it is unsettling to see the degree to which it has unraveled.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-24-10 10:56 AM
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Alex, that DNA story is exactly the kind of concrete scientific counter-detail I'd like to be seeing in coverage of this case, whether it's print or telly or cartoon strip. When the science is bad, it will be demonstrably bad: so get a vivid demonstration on-screen or on the page. Don't be saying "bad media" for dodging the science when you're dodging it yourself. (Where "you" is Deer in the 2004 doc that annoyed me; and to some extent the cartoonist too... )

Good science = strong art. (Is this true? I am going to start saying it anyway...)


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 05-24-10 11:18 AM
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Here we are: the story, with links to the documents, at Holfordwatch. The name I was looking for was Nick Chadwick.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 05-24-10 11:26 AM
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I also find it interesting that our current "We are all celiacs now" trend has been married to the autism anxiety. Jenny McCarthy claims to have cured her son's autism by withholding wheat gluten. I suppose I could google how they think that one works, but I just don't care enough.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 05-24-10 11:48 AM
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Meanwhile, unlike autism, some immunologists actually ARE concerned about what immune factors early in life may relate to why we have several orders of magnitude higher incidence of deadly allergies to foodstuffs nowadays. Would that we had a movement of parents who theorize that exposure to unnatural modern cleanliness and useless antibiotics might be unsafe, instead of parents who theorize that about unnatural modern vaccines.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05-24-10 11:53 AM
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I look proudly at the snowdrifts of dog hair in the corners of my apartment, and am convinced that my children owe their rugged good health to it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-24-10 12:00 PM
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The revolution begins here! If dog hair and saliva are the keys to good health, my kid will be in excellent shape.

The we are all celiacs now thing is also super common, as in my no-vaccine parent acquaintances who allow their children no bread and no fruit(!)


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05-24-10 12:06 PM
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no fruit(!)

Let's hope they're getting plenty of fresh seal meat.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 05-24-10 12:11 PM
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When did fruit become bad?


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 05-24-10 12:16 PM
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My sneering becomes to obvious when I start to ask questions about this, so I haven't really pushed them on the no fruit thing. I think the idea is that it contains carbs and bears some relationship to the hated "grains" that we should all supposedly be avoiding. As far as I can tell, under their system, the only things one should eat are grass-fed bison, raw milk, and kale.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05-24-10 12:20 PM
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That one sounds like people on the yeast thing -- any sugars feed yeasts that make you ill. I had a probably eating-disordered friend in college who was a vegan, but who was also barred by this 'systemic yeast' problem from eating most grains, and any sweet or starchy fruit or vegetable. Basically, she was willing to eat leaves, but not much else. (Quinoa and millet, for some reason, but no wheat, rice, or corn). She ate constantly (like, she had a backpack full of greens she carried around), and was still very very very thin.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-24-10 12:22 PM
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As far as I can tell, under their system, the only things one should eat are grass-fed bison, raw milk, and kale.

Sign me up!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-24-10 12:26 PM
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48: "Candida" -- the yeast thing -- was the "celiac" of the late 80s/early 90s. Before that was SAD. LA probably has the jump on the northeast in these trends. (Although probably not SAD in LA?) Chronic Fatigue Syndrome fits in here too, somewhere. My best friend had all of these things at one time or other.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 05-24-10 12:28 PM
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For the record, I know people who very seriously have celiac disease -- lost 30-40 lbs they didn't have to lose, ended up in the hospital, etc. I also know people who are regularly diagnosed with each new disease in turn.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 05-24-10 12:29 PM
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LA probably has the jump on the northeast in these trends.

The Northeast counters with Lyme disease for everyone.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-24-10 12:36 PM
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52: I know two women diagnosed with MS and then 10 or so years later were told, Whoops! Lyme Disease!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 05-24-10 12:39 PM
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Wakefield loses his license to practice medicine, if I am interpreting this story correctly (it says he "has been struck off the medical register").


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 05-24-10 12:41 PM
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54: That's good. Fucking lumbar punctures on children.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 05-24-10 12:55 PM
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I was telling AWB the other day that the concept of hipsterism as a spectrum disorder is quite useful.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 05-24-10 1:34 PM
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"The geek stereotype matches something that appears to be cross cultural"... Hephaestus is so useful he marries a babe; this doesn't turn out as well as he hoped; he tries a technical fix for a social problem; he doesn't understand why everyone is laughing at him. Ariadne expects maximum praise for maximum skill. There turns out to be an unmentioned social constraint. On the other hand, the Chinese and Japanese smith kami I know enough of to Google seem reasonably well-acculturated, and the African geeks seem to be tricksters, which I would say is exactly wrong for the current autism stereotype. Perhaps one of the things we inherited from the Greeks is a strain of needing and disliking the engineering temperament; then, of the capable, only the poorly-socialized are clumsy enough to take it up as a job, where the socially deft become lawyers or doctors.

LizardBreath, not only is nearly everyone I knew five years ago 'on the spectrum' (poorly-thought-out phrase...) but some are enthusiastically taking the scorn to the 'neurotypicals'. This seems to be adopting the worst habits of the mainstream, to me.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 05-24-10 2:06 PM
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I would really love a bumper sticker that reads, "I Get My News From Unfogged." Perhaps wished-for designer could make it more cleverer.


Posted by: Annie O | Link to this comment | 05-24-10 2:39 PM
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My wife's got the celiac. That gluten free flour from Bob's Red Mill is awesome for baking.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome fits in here too

Holy hell am I glad I haven't heard that one in a while. Listening to twenty something jackasses with horrible diets and zero exercise in their lives claim they have a disease because they're tired all the time almost made me lose my shit at work a few times.

Now, god has decided to punish me with a co worker who doesn't vaccinate his kids. Gah.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 05-24-10 4:07 PM
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Several tranches of chronic fatigue syndrome have been reclassified as 'proper' diseases, with vectors and everything, which makes it harder to be completely scornful of the remainder; though gosh, what a perfectly vague diagnosis. Neuralgia, failure to thrive, CFS.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 05-24-10 5:13 PM
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I would really love a bumper sticker that reads, "I Trolls Nosflow With Nonstandard Grammar".


Posted by: persistently visible | Link to this comment | 05-24-10 5:14 PM
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I've had a tendency towards lethargy and a general lack of energy that no one's ever tried to label Chronic Fatigue (not that I'm complaining; I agree with gswift on the general pointlessness). The only effect this has had on my life has been a pretty serious coffee habit. I'm grateful that caffeine's been the one drug that never seems to turn up health concerns, but I have a pessimistic suspicion that won't last. Because I tend towards pessimism, but also because fads in diet science are so prevalent that I figure coffee surely will end up pilloried at some point, whether that's justified or not.


Posted by: persistently visible | Link to this comment | 05-24-10 5:30 PM
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Is "Trolls Nosflow" a Flash Gordon villain or some sort of waspy John Cheever character?


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 05-24-10 5:33 PM
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I guess it could be, but I really just wanted to get an "I would really love a bumper sticker that reads [x]" string of comments going.


Posted by: persistently visible | Link to this comment | 05-24-10 5:39 PM
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I would really love a bumper sticker that reads, "I Trolls Nosflow With Nonstandard Grammar".

He bites at it so easily!

Wakefield is a bad man. Jenny McCarthy can suck it too. Bad, evil people. ugggg.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 05-24-10 5:46 PM
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Well, coffee is bad. In excess. If cerebrocrat were still here, he would tell you. On the other hand, if you can't do without it, and it doesn't make your heart pound or your hands shake, or give you an immediate headache when you go without it, you might not have to worry too much about it. Except, you know, cut back.

(/common sense)


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-24-10 5:53 PM
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If cerebrocrat were still here, he would tell you

Hmm, guess I'll have to RTFA. For the record, I don't go for heart-pounding or hand-shaking levels of consumption, though if I go a day without, I'll definitely develop a headache. Again, I'm not complaining, just grateful no one's policing my particular addiction.


Posted by: persistently visible | Link to this comment | 05-24-10 6:05 PM
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"Too bad for you, Dale," said Trolls Nosflow, twirling his mustache and flashing the devil-may-care grin that had lured so many women to perdition. He shook his head ruefully. "We could have made such a team. As it is, I, Trolls Nosflow, with Nonstandard Grammar" -- he cocked his head at the eighteen-hands-high chevalbot, which nickered in its cold, robotic voice -- "will ride out at the head of a ten-thousand-man Scorpion Tribe army and annihilate the forces of the Earthmen. I'll miss you, I suppose. I will miss Flash Gordon not at all."


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 05-24-10 6:10 PM
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Trolls Nos-Flow had glanded too much of something his neural lace wasn't ready for, and his knife missile hovered decadently over the once-sarcastic drone.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05-24-10 6:15 PM
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69 - I confess that I was thinking that Nonstandard Grammar was almost a Ship name.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 05-24-10 6:17 PM
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Regarding cerebrocrat, he was (still is, I assume), a neuroscientist who used to hang around here, lovely guy; I seem to recall him imparting wisdom about things like: this is your brain. This is your brain on [x] mild-seeming thing.

It first got my attention with respect to a post, or comment, about sleep, and the ways in which the massively rejuvenative qualities of sleep are messed up by such mild-seeming things as caffeine intake, as well as the more obvious things. Hrm. It was several years ago now.

Word, anyway, is: cut down on caffeine if you can. I'm not harassing you by any means, just saying. It apparently does more to us than we'd like to acknowledge.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-24-10 6:22 PM
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I think it would be good if people would agree with me that extremes of most (all?) personality types are maladaptive and should be medicated, when medications that 'fix' them become availible.

I think its plausible that a large percentage of people would be healthier GI-wise if they didn't eat gluten. Certainly very few people need 6-12 sevings a day.

'Candida' is one of the stupider alt-things, though i can't much argue with something that discourages eating sugar.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 05-24-10 6:29 PM
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Yeah, caffiene isn't good for sleep. It owuld be better if we put modafinal or adderal in our (decaff that didn't taste like decaff) coffee/tea


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 05-24-10 6:30 PM
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I flashed a devil-may-care grin right before shaking my head ruefully?

Confidential to snarkout: HTTP 504 accessing /blogs/<id>/comments.json.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05-24-10 6:35 PM
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Not you, Neb. Trolls. I assume he's a distant cousin.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 05-24-10 7:25 PM
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Trolls Nos-Flow had glanded too much of something his neural lace wasn't ready for, and his knife missile hovered decadently over the once-sarcastic drone.

Despite Nonstandard Grammar's attempts to warn him, via the crude LED readout Troll Nosflow had recently ordered from Terra Science and Surplus and installed below the rangy cybermount's metallic forelock:

 \             /     |O|      /\
   \         /       |   |     |  | 
     \     /        /    \    |  |
       \ /        /        \  |  |
       / \       |____| |  |
     /     \     |           | |  |
   /         \   |____|  \/
 /             \ |____|  O

Nosflow had been unable to resist slaking his burning thirst with several bottles of Cisco Red.

</low end product placement>


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 05-25-10 7:39 AM
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What the hell kind of name is Sllort, anyway?


Posted by: Tom Scudder | Link to this comment | 05-25-10 9:05 AM
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That link in 5 is really, really good reading.

The anti-vax people are freaky. There seems to me to be some kernel of desperate I-know-best-ism at its core, some backlash against the collective and impersonal expertise that our society has built up about things. What very incredibly little of their stuff I've read sounded to me more like a way to give the finger to the same culture that provides them with a new What's Killing Your Child Now segment on every six o'clock newscast than any sort of reasoned argument.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 05-25-10 9:47 AM
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37 33: Autism spectrum is indeed relatively new, but it makes a lot of sense when you look at the way autistic kids actually behave: There isn't a clear dividing line between non functional, barely functional, and just plain weird. The things that define autism are all sliding scale types of things, like deficits in social skills, sensitivity to noise, compulsive behaviors, and the like.

My mom works at an elementary school, which has had increasing numbers of autism-spectrum disorder kids enrolled in the last several years, some of them with serious problems and some of them just mildly weird. So the school had an "expert" "psychologist" come in to talk to the employees about autism-spectrum disorders. Said "expert" told them: "We're getting better at diagnosing autism-spectrum. There are lots of adults with undiagnosed autism. They're easy to find. Go to a college during a ball game. Everyone in the library has autism." Apparently everyone with mildly nonstandard interests or behaviors is now autistic.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05-25-10 10:02 AM
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"But it has not escaped my notice, Igor, that in giving him the relaxed and hopeful attitude to life of, let me be frank here, a turnip, you have also given him the intellectual and artistic ability of, once again, a turnip."


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 05-25-10 10:21 AM
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Well, coffee is bad. In excess.

FAIL.

Coffee is the black nectar of the gods, and there's quite a lot of literature linking intake to decreased risk of type II diabetes, liver and colon cancer, not to mention protection from liver damage in subjects with high alcohol intake.

Don't worry though, I'll drink your share.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 05-25-10 10:22 AM
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Apparently everyone with mildly nonstandard interests or behaviors is now autistic.

Yes! Or suffering from ADHD, or oppositionally defiant, or some such shit.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05-25-10 10:22 AM
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83

or oppositionally defiant, or some such shit.

Well, some are just Scottish, of course.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-25-10 10:24 AM
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84

I can identify autistic people strictly from their music collection.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05-25-10 10:24 AM
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79: Might the inclusion of more and more elementary-aged autistic kids have something to do with the decrease in institutionalization? Also, I'm pretty sure the library thing was supposed to be a joke. Maybe not. But it is really frustrating that many adults who are actually non-functional due to autism, like my uncle, are not recognized by their families or doctors as having a disorder, rather than just being annoying, obsessive, clumsy, mean, or lazy.

Of course, I'm not sure what one is supposed to do with a 52-year-old who has never moved out of his mom's house, couldn't get through a semester of college despite his bear-trap mind, hasn't held a job for more than a few months, can't make conversation without quoting something he's memorized, and can't reliably dress himself. Would a diagnosis help him in any way? I don't think we have social services in place for people like him who seem physically able enough to work. I guess it's weird to grow up hearing my family talk shit about him, rather than wonder if he's just been in a really really bad mood for 50 years.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05-25-10 10:33 AM
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Go to a college during a ball game. Everyone in the library has autism.

Heavens to Betsy.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 05-25-10 10:35 AM
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There's a huge thing in the parenting blogs about whether or not your child is spirited. Spirited! It sounds so elfin and joyful. They mean a kind of hyper-sensitive kid who will get bullied a lot, but you are able to see why your kid is extra-extra-special.

Some of it is probably real - sensitivity to sensory stimulation, etc, but it reads like such fancy nonsense that your eyeballs roll out of your head. The consolation prize of a spirited! child is that you should have anecdotes showing unusual levels of empathy that your child has displayed, that never seem that terribly unusual.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05-25-10 10:39 AM
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83: in Glasgow autism is diagnosed by counting the number of facial scars. Fewer than six indicates the child is incapable of normal interaction with others.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 05-25-10 10:43 AM
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It's not a funny joke. And expansively diagnosing everyone who is a tiny bit odd doesn't help people like my uncle either. I have him in mind as a data point because the under- and over-diagnosis proponents never seem to have someone like him in mind. If you're able to work and remain reasonably independent, diagnosis seems like a personal decision. But if you can't hold a job, there needs to be some support structure in place.

Or if you're like a student I had a few semesters ago, you have very little motor control, and you flip out and get psychotically angry, weepy, and suicidal twice a week, it would be nice for your professor to get a letter at the beginning of the semester with some heads-up. It took me a while to figure out how to work with her, and it ended up a great semester. But I talked to other profs who wrote her off from day one--she shouldn't be in college, etc., no attempt to accommodate her.

The problem is that the people who are getting swept up in the overdiagnosis business are people who are maybe a bit lonely and awkward and like to read, not the people, who are often from conservative, religious, anti-medical/psych families who need better ways of understanding their family members, rather than writing them off. (I can't tell you what the girl's family's opinion of her was, because it's too identifying, but ho-lee shit they were not any fucking help.)


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05-25-10 10:46 AM
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90

What my wife's noticed in her middle school classes is that loads of kids that are supposedly autistic or learning disabled or whatever are magically curable when they're in smaller classes where she can ride their ass and make them work. And as you'd expect, it's much easier to stay on top of them in a class of 18 or 20 than it is in a class of 30+ kids.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 05-25-10 10:47 AM
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I can identify autistic people strictly from their music collection.

The painstakingly uniform ID3 tags gracing the 45-50K songs in my iTunes library surely reflects some sort of disorder.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05-25-10 10:47 AM
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91: Heh. It's probably offensive to someone, but I call CA "Rain Man" in reference to his insane ripping-and-tagging procedures. He's very worked up about it.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 05-25-10 10:49 AM
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Not, however, the sort of disorder that demands rigorous attention to subject-verb agreement.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05-25-10 10:50 AM
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It's not a funny joke.

What's this in response to?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05-25-10 10:51 AM
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I'm sure I'd have been diagnosed as autism spectrum if I were a kid these days. I was a very weird kid along those lines. Given that, while still peculiar, I'm much less weird as an adult, I doubt there would have been any particular point to such a diagnosis, though.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-25-10 10:51 AM
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94: I think it's a continuation of 85.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05-25-10 10:52 AM
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89 to 85.1, I assume.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 05-25-10 10:53 AM
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They mean a kind of hyper-sensitive kid who will get bullied a lot

Huh. That is pretty much the opposite of how I'd define "spirited".


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05-25-10 10:54 AM
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99: Exactly. I figured it was a euphemism for "hits a lot".


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 05-25-10 10:55 AM
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98: Exactly.

Maybe it means like "touched by the spirit" or something.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05-25-10 10:56 AM
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AWB, my impression was that the library comment was intended to get a chuckle but also a sort of "well, it's true!" response, but I can only report secondhand. Anyway, my mother was offended by it.

As for:
Might the inclusion of more and more elementary-aged autistic kids have something to do with the decrease in institutionalization?

I would guess "yes", for the more obviously low-functioning ones, but not for the ones who are just a little weird, who make up a pretty substantial fraction of all of them.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05-25-10 10:56 AM
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Sometimes they mean hyperactive. But basically they mean a difficult kid to raise.

Granted, they do seem like difficult children: excessive tantrums, emotionally inflexible, very sensitive, etc. But the discussions about them are annoyingly spirited themselves.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05-25-10 10:58 AM
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It's probably offensive to someone, but I call CA "Rain Man" in reference to his insane ripping-and-tagging procedures. He's very worked up about it.

I don't see why you need insane procedures. Just configure your ripper/encoder to tag as it encodes, and to name files according to whatever convention you like best, and mcmanus is your crazy uncle.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05-25-10 10:58 AM
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I assume there are statistics on this sort of thing available somewhere. I was a little surprised to hear about it since this is a school district in bland suburban middle-income middle America, not Silicon Valley or anywhere else where one might expect overdiagnosing autism to be fashionable.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05-25-10 10:58 AM
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But basically they mean a difficult kid to raise.

Good Lord. What ever happened to "my kid can be a real pain in the ass"?


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 05-25-10 11:01 AM
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And as you'd expect, it's much easier to stay on top of them in a class of 18 or 20 than it is in a class of 30+ kids.

I'M SICK OF THIS TRANSPARENT TEACHER UNION LOBBYING

THERE IS NO CONVINCING PEER-REVIEWED EVIDENCE TO SUGGEST ANYTHING ABOUT ANYTHING EVER


Posted by: OPINIONATED GRANDPA | Link to this comment | 05-25-10 11:03 AM
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Also, the spirited child discussions make you have uncharitable blame-the-parent type thoughts about the apple not falling very far from the tree.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05-25-10 11:04 AM
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At any rate, as a teacher, I think it would be great if we took autism seriously and had strategies for interacting with students with autism. I don't think it's a good idea to put a big red arrow over a kid's head from the time they're four, but just give us some strategies. We generally accept now, I think, that even severely dyslexic people can get through college, especially if their instructors have at hand some strategies for teaching writing and reading to people who struggle with those skills. They still have to meet the same standards as everyone else; we just have to help them learn how to get there. I still meet people who say dyslexics shouldn't expect to get a college degree, but they're all extremely old. There are people who think autistic students (specifically mine from 89) shouldn't be in college, either. But if I had better training, that semester would have been so much more productive for everyone in the class.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05-25-10 11:06 AM
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spirited child discussions make you have uncharitable blame-the-parent type thoughts

Parenting blogs in general do this to me, right before they trigger the run-away-screaming response. I seem not to be the target audience.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05-25-10 11:06 AM
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excessive tantrums, emotionally inflexible, very sensitive

This was me as a kid, but it doesn't sound at all "spirited." My mother preferred the term "delicate."


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05-25-10 11:07 AM
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No, calling that profile spirited is pure consolation prize nonsense. But that's the word that has stuck.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05-25-10 11:09 AM
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By "no", I was agreeing, which is a pet peeve of my aunt's.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05-25-10 11:10 AM
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This was me as a kid, but it doesn't sound at all "spirited." My mother preferred the term "delicate."

Yeah I was that way as a kid too. My school had me sent to a psychologist for evaluation when I was in 4th grade because I had a lot of problems with my teacher that year. I think after a couple months of weekly sessions the diagnoses that he gave my mother was that I was a "difficult child". I am pretty sure my mothers response was something along the lines of "Well I could have told you that".


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 05-25-10 11:15 AM
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89: it would be nice for your professor to get a letter at the beginning of the semester with some heads-up

AWB, there is a group called AHEADD (Achieving in Higher Education with Autism/Developmental Disabilities) which is focused on providing additional support of college students. It started in Pittsburgh, but has expanded to a number of other cities/campuses. This is precisely the kind of thing that they do.

For full disclosure, we have personal experience with them, and found them specifically helpful in the academic setting (although as in all things in life, it was not a controlled experiment). If I have questions about the approach (in our case as well as others I know of), it is if it really is reinforcing the right things for the long-term. Making it to through college is nice, but there is a lot more (and to be fair they do work on other things and never claim to be a substitute for therapy, family support etc.).

Email me if you want more detailed info.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-25-10 11:34 AM
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114: That looks useful, JP. The especially frustrating thing in the 89 case is that our college has excellent disability services that focus especially on dyslexia, attention, and autism disorders, but a community of students who come, in many cases, from families that are very anti-diagnosis. So while I've had a few students who have been able to be very up-front with me about their needs and struggles (usually in the case of dyslexia), students with ADHD and autism don't tend to self-identify. In a few cases, I've gone to the Dean to ask about particular students, and been told that, yes, they're aware that this student is having major difficulties, but without the complicity of the student or the family, it makes it very difficult to get disability services to intervene.

At least at the collegiate level, I'd rather not have under-diagnosis, for this very reason. No one is offering anyone a free pass on anything. But when services are there and waiting to be implemented, a lack of diagnosis can put a block between the student and those services, and it puts a lot of the faculty in the position of just thinking the student is not cut out for college.

While I think things ended up fine with the student in 89, I've been an awful instructor for a few severely ADHD students. It's really, really hard for me to identify with students who can't pay attention and to figure out what they need. They get frustrated and ashamed on day one, and I get frustrated and pissed off on day one, and it's been extremely difficult for us to work together. Autistic student who takes the reading so seriously that she weeps for the duration of the class and demands to know why she should go on living? Girl, I got your back on that. Attention-disorder student who can only stay awake and focused for long enough to interrupt the class with a reference to her favorite Disney movie, and can't remember whether she came up with an idea or heard me say it? I lose my temper. I know I shouldn't.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05-25-10 11:51 AM
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The latest thing is 'childhood bipolar', which lets you Rx the pricey neuroleptics to kids.

I don't see why you need insane procedures. Just configure your ripper/encoder to tag as it encodes, and to name files according to whatever convention you like best, and mcmanus is your crazy uncle.

spoken by someone who never had a fast connection, large hardrive, and college classes to skip back when napster and audiogalaxy were the only ways to find good shit


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 05-26-10 12:52 AM
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re: 115

I'm curious about why you think a diagnosis is appropriate in some of these cases? There seems little more to go on in some of them except your desire not to morally judge the person for behaving in ways that are inappropriate for a classroom setting.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05-26-10 3:22 AM
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117: I can't speak for anyone else, but I've found diagnosis to be an enormously useful tool for getting the whole institution (various lecturers and tutors, welfare services, domestic services for students living in college, ect ect) organised around making appropriate accommodations for students who need them. The alternative is that some tutors will be accommodating, some won't realise what is going on and will be unhelpful or punishing, there will be some kind of welfare crisis which is poorly resolved because poorly understood, and so on. Diagnosis gets you to institutional coherence.


Posted by: Abelard | Link to this comment | 05-26-10 5:04 AM
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re: 118

I can certainly see the pragmatic side of it.

Herbert Fingarette, iirc, argued that it's precisely that type of practical consideration -- the need to bring certain kinds of institutional resources to bear -- that led to alcoholism being defined as a disease.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05-26-10 8:00 AM
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