Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Comments by KEPLER902

Showing 15 of 15 comments.

  • Well, yes, but my point is that our difficulties tend to derive from artificial sources. You know… Things that humans aren’t necessarily made for, but instead simply adapt to.

    This then implies that being autistic isn’t disordered intrinsically, but that the environment makes us disordered. Just like how forcing a cat into a room blasting heavy metal music is likely to cause distress, but there’s nothing wrong with the cat.

  • @Torpid

    I mostly agree.

    I think it’s less of the neurodiversity movement being less active in that sense, but instead that they’re rarely listened to by professionals. We can barely even get people to use identity-first language, despite us having practically screamed for years that this is the type of language most of us prefer.

    It takes people to listen to the neurodiversity movement too. There’s only so much one side can do without the other, nor can the movement be generalised, as there are various types with different intentions.

  • @sam plover

    Being autistic doesn’t often lead to other forms of distress intrinsically. There are various issues we face in life, from sensory issues to social isolation.

    However, you’ll find that these issues tend to derive from artificial environments and mindsets others are socially conditioned to possess.

    There’s typically nothing intrinsically wrong with being autistic. There’s nothing broken, ill, or disordered about us, nor is it likely that any form of medication for autism will come about for a while, because autism is a highly varied condition that differs dramatically throughout the entire autistic population; we’re all different and no two autistic brains are the same.

    Autism is merely a condition of exaggerated focus on one’s environment, and lessened focus on people. There’s nothing any more disordered about this than there is to being gay. This is most likely why the most intelligent people tend to have at least some autistic traits, with many being autistic themselves; their attention is devoted almost entirely to their environment, which results in underdeveloped social skills, yet enhanced intellectual capacity.

    To be disordered as an autistic person relies heavily on the acceptance we receive, how much artificial stimuli surrounds us, and what other artificialities we’re forced into. Without all the negatives in these categories, we’re just different people with autistic strengths and weaknesses.

    Essentially, put an autistic person in a hunter-gatherer society outside of modern civilisation, and they’ll most likely be accepted as they are with little to no struggle.

    There’s just nothing we need to therapy regarding autism or medicate, because most of the issues we face aren’t because we’re autistic.

  • Since the discovery of autism, we’ve come a long way. Nowadays, knowledge is better than ever; we’ve gone from believing autism to be “childhood schizophrenia” to understanding it as a unique condition.

    Awareness of autistic people has increased dramatically, and there’s significantly more education on what being autistic means and how to identify autistic traits, therefore, leading to higher diagnostic rates.

    The diagnostic criteria has also changed a lot from the DSM-III to DSM-V, and even the ICD criteria has changed a fair bit, which would change how autism is diagnosed, and the traits required for a diagnosis, of which have been broadened as time went on.

    There is evidence of heritability in autism, but the underlying heritable mechanisms are largely unknown:

    https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/heritability-of-autism

    Personally, my family has a history of autistic people, but we’re all different from one another. My behaviours, such as adherence to routine and lack of eye contact, were present from a very young age, but these weren’t taught, especially when taking into account the fact that I was raised in a highly-varied and social environment.

  • There are autistic people with average and below-average IQ scores, indeed. However, it’s often said that traditional IQ tests underestimate autistic intelligence, which may be why there are significantly less low IQ autistic people when intelligence is measured via other IQ tests, such as the Raven’s Progressive Matrices:

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4287210/

    This may be due to how traditional IQ tests are culturally-biased, whereas tests like the Raven’s Progressive Matrices are like the ICD criteria for autism; a primary focus on raw intellectual ability with little to no cultural bias.

    According to the CDC, only 30% of autistic people have a low IQ according to traditional tests. This number has dropped significantly over the years, as the diagnosis of “higher functioning” autistic people is rising more than that of “lower functioning” autistic people.

    The 30% statistic is mentioned in one of the autism evolutionary theory articles I provided previously.

    I don’t believe autism is primarily characterised by a high IQ, but instead enhanced intelligence in narrowly-focused areas of development, and intellectual traits without above-average intelligence overall.

    Although, when talking exclusively about Level 1 autism (“high-functioning” autism), I’d argue that the average intelligence is relatively high overall, but I have no evidence supporting this.

    I agree that we should’ve initially described behaviours as opposed to just labelling people and, therefore, placing them in a small box.

    However, it’s rather difficult to just eradicate the “autistic” label, because of how we, as autistic people, have integrated it into our identity.

    Now, I think it’s more appropriate to broaden the “autistic” label and have it accepted as a mere trait, just like how being black or gay is. Considering how the neurodiversity movement is progressing, I wouldn’t say we’re too far off.

  • Fair point. I was more or less referring to cancers that cause significant impairment for the individual and are life threatening without medical intervention.

    Anyway, there are a few common characteristics seen in autistic people:

    Enhanced attention to detail

    Enhanced pattern recognition

    Enhanced sensory sensitivity

    Enhanced, often intense focus

    Enhanced interest intensity

    Enhanced memory within the realm of the individuals interests

    A significant bias towards logical analysis and evidence-based opinions

    A significant bias towards analysis of the environment over people

    A lessened tendency to “follow the herd”

    Yes, anyone can have these traits, but they’re overrepresented in the autistic population, so we’re essentially designed to possess these traits specifically, at least from what it seems. We’re less socially adept, but intellectually enhanced in various aspects.

    I can’t count how many times people have thought I’d be an absolute joy to be around, because my ability to retain significant amounts of information and tendency to logically analyse everything can make me seem unusually intelligent, only to later discover that I’m beyond merely being socially aloof and am rather average intellectually in a general sense.

    Autism is also known to be heritable in most cases, and with the highest prevalence in the United States (according to my knowledge) being 5% in boys according to the CDC, it’s likely that autism itself and/or genes linked to the condition confer/conferred some sort of survival advantage.

    In fact, autism has been linked to the same genes responsible for high intelligence:

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-4534306/People-smart-genes-likely-autism.html

    https://www.ed.ac.uk/clinical-brain-sciences/news/news-archive/jan-jun-2015/autism-intelligence-link

    https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnins.2016.00300/full

    On the subject on autism and intelligence, due to our lack of social intuition, we’re more or less forced to utilise more cognitive effort than most people to simply get by, which could possibly contribute to enhanced intellectual development in some cases. Of course, this is only something I’m theorizing, but I assume the possibility is there nonetheless.

    If you’re interested in the subject of autism and potential advantages, you may wish to read through the following articles that theorize autism to be a possible evolutionary development:

    https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/147470491100900209

    https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/1751696X.2016.1244949?scroll=top&needAccess=true

    https://theconversation.com/how-our-autistic-ancestors-played-an-important-role-in-human-evolution-73477

  • I agree that such claims regarding neurology are useless. This is why I moved onto the topic of physical brain differences and brain activity as evidence, and am remaining neutral on neurological differences. For all we know, autistic people could generally have significant neurological differences, or none at all.

    I am, however, more inclined to believe that autistic people are more likely to have what people refer to as “neurotypical” brains, but to certain extremes; significant development in certain areas, whilst there being underdevelopment in others — this or something similar could explain the common enhanced, yet imbalanced intelligence in the autistic population. Of course, this isn’t necessarily proven, and I’m not assuming it to be, but it’s what I’d lean more towards — in actuality, for the time being, I guess we just don’t know, and probably won’t know for a long time considering the variability in the autistic population.

    Focusing on adapting for and accepting those that are different is certainly a better approach, because the longer we spend researching certain populations, the less focus there is on actually improving their quality of life, and that’s the most important thing. So, I agree with you there.

    It is still quite annoying that me and many other diagnosed autistic people are considered broken in a medical sense, simply because we fail to efficiently adapt to a manmade, majority-biased society. But that’s just how society is, unfortunately; labelling people that struggle as “disordered”, regardless of what causes it — it seems that people just don’t like the idea that the harsh oppressiveness of society isn’t a good thing, and then find ways to push the blame onto things like “disorders”.

    And although how neurodiversity is defined and represented may not be based entirely on objectivity, it certainly helps with acceptance to some extent. The fundamental goal of neurodiversity is to promote acceptance.

    I just hope that one day, sometime soon, that autistic people and other people that are different can be accepted for who we/they are. There are far too many people out there with unique strengths because of their differences that are simply being pushed aside to maintain a primitive sense of normalcy.

  • I agree. Assuming the cause to be biological without any conclusive evidence is a poor argument. I’m not saying that there has to be a cause pertaining to one’s biology, but simply that there has to be a cause, but I did provide evidence of differences in physical brain structure and brain activity.

    Of course, as you stated, imagination can change brain activity, therefore, not necessarily providing an accurate measurement of differences in neurology, but the thing with being autistic isn’t that we willingly focus our attention elsewhere, therefore, manipulating brain activity; we generally have clinically significant difficulty in the areas I previously mentioned regardless of the situation at hand, despite trying throughout our entire lives to use different methods and achieve that social intuition everyone else seems to have.

    It may very well be the case that many autistic people simply focus attention differently, resulting in differences in brain activity, but you simply can’t rule out that physical brain structure is evidently different in many autistic people when compared to those that are considered neurotypical.

    I’m also not sure what you mean by the work I’m doing. I’m doing no work as far as I’m aware. Maybe you’re confusing me with someone else.

    And, on the subject of evidence, I also provided evidence on the heritability of autism, showing that autism very often runs in families, which immediately implies a genetic component that alters some biological structures. I believe the evidence I provided also details differences in grey matter (and white matter if I recall correctly). Although, if you’ve already responded to said evidence, and I’m simply misinterpreting your reply, feel free to correct me.

    As for more evidence, here’s some that includes dMRI methods, along with other differences in physical structure in the brain:

    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/279260711_Tract-based_statistical_analyzes_in_dMRI_in_autism_spectrum_disorder

    https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2019.00075

    I have more evidence, but I’ve yet to read through all of it.

    What about the fact that more autistic children present with different head sizes than the general population of children do?

    What about the fact that people with genetic conditions, such as Fragile X Syndrome, for example, have much higher rates of autism?

    It’s almost important to consider what would then make us use our brain differently, because it’s almost certainly not something we tend to do willingly; I don’t willingly decide to have painful sensory sensitivity in regards to specific stimuli, I don’t willingly decide to not notice social cues, I don’t willingly decide to notice patterns in everything, and I certainly don’t willingly decide to have poor motor skills, even in relation to walking — and this isn’t just me, these are characteristic traits of the autistic population. We’re literally required to force cognitive effort to get by socially, trying various methods, whereas most people have a subconscious social intuition that requires little to no effort in application and we just don’t develop that, ever.

    And again, sensory sensitivity is known to be controlled by the nervous system and the brain, and autistic people almost always present with heightened sensory sensitivity, often times with it being painful. This is objective, and I very much doubt it’s possible to focus attention so much on certain stimuli to the point of pain.

    One may suggest that it’s merely the result of how we’re treated, but we’re treated differently because we’re perceived as abnormal in the first place, so I don’t believe this is necessarily likely. Although, there may be an factor relating to how we’re treated from a very early age, but I see no evidence of such.

    You also gave examples of it potentially being a matter of how society is structured. This is what I generally go by; that society is typically structured to be biased towards supporting the majority and neglecting the minority. But that doesn’t dismiss any potential differences in the brain, whether that be neurological or intrinsic differences in brain activity — if anything, these potential differences may simply exacerbate the problems experienced by the individual in an already-neglectful environment.

    Anyway, as I said before, there’s plenty of evidence of high heritability rates in autism, along with physical differences in brain structure in my previous reply. Unless this evidence is invalid, it displays that autistic brains do indeed tend to have physical differences at the very least, and that it’s a highly heritable condition, implying a genetic, therefore, biology-altering component.

    I’m all up for accepting there to be no valid evidence of general differences in autistic brains. If anything, it simply validates even further that we’re mere variations in the human population with unique strengths and weaknesses, which is great, but from what I can see, and the evidence I’ve provided, these brain differences, even physically, are often present.

  • In addition to my previous comment:

    After some further research, I came across a study that was more specific in their analysis. More specifically, it compared autistic brains with each other along with neurotypical brains, and found that said autistic brains differed significantly from one another, the neurotypical brains remained relatively similar to each other, and both groups noticeably differed from each other, in terms of brain activity:

    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25599222/ – of course, it’s based on the analysis of brain activity as opposed to neurological structure, but it still proves differences in autistic brains nonetheless, even if being autistic isn’t necessarily the cause.

  • “At best it is euphemistic to refer to purported differences in brain structure as “diversity”; should cancers be referred to as examples of “cellular diversity”? (That sounds progressive.) Or am I missing something key?”

    Assuming autism is primarily neurologically rooted, or at least generally has differences in brain structure, the understanding of neurodiversity is that the neurological structure and/or brain structure of autism isn’t anything “wrong” or “disordered”, and is instead something that has contributed to the success of humanity in the past and is merely a natural variation in the human population that provides unique advantages and disadvantages.

    With cancer on the other hand, it’s known to be intrinsically harmful and have no advantage for the person with it, so it’s a rather odd comparison to make.

  • For there to be differences in brain activity, there has to be a cause. The most logical conclusion would be that there’s likely differences in connectivity in one way or another, especially when one considers the fact that autistic people almost always present with differences relating to sensory input, which is controlled largely by the nervous system and the brain.

    There are probably other causes that could be at play though. What would you propose a possible cause to be if it’s not rooted in neurology to at least some extent? I’m genuinely curious.

    I also decided to put in some more time to research this topic, because I’m clearly in need of evidence. The most prevalent results reported physical differences in the brain, and these seem to be the most reliable:

    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29145754/ – if I remember correctly, this study reported that some allistic people analysed displayed similar physical differences in the brain, but the overall differences reported are overrepresented in the autistic group.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3787615/ – this study seems more varied; it focuses on genetic differences, brain structure, and potential environmental correlations. However, if I’m interpreting it correctly, it’s not necessarily conclusive for all types of autism.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4688328/ – this study does display physical and activity differences in the brain, but does also mention that some abnormalities are also seen in other conditions, therefore, aren’t necessarily exclusive to autism. Although, it’s evidence nonetheless, and goes into a fair bit of detail.

    As you stated, there doesn’t seem to be much evidence on actual neurological differences. Although, it’s something I’ll continue to research, considering that I’ve now developed an obsession with it.

    And on the subject of brain differences, do you have any evidence of autistic people not having any differences in brain structure? I’m not asking you to disprove my claims, because that wouldn’t make sense, but I am curious as of to if there’s evidence going against autistic people generally having differences in the brain.

    Autism often runs in families a lot of the time too and is largely genetic. What do said genes have an impact on to cause autism then, if it’s not neurological or based on structural differences in the brain? Because clearly, if it runs in a family, something is being altered biologically. Either that, or a faulty set of diagnoses, somehow.

    My family, for example, has a history of autistic people and people with high amounts of autistic traits, which implies a clear genetic, therefore, biological component. My family also has a history of ADHD, which is known to often occur alongside ASD, more often than in the general population, and ADHD is known to be primarily genetic and heritable.

    Similarly, most of the autistic people I know also have a history of autism in their families. Of course, this isn’t representative of most autistic people, and I don’t intend to imply that it’s supposed to be, but I can personally vouch for a biological component being a factor in at least some cases.

    There is evidence for autism’s heritability:

    https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/heritability-of-autism – although, the underlying mechanism of said heritability, at least in this article, is shown to be inconsistent, therefore, difficult to accurately measure.

    And again, autism is formally classified as a neurodevelopmental condition. “neuro” means “neurological”, although I’m sure you know this. This classification wouldn’t exist if there wasn’t any neurological difference commonly present in autistic brains.

    If not neurological or based on differences in the brain, what is it that causes autistic people to have significant difficulty when identifying facial expressions and body language, often having to apply a lot of conscious effort to compensate despite years upon years of social experience, to have significant difficulty in social reciprocity overall, often having to compensate with lots of conscious effort, to have various issues with executive functioning, to have various issues with motor skills, to have unusual intensity in focus on interesting tasks, to be better at recognising patterns, to have better attention to detail, and to have a seemingly impaired working memory, yet relatively intact, and oftentimes superior long-term memory? If not neurology or brain structure, what are other causes?

    I mean, what is it that causes us, as autistic people, to quite literally have clinically significant difficulty when trying to understand and utilise body language, facial expressions, and basically every other social cue, including things like sarcasm, metaphor, and other indirect meanings, despite having years of experience in social situations and quite literally working ourselves to the point of depression and anxiety by putting in so much effort to understand these things, whilst simultaneously having relatively intact, and often superior cognitive functioning? What is it that prevents us from developing the social intuition that everyone else seems to possess?

    I’m not becoming aggressive or trying to seem like I know it all; I’m curious as of to what you believe the potential causes to be, and am asking questions to better-understand your view.

    Also, you seemed to imply before that the autism diagnostic criteria is poor and/or how it’s diagnosed is poor. Can you elaborate on that?

  • I agree. There’s no characteristic brain structure or overall neurological difference among autistic people. All we really know is that autistic people tend to have neurological and structural differences in the brain, but the variation in those differences is quite significant, and it’s very dependent on the individual.

    Technically, everyone is neurodiverse to some extent, at least in the sense that everyone has different neurology. No one person has identical neurology, but there are common features in most people that are the result of their neurological configuration, such as the ability to socialize efficiently in a typical manner.

    What we mean when we say “neurodiverse” is that we have a neurological structure that’s repurposed to perform different tasks than the majority, not necessarily that we merely have neurological differences. “neurotypical” is used to describe those who’s neurology is designed to perform specific tasks, such as to socialise, maintain emotional connections, and to have enhanced intuition, whereas “neurodiverse” is used to describe those who’s neurology is designed for something other than that.

  • Well, autism alone is classified as a neurodevelopmental condition, which implies a general neurological difference alone. Of course, it may be possible that some autistic people don’t have said neurological differences, but who knows.

    Whether or not said neurological differences can end up changing over time into a more neurotypical-like structure, I don’t know. I’m not going to dismiss it as a possibility.

    There are several pieces of research I can provide that prove neurological differences in autistic people:

    https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09297040500253546

    https://www.nhs.uk/news/neurology/people-with-autism-have-unique-brain-patterns/

    https://www.spectrumnews.org/news/brain-structure-changes-in-autism-explained/

    Although the neurological differences tend to differ per individual, they’re there nonetheless. It’s certainly not consistent in the sense that they’re the same differences, but it’s absolutely objective.

  • “high functioning” autistic people still have objectively verified neurological differences, and often on a relatively significant scale, therefore, the term “neurodiverse” applies very well.

    Now, for the support, many “high functioning” autistic people require support. This is the reason functioning labels are rarely used anymore and are often perceived to be inaccurate to represent various autistic people.

    The only thing that medically divides “low functioning” and “high functioning” autistic people is a difference in IQ, and I’m sure you’re aware that IQ doesn’t necessarily determine how much a person will struggle, therefore, the applied functioning label shouldn’t determine whether or not these people are “highjacking” (*hijacking) anything.