Page by Stephanie Watkins
When Bernard Rimland, in 1965, rejected the psychoanalytic model of autism and proposed that the disorder was purely biological, one of the responses was the movement of research in a neurodevelopmental direction (Baker, 2008). Because of many commonalities in medical conditions occurring more often among the population of individuals with autism, as opposed to the general population, a great deal of research has given the disorder a biological basis. Autism has a high comorbidity with epilepsy (one third of individuals with autism are epileptic), medical syndromes (such as Fragile X, tuberous sclerosis, and Rett syndrome), as well as mental retardation (Frith, Morton, & Leslie 1991). By many leading researchers, autism is considered to be of the most genetic multifactorial neuro-developmental disorders (50% concordance rate for identical twins and less than 5% for fraternal) (Previc, 2007). Utilizing new information, researchers and parents pushed to promote screening among children, leading to the addition of autism to the covered disabilities in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (Baker, 2008).Although it is agreed that there is a multifactorial genetic component to autism spectrum disorder, no specific chromosomal region is found across all studies (Levy & Hyman, 2005). This “mainline” community of autism research emphasizes four main points (Baker, 2008):
1) The cause of autism is primarily biological and not attributed to parental behavior (rejecting the psychoanalytic causes of autism).
2) Autism reflects a spectrum of disorders
3) Treatment should be rehabilitative as opposed to curative.
4) Early intervention is key in striving for a positive outcome.
Baker, J. P. (2008). Mercury, vaccines, and autism: One controversy, three histories. American Journal of Public Health, 98(2), 244-253.
Frith, U., Morton, J., & Leslie, A. M. (1991). The cognitive basis of a biological disorder: Autism. TINS, 14(10), 433-438.
Levy, S. E., & Hyman, S. L. (2005). Novel treatments for autism spectrum disorders. Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Research Reviews, 11, 131-142.
Previc, F. H. (2007). Prenatal influences on brain dopamine and their relevance to the rising incidence of autism. Medical Hypotheses, 68, 46-60.