What is Autism?

A pervasive developmental disorder, autism affects information processing in multiple ways. Many people with autism have difficulties with social interactions and communication, sensory deficits, and poor motor coordination. Autistic people often have restricted interests and engage in repetitive behaviors.

Because autism's symptoms vary greatly, it's said to exist on a spectrum, and is increasing referred to as Autism Spectrum Disorder. (Asperger's is a condition often referred to as "high functioning" autism.) Some people with autism have low intelligence while others are quite intelligent.

Autism usually manifests by age two. It affects far more males than females. The frequency of diagnosis has surged over the past 20 years. No one knows for sure what causes autism, but numerous studies link it to advanced maternal and/or paternal age at conception.

Reports implicating mercury-containing vaccines have proved baseless, although there is some evidence that environmental toxins may play a role. Some research suggests that autism reflects an "extreme male brain," because people with the condition often have an obsession with details and systemizing but are low on empathizing ability. There is no cure for autism, although some symptoms may ameliorate over the years.

Recent Posts on Autism

6 Tips for a Fun 4th of July for Parents of Kids With Autism

The 4th of July is a fun and exciting holiday filled with many amazing activities for your children. However, for some individuals with autism and their families, the crowded public spaces and the crack and shimmer of fireworks can be difficult and uncomfortable.

How Does Your Child Sleep?

Having difficulty getting your child to bed down in the evenings? Check out this new book for frazzled families.

ART in ASD, Part One

Could imbalance in the autonomic nervous system explain the complexity and heterogeneity of autism spectrum disorder (ASD)? Could teaching kids and families affected by ASD skills in autonomic regulation broadly improve comfort and functioning? This is the first of three blog posts on our work at the Center for Applied Psychophysiology and Self-regulation at RIT.

Testing the “Extreme Female Brain” Theory of Psychosis

The “extreme female brain” theory is added to the extreme male one of autism, but both add up to much less than the imprinted brain theory.

Do Warning Signs Apply to Parents of Kids With Autism?

Many parents of children with autism find themselves becoming accustomed to routine discomfort, and, as a result, may not acknowledge typical warning signs as an indication to seek outside support.

The Real Turing Test: Curing Computer Autism

People would accept that machines could think if a mentalistic user-interface could be engineered to give computers the skills that autistics lack.

Therapists Tell Therapy Stories

By Ryan Howes PhD, ABPP on June 02, 2015 in In Therapy
What really happens behind the closed doors of a therapy session? Six therapists share stories.

Divorce Cases Involving Children with Autism

Considering the high rates of autism diagnosis, how can it be that the family court system - there to serve the ‘best interests of the child’ - has so little knowledge about the affects of autism on children? How can family court counselors and custody evaluators make assessments in divorce cases that include children with autism if they are not knowledgeable about ASD?

Diametric Mentalizing Imaged in Autistic & Psychotic Brains

As predicted by the diametric model, brain scanning reveals hyper-active mentalism in schizophrenics but the opposite in autistics.

The Surprising News about Children's Mental Health

How mentally healthy are today’s children and teens? A comprehensive new survey shows that the current generation of young people are in better shape than we’ve realized. However, trends in medication use continue to draw concern by mental health experts.

That’s Why I’m Here

Children and adolescents are really good at learning to control their psychophysiological processes because that's the business they're in. Self-regulating our own physiology, emotion and cognition is often more powerful than externally applied therapies. It is time to revolutionize health and care by balancing skills with pills -- helping children change their minds.

Reassessing Asperger's

A person with Asperger's Syndrome (AS) has difficulty with Theory of Mind: our ability to appreciate another person's point of view. But AS people can be very adept at noticing what people think and feel about them. This is a different perspective on perspective: that we are more interested in what people think or feel about us and later about what they think or feel.

Diametric Differences in Seeing the Other’s Point of View

Both tendencies to autism and proneness to psychosis induce perspective-taking errors, but their interaction reduces these errors: a finding only explicable by the diametric model.

Was United Airlines Justified in Removing an Autistic Child?

By Denise Cummins Ph.D. on May 12, 2015 in Good Thinking
Real world problem situations require thinking on your feet. They require problem-solving, not mindless application of rules.

The Beneficial Effects of Animals on Children With Autism

By Hal Herzog Ph.D. on May 04, 2015 in Animals and Us
Temple Grandin told me that some (but not all) people with autism have a special way with animals. This new study examined the biological mechanisms behind the soothing effects Guinea pigs can have on children with autism spectrum disorders.

Autism Spectrum Disorder: Do You Know the Facts?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that impacts the lives of many families.

April is Autism Awareness / Acceptance Month

People say April is Autism Month, which implies celebration. Yet autism is a disability, isn't it? So what do people celebrate this month, and why? Some thoughts from autistic author John Elder Robison

The Cerebellum Deeply Influences Our Thoughts and Emotions

Yesterday there was a report on NPR about groundbreaking new research on the cerebellum from Harvard Medical School. The latest neuroscience shows that the cerebellum plays an important role in creating fluidity between our thoughts, actions, emotions, and cognitive processes.

Robinson Crusoe: an Autistic Fantasy With Universal Appeal

The sensational success of Robinson Crusoe lies in its perfect portrayal of the autistic fantasy of escape from the general Plague of Mankind.

Autistic Kids Train Service Dogs While Healing Themselves

A new research project shows how autistic kids improve their communication skills while helping to train young puppies. You can see this in the amazing and heartwarming video in this blog.

Autism, Asthma, and the Diametric Model

Asthma shares many similarities with autism, and may to that extent be explained by the hygiene hypothesis. But only the imprinted brain theory reveals the wider picture which includes schizophrenia.

The Diametric Revolution in Psychotherapy

The diametric model of the mind promises a revolution which will spell the end of the middle ages in psychotherapy and produce a complete reversal in the way in which many patients are diagnosed and treated, along with a much bigger and more important role for therapeutic software.