Every Article In The New York Times’ Opinion Section Containing The Word ‘Autism’ In 2012


I asked Mallory to summarize every result (excluding letters to the editor & editorials) of a nytimes.com search of “autism” in articles in the opinion section from Jan 1, 2012 to Jan 1, 2013. Mallory will be paid for this piece, which has this format: [article title] by [author] [date] / [sentence from article containing the word “autism”] / [Mallory’s summary of article].

Not Diseases, but Categories of Suffering by Gary Greenberg 1/29

[The American Psychiatric Association’s] members proposed a change to the definition of autism in the fifth edition of their Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, one that would eliminate the separate category of Asperger syndrome in 2013.

If the American Psychiatric Association were to change the definition of autism in the D.S.M.-5, more or less people would be alienated from the diagnosis, creating more or less people who can be treated, given prescriptions and disability. Professionals would be upset with either decision. The D.S.M.-5 is heavily criticized and is often considered by psychiatrists as a negative presence in psychiatry, but has earned the APA over $100 million.

I Had Asperger Syndrome. Briefly. by Benjamin Nugent 1/30

I don’t want a kid with mild autism to go untreated.

The author of this article was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome at the age of 17 and was in a research film project his mother, an Asperger’s specialist, directed. At the time Benjamin Nugent had few friends and was anti-social. After high school he moved to New York City to become a writer, made friends and became social. It seems he never had Asperger’s syndrome, because it is a “continuous and life-long disorder.” His mother felt sorry for putting him in the Asperger’s video.

If You Feel O.K., Maybe You Are O.K. by H. Gilbert Welch 2/27

The truth is, the fastest way to get heart disease, autism, glaucoma, diabetes, vascular problems, osteoporosis or cancer…is to be screened for it.

H. Gilbert Welch says that generally the best way to keep people healthy is to diagnose their illnesses early. Medical professionals are decreasing the rate at which they conduct screenings for diseases because of high rates of over diagnosis. It is decided that the way health care functions in our society is different than it used to be. Currently it seems more people go to the doctor to stay healthy rather than to treat ailments.

Confessions of a ‘Bad’ Teacher by William Johnson 3/3

My students have learning disabilities ranging from autism and attention-deficit disorder to cerebral palsy and emotional disturbances.

A high school special education teacher deals with inconsistencies in his school’s administration policy. A girl with an emotional disturbance curses and throws pencils at him while the assistant principal is in the room. William Johnson cares about his job and his students. He thinks that unless all students and teachers receive the same resources that people cannot say whether the teachers are preforming poorly or well.

Give the Ref a Gavel by Eldon L. Ham 3/7

In a nationally publicized 2005 case, a youth baseball coach offered $25 to an 8-year-old to throw at the face of his own teammate — a poor hitter with autism — to knock him out of a playoff game.

Sports bounties (monetary incentives to hurt players on the opposing team) happen in the N.F.L. and youth baseball. Debates about what constitutes as deliberate violence in sports exist. Eldon L. Ham thinks that law enforcement should be more involved in defending athletes.

Tap Into the Gifted Young Hackers by Misha Glenny 3/8

A considerable number betrayed characteristics that in a clinical situation would be consistent with a diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome or even autism.

Organized crime groups are targeting young hackers (most in their early teens) to assist them in fraud. “Cybercops” exist, and they are afraid of the recent spread of the Internet and hacking in Africa. “Cyberattacks” are seen as the number one threat to U.S. security. Many hackers interviewed by this journalist displayed symptoms of Asperger’s or autism.

Diagnosing the D.S.M. by Allen Frances 5/11

It succeeded on the adult side, but failed to anticipate or control the faddish over-diagnosis of autism, attention deficit disorders and bipolar disorder in children that has since occurred.

The American Psychiatric Association may make changes to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or the “psychiatry bible.” D.S.M.-5 seems as though it will consider everyday stressors and reactions as mental illnesses, causing more prescriptions and diagnoses.

Is Depression Inherited? by Daphne Merkin 7/28

The 1950s and ’60s saw a consuming belief in the importance of environmental factors in the shaping of personality; this led to such handy but reductive concepts as the ‘schizophrenogenic’ mother and Bruno Bettelheim’s theory that withholding mothers caused autism.

A depressed mother worries she will incite depression in her daughter. When the mother’s daughter was 7, the daughter said she was taking a kitchen knife to bed to kill herself. The heritability (underlying risk) of depression is around 40 percent.

Stories That Matter by Luke Glowacki 8/9

You hear a politician say vaccines cause autism but you don’t hear the gurgling of a young boy with polio as he tries to move a body no longer his own.

Luke Glowacki gets a Google alert sent to his email about the Ethiopian prime minister being in critical health. In Ethiopia, using Skype can earn you 15 years in prison. Luke Glowacki gets more emails about Ethiopia. Luke Glowacki writes, “You hear about Matt Damon bringing clean water to Africa.”

A Tax Plan That Defies the Rules of Math by David Firestone 8/11

Or the one expanding disability protections to people with AIDS or autism? Don’t expect an answer.

George W. Bush’s tax cuts are implied to be “transparent” in comparison to Mitt Romney’s proposed “opaque” tax cuts.

An Immune Disorder at the Root of Autism by Moises Velasquez-Manoff 8/25

A mother’s diagnosis of asthma or allergies during the second trimester of pregnancy increases her child’s risk of autism.

Article states that at least one-third of all autism starts as an inflammatory disease in the womb. Article states that immune systems are made up of equally functioning pro and anti-inflammatory signals, and in autistic individuals it is found that the more pro-inflammatory signals, the more symptoms of autism occur within that individual. Infection during pregnancy increases odds of having an autistic child. People are getting more inflammatory diseases now; therefore more autistic children are being born.

Big Chem, Big Harm? by Nicholas D. Kristof 8/25

She said that the researchers found behaviors in BPA-exposed mice and their descendants that may parallel autism spectrum disorder or attention deficit disorder in humans.

Nicholas D. Kristof is amazed that chemical companies are similar to tobacco companies in that they both make financial gains from causing diseases in people. Bisphenol-A, a chemical also known as BPA, is in most Americans’ pee. Study reports that BPA “seemed to” affect hormone receptors that cause “trust and warm feelings” in mice. Epigenetics is mentioned again. [Mallory summarized these in reverse-chronological order—Tao]

Why Fathers Really Matter by Judith Shulevitz 9/8

Can the aging of the parent population explain the apparent spike in autism cases?

Article says that a man’s experiences prior to impregnating a woman (physical pain, substance abuse, food choice, etc.) will affect the health and behavior of the child. This is related to “epigenetics,” which is the study of how genes can be turned on and off by three environmental factors “among other things,” diet, stress or trauma, and lifespan. A doctor contemplates forces outside of biology communicating from father to offspring. Author seems as though she recently had epiphany about people, at least partially, being products of their environments.

Inside the Mind of Worry by David Ropeik 9/28

A comprehensive report last year from the Institute of Medicine is just one of many studies to report that vaccines do not cause autism, diabetes, asthma or other major afflictions listed by the anti-vaccination movement.

Around one in every five college educated individuals believe that childhood vaccinations could cause autism, and seven percent speculate a link with type 1 diabetes. Author points out there is no evidence of this whatsoever. Psychologists’ discoveries about humans not wanting to [something], and even beginning to fear [something], if the benefits of [something] seem little or nonexistent. Author seems to want to say that people don’t want to do most things in general if the effects don’t seem immediate.

Don’t Blame Autism for Newtown by Priscilla Gilman 12/28

My child with autism, in fact, is the most empathetic and honorable of my three wonderful children.

Author is upset that news anchors are referring to a mass murderer as “autistic.” Seems the author encounters people calling desensitized outwardly violent individuals “autistic” often. The article says that autistic people that become aggressive after not being able to verbally express themselves or experiencing sensory overloads are most often harmful to themselves. Article becomes exclusively about autistic children, it seems. Author believes that children should be more accepted, and that being introverted doesn’t mean one has a developmental disorder.

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