The Doctors’ Lounge site ran a relevant and sensible finding by scientists at Johns Hopkins U. Apparently adding in a component of focused social engagement into ASD toddlers’ interventions increased their social abilities, wherein they were better able to give “joint attention,” eye contact, and “shared positive affect” with others (HealthDay News). This is the kind of science we need to see. I think we need to devote equal attention to positive therapies that build skills for those with ASD, as much as finding out the causes of autism. I used to take the hard line that we didn’t need to know the causes so much, but truly, we do. Autism is a difficult disorder to contend with, no argument there, so most likely we would want to know its causes and have less of it, or at least have it be less severe if possible.
I’d also like to see studies that worked with older folks with ASD. Toddlers seem to me to be low-hanging fruit. Plasticity of brain and all that. But I believe that all of our brains are plastic enough, practically saran wrap at this point, plus there’s all that white and gray matter not even being used. So let’s figure out a way to tap into that, damn it!
We need to encourage similar studies in adults with autism. We need to stop acting like they don’t exist. We need to stop acting like they’re a lost cause. We need to look at them, and see them as the people they are, with all that they have to offer. Untapped potential!! Open the floodgates! Imagine what we might find. The Hopkins study is important in that it helps create better understanding of ASD among the neurotypical populations. Understanding works both ways.