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Analysis and Comment (29)

I didn’t get the joke. Young child via Cheryl Casey/Shutterstock

Why children with autism often fall victim to bullies

Bullying can affect anyone at any time, but young people with autism are especially vulnerable. The results can be devastating. Not being able to keep up with the teasing banter that often takes place…
Sluggish cognitive tempo is used to describe kids whose attentional deficits are due to low levels of mental energy. Alec Couros/Flickr

Is ‘sluggish cognitive tempo’ a valid new childhood disorder?

Sociology influences medicine more than we like to admit. One only needs to look at the history of psychiatric disorders – a term used broadly here to incorporate developmental disorders – to see how “normal…
Will your research help my son catch a train? mattcornock

Autism research isn’t helping people live with daily reality

In the summer of 2010 as England was being knocked out of the World Cup in South Africa, something all together more hopeful was happening in London. A group of scientists, social researchers, parents…
High School can be a very difficult time for students with High Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorders, but there are ways to make it easier. Shutterstock

Autism at school: how teachers can help

High school can be difficult for youths with high-functioning autism spectrum disorders, who often have IQs superior to the general population, but can struggle with communication, social skills, and regulating…
Julie with Jack in a film about Applied Behaviour Analysis. BBC/Dartmouth Films/Two Step Films/Fran Robertson

Behavioural method is not an attempt to ‘cure’ autism

Treetops School in Essex is a state school that uses ABA (Applied Behaviour Analysis) to educate children with autism. ABA has generated controversy and BBC4’s film, Autism: Challenging Behaviour, follows…
Early identification and behavioural intervention is the best way to minimise the effects of autism. Image from

Mums and dads, don’t ignore the early signs of autism

When a newborn joins a family we become beguiled by the perfection of this wondrous new being. Any hint of difference is easily overlooked during the early years. We now understand that the onset of symptoms…
Psychiatric diagnosis relies on identifying a patient’s signs and symptoms rather than clinical tests. PA/Ben Birchall

Explainer: what is the DSM?

Traditional psychiatry uses the approaches of medicine to try to understand mental health problems and guide treatment. This means relying on diagnosis – identifying what are believed to be mental illnesses…
When humans are challenged, even as very young babies, we really can rise above and excel. Drew Bennett

Deprivation, autism and disability shine a light on development

What do newborn babies, children who have been severely deprived of human contact, people with autism, and blind mothers have in common? On the surface, not much. But they provide a common theme for understanding…
Overall, there will be fewer symptoms and disorders listed in the new psychiatry manual. Axel Buhrmann

Redefining autism in the DSM-5

MATTERS OF THE MIND – a series which examines the clinician’s bible for diagnosing mental disorders, the DSM, and the controversy surrounding the forthcoming fifth edition. For autistic people and their…
The Autism Enigma presents one of many theories about the causes of autism. hepingting/Flickr

Can a gut bacteria imbalance really cause autism?

ABC’s Four Corners recently aired a controversial documentary (The Autism Enigma) on how gut bacteria might affect autism. Here we review some of the science surrounding what it suggested caused autism…
The Autism Enigma aired on ABC’s Four Corners’s on Monday August 27, 2012. ABC TV

ABC’s Four Corners and the messy truth of autism

Autism is a “messy” truth. It doesn’t have the high blood sugar of diabetes, the uncontrolled cell division of cancer, nor the clear brain degeneration of Alzheimer’s disease. Autism is a condition (or…
Children with Specific Language Impairment have difficulties learning language for no discernible reason. runintherain/ Flickr

Autism’s hidden older brother – Specific Language Impairment

Language development is a truly remarkable phenomenon. But for a small number of kids, the words don’t come so easily. Most children acquire their first words around 12 months of age, start to string words…
Most children with autism want friends but social graces don’t come naturally. Flickr/mikebaird

Five myths about autism

As knowledge and awareness of autism grows in the community, so do the myths. Autism is currently diagnosed according to behaviours which fit into three broad areas: social difficulties, communication…
In the absence of clear biological markers for autism, the DSM will remain a hugely influential book well into the 21st century. Richard Masoner/Wikimedia Commons

DSM-V and the changing fortunes of autism and related disorders

The DSM giveth, and the DSM taketh away - this is the less-than-complimentary sentiment of many people within the autism community as the clock ticks down to the publication of the most eagerly-anticipated…
Differences in the brains of autistic infants emerge well before behavioural signs. Awen Photography

Looking for early signs of autism in the infant brain

For parents of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), the diagnostic process can be a long and stressful journey. Behavioural signs of ASD can appear around the child’s first birthday when he fails…
AVN spokesperson Meryl Dorey’s message contradicts the position of several Woodford Folk Festival sponsors. AAP

Meryl Dorey at Woodford Folk Festival: a hazard to your child’s health?

This year’s bill of speakers at the Woodford Folk Festival features anti-vaccine lobbyist Meryl Dorey, spokesperson for the Northern New South Wales-based Australian Vaccination Network (AVN), and purveyor…
Studies seem to outdo each other with ever-higher autism prevalence figures. hepingting

Do more children have autism now than before?

“273% Increase in Autism and We Don’t Know Why!” Thursday, April 15, 1999, Los Angeles Times. The rising prevalence of autism is a story destined to achieve headlines, take up column inches and even bump…
Case closed: the MMR vaccine has no relationship with autism.

Monday’s medical myth: the MMR vaccine causes autism

Few medical myths have spread as feverishly and contributed to so much preventable illness than the theory that the triple measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine might be linked to autism. The tale…
Better understanding of sibling risk will lead to earlier diagnosis and treatment. Flickr/kmakice

One-in-five risk of sibling autism

A study published overnight in the journal Paediatrics shows the siblings of autistic children have a much higher risk of autism than previously thought. Nicole Rinehart, clinical psychologist and Associate…
A DNA test can detect fragile X syndrome with 99% accuracy. AAP

ADHD, autism or something else entirely?

Most people are not aware of fragile X syndrome but they may well be affected by it or know someone who is. Commonly under-diagnosed or misdiagnosed the condition is often mistaken for Attention Deficit…

Research and News (6)

Research Briefs (18)

Seeing eye-to-eye is key to copying

Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but how do our brains decide when and who we should copy? New research suggests…