Why does autism seem to attract everyone with a bad idea about causation?

5 Jun

This one just in: Merced doctor’s theory links autism to flood of electronic devices

But Oestreicher thinks the experiences infants have with electronic devices in their first year of life lead to one-way communication. Babies are then not able to develop social communication skills, leading to autism and related disorders, he said.

“During their first year of life, babies should be able to see the lips from the voices they hear, and that’s been a recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics for the last 20 years,” he said.

An infant’s first year of life is critical for them to develop social communication skills, he said.

If they don’t acquire those skills during that critical time period, children could end up developing an autism spectrum disorder, he added. “They will develop difficulties with social skills and become autistic,” he said. “They never learn how to socially communicate.”

Need I point out exactly why this is a pile of absolute rubbish? Tickle-me-Elmo makes kids autistic? Refrigerator-Mother-by-Proxy?

“My hope is that parents around the world will stop exposing their kids to these devices during infancy,” he said. “And that kids will no longer become autistic.”

He’s giving away the first 5,000 copies of his e-book. He’s overcharging.

The Merced Sun-Star (thankfully a small paper) really blew it on this one.

7 Responses to “Why does autism seem to attract everyone with a bad idea about causation?”

  1. PassionlessDrone June 5, 2012 at 14:17 #

    Hello friends –
    Not to give too much credence to Oestreicher, but I do think we need to start thinking about the wisdom of screen time replacing face time with our infants. I’m also really not sure if putting infants in daycare is a good idea; it might be the only option, but we shouldn’t fool ourselves into thinking it won’t make a difference.

    There isn’t going to be ‘one thing’ that causes autism in anyone; if autism is just a different developmental trajectory, we should be aware that lots of things can perturb such a delicate and ongoing process. Quantity and quality of interaction after birth should be included in this list.

    Anyway, what changed my thought process in this regard was reading a lot of the literature on environmental enrichment; there are some rather startling findings in the animal models that tell us that the neuroimmune environment and even neuroanatomy are malleable as a result of an ‘enriched’ (or de-enriched) environment. A few neat ones for the interested include:

    Environmental enrichment alters glial antigen expression and neuroimmune function in the adult rat hippocampus

    Environmental enrichment reduces Abeta levels and amyloid deposition in transgenic mice

    There are a million more. I have written some about the concept, here.

    Food for thought.

    – pD

  2. Catherina June 5, 2012 at 21:40 #

    I *knew* it – it is all the fault of those modern forward facing buggies and mums wearing headphones…

  3. passionlessDrone June 6, 2012 at 03:35 #

    Hm. I seem to have lost some links during the comment transfer. Here is a test link to see if things still work as smoothly as old LBRB, where you could post all the links you wanted and only sometimes land in quarantine.

    – pD

    • Sullivan June 6, 2012 at 04:13 #


      Your previous comment was my only transfer. I literally copied and pasted and then edited the info (user, website, time/date)

      You can probably guess why I stopped after that.

  4. lukejpotter June 7, 2012 at 05:07 #

    Interesting post, and I have to say that I am most interested in the possible motivation Merced Sun-Star have in releasing this theory. Does it come from a good place? Does it help parents and children with autism come closer together and lead a better and more fulfilling life?

  5. Austin June 8, 2012 at 05:57 #

    I’m an ABA therapist and have extensive experience working with children, adolescents, and adults on the Autism spectrum. The very idea that electronic devices are an attributing factor in the cause of Autism is laughable at best. I regularly use a technique called Visual Modeling, in which the individual watches scenes of everything from social skills to a 20 sec clip of a conversation. Once the association between imitating whats on the television and access to a reinforcer; the individual’s mastery of imitation based skills and vocalizations increases dramaticly. I am not just spouting off rhetoric, I only discuss what the data shows. We need to stop chasing ghosts and “studies”; autism has been around forever; before electronics, vaccinations, and whatever else these false prophets cling too. The rise in individuals with autism is simple; we know what we are looking for. Also, people don’t hide their “abnormal” child in basements anymore. Parent’s are not brushing their child under the rug or hiding in shame. I don’t even want to think about what these kids have to go through in other countries much less 100, 500, 1000 years ago. I imagine superstition took hold and people thought those poor souls were possesed or the devil himself (Salem Witch Trials- unrelated to Autism but a prime example of when superstition takes over). I simply ask whats next? are we going to start persecuting all the mom’s because obviously since she gave birth to the child she must have done something to cause it. CORRELATION IS NOT EVIDENCE FOR CAUSATION. Im sure with enough time we can correlate the rise in the popularity of football from the 1950’s till today with the rise in Austism Spectrum Disorders. The human brain is such a complexity, for us to even think we can unravel it’s mysteries in a couple decades is nothing short of arrogance. Ok (deep breaths) I’m off my high horse; now just to clarify, I am not against research that is in search of a cause or causes. But while walking down that path we must be very careful before we open our mouths. I have seen first hand what fad “cures” can do to these kids. If anything its those kids who have all the answers; I have learned more about myself and the human condition than any other single source could possibly teach me. God Bless.

  6. queti September 9, 2013 at 21:22 #

    i hate it your a rapist

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