Tag Archives | Autism

Company Hires Adults With Autism to Test Software

CubeVia the Associated Press:

The software testers at Aspiritech are a collection of characters. Katie Levin talks nonstop. Brian Tozzo hates driving. Jamie Specht is bothered by bright lights, vacuum cleaners and the feel of carpeting against her skin. Rider Hallenstein draws cartoons of himself as a DeLorean sports car. Rick Alexander finds it unnerving to sit near other people.This is the unusual workforce of a U.S. startup that specializes in finding software bugs by harnessing the talents of young adults with autism.

Traits that make great software testers — intense focus, comfort with repetition, memory for detail — also happen to be characteristics of autism. People with Asperger’s syndrome, a mild form of autism, have normal to high intelligence and often are highly skilled with computers.

Aspiritech, a nonprofit in Highland Park, Ill., nurtures these skills while forgiving the quirks that can make adults with autism unemployable: social awkwardness, poor eye contact, being easily overwhelmed.

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Measles Outbreak Linked to Anti-Vaccination Movement

Measles InfectionThe Seattle Times reports upon a recent measles outbreak in Minneapolis traced local Somalis fearful of a purported link between the MMR vaccine and autism. Andrew Wakefield himself has arrived on the scene. His 1998 study linking the MMR to a new syndrome dubbed “autistic enterocolitis” has since been retracted by the Lancet amid allegations of fraud, and his medical license has been revoked.

As CNN reports, Wakefield expected to earn as much as $43 million/year in revenue from “litigation driven testing” for autistic enterocolitis, a test for which he holds a potentially lucrative patent, and received more than $674,000 “from lawyers trying to build a case against vaccine manufacturers.”

From the Seattle Times article:

Health officials struggling to contain a measles outbreak that’s hit hard in Minneapolis’ large Somali community are running into resistance from parents who fear the vaccine could give their children autism.

Fourteen confirmed measles cases have been reported in Minnesota since February.

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Doctor Who Linked Autism and Vaccines Is A ‘Fraud,’ Says British Medical Journal

news-graphics-2007-_640547aJenny McCarthy take note: Britain’s leading medical journal has declared that Andrew Wakefield’s discredited 1998 autism study was not merely riddled with errors, but was a case of deliberate, “elaborate fraud.” CNN reports:

A now-retracted British study that linked autism to childhood vaccines was an “elaborate fraud” that has done long-lasting damage to public health, a leading medical publication reported Wednesday.

An investigation published by the British medical journal BMJ concludes the study’s author, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, misrepresented or altered the medical histories of all 12 of the patients whose cases formed the basis of the 1998 study — and that there was “no doubt” Wakefield was responsible.

“It’s one thing to have a bad study, a study full of error, and for the authors then to admit that they made errors,” Fiona Godlee, BMJ’s editor-in-chief, told CNN. “But in this case, we have a very different picture of what seems to be a deliberate attempt to create an impression that there was a link by falsifying the data.”

Britain stripped Wakefield of his medical license in May.

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Famed Medical Journal Retracts ‘Utterly False’ Vaccination-Scare Paper

Sarah Boseley writes in the Guardian:

The Lancet today finally retracted the paper that sparked a crisis in MMR vaccination across the UK, following the General Medical Council’s decision that its lead author, Andrew Wakefield, had been dishonest.

The medical journal’s editor, Richard Horton, told the Guardian today that he realised as soon as he read the GMC findings that the paper, published in February 1998, had to be retracted. “It was utterly clear, without any ambiguity at all, that the statements in the paper were utterly false,” he said. “I feel I was deceived.”

Many in the scientific and medical community have been pressing for the paper, linking the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) jab to bowel disease and autism, to be quashed. But Horton said he did not have the evidence to do so before the end of the GMC investigation last Thursday.

In 2004, when concerns were first raised about the conduct of the study, the Lancet asked the Royal Free hospital, where Wakefield and his fellow authors worked, to investigate.

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What Is Neurodiversity?

autism activismVia Technoccult:

Klint Finley: Could you give us a brief overview of what “neurodiversity” means, or at least what it means to you?

Kassiane: Neurodiversity, the word, simply means the whole variety of different brain wirings people have…from the different kinds of normal to the different kinds of not so normal. Then there’s Neurodiversity, the movement which is the shocking idea that people with non standard wiring are human and deserve to be treated as such without being “fixed” first. [...]

Is there a point at which a line is drawn between “neurodiverse” and disabled?

The 2 aren’t mutually exclusive. You can be different and disabled, but being disabled doesn’t keep you from being a human worthy of respect.

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Why Is The News Media Comfortable With Lying About Science?

Great question, and it's not only ABC News who screws science up royally. John Timmer writes on ars technica:
Media LiesThe year is only a couple of weeks old, but it's already been a strange one for science news. With a steady flow of coverage on a huge range of complex subjects, it's easy for things to go wrong, and for journalists to come up with material that doesn't get the science right. But a few recent cases appear to involve news organizations that have gone out of their way to get a science story wrong. The news industry tends to respond badly to cases where people make up the contents of their stories—witness Jayson Blair and the fake Bush National Guard records. But, so far, the response to the recent science news-related events has been complete indifference.
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ABC News Asks Jenny McCarthy for a Medical Opinion

JennyMccarthyPhil Plait writes on Bad Astronomy:

You may have heard the recent news that an expert panel of pediatricians reviewed the literature on gastrointestinal disorders and autism, and found no link between them. A key phrase in their findings was:

The existence of a gastrointestinal disturbance specific to persons with ASDs (eg, “autistic enterocolitis”) has not been established.

They also found that there was no evidence that special diets help autistic kids. Mind you, this was a panel of 28 experts, scientists who have devoted their careers and lives to investigating autism.

So if you were a reporter at ABC News, who would you turn to to get an opinion on this? If you said Jenny McCarthy, then give yourself a gold star, because that’s just what ABC News did. Go and watch that interview (have some antacid ready). In it, she says that scientists need to take anecdotes seriously, a statement so awful it’s hard to know where to start with it.

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A History Of Recent Vaccine Panic

With public suspicion of the Swine Flu vaccine growing, and controversy regarding the possible (or impossible?) link between autism and mercury found in vaccinations, Wired chronologizes some of the most notable events from the last ten years of vaccine controversy in A Short History of Vaccine Panic. Among significant developments:

August 2008 — The New York Times reports that measles cases in the first seven months of 2008 grew at the fastest rate in more than a decade.

October, 2008 — The first national survey of Americans’ attitudes towards autism reveals that nearly one in four people (24 percent) feel that because vaccines may cause autism, it is safer not to vaccinate children. Another 19 percent are not sure.

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