Sign in

Elemental
Your life, sourced by science. A publication from Medium about health and wellness.

Autism

In Elemental. More on Medium.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk just came out as having Asperger’s syndrome. Here’s a primer on the issues with that now-defunct disorder label.

Elon Musk at a SpaceX press conference, image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

On Saturday Night Live this week, Telsa CEO and Grimes’ paramour Elon Musk came out as having Asperger’s syndrome. During his opening monologue, Musk joked that he was the first-ever SNL host to have the disorder — or at least the first to admit to having it openly.

There’s a couple of issues with that remark. The first is that SNL very much had an openly Autistic host in the past, former cast member Dan Aykroyd. For years, Aykroyd has been vocal about being Autistic and has discussed how his own autistic special interest in the paranormal informed the writing…


A researcher explains the significance of brain organoids

A human-derived brain organoid. Image courtesy of Alysson Muotri’s lab at the University of California, San Diego

Your brain is not like mine. In fact, your brain is not like anyone else’s. I don’t mean that in some philosophical or abstract way; I mean it literally. The precise wiring of your brain is unique to you. During development, your genes specified a blueprint that resulted in your brain having roughly the same organization as mine. But that genetic blueprint wasn’t designed to specify the precise connection patterns between all the neurons in your brain.

The exact wiring diagram of the networks of cells in your brain is the result of random processes influenced by external and environmental…


Lydia X.Z. Brown, a policy counsel at the Center for Democracy & Technology known as Autistic Hoya online. Photos: Gabriella Demczuk

Activists argue that rather than trying to ‘cure’ or treat the neurodivergent, society should learn to accept, appreciate, and accommodate their needs

At first glance, the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) annual gala in November looked like many a Washington, D.C., nonprofit fundraiser. Approaching the swank ballroom of a downtown hotel, I saw the standard check-in table by the door, and coat check nearby.

But with my drink ticket, I received an unusual packet: a set of color-coded communication badges to display like a name tag. Green signifies “actively seeking communication and happy to be approached for a conversation.” Yellow means “I only want to talk to people I know.” Red indicates “I don’t want to talk to anyone.”

I clipped a…


Earlier and more frequent screenings are now advised to catch more children who might fall through the cracks

Photo by Stephen Andrews on Unsplash

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that all children get screened for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) at their 18- and 24-month well-child checkups. Last week, those recommendations were significantly enhanced.

The new guidelines now recommend developmental and behavioral surveillance at nine, 18, and 30 months in addition to the standardized ASD screening at 18 and 24 months.

I am hopeful that this shift will reduce the number of children who experience social, academic, and behavioral challenges but miss out on early intervention therapies because they lack an actual ASD diagnosis.

This is what happened to me.

When I was…


Our existence is not an ‘epidemic.’ It’s a blessing.

Photo: Jed Share/Kaoru Share/Getty Images

As I’m writing this piece, two men are sitting next to me talking about how disabled people should be killed. Seriously. They’re going on and on about how vile it is that as some humans grow older, they begin to need diapers. In graphic detail, one of them is describing how he would shoot or poison himself if he were to become senile or physically incapacitated. His friend says it is a blessing that his mother died right after her stroke.

In the last half hour, they’ve discussed the necessity for mothers to abort disabled infants too. One of them…


A lesser-known cousin of oxytocin is showing promise in early studies

Credit: triocean/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Two groups of scientists revealed last week that by altering the brain’s absorption of vasopressin — a hormone closely related to oxytocin — they produced promising improvements in the social skills of young people and adults with autism.

The independent studies were published in Science Translational Medicine and mark the first time that the hormone has been studied as an autism treatment in people. Still, experts say the results are preliminary, and parents should manage their expectations carefully until more research is done.

According to Karen Parker, Stanford University’s autism specialist and co-author of one of the papers, there are…

Elemental

Your life, sourced by science. A publication from Medium about health and wellness.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store