Tag Archives: Autism spectrum

Crypto-spiritualism: The return of facilitated communication

8 Mar

Spiritualism is the belief that it is possible to communicate with the death through trance mediums. While there are historical antecedents, modern spiritualism began in 1848 in New York state, when the young Fox sisters claimed the power to produce raps from the spirit world.

Spiritualism promised communication with the  dead, and for the bereaved this was often an irresistible  hope.  Fraudulent mediums were happy to provide solace, for a price. Exposures of fraud, probably contributed to the decline of spiritualism, but even today there are believers.

Sunday’s Washington Post brought the sad news of a revival of the discredited technique called facilitated communication. Facilitated communication is supposed to allow people with severe autism and other developmental disabilities to communicate. It is easy to see why parents would want to believe that their non-verbal children could actually communicate, but our evidence shows that that facilitated communication does not work and that the messages are actually authored by the facilitators via the ideomotor effect.

Here is the American Psychological Association’s statement on facilitated communication.

And here is the powerful Frontline documentary on the subject.

Brainwave signature for autism?

25 Sep

A paper, published in The Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, suggests that autism may be associated with a unique pattern of brainwave activity.

Here is the abstract:

“Atypical processing and integration of sensory inputs are hypothesized to play a role in unusual sensory reactions and social-cognitive deficits in autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Reports on the relationship between objective metrics of sensory processing and clinical symptoms, however, are surprisingly sparse. Here we examined the relationship between neurophysiological assays of sensory processing and (1) autism severity and (2) sensory sensitivities, in individuals with ASD aged 6–17. Multiple linear regression indicated significant associations between neural markers of auditory processing and multisensory integration, and autism severity. No such relationships were apparent for clinical measures of visual/auditory sensitivities. These data support that aberrant early sensory processing contributes to autism symptoms, and reveal the potential of electrophysiology to objectively subtype autism.”

And here is the press release giving a summary of the findings.

Finally, here is a video overview:

 

 

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