Friday, May 02, 2008

Critique of Palmer et al. (2008)

I have posted a critique of Palmer et al. (2008) over at LB/RB. The paper claims to associate autism with coal-fired power-plant emissions, particularly mercury. I argue that the control for urbanicity in the paper is limited. Then I illustrate how it is that population density mediates the correlation in California.

I prefer that comments be made over at the LB/RB post.


  1. Joseph, we need to talk privately as a matter or urgency. Could you give me your email address here;

    I won't publish it.

  2. Joseph - Please excuse my commenting here rather than lbrb, but I've been banned (or voted off the island, so to speak). Since there is no link to your email address, I will try this and hope that you can see it. (I actually tried to address you in this vain this afternoon, but Kev would not allow me to comment. I apologise for not responding to you earlier, but it was difficult to extract that one attempt at discussion from the barrage of attack.)

    First of all, you wrote " What if the inviter sees the kid as odd because the kid acts gay? How would you feel about it then Diane? I don’t think I’m describing an impossible scenario here."

    No. This is not an impossible scenario at all. And it is horrible for it to happen on any level, be it autism, sexuality or whatever. Kids get picked on all the time for being fat, poorly dressed, nerdy or whatever and it all sucks. But this is not what was being discussed because the blog is about autism, not about homosexuality or fashion or such. The teacher's actions were indefensible, but my concern is for the mental health of the child and his future happiness. I read today that he is repeatedly saying "I'm not special" since the this happened.

    As for the comment I made regarding the influx of children with autism you wrote: "Let’s see how the number of 10-13 year olds who do not live at home has changed from 2002 to 2007, according to California DDS.

    You’d expect this should’ve increased, correct? After all, the number of autistics in the cohort has increased.

    In September 2002, we see that 1321 children are reported to live outside the home. In December 2007, the number is 892.

    This is a clear decrease, meaning that California is presumably spending less on 10-13 year old developmentally disabled children throughout much of the “epidemic”. How could this be? Please explain."

    I was not discussing autistic teenagers. I was discussing the future...the indviduals who are now 8 and 9 years old who cannot speak and wear diapers. In terms of teenagers (10-13) who are now living at home..... Teenagers are supposed to live at home. First of all, and I'm not sure where you live, but there is a huge push in the US to bring school aged children with special needs back to their local districts. This may mean bringing them back from special schools that are nearby or from residential schools that are a bit more distant. I do not believe this is about a decrease in numbers or higher functioning...this is about money. I see it in the school district I work in and in the district I live in. And unfortunately, in some cases, the result is not great. One friend of mine, whose son was brought back this year, was just told by the assistant superintendent that this is not working and they will be sending him out of district again next year.

    A local organization, Autism United, recently did a study of the number of individuals on Long Island with autism. While I cannot give you the exact data, the numbers are very, very bottom heavy - meaning far more cases of autism in the 2-10 year old group than the 11-15 or the 16-21 and so on. It is that data, in addition to the greater number of cases of autism that I see as a teacher, that concerns me for the future. In our region, there are not enough group homes for adults (whose parents can no longer care for them) at this point in time, never mind the influx (according to bottom heavy number of cases I just described) of future individuals.

    In regard to my daughter. She is a happy, beautiful kid. But she does get frustrated. She was recently sick and on antibiotics. It messed with her stomach and made her very irritable. After one particularly brutal breakdown she took a nap. When she woke up, there was mention of autism on the TV. She got upset again and said " autism". She understands that when she loses control of herself it is a result of her autism, not who (I believe) she wants to be. So, I love her more than I've ever loved anyone in my life, and only wish for her to be happy and have a meaningful relationship/friendship in the future.

    I hope I've addressed your concerns about my lack of responding and I hope you are able to understand where I am coming from.

  3. Diane, you were not "voted off the island." Every blogger manages their blog as they see fit. You were banned by Kev because that's what he thought was best for his blog, no doubt. No one took a vote.

    The analogy about the kid who is gay or acts gay was in response to a statement you made to the effect that if a kid is odd, trying to change social attitudes is not going to help or is not the right approach. Do you still think that?

    About the other point, I of course cannot give you numbers of adults who were really young during what is called the "epidemic". (Although, in any cohort, you'll see the same trend). But here's the thing. If the number of autistic 10-13 year olds has increased considerably from 2002 and 2007, why didn't the number of developmentally disabled 10-13 year olds who do not live at home also increase?

    No doubt a cultural shift (intitutionalization is increasingly disfavored) explains a drop in this number, but how does it manage to offset a supposedly huge tsunami of new developmental disabilities that weren't there before?

    (BTW, those kids who are no longer institutionalized I'm sure are attending special ed now).

    Or what if I told you that the number of autistic 18-21 year olds has also increased considerably in the last several years, but the total number of developmentally disabled 18-21 year olds really has not, and particularly not the number of them who are institutionalized. How are those facts reconciled?

    It seems obvious to me that there's no tsunami of autistic adults that is going to destroy the economy or anything of the sort. Sure, there will be more adults who are diagnosed with autism. But overall, if you consider all developmentally disabled adults, there's no impact, because they are the same adults that have always been there.

    This reality will become obvious in the next decade I believe.

  4. Reality? Asspies are children who should learn to be adults. That's reality!

  5. Oh great he's here as well!