What effects would a "cure for autism" have?

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Yupa
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16 Jun 2010, 8:12 pm

And how would a person whose autism was "cured" act?

How would the "cure" affect a neurotypical or misdiagnosed autistic who used the same treatment methods?



Mysty
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16 Jun 2010, 9:56 pm

Depends on the "cure".

Yeah, one can imagine a hypothetical cure that would take away all autistic traits, and ponder what the effect of that would be. Seems kind of pointless to me, since there's not going to be a real world cure like that.

The effects of a "cure" and how that person would act depends on the nature of the "cure".

I could claim to be cured, if I wanted to do a retroactive self-diagnosis of how I used to be (which I'm not inclined to do), and if cured means getting rid of the negative traits that got in the way of being who I wanted to be. What does that mean for me? It means I have abilities to be sociable, and to have close relationships which match my desires to do so. It doesn't mean I'm normal. It doesn't mean I no longer think differently than most people.


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Leander
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16 Jun 2010, 10:07 pm

I couldn't see it making much difference to me. After a certain age people become fairly fixed in terms of who they are and how they behave. I'd still have social anxiety and all of the awkward habits that have become ingrained over the years. If anything changed, it would probably take quite a while.

But then I have a fairly mild case of Aspergers. I imagine those with sensory issues and such might benefit more significantly.



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16 Jun 2010, 10:18 pm

It would probably be somewhat similar to the "cure" for being a mutant in the X-Men 3 movie. Some would not want it, some would desperately want it and be eager to take it, others would take it, but only because family or loved ones wanted them to etc.

It would also depend on the nature of the cure. For instance, if it gets rid of all aspects of AS, then I likely wouldn't want it. If it only got rid of the negative aspects, but let one keep the positive aspects then I might be more inclined to consider it.

As for your query concerning what would happen to NT's who took it, that could potentially be no different than other "cures." There are many medicines that will cure a particular disease/condition, but if you don't have that disease/condition and take the medicine it will harm you. So, they might be shooting themselves in the foot, so to speak.



Michael_Stuart
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17 Jun 2010, 12:29 am

A "cure for autism" would remove social anxiety, remove motor issues, allow the person to understand body-language, sensory problems, and remove "meltdowns" which happen over relatively minor events. Autism has other components, if if those were "cured" to make someone more "normal", it wouldn't be a cure, it would be a sick trade-off.



Pseudonymous
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17 Jun 2010, 1:23 am

We'd see a significant drop in new software.



sillycat
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17 Jun 2010, 3:33 am

There would be a decline in the quality of art, innovation and humanity would progress slowly.



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17 Jun 2010, 4:07 am

Erectile dysfunction.


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AdmiralCrunch
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17 Jun 2010, 11:41 am

ASD tends to present in 5 separate symptoms:
1 - Obsessive interests and self-stimulation
2 - Speech pathologies
3 - Executive dysfunction (inc. sensory issues/meltdowns)
4 - Social pathologies
5 - Comorbidities

A cure for ASD would either be the discovery and treatment of the underlying cause, which is not likely to happen soon, or else it could be the successful treatment of each symptom independently. This second option has merit. Here's my take on the prognosis for treating the symptoms:
1 - a branch of OCD, there are some moderately successful medicinal treatments available with future potential
2 - well-established speech therapy industries exist with high success rates
3 - I personally don't know much about this, although perhaps modern mindfullness therapy and future computer-assisted functional therapy could work; more on this later
4 - this is where epidemiology focuses, and where I plan to spend my time on creating a treatment
5 - a presentation of 4, and can be cured through treatment of 4

4 out of 5 ain't bad.


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Wuffles
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17 Jun 2010, 12:48 pm

Cure the NTs, I'm happy.



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17 Jun 2010, 1:45 pm

Realistically, it would probably be a matter of gene therapy, and could only work on very young people--possibly completely changing newborns or festuses to NT, and partially children under two.

Once they found the genetic patterns that made up autism--these would be multiple genetic patterns, not just one--they would have to test the infant for them. This would be expensive, but not as expensive as it is today. Most parents probably wouldn't be able to afford testing at first, until either the test were mass-produced or it became possible to cheaply sequence your entire genome (it is becoming possible but we are nowhere near there yet).

Then they would have to custom-design a virus--it couldn't be standardized; every autistic person has a different DNA pattern that makes them autistic--which could infect all the cells in that person's nervous system and possibly the rest of the cells in their body as well.

This custom-designed virus would be deliberately administered to the child, and would go to work switching the infant's DNA with NT DNA. Today, the big problem we have with this is generally that the human immune system is too strong; it doesn't like to have viruses traipsing over its genetic material; so the virus would probably be modified to be extremely good at fooling the body's defenses.

After the virus had gone to work on the DNA, the child's development would start to gradually change. With very young infants and during the prenatal period, you might get someone who is not diagnosably autistic as an adult. With older infants or children, it might be like playing Russian roulette with the child's brain: The human brain tends to optimize itself for any situation it finds itself in; and after the very early months, it has already started to optimize itself into an autistic configuration. To force it to suddenly develop some other way might cause the equivalent of a brain injury, and children might develop serious problems.

In adults, gene therapy for autism would change almost nothing, since the adult brain does not have anywhere near the plasticity of a child's brain.

That's the realistic scenario. In it, we're all too old, and so is anyone who is old enough to show symptoms.


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Last edited by Callista on 18 Jun 2010, 3:27 am, edited 1 time in total.

Whatsherhame
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17 Jun 2010, 1:54 pm

Pseudonymous wrote:
We'd see a significant drop in new software.


:lol:

I laughed really hard because of that. The timing was just perfect.

As for a cure, I'm not some militant who hates everyone who wants a 'cure' or anything like that, but how could one even be possible? You can help a person out through therapies and supports or just plain being there when they need you, and the person could have so many traits that 'normal' people have that a diagnoses would no longer be needed, but the person would still be autistic. The structures and causes of autism would still be there, regardless of whether or not it's genetic or environmental or something we haven't even thought of yet.
I have a sneaking suspicion that autism is one of those things that has a very broad range of causes, so again a single 'cure' seems impossible.

I imagine that a new 'cure' would have the same affects of other advertised 'cures' and 'treatments': It would be a mask. Whether or not that is good or bad is your interpretation. 8O



Abraham
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17 Jun 2010, 5:00 pm

Try getting high and you'll see.

First time I ever took MDMA, my eyes were totally opened to other people's emotional lives.

Drugs will make you see life for what it really is.



Callista
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17 Jun 2010, 5:55 pm

I've heard of that drug and its effects, but I doubt it made you less autistic--it just gave you more instinctive empathy. There are a great many autistics who feel empathy to such a great degree that it's painful.

Similarly, alcohol can lower social inhibitions, but won't give you social skills...

I wouldn't be surprised if we invent medication that lets autistic people feel less socially inhibited (probably it'd be used for social anxiety disorder at first, but it has applications for autism); or to let them filter out more sensory information, like Ritalin and its cousins does for people with ADHD. But I doubt that the basic cognitive style can ever be changed without destroying the person; the microscopic and macroscopic brain differences are "hard-wired" in.

What I do think we'll see from advances in medical science isn't a cure, but--if we're lucky and if we advocate strongly for ourselves and our younger "cousins"--we'll get medication that makes our lives easier, helps us learn, and keeps our stress levels more manageable.

Scientific research is a powerful thing; it shouldn't be misused.


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MONKEY
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17 Jun 2010, 5:59 pm

Ferdinand wrote:
Erectile dysfunction.


:lmao:

Anyway, I don't think there will be a cure, there are some genetic things you are just born with and that's it. Like down's syndrome.


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17 Jun 2010, 6:40 pm

If "cure" meant take away what makes people with ADHD or ASDs unique and special, I am firmly against that.

Coping skills are a different story. I think that a person can learn those without destroying who they are. Now, if someone is in pain and anguish--NOT simply different, I could see developing something to help with what is painful. But I think that the minimal intervention for a person to lead a life they are happy with (in the general sense) is best, because I do NOT want to see people be changed from who they are into something else.

For me, this is why I refuse medication for my ADHD. I don't want to take in something that would make me feel "not myself." Nothing I experience causes me true pain--only awkwardness, and I learn every day a little more that can help that. I can look back on who I was in college, high school, and early childhood, and see that change--but still know it's ME.


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