Does ethnic diversity increase risk of Austism?

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Ohiophile
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06 Mar 2012, 2:27 am

This may sound like a weird and politically incorrect question, but do you think that ethnic mixing could increase the risk of autism or aspergers syndrome in a society? I was reading this article about mixed breed dogs vs. pure breeds and I found one paragraph in the article interesting : The Great Debate: Are Mutts Healthier Than Purebreds?

Quote:
Socialization Issues

If you buy a purebred pet, you’re probably getting one that’s 8 weeks of age. That’s when pups (and, arguably, kittens) are best capable of absorbing socialization cues that will stay with them for life.

Mixed breeds typically don’t have as many perks as their purebred counterparts on this score (they tend to end up in rescues and shelters more often), which is why they can suffer from a higher percentage of fear-based behavior problems. And that’s a big health care problem, considering the answer for many of these behavior issues is euthanasia.


This got me wondering, does this same phenomenon happen in humans? If someone was a "mutt" with lets say a father who is Italian and mother who is Irish does that increase ones risk of autism, aspergers, or adhd? Might that person not pick up on social cues because they are a unique "breed" and have trouble understanding anyone else? In my opinion this could effect theory of mind because your ability to understand other people has something to do with the fact that your mind works the same way. If you grow up around people who are genetically dissimilar to you then you might have trouble understanding or relating to them and you might turn inward.

I am also not just referring to people of different nationalities or races, but really any kind of mixing of genetic qualities that could make someone dissimilar to the people they grow up around. For example, inheriting a unique set of personality traits could make it difficult for someone to relate others. Possible? If this were true we should see higher rates of autism in countries that are genetically and culturally diverse. Anyone have data on this?



hyperlexian
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06 Mar 2012, 2:34 am

very interesting idea. i had not thought of that at all.


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Declension
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06 Mar 2012, 2:35 am

I think that you read the article wrong. It is saying that if you want to buy a mutt, it is more likely that you will buy it after it has spent time in a shelter, which will affect its personality. It isn't saying that mutts have genetically different personalities.



Ohiophile
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06 Mar 2012, 2:44 am

Declension wrote:
I think that you read the article wrong. It is saying that if you want to buy a mutt, it is more likely that you will buy it after it has spent time in a shelter, which will affect its personality. It isn't saying that mutts have genetically different personalities.


I thought what it was saying was that mutts don't pick up on social cues and fit in with the group, thus leading them to become "lone wolves" and leading them to end up in shelters?



Ellingtonia
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06 Mar 2012, 3:01 am

I think it's saying that mixed breed dogs are less wanted as pets, and so are more often abandoned and end up in shelters. It's only when they get to the shelters that they develop behavioural problems from their tough situation. These problems are usually fear/anxiety related and are not related to autism.

On another note, pure breed dogs are far more likely to have physical health problems, such as hip dysplasia, due to generations of inbreeding.



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06 Mar 2012, 3:05 am

I am mixed race, as are my parents: my mother being of Chinese/Indonesian/German descent, while my father is Afro-Caribbean/South-Asian, from Curaçao. I grew up with my mother's Eurasian family, and my friends and classmates were mostly white Dutch kids. I have never experienced any problems you describe in your final two paragraphs.

Also, I think the analogy between dog breeds and human ethnicities is a bit shaky, as domesticated dog breeds have been deliberately 'designed' by human beings from shortly after man first started to keep dogs. Hence the genetic defects mentioned in the article, due to the focus on how the dogs could benefit the needs of the people, at the cost of the focus on the dogs' health.
You will find that dogs themselves tend not to discriminate between their respective breeds, and treat mutts like they would a dog of their own breed or a dog of any other breed even. On that level, socialisation is not an issue for them.

I mostly relate to Dutch culture and society, though with a tinge of my grandparents' Indonesian background. I'm entirely unfamiliar with Curaçao (Antillean) culture, due to the strained relationship with my father and his family, so when I'm in the company of only Antillean people, I would feel a bit like the odd one out, though also not incapable of communication.


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Ohiophile
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06 Mar 2012, 3:09 am

I am almost positive that what it is saying is that pure bred pups have an advantage with absorbing social cues when they are young. Because mutts have a disadvantage with absorbing social cues they develop fear and behavioral problems. This makes people want to get rid of the dogs and give them to a shelter.

It think this could be a clue of what could lead to autism. People who are genetically different from their parents and children they grow up with don't pick up on social cues and become more anxious and withdrawn.



Ohiophile
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06 Mar 2012, 3:15 am

CyclopsSummers wrote:
I am mixed race, as are my parents: my mother being of Chinese/Indonesian/German descent, while my father is Afro-Caribbean/South-Asian, from Curaçao. I grew up with my mother's Eurasian family, and my friends and classmates were mostly white Dutch kids. I have never experienced any problems you describe in your final two paragraphs.

Also, I think the analogy between dog breeds and human ethnicities is a bit shaky, as domesticated dog breeds have been deliberately 'designed' by human beings from shortly after man first started to keep dogs. Hence the genetic defects mentioned in the article, due to the focus on how the dogs could benefit the needs of the people, at the cost of the focus on the dogs' health.
You will find that dogs themselves tend not to discriminate between their respective breeds, and treat mutts like they would a dog of their own breed or a dog of any other breed even. On that level, socialisation is not an issue for them.

I mostly relate to Dutch culture and society, though with a tinge of my grandparents' Indonesian background. I'm entirely unfamiliar with Curaçao (Antillean) culture, due to the strained relationship with my father and his family, so when I'm in the company of only Antillean people, I would feel a bit like the odd one out, though also not incapable of communication.


I am simply saying it could increase the probability, not that most people from mixed backgrounds will end up with autism.



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06 Mar 2012, 3:38 am

Ask the english royal family. So much for aryan supremacy

The quoted article was written to increase income for breeders by promoting the sale of young pups over shelter dogs

Inbreeding has serious consequences with unwell offspring



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06 Mar 2012, 3:38 am

Quote:
Socialization Issues
If you buy a purebred pet, you’re probably getting one that’s 8 weeks of age. That’s when pups (and, arguably, kittens) are best capable of absorbing socialization cues that will stay with them for life.

Mixed breeds typically don’t have as many perks as their purebred counterparts on this score (they tend to end up in rescues and shelters more often), which is why they can suffer from a higher percentage of fear-based behavior problems. And that’s a big health care problem, considering the answer for many of these behavior issues is euthanasia.


The mutts tend to end up in shelters because they are unwanted mutts. which is why they can suffer from fear-based problems. The shelters are causing the problems. Mutt Puppies not properly socialized and given attention at a critical developmental stage. More time and effort are invested in socializing expensive purebred puppies.

I see this as more a comment on the advantages of social stability and stable homes for children, not about what genetic background they may have. This is also points to the importance of early social training all children. Isn't well-known that early intervention with social skills training is valuable?



Last edited by Catarina on 06 Mar 2012, 6:16 am, edited 1 time in total.

soozzi
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06 Mar 2012, 4:05 am

Not sure I want to comment on your question until I see some studies. It could work either way - "breeding" out undesirable traits, or "inheriting" some that aren't in your culture/country.

The problem in your example is that I think the original author is wrong.

Mixed breeds are too often either given away, or sold for much less than pedigreed dogs. Much easier to have less of a commitment to that dog, although I know plenty of mixed breed dogs that are fantastic and their owners wouldn't part with them for any reason. .

Unscrupulous breeders and puppy mills often have no idea about genetics. For the sake of profit and convenience, they may breed with too closely related dogs that shouldn't be mated. They may not care for the dogs properly. They may not socialise the dogs or they may take them from their mother too early. And they certainly don't place the dogs with the right families. This is a disaster in terms of behavioural issues and can be a disaster if the dog has future, unknown medical problems.

With mixed breeds, you're buying a puppy, and you don't often know what you're getting in terms of temperament, inherited illnesses and so on. Sometimes bad genes or temperament is bred out, sometimes it isn't. Same with health issues. When you don't get the sweet, obedient grown up dog you're expecting, you've got trouble. Could be the owner's fault, could be inbred. Each case would be different. And this can easily happen in pure-breeds too if you're picking a dog with a temperament that isn't right for you, or a breed that has known, inherited medical issues that you're not prepared to deal with.

Human beings can't be compared in this way in terms of being able to give babies back when you don't give birth to what you want or being able to say oh this person from this country and that person from that country will make this kind of baby with these health issues.

What about people from the same cultures/countries having kids with major chromosome abnormalities or other major illnesses and issues? It's the luck of the draw in some respects, and I'm not sure anyone can generalise without some pretty hard evidence.

My daughter is Eurasian, yet she inherited some of the health issues I have, but she has her father's thick hair, gorgeous face and gentle nature. I've always said she was made from a really great gene pool!

Your question is a very interesting one, however, I'm not sure anyone could give a definitive answer without some studies to back it up.


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bnky
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06 Mar 2012, 6:39 am

I think trying to relate the whole socialisation aspect to autism is seriously shakey, as autism isn't a behaviour problem or caused by bad social skills.
HOWEVER, if autism is hereditary, then introducing the gene into an isolated (autismless) pond surely couldn't but increase autism in that population



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06 Mar 2012, 6:50 am

If your theory were true, then it would apply to other things or areas other than ASD. It would apply to genes in general, so I'm going to use sport as an example.

I don't think it is, because from what I can see, some of the best athletes, particularly those who are mixed race do better as sprinters. When you watch the line up for the olympic 100m or 200m sprints, a large portion of those athletes are mixed race, usually african mixed with a little white (otherwise known as mulattos).

Go check youtube if you don't believe me, I bet there will be a disproportionate amount of sprinters who are mulatto in those 100m and 200m finals.

Sometimes the mixing of races is beneficial. In ASD, I'm not sure if it's beneficial or not but I doubt it would be a handicap.


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Last edited by Kjas on 06 Mar 2012, 6:53 am, edited 1 time in total.

soozzi
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06 Mar 2012, 6:51 am

bnky wrote:
I think trying to relate the whole socialisation aspect to autism is seriously shakey, as autism isn't a behaviour problem or caused by bad social skills.
HOWEVER, if autism is hereditary, then introducing the gene into an isolated (autismless) pond surely couldn't but increase autism in that population


Also depends on how the gene works if it's inheritable, for example, if the gene or genes are dominant.

Do we know of any culture, society or race where autism spectrum disorders don't exist or exist in a markedly less way? This cannot include places where they are by default under-diagnosed.


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06 Mar 2012, 7:14 am

You're misreading the article about dogs which is about the effects of neglect and indifference in general and being in animal shelters in particular. Pedigree dogs are very expensive, tend to be cared for by seller and purchaser, and are much less likely to end up as strays or in shelters.

However, you could, I suppose, see that there are similarities between young dogs in shelters and children in harsh, uncaring institutions as exemplified by the Romanian orphanages. Children in those environments are said to have "institutional autism".



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06 Mar 2012, 9:35 am

If you read Temple Grandin's book, Animals Make Us Human, it covers this. 15 social characteristics of aggressive and submissive behaviors demonstrated in wolves were watched for in domestic dogs. Dogs that looked more "wolfish" such as malamutes or huskies tended to rate the highest, with poodles, terriers, and Labradors rating among having the fewest. Some dogs, like german shepherds, didnt score as well in spite of their wolfish appearance.

Overall though, the less wolfish and more "puppyish" a dog looks, the less of these wolf social attributes it's likely to have. So statistically a random mutt would probably be likely to possess more of the attributes than a Jack Russell, but would be less likely to score as high as a malamute.

That was a great book and I highly recommend the chapter on dogs to anyone interested in dogs. In terms of how this applies to humans, I don't think that has been determined yet. If autism can be linked to a gene or genes, and there's a combination of racial genes that is most likely to cause autism, then you'd have a case. Till then, at least in dogs, a mutt genetically closer to a wolf would be less "dogtistic" then a purebred furthest from them.


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