Thursday, December 13, 2007

There are now 117 names on my lists of famous or important people diagnosed with an autism spectrum condition or subject of published speculation about whether they are/were on the autistic spectrum. There's no rest for the obsessive.
The long and arduous debate about Mozart and Tourette syndrome: some references

You can call him a Touretter or an Aspergian, an ADHDer or you could even call him a maniac, but you couldn't call him normal, because turning cartwheels while miaowing like a cat is not really considered normal behaviour. Whatever Mozart had, did the legendary pianist Glenn Gould have it too? The two extraordinary musicians had some interesting characteristics in common: see my short article about them from October 2007.

As you can see from these references, Simkin's 1992 paper in the BMJ was not the first or only suggestion that Mozart may have had Tourette syndrome, others had published such speculation as early as 1983 and 1991.

Ashoori, Aidin, Jankovic, Joseph (2007) Mozart’s movements and behaviour: a case of Tourette’s syndrome? Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry. 2007.
[argues that the evidence that Mozart had Asperger syndrome, autism, Tourette syndrome and some other neurological and psychiatric conditions is lacking]

Davies, Peter J. (1993) Mozart’s scatological disorder. [letter] British Medical Journal. Vol. 306 number 6876. 20th December 1993. p.521-522.
[can be read through PubMed Central]

Fog, R., Regeur, L. (1983) Did W.A. Mozart suffer from Tourette’s syndrome? World Congress of Psychiatry, Vienna, 1983.

Gunne, L. M. (1991) Hade Mozart Tourettes syndrome. [Did Mozart have Tourette syndrome?] Lakartidningen. December 11th 1991. Vol. 88 number 50. 4325-6.
[article in Swedish]

Heyworth, Martin F. (1993) Mozart’s scatological disorder. [letter] British Medical Journal. Vol. 306 number 6876. 20th December 1993. p.522.
[can be read through PubMed Central]

Karhausen, L. R. (1993) Mozart’s scatological disorder. [letter] British Medical Journal. Vol. 306 number 6876. 20th December 1993. p.522.
[can be read through PubMed Central]

Kammer, T. (2007) Mozart in the neurological department – who has the tic? Bogousslavsky J, Hennerici MG (eds) Neurological Disorders in Famous Artists - Part 2. Frontiers of Neurology and Neuroscience. 2007. vol 22, p. 184-192
[concludes that Mozart’s diagnosis of Tourette’s is implausible]

Sacks, Oliver (1992) Tourette’s syndrome and creativity. British Medical Journal. Vol. 305 number 6868. 19-26 December 1992. p.1515-1516.
[Sacks describes Simkins’ paper in the same issue of BMJ as “at least circumstantial evidence” but then writes that he does not find the case for Mozart having Tourette’s entirely convincing, Sacks claims there are two types of Tourette’s, stereotypical Tourette’s and “phantasmagoric” Tourette’s that can alter a person’s character and creativity, can be read through PubMed Central]

Simkin, Benjamin (1992) Mozart’s scatological disorder. British Medical Journal. Vol. 305 number 6868. 19-26 December 1992. p.1563-7.
[a fascinating paper describing Mozart’s hyperactivity, non-stop obsession with music, fascination with nonsense words, scatological letter-writing and what appear to be Tourette’s symptoms, can be read through PubMed Central]

Simkin, Benjamin (2001) Medical and musical byways of Mozartiana. Fithian Press. 2001.
[the book in which it is argued that Mozart had Tourette syndrome]

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Was the brilliant NZ author Janet Frame autistic?

Are you old enough to remember that movie "An Angel at my Table"?

Will there be a resurgence of interest in Janet Frame as an author and as a person?

(This blog article was added to in September 2008, minor alterations 2012)

Some books, papers, letters and articles about Janet Frame ONZ CBE

Frame, Janet (c. 1982) To the is-land. The Women’s Press, 1983.
[Frame’s first volume of autobiography]

Frame, Janet (1984) An angel at my table. The Women’s Press, 1984.
[Frame’s second volume of autobiography]

Frame, Janet (c. 1984) Envoy to the mirror city. The Women’s Press, 1985.
[Frame’s third volume of autobiography]

Posthumously published “Semi-autobiographical novel”
Frame, Janet (c. Janet Frame Literary Trust 2007) Towards another summer. Vintage Books, 2007.
[described as a semi-autobiographical novel written in 1963 but not previously published, in which Frame “wittily spoofs her own social gauchness” "It's a highly personal work that she did not want published until after her death."]

King, Michael (2000) Wrestling with the angel: a life of Janet Frame. Picador, 2000.
[on pages 417-418 can be found a revealing excerpt from a letter written by Frame in which she described and explained an example of behaviour that she had in common with her niece’s autistic daughter]

A recent article about Janet Frame
Campion, Jane (2008) In search of Janet Frame. The Guardian. January 19th 2008.[a brief article in which Campion recalls her meetings with Frame, giving some interesting insights into the way Frame lived and worked]

Janet Frame in the Wikipedia
Wikipedia contributors. (accessed 2007) Janet Frame. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.

Medical journal papers, journal letters and press articles about the posthumous diagnosis of “high-functioning autism” in 2007, or which mention this diagnosis
Abrahamson, Sarah (2007). Did Janet Frame have high-functioning autism? The New Zealand Medical Journal. October 12th 2007. Vol. 120 No. 1263.

Abrahamson, Sarah (2007) Author responds to criticism of her 'Did Janet Frame have high-functioning autism?' viewpoint article. [letter] The New Zealand Medical Journal. October 26th 2007. Vol. 120 No. 1264.

Autistic diagnosis proposed for Frame: celebrated author Janet Frame may have been autistic. (2007) The Press. October 12th 2007.

Cohen, David (2007) Autistic licence. New Zealand Listener. November 10-16 2007 Vol. 211 No. 3522.

Frizelle, Frank A. (2007) Peer review of NZMJ articles: issues raised after publication of the viewpoint article on Janet Frame. [editorial] The New Zealand Medical Journal. October 26th 2007. Vol. 120 No. 1264.

Hann, Arwen (2007) Autism claim draws fire from family, mum. The Press. October 22nd 2007.

Johnston, Martin (2007) Author Janet Frame suffered from “high functioning autism”. The New Zealand Herald. October 12th 2007.

Matthews, Philip (2008) Back on the page. The Press. July 26th 2008.
[about the posthumous publication of “Towards Another Summer” and other works by Frame, Pamela Gordon’s role as literary executor, and the autism controversy]

Oettli, Simone (2007) Janet Frame and autism? Response from a Frame scholar. The New Zealand Medical Journal. November 9th 2007, Vol. 120 No. 1265.

ONE News (2007) Frame autism claim rubbished by family. October 12th 2007.
[with a link to a clip of New Zealand TV coverage of this story]

Sharp, Iain (2007) Frame of mind. Sunday Star Times. Section C8 (books) October 21st 2007.
[gives Pamela Gordon’s view on the controversy, Frame’s literary executor and niece reveals that she has a daughter with “severe autism”]

Stace, Hilary (2007) Janet Frame and autism. [letter] The New Zealand Medical Journal. October 26th 2007. Vol. 120 No. 1264.

Stace, Hilary (2007) Was Janet Frame on the autistic spectrum? November 8th 2007.
[interesting blog article with comments]

Tramposch, B. (2007) "Diagnosis by mail": a response to the viewpoint article on Janet Frame. [letter] The New Zealand Medical Journal. October 26th 2007, Vol. 120 No. 1264.

Official web site of the Janet Frame Literary Trust
Janet Frame Estate Web Site
Literary Executor; Pamela Gordon

Australian radio interview with Pamela Gordon and publisher Andrew Wilkins
Koval, Ramona (2008) Posthumous publishing - Janet Frame's poetry. The Book Show. ABC Radio National. September 17th 2008.

Unchecked reference
Bragan, K. (1987) Medicine and literature: Janet Frame: contributions to psychiatry. New Zealand Medical Journal. February 11th 1987 Vol. 100 No. 817 p.70-73.
[unchecked reference – do not know if autism or AS mentioned]

Janet Frame ONZ CBE (1924-2004, changed name by deed poll to Nene Janet Paterson Clutha but known by original name, New Zealand writer of fiction, poetry and widely known for her three volumes of autobiography that the movie An Angel at my Table was based upon, Frame had a long history of voluntarily committing herself to psychiatric hospitals, diagnosed as schizophrenic, received many shock treatments, a lobotomy operation planned but was cancelled when Frame won a major New Zealand literary prize, some years later in a London mental hospital a psychiatrist classified her as sane expressing the opinion that she had never been schizophrenic, Frame went on to consult a psychoanalyst, family history of epilepsy and autism, in 2007 a posthumous diagnosis of “high-functioning autism” by a doctor of medicine sparked controversy, Frame was awarded a CBE in 1983, admitted to the Order of New Zealand in 1990, won a number of literary prizes and awards, thought to have been short-listed for the Nobel Prize in literature)

What is it about movie director Jane Campion and autism?
She directed two hugely popular movies; The Piano and An Angel at My Table. The lead character in The Piano, Ada McGrath the mute piano player, has been described as autistic, and it turns out that the real person that the other film was about, Janet Frame, was also autistic. Autism appears to be a cinematic theme that obviously fascinates the public, even if they aren't aware that this is what the movie is about.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Pulitzer Prize winners diagnosed with an autism spectrum condition or subject of published speculation about whether they are or were on the autistic spectrum

W. H. Auden
(1907-1973, full name Wystan Hugh Auden, poet born in Britain, migrated to the US, described as one of the greatest 20th century writers, wrote reviews and essays, worked on documentaries, won a Pulitzer Prize For Poetry in 1948 for The age of anxiety: a baroque eclogue, set to be a mining engineer till his great love of words lead him to be a poet, Auden was homosexual and described his relationship with poet Chester Kallman as a marriage, not known for domestic neatness Auden “…kept a kitchen that could have doubled as a research facility for biological warfare.” (James 2007), Auden’s poem Funeral blues was featured in the 1994 movie Four weddings and a funeral, biographer Davenport–Hines claimed that Auden hinted in his loosely autobiographical A certain world: a commonplace book “that he considered himself mildly autistic as a child, and conceivably diagnosed himself as manifesting what is now known as Asperger’s syndrome.” (Davenport-Hines 2004), I found that the book A certain world contains selections of work of other writers in a dictionary format and has an entry with the heading “Children, Autistic” with a passage of writing under that heading by discredited autism “expert” Bruno Bettelheim)

Tim Page (b. 1954, music critic with the Washington Post, also a writer, producer and editor, won a Pulitzer Prize in 1997 in the category of criticism, reported to have been diagnosed with Asperger syndrome in his mid-40s)

Charles Lindbergh (1902-1974, American pilot who made the first lone continuous flight across the Atlantic Ocean, was awarded the Medal of Honor (USA) and the French Legion of Honor, and a Pulitzer Prize in 1954 in the category of biography or autobiography, Lindbergh is one of the famous people described in the book Genius genes: how Asperger talents changed the world)

Carl Sagan (1934-1996, American astronomer, astrobiologist and popularizer of science, advocate of the scientific/humanist/skeptical philosophy, won many awards including an Emmy and a Pulitzer Prize in 1978 in the category general non-fiction for the book The dragons of eden, Sagan is one of the famous people described in the book Asperger’s and self-esteem: insight and hope through famous role models)


Auden, Wystan Hugh (1970) A certain world: a commonplace book. Viking Press.

Davenport – Hines, Richard (2004) Auden’s life and character. [Chapter 2]
In Smith, Stan (2004) The Cambridge companion to W. H. Auden. Cambridge University Press.

[parts of this book available to read free through Google Book Search]

Fabrizio, Doug (2007) Parallel play. RadioWest. August 22nd 2007. KUER FM 90.
[Tim Page]

Fitzgerald, Michael, O’Brien, Brendan (2007) Genius genes: how Asperger talents changed the world. Autism Asperger Publishing Company, 2007.
[Archimedes, Newton, Henry Cavendish, Jefferson, Charles Babbage, Darwin, Gregor Mendel, Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Nikola Tesla, David Hilbert, H.G. Wells, John B. Watson, Einstein, Bernard Montgomery (of Alamein), Charles de Gaulle, Alfred Kinsey, Norbert Wiener, Charles Lindbergh, Kurt Godel, Paul Erdos, parts of this book available to read free through Google Book Search]

James, Clive (2007) Cultural amnesia: notes in the margin of my time. Picador, 2007.

Ledgin, Norman (2002) Asperger’s and self-esteem: insight and hope through famous role models. Future Horizons, 2002.

[Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin, Orson Welles, Marie Curie, Carl Sagan, Glenn Gould, Mozart, Thomas Jefferson, Bela Bartok, Paul Robeson, Gregor Mendel, Oscar Levant, John Hartford, Temple Grandin, parts of the book available to read through Google Book Search]

MacDonald, Kate (2007) Living with Asperger’s syndrome: Tim Page. Late Night Live. October 10th 2007. ABC Radio National.

Page, Tim (2007) Parallel play: a lifetime of restless isolation explained. The New Yorker. August 20th 2007.

Pulitzer-winner on living with Asperger’s. All Things Considered. August 13th 2007. NPR.
[Tim Page]

Copyright Lili Marlene 2006, 2007.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

I recently stumbled across this interesting essay:

Gernsbacher, Morton Ann (2007)
A conspicuous absence of scientific leadership: the illusory epidemic of autism.

I think I'll add it to the list of references in my old blog article "What autism epidemic?"

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The (autistic) kids always come last in Australia

I wonder whether Jenny Brockie will invite the "parents" of starved Shellay Ward to talk on her TV show Insight about how hard it is to be a parent of an autistic child, and to explain why they killed their child. Jenny Brockie did this in a past episode of Insight, interviewing on her show an Australian mother who killed her autistic child, after giving her a warm welcome. Maybe they did it for the attention.

These "parents" should have been brought to the attention of the law years ago. It should be a punishable offence to give a child a ridiculous name. What the hell kind of name is "Shellay"? Shellaaaay? WTF? The absolute looniest names that I have ever heard of are the names of autistic kids. It seems pretty obvious that a sizeable proportion of the parents of children who receive an autism spectrum diagnosis are mentally ill, of limited intellectual capacity or something even worse. Every pediatric diagnosis of an autism spectrum conditon should be followed up with a full psychiatric screening with IQ testing of both of the child's biological parents (if they have custody of any children). This latest horrific case of another murdered autistic child is, I believe, a compelling argument that this needs to be done.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

You know where you can stick your garishly coloured letters?

I’m browsing through the Australia Post colour catalogue of Christmas gifts, and I spotted a group of educational toys for children, including a thing that is recommended for ages 2 to 5 which has buttons on it for all the letters of the alphabet, and I guess is computerized. For a moment I though it would be a top choice as a Christmas gift for the youngest member of our family, until I noticed that the letters were all coloured in a range of different colours, and the thing as a whole is quite revolting to look at due to the ugly colours used in it and the way the colours just don’t work together. It looks as though it was designed by someone who either doesn’t care what it looks like, is colour-blind or has Aesthetic Deficit Disorder.

There are two reasons why I hate the colours used in this toy. If our toddler has the coloured letters type of synaesthesia, like three other members of our family, then the bright and different colours of the letters on the keys of this toy may conflict with the colours that our child already has in their head. I’d much prefer that the letters were all the same neutral colour (such as black). After all, it is the shapes and sounds of the letters of the alphabet that young children are supposed to be learning, not the (arbitrary) colours of the letters. I don’t have a problem with kids’ books or toys being brightly coloured (I adore the stunningly coloured Meg and Mog kids’ books), but I wish toy designers would resist the urge to colour the actual letters and numbers. I know that some people believe that coloured letter synaesthesia is caused by children’s toys that have differently coloured letters. This simply isn’t true. On the same page of the catalogue there are five other educational toys advertised which appear to have specific colours associated with specific numbers or letters. I won’t be buying any of these toys.

The other reason why I won’t be buying that toy is that it is both garish and ugly due to the colours. It combines an aggressive red with insipid, annoying blue and green and pink, colours that aren’t pale enough to be pretty pastel, but aren’t vibrant enough to compete with the loud red. The toy isn’t neutrally-coloured enough to not catch the eye, and it is so ugly that I wish I couldn’t see it. Sadly this toy is typical of children’s toys. There seems to be an unwritten law that children’s toys must be brightly coloured in a range of different colours. Black, white, grey, brown and beige are shunned. Subtle and mixed colours are not on. Anything except bright primary and (if you must) secondary colours appears to be considered too much of an intellectual challenge for young children to process mentally. Kiddies can’t understand turquoise. Turquoise is developmentally inappropriate, and so are gunmetal grey, ice blue, vermillion and yellow ochre. We live in a world that is designed to be appropriate for the most ordinary masses, and even the colours of kids’ toys are dumbed-down in the most patronizing way.

Why do kids’ toys need to be brightly coloured anyway? I had a look at the packaging of a Fischer-Price toy to try to find out. Fischer-Price toys have a rather horrible uniform look about them (bright simplistic colours on white mostly), and they are obviously designed according to some rigid set of corporate rules governing colouration. On the box it said something about the bright colours helping the child’s development. I’m not aware of a shred of scientific evidence that young children need to have garishly coloured toys for the optimal or normal development of their brain or senses. In fact, I think subtle and interesting colours, and interesting combinations of colours might be better for the education of the senses, if such a thing really ever happens. Do you know of any person who is colour-blind due to a lack of access to aggressively-coloured toys in childhood or infancy? Colour-blindness is caused by genes, as far as I know, and so is synaesthesia.
The dark side of theory of mind?

“Our reputation-conscious ancestors would have experienced a pervasive feeling of being watched and judged, he says, which they would readily have attributed to supernatural sources since the cognitive system underlying theory of mind also seeks to attribute intentionality and meaning, even where there is none.”

That is an excerpt from a summary of a theory about religion from Jesse Bering at the Institute of Cognition and Culture at Queen’s University in Belfast. The quote is from a story by Helen Phillips in New Scientist “Is God good?” in the September 1 2007 issue, number 2619, pages 32-36. Link to story online:

I’m not so sure that I would want to have a mind that contains a “theory of mind” module that seeks to attribute intentionality and meaning even where there is none. I think there’s a word for such a state of mind; isn’t it “delusion”?
If the “cognitive system underlying theory of mind” is also the neurological basis of religious belief or religious sentiment, then I (an atheist) am very glad that I don’t (apparently) have one.

Monday, November 05, 2007

“Hypocrisy in search of social acceptance erodes your self-respect.” - James Watson quoted in New Scientist.

That was a quote that caught my eye. Here are some more quotes that have caught my eye on various occasions:

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Born to Offend: characteristics shared by Nobel Prize winners James Watson and the late William Shockley

(I have written about James Watson at length in this article:

Both co-winners of Nobel Prizes awarded for discoveries that have changed the world that we live in (Watson was a member of the team that discovered the structure of DNA and Shockley was a co-inventor of the transistor)

Both men of science

Both atheists

Both thought to be/have been racists because of comments made about the mental capabilities of black people with African heritage

Both linked in some way with the autism spectrum; Watson apparently has an autist in his family and Shockley has been identified as a “high systemizer” and “low empathizer” by one of the world’s leading experts on autism

Both invited to be sperm donors with the now defunct sperm bank “The Repository for Germinal Choice” popularly known as the “Nobel Prize Sperm Bank” (Shockley publicly acknowledged that he donated)

Both have been described as advocates of eugenics

Both concerned about the issue of stupidity in humans

Both made many enemies when expressing opinions and paid a price for this (Watson was recently suspended from a position at a research laboratory following a controversy, and according to legend Shockley’s effigy was burned in a protest by university students)

Both married with offspring

References and further reading
Aldhous, Peter (2007) DNA’s messengers. New Scientist. October 20th 2007. number 2626. p.55 – 59.

Baron-Cohen, Simon (2003) The essential difference. Penguin Books.

BBC News (2007) Lab suspends DNA pioneer Watson. BBC News. October 19th 2007.

Manier, Jeremy (2007) Peers horrified by famed scientist’s race remarks. October 19th 2007.,0,4157889.story?coll=chi_mezz
[Watson and Shockley both mentioned in story]

Plotz, David (2005) The genius factory: unravelling the mysteries of the Nobel Prize sperm bank. Simon & Schuster UK. 2005.

Randerson, James (2007) Race row professor resigns from laboratory post. Guardian Unlimited. October 26th 2007.

Sternberg, Robert J. (2007) Race and intelligence: not a case of black and white. New Scientist. October 27th 2007, number 2627.
[Watson and Shockley compared in this article]

Wade, Nicholas (2007) DNA pioneer Watson gets own genome map. International Herald Tribune: Americas. June 1st 2007.

copyright Lili Marlene 2007

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Now Prof/Dr Watson has decided that this is a good time to resign from his position at the lab. Does this mean that he will no longer be making the news? I doubt it.

Link to story in the Guardian:

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Dr James Watson in strife

Dear me. Dr James Watson is in trouble, and there's nothing about his latest controversy that surprises me in the least. I know his type; technically brilliant enough to win a Nobel Prize in a scientific area, and at the same time socially insensitive and politically incorrect enough to get into heaps of strife. He's a particularly fascinating example of the broader autistic phenotype, in my opinion. I believe Dr Watson wants to identify and eradicate the genes for autism, but despite that there's something about him that I can't help liking. I've read that the full genome of Dr Watson was recently decoded, and is apparently available to look at on the internet. I’m sure that would make interesting reading! In different and important ways, Dr Watson is like an open book.

Recent story about Dr Watson at BBC News:

Dr Watson is one of the great people of science that I have written about in my blog article "Autism, neurodiversity and excellence in science writing", which can be read here:

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Wired for sound: 12 characteristics that are shared by the famous musicians Glenn Gould and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

-musical genius
-child prodigy
-from a “musical” family
-gifted with perfect pitch/absolute pitch
-an extraordinary memory for music
-eccentric behaviour (Mozart enjoyed vulgar humour and was in some ways childish, and Gould’s eccentricities were numerous, varied and well-known)
-subject of speculation that they may have had Asperger syndrome
-died too young
-attained legendary status due to genius and personality

Both men are among the 99 fascinating individuals included in my
Referenced list of famous or important people diagnosed with an autism spectrum condition or subject of published speculation about whether they are/were on the autistic spectrum
which can be found here:

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Synaesthesia is a neurological condition often associated with naivety (with regard to scientists)

A lot of people who have the neurological condition synaesthesia do not regard this condion as being a disorder. Some synaesthetes take issue with people who discuss synaesthesia as though it is some type of medical disease, even though acquired, non-inherited, forms of synaesthesia can indeed be caused by drugs, disease or damage. Some synaesthetes write that the condition makes their lives more interesting or enjoyable, and they claim that they would not wish to be "cured" of the condition if it were possible to make it go away. Many synaesthetes appear to naively assume that scientific researchers, and the world in general, will take seriously their claims that they are not sufferers who have something wrong with their brains. Some synaesthetes display a cynical attitude regarding the way the mass media depict synaesthesia, but expressions of explicit cynicism towards the attitudes of scientists and researchers are not so easy to find.

It is most probable that the majority of people who have any form of synaesthesia do not realize that they have the condition, and do not consider themselves disordered or preceptually impaired. Researchers used to believe that synaesthesia is a very rare condition, but now that properly designed studies are being done, researchers are finding that it's really quite common.

I've stumbled across this page about synaesthesia at the web site of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, which is one of those research institutions that are trying to find the "genes for" horrible diseases:

Regardless of whatever you or I or anyone believes, the boffins at Wellcome have described synaesthesia as a "disorder" which "often results in perceptual and cognitive dysfunction." The idea that something positive might come of synaesthesia is given the " " treatment twice on this page. They obviously don't take the positive side of synaesthesia too seriously. Synaesthesia is placed in the same category as "Neurodevelopmental and Neurological Disorders". I shudder to think why they are so keen to find which genes cause synaesthesia.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Wasn't Mr Page's reference to the line from the movie "The Shining" spooky? Especially when one considers that Stanley Kubrick, who directed that movie, and Glenn Gould, friend of Mr Page, are two famous people who are thought may have been on the autistic spectrum.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

This afternoon (if you live in Australia), or this evening (if you live in Western Australia) you can hear Pulitzer Prize winner and classical music critic Tim Page, who has Asperger syndrome, talking on the Late Night Live radio show on ABC Radio National 810am. It will be a repeat of last night's show, at 4.00pm, or 6.00pm in WA. This week the host is Norman Swan, who I am sure will do an intelligent job.

link to Late Night Live's home page:

link to a story about Tim Page's life in The New Yorker:

In our family there are members who particularly enjoy the music of Wagner and minimalist classical music, probably for the same reason that Mr Page enjoys this music. I played a favourite piece by Philip Glass early this morning!

Monday, September 24, 2007

On Saturday I also listened to parts of the radio programme on Poetica on Radio National about Les Murray, one of the most respected and well-known poets in Australia. I don't have a lot of time for poetry myself, but even I have to admit that his work is wonderful. To my ear Murray sounds so likeably ordinary when he talks, not at all how a great poet and "literary icon" is supposed to speak. In this programme Murray briefly mentions his "half-autistic" childhood.

Link to programme "Les Murray - the Bunyah poems"

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Fashion blindness

You know you have fashion blindness when you can't tell the difference between a suit from Armani and a suit from the Salvation Army. Some people see it as a disability, but it certainly saves money.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The puzzle of hidden ability - article in Newsweek

I discovered this brilliant little article today in the August 21st 2007 edition of the Bulletin, on page 69 in the Newsweek section; "The puzzle of hidden ability" by Sharon Begley. Read it here:

The article is about measuring IQ in kids who have "full-blown autism, not Asperger's". Michelle Dawson (who I believe has "full-blown autism") and her academic colleagues in Montreal have found that a well-known IQ test that does not require social interaction (Raven's Progressive Matrices) does a much more accurate job of measuring intelligence in autistic kids than the commonly-used Wechsler test.

These study findings are validation of the screening test methodology that our local gifted and talented education specialist teachers (working in the government primary school system) use to identify intellectually gifted children. Time and money constraints mean they can't IQ test all kids, but they use a well-chosen group of tests, including the Raven's, and kids can be identified as intellectually gifted based on their Raven's score alone. The Raven's test is included specifically to identify the kind of gifted kid who falls between the cracks or who isn't readily identified as gifted. As far as I know teachers' recommendations or input play no part in this gifted testing process. Children with autism, Asperger syndrome and ADHD diagnoses have been identified as gifted through this process.

It's so pleasing to read an article in a serious current affairs magazine that gives a positive view of kids with "full-blown autism" and that corrects a negative incorrect belief about autists (that most very autistic kids lack intellectual potential). It's so nice to read an article in which the journalist interviews an autistic person and takes their research completely seriously, without any emotive nonsense or cutesy comments getting in the way. It's gratifying to know that some people are succeeding at doing their job to make the education system fair for all children. To Michelle Dawson, Laurent Mottron, Morton Ann Gernsbacher, Sharon Begley, our local gifted Ed. teachers, and the editors of the journal Psychological Science (which published the study) I'd like to say "Job well done!"

Oh, and if you wish to read further about autism and intelligence there's this academic journal paper, which reviews 215 articles that were published between 1937 and 2003.

Edelson, Meredyth Goldberg Are the majority of children with autism mentally retarded? : a systematic evaluation of the data. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities. Vol. 21, no. 2, summer 2006.

In the conclusion it says; "In view of the present findings on these three issues, the conclusion that the majority of children with autism also have MR does not seem warranted."

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The opposite of Michael Buble: I am very unaffected to be here: famous actors and singers with or who had monotonous or rather droning voices

The opposite of Michael Buble: I am very unaffected to be here: famous actors and singers with or who had monotonous or rather droning voices

Joey Ramone
- lead signer of the punk/rock and roll band The Ramones, a loner in his youth and he had Obsessive-compulsive disorder during his adult life, there has been speculation that he had Marfan Syndrome, which I guess could be an explanation for his very tall and slender build, and there has also been some speculation about Asperger syndrome.

Nico - real name Christa Paffgen, born in Germany, ground-breaking singer-songwriter, model, actress, Warhol associate, heroin addict, had odd eating habits, apparently a stranger to soap, bleak themes feature in her work, Nico is described as having had a “deep narcotic monotone voice” and has been identified by some as a possible case of Asperger syndrome.

Marlene Dietrich – legendary German-born actress, singer, fashion icon, cross-dresser and bisexual. She had a very cool and aloof public image.

Bryan Ferry – English singer and songwriter of the defunct band Roxy Music, has been described as a “lounge lizard”. Ferry and Dietrich both recorded versions of the classic blues tune “You go to my head”.

Ed Kuepper – German-born Australian singer, songwriter and guitarist, famous for music made under his own name and in the defunct but recently reunited Brisbane punk band The Saints, has had a number of different backing bands, has a reputation for being reserved and arrogant and was rather alienated from his peers in his teen years.

In one of those fasinating convergences of discovery that one occasionally finds in the histories of the arts and the sciences, The Saints and The Ramones simultaneously and apparently independently invented the punk rock sound (harsh guitar sounds, shouting vocals and a fast tempo) in 1975 in the US and in Queensland in Australia. The thing that I find particularly interesting about this simultaneous rebellious originality is that both bands had highly influential members who displayed autistic traits (Joey Ramone with his droning voice, solitary youth and OCD, and Ed Kuepper with his monotonous voice, aloof manner and tendency to not make eye contact while being interviewed). Did punk rock naturally evolve from the socially non-conforming "extreme male brain" psychology of the autistic spectrum? And its also worth mentioning that Joe Strummer from the punk band The Clash also had a very monotone voice.

In recent years Kuepper has made very loud live soundtrack music for weirdo arts festival short movies with bright swirling colours and flashing strobe lights. My central nervous system is still recovering.

Steven Morrissey – English lead singer and lyric writer in the legendary defunct band The Smiths and also a solo artist. Themes of alienation, depression and sexuality feature in his lyrics, but it is unclear whether he is straight, gay, celibate or some other sexual orientation, and quite frankly, who cares after all these years?

Mark Seymour – lead singer, guitarist and songwriter in the defunct Australian band Hunters and Collectors, a band that had an image of brutish, working-class masculinity that was almost ridiculous, that was initially influenced by “Kraut-rock” and had themes of alienation and sexual politics in their songs. I think there is a similarity between the music of the Hunters and Collectors and the music of Ed Kuepper, especially the use of horns. The Hunters’ horn section was known as the “Horns of Contempt”.

Sylvester Stallone – American movie actor, screenwriter, director and producer, apparently he started his cinema career with a role in a blue movie, famous for playing ridiculously muscular characters in ultra-macho action movies, has a mumbling way of speaking that has been parodied, is left-handed and Stallone has a son who was diagnosed with autism.

Ian Curtis - was a singer and lyricist in the Manchester band Joy Division, he is the subject of a new biographical movie titled Control, had epileptic seizures on stage, has been identified as a possible case of Asperger syndrome, bleak themes feature in Curtis’ lyrics including alienation, he had an unusual deep singing voice that has been described as eerie, monotonous or “a less tuneful Jim Morrison”, Curtis comitted suicide at the age of 23.

Joe Strummer - was the lead singer of the English punk rock band The Clash. Left-handed. Another punk superstar with a monotone voice? Seems like a pattern here.

Nick Cave - of the Bad Seeds and The Birthday Party. Australian post-punk, alternative musician, songwriter, author, screenwriter, and occasional film actor. His voice is more of a drone than a monotone. Dark, intense gothic themes are a feature of his work.

The Nihlists from Ronnie Johns Half Hour

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Did you see that story on 60 Minutes tonight about the autistic savants Stephen Wiltshire and Daniel Tammet? For a person who is supposed to be "an awkward, painfully shy person with few social skills" Tammet is doing a pretty slick job of presenting himself on all the shows in all the different forms of media. I guess he's got an agent or a PR person or something like that. That Professor Snyder was in the story too, with his zany hat and kooky specs and all. There's no show about savants without the expert in the zany hat there to explain it all to the folks at home.

Professor Synder apparently believes that inside every non-autistic, neurotypical person there is a little autistic savant "rain man" waiting patiently, keen to bestow amazing savant skills on the neurotypical person if some professor comes along and messes up the "higher thought" parts of their "normal" brains enough to simulate the "damage found in the brain of savants" (this insulting phrase was used by the 60 Minutes journalist). Apparently this is done with strong magnetism. To date the professor has I believe not to created any Tammets or Einsteins or Mozarts using his methodology. If he hopes to simulate Tammet's extraordinary gifts I'd have thought at least the professor would be trying to simulate synaesthesia. A logical first step, and not unprecedented.

The professor tells us that there's a little autistic "Rain man" inside every neurotypical person, and all around the world there are neurotypical parents of autistic kids who believe that inside their autistic offspring there is a little neurotypical "social butterfly child" struggling valiantly to emerge from their "hollow, dead cocoon of autism". Ya gotta laugh.

I really like this quote from Daniel Tammet:
"It's only as I got older that I realised it isn't bad to be different. It can be a good thing if you can find what it is that makes you unique and have the courage to live that out then I think you can be happy."

Saturday, August 11, 2007

The most stupid quote of the week regarding the autistic spectrum

The Most Stupid Quote of the Week Regarding the Autistic Spectrum:

"He's married, which almost certainly means he's not autistic."

A quote by Professor Allan Snyder, Director of the Centre for the Mind at the University of Sydney.

Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but haven't that Newport couple been married once or twice, and hasn't Liane Holliday Willey been married, and Donna Willams too, and I'm sure that Wendy Lawson mentioned getting married in her autobiography, and Daniel Tammet is kinda married, and the artist Peter Howson was married or is going to be married I'm sure, and what about that Nobel Prize winner Vernon Smith, he has a wife, and I'm sure the Fields Medal winning mathematician from the UK diagnosed in the book "The essential difference" is described as married, and aren't all of these people supposed to be autistic? Are married autistic people really rare creatures? I've come up with the names of 9 of them off the top of my autistic head.

Professor Synder was quoted in this weekend's magazine of the Weekend Australian newspaper, on page 29 of the article "Beautiful minds" by Richard Guilliatt. The article is about the remarkable family of Australian Fields Medal winner Terry Tao, within which autism, intellectual giftedness and extreme levels of intellectual achievement can be found. As you've probably guessed, the Tao family are of Asian descent. This seems to confirm what those politically-incorrect Bell Curve IQ experts have been telling us - that the Asian races are smarter than us humble European types. The Chaser team had a rather funny joke about the embarrasing intellectual superiority of Asian Australian kids on their show the other night.

Professor Synder does not really help us in this article to understand the apparent relationship between autism and genius, quite the contrary, but the knowledgeable observations of Australian intellectual giftedness expert Miraca Gross are always worth reading.

Beautiful minds.
(What's it like to raise a family of geniuses? With three highly gifted sons, Billy and Grace Tao have learnt to ignore the advice of experts)
by Richard Guilliatt.
The Australian
August 11, 2007

Professor Snyder is the bloke who is trying rather too hard to look quirky and eccentric in these photos:

"Vote for insanity: you know it makes sense."

I think I'll add that to my list of fave quotes.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Rest easy – autists are in control: powerful and political people who may be or may have been on the autistic spectrum
(updated February 2008)

Daisy Bates (1863-1951, real name Daisy May (O'Dwyer) Bates, Irish-Australian journalist, welfare worker and amateur anthropologist involved with the Australian Aboriginal people, briefly married to “Breaker” Morant (both of her husbands were breakers of wild horses), applied for position Protector of Aborigines in the Northern Territory in 1912, rejected due to being female, appointed Honorary Protector of Aborigines at Eucla, her welfare work financed by sale of her cattle station, in later years she advised the federal government on Aboriginal affairs, made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1934, wore Edwardian fashions including boots, gloves and veil her whole life, is believed to have worn pistols even in old age and was prepared to use them, identified as possibly having had Asperger syndrome (AS) in the book Unstoppable brilliance: Irish geniuses and Asperger’s syndrome by Prof. M. Fitzgerald and A. Walker)

Gordon Brown (b. 1951, full name James Gordon Brown, born in Scotland, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, former Chancellor of the Exchequer of the UK, leader of the Labour Party in the UK, an academic high achiever in high school, accepted into university at the age of 16, completed a doctorate, “dour and often awkward in public”, Brown has been accused by various political enemies of being autistic, a control freak, uncollegiate and psychologically flawed, recently described as “tough as steel” regarding national security issues but compassionate)

King Charles XII of Sweden (1682-1718, displayed talent as a tactician from a young age by defeating invading nations, Sweden reached it’s height of power under Charles’s reign but his decision to attack Russia lead to the end of the Swedish Empire, Charles abstained from alcohol and women, displayed a high tolerance for pain, and was thought to lack emotion, he was interested in mathematics and is thought to have invented an octal numeral system, identified as possibly on the autistic spectrum by Swedish Asperger syndrome expert Professor C. Gillberg, Charles XII has been described as "pretty hardcore")

Bram Cohen (b.1975, author of the BitTorrent computer downloading program, co-founder and CEO of the BitTorrent company, the first words that he learned to read were computer programming commands, displayed precocious talent in computer programming, dropped out of college, self-diagnosed with Asperger syndrome)

Robert Emmet (1778-1803, Irish nationalist leader who was captured, tried and executed after leading an unsuccessful rebellion against British rule, a heroic figure in Irish history, identified as possibly having had AS in the book Unstoppable brilliance: Irish geniuses and Asperger’s syndrome by Prof M. Fitzgerald and A. Walker)

Tim Fischer AC (b. 1946, Australian ex-politician, a railway enthusiast since childhood, drafted into the army and led a platoon in Vietnam, married at age of 46, was the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia, Trade Minister and leader of the National Party of Australia, resigned as party leader and minister in 1999, left politics to spend time with family including a son diagnosed with autism, Fischer quoted in 1999: “…to some extent I had a very mild form of autism in my early years.”, has a reputation for being inarticulate but is a well-respected public figure, M)

Bill Gates (b.1955, real name William Gates III, co-founder and chairman of Microsoft Corporation and has been the chief software architect and CEO of Microsoft, has been the richest person in the world for many years and still is, a global philanthropist, dropped out of Harvard, is reputed to have a very high IQ and an extraordinary memory, is reputed to have a bad temper and a tendency towards arrogance, rudeness and absent-mindedness, at least in his younger years, according to Rivlin Gates read an encyclopaedia through when he was a child and Gates' mother took him to see a psychiatrist at the age of 11 because she was concerned at his shyness and remoteness, the outcome being that the psychiatrist considered Gates to be unchangeable, at least one sequence of images exists of Gates rocking in an autistic manner, Gates has been the subject of speculation about being autistic from a number of different sources over many years)

John Howard (1726–1790, English philanthropist and prison reformer, NOT the Australian P.M., described in the book Asperger syndrome and high achievement by Prof. I. James and also identified as having had AS by psychiatrist Philip Lucas)

Stonewall Jackson (1824-1863, real name Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, confederate general in the American Civil War, identified as having had AS in an academic paper by Asperger syndrome expert Prof. Michael Fitzgerald)

Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826, US President, identified as having had AS in the book Asperger syndrome and high achievement by Prof. I. James and also in two books by Norman Ledgin)

Sir Keith Joseph (CH, PC) (1918-1994, British conservative politician, has been described as “the founder of modern conservatism in Britain” and “one of the most influential politicians of the late twentieth century.”, identified as autistic in the book Autism and creativity: is there a link between autism in men and exceptional ability? by AS expert Prof. Michael Fitzgerald)

Patrick Pearse (1879- 1916, also known as Pádraig Pearse, Irish nationalist rebel and political activist, also a teacher, barrister, poet and writer, one of the leaders of the Easter Rising of 1916, may have been declared the President of the Provisional Government but this is unclear, was executed, was the subject of speculation during his life and after his death that he may have been homosexual despite there apparently being no evidence that he engaged in hetero or homo-sexual activity, identified as possibly having had AS in the book Unstoppable brilliance: geniuses and Asperger’s syndrome by Prof. M. Fitzgerald and A. Walker)

King Philip II of Spain (1527–1598, under Philip II Spain reached the peak of it’s power, Philip organized a Holy League between Spain and other states and assembled a fleet of ships which were used to destroy most of the fleet of the Ottoman Empire in the decisive Battle of Lepanto, in 1588 Philip sent the Spanish Armada in an attempt at a Catholic invasion of England, Philip was a “fervent Roman Catholic” who made a substantial contribution to opposing Protestantism in Europe, he showed consideration of some of his most humble subjects but had a bad relationship with his eldest son, identified as possibly having been on the autistic spectrum in the book Asperger syndrome and high achievement by Prof. I. James, who also claims that the co-authors of a medical history of Philip published in the 1950s identified his personality as “autistic or schizotypal”)

Enoch Powell (MBE) (1912-1998, real name John Enoch Powell, controversial right-wing British politician, identified as having had AS in the book Asperger Syndrome - A Gift or a Curse? by Viktoria Lyons and Prof Fitzgerald)

Paul Robeson (1898-1976, American singer, civil rights activist, actor, athlete and writer, qualified as a lawyer, of African-American heritage, was the only black student during his time at Rutgers University, condemned racism, segregation and lynching in the US, defended Stalin’s policies and won a Stalin Peace Prize in 1952, had a powerful bass-baritone singing voice, fluent in around 12 languages and studied other languages)

Richard Stallman (b.1953, software engineer, founder of the free software movement, inventor of the “copyleft” concept, awarded a MacArthur Fellowship in 1990, leads an unconventional spartan lifestyle based at a university, speaks a number of languages, in an interview Stallman described a difficult and rebellious childhood in which he was sent to a private school in which most students “were either insane or stupid”, and according to another source “Stallman considers himself afflicted, to some degree, by autism, a condition that, he says, makes it difficult for him to interact with people.”)

Screaming Lord Sutch (1940-1999, born David Edward Sutch, changed his name to Screaming Lord Sutch, 3rd Earl of Harrow even though he had no such title, British eccentric, rock musician, co-founder of a successful protest party, the Official Monster Raving Loony Party which had the election slogan "Vote for insanity: you know it makes sense.", an LP of Sutch's was voted the worst album of all time, he combined horror themes with rock music in stage shows years before glam rock or Alice Cooper, disliked illicit drugs but drank a lot of tea, closet dyslexic and a poor speller but a fan of George Orwell, memorized the political satire novel Animal Farm, a house-clutterer, used note-taking for organization but had a reputation for being late, one ex-girlfriend reported in a biography to have claimed that she and Sutch knew he had Asperger syndrome, irregular sleeper, suffered from severe headaches, reported as diagnosed with depression, committed suicide late in life reportedly with depression and bipolar disorder drugs Prozac and Lithium in his system, never married but survived by a son)

Eamon de Valera (1882-1975, Irish president, author of Ireland’s constitution, professor of mathematics, identified as having AS or autistic features in the book Autism and creativity: is there a link between autism in men and exceptional ability? by AS expert Prof. Michael Fitzgerald and also in the book Unstoppable brilliance: Irish geniuses and Asperger’s syndrome by Prof. M. Fitzgerald and A. Walker and also in an academic paper by Prof. M. Fitzgerald)


Bezroukov, Nikolai (1996-2006) Portraits of open source pioneers: chapter 3 Prince Kropotkin of software: Richard Stallman and the war of the software clones.
[Richard Stallman]

Bill Gates. (1998) You Tube. (recorded September 2nd 1998).
[video of Bill Gates rocking]

Caplan, Arthur (2005) Would you have allowed Bill Gates to be born?: advances in prenatal genetic testing pose tough questions. May 31 2005.
[Bill Gates]

Elmer-DeWitt, Philip and Farley, Christopher Joh (1994) Diagnosing Bill Gates. Time. Vol. 142 Issue 4:p 25.
[Bill Gates]

Fischer `mildly autistic' as child (1999) The Newcastle Herald (includes the Central Coast Herald). Dec 14, 1999. Edition: Late, Section: News, pg. 5
[Tim Fischer]

Fitzgerald, Michael (2004) Autism and creativity: is there a link between autism in men and exceptional ability? Brunner-Routledge.
[Wittgenstein, Sir Keith Joseph, Eamon de Valera, W. B. Yeats, Lewis Carroll, Ramanujan, Socrates, this book is partially available to read through Google Book Search]

Fitzgerald M. (2003) Did ‘Stonewall’ Jackson have Asperger’s syndrome? Society of Clinical Psychiatrists
[Stonewall Jackson]

Fitzgerald, Michael (2001) Did President Eamon De Valera have a developmental disorder? Journal of Medical Biography. Vol. 9, no. 4 (Nov. 2001).
[Eamon De Valera]

Gillberg, C. (2002) [Charles XII seems to have fulfilled all the criteria of Asperger syndrome] (article in Swedish) Lakartidningen. 2002 Nov. 28;99 (48):4837-8.
[Charles XII of Sweden]

Grandin, Temple (1995) Thinking in pictures: and other reports from my life with autism. 1st edition. Doubleday. 1995.
[Einstein, Wittgenstein, van Gogh, Bill Gates]

Gross, Michael (accessed 2007) Richard Stallman, high school misfit, symbol of free software, MacArthur-certified genius. The More Things Change.
[Richard Stallman]

Harris, Robert (2006) “Autistic” Brown loses the plot. The Sunday Times. TimesOnline. September 10, 2006.,,2087-2350740.html
[Gordon Brown]

James, Ioan (2005) Asperger syndrome and high achievement: some very remarkable people. Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
[Michelangelo, Philip of Spain, Newton, Swift, John Howard, Cavendish, Jefferson, van Gogh, Satie, Russell, Einstein, Bartók, Ramanujan, Wittgenstein, Kinsey, Weil, Turing, Highsmith, Warhol, Glenn Gould]

Lagerkvist, B. (2002) [Charles XII had all symptoms of Asperger syndrome: stubbornness, a stereotyped existence and lack of compassion] (article in Swedish) Lakartidningen. 2002 Nov. 28;99(48):4874-8.
[Charles XII of Sweden]

Ledgin, Norman (2002) Asperger’s and self-esteem: insight and hope through famous role models. Future Horizons, 2002.
[Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin, Orson Welles, Marie Curie, Carl Sagan, Glenn Gould, Mozart, Thomas Jefferson, Bela Bartok, Paul Robeson, Gregor Mendel, Oscar Levant, John Hartford, Temple Grandin, a book that is supposed to be an esteem-builder that appears to be loaded with negative and antiquated language]

Ledgin, Norman (2000) Diagnosing Jefferson: evidence of a condition that guided his beliefs, behavior and personal associations. Future Horizons, 2000.
[Thomas Jefferson, this entire book appears to be available to read through Google Book Search]

Lee, Ellen (2006) Founder of BitTorrent unlocks the secrets of online file sharing. San Francisco Chronicle. August 8th 2006 Edition: final, Section: business, p. F1.
[Bram Cohen]

Lucas, Philip (2001) John Howard and Asperger's Syndrome: psychopathology and philanthropy. History of Psychiatry. 2001 12: p.73-101.
[John Howard (1726-1790)]

Lucas, Philip and Anne Sheeran (2006) Asperger’s syndrome and the eccentricity and genius of Jeremy Bentham. Journal of Bentham Studies. Number 8
[Jeremy Bentham]

Lyons, Viktoria and Fitzgerald, Michael (2005) Asperger Syndrome - A Gift or a Curse? Nova Science Publishers Inc.
[Kinsey, Kubrick, Patricia Highsmith, Charles Darwin, Bertrand Russell, Robert Walser, Joy Adamson, Enoch Powell, William James Sidis, Kurt Goedel]

On the brink 1 – Tim Fischer. Life Matters. ABC Radio National. 13th December 1999.
[“The first of our series 'On the Brink', about the teenage years…” Fischer claimed to have had a degree of autism]

Rivlin, Gary (1999) The plot to get Bill Gates: an irreverent investigation of the world's richest man and the people who hate him. Random House.
[Bill Gates]

Roth, Daniel (2006) Torrential reign. In: The best American science and nature writing 2006. editor; Brian Greene, Houghton Mifflin Company, 2006, p. 201-209.
[Bram Cohen]

Roth, Daniel (2005) Torrential reign. Fortune. October 31 2005.
[Bram Cohen]

Royal College of Psychiatrists (2006) Royal College of Psychiatrists Annual Meeting 2006 Glasgow: Thatcherism founder had Asperger's Syndrome. (press release) The Royal College of Psychiatrists. 11th July 2006.
[Sir Keith Joseph, Enoch Powell, Eamon de Valera, W. B. Yeats, Sir Isaac Newton]

Sharpe, Graham (2005) The man who was Screaming Lord Sutch. Aurum Press. 2005.
[David (Screaming Lord) Sutch]

Thompson, Ben (accessed 2007) Badass of the week: Charles XII of Sweden. Ben Thompson: my stupid website.
[an amusing piece about Charles XII of Sweden]

Walker, Antionette and Fitzgerald, Michael (2006) Unstoppable brilliance: Irish geniuses and Asperger’s syndrome. Liberties Press. 2006.
[Robert Emmet, Pádraig Pearse, Éamon de Valera, Robert Boyle, William Rowan Hamilton, Daisy Bates, WB Yeats, James Joyce, Samuel Beckett]

Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation.

Wright, Tony and Gray, Darren (1999) Fischer claims autistic links with his child. The Age (Melbourne). December 14th 1999. Edition: National, Section: News, pg. 3.
[Tim Fischer] (2005) Bram Cohen: creator of BitTorrent.
[Bram Cohen]

Copyright Lili Marlene 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Have your heard about the court proceedings starting this month in the US, which will investigate claims filed by parents of autistic kids, who claim that vaccinations caused their childrens' autism?

Here's a link to a story in Slate about this:

I sincerely hope that publicizing the unethical things that parents have had done to their kids will further discredit these parent groups, and their misguided cause.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

What autism epidemic?

Allen, Arthur (2007) The autism numbers: why there’s no epidemic. Slate. January 15 2007.

Fombonne, Eric MD FRCPsych (2001) Commentary: is there an epidemic of autism? Pediatrics. Vol. 107 No. 2 February 2001, pp. 411-412

Gernsbacher, Morton Ann (2007) A conspicuous absence of scientific leadership: the illusory epidemic of autism.

Grinker, Roy (2007) Unstrange minds: remapping the world of autism. Basic Books.

Grinker, Roy and Chew, Kristina (2006) If There's No Autism Epidemic, Where are all the Adults with Autism? Unstrange minds (web site)

Lawton, Graham (2005) The autism epidemic that never was. New Scientist. Number 2512, August 13 2005.

Lilienfeld, Scott O. and Hal Arkowitz, Hal (2007) Autism: An Epidemic?: a closer look at the statistics suggests something more than a simple rise in incidence. Scientific American Mind. April 4th 2007. Volume 18, Number 2 April/May 2007, p. 82-83.

Ritvo, Edward R. MD (1999) No epidemic of autism. FEAT Daily Online Newsletter. Aril 30, 1999.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Know your DSM!

The use of “metaphorical language” was mentioned in one of the diagnostic criteria for “Infantile Autism” in the DSM-III published in 1980, but metaphorical language or use of metaphor is not mentioned at all in the diagnostic criteria for “Autistic Disorder” in the DSM-IV, which only mentions “idiosyncratic language”. Was mention of metaphorical language use as an autistic trait dropped from the official diagnostic criteria in order to bring official definitions of autism into line with the belief held by some clinicians that autistic people have no imagination and have no ability to understand metaphor? I’m totally confused now; is it a healthy thing or is it a sign of pathology to use metaphorical language? My head is spinning!

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders; it’s a zany, zany book!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A quote that caught my eye:

"My concept of what constitutes a good person is based on what I do rather than what I feel."
- Temple Grandin in her book “Thinking in pictures: and other reports from my life with autism”

It's from this list:
ColburnI’ve read a couple of interesting articles in New Scientist magazine lately.

Lehrer, Jonah (2007) Blue Monday, green Thursday. New Scientist. May 19th 2007 Number 2604 p. 48-51.

Collins, Paul (2007) Have prodigy, will travel. New Scientist. April 7th 2007 Number 2598 p. 50-51.

The Lehrer article is about synaesthesia, explaining the latest thinking about the neurological condition. It is no longer considered a rare condition, in fact researchers are now claiming it is as common as affecting 1 in 20 people. Contrary to what is usually written about synaesthesia in brief descriptions in textbooks and reference books, synaesthesia is not just “crossed wires” mixing up the senses. This has been obvious to me for a long time. Forms of synaesthesia such as coloured letters or emotions that smell obviously do not involve a mixing up of two senses; they involve a mixing of senses with concepts or emotions. One synaesthesia researcher “now believes that synaesthesia is primarily triggered by concepts, particularly linguistic ones.” I think the colour-grapheme synaesthesia that runs in our family is linked with the precocious and advanced language and literacy abilities that are found in some family members.

The other (historical) article is I think written by the Paul Collins who wrote the interesting book about autists and synaesthetes titled “Not even wrong”. This article is about the life of number calculating prodigy Zerah Colburn, who wrote a memoir when we was an adult, and had 12 fingers and 12 toes.
The unique David Bellamy OBE is the rather belated newest addition to my list. I remember watching Mr Bellamy on ABC TV way back in the 1970s when I was just a kid. He was hugely famous and compelling to watch. I think his TV shows were some of the best media creations to come out of the 1970s, along with the music of Abba and the pop science books of Richard Dawkins. David Bellamy was so knowledgeable and so passionate about the environment. Only an autistic person could feel that excited about plants.

I get abnormally excited about plants. Ever since I was a young child I’ve been unusually fascinated with inanimate natural things, and nature in general. When the kids and I go on a bush walk I’m always pointing out the fascinating flora and wildlife. I like to make accurate plant identifications, knowing the current botanical Latin names, and I tell everyone what they are whether they want to know or not. I’d feel that I was an inadequate, pathetic failure in life if I couldn’t at least tell the difference between a trigger plant and a fan flower. There is always something splendid blooming where we live. In spring the beauty is obvious to anyone, one is surrounded with stunning colour. At other times of the year you may need to look close or look carefully to see nature’s fascinating show. We sniff and touch things as we go. I sometimes pinch leaves to see if they are aromatic, and sometimes I even get down on my hands and knees to see if some low-growing flower has a perfume. The smells and fragrances are half the pleasure.

Big list here:

Jane Austen may be appearing in this list in the future.