Monday, June 28, 2010

"Stop uncontrolled experiments on autistic children" says leading science magazine

In the latest edition of New Scientist magazine there is an editorial and also a feature article about psuedoscientific "treatments" and "cures" for autism. I cannot think of any magazine that gives better coverage of the many issues and controversies and scientific theories and research studies that are relevant to the autistic spectrum. I'd be completely lost without my fave geek mag.

"Stop uncontrolled experiments on autistic children."
Editorial
New Scientist
June 23rd 2010 Issue 2766
http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20627662.300-stop-uncontrolled-experiments-on-autistic-children.html


"Desperate measures: The lure of an autism cure." by Jim Giles
New Scientist.
June 23rd 2010 Issue 2766
http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20627661.300-desperate-measures-the-lure-of-an-autism-cure.html?full=true

Sunday, June 27, 2010


Lili Marlene’s list of new, planned and upcoming publications that are related to Kevin Rudd and the Rudd government (with links to related video and audio broadcasts)


Crabb, Annabel (2010) Rise of the Ruddbot: observations from the gallery. Black Inc, July 2010.
http://www.blackincbooks.com/books/rise-ruddbot
[looks like it will be in the comedy genre, but maybe not such a hoot in light of recent events]


The Rise (and Fall) of the Ruddbot: Annabel Crabb with Julian Morrow (video)

SlowTV July 2010
http://www.themonthly.com.au/rise-and-fall-ruddbot-annabel-crabb-julian-morrow-2606


Marr, David (2010) Power Trip: The Political Journey of Kevin Rudd. Quarterly Essay. Black Inc Publishing, Number 38, June 2010.
http://www.quarterlyessay.com/issue/power-trip-political-journey-kevin-rudd

Transcript of David Marr discussing Rudd on the 7.30 Report, with links to video
http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2010/s2920783.htm

Power Trip. David Marr talks to Robert Manne about Rudd's political journey. (video)
SlowTV
http://www.themonthly.com.au/video

video of this interview also available through The Wheeler Centre
http://wheelercentre.com/dailies/post/fa35c863713d/
[not sure what date this interview was recorded - maybe before the coup that removed Rudd]


K Rudd: powertrip interrupted. (video)
Big Ideas (ABCTV show) broadcast July 13th 2010
http://www.abc.net.au/tv/bigideas/stories/2010/07/13/2951058.htm
[same talk with Manne and Marr as above, available in full and edited versions]

Video: Power trip - David Marr on Kevin Rudd.
David Marr interviewed by Fran Kelly on Breakfast. Radio National. June 7th 2010
http://www.abc.net.au/rn/breakfast/stories/2010/2919853.htm


Rudd, Jessica (2010) Campaign ruby. Text, September 2010?
[a debut novel by K. Rudd’s daughter that apparently mirrors real life political events in an uncanny way]

Stories about J. Rudd’s upcoming novel from the Australian newspaper
http://catalogue.mup.com.au/978-0-522-85748-1.html
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/arts/author-jessica-rudds-family-ties-disguised/story-e6frg8nf-1225874720720


Stuart, Nicholas (2010) Rudd's way: November 2001 - June 2010. Scribe, July 2010.

http://www.scribepublications.com.au/book/ruddsway
[about the Rudd government]


Taylor, Lenore and Uren, David (2010) Shitstorm: inside Labor’s darkest days. Melbourne University Press, July 2010?
http://catalogue.mup.com.au/978-0-522-85729-0.html
["Shitstorm assembles a gripping picture of a rookie government facing the worst economic crisis in seventy-five years."]

Weller, Patrick (2010) Kevin Rudd: The Making of a Prime Minister. Melbourne University Press, August 2010?
http://catalogue.mup.com.au/978-0-522-85748-1.html

Patrick Weller interviewed on the National Interest on the ABC’s Radio National
http://www.abc.net.au/rn/nationalinterest/stories/2010/2937465.htm


Riddle me this ....

There is every indication that a great many Australians are not letting Thursday’s political assassination of our elected Prime Minister Kevin Rudd fade from memory, and are quite possibly not getting on with accepting Gillard as our new leader. A video of Rudd’s sad goodbye speech is currently one of the most viewed videos on YouTube in the news and politics category, and there are many different much-viewed versions of this speech on YouTube, with many comments attached, and within those comments can be found some heated exchanges.

After pondering recent events, one term that I would use to describe the recent actions of Gillard, and/or whoever it is that pulls her strings in the ALP, is the term “emotionally illiterate”. As I predicted there has been much emotional fallout from their actions and it has not done any good for the public image of Julia Gillard and the ALP. But how could this be? Gillard is a woman, and everyone knows that women are naturally most able when it comes to emotional literacy or emotional intelligence. What is emotional literacy? I believe it is all about knowing how to get things done without stepping on too many toes or upsetting people or making enemies, and being able to predict how people will act or react. I’d say Gillard looks like a “FAIL” in that department at the moment, but who can really tell?; the concept of emotional intelligence is as vague as the people who love to talk about it. Maybe Gillard does have a clue in that department, but she just didn’t care too much what the emotional consequences might be for her or for anyone else. But, but, aren’t women supposed to be by nature highly empathetic? A person who is a naturally over-endowed with empathy is surely not a person who would not care? This is a quite a puzzle. What is the solution? Well maybe the decision to act was not really her decision. Maybe she was seduced into the idea, as one commentator has speculated, or simply told what to do. Weak-willed or not, events could not have turned out as they have without Gillard’s consent. So what gives? Hey, maybe all those stereotypes about the psychological characteristics of females are a load of nonsense. Maybe women don’t essentially have super-powers when it comes to dealing with people. Maybe it’s just true that people are individuals, each with their own profile of weaknesses and strengths in the various human abilities. Or maybe most people are only skilled at understanding the psychology and emotions of other people who are similar to themselves? If being female does not necessarily mean one has some type of super-ability, then why is everyone getting so hyped over the moon because we now have a female Prime Minister?



Friday, June 25, 2010

More on the Rudd Assassination

I’m not going to stop writing about Kevin Rudd and his political assassination, and I hope to be able to find the time in my very busy life as a mother to explain why my interests are currently focused on these subjects rather than my usual fascinations with synaesthesia and Asperger syndrome, and interesting, important and creative people who have these conditions. I have no delusion that I am any kind of political commentator, but I do have opinions and observations that I'd like to share. Last night I was listening to the radio while doing the “Mum’s Taxi” thing, and I was fortunate to chance upon a repeat of Late Night Live with Phillip Adams on ABC Radio National, which included an interesting discussion of the Rudd assassination, including discussion with Laura Tingle and David Marr, who’s recent very interesting essay about Rudd I’ve written about recently, (and hope to write about more in the future). Do have a listen to this discussion. It is available over the internet.

One thing that I found most interesting about this discussion is that apparently Rudd put it on record in a speech that it was Gillard and Swan’s idea to give up on the ETS, and Rudd had opposed this at some point of time, but still took responsibility for the final decision (at 18.50 into the RN streaming audio). I believe the backflip on the ETS had an important negative effect on Rudd’s popularity with the public. If this is true it would be most consistent with my hubby’s theory that the people who run the ALP (whoever they are) set Rudd up for a fall, and had never really wanted a person like Rudd as a leader, but used Rudd and his good image as an effective means of getting rid of John Howard. My hubby is not a political commentator, and many of his views are most extreme and (shall we say) highly original, but this rings true to me. What do you think? I’d love to have more comments from my readers (I know someone is reading this stuff – who are you people?)


"Julia Gillard new Prime Minister "
Late Night Live with Phillip Adams
Radio National
http://www.abc.net.au/rn/latenightlive/stories/2010/2936384.htm

Today's quote

"Politics is Hollywood for ugly people."
- quote attributed to Mark Latham

Some words that have never been truer than they are today.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A nation clears its throat, stares at the floor, fiddles about with something in its pockets and tries to pretend it isn’t crying

I guess there must be some Australians who are celebrating tonight, or don’t care about politics, but tonight I feel nothing but anger and disappointment. I should be feeling pleased that President Obama’s appointment of Ari Ne’eman, a diagnosed autist, into an important position in the United States has finally been confirmed, but after witnessing the political hatchet-job on the elected Prime Minister of Australia Kevin Rudd my mood is not the least festive, and once again I’m appalled at the way this country treats good and clever people. Do I feel empowered as a woman now that we have a female leader? Get f***ed! I believe Gillard is a puppet of the ALP factional power-brokers. As the new Prime Minister she interviews like a politician who has nothing up her sleeve except well-polished evasive tactics and a few euphemistic catch-phrases that have been written by someone else.

What about Ruddy? Will he really stay in politics or will he go? That’s where my thoughts lie at present. I’m sure I’m not the only Australian who feels a great amount of respect for a man who can manage to give an intelligent political goodbye speech, at the same time promoting himself, crack a genuinely funny joke and recite a list, while being viewed by a nation of millions, in tears. As Annabel Crabb has observed, Rudd’s most affecting goodbye speech had a list as its basic structure - a list of achievements. When the established order is smashed by untrustworthy and unpredictable people, and emotions swirl and threaten, and there is no knowing what tomorrow will be like, a list is a simple structure that one can follow as a guide through trying times. When the world is a shitstorm, fiddle about with a list, I say! It’s interesting to note that this isn’t the first time that Kevin Rudd has made a political speech in such dire circumstances. I have read that the published diaries of former ALP leader Mark Latham include an account of Rudd unsuccessfully trying to convince Latham to give him a position as Shadow Treasurer in tears after being accused of leaking to the press, not long after the death of Rudd's mother. It just goes to show the incredible persistence of Rudd. He keeps on going while everything is falling apart, even himself. He has no “stop” button.

How were the Australian people informed this morning of the unfortunate fate of our elected PM? On the national broadcaster a speech was made by an unfamiliar voice confirming the results of the leadership challenge. One ABC commentator asked another one who he was. The reply was that his name was unknown. Isn’t that just like the ALP? A really important announcement is made by someone who probably isn’t known beyond the union movement or the party, and really important decision-making is done by faceless, nameless creatures who live in the basement, who lurk under the sink, and don’t come out till night-time. This is why I normally don’t vote ALP.

At the next federal election, will Julia Gillard prove to be as popular as the hunter who killed Bambi’s mother? Time will tell. I think Rudd’s moving, bordering on mawkish goodbye speech might have an effect on voters that the ALP never foresaw. The next election might be a good one for the Greens. I think I might vote Green. But today I’m wearing black.


Part one of the speech on YouTube:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PogIuqGLgtg&feature=related

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Confirmation of Ari Ne'eman's appointment to the US National Council on Disability (NCD) can be found here:
http://www.autisticadvocacy.org/modules/smartsection/item.php?itemid=117

He will be the first autistic person to serve as a member of the NCD. Go Ari!
The shitstorm that had to happen

It's been quite an exciting day on the political front! Earlier today we received the good news about Ari Ne'eman in the US, and now some exciting events at a completely different level in Australian politics. Tomorrow morning the ALP caucus will be voting for either Rudd or Gillard as the leader of the ALP and the Australian Prime Minister. It had to happen, didn't it? Did you see Rudd and Gillard on the telly? Now tell me, which one do you think gave the more professional and detailed speech to the media? Which one didn't stop lobbying for votes during what must be a hugely stressful time? Which one looked the most composed and prepared for tough times and huge responsibilities ahead? Indeed!

Did Gillard and other members of the ALP expect that Kevin Rudd would throw in the towell and give up on the spot without a knock-down-drag-out fight? How much they don't understand the man! At the beginning of the broadcast the media were reporting that Rudd had given up the leadership. What a joke. My hubby and I are of the opinion that if Rudd gets the boot at tomorrow's ballot, he will give up politics and take off overseas into some challenging job that pays top dollar, and might not even bother to write to his old friends in the ALP. He would need to take along an a extra suitcase to put his ego in. And Australian politics would lose one extraordinary talent. So what's new?

Is there anything that we the people and voters of this country can do to make our preferences known about who we want as our leader? I have no idea, politics ain't my thing, but hey, what would it cost to contact your MP if they are ALP, and share your thoughts and wishes. Pollies love it when you do that!

I'll bet Ruddy won't be getting too much kip tonight. A great night ahead for insomnia, I'd say!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Ari Ne'eman's appointment to NCD gone through?

I have read some reports that the US autistic advocate for autistic people and Founding President of the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network (ASAN) Ari Ne'eman has finally been appointed to the US National Council on Disability, but I can't find confirmation of this at the web sites of the NCD or ASAN. President Obama nominated Ne'eman quite some time ago, but his appointment was blocked anonymously by one or more members of the US Senate. We may never know the who or the why behind this obstruction. Apparently its all history now, anyway. Ne'eman was appointed to the Interagency Autism Committee earlier this year.

If it's all true I congratulate Mr Ne'eman. He carries the hopes of many with him. I wish we had someone like Mr Ne'eman in Australia.

If you don't know what Mr Ne'eman advocates and thinks, and would like to know more, I suggest you have a read of the piece by Mr Ne'eman linked to below that was published in Disability Studies Quarterly earlier this year. It's worth a look.


"Senate Confirms Controversial Autism Self-Advocate To National Disability Council"
Michelle Diament
Disability Scoop
June 22nd 2010
http://www.disabilityscoop.com/2010/06/22/neeman-confirmation/9133/

"Ari Ne’eman appointed to National Council on Disability"
Left Brain Right Brain
http://leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk/2010/06/ari-neeman-appointed-to-national-council-on-disability/

NCD Newsroom and Members
http://www.ncd.gov/newsroom/members/members.htm

ASAN
http://www.autisticadvocacy.org/

"The Future (and the Past) of Autism Advocacy, Or Why the ASA's Magazine, The Advocate, Wouldn't Publish This Piece"
Ari Ne'eman
Disability Studies Quarterly
volume 30, number 1 2010
http://www.dsq-sds.org/article/view/1059/1244

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Happy Autistic Pride Day!

Every day is Autistic Pride Day at Incorrect Pleasures. May your pleasures be truly pleasurable, regardless of how psychologically or socially correct they might be.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Biographers beat quacks any day of the week

I made sure to watch Q & A on ABCTV tonight, because the most intelligent, respected, witty but sometimes not completely correct biographer and political commentator David Marr was a guest tonight, and I knew he would be discussing a currently very hot topic that has also been an interest of mine for a long time - the personality and long-term prospects of our Prime Minister. In a previous post I've criticised the way Marr appears to have tackled the subject of his recently published piece in Quarterly Essay about Rudd, but I've still not been able to find time to read the essay compleletly (damned forced socializing when I'd rather be left to do some reading alone!). I don't think Mr Marr is beyond criticism, but I was blown away by the arrogance of the critique of Marr's essay tonight on Q & A from another guest on the show, Dr Jayashri Kulkarni, Professor of Psychiatry and director of Monash Alfred Psychiatry Research Centre. This lady psychiatrist claimed that as Marr is not a shrink like her, he is not qualified to publish judgements about the character and personality of Rudd (or others presumably). Well excuse me doctor! At least that arrogant @*% made my criticisms of Mr Marr look quite modest in comparison. I can't imagine what Dr Kulkarni would have to say about my big list of famous people who appear to have autistic traits, as diagnosed by shrinks, biographers and various non-medical personell. I get the impression that she'd need a week's psychoanalysis to sort out her feelings if she ever stumbled upon my humble blog. She quoted Freud once during the show and also spouted some Freudian terms, as if to impress. Should any shrink who still cares about Freud even to this extent be let loose on the public as a healer and be in a position of professional leadership, considering that Freud and his work has no scientific status whatsoever?


But what of Dr Kulkarni's argument? Are qualified mental health or psychology professionals the only people who are really qualified to write biographical portraits that deal with personality and emotional motivations? My God, if this were true librarians all around the should should get busy throwing out most of the books in their libraries in the biography sections, as very few are written by mind professionals, (and those very few that are aren't popular with the readers). Which group has the most insight into the minds of the famous and great - shrinks or unqualified biographers and journalists? I've read and partly read a great many biographical books and articles during the years that I've spent compiling my referenced lists of famous autists and famous synaesthetes. Many a time a famous person who has been identified as autistic has previously had dealings with the psychiatric or mind professions. Sometimes they were misdiagnosed, sometimes with disastrous consequences, sometimes not. Sometimes the shrink had something useful to say but didn't have an appropriate diagnosis to give as the professions have only recognized AS and HFA relatively recently. Unqualified biographers often make more sense because they aren't slaves to diagnostic manuals and fads and fashions in psychiatric diagnosis and care, and they aren't obliged to make any diagnosis at all. They spend months or years researching their subject, which is much longer than the 5 minute consultation that so often precedes a prescription of psych drugs these days. Some unqualified biographers do suggest that the subject of their writing has or had some diagnosable condition of the mind, and when biographers do this they are generally most cautious and humble in their suggestions, unlike some doctors, who expect their opinions to be treated as written in stone. A biographers job is to document, describe, understand and possibly explain, and on top of that, describe the historical context of that life, and the place in history of that life. Its a pity more shrinks aren't biographers. David Marr deserves an apology, but he responded to the Doc's nonsense with tolerance and humour, as he does.

Had I known which institution Dr Kulkarni was from I might not have been so surprised at her off-planet opinions. Last year I was most alarmed by some of the autism-related research that was being done at the Alfred Psychiatry Research Centre which I believe was run by The Alfred Hospital in Melbourne, Australia and Monash University. I guess it has changed it's name slightly to Monash Alfred Psychiatry Research Centre. I was also most concerned about the way this faddish mirror-neuron research was being hyped to heaven in the Australian media. I shared my concerns at the forum of the activist group Aspies For Freedom. As far as I can tell these research studies are still current and the researchers are waiting for autistic volunteer subjects who would like to have the very basis of their minds and personalities reshaped by means of transcranial magnetic stimulation. Unfortunately I think I've got something else on this week.

Q & A (ABCTV show)
http://www.abc.net.au/tv/qanda/

Quarterly Essay
http://www.quarterlyessay.com/


Sunday, June 13, 2010

Gorgeous genius Glenn Gould

On Saturday Radio National broadcast an interesting interview with Peter Raymont on The Music Show. Raymont’s revealing documentary about the late legendary Canadian autistic pianist Glenn Gould, titled Genius Within: the Inner Life of Glenn Gould was discussed in this interview by Andrew Ford. The doco movie is being screened in Australia at some film festivals, and will go to the cinemas later this year.

It’s interesting to note that in an excerpt from the doco broadcast on The Music Show the woman who was the love of Gould’s life said that towards the end of their relationship Gould became more difficult to live with because he was taking various psychiatric drugs, which don’t seem to have done him any good at all. Gould died from a stroke at the tragically young age of 50. You can listen to the interview through the ABC's website, and take a look at the movie trailer at the movie’s website. I never realised what a looker Gould was during his younger years, before he disappeared underneath those soft, cosy-looking coats and scarves and caps.

Glenn Gould: the untold story of his personal life. The Music Show. Radio National. June 12th 2010.
http://www.abc.net.au/rn/musicshow/stories/2010/2925482.htm


Genius Within: the Inner Life of Glenn Gould (movie website)
http://glenngouldmovie.com/





Saturday, June 12, 2010

I've just updated my list of famous living people who are or may be autistic. Three more interesting people have been added, including Michael Burry, and some more bits and pieces. I hope you find this list, which has countless links and references to further reading, listening and viewing, even more interesting and inspiring.

Clever, Creative, Controversial: A referenced list of 37 famous living people who have been identified in any way as autistic, to any degree, during any period of their life, including famous people diagnosed with Asperger syndrome (AS)
http://incorrectpleasures.blogspot.com/2009/10/clever-creative-controversial.html


Tuesday, June 08, 2010

A case of hyperthymesia / hyperthymestic syndrome in a famous autistic person?


I was recently looking through some articles about the Pulitzer Prize winning music critic Tim Page, who has Asperger syndrome, and as I scanned down to the end of a 2009 newspaper review of Page's 2007 memoir by Janet Maslin, I was struck by some similarities between the description of Page in the last two paragraphs of the article and descriptions that I have read of Jill Price, a woman who came into to public eye a few years ago as the first scientifically identified case of hyperthymestic syndrome, a brain-based condition characterised by a very extraordinary autobiographical memory. Jill Price has described herself as a person who constantly involuntarily relives memories, some going back many years, and who is often troubled by memories.

The researchers who described Price as their "patient" in a medical journal paper theorised that hyperthymesia or hyperthymestic syndrome is in some way linked with atypical brain development, but claimed that Price was not autistic. Since hyperthymestic syndrome has had some publicity in the popular media, other possible cases of the condition have been identified, and not surprisingly some of these people are autistic. I have identified an autistic savant who was the subject of a book chapter by the late biologist Stephen Jay Gould as a probable case of hyperthymesia. The fascinating autistic identical twin women Florence 'Flo' and Katherine 'Kay' Lyman also appear to have memory abilities of the type and level of hyperthymesia. Have I identified another fascinating autist who has a hyperthymestic memory?

The article about Tim Page by Janet Maslin describes a man who has an active life in the present but also lives in the past, which is in some ways similar to the people with hyperthymestic syndrome who have been described in the popular media, such as Jill Price and Brad Williams, who apparently like to keep collections of stuff from the past. I've discovered a story about the Lyman twins on the internet which features a photo of the twins both wearing T-shirts with "70's Preservation Society" written on them. There is a definite pattern here.


Maslin, Janet (2009) Reflections on a life lived way outside the box. New York Times. September 2nd 2009.
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/03/books/03maslin.html?_r=1
[about Tim Page]

(2009?) Twin savants fixated on Dick Clark.
Jezebel.
http://jezebel.com/5243027/twin-savants-fixated-on-dick-clark

Jill Price - list of references
http://incorrectpleasures.blogspot.com/2009/10/list-of-items-about-jill-price-also.html

Wikipedia contributors (accessed 2010) Hyperthymesia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.
http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Hyperthymesia&oldid=360152031

My article about the possible hyperthymesia in an autistic savant described by Gould
http://incorrectpleasures.blogspot.com/2008/04/hooley-dooley-stephen-jay-gould-wrote.html

Saturday, June 05, 2010

"Leadership is always a lonely race." - Kevin Rudd, quoted by David Marr, quoted by Samantha Maiden in the Weekend Australian June 5-6 2010.

The rest of this quote can be found on page 40 of Quarterly Essay number 38 by David Marr Power trip: the political journey of Kevin Rudd

It can also be found in my list of quotes:

Quotes that caught Lili's eye
http://incorrectpleasures.blogspot.com/2006/11/lilis-favourite-quotes-autists-are.html
Thomas Jefferson – the third President of the United States – and autism: a list of references

Attwood, Tony (2000) The autism epidemic – real or imagined. Autism Asperger’s Digest. November/December 2000.
http://www.tonyattwood.com.au/pdfs/attwood4.pdf
[Albert Einstein, Thomas Jefferson, Mozart, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Glenn Gould, Alan Turing]

Cowen, Tyler (2009) Create your own economy: the path to prosperity in a disordered world. Dutton, 2009.
http://createyourowneconomy.org/
[Vernon Smith, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Peter Mark Roget, Adam Smith, Hermann Hesse, Warren Buffett, Tim Page, Hikari Oe, Craig Newmark, Bram Cohen, Temple Grandin, Glenn Gould, Immanuel Kant and Thomas Jefferson are all discussed in this book with reference to the autistic spectrum]

Fitzgerald, Michael, and 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]

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

http://jepson.richmond.edu/academics/projects/ESSAYGernsbacher.pdf
[Henry Cavendish, Nikola Tesla, Glenn Gould, Moe Norman, Michael Ventris, Einstein, Jefferson, Newton]

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]

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, parts of the book available to read through Google Book Search]

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

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Les Murray to be featured on Talking Heads

The Australian autistic poet Les Murray is scheduled to appear on the Talking Heads biographical interview show on ABC television on Monday June the 21st 2010. Should be interesting.

http://www.abc.net.au/tv/talkingheads/default.htm
It's no surprise - some letters about David Wolman's autism article in New Scientist magazine

I've noticed that the recent interesting article about the supposed pros and cons of autism that was published in New Scientist on the first of May 2010 has inspired some letter-writing, which isn't surprising as autism is always a topic that draws interesting and strong opinions, and one of those letter writers is Michelle Dawson, which again, isn't surprising. Ms Dawson took issue with the bit in Wolman's article in which Wolman made the claim that three-quarters of autists have an IQ in the intellectually disabled range, which once again, isn't surprising. My bullshit detector went off when I read that bit too, but the truth be told, I was so pleased to see at least an airing of some examination of the positive side of the spectrum in a magazine article that I didn't follow it up. One would assume that in this day and age an article about "autism" in New Scientist should include the whole autistic spectrum, including AS, under the term "autism". By most defintions, people with AS are supposed to have a normal level of intelligence, and we make up a good proportion of the spectrum. I find it hard to believe that there is any study that has found that the population of the spectrum as a whole has a distribution of intelligence like that described by Wolman.

My guess is that Wolman took the questionable figure from the 2007 Sharon Begley Newsweek article about the Raven's IQ test and children who "had full-blown autism, not Asperger's", and messed up the facts a bit like journalists do, and dropped it into the May 2010 New Scientist article about autism in a way that made it look like it might have been a research finding from the Dawson/Mottron team. If I were Dawson or Mottron I'd take issue with this too. The online version of Begeley's article gives no source for her figure of three-quarters of autistics being subnormal in IQ. I wouldn't be surprised if Begley got that figure from some dumbed-down unreferenced fact-sheet about autism put out by some autism association or charity. God only knows where the figure might have originated before that point.

Letters
New Scientist
May 26th 2010
http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20627620.100-autism-accuracy.html
Goodbye Randolph Stow
(This post added to May 6th 2010)

The Western Australian-born novelist Randolph Stow died in Britain recently. He is being described by newspapers as reclusive, solitary and eccentric. He wrote about the sense of space and the solitude that can be found in the Australian bush (I can tell you this is true). His literary career started early and was prolific and successful, but tapered off into silence. Randolph Stow lived alone for most of his life. He never married, which possibly shouldn’t be surprising as he was apparently gay, but in the recent press articles that I have read issues of sexuality have not been cited as an explanation for Stow’s lack of social involvement. Stow “remained outside all Australian literary networks” and reportedly also had little involvement in the social world of literature in the UK where he had lived since the 1960s. One could speculate about a possible place on the autistic spectrum for this influential figure in Australian literature, but I think what really matters is that here we have one more example of a confirmed loner who has achieved some kind of greatness, which just goes to prove that all of those people who like to say that sociability is an essential requisite to being any kind of success, or any kind of human, are full of it.

P. S. I've found a couple of interesting details about Randolph Stow in an old book Randolph Stow by Ray Willbanks, published in 1978. Willbanks quoted from Geoffrey Dutton when he wrote that Stow came from "an old station-owning family of style, education, and eccentricity ..." Willbanks added that Stow's mother's family claimed Thomas Jefferson as a relation. Why is this interesting? I have found no less than seven publications by seven different authors, three of them regarded as having expertise in the area of autism/Asperger syndrome, two of them professors, who all assert that President Jefferson was or could have been autistic. Norm Ledgin has even written a whole book arguing that Jefferson had Asperger syndrome, a condition that runs in families and is genetic. If you'd like to see the list of publications that mention Jefferson in regard to the autstic spectrum, see a more recent post in my blog.