Monday, October 5, 2009

1% of 8 year olds are autistic?

A study reported in the LA Times says 1% of 8-year-olds in America have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. That's very hard to believe, unless the definition is so broad as to include ordinary engineers and computer geeks with some degree of Aspergers. And the article says 1% have been diagnosed! If that is not an error, there must be many more undiagnosed. Since it doesn't go away, that means 1% or more of adults have ASD.

Of course, in the case of Autism spectrum, the culture needs a certain number of Aspies to be engineers and scientists, so one wouldn't want to "cure" them all, even if we could. Similarly, bipolar artists and writers contribute disprortionately to the culture, until they kill themselves.

One percent is also the proportion of people they say hear the voices. Since these are not often in the same person, that means something like 2% of the population has one of these two organic brain dysfunctions. If you add bipolar, depression, OCD, Tourette's, and all the other organic brain problems, we may have 5% or 10% of the population running around with misfunctioning brains, not even counting those who watch Glenn Beck.

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