I never really knew much about Autism, and I still don’t think I know a lot about it as of now (even though you guys did a really good job on presenting the disorder!). From everything that was presented on Autism on Wednesday, I found myself wondering why there wasn’t any real ties to culture, so I decided to do a little research on this in addition to talking to Hannah B. about it, and apparently culture doesn’t play a big role in the development of the disorder. However when I did do a little research into the subject, I found this paper on family coping and well being and social support of parents with children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). It suggests that perhaps autism is influenced by culture in development in terms of how people cope with and support the child with autism throughout their life, and how they are treated as people, as a result of their cultural settings around them.
This paper by Ling-Yi et al. (2010) is titled “Families of adolescents and adults with autism spectrum disorders in taiwan: The role of social support and coping in family adaptation and maternal well-being”. It did a comparison between parents with ASD children between Taiwan and the U.S. which found that Taiwanese mother’s used problem-focused and emotion-focused strategies when dealing with their children than U.S. families, which correlated with lower levels of stress and anxiety in the mother’s of ASD children. However, they also found that in Taiwanese families that had high levels of emotional focus, their families were less cohesive and there was more maternal depression. Both of these focuses influenced the progress of the Autistic children. A cure for autism has not been found, however there are many intervention-like programs and summer camps that deal with facilitating children with Autism and helping them to cope with their disorder to try and live a normal of a life as possible. I think this is definitely a cultural influence, a long with raising awareness, as the prevalence of the disorder has risen drastically in the last 20 years. I think it’s important for us to be able to recognize symptoms of Autism, and to know how to treat people with it, as I am sure we are to come across many people with Autism in the near future if the rate continues to rise.
On a completely different note, as I was looking for a connection between culture and Autism, I found this article that reviewed a whole bunch of other articles suggesting that a gluten/casein free diet could be used as a treatment in ASDs. What they concluded was that in fact there is not enough empirical evidence to actually suggest this as a treatment for Autism, but I just thought it was interesting that there were at least 15 articles (the ones they reviewed) that would suggest that something as simple as a child’s diet could potentially be used as a treatment for Autism. I guess it’s worth looking at, but I personally think that something that is so heavily based as a neurological disorder may need more than a dietary change.