If you haven't had a chance to watch the Autism now specials this week on PBS, here is a page with links to all the transcripts, including the extended interview with various specialists.
some of my favorite quotes out of this series:
From Dr Buie's interview
"ROBERT MACNEIL: Are gastrointestinal issues in the general population, not just children with autism, increasing?
DR. TIMOTHY BUIE: I think we’re recognizing some conditions to be increasing for various reasons. For instance, celiac, as we’ve now got a better ability to make the diagnosis with antibody testing and with genetic testing, we have found that there’s a much higher frequency of celiac disease than we used to believe. And so we recognize celiac to be more common. I’m not sure that it actually is more common, but we find it better.
Other conditions, we think, are on the rise. And one condition that’s, I think, a very important condition is chronic inflammatory bowel disease – Crohn’s disease. We do see that condition on the rise, and when we look at the prevalence of disease conditions that are on the rise, it holds a fairly similar trajectory to conditions like autism. It absolutely has a higher frequency.
ROBERT MACNEIL: Do you think there’s -- is there something that we should be looking into on that level?
DR. TIMOTHY BUIE: I think it’s a very interesting issue. I mean, the slide that Martha Herbert shows and that was originally in the journal of the American Medical Association a few years ago was a slide that showed that as there has been a decline in infectious diseases, there was a significant rise in a variety of conditions.
So as measles has decreased, as chicken pox has decreased, as all of these other conditions that we now vaccinate for have come down, we now see a rise in conditions that often have autoimmune linkages. Crohn’s disease is one of them; diabetes is one of them; autism, although not linked to autoimmune conditions, is on the rise with that prevalence. So whether that’s related and whether that has something to do with the overall intestinal hygiene or other bacterial exposures or our immune environment, I think, is a very hot topic right now."
From Dr Herberts Interview:
"ROBERT MACNEIL: We have introduced, in the last couple of generations, hundreds, if not thousands, of new chemicals into our households, our farms - everywhere. Could you see that change in our, how to put it neutrally, toxic environment as connected with the rise in autism?
DR. MARTHA HERBERT: I think that what you have is definitely a question of toxics and toxics in our environment, that some of them act like our own molecules, like hormones, for example. That's called endocrine disruption. Some of them get confused with neurotransmitters. Some of them jam up our receptors. Some of them damage our cell membranes. Many, many of them damage our mitochondria -- our energy factories in our cells.
When we were having this explosion of our chemical revolution, we didn't have any way of knowing the subtle impacts on cellular function. We thought, if it doesn't kill you, it's probably okay. But now we're learning that it can alter your regulation way before it kills you. So I think that's one of the big factors. I'm also concerned about the way we've been treating our gut bugs, where the gut micro-biome -- what we're learning so much in the last few years about how much the organisms in our gut affect our whole health."
From Dr Fishbach's Interview:
"ROBERT MACNEIL: It's strange that if there are so many contributing genetic factors that are predisposed, that the symptoms of autism, at least the neurological symptoms, are relatively consistent. The disabilities you mentioned.
DR. GERALD FISHBACH: Yes. It comes back to the synapse as a molecular machine. As I said earlier, the complexity of the synapses really being revealed in our last generation. And more every day. So there are many ways to alter a synapse. One can alter the amount of chemical transmitter that's released. One can alter the number or the efficacy of the receptors that receive that transmitter and the target cell. One can alter the way that synapse learns how it may change its transmission as a result of experience. And one can understand now how the number of synapses may change during development and in later life.
The brain is not hard-wired. It's not a computer. The broad outlines, the connections between systems, are fixed. But it's now clear that there's really microscopic rearrangement and reorganization of synapses. My feeling is there may be 100 ways to do that."