Friday, January 18, 2013

Autism, ADHD, Adulthood and Big Pharma

Some With Autism Diagnosis Overcome Symptoms:
Doctors have long believed that disabling autistic disorders last a lifetime, but a new study has found that some children who exhibit signature symptoms of the disorder recover completely.

The study, posted online on Wednesday by the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, is the largest to date of such extraordinary cases and is likely to alter the way that scientists and parents think and talk about autism, experts said. 

Researchers on Wednesday cautioned against false hope. The findings suggest that the so-called autism spectrum contains a small but significant group who make big improvements in behavioral therapy for unknown, perhaps biological reasons, but that most children show much smaller gains. Doctors have no way to predict which children will do well. 

“This is the first solid science to address this question of possible recovery, and I think it has big implications,” said Sally Ozonoff of the MIND Institute at the University of California, Davis, who was not involved in the research. “I know many of us as would rather have had our tooth pulled than use the word ‘recover,’ it was so unscientific. Now we can use it, though I think we need to stress that it’s rare.”  
Recover, disappear, "grow out of," whatever. The problem with autism, as I've pointed out over the years, is that like many other disorders of childhood behavior, no one has an understanding of what causes it. The circular reasoning of "behavior symptomology=diagnosis=behavior symptomology" never gets to the cause of these disorders. If there even is one.
On measures of social and communication skills, the recovered group scored significantly better than 44 peers who had a diagnosis of high-functioning autism or Asperger’s syndrome.  
Which doesn't exist anymore either according to the latest DSM-V. It's been rolled into the catch-all "general autism spectrum" of disorders.

If all of this makes me uncomfortable, it's because it reminds me of ADHD and how it too seemed to vanish once kids and teenagers became adults. Over a decade ago, studies began to show that kids simply grew out of it, and the reaction by Big Pharma was to change the game.

Suddenly, the DSM-IV 2000 edition was expanded to include, "adult ADHD" and within a matter of years we added millions of technologically distracted adults to the Big Pharma rolls.
There is good news and bad news about attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) — that is, if you’re a drug company. The bad news is the kid market has peaked out with 4.5 million U.S. children now carrying the label. The good news is adult ADHD is an emerging market. In fact, adult ADHD, with symptoms similar to pediatric ADHD such as impulsivity, distractibility and difficulty paying attention, following instructions and meeting deadlines, is the next big thing.

“Immature adult market continues to offer greatest commercial potential,” read a 2008 press release to the pharmaceutical industry from the market research agency Datamonitor: “Estimated to be twice the size of the pediatric ADHD population, the highly prevalent, yet largely untapped, adult ADHD population continues to represent an attractive niche to target.”
And to think, for years people accused us labeling theorists of being in the wilderness, in the realm of conspiracy theorists, because we dared question Big Pharma.

But check out the absurd "symptomology" of Adult ADHD.
So who might consider themselves part of this “untapped” market?
Like astrology in which anyone relates to Scorpio’s horoscope, almost everyone who takes an adult ADHD quiz will discover they are “sick.” To qualify as having attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder according to the most recent draft of the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM-5, soon to be published, you need to suffer from six or more of the following symptoms for at least six months.
  1. Often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, at work, or during other activities (e.g., overlooks or misses details, work is inaccurate).
  2. Often has difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play activities (e.g., has difficulty remaining focused during lectures, conversations, or reading lengthy writings).
  3. Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly (e.g., mind seems elsewhere, even in the absence of any obvious distraction).
  4. Often does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace (e.g., starts tasks but quickly loses focus and is easily sidetracked;  fails to finish schoolwork, household chores, or tasks in the workplace).
  5. Often has difficulty organizing tasks and activities (e.g., difficulty managing sequential tasks; difficulty keeping materials and belongings in order; messy, disorganized, work; poor time management; tends to fail to meet deadlines).
  6. Often avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort (e.g., schoolwork or homework; for older adolescents and adults, preparing reports, completing forms, or reviewing lengthy papers).
  7. Often loses things necessary for tasks or activities (e.g., school materials, pencils, books, tools, wallets, keys, paperwork, eyeglasses, or mobile telephones).
  8. Is often easily distracted by extraneous stimuli (for older adolescents and adults, may include unrelated thoughts).
  9. Is often forgetful in daily activities (e.g., chores, running errands; for older adolescents and adults, returning calls, paying bills, keeping appointments).
Who doesn’t have six of those characterizations? And who doesn’t have a neighbor or an in-law who has all of them?
Read the entire Salon piece, it goes into the history of various "ADHD front groups" for Big Pharma, the roll of Madison Avenue in all of this, and disease mongering.

But my favorite bits are this:
In 2009, Shire [pharmaceuticals] launched a Nationwide Adult ADHD Mobile Awareness Tour, which included a “mobile screening initiative” called the RoADHD Trip. The caravan, anchored by “the RoADHD Trip Tractor Trailer” which turned into a tented area with eight “self-screening stations,” traveled the country, visiting major cities such as Chicago, Indianapolis and Dallas. In each city, Shire said it was partnering with the Attention Deficit Disorder Association, “a leading adult ADHD patient advocacy organization, in an effort to assist up to 20,000 adults to self-screen for this disorder.”
LOL...a "RoADHD Trip." Not the kind of road shows Kerouac wrote about, although I suspect if he were around today, he would never have written "On the Road" because he would have been already diagnosed with ADHD and strung out on Big Pharma, drooling over in the corner with a dunce cap on.

But what a circus...
Introducing Adult ADD Boot Camp. Organized and In Control:

WARNING:  This program is only for people who are serious about overcoming the frustration of disorganization and are willing to put some serious work into their life to create a compelling future.
The RoADHD Trip by way of traveling circus analogy, with a bit of correctional boot camp thrown in. I'm so stupefied by this piece, I forgot where I was going with all of this.

Oh yeah, if we can expand ADHD into adulthood magically and overnight, then the same thing will no doubt be done with even the mildest forms of Autism. Soon, Big Pharma will be convincing young and middle age adults that if you had once been diagnosed with Autism (even though you're all good now), you probably still have it. And just to double check we'll be bringing our "Autism Road Show" to a town near you (Autism Boot Camp for Adults optional).

Sigh. Like mold (or astrology) the influence of Big Pharma and the Psychiatric-Industrial Complex continues to grow and morph into and unstoppable juggernaut of social control. The sanity industry grows more insane by the day.

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