Monday, September 27, 2010


YOU CAN'T TELL A WELSH MAN something my father told my mother BEFORE they got married and she still married him and stayed with him!
All I can say is there is no accounting for love.


I first read about this research when I was doing my masters in Autism and there is a lot that I agree with.

From The Times
September 12, 2007
Testosterone finding backs the ‘extreme male brain’ autism theory
Mark Henderson, Science Editor

The theory that autism is caused by an extreme version of the “male brain” has won strong support from new research showing that male hormones in the womb are linked to social and emotional skills in childhood.
Scientists at the University of Cambridge found that both boys and girls who are exposed to high levels of testosterone before they are born are more likely than usual to develop traits typical of autism, such as a preference for solitary activities and strong numerical and pattern-recognition skills.
The study included only children who are not autistic, but it gives some of the firmest biological evidence yet that the social impairments that characterise the condition may be affected by prenatal hormone exposure.
This in turn backs the theory that autistic people are best understood as having extreme versions of a brain type that is common in the population at large, particularly among men.
The idea advanced by Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, who leads the Cambridge team, is that human brains are predominantly attuned either to empathising with others, or to understanding how systems work. Women are more likely to be in the first group and men in the second, while autistic people are extreme systemisers whose social problems emerge from a fundamental difficulty with empathy.
The model fits with the observation that autism is four times more common among boys. One possible explanation is that male hormones in the womb could promote systemising at the expense of empathy. Very high exposures may thus trigger autism.
Professor Baron-Cohen’s study, conducted with his graduate student, Bonnie Auyeung, looked at prenatal testosterone levels in 235 foetuses whose mothers had had amniocentesis.
When the children were born, they were followed up to assess their psychological development. The latest data, from questionnaires given to mothers when the children were eight, were presented yesterday at the British Association Festival of Science in York.
While all the children were developmentally normal, boys and girls who had higher levels of foetal testosterone were significantly more likely to have a large number of autistic traits such as preferring playing alone to joining in at birthday parties, and being good at remembering numerical patterns, such as car numberplates.
About 20 per cent of the variation between children’s autistic traits appeared to match foetal testosterone levels, with the remainder likely to be caused by genetic and environmental factors.
Previous research with the same group of children has shown that at 12 months, children with high foetal testosterone make less eye contact with their parents and look at others’ faces less frequently. At 18 months, they have a smaller vocabulary than children exposed to lower concentrations of the male hormone.
Professor Baron-Cohen said that the results did not prove that the link between male hormones and autistic traits was causal: both could be the result of something else. He also said that his team had not yet examined autistic children, only autistic traits in the normal population.
Even so, he said, the work added strong biological evidence to his extreme male brain theory. “The hypothesis was based on observed sex differences,” he said. “Simply put, girls tend to show better empathy, and boys tend to have a stronger interest in systems. Children with autism seem to have an exaggerated version of typical male preferences. They have a strong interest in systems, and difficulty empathising.
“We are now moving from a psychological level down to a biological level. It is an exciting development.”
Professor Baron-Cohen has won funding from the Medical Research Council to conduct a study using two large databases in Denmark, an archive of 90,000 amniocentesis samples, and a national register of people with psychological or developmental disorders. He said: “We are going to look at who has a diagnosis of autism and then pick out their amniocentesis sample and look at testosterone.”
Professor Baron-Cohen said it was unlikely that it would be possible to prevent autism by controlling foetal testosterone, not least because doing so might adversely affect other aspects of foetal development.

I believe that Beauty is TYPICALLY autistic in lots of ways but I would also like to say that she has an amazing sense of humour, fantastic imagination and loves to hug and kiss which are not meant to be typical traits of autism (well, as every other article on autism seems to want to reassure me of)!.
It is a bit like saying though that all little girls love ponies and all little boys love football!
Do they?
Well I have 6 girls and only Belle was PONY obsessed but Beauty is DOG obsessed and parents of small boys will have to let me know if they are football obsessed!
However , next door to me lives a young family with 2 small boys and they are regularly coming into my garden to fetch their ball though I think it is the Dad who is the most obsessed.....he has a Cardiff City scarf in the back window of his car!

If what Professor Baron -Cohen (and yes I think they might be related) has to say is true then I think it goes a long way in explaining the behaviour modification that works best with Beauty.

Hands up how many women have heard of or employed the following Behaviour Modification Theory.
Men can be guided into doing what ever you want them to do as long as they are guided in the right way.In subtle ways, plant a seed of an idea that allows a man to believe that an idea is all his own and there is no stopping him but tell him he has to do something and he will dig his heels in like a mule and totally refuse to comply.
I am being totally serious here and I want you to know that I am not "BlokeBashing".
Whilst females need to be wooed in different but still subtle ways, men are less complex creatures and you take care of their creature comforts and and they will be happy to go along with most things.
Random thought I know but it must be easier to get a man to go shopping now that so many men have i phones and droids and other fancy phones.......they can surf in comfort in the best and the worst of the shops.
Yesterday I went to Asda and there were so many trailing men on their phones!!!!

Beauty is therefore very "male brained"from what Professor Baron-Cohen has explained.
If she does not want to do something then she will not but let her think it is her own idea and there is no stopping her.
Beauty has a Selective Eating Disorder which seems to happen a lot with children who have an ASD.

Selective Eating Disorder (SED) (also known as picky or fussy eating, or perseverative feeding disorder) is an eating disorder that prevents the consumption of certain foods. It is often viewed as a phase of childhood that is generally overcome with age. Children may not grow out of being a picky eater, however, and may continue to be afflicted with SED throughout their adult lives.

The British Journal of Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry states that:

Selective eating is the little studied phenomenon of eating a highly limited range of foods, associated with an unwillingness to try new foods. Common in toddlers, it can persist into middle childhood and adolescence in a small number of children, most commonly boys. When this happens social avoidance, anxiety and conflict can result.

And my way of dealing with the situation is to make Beauty think that any additions to her eating repertoire are purely her own choice.
If I were to put something new on Beauty's plate at meal times then she is very unlikely to even to try it.
However, if I sit next to her whilst she is eating with my own food she is more likely to see it on my plate and want to try it.
From this technique , Beauty has learned to eat fish, chicken, Yorkshire Puddings,ham,fromage frais,pizza and so much more.
I have seen a number of programs on TV about selective eating but the children I have seen them working with are normally developing and what works with them would not work with Beauty.
Plus the ultimate treatment for normally developing children with this problem is to only allow them to eat the offered food and eventually they will eat it.But with a child on the autistic spectrum this will not normally work and will possibly result in starvation as they will just refuse to eat.
And that is just cruelty.
As Beauty's teachers in school have commented " SHE WORKS TO HER OWN AGENDA" and if you push her and she does not want to do something then she has been known to become like a crazed, flailing animal and that can be physically painful.....for others!

But being as stubborn as a mule also works!
We have guinea pigs and a rabbit and so I prepare them raw vegetables and when Beauty was small she went to take some of the vegetables to eat and I shouted NO because they were a bit grubby but she tried to eat them anyway and has ever since.
She eats raw cabbage, broccoli , carrots and lettuce and I am convinced she eats them because she thinks she is doing something naughty.
She also eats daisies!!!!(which her idiot sisters have been known to feed her because they think it is funny!)

Beauty also has sleep disturbances and sometimes she can be awake from 2am and not go back to sleep but she can also veer towards the other end of the spectrum.
At times she is like a teenager and nothing seems to make her want to get out of bed in the morning.
However, there is something that she loves and that is bath time and I only have to put my head around the bedroom door and call BATHTIME and she is up and out of bed and undressing herself to get in the bath.
Forcing Beauty never seems to work.

I also find that arguing with her never works.
When she sees her school dress after bathing she frequently starts shouting NO SCHOOL and I totally ignore it, if I didn't she would just repeat NO SCHOOL no matter what I replied. I help her to dress and sit her at the breakfast table for he breakfast and carry on as nothing has happened.If Beauty had been a normally developing child her favourite phrase would have been BUT WHY .
The girls will vouch for this because when they are on the phone they complain of Beauty's noise and they say they cannot concentrate and I say WHAT NOISE?
Many males can be like this.
How many males out there think that they have "won an argument" but yet the woman went on to do what she felt was right anyway?
I am in no way saying that men and children on the autistic spectrum are stupid.....far from it.
It is because of their high level of intelligence that such subtlety has to be used.
The point I am making is that dealing with men and children on the autistic spectrum , there needs to be a similar approach and Professor Baron-Cohen's research has a lot of truth in it.
However, to prove that this is just the opinion of a mother of a child with autism(who most of the time suffers from sleep deprivation due to her child's inability to sleep properly!!!!) I also think that children and dogs need to be brought up in a similar way.
I have watched Dog Borstal ( and Mic is brilliant)and strength ,love ,organisation and reward are the best ways for dogs and children.
Though I am not sure Beauty would go for the doggy treats.

1 comment:

Steve said...

Most theories are too reductive for my liking but that doesn't mean there is a germ of truth in all of them. As for us blokes, I think we tend very much in the here and now - as you say, as long as our immediate needs are being met we are by and large contented - women I notice tend to think to the future and ultimate resolutions. This is why most men appease kids to quieten them in the now while women will refuse to do wanting them to learn the lesson for the future. That is definitely the case with me and my wife!




An Irish Blessing

(A Blessing from St. Patrick)
May the road rise to meet you,

May the wind be always at your back,

May the sun shine warm upon your face,

May the rains fall soft upon your fields,

And, until we meet again,

May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.