Posts Tagged ‘Autism Speaks’

By Justine van der Leun 

The subject of autism is one that often ignites a fiery debate, namely because so much remains unknown about the illness. Doctors, parents, caregivers and even people living with autism are sharply divided on everything from the causes to the possibility of a cure to the correct course of treatment. The most recent autism-related bombshell? The February 2, 2010, retraction by the medical journal The Lancet of a paper it published in 1998 alleging a connection between the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR) and autism. The claims made in the study, which led to a significant drop in vaccination rates for children, were determined to be false.

While most experts agree that there is a genetic component to autism, many other questions remain. To get two different medical viewpoints on the major issues, we conducted separate interviews with Paul Offit, M.D., chief of infectious diseases at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and author of “Autism’s False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for a Cure” and Geri Dawson, M.D., chief medical officer of Autism Speaks, an autism advocacy organization.

AOL Health: How do you define autism?

Paul Offit: Autism is a problem with speech and language and communication. It’s a neurological condition probably existent from birth.

Geri Dawson: Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by different areas of social interaction and communication. Individuals often have preoccupations, a restricted range of behaviors, stereotypical or ritualistic behaviors like hand flapping or are overly focused on a range of behavior.

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by Shannon Des Roches Rosa

Autism Science Foundation president Alison Singer is well known in the autism community for her formative role at Autism Speaks and for leaving Autism Speaks to found the Autism Science Foundation.  

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