I’m Sue Gerrard. I am the parent of a child diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. I trained as a biologist, psychologist and primary teacher. My research into autism has raised questions about the concept of autism in particular, so-called mental disorders in general, and how scientists form their theoretical models.

My next post on this blog should be about Bernard Rimland’s work.


7 thoughts on “About

  1. Hi, I’m very intrigued by this site and keen to read it and learn about the history of the diagnosis of autism. I would, however, like to know what your ultimate view is. Could you give a summary or indication of your view?

    You indicated that your, “research into autism has raised questions about the concept of autism in particular, so-called mental disorders in general, and how scientists form their theoretical models.” I am very interested to read your posts, they sound extremely promising, but at the same time don’t want to be led down a wrong path. To be able to consider your arguments well I need to know at the beginning what your hypothesus is to give me a direction in the reading. I don’t want to spend my time reading this just to be led down a ‘it is caused by MMR Vaccinations’ or some such miscued view. 🙂

    Hope you are still around to read this.

    Oh BTW. I have an autistic son and an autistic brother.


  2. In a nutshell, the focus of my blog is on people’s mental models of autism.

    The popular view of autism seems to be this:

    It’s a single condition that causes impairments in social interaction, communication and behavioural flexibility, but these impairments can vary widely between individuals. Autism is associated in some unknown way with other symptoms such as epilepsy, motor, digestive and sensory processing problems. It’s not worth investigating these co-morbidities unless they are severe, until we know more about how they are related to autism. In short, autism is commonly seen as the still mysterious *cause* of all these things.

    My view is:

    That ‘autism’ is a shorthand term for abnormalities in social interaction, communication and behavioural flexibility and that they are only some of the range of unusual characteristics shown by individual people. Other characteristics can include epilepsy and problems with motor and digestive functioning and sensory processing. In short, I see autism as a label for a group of characteristics that might be caused by almost anything and the so-called co-morbidities of autism might be important indicators of what those underlying causes might be.

    Basically, the traditional view is that autism is both cause and effect. My view is that it is one – rather arbitrary – effect only and because it’s arbitrary (and vague) if we want to find the cause of autistic characteristics we might be better off looking at people’s other symptoms instead, because they tend to be neither arbitrary nor vague.

  3. Thanks for that, I have been reading the blog and finding it very interesting, you have opened up a whole world to me. What you are saying certainly makes sense. I know a number of ‘autistic’ children locally (via a local support group) and so many of them seem very different to my son. As they say with autistics, ‘they are all very different’. This is not just in their general personality but in the type of autistic behaviour they display.

    I found it particularly interesting to read, or have clarified, that ‘autism’ was originally used simply to describe types of behaviour, and was not a ‘disorder’ of its own, and so that opens the possibility for ‘autistic’ behaviour to be connected to various different causes. In describing this to others I have compared it to being blind. Blindness itself is not a disease, there are many causes of blindness and no one would assume that any two people who are blind would necessarily be blind for the same reason.

    It changes your way of thinking about your son when you think of him as displaying ‘autistic behaviour’ as opposed to ‘having’ autism.

    Thanks for the blog.


  4. information processing ie; face blindness, CAPD, failure to recognise subtle expressions, along with biological markers as ear shape and position, philtrum positioning in relation to corners of mouth, innocent murmurs, amblyopia in between 25-86% of individuals, bone and brain structural abnormalities, white matter, mini columns etc. scoliosis, etc. Rocking, sleep disturbances, parasomnias, digestive issues, allergies, pathological shyness, etc. hearing impairment especially with consonants in background noise, Certain types of neurological dyslexia, dysgraphia. etc.

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