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Obesity and Autism - did anyone else's heart sink?

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Old 04-21-2012, 09:28 AM   #1
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Default Obesity and Autism - did anyone else's heart sink?

When I heard this I think part of me died. My younger son has high functioning autism and I was obese when I was pregnant with him and had gestational diabetes.


I blogged about it today too.
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Old 04-21-2012, 09:39 AM   #2
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We can't blame ourselves for things like this. When we know better, we do better. Both the ladies I know with autistic children were obese during pregnancy too ironically.

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Old 04-21-2012, 09:44 AM   #3
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Hmm... I think they are really pushing to find some kind of link for autism to anything. The biggest concern I have would be heavy metals getting into the body, not proteins.

I work with autistic children and children with other developmental delays. None of the children I work with currently have overweight mothers...

Don't fret over it. This was probably a biased study... it says 21% of moms who have a child with autism were obese. Well isn't the percentage of obese Americans something more like 34%? If you look at it THAT way, if you are obese you are more likely to NOT have a child with autism.

I do know a lot of the autistic children I work with are obese... it has a lot more to do with the fact that some of them are particularly difficult to motivate to do active things, it stresses them out. And they are very sensitive to food choices... so the parents do what they can to get food into them.

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Old 04-21-2012, 09:58 AM   #4
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I agree that you shouldn't blame yourself (as a mom I know that isn't easy). My grown have some serious issues too and when I find myself blaming myself, searching for a reason I tell myself it is a waste of precious time and energy and self indulgent, that works for me. Deal with what comes your way the best way you can, and feeling bad about yourself saps your power to deal with things effectively. I also agree the "experts" keep trying to find links to autism and other issues, but remember these are all people looking to make a name for themselves in their fields of study and to do work that keeps that grant money coming in. Nothing happens in a vacuum, there are always other factors at work in these studies and sometimes the motives are less than pure.
Good luck with your son, there is a great site call wrong planet if you haven't checked it out, it might be helpful for you.
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Old 04-21-2012, 10:02 AM   #5
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you can't blame yourself for this. There are thin moms who have children with autism too. I was considered obese when I had my DD and she doesn't have autism. I think it's just something else they are looking into. I worked for a doctor and she had three children, two girls and a boy and her son is autistic. They need to find out why more boys are autistic than girls. Something about estrogen protecting the brain barrier? Idk, seems like I read that once when I was researching gluten free diets. They may never know exactly what causes it.
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Old 04-21-2012, 10:08 AM   #6
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There is no underlying factor to autism that has been found. No need to take one person's opinion to heart.
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Old 04-21-2012, 10:40 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Mama Bee View Post
Hmm... I think they are really pushing to find some kind of link for autism to anything.
^THIS. As someone who works in the field, THIS THIS THIS.

Trying like crazy not to fit into my genes.
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Old 04-21-2012, 10:43 AM   #8
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i was in DAMN fine shape when i was pregnant with my first daughter, the one with asperger's - it wasn't until i landed in the maternity home on bed rest with strict feeding regimen that didn't allow for inactivity that i gained 65lbs in the last 3mo. up to then, i hadn't gained anything at all. my doctor was going *hysterical*.

and you know what?

seriously, considering how many of them are SO gifted, i don't even count it as a disability - it's just a different kind of human. maybe it's not the kids that have to adapt - maybe it's society that has to evolve.

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Old 04-21-2012, 11:26 AM   #9
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Don't let this study get to you! It doesn't really have conclusive evidence anyway :/

I agree with Mama Bee and dcapulet, I think they're trying to find ANY LINK POSSIBLE to autism. I work in Special Education and many a teacher has come to me and expressed that there must be "something" going on that so many kids are diagnosed these days.

I think it's more awareness than anything. I work with children that right now would have probably fallen through the cracks 30, 40 years ago. Other children would have just been seen as eccentric and people would have shrugged their shoulders. When people thought of developmental delays, autism, etc. back then they thought of children who had trouble speaking and would need assistance for the rest of their lives. We now know that that's not the case.

It's quite easy to say that the rise of obesity and the rise of autism are related, but I think to find a SOLID stance on this we would have to go back to older definitions of how children were diagnosed and compare it to data from back then (if there even is data). A child with asperger's today probably would have not been diagnosed years ago, for example.

It's so easy to point fingers here and there but what comes down to it is that we're more aware of the fact that not every child fits into that cookie cutter mold of what we want them to. Instead of trying to find an answer so we can point fingers we need to make sure that all of these children get the education and services they deserve.

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Old 04-21-2012, 12:57 PM   #10
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I work with students with special needs, autism included. I think all the new studies that come out need to be taken with a grain of salt. I remember about 5 years ago there was a study that said there was a higher rate of autism in children born to parents who were engineers and accountants. Really? I am sure that can't be true. Love you children for who they are and celebrate the special gift that they are. ((hugs))
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Old 04-21-2012, 01:33 PM   #11
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actually, saggzz, it is true. it's called the Geek Syndrome.

high-functioning autistics, just by virtue of being who they are, tend to do well in things like engineering and science; more so than the neurotypical population. also, like tends to call to like - it's more often that two "aspies" hook up than an aspie and a neurotypical.

speaking for myself, i have never dated normals and probably never will. if i met a nice, decent guy with a good job who was kind to kids, animals, and old people, he wouldn't even register on my radar. he'd be a null void - and he wouldn't be interested in me, either. too much of what i say is misunderstood bec i didn't say it the right way, either verbally or physically. many times i've been accused of being sarcastic when i really wasnt' being so at all.

here's the article on Geek Syndrome and why Silicone Valley has a *massive* spike in asperger's and autism cases - far, far more so than for what just better diagnostics can account:


the one thing they ALL agree on: a huge chunk of autism is genetic, not just exactly how much french vanilla with garlic dill crunchies mama ate.

Last edited by threenorns : 04-21-2012 at 01:34 PM.
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Old 04-21-2012, 01:45 PM   #12
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here we go: from that article i cited above

In previous eras, even those who recognized early that autism might have a genetic underpinning considered it a disorder that only moved diagonally down branches of a family tree. Direct inheritance was almost out of the question, because autistic people rarely had children. The profoundly affected spent their lives in institutions, and those with Asperger's syndrome tended to be loners. They were the strange uncle who droned on in a tuneless voice, tending his private logs of baseball statistics or military arcana; the cousin who never married, celibate by choice, fussy about the arrangement of her things, who spoke in a lexicon mined reading dictionaries cover to cover.

The old line "insanity is hereditary, you get it from your kids" has a twist in the autistic world. It has become commonplace for parents to diagnose themselves as having Asperger's syndrome, or to pinpoint other relatives living on the spectrum, only after their own children have been diagnosed.

High tech hot spots like the Valley, and Route 128 outside of Boston, are a curious oxymoron: They're fraternal associations of loners. In these places, if you're a geek living in the high-functioning regions of the spectrum, your chances of meeting someone who shares your perseverating obsession (think Linux or Star Trek) are greatly expanded.

As more women enter the IT workplace, guys who might never have had a prayer of finding a kindred spirit suddenly discover that she's hacking Perl scripts in the next cubicle.
in short, one of the reasons asperger's and autism is sharply increasing is because these days, those on the spectrum've actually got a chance of having kids!


One of the first people to intuit the significance of this was Asperger himself - weaving his continuum like a protective blanket over the young patients in his clinic as the ****s shipped so-called mental defectives to the camps. "It seems that for success in science and art," he wrote, "a dash of autism is essential."
i told my two older daughters and my NVLD god-daughter and i'm telling my youngest daughter: "anybody who was ever anybody was never normal".

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Old 04-23-2012, 09:24 AM   #13
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Oh yeah, I'm a geek (was a database programmer - now a stay-at-home mom homeschooling my child with Aspergers) and married a geek (an engineer). I've worked with both engineers and computer programmers and can attest that there is a higher population of autism there. Maybe there should be more studies about the genetic component - I suspect that some of the higher incidence of autism can be attributed to more women in previously male-dominated careers and simply more women attending college and meeting men who are just like them "autistic".

I have 3 kids; the oldest has been diagnosed with Aspergers (only because I had to to protect him at school - didn't work) and 2 who I have not had to have diagnosed because they don't have the extreme behaviors. They're all extremely intelligent (youngest taught herself to read at the age of 3), but have such a hard time "fitting in". I think they're amazing and interesting the way they are, but know from experience that they're going to have a difficult time in middle and high school with feeling different.

And did it ever occur to the researchers linking obesity and autism that autistic women tend to be overweight because of an increased interest in less active pursuits and therefore their children being more likely to be autistic is due to genetics (the mother is autistic) not because the mother was obese.

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Old 04-23-2012, 09:34 AM   #14
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Thanks everyone for your comments.

I think because they don't know what "causes" it that they are just looking for any connect and even though I "know" that this study, like most studies are flawed, it still put a "what if" in my head.

My husband is extremely intelligent - like EXTREMELY. PhD from Wharton kind of smart - people in his class coming to me saying, "you know your husband is the best student in the program" kind of smart. BUT, he's not autistic - at all. I am 'smart' (but not to that level) and I'm not autistic.

WHen we look in our families though, I would guess my brother, today, would be put on the spectrum, but back then - no (he's 38). My maternal uncle might have been too. Same with my husband's dad. So it's THERE as it's there many, many families. We just didn't know what to call it.

I have two kids - one nearly 16 and one just turned 7 over the weekend. My oldest has ADHD (bad), youngest high functioning autistic. Let me tell you, parenting has been NO JOKE. but they are also great kids - smart kids. Oldest one is very, very smart, but as scatter brained as they come. So hard to tell with the youngest with his language barriers and his limited interests, but he picks things up really fast and remembers EVERYTHING.

So, I know it's a mixed blessing. Many traits of autism (as with ADHD) are actually beneficial - a bonus. It's when too many of them collide/coincide that creates problems.
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Old 04-23-2012, 09:50 AM   #15
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Nobody in my family has that kind of intelligence (LOL) . Seriously, we are just your average people. There are nurses, legal assistants, factory workers, etc. There is no autism in my family that I know of. We have a large family too.
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