Star Ford

Essays on lots of things since 1989.

Autism diagnostic criteria in DSM-V

There’s been a lot of buzz about the DSM-V update to the autism diagnostic criteria. (NY Times article)

The autblogs seem to oppose it, the reasons for which were not readily apparent to me, so I thought I would pull together some thoughts and opinions about the change. The first thing I noticed about the web-buzz is the rush to judgment about what will happen based on this or that study, such as the idea that they are trying to deny people services (or alternately, that they are trying to sell people more drugs).

In my analysis, as I will elaborate on below, my main conclusions are (1) It is important to get the definition right, but the new DSM-V scattered language is not a help. As currently proposed, it could cause a more random, less helpful rate of diagnosis. (2) The DSM should be less judgmental, and not define thresholds or attempt to allocate services. The allocation of services is a separate issue entirely, and should be based on the observed needs of people in their environment. And (3), the definition of autism should be based on a more structurally sound understanding, using the categories of focus, sensitivity, acculturation, and naivete. I’ve drafted completely new language for the diagnostic critiera. Read the rest of this entry »


Retreat center in the Sangre de Cristos

We bought some land on the East side of the Sangre de Cristo mountains, near Angel Fire. Here’s what it looks like in October:

Quick specs on the land: 100 acres, 9,200 feet above sea level, 13-18 inches of rain

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Possible marketing company

I’m always in the need for marketing help, and these guys seem pretty good…


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Allegory of the cave

How’s this for an astute 13 year old? My daughter was in my office and for some reason I wanted her reaction to ABA interventions (which she’s never seen). So I searched youtube for “autism ABA in action” and watched a clip that explained how autistic people have a core deficit in imitating others; people learn by imitation; therefore autistic people can’t learn blah blah. And it showed an ABA trainer clapping and saying “do this” to make a child clap.

When it was over she said one thing: “That video is like the allegory of the cave.” If you don’t know about that, it is an explanation of ignorance by Socrates.

I asked why is it like the cave? She said the adults were only seeing the shadows, and were not seeing the real child.