After all the controversy over the possible causes of the plague of autism in the West, a new study has finally revealed that older men are more likely to father a child who develops autism (or schizophrenia) because of random sperm mutations that become more numerous with advancing paternal age, and we live in an age of divorce, where men often remarry younger women and have children with them. The study found that the age of the mother has no effect on the risk for these disorders. While these kinds of mutations may account for 15 to 30% of autism cases, they don’t necessarily account for all of them.
Autism seems to be more widespread that ever–unless statistics are wrong: a new study show that the rate of autism has risen 23% in the last two years, with one in 88 children affected. Could there be a REASON behind this? Scientists studying the problem have begun to find some advantages to being autistic.
In the Wall Street Journal, Jonah Lehrer writes: "A few dozen adults, both with and without autism, were given a difficult perceptual task, in which they had to keep track of letters quickly flashed on a computer screen. At the same time, they also had to watch out for a small gray shape that occasionally appeared on the edge of the monitor.
More and more US schools have their own police forces. Pupils are being arrested for throwing paper planes and failing to pick up crumbs from the cafeteria floor. The state has taken over discipline from the classroom teacher and is now criminalizing normal childhood behavior–or is it?
In Austin, Texas, 12-year-old Sarah Bustamantes was arrested for spraying perfume on her neck in class after the other kids were taunting her and saying she smelled bad. In the Guardian Weekly, Chris McGreal quotes Sarah as saying, "They were saying a lot of rude things to me. Just picking on me. So I sprayed myself with perfume. Then the teacher called the police."