The Increase in Autism in California (which is also ocurring in other areas)

New Support Below (May, 2005)

Copyright 2003, James Michael Howard, Fayetteville, Arkansas, U.S.A.

The increase in autism, in California and elsewhere, may be caused by the same mechanism that causes the "secular trend," the increase in size and earlier puberty currently ongoing in the U.S. My work suggests the secular trend is produced by an increase in percentage of individuals of higher testosterone in society. (Some say the secular trend is due to better nutrition; better nutrition simply accelerates the reproductive rate of individuals of higher testosterone.) The increase in percentage of individuals of higher testosterone increases their characteristics in society; as they increase we begin to perceive these characteristics over time. These characteristics include pathologies such as increased breast cancer, obesity, small birth weight, decreased ability to learn English and mathematics, etc. As they increase their percentage, they increase the incidence of these pathologies.

Of interest to you, of course, is the increase in autism. While I contend the characteristics, above and of autism, are due to the effects of increased testosterone reducing the availability of the hormone, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), I need not explain this in detail for you to see the connection of testosterone with autism. Manning, et al., have already suggested that increased testosterone may be involved in autism (Dev Med Child Neurol 2001 Mar;43(3):160-4). Therefore, I suggest that the increase in testosterone, and the other characteristics listed above, are the result of the increase in individuals of higher testosterone and pathologies associated with this group. (The mechanism is simple. Individuals of higher testosterone are more sexual and aggressive, they reproduce faster. Women of higher testosterone expose their fetuses to higher testosterone levels, which may be the source of these increased pathologies.) A simple, single mechanism may account for all of these problems. This may be why these are occurring simultaneously. Increasing autism may be due to an increase in the percentage of individuals of higher testosterone in our society.

 This was emailed to a researcher who brought this to the attention of the California Legislature October 19, 2002.

How the "Autistic Savant" Syndrome May Occur

Some years ago I developed an explanation of the "Autistic Savant" syndrome. My explanation is that a competition for DHEA exists between all tissues, with the brain able to sequester DHEA better than other tissues. (This competition is explained in "Androgens in Human Evolution.") I think this competition also exists between tissues composing the brain. A defect in growth and development of one part of the brain will affect the availability of DHEA to that part/s and, therefore, other parts. If one part is so underdevelped that it will not sequester DHEA at a normal rate, this will free available DHEA for other parts and these parts will have access to increased DHEA and develop accordingly. That is, as one part declines, another may accelerate development. This would produce increases in some abilities while others decrease. I think this occurs in all of us and may be manipulated to some degress, probably not much, by the environment. We all have different abilities. In "autistic savants," this may occur to its maximum.

New Support:

Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2005 May;15(3):305-9.



Lowered DHEA-S plasma levels in adult individuals with autistic disorder.

Strous RD, Golubchik P, Maayan R, Mozes T, Tuati-Werner D, Weizman A, Spivak B.

Beer Yaakov Mental Health Center, Beer Yaakov, Israel; Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Israel.

The aim of this study was to determine for the first time neurosteroid levels, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and DHEA-sulfate (DHEA-S) in particular, in a group of adult patients with autistic disorder and compare these levels with normal healthy individuals. Levels of DHEA, DHEA-S and cortisol were compared between 15 adult drug-free patients with autistic disorder and 13 healthy controls. The Ritvo-Freeman Real-Life Rating Scale (RLRS) and the Overt Aggression Scale (OAS) were assessed as a measure of symptom severity. Significant lower DHEA-S levels were observed in the group with autistic disorder as compared to controls (p<0.05). DHEA-S levels appear to be low in patients with autistic disorder and, while speculative, may play a role in the etiopathophysiology of the disorder.