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Urine Test For Autism

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the urine-trouble-now dept.

Medicine 228

An anonymous reader writes "Defining and diagnosing autism has been a controversial process — but may be a little less so now. Children with autism have a different chemical fingerprint in their urine than non-autistic children, according to new research. The difference stems from a previously documented difference in gut bacteria found in autistic individuals. The possibility of a simple pee test matters because currently, children are assessed for autism through a lengthy testing process that explores a child's social interaction, communication, and imaginative skills. Being able to identify the condition earlier and at a lower cost could leave more time and money for treatment."

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3 fluid ounces (4, Funny)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469076)

3 fluid ounces, definitely 3 fluid ounces.

Re:3 fluid ounces (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469108)

I can't pee right now. It's time for Wopner!

Re:3 fluid ounces (3, Funny)

Cryacin (657549) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469200)

Now you're just taking the piss.

Re:3 fluid ounces (1)

wisdom_brewing (557753) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469792)

You piss on them and see how they react??

screening for young engineers (-1, Troll)

freshfromthevat (135461) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469078)

It would be a shame if geek-ness was TREATED to eliminate it.

Re:screening for young engineers (3, Insightful)

Raven42rac (448205) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469092)

There's quite a difference between geekery and a crippling condition such as this.

Re:screening for young engineers (1, Redundant)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469166)

"Autism" is hardly crippling without quantifiers given how broadly it's defined and diagnosed these days.

Re:screening for young engineers (2, Insightful)

Anpheus (908711) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469274)

Asperger's? No problem.

Non-verbal autism? They aren't able to interact with the rest of the world.

Re:screening for young engineers (1)

Shin-LaC (1333529) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469368)

Speaking of which, what if we found that many people who have been diagnosed with Asperger's turn out negative in this test?

Re:screening for young engineers (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32469282)

That's not autism, but "autism spectrum disorder". And that is indeed a bullshit monicker that is often used in cases that have nothing to do with autism, and mainly serves to appease people that want a "medical condition" to blame for their perceived or real lack of social skills.

Re:screening for young engineers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32469570)

Sometimes it's to get insurance funding for treatment or services in the school districts. Sometimes an autism diagnosis will bring funding that the catch-all "Pervasive Developmental Delay - Not Otherwise Specified" (PDD-NOS) will not. This could also have something to do with autism being a disease of the rich. Poor people tend not to have the skill at pressuring providers in the health care system in order to get what they want.

You have no idea how many times I've seen kids with two lawyers as parents get schools to pay for outside individual therapy when kids with the same or worse diagnoses who don't have lawyers for parents get stuck in a setting that doesn't help them at all (i.e classroom with 10 to 20 similarly uncontrollable kids.)

Re:screening for young engineers (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469290)

And tests such as the one if TFS might actually make the definition and diagnostic process more meaningful.

Re:screening for young engineers (5, Insightful)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469262)

not all autism is crippling. It can have a fairly broad spectrum, and the argument the OP seems to be trying to make is that quite a lot of the geeks and nerds in the world are a high functioning form of autism. I wouldn't guess as to percentage, but having worked in a disabilities service office at a university for 4 years, the sciences have a disproportionate share of the autism types, whereas the arts tend to cope better with ADHD types and so on.

Granted, a lot of this is self fulfilling. People with aspergers get into positions in universities and schools and build a nurturing environment for other people with aspergers. I live in ontario, and we are in the process of implementing new laws called the Accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities acts (AODA). At my particular institution the arts have been all over trying to get compliance, and be more accessible, whereas the science departments figure they've been accessible enough (and to a large degree are correct), and that the training is a waste of time. The implicit undercurrent is that the science departments already are accessible, because otherwise there wouldn't be any domestic scientists.

There is a lot to be said for treating even the mild cases though. Anger management is a major issue for a lot of people with autism, and they risk taking it out on subordinates in a fashion that to the rest of us is utterly irrational, equally a lack of social skills can limit their access to useful employment, and while they tend to need a different sort of office from the more socially amenable types, they can be remarkably productive, if they can get a job. It's also useful to know in advance the sorts of things you need to watch out for as a parent or in my case as a guy who fixed printers in an office full of students with some sorts of disability - people with autism will have odd movement behaviours which can be both distracting and disruptive, as well as have anger outburts if the printer doesn't work right away. In my experience they aren't good at personal responsibility either(you pushed the wrong button, it doesn't matter what you think the button should have done, that's not what it does, and getting mad at me over it doesn't teach you how to push the correct one next time type problems), but that is not part of any official diagnosis.

Re:screening for young engineers (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469730)

You wouldn't think so, to listen to all the "special" people round here.

Re:screening for young engineers (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469098)

We already have Ritalin (or alcohol) for that. Most of the really good engineers (of many stripes) I know are functionally autistic, ADD/ADDHD or high-functioning alcoholics.

Re:screening for young engineers (2, Informative)

Kozz (7764) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469272)

We already have Ritalin (or alcohol) for that. Most of the really good engineers (of many stripes) I know are functionally autistic, ADD/ADDHD or high-functioning alcoholics.

Just to clarify... Ritalin=stimulant. Alcohol=depressant. They don't do the same kinds of things.

Re:screening for young engineers (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469330)

But for the higher-functioning autistic, they have the same result.

Re:screening for young engineers (1, Informative)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469336)

Just to clarify... Ritalin = medication by doctors. Alcohol = self-medication. Meanwhile, the effect of Ritalin on an overactive child is as a depressant, not a stimulant.

What I'm saying is that we're using more and more labels to enforce a kind of chemical conformity. It's easier to medicate an imaginative and unruly child than it is to channel that energy. I'll bet if Richard Feynman (as an example) were a third-grader today, they'd be medicating him.

We need to avoid flouride and protect our precious bodily fluids!

Re:screening for young engineers (3, Informative)

Freedom Bug (86180) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469372)

Which just goes to show you how useless those little boxes are.

Sure, Ritalin is a stimulant, if you don't have ADHD. But if you do have ADHD, Ritalin acts more like a depressant. That's one of the differentiators between true ADHD and normal hyperactivity.

And yes, alcohol is technically a depressant, but unless you're living in a cave you know that alcohol can have effects that are very similar to those of stimulants.

Re:screening for young engineers (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32469714)

I've know a lot of excellent engineers in my time. I can think of maybe one that was borderline Asperger's syndrome but none that could be classified as Autistic. Far too many people think "slightly odd and lacking in social skills" means autistic. Well, that might be someone who have some of the genetic markers for autism. They should probably think twice before marrying someone who is similarly odd. They might get an autistic child. And autistic people do not tend to be brilliant. A couple percent might be savants, but most are in the IQ range below 85 and have no special skills in math or engineers. But they do tend to remember all their letters at a younger age than normal children. And they memorize some words early, but don't really get the idea that letters make up words in a way that would allow them to see a new word and figure out what it is. They might 't','h','e' or they'll see 'the' but not both. In they same way they might be able to read the words, but not understand the sentence.

If you put a random autistic person at a desk they might start rocking back and forth, or they might trace the horizontal lines of the desk back and forth. They might grab the mouse and run it back and forth over the mouse pad while watching at extremely close range. They will not design something.

Almost all of those people on the net who claim to be autistic are really just odd and bad tempered. Autism is just an excuse for that. Also, because some people seem to think autistic people are geniuses it makes those odd and bad tempered people feel good about themselves.

Re:screening for young engineers (1)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469100)

Geekiness and social skills are not mutually exclusive. In fact, engineers and other technical people who have a lack of social skills as adults tend to be the bottom of the food chain.

Companies value extroverted engineers far more than they do the dime-a-dozen geek with mild autism.

Re:screening for young engineers (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469154)

They might value them but what companies need great engineers even with no social skills. Imagine a company filled with people exactly like Steve Jobs or Steve Ballmer, nothing would get done. On the other hand, a group of code monkeys would make great products that might not be what people want. Thats why in most tech companies there are few manager-type social-engineers like Jobs and Ballmer and many, many code monkeys. Because there are fewer of the manager-type social-engineers, they need to get better ones so they get paid more and more "valued".

Re:screening for young engineers (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32469260)

Managers are people with a high level scope of the company, and may be engineers, but typically are not. Steve Jobs and Ballmer are first entrepreneurs and business people with vision and high level understanding of managing people, and then engineers.

A great engineer HAS social skills, they can communicate problems with management, work well in a team, they accept criticism and project changes without taking it personally, they make connections so that they can get things done.

A poor engineer might be able to make a few breakthroughs or calculations, but the real world isn't Hollywood where companies rely engineer supergenius nerd charicatures that prove their worth in the technical side.

There are great technical engineers and there are engineers with great social skills, and great technical engineers with social skills are far more needed than great technical engineers that do not fit well with the rest of the company. If they can fix the inability to grow socially, then companies get more of what they need.

Re:screening for young engineers (2, Insightful)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469164)

Large part of being an engineer is an ability to interact with people effectively.

Re:screening for young engineers (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32469194)

It would be a shame if geek-ness was TREATED to eliminate it.

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Re:screening for young engineers (2, Informative)

IANAAC (692242) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469220)

Geek and engineer are not synonymous.

Too late. (2, Insightful)

overshoot (39700) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469376)

It would be a shame if geek-ness was TREATED to eliminate it.

First off, there are plenty of parents who do "treat" autism with shit like Lupron [wikipedia.org] and chelation. It doesn't work, but it's still hell for the victims.

Secondly, a test gets us closer to a root cause and thus less credibility for the "vaccines cause autism" idiots like Andrew Wankfield and Jenny McCarthy -- who have managed to run vaccination rates down enough that measles and mumps are once again endemic in the UK and we're getting large outbreaks in the USA.

Finally, please understand that "geekishness" is at the very shallow end of the autistic spectrum -- at the other end, it's pretty much crippling.

The test works like this: (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32469086)

If you can correctly count the number of drops in a stream of urine, you are autistic.

Everyone else has aspergers.

Re:The test works like this: (1)

ciderVisor (1318765) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469126)

Stop taking the piss out of them.

Labeling (-1, Troll)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469106)

I can't see this being of any benefit in the long term. The problem is, even if they -have- autism or other defects, labeling them will do nothing to have them overcome it and will lead the majority of them to make excuses to why they aren't productive members of society.

I really don't understand the western mentality of labeling everyone to try to "help". Which is going to make people want to get ahead in life? Being told "hey you have -insert mental disability here-" or "hey, your not doing to great in -insert school subject here-". One has people making excuses and the other just has them either not focus on that and focus on what they are good at or try harder.

Re:Labeling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32469142)

Are you retarded?

Re:Labeling (0, Flamebait)

AndrewBC (1675992) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469156)

Hey, you're not doing too well in English.

Re:Labeling (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32469158)

So you want to just ignore the condition? Where do you draw the line there? Wanna not tell someone they're dying of lung cancer because you're afraid they're going to get depressed and act like a dying cancer patient?

Get real. People get stuck with all kinds of shitty things, it's their own choice to overcome their problems or not. You can't assume the lowest common denominator is normal and scapegoat labeling for peoples' inability to cope.

Re:Labeling (1)

pizzach (1011925) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469366)

Sir, it's unfortunate, but you've just been diagnosed as having a anger complex. You can get your medication on the way out from the hospital. :)

Re:Labeling (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469510)

But what are conditions and what are just humans being humans, with slightly different personalities and feelings?

The lung cancer you for sure do not want, but mentally people are different, diagnosed or otherwise.

Re:Labeling (1)

pizzach (1011925) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469686)

You need a car analogy.

People are worried that Doctors are going to turn into Monro Muffler. You ask them for an oil change, then they tell you that you also need rear coil springs replaced, an alignment, a new alternator and battery, two new cables for my parking brake and a new type of bolt in the front. They will not let you slip by without offering to fix something else regardless of the condition of the vehicle.

From what I have seen of doctors, their judgments can be just as capricious as the mechanics at Monro Muffler. I did not appreciate having my bone cancer misdiagnosed as bursitis until I was literally unable to walk. (For some reason it still strings when they say it is good they caught it early.) Then of course there are the the hypochondriacs who will search out a doctor who will diagnose them with the disease they think they have.

*I have a step brother who is autistic* This kind of test would have been very nice. He is not extremely high functioning, but I believe that is because never had the work done when he was younger. Though with the upbringing of my mother, I was never very sociable either as well as a late talker. I do believe environment can have a dramatic effect on the degree of autism. I get the jibblies whenever I go back to my mother's place.

Re:Labeling (4, Insightful)

casings (257363) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469162)

Autism isn't a label, it's a condition. The western mentality to diagnose and treat conditions is why humans' life expectancies have increased.

Stop regurgitating shit you hear from bad late night comics and ignorant rednecks.

Re:Labeling (1, Insightful)

camperdave (969942) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469276)

Proper sanitation has done more to prolong lives than anything medicine has done.

Re:Labeling (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469342)

"Proper sanitation has done more to prolong lives than anything medicine has done."

Hmm...might be some money in a cross between a car wash and a hugbox.

Re:Labeling (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469544)

.. suicide booths.

Re:Labeling (2, Informative)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469344)

Good thing proper sanitation came about because of advances in medicine, then.

Re:Labeling (4, Insightful)

germansausage (682057) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469380)

How is not drinking disease contaminated water not based on medical science?

Re:Labeling (1)

RichDiesal (655968) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469402)

Life expectancy has been going up at a pretty consistent rate in the United States [google.com] since 1968.

For either medicine or sanitation to have made a substantial effect on life expectancy, we'd expect the timeline of advances in each to mirror advances in life expectancy (e.g. major medical breakthrough in 1973 matching a substantial increase in life expectancy in 1980). That clearly doesn't happen. Sanitation and medicine are both only a small piece of a much larger puzzle.

Re:Labeling (0, Troll)

casings (257363) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469508)

Thank you for proving my point in your first sentence. I will ignore your second paragraph, because it has to be the dumbest conclusion I have read today.

Re:Labeling (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469524)

Ok, so you get the diagnose. Then what? ..

And if it wasn't seen as a condition but just as "you" and people helping you with whatever was harder for you what would the difference be?

Re:Labeling (1)

The Clockwork Troll (655321) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469772)

Consider that the test would benefit mostly toddlers or pre-school age children, who either don't manifest obvious symptoms of autism until later, or whose parents don't have the means or indication to have them evaluated until later (in some cases, as late as middle school), by which time the optimal window for intervention has passed.

If the test is specific enough, getting a confirmed diagnosis could enable the parents or school system to intervene with therapy designed to help their child recognize social cues, interact/negotiate socially with others, and deal with change/transitions. Even in high-functioning autistics (including Asperger's sufferers), these skills can go severely wanting, and if not addressed you may wind up with a child who is academically sound but who sits in the corner of the playground because they either aren't motivated by social norms or haven't the first idea (at an executive level) of how to connect their desire for social interaction with effective social interaction.

On the other hand, if the sensitivity of this test is only to the lowest-functioning forms of autism, than I worry that a lot of other children who could benefit from intervention will go undetected/unaided because "their pee is OK".

Re:Labeling (5, Informative)

Ephemeriis (315124) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469184)

I can't see this being of any benefit in the long term. The problem is, even if they -have- autism or other defects, labeling them will do nothing to have them overcome it and will lead the majority of them to make excuses to why they aren't productive members of society.

I really don't understand the western mentality of labeling everyone to try to "help". Which is going to make people want to get ahead in life? Being told "hey you have -insert mental disability here-" or "hey, your not doing to great in -insert school subject here-". One has people making excuses and the other just has them either not focus on that and focus on what they are good at or try harder.

Autism is a physical, biological disorder. It is a disease, not a mood. It isn't like you'll suddenly stop being autistic because you forgot you had it.

Early diagnosis gives you more time for treatment, which will actually help people become more functional individuals.

Are you suggesting that we shouldn't perform mammograms or colonoscopy because you don't actually have any ill effects from the cancer until after you've been labelled?

By that logic, we should just stop running tests all-together, because we'd all be far healthier if we didn't have any labels.

Re:Labeling (4, Insightful)

cvd6262 (180823) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469384)

Also, right now, ASD clumps together symptoms even though they may have different etiologies. Having a biological test for a trait correlated with autism may help tease out the degree to which different conditions result in the same symptoms. When children test negative, but still exhibit ASD, we know there is another pathway to the condition that may be better served through different treatment.

This could be HUGE.

Re:Labeling (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469502)

Indeed, just in terms of determining who you're studying this could be huge. One of the reasons why psychologists have made so little difference is that it's almost impossible to definitively determine the actual illness. Autism, since it isn't mental illness is a bit easier in the sense that the criteria used are more specific and somewhat easier to use. Still not easy, as there is a reason for the ASD diagnosis coming into being, but things of this nature to clear things up greatly increase the utility of research being done.

Re:Labeling (1)

nunojsilva (1019800) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469186)

Of course this marker, if it is really associated with autism, might provide a quick and efficient way to test it.

I agree labeling people quicker will not be the best way to have them help themselves, but maybe the fact there is this marker also tells us autistic subjects are not just making excuses, but that they have a - at least - chemical reason to be less social?

(Take this with a grain of salt, I'm no genetics/chemistry/psychology expert.)

Re:Labeling (5, Insightful)

krewemaynard (665044) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469226)

I can't see this being of any benefit in the long term. The problem is, even if they -have- autism or other defects, labeling them will do nothing to have them overcome it and will lead the majority of them to make excuses to why they aren't productive members of society. I really don't understand the western mentality of labeling everyone to try to "help". Which is going to make people want to get ahead in life? Being told "hey you have -insert mental disability here-" or "hey, your not doing to great in -insert school subject here-". One has people making excuses and the other just has them either not focus on that and focus on what they are good at or try harder.

Are you serious? The sooner you get a diagnosis, the more therapy and assistance you can provide, which leads to greater success as the child gets older. Speech delays, learning disabilities...they don't have to be show stoppers. How much harder is it when parents struggle for years without knowing what's going on? How much harder is it for the kid when everyone just thinks s/he's dumb or lazy, not realizing there's an actual underlying condition? When you know what that condition is, you know how to approach it and offer help. It's not just a matter of applying a label and being done with it...it's understanding that the child has a neurological condition and finding ways to work with and around it.

/I have an autistic child, so I'm getting a kick....
//Now hand the keyboard back to your parents, let the grown ups talk.

Re:Labeling (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32469724)

/I have an autistic child, so I'm getting a kick....
//Now hand the keyboard back to your parents, let the grown ups talk.

Slashies? "...so I'm getting a kick?"

Get back to Fark, you imposter!

Re:Labeling (3, Insightful)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469246)

At the least, such tests can weed out people who in fact -don't have- autism.

Re:Labeling (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32469424)

Oh no, it won't. Don't underestimate the power of a mentally ill parent. I _had_ a friend who's son had hearing problems. He could hear perfectly fine, but he had hearing problems and his life was going to be difficult, dammit!! He did become pretty good at sign language. Then, unfortunately he began to speak.

When the deafness fell through he was ADD. Then he had Aspergers syndrome. Now he's Autistic and in a "special" class. (Translation - stealing time that the instructor could be using on the actual Autistic kids.)

When the "next big thing" is discovered I'm sure the kid will have that as well.

Re:Labeling (2, Interesting)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469252)

First, the earlier doctors can identify it, the more likely it is that scientists will be able to identify the very first expression of whatever gene causes it, and thus eventually prevent that change in others. They might even find that there's some underlying environmental cause that triggers said gene expression, in which case it could be eliminated entirely through early enough testing and treatment. Either way, identifying it early enough is key to being able to find the root cause.

Second, the earlier autism is identified in a kid, the more likely that behavioral therapy [neurologychannel.com] will produce a more functional adult.

Re:Labeling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32469254)

I can't see this being of any benefit in the long term.

One of the benefits is early detection and early treatment. Enlightened adults that see these kids unsuccessfully coping in mainstream classrooms realize that they don't need to "try harder".

Re:Labeling (3, Informative)

RichDiesal (655968) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469358)

You clearly don't have or know anyone with an actual mental disorder. There is certainly harm done by false diagnosis/labeling, and some people certainly milk their diagnoses, but the majority of people with mental disorders find it somewhat of a relief when they discover that they have a condition that 1) is not their fault and 2) has treatment options.

Think of it this way - if you grew up, and throughout your elementary and even high school experience, you had skills and abilities that other people thought were bizarre, people always looked at you weird and you didn't know why, you had uncontrollable tics that other people just didn't, you were frustrated daily because you had a very difficult time controlling your own behaviors, and you constantly got in trouble because these behaviors were judged to be "bad."

Finding out "other people have this problem too, and here's what you can try to alleviate the symptoms" is important to help these people become "normal, productive members of society." Your assertion that diagnosis will "lead the majority of them to make excuses" is completely unfounded.

In the long term (1)

overshoot (39700) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469398)

I can't see this being of any benefit in the long term.

No? Even though a biomarker gets us closer to a root cause?

Re:Labeling (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469490)

I don't see how this can be an accurate test, unless the bacteria is what causes it?

Do one have any idea what came first? The bacteria or the condition?

Observing and being able to label people generates income, hence it's done.

Re:Labeling (1)

dave420 (699308) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469534)

Without being able to diagnose a disease ('labelling' the person) there is simply no way to find a cure for it. Easy methods of diagnosis means more will be known about the disease. That can only help the current and future sufferers. If we adopted your strange views on medicine, in the early 1980s medicine should have stopped even bothering to diagnose people with AIDS, as there was nothing they could do about it. Brilliant logic.

Re:Labeling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32469798)

You've never met a real autistic person, have you? It's only the very mildly autistic that become productive members of society. And most of those can only do a job that is extremely repetitive. For example, cutting pizzas would be a job that an mildly autistic person could do. And he would do it in exactly the same way every time. But don't introduce a new product that has a square or oval crust. That would be a major meltdown.

The moderately and severely autistic need parental or sibling care for life or they need to be institutionalized. There is no "productive member of society" option

If you meet someone with a productive job who claims to be autistic, they are probably lying.

Programming test (-1, Troll)

dmomo (256005) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469168)

Just see if they know how to program. A positive result would indicate autism. Not sure if a negative result would indicate its absence, though.

Diet? (4, Interesting)

Bazman (4849) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469176)

Maybe these kids just aren't eating what other kids are eating.

Sadly even my university access doesnt extend to the Journal of Proteome Research without me stumping up $30 for two days of access, so I can't check the statistics. They had a sample of 39 (35M + 4F) autistic children, their 28 siblings (14M+14F), and 34 age-matched controls (17F+17M). Don't know why they didnt age- and sex-match the controls.

Pretty small sample, and if you look for enough different proteins in urine you might well find something different.

  NEEDS MOAR DATA! And an open access journal!

Autistic Diet (3, Interesting)

Guppy (12314) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469386)

Maybe these kids just aren't eating what other kids are eating.

Exactly what I was thinking, it is well known that autistic persons tend to be notoriously picky about their diet. This is one of the main explanations for the findings of abnormal gut flora (and the contentious alternative that the casual link goes the other direction).

Which is not to say that the casual link between bacteria and autism necessarily only flows one way, it could be both. For instance, consider a hypothetical "basic autism" -> very picky eating -> abnormal gut flora -> additional problems that get lumped in with "autism symptoms". What I'm curious to know if anyone's tried a "Fecal Transplant" [wikipedia.org] to normalize an autistic person's gut bacteria.

Re:Autistic Diet (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469492)

So you guys didn't read TFA either?

Quote article:

Non-autistic children with autistic siblings had a different chemical fingerprint than those without any autistic siblings, and autistic children had a different chemical fingerprint than the other two groups.
end-quote.

So even sibs can be distinguished with this test. Presumably they would eat the same foods in the home.

Re:Autistic Diet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32469700)

Presumably they would eat the same foods in the home.

or not. It's easier to get normal kids to eat their veggies, fish or whatever, and even normal kids can be problematic.

NOPE. the kids don't eat the same (2, Insightful)

bussdriver (620565) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469768)

Autistic kids don't eat like the other kids. The other kids are normal, the autistic one needs to get the same old special stuff or they will not eat anything and become malnourished. We have 1 in the family. I think the study would need to feed the controls the same stuff as the autistic kids their are pair up with; I'm also curious if gender pairing matters at this age.

Re:Autistic Diet (1)

bjourne (1034822) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469596)

Maybe these kids just aren't eating what other kids are eating. Exactly what I was thinking, it is well known that autistic persons tend to be notoriously picky about their diet. This is one of the main explanations for the findings of abnormal gut flora (and the contentious alternative that the casual link goes the other direction).

Autistic children aren't picky about their food in a uniform way. One child might not eat crackers because they make a crack sound when you bite on them. Another might not eat peas because they are green and green is icky a third not fish because of the smell and so on. So their pickiness about food can not explain the urine sample differences that the study measured.

Re:Diet? (1)

casings (257363) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469390)

You would think that the parents could tell if one sibling had a different diet than the other.

Re:Diet? (1)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469442)

You would think that the parents could tell if one sibling had a different diet than the other.

Most people with two+ kids have kids with different diets. Most parents just give up and let the kids eat what they want, within reason. One kid has a bologna sandwich, the other, peanut butter. For dinner, one eats green beans and macaroni and cheese, the other eats fried chicken and green beans with a biscuit. Or maybe one eats another peanut butter sandwich. It isn't like the old days, when my mom (of 7 kids...) put the food on the table and you ate or went hungry.

In the old "nuclear family" model (pre 1980), families were slightly more likely to eat meals together. Half the parents I know never cook a meal, except in advance, and have containers ready for the microwave. Jobs, soccer, dance class, etc. has made it pretty hard to get everyone in the same house at the same time, except at night to sleep. What is *odd* nowadays is a family that all sits at the same table on a very regular basis.

Re:Diet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32469392)

Unscientific as this is, a friend of mine has twins. One is autistic and one is definitely not. Raised in the same house, same parents, same food, and on and on.

I would think a single example of that would show that it cannot be diet alone.

Re:Diet? (5, Informative)

takowl (905807) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469770)

Happily my access does cover it (link [acs.org] for anyone else who wants to try).

The statistics look...mediocre. There's enough there, I think, to make it an interesting avenue for research, but it's definitely not a 'urine test for autism' (to be fair, the paper doesn't claim that, the blog and the summary exaggerate it).

What differences there are are pretty minor, and only some of them are apparently significant between the autistic children and their siblings (as opposed to the unrelated controls). I'm not altogether happy that some of the controls are from a different location, although they have found that there is no significant difference between the two control subgroups, but it's still a bit dodgy. They're also using statistical methods I don't know ("Projection to latent structure discriminant analysis"). Finally, I don't see any evidence that they've done corrections for multiple tests, although some of their results are P < 0.001, which would probably withstand that.

All in all, it strikes me as a case of the Science News Cycle [phdcomics.com] .

Disclaimer: I am a biologist, but in a very different field.

Well clearly... (4, Funny)

RussR42 (779993) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469178)

Clearly they simply test the urine to look for vaccines [know-vaccines.org] ...

We all know about correlation [xkcd.com] and causation!

Re:Well clearly... (1)

coolgeek (140561) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469660)

We all know about correlation [xkcd.com] and causation!

Apparently not. All discoveries of causation are prompted by some kind of correlation.

What about immigrant factor? (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469202)

After all, it seems (just google immigrant children autism) that autism is correlated with, what would appear to be at first sight, initial conditions of social exclusion, to some degree.

And now this. Not necessarily contradictory, oh no. Most interesting possibility, actually - after all, people from various regions have different gut flora. Would be fascinating to realise that it influences our behaviour to such a degree...

Fruit flies (-1, Offtopic)

logjon (1411219) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469216)

Government money gets spent studying fruit flies. The nerve.

Urine test? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32469230)

Sir, we've got your urine test results, and it turns out that... ...urine sane!

Holy fucking shit (-1, Troll)

DeadJesusRodeo (1813846) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469288)

I'm so glad I grew up before this profit-making mania to classify and treat every fucking kid who isn't "normal" and prescription drug parenting became status-quo. Wow does it suck to be a kid these days!

Seriously.

On the other hand, I can't wait for the lawsuits to fly from these over-treated chemically fucked kids when they grow up and discover Pfizer's penis up their ass. Almost makes me wish I'd become a lawyer instead.

If it's light pink... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32469292)

You're an Aspie

No link between gut bacteria and autism (1, Flamebait)

gruntled (107194) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469296)

The whole concept is a farce. The "research" upon which this test was based in fraudulent. Sad.

http://www.scientificblogging.com/rugbyologist/festival_idiots_3_andrew_wakefield_vaccines_and_autism [scientificblogging.com]

Re:No link between gut bacteria and autism (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469450)

Seems your link has nothing at all to do with the story at hand.

Re:No link between gut bacteria and autism (2, Informative)

gruntled (107194) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469480)

Look harder: The story is about a test that can identify autism based on urine, because autistic kids have different bacteria in their gut than non-autistic kids. The link is to a summary of the retraction of the entire theory that autistic kids have different bacteria in the gut than non-autistic kids; the scientist who submitted that paper fabricated his results (as the link states).

Re:No link between gut bacteria and autism (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469532)

Actually the link points to a story about discrediting an assertion that Mercury in vaccines causes autism.

No one had discredited actual measurements of differences in gut bacteria.

Re:No link between gut bacteria and autism (1)

gruntled (107194) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469600)

Wakefield's theory was not about mercury in vaccines (nor is the link I first posted); it was about vaccines somehow causing a gut infection, leading to symptoms like irritable bowel syndrome (see the previous article) which led directly to autism. It was all bunk. And it killed people.

Re:No link between gut bacteria and autism (0, Troll)

coolgeek (140561) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469722)

Killed people? Cite your source.

My nephew was cured after being diagnosed with autism....how, you may ask? By licensed doctors who applied legitimate biomedical treatment to deal with abnormal and anomalous readings found in blood and stool samples. It is really surprising to me that all you pro-pharma fools are so brainwashed, that in unison, you will call actual medical science (the process of identifying abnormal conditions in blood and stool and treating them) a fraud, yet you will call the doctor who renders a diagnosis of "autism" and recommend long term care as the only solution, using only casual observation as their diagnostic method, a "scientist".

Re:No link between gut bacteria and autism (3, Informative)

icebike (68054) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469734)

But Wakefield has NOTHING at all to do with the fact that there is measurable differences in gut Flora.

Nobody, certainly not the story linked, or Lancet, challenges that finding.

The only part discredited is that vaccines caused the gut infections.

Two TOTALLY different findings, totally unrelated except for the word Autism, which cause the short attention span crowd to assume its the same thing.

Re:No link between gut bacteria and autism (1)

arb phd slp (1144717) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469462)

See, this is why junk science is so damaging-- one fraud can send many other researchers down dead ends for years trying to build on or replicate those results. There are scarce resources to devote to research and autism is a real thing that needs to be addressed and so much time and money has been pissed* away chasing fake leads. This directly affects my colleagues in my lab who, instead of advancing the state of the art, are stuck trying to undo Wakefield's bullshit. And my poor students who are going to have to go out and treat kids with autism while explaining to confused parents why we aren't doing this-that-and-some-other thing that sounds good on the Internet, but has no evidence to back it.

*(I swear I didn't intend that to be a pun referencing TFA when I typed it, but I'm not changing it now.)

No, it doesn't "turn out" (5, Insightful)

overshoot (39700) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469322)

They took a bunch of samples and tested for correlation across the lot. They found some correlations -- which is exactly what they would find if everything was totally random, assuming you ran enough different comparisons.

Validation comes when they take a bunch of blind samples in another set of test subjects and, using this test, try to determine whether the subjects are autistic -- without knowing in advance. If, and only if, that kind of test turns up positive, will it even be worth further study.

Re:No, it doesn't "turn out" (1)

coolgeek (140561) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469744)

Well, maybe. But there is one snag. The only diagnostic we have available at this time for autism is casual observation. There is really no science behind a diagnosis of autism.

Cause or Effect or Clue? (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469426)

So WHY do Children with autism have a difference in gut bacteria?

Seems rather more important than just some minor trait you can take advantage of in a pee test.

Re:Cause or Effect or Clue? (1)

gruntled (107194) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469558)

Re:Cause or Effect or Clue? (2, Informative)

icebike (68054) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469668)

Again, as mentioned upthread, this has nothing to do with a MEASURABLE difference in gut flora.

You are confusing two totally different stories.

Re:Cause or Effect or Clue? (2, Informative)

arb phd slp (1144717) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469704)

That refers specifically to the link to vaccines, and Wakefield faked the intestinal data in his subjects, but there are still others who think that there is something to the gut symptom correlation.
Erikson et al (2005) http://www.springerlink.com/content/l13786n2151314t6/ [springerlink.com] looked at all the evidence and found lots of people looking at it, but the stuff that was published has a wide range in the level of scientific rigor.
If there is a correlation (and there really might be one), it's a whole lot more complicated than a simple cause-effect one.

Re:Cause or Effect or Clue? (1)

coolgeek (140561) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469758)

If you are interested in the truth, the retraction statement from The Lancet characterized that study as incomplete, not completely wrong, and said that further inquiry in this area is needed.

So the early claims must be true then (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32469540)

That the trigger for the condition is related to gastro-intestinal problems, like the ones that mercury based preservatives in some of the vaccines causes.
Hmm, interesting...

HEY! (1)

n6kuy (172098) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469582)

This no my pee! [youtube.com]

Different gut bacteria? What the hell? (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469584)

If you took antibiotics, the first things you eat when it wears off, will rule your guts.

Imagine the poor child who now thinks it has autism, just because it ate a bad thing at a bad time.
Imagine the retarded parents and doctors, who will trust this test more, than they trust the actual facts. (If a doc says it, is must be true, right?

I smell a lot of false positives and negatives.

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