Maxson J. McDowell
Duke University (PhD)
Estimates of autism’s incidence increased 5-10 fold in ten years, an increase which cannot be genetic. Though many mutations are associated with autism, no mutation seems directly to cause autism. We need to find the direct cause. Complexity science provides a new paradigm - confirmed in biology by extensive hard data. Both the body and the personality are complex dynamic systems which spontaneously self-organize from simple dynamic systems. Autism may therefore be caused by the failure of a simple dynamic system. We know that infants who cannot track their mother’s face often become autistic, that eye-contact initiates intersubjectivity which is blocked in autism, and that the infant-mother pair seems designed to promote eye-contact, as does the eye’s appearance. This author earlier proposed that failure of eye-contact might directly cause autism and that early non-maternal childcare, including television/video, would therefore be statistically linked to autism. Waldman et al. (2008; 2006) recently proved that autism is strongly linked to precipitation (indoor activity) and to the introduction of cable. The most plausible explanation? Early exposure to television/video is linked to autism. Furthermore a normal developmental cascade (blocked in autism) has been deciphered: (a) Infant-mother eye-contact triggers increased maternal attention. (b) Early maternal attention permanently increases not only baseline vasopressin but also that oxytocin release which is triggered by subsequent maternal attention. (c) Vasopressin and oxytocin promote face recognition, gazing-at-the-eyes, emotion recognition, and social bonding. The eye-contact hypothesis suggests a clinical study addressing prevention: recruit prospective parents who agree to curtail television/video/computer/wi-fi in their families; measure autism’s incidence in their children
Keywords Autism spectrum disorder   complexity   complex adaptive system   self-organize   emergent   eye-contact   infant-mother   intersubjectivity   oxytocin   television/computer/smartphone.
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Complexity: A Guided Tour.Melanie Mitchell - 2009 - Oxford University Press.

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