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Thread: Is nature deficit a/the cause of autism??

  1. #1 Is nature deficit a/the cause of autism?? 
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    A Scientific American magazine article raised the possibility that nature-deficit could cause autism.
    The following website attempts to highlight the theory:
    www.naturedeficitrelateddisorders.com

    The website points to various studies that that found a higher rate of autism amongst groups that have low nature-exposure & vice versa (such as the study that found lower rates of autism in Amish communities, lower rates of autism in rural populations, cable TV study etc).

    Is this a plausible theory?


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  3. #2  
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    They might have a valid correlation between nature-deficit and autism but it seems to lack a solid a science-based explanation required for a causal connection. Where's the why?


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    This can be found in the 'Nature-deficit & autism, full report, discussion' section.
    Last edited by Smashngrub; March 7th, 2012 at 03:56 PM.
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    Mostly correlation stuff and a few ideas. How about just looking for the city stuff--such as exposure to many more electrical fields, MSNBC broadcoast (j/k), smog, or other things really common in the cities.

    It's definately interesting stuff and suggest there's some connection. But to what in specific needs a lot more work.
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    I think whilst the idea of toxins common to cities sounds plausible on the surface, but they have been researched thoroughly and produced few results.
    Therefore, I think the idea that the cause of autism may be a deficit of something found in rural areas needs to be examined further.

    The theory that autism may be caused by deficit of nature may sound from left-field, but when it's thought of in the following ways I think it sounds plausible:

    There is a lot of evidence to suggest anxiety plays a role in the development of autism.
    Over a hundred studies have found nature is an exceptional anxiety reliever.
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    How sure are they that the city to autism link is even real, and not a byproduct of biased sampling or reporting by the more educated parents who notice something wrong with their kid than seek help for them?
    Autism Clusters Found in California's Major Cities: Scientific American
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    Autism symptoms may be exacerbated by certain things. I'm sure staying inside and avoiding "nature" (I assume you mean going outside), wouldn't be good for anyone. It's akin to being a hermit. It makes me antisocial if I'm inside too long..I'm sure it has an even stronger effect on those with autism.
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    Going outside is good, getting amongst nature even better (especially for children). I think the animal-assisted therapy has demonstrated how beneficial nature is for individuals with autism.


    Autism epidemiological studies always seem to be challenged extensively because there are so many variables, such as changes in reporting criteria, sample size etc. But, I think it's the combination of the rural to urban study, the Amish study and the African immigrant study etc that combine to demonstrate that this is most likely the case that their are more cases of autism in rural regions.

    But, even if you were to take out the rural to urban aspect, their are still a number of studies that seem to support the theory.

    To your link, I think there's even more potential reasons for the findings than those suggested. One may be that well educated parents are the main users of inner-city daycare centers, which generally have little to no outdoor space.
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