Read the most advanced science of autism causes here. Bypass the commenterati and go direct to the science. Don't waste your time at the sites which pretend "no-one" knows what causes (or what sometimes cures) autism.
This is a website relating to the unchallenged theory of autism, IQ and genius, Personality and Individual Differences 14:459-482 (1993) by Robin P Clarke (the antiinnatia theory). An update review paper is being prepared for publication. Meanwhile you can download the original 1993 publication (presentationally revised) here, and the original 1993 publication (author's reprint) here . (the journal site version is here:, but without added charts of social class and you may have to pay Elsevier $31.)

More evidence on the autism increase

Uta Frith is one of the most notable names in what we might call the autism research 'establishment'. She has recently stated [1] that autism in earlier decades was usually of the classic, severe variety, whereas nowadays most or many cases are of the mild to moderate or high-functioning variety. Putting that in the context of my view that there has been a major global increase due to a certain identified environmental factor, her observation poses the question of why that environmental factor should have produced generally less extreme autism than the preceding "genetic" form did.

And that is a question that is very happily answered by my explanation of the increase. Because the cause I invoke accumulates postnatally, it only impacts at a later age, whereas the classic genetic causation would impact from long before birth. And so one would indeed expect the new causation to commonly be less severe than the earlier variety.
1. Uta Frith, Autism: A very short introduction, OUP 2008

Defeating Autism by Michael Fitzpatrick: Shallow critiques of the Holmes and Bradstreet studies of mercury

The Holmes and Bradstreet studies have been supposedly demolished by critiques in the book Defeating Autism by Michael Fitzpatrick. In reality his critiques read self-damningly in the context of his having a whole chapter titled “Being appropriately critical”.

A widely cited study published in 2003 examined the mercury content of babies’ ‘first haircut’ samples from 94 children with autism and 45 controls and found levels significantly lower in the autistic children (and the more severe the autism the lower the mercury level)(Holmes et al. 2003). The authors interpreted these findings as suggesting that children with autism do not excrete mercury into their hair — and that the mercury burden remains active and toxic, within the bodies of children with autism. There were, however, a number of reasons to be sceptical about these findings {Institute of Medicine 2004: 133-134). Firstly, the study was funded by Safe Minds, a militant, parent-led, anti-mercury campaigning group.

But so what? Almost all other studies are funded by immensely-wealthy corporate-dominated interests such as pharma manufacturers and the institutions they dominate. Applying that objection evenhandedly rather than with Fitzpatrick’s peculiar selectivity would result in there being virtually no studies at all recognised as legitimate in the last century of medical research.

Secondly, its authors included only one recognised scientist, the Kentucky [[University!]] chemist [[Professor!]] Boyd Haley, well known for blaming mercury in dental amalgam and from other environmental sources for a range of disorders, including chronic fatigue syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease. Another author, Amy Holmes, is a doctor with an autistic child; she is a campaigner against vaccination and a provider of chelation therapies. Another, Mark Blaxill, has a business school MBA.

Here Fitzpatrick employs ad-hominem insinuation, which is widely condemned by scientists as meritless, albeit being popular in the unscientific circles at which his book is aimed. And he deploys it with extremely prejudiced selectivity, because one might just as reasonably dismiss all or most professional (hence “recognised”) scientists on the basis of their money-making connections to corporatised, institutionalised and career-ised operations. Applying his argument with any diligence would leave little or nothing standing in the scientific record. And even such greats as Copernicus, Newton, Darwin, Mendel, Faraday and Einstein were not “recognised” scientists, until retrospectively so recognised.

Thirdly, there were concerns about selec­tion bias: autistic subjects were recruited from Holmes’s clinic and controls via the internet.

But so what? Quite how could any such selection bias account for that finding of 8-fold difference with very high statistical significance, p&lt0.000004.

Fourthly, though the hair samples were described as ‘first haircut’, they were taken at a median age of over 17 months, rather than at birth, so the implications of their mercury content for prenatal exposures (for example, to RhoD immunoglobulin containing thimerosal, given to Rhesus negative mothers during pregnancy) were unclear.

But my own theory of the increase involves postnatal exposure to mercury rather than prenatal, so even if that objection had any real soundness it would still not apply to that amalgam theory.

Fifthly, infant exposures to other sources of mercury were not ascertained.

But again, in terms of the study being merely evidence of a mercury-autism connection, so what?

Most importantly, the authors presented no direct evidence for their hypothesis that low hair levels of mercury reflect persisting toxicity in chil­dren with autism.

But so what? Has anyone presented any evidence against that hypothesis?

A subsequent study comparing children with autism and controls in Hong Kong, found no difference in mercury levels (Ip et aI. 2007). The authors concluded that their results showed that there wasno causal relationship between mercury as an environmental neurotoxin and autism’.

But that Ip et al. study has been absolutely discredited and shown to actually corroborate Holmes et al. rather than challenge it: And it anyway concerns 7-year-olds (and in the context of Dr Fitzpatrick’s own nit-picking of a mere 17 months delay above).

Though numerous anecdotal reports and testimonials claim dramatic improvements in symptoms of autism following chelation therapy to remove mercury and other heavy metals believed to be toxic, it is impossible to find independent confirmation of these benefits.

But those “numerous anecdotal reports and testimonials” are “independent confirmation”. Except that when Dr Fitzpatrick uses the word “independent” he in reality means “corporate-establishment-dependent”. And those corporate-institutionalised groups had not found any confirmation for the simple reason that they did not carrry out any studies because they did not want to find any such confirmation.

However, one study of chelation has been widely cited in support of the mercury-autism theory. In this study, conducted jointly by the Florida DAN! doctor Jeffrey Bradstreet and the Geiers, more than 200 children with autism were found to have excreted significantly more mercury in their urine than 18 controls (apparently healthy children whose parents had sought chelation treatment because of worries about heavy metal toxicity) (Bradstreet 2003). Apart from revealing a frightening willingness of parents to subject their children to chelation therapy, it is difficult to draw any conclusions from this study.

That study found more than 3 times higher mercury in autistics, with a huge significance level of p&lt0.0002. But Dr Fitzpatrick indeed could not draw the mercury-acquitting conclusion he wished to from those brief numbers so he did not find even a tiddler of space for them in his book (perhaps because it was required for his closing masterclass about “Being appropriately critical” instead).

Apart from revealing a frightening willingness of parents to subject their children to chelation therapy, the context that no-one has ever been killed by DMSA chelation, in stark contrast to the lethal drugs that Dr Fitzpatrick routinely prescribes. But then his book also didn't find the little space to mention that it was DMSA rather than EDTA in the study (and this in a book that opens with a shock-horror anecdote narrative about a unique EDTA case).

The non-mysteries of savant syndrome and synaesthesia

Savant syndrome is rare, and I haven't studied it much, but I will just put here my thoughts about it.

Some people think it is somehow puzzling that an individual can have such extraordinary ability in some obscure form of calculation or calendar-memorising or such-like. Especially if they are not particularly high IQ. I don't find it particularly suprising myself, at least not more so than the already amazing things that the brain of the average person is capable of anyway.

For instance if you have any experience of cheapo binoculars you will know that the human visual system has an ability to coordinate two misaligned images into one. And indeed it does this all the time even when binoculars are not involved and even when stereoscopics and other factors make the images disalike. This effortless merging of binocular images must take some rather substantial hardwired computing power.

A second less obvious example came to my attention after I was attacked by a thug and left for dead. A few weeks later I was amazed to find that my right ear was hearing sounds half a semitone sharper than my left ear. Which causes all music to sound very unmusical indeed. This problem, the technical name of which I have forgotten, resolved itself on the 13th day just before it had driven me completely bonkers. But again, it shows that the auditory brain must be likewise effortlessly mapping together the disparate sounds from the two ears, even while our attention is concentrated on other things such as understanding or appreciating the sounds in question.

These high-power computations are performed without effort in the brains of even the most average of people. Let us combine that fact with the observation that in normal development, some neurons have to "migrate" their axons and dendrites significant distances to establish connections with other parts of the brain or body. Under certain conditions it can be expected that such migrations will get misdirected, and this would in respect of sensory neurons quite credibly produce the mix-up of sensations that is synaesthesia.

Meanwhile there could occasionally be another sort of misdirected migration-connection, in which an area which would normally be innately-assigned to one of those complex innate functions such as binocular vision or hearing gets connected to some other inputs and outputs and thereby recruited for some other task instead. And would thereby produce, rarely, one or other savant syndrome ability.

The history of suppression of scientific genius

Excerpts from Eysenck's book Genius (1995)
"The list is truly endless ..." "Nothing has changed"
(except that genius is now totally invisible)

[One of the cases which Eysenck did not mention here was that of Ludwig Boltzmann, whose outstanding discovery of statistical thermodynamics was ridiculed by university professors for ten years till he took his life.]

[page 147:] Less often remarked, but possibly even more insidious, is the resistance by scientists to scientific discovery [.....]
[page 148:] Planck's experience with other leading physicists was no different. .... 'I found no interest, let alone approval, even among the very physicists who were clearly connected with the topic. Kirchoff expressly disapproved. I did not succeed in reaching Clausius. He did not answer my letters, and I did not find him at home when I tried to see him in person in Bonn. I carried on a correspondence with Carl Neumann, of Leipzig, but it remained totally fruitless' (Planck, 1949, p.18). ' .... a new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.'
.... even after the publication of De Revolutionibus most astronomers retained their belief in the central position of the Earth; even Brahe (Thoren, 1990) whose observations were accurate enough to enable Kepler (Caspar, 1959) to determine that the Mars orbit around the sun was elliptical, not circular, could not bring himself to accept the heliocentric view.
Thomas Young proposed a wave theory of light on the basis of good experimental evidence, but because of the prestige of Newton, who of course favoured a corpuscular view, no-one accepted Young's theory (Gillespie, 1960). ....
Similarly, William Harvey's theory of the circulation of the blood was poorly received, in spite of his prestigious position as the King's physician, and harmed his career (Keele, 1965). Pasteur too was hounded because his discovery of the biological character of the fermentation process was found unacceptable. Liebig and many others defended the chemical theory of these processes long after the evidence in favour of Pasteur was conclusive (Dubois, 1950). Equally his micro-organism theory of disease caused endless strife and criticism. Lister's theory of antisepsis (Fisher, 1977) was also long argued over, and considered absurd; so were .... .... Priestley (Gibbs, 1977) retained his views of phlogiston as the active principle in burning, and together with many others opposed the modern theories of Lavoisier, with considerable violence. Alexander Maconochie's very successful elaboration and application of what would now be called 'Skinnerian principle' to the reclamation of convicted criminals in Australia, led to his dismissal (Barry, 1958).
Another good example is Wegener's continental drift theory, which was given short shrift when he first announced it (Wegener, 1915), but which is now universally accepted. .... most geologists rejected it out of hand. Many of them refused to take it seriously and simply ignored it. ....
The list is truly endless, and is continued in Barker's (1961) article. Here I will rather cite in a more detailed manner a particularly interesting case, that of Ignaz Philipp Semmelweis (Slaughter, 1950). .... An almost ten-fold reduction in mortality might have been expected to provoke praise, interest and imitation. Nothing of the kind. .... Professor Klein, his boss, driven by jealousy, ignorance and vanity, put all sorts of obstacles in Semmelweis's way, underhandedly prevented his promotion, and finally drove him from Vienna.
Another victim of mindless medical orthodoxy was the great Andreas Vesalius, who pioneered modern anatomy 450 years ago. .... Embittered by the harsh condemnation of his work, Vesalius gave up scientific work, burnt his notes, .... Vesalius was made to undertake a pilgrimage to Jerusalem .... he was shipwrecked and perished.
.... it would be quite wrong to imagine that this is the sort of thing that happened in ancient, far-off days, and that nowadays scientists behave in a different manner. Nothing has changed, and I have elsewhere described the fates of modern Lochinvars who fought against orthodoxy and were made to suffer mercilessly (Eysenck, 1990a). .... It is odd that books on genius seldom if ever mention this terrible battle that originality so often has when confronting orthodoxy.

From HJ Eysenck, Genius (Cambridge University Press, 1995) pp. 147-152.

Increasing support for the handflapping explanation

When working up the details of the antiinnatia theory, it very soon became apparent that some features of autism could not be credibly explained as due to simply loss of innatons. This led me to think of the idea of prehuman innnatons being suppressed by later suppressing characteristics, and indeed I thereafter learnt that this concept was already well-established and called atavisms. I explained the handflapping and posturing as a re-emergence of the sort of behaviour regularly seen in wild rats, squirrels and birds in the wild. Fuller details are in the 1993 paper.

Nowadays with the internet it is vastly easier to research things than it was back in the 1980s and 90s. I have now learnt that we did indeed have a rat-like prehuman ancestor, for 163 million years! As indicated in this video of your granny (which be warned is rather 'exciting' by the way):
same as at:
P.S.: The palaeontologists have not presented a very accurate image of the rat-like behaviour here. Just watch any squirrel or bird (in the wild) to see what I actually had in mind, and which surely would have applied as a defence against dinosaurs.

Meanwhile, in this charming video, eight-year-old Anthony seeks to describe his (and others') stimming (by which he basically means handflapping episodes). Note that he emphasises that it is liable to involve getting up and moving forward, which rather agrees with my theory's explanation of the handflapping as an atavism of the rat-like behaviour of our ancestors, as per Purgatorius video above. The point being that this shows some remaining trace of (hind) legs movements and forward movements as per the original function of the hypothesised innatons. Note in my 1993-published paper my explicit assumption that the handflapping did not have any related leg movements (because I was only going on the information I had at that time).
I should add that Anthony's attempted simulation of hand-movements does not correspond very well with actual videos of handflapping, which do indeed look suggestive of the rats' sprinting movements. For instance you can see (at 1.56) in this video of the Minamata disaster a more typical example of autistic handflapping, in this case seemingly caused by the mercury from the Minamata pollution (so best pretend you've not noticed it if you work for the FDA, CDC, NHS etc). And immediate before that you can see a cat doing something remarkably similar.

Age of Onset graph

First graph is from the Autism Research Institute (though named "Institute for Child Behavior Research" during most of this graph). Second is my re-working to show the changing ratio of age of onset. How easily is this data compatible with no increase?

The Neurodiversity / Autism Pride movement

Since I published that first paper, one development that has been enabled by the emergence of the www (and blogs in particular) has been the neurodiversity or autism pride movement. This rightly says that many autistics (or at least people with a moderate degree of the autistic/Asperger syndrome) are perfectly happy and functional as they are and do not want to be "cured" of their personality. Indeed they rightly point out the shortcomings of mere "neurotypicals".

They reasonably reject the notion that they have a "disorder".

So far so good, but some then go on, like all good fanatics, to take a dogmatically exaggerated position. Supposedly autism is never really a problem, and no autistics need curing. And not being a problem it (supposedly logically) "therefore" cannot be caused by a toxin such as mercury. Their fanaticism thus leads them to devote their lives (perhaps subsidised by vaccine mfrs) to half-baked nitpicking of everything that evidences mercury or an increase of autism.

They then go on to make out that the great scientists who have done so much to help the problem of autism, namely those involved in DAN! (defeat autism now) are a load of evil greed-driven liars.

All this is a pathetic unnecessary exhibition of black-white stereotyping by these attitude-driven fanatics. Many people are not handicapped by their autisticness. But meanwhile there are many who are severely devastated by it. There is room in the world for both these facts to be true simultaneously. None of the heroic DAN! practitioners have ever said that any autistics must be forced to accept treatment.

And no one wanting to get rich would choose to do so by clashing head-on against the medical establishment.

"Offensive" / " inappropriate" language about autism

When I first started sending manuscripts to journals, I once got back a reply that it was offensive to use the term "autistics". Instead one has to ramble on about "children with autism" (which is probably why so many people assume that autism is confined to children, and is something that one either "has" or does not "have"). Meanwhile it has become the standard practice of the same people to refer to autism and related conditions as "autism spectrum disorder", or ASD. There's even a journal called the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. Now I may be just a twit but I would have thought that referring to autism as being a disorder must be genuinely offensive, given that so many autistics do not want to be "cured" of the "disorder" they supposedly have. And meanwhile let's not be big hypocritical babies unable to usefully call a spade anything shorter than "tool for digging".

Persons with femaleness.
Persons with generosity.
Persons with racism.
Persons with Britishness.
Persons with Protestantism.
Persons with degrees.
Persons with professorships.
Persons with elderliness.
Autistics with childness.

In addition, the terminology of "autistic spectrum" I find very unhelpful, because it gives a false impression of having only one dimension of variability. In reality the autistic syndrome is a rather multidimensional thing, which would be best referred to as just that. It naturally includes those diagnosed as Aspergers and also those with just one or two features of the syndrome (such as the communication disabilities noted in siblings of the Rutter/Folstein twin study).