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Saturday, October 17, 2009

Another critique of Ginger Taylor

It was pointed out to me that Mrs. Ginger Taylor has made another uninformed post on her blog Adventures in Autism, in the form of her post Redskins Cheerleader Ambassador Suffers Neurological Damage from Flu Shot.

Now, I'm not refuting that Desiree Jennings is suffering from Dystonia. It has been noted that sufferers of Dystonia have near continuous pain, difficulty with mobility due to cramping and involuntary muscle movement.

What makes me question Mrs. Taylor's claims to be an educated woman with a Practicum Master's of Clinical Counseling is her question

So if this injury happened when she was 18 months old, before she had learned to talk or learned social norms, would she not be diagnosed with "autism"?

The answer, Mrs. Taylor, is no. The symptoms of Dystonia only are similar with autism is that there are repetitive movement. And I'm taking about real autism, Mrs. Taylor, not your supposed "immune-disorder-caused-by-vaccines-that-display-autistic-traits". You believe your son has an immune disorder; you should be calling it an immune disorder that has been misdiagnosed, not quoting it as "autism". Autism is, for the record, a very real neurological wiring of the brain. It has been noted by several studies now, that when doing brain imagery, the autistic brain is very physically different that the supposed "normal" or neurologically typical brain, with indications that the cause of differences would have to occur while a babe is in the womb, at the point of pregnancy, if I remember correctly.

Either way, Dystonia is still very different from an acquired autoimmune disorder or autism, which is clear if she had even bothered to even look it up in Wikipedia.

According to Wikipedia, October 17, 2009: under "Symptoms"

Symptoms vary according to the kind of dystonia involved. In most cases, dystonia tends to lead to abnormal posturing, particularly on movement. Many sufferers have continuous pain, cramping and relentless muscle spasms due to involuntary muscle movements.

Early symptoms may include loss of precision muscle coordination (sometimes first manifested in declining penmanship, frequent small injuries to the hands, dropped items and a noticeable increase in dropped or chipped dishes), cramping pain with sustained use and trembling. Significant muscle pain and cramping may result from very minor exertions like holding a book and turning pages. It may become difficult to find a comfortable position for arms and legs with even the minor exertions associated with holding arms crossed causing significant pain similar to restless leg syndrome. Affected persons may notice trembling in the diaphragm while breathing, or the need to place hands in pockets, under legs while sitting or under pillows while sleeping to keep them still and to reduce pain. Trembling in the jaw may be felt and heard while lying down, and the constant movement to avoid pain may result in the grinding and wearing down of teeth, or symptoms similar to TMD. The voice may crack frequently or become harsh, triggering frequent throat clearing. Swallowing can become difficult and accompanied by painful cramping.

Electrical sensors (EMG) inserted into affected muscle groups, while painful, can provide a definitive diagnosis by showing pulsating nerve signals being transmitted to the muscles even when they are at rest. The brain appears to signal portions of fibers within the affected muscle groups at a firing speed of about 10 Hz causing them to pulsate, tremble and contort. When called upon to perform an intentional activity, the muscles fatigue very quickly and some portions of the muscle groups do not respond (causing weakness) while other portions over-respond or become rigid (causing micro-tears under load). The symptoms worsen significantly with use, especially in the case of focal dystonia, and a "mirror effect" is often observed in other body parts: use of the right hand may cause pain and cramping in that hand as well as in the other hand and legs that were not being used. Stress, anxiety, lack of sleep, sustained use and cold temperatures can worsen symptoms.

Direct symptoms may be accompanied by secondary effects of the continuous muscle and brain activity, including disturbed sleep patterns, exhaustion, mood swings, mental stress, difficulty concentrating, blurred vision, digestive problems and short temper. People with dystonia may also become depressed and find great difficulty adapting their activities and livelihood to a progressing disability. Side effects from treatment and medications can also present challenges in normal activities.

In some cases, symptoms may progress and then plateau for years, or stop progressing entirely. The progression may be delayed by treatment or adaptive lifestyle changes, while forced continued use may make symptoms progress more rapidly. In others, the symptoms may progress to total disability, making some of the more risky forms of treatment worth considering.

An accurate diagnosis may be difficult because of the way the disorder manifests itself. Sufferers may be diagnosed as having similar and perhaps related disorders including Parkinson's disease, essential tremor, carpal tunnel syndrome, TMD, Tourette's syndrome, or other neuromuscular movement disorders.

And that's just from Wikipedia. Now, I know that quoting Wiki is not very academic of me, and if this was an academic paper, I would automatically get a 0 and possibly prosecuted for plagiarism. So, I took a look at the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation, on their What is Dystonia page, found this:

Dystonia is a movement disorder that causes the muscles to contract and spasm involuntarily. The neurological mechanism that makes muscles relax when they are not in use does not function properly. Opposing muscles often contract simultaneously as if they are “competing” for control of a body part. The involuntary muscle contractions force the body into repetitive and often twisting movements as well as awkward, irregular postures. There are approximately 13 forms of dystonia, and dozens of diseases and conditions include dystonia as a major symptom....

....Although there are multiple forms of dystonia and the symptoms of these forms may outwardly appear quite different, the element that all forms share is the repetitive, patterned, and often twisting involuntary muscle contractions.

Dystonia is a chronic disorder, but the vast majority of dystonias do not impact cognition, intelligence, or shorten a person’s life span. The main exception to this is dystonia that occurs as symptom of another disease or condition that can cause such complications.

And because I'd like to remind Mrs. Taylor as to the diagnosis of autism, from The Geneva Center for Autism, autism is marked by (1) qualitative impairment in social interactions, (2) qualitative impairment in communication, (3) restricted repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behaviour, interests, and activities, (4) delays or abnormal functioning in at least one of the following areas, social interaction, language as used in social communication, or symbolic or imaginative play. You can find the complete DSM-IV criteria here.

Also, under the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems 10th revision, Autism is under Pervasive Developmental Disorders (Chapter V. F84.0) as a Mental and Behavioural Disorder, while Dystonia, specifically Drug-Induced Dystonia is under Extrapyramidal and Movement disorders (Chapter VI. G24.0) as a Disease of the nervous system. You can look it up on the 2007 version here.

Therefore, Mrs. Taylor, the answer is "no". Dystonia would not be misdiagnosed as Autism.

So, dear Mrs. Taylor, next time you want to ask a question about an apparent similar disorder, do some research first. You'll cause less misinformation and confusion that way.

P.S. Mrs. Taylor, have you read the UK study that reports that autism rates in adults are the same as in children? This includes the full spectrum of autism, btw, for both rates.


  1. Your post here and comment there are well done, Corina.

  2. Beyond excellent Corina.. Maybe she ought to change her blog title to "Adventures in immune disorders that have been misdiagnosed"?

  3. Thanks, Kim, kathleen.

    heh, but it probably wouldn't get her as much traffic if she changed the title of her blog.

  4. excellent work, once again pointing out that a little research goes a long way.

  5. Now I see where Kevin Champagne got the idea that dystonia would be misdiagnosed as autism. I linked some videos for him to illustrate his error.

  6. Oh, how would Kevin Champagne get the idea that dystonia would be misdiagnosed as autism?


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