Little old loudmouth!

Published on
April 26, 2011

This morning I decided I needed to let off some steam because I had far too many possible comments circling my brain to get them out in one session! Luckily, I was reading Virginia Hughes talking about a review of treatments for autism. After trying hard to get a very lonnng comment accepted and being told my email address was a crock, I decided I needed to join a forum where I could comment at leisure as a registered contributor. So, here I am.

As I've delved into the health field while doing an MPH, I've found I am quite passionate about a whole range of issues. I'm sure half of it is mere ego- but who cares in blogs? Aren't they a great spot to let the ego run free? My irrepressible impulse to write several pages of response to Virginia Hughes' blog entry is built on 35 years worth of thought about the origins of autism and quite a bit of empirical research, but many years ago. Meanwhile, I have kept up my reading on the topic of my abandoned PhD and I still feel that no one has exactly pipped me at the post and I want to let it all out! I think I can explain why most autism treatments don't seem to work very well, as well as why traditional drug trials will never show the worth of various anti depressants for major depression. I'd really like to put forward my ideas on possible neurodevelopmental problems behind visual perceptual difficulties that autistic people suffer, especially in relation to social cues. For instance, the review of the work on mental rotation by researchers such as Soulieres et al, 2011, was quite logical and reasonable- but I think there is a totally different way to explain it which links to a lot more research on characteristics of ASD people. Hopefully, over the next few days, I'll be able to log in on the relevant websites and make some comments with my alternative explanations for the findings reviewed.

Then there's the topic of public vs. private payment/hospitals/clinics in health care. Australia has had a fairly good universal health coverage system for many years in Medicare, although lately the gap between the scheduled fee and what an individual doctor names as his/her fee has grown so much that ordinary people find it difficult to get appointments and/or pay at all. The government covers everyone for the scheduled fee, which varies with the length and complexity of the consultation. When the fee gets higher, I certainly visit the doctor less and I know many others are similar. The trouble is, if I give in and visit after some illness has become quite nasty (eg. I get a chest infection and my asthma flares up suddenly), firstly the doctor chastises me, then I have to have a swathe of tests, then I get medication and the illness lasts up to 4 times longer than it would if it hadn't worsened within the first few days. So this episode ends up costing so much that I go into debt with my partner and/or friends in order to pay for the treatment. So the system doesn't really work for certain classes/groups of Australians.

In the UK and USA, recent financial and political changes have meant the health funding in those countries is being cut across some areas. There is obviously huge debate about whether cuts should go ahead in health (could cuts be made in other budget areas?), and then which areas to cut first, should everything be cut equally, will private practitioners cut costs by shedding poor patients? etc The health systems in most Western countries do not set priorities across the board for treatment of certain conditions, ages or use of procedures (such as stenting the heart). Therefore, even with cuts, some specialties are going to go over budget by doing what they did last year, or overspend on questionably necessary procedures and underspend on vital ones. Of course, there is good old health economics weighing in with making assessments of years of quality life gained from treatments and arguments about what a quality life consists of and how can you value a life in dollars! I can have heaps to say on articles about these topics, but I keep using time that should be spent on other things!

Having been a researcher in eating disorders for many years (where most of my publications came from) I also find I have plenty to say about articles and media reports on young children hating their bodies from very young ages and on how "the media" and "advertising" are making kids sick!

I'd better button it up at this point as my partner is crying for stewed quinces and yoghurt, but I could rave on, naming endless topics I want to blether on about!

Lucky Spotrick got hungry, eh?!