In our print magazine this month, Hanna Rosin tells the story of her son Jacob’s diagnosis with Asperger syndrome, in the context of the psychiatric community’s recent change in the definition of the disorder to part of what’s now known as autism spectrum disorder.
We received a lot of thoughtful responses from readers who have experience with the disorder in their own lives, themselves or their families, about how the diagnosis has affected them, and what the changes in definition mean to everyone. Here are excerpts from some of those stories.
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Young women who placed importance on comments and likes, and regularly untagged photos of themselves, were at greater risk.
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Hours of staring at screen is hurting our vision, but we are not powerless.
As more states legalize, we still don’t have a clear picture of how marijuana affects the body.
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Eating a meal, any meal, reliably makes an animal, any animal, calmer and more lethargic. This means humans, too. Hunger makes animals alert and irritable, which explains why couples always fight about where to eat dinner. This emotional response encourages the animals to find food.
But all this is only in the broadest, most primal “eating = good, not eating = bad” way. The details of the relationship between foods and moods end up being a little contradictory and a lot complicated.
What we tend to think of as “emotional eating” is a specific kind of eating and a specific kind of emotion—eating sugary, fatty, carb-y, unhealthy foods as a coping mechanism for feeling upset. In reality, “emotional eating” is a much broader term.
“We eat for a variety of different emotions and we eat in a variety of different circumstances which are in turn connected with emotions,” Meryl Gardner, a marketing professor at the University of Delaware, says.
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In spite of all of our teachers’ and bosses’ warnings that it’s not a trustworthy source of information, we all rely on Wikipedia. Not only when we can’t remember the name of that guy from that movie, which is a fairly low-risk use, but also when we find a weird rash or are just feeling a little off and we’re not sure why. One in three Americans have tried to diagnose a medical condition with the help of the Internet, and a new report says doctors are just as drawn to Wikipedia’s flickering flame.
According to the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics’ “Engaging patients through social media” report, Wikipedia is the top source of healthcare information for both doctors and patients. Fifty percent of physicians use Wikipedia for information, especially for specific conditions.
Generally, more people turn to Wikipedia for rare diseases than common conditions. The top five conditions looked up on the site over the past year were: tuberculosis, Crohn’s disease, pneumonia, multiple sclerosis, and diabetes. Patients tend to use Wikipedia as a “starting point for their online self education,” the report says. It also found a “direct correlation between Wikipedia page visits and prescription volumes.”
Do you like the idea of Barbie but hate that by even whispering her name you’re contributing to the perpetuation of superhuman, hyperheteronormative beauty standards that eternalize a culture of shame? Well, meet Lammily.
Lammily is the forthcoming plastic doll whose motto is, “Average is beautiful!” Her body shape is based on averages of data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control that is more often used to track the American obesity epidemic. She is not affiliated with Mattel’s Barbie.
Last year, graphic designer Nickolay Lamm created some concept images of the “Normal Barbie” that became very popular around the Internet. (If you didn’t see them, one is to the right.) Today Lamm is launching a project to put the design into production and make the dolls a reality. It’s crowd-sourced, it “promotes realistic standards of beauty,” and it can be under your holiday tree by late 2014 if enough people support the project.
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Extreme cold kills more people than extreme heat, and it does so in a variety of ways.
You could freeze to death. You could be spending more time inside, picking up all sorts of nasty respiratory infections. More often, though, frigid temperatures get you in an even sneakier way: Cold weather causes arteries to constrict and blood to become thicker, increasing chances of having a heart attack or stroke. The winter months usually see a peak in various types of heart diseases, including heart attacks.
Weight, fitness, and lifestyle factors all contribute to the likelihood of having a heart attack during a cold snap, of course. But now, it looks like there’s another cause—one far beyond your control. There’s evidence that your risk of dying of heart disease in the cold could depend on the temperature at which you experienced life as a fetus.
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On Wednesday, Seth Rogen gave impassioned testimony before a U.S. Senate subcommittee. The comedian and his wife Lauren Miller recently started a charity dedicated to Alzheimer’s education and research advocacy, Hilarity for Charity. Video of the ever-unassuming Rogen’s plea to support Alzheimer’s research resonated widely across the Internet, already having been viewed more than 3 million times on YouTube.
It’s not just that Rogen is a funny guy and that Alzheimer’s affects more than 5 million Americans, but also that a third of people fear dementia more than they do death. At odds with the massive public response to Rogen’s message, of the 18 members of the subcommittee, only two—Senators Tom Harkin and Jerry Moran—attended the hearing. “Not sure why only two senators were at the hearing,” Rogen tweeted. “Very symbolic of how the Government views Alzheimer’s. Seems to be a low priority.”
Have you ever seen people riding those two-wheeled elliptical trainer contraptions? It looks like they just tore free of their moorings at the gym and started cruising down the street. Are they supposed to be scooters, NordicTracks, bikes, or what? They should decide whether they want to run or ride a bike or cross-country ski. They look ridiculous.
Of course, so does most exercise. We humans face an inherent conflict: Our bodies are meant to subsist on only the foods we can hunt down, scavenge, or coax from the earth by endless sowing, tending, and reaping. But our actual lifestyles consist of sitting on soft chairs and eating unlimited, delicious, and inexpensive calories. As a result, we engage in outlandish activities that are, when considered objectively, completely preposterous.
While less jarring than the sight of someone riding a piece of cardio equipment from the gym down the street, cyclists are a bit of an eyesore themselves, what with their loud, matching Lycra shorts and jerseys emblazoned with logos of Italian bikes that cost more than most of the cars I’ve owned.
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