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Science
CASE NOTES
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Tuesday 21:00-21:30
Repeat Wednesday 16:30
Dr Mark Porter gives listeners the low-down on what the medical profession does and doesn't know. Each week an expert in the studio tackles a particular topic and there are reports from around the UK on the health of the nation - and the NHS.
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Listen to 1 June
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DR MARK PORTER
Dr Mark Porter
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Tuesday 1 June 2004
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Autism

Background
Forty years ago autism was thought to affect less than 1 per 1000 of the population. Today that figure is closer to 1 in 100 – that’s half a million people across the UK. Now that links with the MMR vaccine have largely been dismissed, is it simply a matter of better awareness and more inclusive diagnostic criteria, or is there something else going on? And why is autism four times more common in boys? Dr Mark Porter talks to Professor Simon Baron-Cohen about his research that suggests that boys and girls exposed to high levels of the male hormone testosterone are more likely to develop autism.

Hope for the Future?
Most cases of autism aren’t reliably diagnosed until the child is a toddler – normally between the ages of 2 and 3 – and it’s a difficult condition to manage, particularly for parents and other siblings. Could early intensive behavioural therapy, a new treatment pioneered in the USA, help?  There are many variations of this training now and it breaks down essential skills into small tasks, on the completion of which the child is rewarded with treats like playing with a favourite toy. In time, the treats are changed to be more social rewards like verbal praise, hugs and tickles. This treatment has made a difference for some people with Autism, but like all treatments it has worked with some and not others.

You can hear Case Notes on Tuesday 1st June 2004 at 9pm and again on Wednesday 2nd June at 4.30pm.
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