Monkeys deprived of love have low oxytocin levels, and so do kids with autism? Doesn't that sound an awful lot like the discredited “refrigerator mother” hypothesis?
Hollander: In extreme cases of maternal deprivation, like children raised in orphanages without any early maternal or, there can be a long-lasting effect on oxytocin that's associated with social deficits. However, that probably is not the case with good or bad mothering. These are extreme cases of total lack of nurturing. [Where is Hollander's evidence for this statement about good or bad mothering?]
This means: This research does not mean that autism can be blamed on bad parents. The only time there might be links between parenting, oxytocin, and autismlike oral problems is in cases when a child has had no meaningful interaction with caregivers whatsoever. [Note the spin applied here by the reporter - to protect the feelings of parents, no matter what]
Some oral therapies seem to help people with autism, especially if they're delivered early in life. Is it possible that these therapies work by increasing oxytocin levels?
Hollander: Those therapies are really important—that's the whole point of diagnosing autism early, because the therapies can really improve the long-term developmental trajectory—but nobody has specifically measured oxytocin in response to them. I can tell you that there are things we know of that can enhance oxytocin levels. Deep pressure massage does it, and breast-feeding, and sexual intercourse. We also know that patients with autism tend to calm down by doing certain physical activities, like lying underneath a mattress or using Temple Grandin's squeeze machine."