Autism: why can’t we know more?

One of the saddest things about Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is that no one is nearer to a clear understanding of causes. Immense amounts of work have been done, as even a cursory glance at our Wikipedia link will show [1]. But we are still far short o a unifying Theory of Mind without which any long term alleviation is hopeless (think of the unifying infectious organism theory changed the understanding of physical disease).

Brave and ingenious researchers keep trying, because they know that we need every scrap of data we can get. That’s why we were sad when we saw how a potentially groundbreaking study into the genetics of this disorder has been suspended. We’ll let Nature tell you the story:

The largest genetic study of genetics and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in the United Kingdom has been suspended, following criticism that it failed to properly consult the autism community about the goals of the research. Concerns about the Spectrum 10K study include fears that its data could be misused by other researchers seeking to ‘cure’ or eliminate ASD.
Study leaders say that the research “does not aim to eradicate autism” and that it could contribute to a better understanding of co-occurring conditions such as epilepsy and gut-health problems.Nature | 5 min read

We understand the deep emotional concerns of those who live with the condition and their families. We hope that lessons will be learned all round about consulting with communities in any study. But in the end, only scientific research will offer a way ahead.


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