7/06/2009

Ludicrous Lemmings

The idea that knowledge about autism isn’t constantly being added to is ludicrous. It may not disseminate as widely as it should because the media doesn’t consider it as sexy as the manufactured controversy over vaccines and autism, but thousands of studies are conducted annually around the world which further our understanding of autism.

For example, utilizing Academic Search Premier, PsycINFO, PsycArticles, and PsycBOOKS in the Ebsco database, and isolating the search to 2008- 2009, and using autism as a search term, 988 articles resulted. Broadening the search back to 2007, the results are 2456 articles.

This doesn’t even begin to include journal articles from other databases and from the medical field.

An example of some of the research being done that Dr. Karp touched on is the idea that fetal testosterone may be implicated in autism. Auyeung, Baron-Cohen, Ashwin et al. (2009) found that “prenatal androgen exposure is related to children exhibiting more autistic traits” (1). In addition to this study, the British Journal of Psychology ran three letters critiquing the article and Baron-Cohen’s response.

A lively debate and intense research is indeed ongoing. Just because a sizable minority of parents are engaged in an intense argument regarding vaccines and autism and a host of untested and unregulated therapies with no known efficacy doesn’t mean this is reflective of the state of science on the matter.

The research field of ASDs or ASCs as Baron-Cohen terms it is vast, extending far beyond what most parents of children with autism are aware of. Some of it has little current applicability and would not improve the day-to-day lives, but a good amount is being done on the various symptoms/behaviors of autism, the underlying neural structures that might be implicated in these symptoms/behaviors, and potential mediators of them.

As long as this vocal, desperate minority of parents clamors for attention on vaccines, mercury, and the like, following Wakefield and the Geiers like lemmings, the research being done by reputable scientists will go unnoticed by the masses.

And the masses will suffer for it.

References:

Auyeung, B., Baron-Cohen, S., Ashwin, E., Knickmeyer, R., Taylor, K., & Hackett, G. (2009, February). Fetal testosterone and autistic traits. British Journal of Psychology, 100(1), 1-22. Retrieved July 6, 2009, doi:10.1348/000712608X311731

(Based on a post from someone contending that we know nothing up-to-date about autism)

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