Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Weakest Link

To describe, as The Independent did today, the outcome of a recent piece of research into autism and genetics as discovering the 'first significant link' and a 'breakthrough' is a bit misleading.

The claim begins to suffer death by a thousand qualifications with the deployment of such phrases as: 'researchers believe', 'their findings could eventually lead to', 'their discovery is still preliminary'.

Far from being the paradigm shift that they claim, it appears that they have begun to convince themselves that they have found what they were looking for anyway, namely that there is a strong genetic component to autism. At the same time they admit that environmental influences are also thought to trigger autism but it is not clear how this works.

My own recent experience of caring for autistic children has confirmed my own judgement that their difficulties are to be accounted for largely by unusual experiences, indeed traumas, in infancy. The children I am acquainted with have come from exceptionally testing homes. Their condition owes more to what they have in common with parents and siblings than what separates and differentiates them

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