Tuesday, April 5, 2011

More convoluted logic from Laurent Mottron

I see that rogue scientist Laurent Mottron is at it again using results from a metaanalysis of various research showing enhanced visual perception in what is likely a limited subset of persons with autism in order to claim that trying to cure autistic children is a bad thing. As has been written before autism speaks, an organization which advertises on its walks and fundraisers that they are funding research to find a cure for autism has given this man a nearly half million dollar grant As has been previously written on Autism's gadfly, At the time this grant was awarded it amounted to 5% of autism speaks net assets. Not an insignificant amount. Dr. Mottron states: it adds another argument against attempts to "cure" autistics. "When we try to turn an autistic toddler into a non-autistic toddler, it's painful, it's expensive and it does not work," he said. "We should not try to assimilate or break the difference (between autistics and nonautistics), but just admit that it's a difference that has good and bad consequences." While I do agree with Mottron that it is not possible given the current state of the art to turn an autistic toddler into a nonautistic one, I do disagree that research that attempts to find a cure or ways to ameliorate autism should not be funded. Autism is more than just a difference. Whatever good consequences it may or may not have,particularly in a small subset of individuals, are far outweighed by the bad. It is really even a further stretch to argue that this research proves it. I will concede I have not read the original source, only the abstract linked on Michelle Dawson's TMOB comment board. However, I have read Isabelle Souleries' study which was published in this same journal. This study had, in my opinion, a myriad of methodological problems which I have commented on elsewhere An additional problem that I was unaware of at the time was that the Raven's matrices is not a timed test, yet they were claiming that the autistics who were matched on intelligence with the typical controls who performed the test faster were somehow superior in some way. Given that this is a nonstandard use of the testing instrument, this really does not seem to have any credibility. There is little doubt that Souleries' study is one of the studies that they are using to formulate this hypothesis. If the rest of the studies have the same limitations, particularly with the use of a subset of pretty high functioning autistics, who have no discrepancies in their scores on the verbal and performance tests of the Wechsler, then there is a real problem with claiming this is scientifically valid work, let alone using it as a reason not to do research to attempt to cure or at least mitigate autistic symptoms. Autism is a horrific disability and disease. We need to fund more research to help mitigate this disability with the ultimate goal that we can cure it and that at some point in time autism will be a thing of the past. Hopefully this effort will continue in spite of Dr. Mottron's sophistry.


SM69 said...

Morton’s work and report are another example of a part true/part wrong representation of autism.

When are we going to look at this condition wholly and comprehensively, outside any given dogma?

Has it occur to the autism community that what Morton says is likely true for some HFA people and whilst what others have reported, for example parents, talking about the health, regression and more challenging issues seen in their kids, is also likely accurate?

Anyone who has the guts to step out of their comfort zone, patterns of thoughts, and survival needs (funding or dogma), and can use common sense, should just see this reality of autism, plain and clear.

There is not one autism, but many. There is not just good or bad features but a spectrum. And there are many ways to deal with it (or not).

And BTW- as you rightly expressed- do we need another one of these visual processing task study?

Why and how is that really going help improving the quality of life of ASD people?

Arch- the way research is founded has a lot to account for in that whole none sense.

John Best said...

When Sam was young he had no eye contact, receptive language or any ability to even acknowledge that another human being was trying to interact with him. This went on until age eight when I started chelation.

At that point, all of the above began to improve and the head banging, self-biting and feces smearing began to diminish. The painful constipation was the first painful thing to vanish and the screaming that used to go all day also vanished.

Every parent who has been through this horror should have a legal right to belt people like Mottron in the head with a bat. This jackass and all the others like him would prefer to see kids like mine suffer their entire lives rather than helping them.

Thanks for writing about this moron, Jonathan.

Larry Arnold PhD FRSA said...

FWIW I might agree with you that enhanced visual perception at least to the degree I possess it is not evenly distributed amongst autistics. It is a wonderful gift for those who have, but not to worry, so is the ability to run a sub 2 1/2 hour marathon and I don't have that one.