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.