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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Research Priorities

At Forbes, Emily Willingham faults Autism Speaks for emphasizing certain kinds of research over others:
They’ve released their list of 2013′s “Top Ten Advances in Autism Research,” determined by their “science staff and scientific advisory committee.” The list gives us studies involving early detection, prevention, genetics, “rare but real optimal outcomes,” epigenetics, a correlational finding of GI issues and autism that didn’t seem to tell us anything we didn’t already know, and the inevitable mouse study that showed no effects related to autism and social behaviors but might hold potential for OCD research. It’s not surprising to me, but very little on this list comes close to reflecting research that autistic people would like to see come into focus. It’s not that such work doesn’t exist. It does. It just didn’t make the list.

OK, so it’s science. Genetics and epigenetics et al. constitute hot stuff, what qualifies as “sexy” in science. Jobs, skills of daily living, education, quality of life? About as sexy as dishwashing.