Uncertainty is the major theme of The Politics of Autism. A new research initiative aims to reduce it. At The Connecticut Post, Karen Weintraub reports on research into biomarkers (e.g., EEGs, eye tracking).
“Your likelihood of receiving an autism diagnosis, unfortunately, is very much dependent on where you live and which clinic you’re able to get to—if you’re able to get to a clinic at all,” said Alison Singer, president of the Autism Science Foundation, an advocacy group that supports autism research.
There is no way to objectively determine whether a child has autism. Diagnosis is a judgment made by a clinician after watching a child and interviewing parents and caregivers, said James McPartland, a Yale associate professor of Child Psychiatry and Psychology at the Yale Child Study Center, who is leading a $28 million national effort to change that.
What’s needed are “ways of quantifying human behavior that are not subjective and don’t involve human clinical judgment,” said McPartland, who is collaborating with researchers from four other institutions - Duke University, Boston Children’s Hospital, the University of Washington/Seattle Children’s Research Institute and the University of California, Los Angeles - that make up the Autism Biomarkers Consortium for Clinical Trials.