The belief that there is a single defining autism spectrum disorder brain dysfunction must be relinquished. - Waterhouse and Gillberg, Why Autism Must Be Taken Apart
I am not going to offer too much comment on the article by Lynn Waterhouse and Christopher Gillberg itself which, as the title indicates, argues that autism must be taken apart, at least for research purposes. I have not yet purchased or read the article. The abstract speaks very clearly and even I, as an ignorant, hysterical, misguided parent of a son WITH severe autism disorder, intellectual disability and epileptic seizures can understand. Waterhouse and Gillberg address themselves to the important needs of studying individual variation and finding specific treatments which are difficult to achieve in the artificially combined "autism spectrum disorder".
The authors' views are important in and of themselves as autism experts. They are also important because parents concerns on such subjects as the characterization, the artificial, non evidence based, unification of autism disorder(s) are automatically dismissed. The lumping of Aspergers in with autistic disorder under the pervasive developmental category of the DSM-IV created a whole new generation of extremely high functioning, adult diagnosed"autistics" and "free ranging Aspies" who declared that THEY speak for all persons with autism. Michelle Dawson even appeared as an "autistic" before the Supreme Court of Canada in the Auton Case to oppose government funded early ABA intervention for autistic children ... other people's autistic children.
My son can not speak for himself. As his father I speak for him and I know him best in doing so. As a parent I reject absolutely the right, or the knowledge base, of Michelle Dawon, JE Robison, Ari Ne'eman or anyone else to speak on behalf of my son. To those parents who think that the insights of some high functioning autism celebrities can offer assistance to their children I hope that, in their cases, they are right and I wish them well.
Personally I hope that the autism research community follows the direction offered by Waterhouse, Gillberg, Insel who wrote about autisms and the lack of validity of the DSM generally, and Giacomo Vivanti who has commented on the need for researchers to look beyond the "pure autism" model of autism research. Autism heterogeneity ... it is obvious to those who live in the real world of autism disorders ... it should be obvious and should be embraced by the autism research community.