Wednesday, December 03, 2014

So Called Autism Brain Study Excluded 50% of the Autism Spectrum, Those With Intellectual Disability

Credit (or Discredit) Carnegie Mellon University

What's Wrong With This Picture? It Omits 50% of The Autism Spectrum, Those with Intellectual Disability

The picture above, credit (or discredit) to Carnegie Mellon University,  is from a Science Daily review article  Brain representations of social thoughts accurately predict autism diagnosis which reviews an MRI study published in PLOS ONE, December 2014, Identifying Autism from Neural Representations of Social Interactions: Neurocognitive Markers of Autism,  purporting to demonstrate different brain responses to social interaction stimuli in what are described as "autism" brains as compared to control brains of persons without autism. The review article states that it is based on materials supplied by Carnegie Mellon U the institution that conducted the study in which fMRI imaging was used to compare brain reactions of 17 persons with high functioning autism with the brain reactions of 16 control subjects with similar IQ  levels:

As the father of an almost 19 year old low functioning son with severe autism, profound intellectual disability ... and epilepsy I understand why it may not have been feasible to include intellectually disabled autistic adults in an fMRI study.  What the study authors and the journal articles reviewing the study could have done would have been to describe the results as applying only to those with high functioning autism. After all they expressly and intentionally excluded the 50% of the autism spectrum with intellectually disability (WHO, September 2013) and should have claimed that their results applied only to high functioning autism.  Arguably they could have talked about a "high functioning autism brain" but they certainly can not assume their results apply to the low functioning half of the autism world.  

The study authors should have been more accurate .... and honest ... in what they tell the world about their high functioning autism study.  They could have started with the title of their study and called it:

"Identifying HIGH FUNCTIONING Autism from Neural Representations of Social Interactions: Neurocognitive Markers of HIGH FUNCTIONING Autism".


VMGillen said...

Every time I come across stuff like this I wish the APA would just come up with a new term. . . I say term, not diagnosis, because they can't even present a decent etiology. So if the categorization is based solely on symptoms, it should be based solely on symptoms! "Spectrum" is not relevant.

Peter Lloyd-Thomas said...

The real problem here is American Psychiatric Association.
Autism and Asperger’s is combined into one condition. In DSM 5 there are only 4 levels of severity:- None, Mild, Moderate and Severe.

Now we know that Seinfeld is either none or mild.

Severe would be non-verbal, seizures, intellectual impairment, SIB and aggression to others.

So where does very one else fit in?
Clearly grading autism like you might grade a hotel with 3 or 4 stars is ridiculous.
So you cannot really blame the researchers for using the APA’s definitions.

What is high functioning autism? Nobody seems to have middle functioning autism.

A serious condition needs serious rating scale and they do already exist.

Research Bias to High Functioning

The most enlightening research actually involves physical brain samples. These have to come from brain banks. The vast majority of these samples come from people with low functioning autism, who died from drowning, other avoidable accidents and from seizures (SUDEP).

So the biological understanding of autism is very much skewed towards lower functioning. There will be very few samples from people with Asperger’s in the brain bank, unless they had epilepsy.

w ford said...

A few years ago I tried to be in a autism study at ucla and my partial blindness not my nf1 disease disqualified me. This was at ucla and the iq cut of was 50 or 70 depending on age. Most studies would disqualify one with Tuberous sclerosis and sometimes nf1 not this one it was my eye sight harold is right about iq bias for high functioning autism research.