Friday, November 25, 2011

Parents Annoyed with Useless, Trivial Cambridge Autism Research

Is Cambridge University Professor Simon Baron-Cohen's latest "autism research" useless?  Autism Eye reports that Autism Eye magazine editor Gillian Loughran "has been inundated with phone calls from parents expressing their annoyance at what they see as the latest trivia to emerge from Cambridge."

The impugned research examined the professions of parents of autistic children to look at whether parents with professional background as engineers, scientists and computer programmers were more likely to have autistic children.

Loughran pulls no punches in her comments on the value of the research:

I could fill Cambridge University with parents of children with autism who are not working in any of the fields he mentions, but whose children went on to develop the condition.”

“Some children with autism are in pain and discomfort from gut issues and a considerable number of children with autism face exclusion from their school,” she said. “It’s far more important to study their health and educational problems than the history of their parents’ dating arrangements.”

Parents of children with autism despair at the number of academics who raise their profiles and sell more of their books while failing to conduct research that has the real potential to help these children.

It is refreshing to see parents in the UK speaking out and demanding that we focus on meaningful autism research efforts that help autistic children rather than promote careers and sell books.

It is a message that should be heard loud and clear in Canada, the US and elsewhere in the "autism world". 


Usethebrains Godgiveyou said...

Thank you for this post. I don't feel so alone in my visceral reaction to Simon Baron Cohen.

When he spoke of autistic's "zero degrees of empathy" in his book, The Science of Evil , I quit listening. I can't imagine what he hoped to acheive besides further alienation towards a people who could least afford it. It's as though he was using fear to garner up press.

Dr. Cohen's brilliance has gone to his head. He needs a heart, as well.

Suzanne said...

Why are people bothering this man? If he wants to put out so-called "useless" autism research, then let him. If you want "useful" autism research, then pay for it.

Unknown said...

Suzanne why do you object to people expressing their opinions?

I agree with the parents that the Baron-Cohen research in question is trivial. Autism disorders present serious challenges that impair the lives of many who suffer from them. If public money is spent on the research which it usually is then why shouldn't parents ask whether the money could be better spent on research that determined causes, biological bases of autism, possible treatments instead of "research" about parents dating inclinations?

Bullet said...

It also creates a very narrow concept of what a person with autism/aspergers is like, that does nothing to help those who do not fit into that criteria.