Thursday 4 August 2011

Illogical garbage and ill-informed speculation

A short post this one. And I am almost in Hulk mode "Mr McGee, don't make me angry.." (almost).

Normally a fairly quiet and placid character, I am a little bit irritate right now. Irritate because of some comments raised on this post about the effect of social media and the Internet on autism. Don't get me wrong, I am not in anyway adverse to the main message of the post, "don't talk about things where you have very little evidence of effect or association" but I am disheartened about some of the comments about autism and what may or may not be involved in causation(s).

To quote from the post (not my words): "You may not realise just how much illogical garbage and ill-formed speculation parents of children with these conditions are exposed to. Over the years, they’ve been told that their children’s problems are caused by their cold style of interaction, inoculations, dental amalgams, faulty diets, allergies, drinking in pregnancy - the list is endless".

What do I disagree with? Well a few things. First, autism is not autism but rather autisms. To my mind, it is not beyond the realms of possibility that there may be more than one reason why people have autism, although not necessarily caused by any of the above. Second, parents of children with autism, from my experience, get pretty good at sniffing out BS. To say that they are 'told' what caused their child's autism implies passivity. On the contrary, most parents I know or have talked to are quite the opposite; mostly because they have had to be on behalf of their child. Finally, whilst there is still some degree of speculation about 'faulty diets' and their connection or not to autism, I would probably suggest that diet and autism is not yet ready for the 'illogical garbage and ill-informed speculation' bin just yet. Certainly putting diet in the same category as Bettelheim is rather too much I think. Coeliac disease and autism? Hyperpermeability of the gut and autism? Allergy and autism? Apparently none of these matter.

OK, so now I have to change my torn clothes as my transformation from Green monster back to quiet and placid me starts. Deep breaths Paul... deep breaths (cue the sombre Hulk piano music).


  1. I have wanted to post about this same thing many times as well. I'm just waiting till the day when I can do it in a nice way.

  2. Thanks for the comment. I have now calmed down about this after my Hulk moment. I do have great respect for the blog owner in question for her sterling research on autism down the years. It is however a sad reminder about some of the very entrenched views that continue to exist about autism. In particular how certain disciplines continue to discount any aspect of autism outside of their own. I didn't even post the link to our Research Autism organisation here in the UK, which lists dietary intervention (GFCF) among only 12-13 interventions where some kind of evidence base exists (and side-effects don't ruin any potential benefits):
    Evidence... what evidence?!

  3. A short addition to this post. The Guardian website has picked up the 'open letter' which can be accessed here:


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