I blogged the other day about a scientific experiment where the findings resulted in researchers making some assumptions.
Today I’ve found another example of such assumptions. This time it’s the scientists and doctors of the Harvard School of Public Health that are jumping to conclusions.
They say that abused women have autistic kids. More specifically that women who were abused as children are three and a half times more likely to have an autistic child than women who were not abused.
It has not occured to these experts that the most likely reason those children are autistic is because their mothers are autistic – or on the Autistic Spectrum at least. This is more about genetics than anything else.
The reason there is a connection between their autism and their mothers’ abuse is because many autistic people get bullied and abused. Even the high functioning ones. The characteristics that most people on the Autistic Spectrum have means that many of them will suffer some form of abuse. And abusers are no different from other bullies. They are cowards, and the easiest prey are children on the autistic spectrum. Kids who are easy to manipulate because they are often sensitive, inconfident, suggestible and scared.
So when these kids grow up to be women and end up having autistic kids of their own, the experts just put 2 and 2 together and come up with 9.
The irony as well is that people on the autistic spectrum can be bullies themselves, so an autistic kid can have a whole family-tree full of ASD and abuse.
If you have read anything else on this site, you will know it is all about how not everyone on the autistic spectrum has obvious signs of autism. Most people who have it are of the High Functioning variety. Many of those mothers in this study will be in that category of High Functioning ASD.
I’m not saying that the prolonged stress put upon an abused person cannot manifest itself later to produce autism in the offspring. Of course that is a possiblility. I’m saying the fact that a lot of these women will themselves be on the autistic spectrum, kind of scews the results of the experiment – a lot.
My natural mother, I believe smoked when I was in the womb. She hasn’t said so, but she also never batted an eyelid when other pregnant members of the family smoked. But then again I had malnutrition at eight months old too. Could one of these be the cause of my ASD?
Was it my infant vaccinations? Was I dropped on my head? Was my mother on the spectrum? Was she abused? Who knows?
It could be one or all of the above. But whatever the cause of mine or everyone else’s autistic spectrum disorder, it will be many years before anyone can agree on what factors cause autism for sure. And it’s only going to take longer when they make these sort of assumptions based on only half the facts.
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