"autism research" may not be about autism

A recent article on the ABC's Ramp Up website (see Everyone is on a spectrum) reports on an online survey that included "people who identify with Autism Spectrum Disorder".

One can but wonder how many "people who identify with Autism Spectrum Disorder" actually have or even should have a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) ... and how representative those people are of the ASD "phenotype".

It turns out that the article describes findings that are really about "neurotypicals":

  • first, younger "neurotypicals" (that is people who do not have ASD ... or any disorder) are not as good a detecting deceit as might be expected; and
  • second, skill in detecting deceit improves with age (assuming they told the truth in the online survey).

The report does not tell us whether skill in detecting deceit really improves with age or whether it improves with increasing experience/contact with young children. The data may not be able to tell the difference.

But this is not research about autism/ASD ... and reports like this must not be allowed to undermine the service and support needs of people with a valid ASD diagnosis.