Thursday, 1 September 2016

Autism/ASD is not a valid Biological Diagnosis

It's September again and about time most Autism “Experts”, therapists, advocates, charities and journalists went back to school as well

Today’s post is a brief one to highlight a mainstream scientific paper that highlights what regular readers will have already determined; autism/ASD is not a valid diagnosis.  Hundreds of different biological dysfunctions may lead to behaviors, in some shape or form, that will be diagnosed as autism.

So a behavioral diagnosis of autism is just the start of the process to determine what the biological problem(s) are.

Several readers have already highlighted the paper, but it is important enough for its own post.

This also means that clinical trials that are based on a group of subjects with completely different biological dysfunctions, but vaguely similar behavioral issues, are likely often to be of little value.

Fortunately, there are shared pathways affected by many of these numerous biological dysfunctions, so there will be some therapies that apply to clusters of subjects. 

ASD research is at an important crossroads. The ASD diagnosis is important for assigning a child to early behavioral intervention and explaining a child’s condition. But ASD research has not provided a diagnosis-specific medical treatment, or a consistent early predictor, or a unified life course. If the ASD diagnosis also lacks biological and construct validity, a shift away from studying ASD-defined samples would be warranted. Consequently, this paper reviews recent findings for the neurobiological validity of ASD, the construct validity of ASD diagnostic criteria, and the construct validity of ASD spectrum features. The findings reviewed indicate that the ASD diagnosis lacks biological and construct validity. The paper concludes with proposals for research going forward.


  1. Treating a disease that is not! How about development delay (not disordes,disorders definitely sound more sinister and medical) or missed milestones. My child just missed his language comprehension stage as he was not paying attention.

    But, use of vague terminology like the ones used by traditional CAM practitioners or psycho behavioural therapists does not in any way distort the diagnostic criteria warranting early intervention and gently alleviates that 'incurable lifelong disability' stigma and pain that comes along with the diagnosis.

  2. In my view autism is a symptom, and on itself doesn't say much about what is going on.

    Going to the doctor and getting an ASD diagnostic for my kid was like going to the doctor with a headache and leaving with a diagnostic: pain, and an advice: live with it.
    The first I don't need a doctor to tell, the second doesn't help.

    Cuddles to the researchers who wrote the article. It needed to be said, but it was brave of them to do it.


  3. I have always thought that what we label as "autism",was a BS diagnosis,and not a real disorder,in spite of the a-holes in the neurodiversity stealing the term,as a symbol of pride.There are so many different causes,so many different subtypes.

    The good news,is we are seeing many cracks in the monolith that is "autism",both with all of the advances that have been made in finding causes,and in genetic testing,like whole exome,and whole genome sequencing.As a result,we are seeing people once thought to just have "autism",who are showing up with all sorts of rare and previously unknown genetic disorders,found to be the root cause of their problems.I could not be happier to be one of them.This is the future of autism.


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