Yesterday there was an article in the Globe and Mail with the title "Autism Linked to Pesticide Exposure During Pregnancy". Every few months there seems to be another study linking autism to something.
Just looking at the google prompts, we have autism linked to:
faulty prenatal brain growth
I can certainly understand why it's become a hot topic. Autism treatment is big business. I can't find an exact statistic, but with treatments falling into the $50 000 to $ 70 000 per year and 1 in 66 kids diagnosed, the math is starting to look bigger than any other industry.
Society would like something or someone to blame. We started with refrigerator mothers, who were "traumatizing" their children into autism. Then we moved on to vaccines and gut issues. Now environmental toxins are the cause du jour. (Although each of the others still have their advocates.)
Maybe I'm just in a bad mental space, but I'm a little tired of autism being used to pimp theories. Or maybe I'm just disgusted by the prevalence of biased sponsored studies done by companies more interested in their bottom line than in discovering the truth.
I miss the days when science actually meant something (although perhaps they never truly existed). When we believed we could trust results because companies didn't create studies as a form of advertising. I would like it if we could have a firm commitment to the truth, in all it's awkward complexities, good, bad, useful and surprising.
We don't know much about autism. We're at the bare beginning of understanding, which means there are a lot of exciting discoveries to be made. But we can't do it if the people doing the research have been told to find specific answers.