Autism is the latest trendy disease, for two reasons: one, it’s actually a sad and difficult disease that can seriously damage the lives of those suffering it, and autism sufferers and their parents deserve our help and support.
Two, it’s not well understood by the general public, allowing attention whores to exploit that ignorance to say that their total lack of social skills is simply a medical condition and they deserve pity, not contempt, for never leaving mom’s basement. Or, if they’re a parent and an idiot, to go on Oprah and help bring back measles by claiming vaccinations cause autism, despite the fact that it’s a disease clearly rooted in genetics and even if vaccinations had damaging levels of mercury, which they don’t, it wouldn’t make sense anyway, which is obvious to anybody with logic skills. Unsurprisingly, this doesn’t include Jenny McCarthy, whose sole medical qualification is being the 1994 Playmate of the Year.
So we owe Christine Ecker of the Institute of Psychiatry in the UK a great debt, because now we’ve got an impartial diagnosis tool. Ecker scanned the brains of adult autism sufferers, adult ADD sufferers, and “normal” adults, and then fed the scans into a device that did some comparing and contrasting. It built a prediction model, they started feeding it all sorts of scans, and it picked out the autism sufferers with a success rate of 90%.
Rumors that the machine says either “Autism sufferer” or “Stop whining about how nobody loves you on the internet and go outside” as a diagnosis are unconfirmed.
[ via New Scientist ]