The authors acknowledged that limiting their study to high-functioning young autistic males restricted their findings from being extended to females, younger children or lower-function ASD patients. Nevertheless, Anderson and colleagues emphasized that “Our finding adds to growing evidence that abnormalities of interhemispheric connectivity in autism are widespread but regionally specific and related to cognitive and neurological impairments commonly found in the disorder.”
The authors posited that their findings highlight MRI as a potential tool to assist physicians in diagnosing and treating autism.
In one breath the study authors acknowledge that the exclusion of low functioning autistic patients restricted their findings from being extended to those patients (or to other excluded groups, including females and younger children). In the next breath though, and in the title of their report and magazine articles the study findings are reported as being applicable to autism generally.
This is not the first study to exclude low functioning or intellectually disabled autistic subjects from "autism" studies. Prominent autism researcher, and DSM-5 panelist, Catherine Lord has identified the tendency to exclude autistic subjects with severe to profound intellectual disabilities:
"However, research in ASD has tended to use overwhelmingly White, middle to upper middle class samples, and has often excluded children with multiple disabilities and/or severe to profound intellectual disabilities".
The lip service qualifying statement in this recent fMRI study report did not preclude the authors from making generalizations about autism as found across the spectrum notwithstanding the exclusion of low functioning autistic persons from the study. Articles commenting on this and other studies may or may not repeat that qualification. Most certainly all will be accompanied by headlines reporting new "autism" findings. Low functioning autistics are routinely excluded from major media institutions that like to focus on the barely affected, very high functioning persons with Aspergers or HFA, the Ari Ne'emans, Alex Planks, John Elder Robisons, Michelle Dawsons and Temple Grandins.
As in the popular media, so too in "scholarly", "scientific" research. "Autism" just doesn't mean what it use to.
Alleged "autism" spectrum research is anything but representative of the entire autism "spectrum" of disorders.