The Autism Community Needs to Learn a Lesson

| by Kev Leitch

As is accepted by most rational people, autism is a largely genetic difference, albeit with a likely environmental component. Over the last 10 years or so a seemingly increasingly irrational desire to blame vaccines for causing autism has been coupled with a similarly irrational ‘cure at all cost’ mentality. The subsequent parent driven engine has resulted in autistic kids being exposed to shysters, snake oil salesman and out and out quacks selling their own version on dangerous exploitation.

However, in a revealing picture of what the ‘cure at all cost’ mentality might be doing not only to autistic people but to the human race in general we could do no worse than to look at recent discoveries in another genetic based difference – Down Syndrome:

A gene that’s present in the extra chromosome people with Down syndrome protects this population from getting many types of cancers, according to a study published in the journal Nature Wednesday.


The answer lies in a gene called Dscr1, which is one of the genes present in Down syndrome causing chromosome 21. Since people with Down syndrome have an extra copy of this chromosome, they also have an extra copy of Dscr1. Researchers studied the gene in mice with human cells and found that it limits the growth of blood vessels that tumors feed on.

All the years that people with Down Syndrome have taken abuse, been put down and – most ironically of all – had pre-natal testing performed that has resulted in a drop of Down’s babies. And now it seems they might hold the key to destroying at least some forms of cancer. Imagine if we only found that out after the last Down’s adult had died?

Imagine what we might find out if we start looking at research that works with autistic people. Imagine what we might lose if we decide to plow ahead with a ‘cure at all cost’ mentality.