I’m going to start with an admission. The text-based images in this article came to me via a DM. I am yet to find their original source, and as such, I can not confirm whether the people behind Spectrum 10k wrote this. I do, however, feel that as these statements are out there, it’s necessary to address the misleading information contained within.
Below are the screenshots that I have received. I will address this point by point to the best of my ability.
1. “Spectrum 10k are not looking for a prenatal test for autism”
This technically true if you take their publicised aims at face value. I do, however, feel it’s necessary to draw your attention to a study they are conducting into using amniocentesis and hormone levels in utero. They go on to talk in the screenshot about how a prenatal test could not work using genetics alone; perhaps Baron-Cohen would then like to address his involvement in a prenatal study that assesses more than genetics as a tool for prenatal screening.
I have written more about the aforementioned study in this article.
2. “We do not support cures or treatments for autism itself“
This is clever wording. It leaves it open to justify historical, current, or future involvement in cures and interventions for aspects of Autistic experience that technically fall outside of the remit of “autism itself”. This, of course, is conjecture to a certain extent. I do believe that we have to consider this wording in the wider context of the unethical responses to valid concerns by Autistic people.
Unfortunately, there is more to consider. We know that at least one of the leading researchers on the Spectrum 10k team has direct links to eugenics and curist rhetoric. We know that team members have had involvement with organisations that have overtly stated their intent to eliminate Autistic people from the human gene pool.
They claim that the study will not be used to create prenatal testing for autism but fail to address the concerns that these further studies and associations outside of the study raise. To be clear, we have had no reasonable explanation of how Spectrum 10k and the amniocentesis study will not work in tandem to increase the likelihood of a prenatal test. We have also had no meaningful response to our concerns around team members’ involvement with eugenics organisations.
Until such time that the Autism Research Centre can offer an actual alternative position, without subterfuge and misleading statements, I will still be encouraging you to boycott their research and speak out against them.