Harold Doherty writes frequently about a theme he calls the Autism Knowledge Revolution. This is the appellation Mr. Doherty has given to a cavalcade of promising recent developments in the fields of autism research, and it gives expression to his resulting optimism that humanity is now on the verge of transforming the miseries of autism into but a distant memory. Examples of such near breakthroughs would include the unraveling of the mysteries of FMR1 and FMR4, the discovery of de novo gene mutations at chromosome 16p11.2, the profiling of environmental autoimmune triggers, and the surprising efficacy of high fevers. And if these accomplishments were not heartening enough, the list of projects being funded by Autism Speaks provides still more reason to keep good cheer, research hot on the trail of dysfunctional cortical connectivity, maternal antigen exposure, and the ever helpful mouse model of neuronal TSC inactivation—all touted as the next big step in the development of new drugs, interventive therapies and other alleviating treatments.
But really now—what are we to think of all these promising new developments, this abundance of imminent breakthrough?
Imagine I have sent a group of teenagers to watch a hockey game, and have asked each one the following morning what was the score. What am I to think if back to me comes the following set of replies:
“4 to 2.”
“6 to 1.”
“0 to 0. No, it was 10 to 7.”
“They called it off after the third fight.”
“4 to 3 in a shootout.”
“I think that Zam-bussie thing won.”
“Overtime. 5 to 3.”
Here is what I would think: I would think those kids went nowhere near that hockey game.