The significance of the autism research genetic obsession is substantial. As long as the cult like belief that autism is 100% genetic persists it is easy to deny the existence of the autism epidemic. When it is acknowledge that environmental factors are involved simple denial is no longer an option. Dr. Jon Poling is a neurologist and father of Hannah Poling, an autistic child. He and his wife, a registered nurse and lawyer, could not be written off as irrational, hysterical parents when they sought compensation for his child's autism symptoms under the legislated process in the US. His comments in a March 13, 2009 opinion column of the Atlanta Journal Constitution must be heeded by government decision makers and autism researchers in the US and Canada
"Fortunately, the ‘better diagnosis’ myth has been soundly debunked. ... only a smaller percentage of this staggering rise can be explained by means other than a true increase.
Because purely genetic diseases do not rise precipitously, the corollary to a true autism increase is clear — genes only load the gun and it is the environment that pulls the trigger. Autism is best redefined as an environmental disease with genetic susceptibilities."
We should be investing our research dollars into discovering environmental factors that we can change, not more poorly targeted genetic studies that offer no hope of early intervention. Pesticides, mercury, aluminum, several drugs, dietary factors, infectious agents and yes — vaccines — are all in the research agenda."
We are long overdue in developing a A Research Strategy to Discover the Environmental Causes of Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disabilities as advocated by Philip J. Landrigan, Luca Lambertini and Linda S. Birnbaum in April 2012. Such a strategy will require a redressing of the imbalance in genetic and environmental autism risk funding as advocated by Dr. Irva Hertz-Picciotto.
The denial of an autism epidemic arises directly from, and is supported by, the "it's gotta be genetic" belief that has dominated autism research and autism risk research funding.
We are living in an autism epidemic and it is time to find and address the causes of that epidemic. The time is now!