Risk of autism recurrence higher than we thought: wait a minute!

Today, the
internet is a buzz with a new claim that asserts the following: if you have one child with autism, your odds of having another is 19% (and 25% if the new baby is a boy)! That is a pretty shocking statistic, and yes, it was published in a peer-reviewed journal. But now, we need to wait. Yes, we need to wait for a replication...

Here are my concerns with this study:
1) Who diagnosed these children, and were the diagnosticians all qualified? They used 664 children across the U.S. and Canada. That is not a well-controlled group of diagnosticians (and it is not sufficient that they may all be licensed psychologists).
2) When we talk about autism, are we talking about Autism Spectrum Disorder? If so, what percentage of the children have autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, and/or possible shadow syndromes that would never have been picked up even a decade ago?

If you make an Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis so broad that every person who may be somewhat socially immature, awkward or introverted suddenly is diagnosed on the spectrum, then you dilute the currency of an autism diagnosis, and it becomes meaningless...

The way science works is that this finding MUST be replicated using a new data base, independent from these researchers. In other words, researchers need to find this same result using a
completely different group of children. Then the research needs to be published in a peer-reviewed journal. Only then, should these findings be accepted. That’s the way science works, folks... These researchers must have their findings replicated!!!

If, indeed, the finding is correct, and that is conjecture at this point, this is very powerful for the autism lobby because autism will no longer be ignored or explained away. Everybody will be touched. In other words,
autism will be coming to a neighborhood near you. The upside to this proliferation of children diagnosed with autism is that there will be more attention given by those in positions of power, and we will edge closer and closer to a cure. Of course, the tragedy for families with another autism diagnosis cannot be minimized, and my heart goes out to every parent with even one child on the spectrum, never mind two...

We need to be diligent, though, since science used in the name of politics will hurt us in the end since bad data is worse than no data. In short, we must guard the scientific process at all costs.

I eagerly await a replication!