Autism spectrum disorder: An Ethical dilemma facing connectomics research?

Our understanding of Autism, and its variants, has grown rapidly since it was first discussed by Hans Asperger and Leo Kanner in the 1930s and 40s. Yet, although only half of those diagnosed with the condition experience intellectual disability, there is still stigma attached to the condition.

In a new book (NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity), Steve Silberman argues that opinion must continue to evolve if we are to correctly support people with the condition, and learn to respect that certain characteristics of the condition can be seen as strengths.

(http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v524/n7565/full/524288a.html)

As researchers working in developing connectomics, whose work might allow early diagnosis of the condition, we need to consider carefully the impact that this research might have. What should we do with this information? Do we have a duty to inform parents that their unborn child might have Autism Spectrum disorder, and if so how do we present this information and what support could be provided? Is society ready for this kind of intervention?

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