Now Singer, who feels strongly that autism is genetic in origin, has founded her own non-profit. Interestingly, she is joined by Karen London, a co-founder of the National Alliance for Autism Research (NAAR) - an organization that was among the first to merge with Autism Speaks.
In a press release, The Autism Science Foundation said their mission is premised on the following facts and principles:
Autism is known to have a strong genetic component. Research must aim to discover the mechanisms of action that trigger autism, as well as safe, effective and novel treatments to enhance the quality of life for children and adults currently affected.Naturally, Singer and London have every right - and many reasons - to form their own non-profit, and to specifically refute the idea that vaccines may be related to the rise in autism diagnoses. They'll probably be successful in recruiting celebrities, developing a board, and doing precisely what they intend to do - at least, as well as anyone can in this economy.
Early diagnosis and early intervention are critical to helping people with autism reach their potential, but educational, vocational and support services must be applied across the lifespan. Science has a critical role to play in creating evidence-based, effective lifespan interventions.
Numerous studies have failed to show a causal link between vaccines and autism. Vaccine safety research should continue to be conducted by the public health system to ensure vaccine safety and maintain confidence in the national vaccine program, but further investment of limited autism research dollars is not warranted at this time.
But there's no doubt that Singer and London - and their perspectives - will also find themselves at the center of a firestorm of criticism from those who are absolutely certain that vaccines are the primary cause of autism. Others will take their side, and battles will ensue. In fact, many such battles are already beginning around the blogosphere.
While it's always a good thing to see additional funding for science related to autism, I can't help but wonder whether the creation of an organization that is specifically "anti-Autism Speaks" will be a positive thing for the autism community overall. The autism wars are heated - and in many ways, the creation of the Autism Science Foundation could be likened to tossing a cup of gasoline on an huge, crackling bonfire.