Brain Scan a good thing.?

This is my first post in this discussion.

It might soon be possible to discover if someone is Autistic by a brain scan.

There is information about the new brain scan on the web site and the articles were written last year in 2010.   Anyone can look it up for themselves on the web.


The computer can tell small differences in the brain so tell if the person is on the Autistic Spectrum.

It would be much quicker than interviewing the person.

I do not know if a person would count as Autistic if they behaved as though they were but the brain scan did not show Autism.

People in that situation might be denied help if they did not count as Autistic.

In the 1980s I was told that the brain scans did not detect anything wrong with my brians.   People who knew me were not impressed.

I have since done brain scans for research the idea being to find out by scanning many Autistic people if their brains are different from Non Autistic people.

That research might have helped them develop the new brain scan.

Do you think the new brain scan will be a good thing when it is developed?

What would you feel if the brain scan found that your were not Autistic? 


  • Hello David and welcome to the community.

    Thank you for starting this interesting discussion.  I'm sure it's one that lots of our members will have opinions on and will want to contribute to.

    For people who do not know this study that well, the following links to further information about it might be useful:

    An article from the Guardian:
    A BBC news story:
    The NAS news story:

  • I am very much for the research leading towards a brain scan diagnostic method, if it can be implemented with a high degree of accuracy. In my case diagnosis was hampered as my parents had split up when I was younger. Only my mum was available to discuss what I was like when I was younger and she isn't exactly a great conversationalist either.

    There is a potential risk of NT's seeing "different brain" as analogous to "defective/inferior brain", and bullying Autistics. OTOH there is hopefully the potential to help NT's understand that there is a difference in our brains, and that we are the way we are and should be accepted for that - as opposed to being considered responsible for our problems or expected to get some magical cure or medication that does not exist etc. We have to remember there is not an NT person hidden behind the Autism waiting for a "cure", and there will never be a cure of any kind.

    The biggest risk the Autistic community faces is eugenic elimination through pre-natal testing. If this ever happened the numbers of Autistics would go down fast, marginalising those us who remain even further. Parents need to be reminded that even NT kids can be difficult and challenging, and by aborting a child screened as Autistic they could be preventing the next Albert Einstein, Temple Grandin, or countless other great Autistics from ever being born. There's strength in numbers and one day the NT's will develop the cognitive potential to appreciate the benefits of Neurodiversity.

  • I am somewhat doubtful as to the claims of 90% accuracy with such a small sample group, particularly when they talk of diffences within the group. I'd have to look at the full paper to make a proper judgement, plus it would of course have to be repeated on a much larger scale including women and children with autism.

    I would be particularly hesitant at extrapolating the use to diagnose autistic children based on differences seen in adults as these neurological differences may become more apparent later in life due to using different parts of the brain. The last thing we would want would be for children to be missed based upon a false premise.

  • 90% is very good, and far better than for example 60%. It is progress though. I think they are just trying to understand what the differences are at the moment, as they are so complex to assess they need a computer. Perhaps once they work out the finer intricacies and get closer to 100% they will consider a wider clinical trial to consider the wider applicability to other genders and ages. Plus this research, I feel, is far more useful than research trying to identify genetic markers, or looking for a "cure" that does not exist.

    We also have to remember, while they are the best we have at present, traditional diagnostic methods are not 100% infallible. As we know many are undiagnosed, and chances are some will be misdiagnosed with the condition. I was once told of someone who in their clinical opinion had a personality disorder, but the parents saw Aspergers as a nicer diagnosis. I guess the point being personality disorder implies quite different reasons for unusual behaviour, than Aspergers. They pushed for that diagnosis and it was given.

  • This is very preliminary research and to have a significant statistical result we would need to have close to 30,000 case studies in order to cover as many differing neurological structures as possible.

    Looking at disablement generally in the world population, it works out at 1 in 4 and in the UK, which should have a low incidence of disablement compared to third world countries we have 1 in 7.

    I am in acute and chronic pain and I do not wish that on anyone and frankly if arthritis could be cured I would be the first person to have it done and to apply eugenics to prevent others going through the levels of pain that I have.

    Equally if conditions like deafness and autism were painful, you would all be out campaigning to get rid of them.

    No country can afford to keep an increasing population of disabled people without that country going bankrupt at some point.

    We have a finite size of world, with a finite amount of food production and an increasingly broken set of medical facilities and support systems for us disabled people.

    This is not about being deprived of life, this about being realistic and realising that either we change the ways that we live and think about human rights and actively control our breeding or we are heading for World War Three and a fight for who gets to live off the resources.

    There is a solution, it is very simple, stop allowing others to stand for Parliament or for District and County Councils and stand up and be counted at local and central government elections; be a councillor or an MP.

    Take Parliament and the Councils away from those who wish to place the burden of financial reparations on those whom they think have the least power.

    In this country 1 in 4 of the voting public is disabled, so let's get off our backsides and do something constructive.

  • Yes I expect the first brain scans with the new computer might not be perfectly accurate.

    On the other hand it is possible to have some of the traits of Austism without being Autistic by having a difficult personality.

    I wrote that in the last Asperger United: Do not Sterotype Autistic people.

    May be the brain scan will find out who is really Autistic.

    If a person is not really Autistic in some cases it might be easier to change the person who is not Autistic by training and in the case of a child by up bringing.


  • i think (at least according to wikipedia) the general consensus is that scientists have no clear definition of autism... and i think they need to properly define what it is before they can look for the relevant brain structures... so for the time being i think the best we can expect is that a brain scan can indicate likelihood of having autism (just as having an autistic parent can be an indication of likelihood but not certain confirmation of inheritance) etc

  • anewman said:

    90% is very good, and far better than for example 60%.

    Sorry, I obviously wasn't clear. The sample size is so small that I wouldn't be jumping up and down about the accuracy of the 90% claim.

  • Kester said:
    I am in acute and chronic pain and I do not wish that on anyone and frankly if arthritis could be cured I would be the first person to have it done and to apply eugenics to prevent others going through the levels of pain that I have.

    Equally if conditions like deafness and autism were painful, you would all be out campaigning to get rid of them.

    We have lost the environmental drive to evolve. We no longer live in caves in groups, go out hunting, and so on. Now we live in small family groups in safe comfortable houses. We shop at the supermarket, and sit watching TV in some cases getting fat (like me, oops). It is only likely more disabilities would creep in to the gene pool as there is little "survival of the fittest" going on anymore. Whereas in the previous environment I may have not done well, I am free to breed as I like (with anyone who consents).

    Once we begin to practice Eugenics, we have to make the decision what types of disabilities we get rid of, and begin moving towards idealogy the Nazi's had. At the extremes we could practice selective breeding telling people who they must have intercourse with (like is often used in farming), and sterilise those we think are genetically unfit. Something I suspect there would be mass objection to (unless you were the person choosing who must breed with who  ).

    What makes Autism difficult to live with, is the fact most people are NT's. If the whole world was Autistic, we would all be far better off as people would not expect abilities of us we just do not have. As Tony Attwood so aptly put, "you don't suffer from Aspergers, you suffer from other people". What is to say that the NT way is right and the Autistic way wrong? Should we eliminate the Autistic population for the benefit and ignorance of NT's who are clearly so rigid in their approach to other people that they are so inflexible as to cause difficulties? Perhaps we exist so as to improve the flexibility of NT's? I think you are right about a WW3, perhaps it will end up being Autistics vs NT's if NT's are unable to adapt and provide equal opportunities in employment and so on?

    I can sympathise with chronic pain conditions, having had gallstones - if I was expected to live with that my entire life I could not.

  • Once this invention is in full use the definition of Autism might change.

    At the moment it is defined by behaviour.

    If we had the brain scan they might say that one is Autistic if it shows in the scan

    and if it does not show in the scan they might say that Autistic like behaviour is not Autism.  

    According to the American rules one is only supposed to be labelled Autistic if the symptoms started  before the age of three and one was born with Autism.

    If one developed Autism as a result of an accident that would not count as Autistic.

    Over  twenty years ago I helped in a class of adults with people with learning difficulties.

    There was a man from the Merchant Navy who could not speak and could not even find his way round the room.  He caught an infection at sea which caused his condition.

    I remember he squeezed my hand hard.

    Worse than the others in the class who were born with Learning Difficulties.

    Well according to those rules he would not count as Autistic altough he cannot communicate.