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The Incredible Waste in Autism Study Funding

UselessBy Teresa Conrick

While perusing the usual crap studies on Autism, I came across this one, Maternal Vocal Feedback to 9-Month-Old Infant Siblings of Children with ASD, Jul 14, 2015

Check out some of these Statements:

Some of the factors associated with diminished environmental input also occur within the familial autism context and thus may influence the dyadic interactions and early language development of infant siblings. These include mothers’ broader autism phenotype characteristics and depressive symptoms, both of which are elevated in parents of children with ASD and are associated with differences in pragmatic language use and reduced linguistic input, respectively (Bailey, Golden, Roberts, & Ford, 2007; Ingersoll & Hambrick, 2011; Lindgren, Folstein, Tomblin, & Tager-Flusberg, 2010; Ruser et al., 2007). The elevated levels of concern consistently reported by mothers of high risk infants across the first year of life may also be associated with reduced linguistic input to the extent that those concerns reflect increased anxiety and a less sensitive pattern of responding (Hess &Landa, 2012; Ozonoff et al., 2009; Sacrey et al., 2015; Talbott, Nelson, & Tager-Flusberg, 2015a)....

Maternal broader phenotype characteristics.

The presence of broader autism phenotype characteristics in mothers was assessed using the Broad Autism Pheno-type Questionnaire (BAP-Q; Hurley, Losh, Parlier,

Reznick, & Piven, 2007). The BAP-Q is a 36-item self-report questionnaire that assesses behavior across three subscales: aloof, pragmatic language, and rigidity......


In this study, we examined infant vocalizations and maternal responses to those vocalizations at 9 months of age, and relations between high risk mothers’ responsiveness to their infants’ vocalizations and maternal characteristics hypothesized to contribute to their behavioral responses. We found no differences in infants’ vowel and consonant-vowel production rates at 9 months of age between low risk typically developing infants, high risk infants who were not diagnosed with ASD, and in the small subset of infants who later were classified as meeting criteria for ASD....

Our results clearly demonstrate...... Mothers of high risk infants are talking to their babies, and critically, contingently responding, and thus reinforcing

infants’ early language production. The feedback they provide to their infants’ 9-month vocalizations is no different in terms of both frequency and content as mothers of low risk infants. These results suggest that risk status does not negatively influence maternal behavior in this domain. This is now one of several studies demonstrating that on the whole, mothers of high risk infants show little differences in the lingustic and communicative input they provide to their infants (Campbell et al., 2014; Leezenbaum et al., 2013; Talbott et al., 2015b; Wan et al., 2012, 2013). .....Future investigations should also determine whether intervening to increase high risk mothers’ frequency of contingent responses results in increased frequency of concurrent infant vocalizations or more rapid language development. Such studies would have clear and important implications for early intervention practices and are of particular interest for high risk infant siblings who are exhibiting overt delays

in early language, as has been reported in other samples.

To Summarize for our Readers

This is another bullshit study, paid for and endorsed by -- "This work was supported by grants from the NIH (R01-DC010290 and R21 DC 08637), Autism Speaks, and the Simons Foundation (137186). "  So mothers of a child already diagnosed with Autism, were watched with their next child born, to see if they supported that child's early language.  Those mothers were assessed for Broad Autism Phenotype  characteristics, to add insult to injury, as well as identifying depression and anxiety as possible factors and of course NONE of their hypotheses panned out for the researchers:

Finally, to examine relationships between maternal vocalizations and maternal and family characteristics hypothesized to influence their vocalization patterns, Pearson correlations were calculated to assess the relations between Maternal Total Utterances and Total Contingent Responses and maternal and family background characteristics of interest: concurrent infant autism symptoms and mothers’ ASD-related concerns, maternal self-reported broader phenotype characteristics, and the older diagnosed child’s symptom severity. Zero-order Pearson’s correlation coefficients are presented in Table 4. None of these associations were significant.

This is not the first time this has been investigated and the authors have the nerve to recommend MORE research down this lame, utterly insignificant and completely 1960's crap. 

Recommending more bad research is like a guarantee of more cash for these folks.  It seems morally, ethically and financially WRONG. Come on NIH and Autism Speaks!.... (and what/who is the Simons Foundation?)

Teresa Conrick is Contributing Editor to Age of Autism.



When I read this,"These include mothers’ broader autism phenotype characteristics and depressive symptoms, both of which are elevated in parents of children with ASD......", it sounded like they were looking to see if there was a refrigerator in the room,opposed to a loving communicating, mother responding to all the sounds one hears from 9-month old infants.

There should be a study on the absence of listening skills of PhDs, MDs and other autism researchers and policy makers who have to be repeatedly told what is breaking our children. That pathology would merit a study or lobotomy which ever was appropriate.

Sue Morgan

And then you see those asinine "talk to your baby" public service commercials. Unreal.

When will they get alarmed?

I'm sure that as universities become more and more corporate funded, this will only increase in terms of the steering toward meaningless research. I think that some of them realize what's happening and are even opting out and looking at other job markets rather than be nothing more than a paid flunky.
In a Canadian paper today the headline was not so rosy for those in the 'Tribe.' "With public schools facing a 300-fold increase in students with autism, researchers are warning it will be harder than ever to find work...with about 1 in 65 Canadian kids dealing with autism spectrum disorder, as compared to only 1 in 2,000 two decades ago, experts say diminishing supports will cause a tidal wave of problems...the problem is expected to get worse...there is still very little known about why autism has seen such a significant rise." (Carolyn Dudley, U of Calgary School of Public Policy)


The Incredible Waste in Autism Study Funding


Wasteful is one word to describe it.

But the word that more accurately describes it, is obfuscation.

Angus Files

I think the JVCI beats them all for "conflicts of interest" (understatement of the year)...check the names out at the bottom of the page and the 12 month clause/white wash. Larfable or what?




And they wonder why scientists and their "science" have little credibility with the public.


The giant self-perpetuating grant-giving apparatus is as corrupt as the bureaucracies it serves and nothing worthwhile should ever be expected from it.

More than 50 years ago, sociologist/economist C. Wright Mills observed that the granting mechanism exists to siphon money away from the people and channel it toward useless ends. How right he was.

Gary Ogden

A colossal waste, like much of NIH-funded research. They simply do not want to know, nor do they care. What bureaucrats do best is job security. They are the Tin Man, the Scarecrow, and the Cowardly Lion all rolled into one.

Betty Bona

It's a dog eat dog world out there for the young post-doc looking for grant money. I really hope none of my children wind up in that world. It's too easy to be corrupted.


It is good work when you can get it -- you are paid not to produce.

John Stone

I remember Paul Shattock nearly 20 years ago pointing out the perverse nature of funding in the UK - I think he reckoned the autism rate to be ten times worse than a decade before while nine tenths of the money went on useless genetic research. The decades go by and the same sick games with the public continue.


It strikes me that it's possible that these well-funded science research organization may be deliberately harvesting good young researchers with the promise of ongoing financial support, and then steering them into certain areas of research, to keep them away from the research that is really needed. The old "Get 'em while they are young" before they figure us out method of control.

Is there a comprehensive list of worthless repeated research that's already been done that could easily be shown to young researchers to show them what already has and has not been accomplished so they get a better perspective? Researchers new to the challenge probably have no idea that the ideas being laid before them as possible avenues have already been done ad nauseum. But they are kept busy doing them, nonetheless. Why??


My son spoke early, clearly, and amazingly ahead of schedule. Now he is 14 and preverbal. I am tired of autism being called a developmental DELAY! Where are the studies explaining why kids REGRESS? This study was a complete waste of money! Are there any studies looking at autism and parasites? That's the kind of research I would like to see! How much parasites are in the kids, how best to get them out and how to keep them out! Should we blame the mother if the parasite is to blame?

Jenny Allan

What/who is the Simons Foundation?........Easily Googled Teresa.
The following is extracted from their Autism Initiative Web page:-

"Launched in 2003, SFARI is a scientific initiative within the Simons Foundation's suite of programs. SFARI’s mission is to improve the understanding, diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders by funding innovative research of the highest quality and relevance.
In 2007, SFARI issued its first request for applications, its goal being to attract top researchers to the field of autism research. Today, with a budget of approximately $75 million per year, SFARI supports over 250 investigators and since its launch has provided or committed more than $380 million in external research support to more than 350 investigators in the U.S. and abroad."

There's NOTHING on this website to indicate where the Simons Foundation is getting all this cash from, although part of this 'Autism Initiative' is(quote) "Autism BrainNet, launched in 2014 in collaboration with Autism Speaks and the Autism Science Foundation, which aims to provide scientists with well-characterized, high-quality brain tissue for study."

Forgive me for finding this 'harvest' sinister............

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