Case study: Practical help of more benefit than looking for a cause or cure

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AS A father of two young boys with autism, Gordon Darroch gave a cautious welcome to the new research but said he would prefer experts to look at the condition itself in order to increase awareness and understanding.

His sons Euan, nine, and Adam, seven, have been diagnosed with autism and Mr Darroch, a journalist, has shared his family’s experience through his blog called Autistic Dad. The 38-year-old, of Glasgow, said: “As a parent, you get used to seeing studies appear every few months claiming to have found a cause of autism.

“This new study gives us few clues about whether air pollution can really be said to cause or trigger autism.

“There’s also the question of what it means in real terms. I doubt the government is going to start rehousing pregnant women living near busy roads.

“And although it was only identified in the mid-20th century, it seems safe to say that autism has been with us for a lot longer than motorised road traffic.

“It’s a complicated condition and paying too much attention to the possible causes detracts from the things that really benefit people with autism and their families, like good respite care and aids to communication.

“Far more useful is research that helps us understand how autism works and how we can mitigate its most debilitating aspects. Effective therapy, proper guidelines and a healthy stock of patience are worth a lot more to parents than fishing about for causes and cures.”