What do parents of nonverbal and minimally verbal autistic children think about genomic autism research?

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Concerns have been raised about genomic studies of autism. Most recently, the Spectrum 10 K study was paused due to criticism from the autistic community. This situation raised important questions about how the autistic and autism communities perceive genomic research. The Personal Experiences of Autism and Perceptions of DNA-based-research study was established to address this issue. Twenty parents of nonverbal or minimally verbal autistic children took part in the current study. Data were provided in diverse formats including online interviews, telephone interviews, and writing. This approach was co-produced with autistic experts by experience. Data were analysed using reflexive Thematic Analysis. We found that participants were supportive of autism research, including some genomic research, if it is designed to support autistic people and is ethical and transparent. However, while some believed that polygenic scores, genomic predictors of the statistical probability of being autistic, would be helpful, others argued that this would only be true in an ideal world. Participants felt that they and their children were often excluded from, and unrepresented by, the autistic and autism communities. We conclude that genomic researchers need to work with the autistic and autism communities to design future work, and that it is important to ensure a representative range of voices are heard.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 Mar 2024

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