A study to investigate the role of genetics in autism spectrum disorder has been put on hold, according to Nature News.
It adds that the Spectrum 10K study led by the University of Cambridge's Simon Baron-Cohen aimed to collect DNA, health, and other information from 10,000 individuals with autism spectrum disorder and their families. However, Nature News says the study drew a backlash for not meaningfully engaging with the autism community and raised concerns that the genetic data collected could be misused.
"A genetic study would be terrifying for lots of autistic people; there's a long-established and well-known history around eugenics and disability," University of Edinburgh's Sue Fletcher-Watson tells Nature News.
Additionally, it notes that theories about autism previously raised by Baron-Cohen, such as the 'extreme male brain' theory, have been controversial.
According to Nature News, the researchers paused the study earlier this month. In a statement, Baron-Cohen apologizes and says they are planning consultations with the community, noting this may take a number of months. "This pause reflects that we want to listen to and address concerns," he writes.