Monday, May 11, 2009

Fein's Autism Study: Alan Griswold's Bizarre Commentary

Anti-ABA blogger Alan Griswold appears to have consumed too much coffee, before publishing his comment "Harold Doherty's Fictitious ABA Study". In his silly rant, Mr Griswold contends that the study was fictitious, that there is no ongoing study, etc. He claims that I took some words about what he calls a non-existent study out of context from a Washington Post article.

Here is what I said about the study itself in my comment Autism Recovery: More Evidence of ABA Effectiveness :

a study was presented at an autism conference by University of Connecticut psychology professor Deborah Fein showing recovery of between 10 and 20% of subjects originally diagnosed as autistic who were later determined to have lost the autism diagnosis after years of intensive applied behavioral analysis.

The full WP article, in fact makes several references to a study conducted by Professor Fein:

She presented research this week at an autism conference in Chicago that included 20 children who, according to rigorous analysis, got a correct diagnosis but years later were no longer considered autistic ... The study, funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, involves children ages 9 to 18.


The children in Fein's study, which is still ongoing, were diagnosed by an autism specialist before age 5 but no longer meet diagnostic criteria for autism. The initial diagnoses were verified through early medical records.

The WP article also indicates clearly that children recovered after years of intensive behavioral therapy. If the study pertained to an intensive behavioral therapy other than ABA I don't know what that would be and Mr. Griswold does not identify any such therapy.

I am not sure if Mr. Griswold actually read the WP article or not but it clearly indicates that Ms Fein conducted a study as I indicated and contrary to Mr. Griswold's strange commentary.

Despite his tortured interpretation of the WP article the whole point was that it demonstrated, recovery from autism, which in the real world outsdie of Mr. Griswold's blog, is a measure of the effectiveness of the intervention.

Mr. Griswold also mocks the 10-20% results but glosses over the fact that the 10-20% figure refers to full recovery, children assessed as autistic who no longer met the criteria for an autism diagnosis after years of behavioral intervention. The WP article does not state that the other children did not benefit from ABA. It was silent as to whether the children who did not lose their diagnosis acquired benefits short of full recovery.

I did not state that the study as reported was a comparative study with any other interventions. What I did do was refer again to the AAP 2007 comments which appear on the sidebar of this blog and which I repeat again:

The effectiveness of ABA-based intervention in ASDs has been well documented through 5 decades of research by using single-subject methodology21,25,27,28 and in controlled studies of comprehensive early intensive behavioral intervention programs in university and community settings.29–40 Children who receive early intensive behavioral treatment have been shown to make substantial, sustained gains in IQ, language, academic performance, and adaptive behavior as well as some measures of social behavior, and their outcomes have been significantly better than those of children in control groups.31–4

American Academy of Pediatrics, Management of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, 2007

File Alan Griswold's blog under B in your blog lists, B for bizarre. But leave room. Any time a study, report, article, analysis or commentary suggests that some children can recover from autism those who have made a fetish out of the neurological disorder will start buzzing hysterically. Griswold's is only one of many such rants' to come.

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1 comment: said...

I have a 6 years old daughter with high performance autism and I am living in Montevideo,Uruguay South America. I am interested in have more information about Dr.Fein study (in English or Spanish)