Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Dr Sanjay Gupta and Autism in 2008

Many parents of children diagnosed with Autism Disorder were surprised that Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and CNN, chose Amanda Baggs to feature as an example of the life of a "low functioning" autistic person. Ms Baggs has spent her life on the internet detailing her childhood and teen years which she spent, by her words, diagnosed with schizophrenia (about which she often lectured via internet news groups with the certainty that she now expresses about autism), attended school for gifted students, started college, conversed orally with educators and medical personnel, and had at least one boy friend. She is a very capable writer with an excellent command of language and a very sharp intellect. Few parents of severely autistic or low functioning autistic children would recognize their children, or their children's autism, in the life of Ms Baggs.

Then, with millions of autistic persons in the world, some of whom live their lives in the residential and institutional care of others, some with little or no ability to communicate, orally, by means of technology, or otherwise, Dr Gupta and CNN decided to further illustrate the world of autism by interviewing ... yup ... Amanda Baggs. At that point may parents struggling to achieve a better life for their autistic children simply wrote off Dr. Gupta as a credible reporter on the realities of autism.

Now it is January 1 of a new year and, like many, Dr Gupta has given some hints of what he would like to do in the coming year. On Paging Dr Gupta Blog on the CNN website Dr. Gupta reviews his 2007 highlights and mentions that, in 2008, he may once again feature autism on his show:

I also had a chance to introduce the world to Amanda Baggs. While I have spent most of my life as a neurosurgeon, I had to start by admitting that I knew very little about autism, which is why I spent months reading, talking to experts and simply trying to assimilate all that I had learned. It was a daunting task and I will always wish I could do more and report on all aspects of autism. Stay tuned for more in 2008.

CNN is one of the world's great communication and education organizations. People around the world listen to CNN and learn about the world from CNN. Hopefully Dr Gupta means it when he says he wishes to report on ALL aspects of autism. He might start by visiting the Long Island residential care facility where a middle aged woman who could not communicate at all was repeatedly abused by staff until outed by a conscientious co-worker and video recordings. The good doctor could also interview people with knowledge of the life of Tiffany Pinckney who died in Toronto from starvation and neglect while living in "the care" of her adoptive sister. Or he could talk to parents whose autistic children wandered into traffic to be lost forever or who have been restrained physically, left in a brick walled isolation room for hours, or simply sent home from school.

I remain hopeful, even while recognizing that it is unlikely, that Dr. Gupta will actually explore and report on "all aspects of autism". All aspects of autism are just not heart warming and pretty enough for CNN ratings.


Anonymous said...

Dear Autuism Reality, as the parent of a child with severe autism, do not pretend for one second that you speak for me. I don't know who you are and what agenda you are trying to drive. Maybe, it is an anti- amanda Baggs agenda. Dr Gupta has done something remarkable. He has educated the masses while offering something that I desperately needed, hope. You, on the other hand, send a warped and distorted message while insinuating that you speak for parents of children with autism. You do not. Also, CNN and Gupta have done lots of reporting on many different aspects of autism. looks like the only one YOU watched was "yup, Amanda Baggs." Sounds like you're part of the problem, not the solution.

Unknown said...

Doc Buster

I never said I spoke for you. What I did say was that Ms Baggs does not represent the severe reality experienced by my son and many
other severely autistic persons. I gave some examples of those other instances which have been publicized on the internet. If your son's "severe" autism is reflected in Ms Bagg's story then your son's severe autism is also much different than my son's and many others.

Ms Baggs was presented as a person with low functioning autism. CNN and Dr Gupta can paint a more realistic portrayal of low functioning than to repeatedly feature this very intelligent person with excellent communication skills diagnosed as low functioning after years as an exceptional student capable of conversing with educators and medical professionals.

I also see by your posting time that you arrived here from CNN's Atlanta offices. Give my regards to Dr Gupta and ask him if he intends to show the harder realities of life for many low functioning, severely autistic persons,those that you ignored in your hostile commentary. Here is the Statcounter info showing your arrival here from CNN(atl190turner.com)at the time of your posting:

magnify this user atl190.turner.com (Aol Transit Data Network) [Label IP Address]

Georgia, Atlanta, United States, 0 returning visit

Date Time WebPage

2nd January 2008 11:35:10 blogsearch.google.com/blogsearch?hl=en&tab=wb&q=sanjay gupta&ie=UTF-8&as_drrb=q&as_qdr=m

2nd January 2008 11:42:58 blogsearch.google.com/blogsearch?hl=en&tab=wb&q=sanjay gupta&ie=UTF-8&as_drrb=q&as_qdr=m

2nd January 2008 11:49:17 blogsearch.google.com/blogsearch?hl=en&tab=wb&q=sanjay gupta&btnG=Search Blogs

2nd January 2008 11:59:52 blogsearch.google.com/blogsearch?hl=en&tab=wb&q=sanjay gupta&ie=UTF-8&as_drrb=q&as_qdr=m

You can also let Dr Guta know if you bump into him at the water cooler that my agenda is to tell the truth about agenda. I have no ratings to protect and I do not collect advertising revenue from this blog site. If Ms Baggs and Dr Gupta want to influence public perceptions of the realities of autism, particularly low functioning autism, they should expect to receive criticism when they over do it or otherwise err or misrepresent autism realities.

The truly low functioning and severely autistic people in this world have enough to contend with without misrepresentative portrayals of their reality being presented by such a powerful voice as CNN.

Tell the truth about autism or stay away from the subject entirely please.

As for me being part of the problem, not the solution I have no idea what you are talking about but that remark comment reflects accurately the hostile defensive tone of the rest of your comment.

I note that you established a Blogger profile in Jan 2008 apparently just so you could publish your comments on this site. I take it your employers at CNN would not be too happy with you publishing such defensive hostile remarks in a public domain in response to criticism of CNN journalistic shortcomings.

Have a Happy New Year and feel free to visit this site any time.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Gupta needs to find a psychiatrist asap and work on his narcissitic personality problem. This guy doesn't know autism. The fact he featured Amanda Baggs for a representation of lf autism is a disgrace. The man should have his medical license taken now and be put in a boot camp for common sense. Whip his ass into wisdeom. Semper fi.