Thursday, October 01, 2009

William Stillman's Autism Nonsense

I am not going to say too much about William Stillman's view of autism except to say that it is nonsense.

As the father of a 13 year old boy diagnosed with Autistic Disorder, a boy who is profoundly developmentally delayed I have experienced the realities of severe autism first hand. I have seen self aggression by the boy that I love. I have experience the fear of his wandering off into busy streets. I have seen children his age grow in their understanding of the world, leaving him far, far behind. I have struggled to communicate with him and to teach him to communicate. As an autism advocate I have visited institutional facilities and seen the realities of life for the adult autistic persons living therein. I would never dream of mouthing the type of nonsense that I find in the words of William Stillman in his article Everyone Has Autism : "The curious thing is we all have autism to one degree or another"

If you connect on the above link you will see many instances where Mr. Stillman finds instances of what he calls autism in common everyday experiences. I am sure that if you take Mr. Stillman's logic and applied it to any disorder you could say that we are all bipolar or schizophrenic, obsessive compulsive, etc. Pick your disorder and we all exhibit some trait of any disorder, and we are all therefore bipolar, schizophrenic etc. to some extent.

Mr. Stillman makes no mention in his article of the very real challenges faced by persons with actual Pervasive Developmental Disorders, particularly the challenges faced by people like my son Conor who is actually diagnosed with Autistic Disorder and assessed with profound developmental delays.

Mr. Stillman's article is nonsense. Pure babbling nonsense. Amazingly, he actually copyrights this nonsense. Even more amazing is that, apparently, he is both consultant and speaker about autism, someone who, presumably, is paid by someone to help their autistic child or to appear before audiences and present such nonsense for a fee.


Bookmark and Share


One Sick Mother said...

Is William Stillman for real? "If your hand has ever fallen asleep, you know what it is like to have Autism?"

That has to be a joke, right?

Oh. It's not a joke?

So now, having a numb hand or losing your focus for a few seconds while driving (as if most auties could drive in the first place) equates to AUTISM???

What is that man smoking?

The really scary thing about all this: some gullible and/or misinformed people may actually believe him.



Astrid said...

ROFLMAO. For once, I agree. His point is probably that some non-harmful autistic behaviors, that are seen as needing to be treated (eg. hand-flapping), should be accepted indeed, since everyone exhibits some form of these (eg. nail-biting, pencil-clicking, etc.). But saying that everyone is autistic, really goes way too far. I would be offended if I weren't laughing my ass off.

jonathan said...

Though Bill Stillman says that everyone is eligible for an autism diagnosis in that article, he apparently is an exception to that rule, as he claims to be on the spectrum himself, but according to his website and writings, he is self-diagnosed (apparently no clinician would diagnose him). With no formal credentials or licensing and just an undergraduate degree in education he charges $100 an hour or more just for a phone consultation. He claims it would be unethical to charge for email consultations. He claims that he can know exactly what an autistic child needs after spending five minutes with him in person. Given how desperate people are for an autism treatment, I guess he can find people to pay him.

He has also claimed that the reason for rises in autism prevelance is divine providence and that God is going to ensure that autism rises to a rate of 1 to 10 in the population in the next five to ten years.

I have written about all this on autism's gadfly, but don't have the links handy.

Tanners Dad said...

I am trying to do my best to get some common ground between all the stakeholders in the #Autism Discussion. You all know that I advocate from a position almost Identical to yours, Harold. I know that Stillman is completely out there, relative to our world. At least his rant was not attacking or hurting anyone. If People could relate for even a minute to what our loved ones are going through I would think it would be a good thing. TannersDad Tim

Marius Filip said...

Stillman is right.

All we humans are also a little bit elephants because we have trunks (albeit terribly short) and round ears (albeit kinda small).

Did I mention the five fingernails for each limb?

Anonymous said...

I can understand how some people may not relate to the manner in which Mr. Stillman attempts to familiarize people with autism. However, it is evident to me that he is merely attempting to help people understand some of what a person on the spectrum may experience from a physical standpoint. Additionally, as a mom with an autistic boy, I am gratified by what is evident to me in Mr. Stillman's article: he is communicating that those with autism are REAL people with REAL feelings and abilities, and not a portion of the population to be written off, but rather treated with the same dignity and decency each one of us would hope to receive.

Barbara said...

A middle school special education teacher told my daughter and son-in-law that "these kids don't have any feelings--they don't have emotions." It is heartbreaking to see so little awareness of autism, and at the same time, so many more with autism. I appreciate and applaud anyone who works to raise the interest and acceptance level of our society. No one is entirely right, no one is entirely wrong...

A speech pathologist said...

Bill Stillman strikes me as a kind, loving person who offers many useful and inspirational ideas, as well as other ideas that remain highly controversial. That's OK with me. I've worked with people on the spectrum (having heard of the "autism spectrum" from Temple Grandin)for over 20 years. Many of those with severe disabilities hate their autism. I've heard others,
who function more easily in our society, say they wouldn't give up their autism if they could. It is a very broad spectrum. To my knowledge, noone has found an approach that works for all. Take what works for you, but don't stop looking.

Anonymous said...

I just saw Stillman as the keynote speaker at an autism conference. Although many of my co-workers were enthralled by his speech, I felt it had a very televangelist style to it. I was absolutely shocked by how narrow-minded he was. If he technically doesn't have ASD, he certainly seems to have trouble with perspective taking. He made broad blanket statements about all individuals on the spectrum; "WE don't like ...", "WE are...," when anyone familiar with autism would know that every individual can be vastly different!

The fact that it seemed that he was using his own experience with autism (if he has it) as the basis for his view point should have been a clue to me that he is not particularly into science. He says he only needs a few minutes with a person with autism to know what they wish they could communicate and what they need, but he told a story about being given a vague description of self-injurious behavior and a photo of a girl to be able to tell her caregivers that she is being sexually abused. He uses his "intuition". But it gets worse! After his speech, he met with parents individually and READ THEIR PALMS! He read one mother's palm and told her there was something wrong with the electricity in her house (which I assume he meant is causing a negative reaction in her autistic son.)

It kills me to think of him scamming individuals and school districts for money, but even worse is him taking advantage of parents who are desperate for answers and help for their autistic children. Psuedoscience is always despicable, but what he is doing is sickening.