Sunday, April 24, 2011

Discrimination by Any Other Name: Severe Autism Services and Resources Lacking, Severe Autism Research is Sparse

I have not been a big fan of the New York Times coverage of autism issues.  Specifically the NYT has downplayed  the seriousness of autism disorders. It has also downplayed the evidence based effectiveness of Applied Behavior Analysis as an autism intervention while promoting non evidence based interventions like Floortime. It comes as a pleasant surprise to read a recent NYT autism  feature in which experts, Dr. Fred Volkmar of the Yale Child Study Center and Dr. Lisa Wiesner, actually provided some unvarnished, truthful statements about severe, Low Functioning, autism realities even if that information was hidden under the feel good, High Functioning Autism focused title College-Bound and Living With Autism:

"Unfortunately not every child gets better. Sometimes the outcome seems to relate to the severity of the autism in childhood. Individuals whose disability is more profound continue, as adults, to need considerable support and help. It is unfortunately the case that for this population, services are often minimal, research is sparse and resources are lacking. The federal government has identified this as a priority area in autism work, and rightly so.

But even when we are fairly optimistic about an individual child, he or she may not do well as an adult. This is one of the reasons those of us who have been in the field for a long time are very careful about predicting the future to parents. We can only talk, in general, about what on average are good or bad prognostic factors."

( Underlining added for the benefit of those who like to "Counter" any mention of severe autism realities)

The lack of services and resources for the severely autistic is a particularly offensive form of discrimination which sees those most in need of services receive the least help from society. The exclusion of low functioning autistic persons from autism services and resources stinks whatever the excuse offered.

The exclusion of severely autistic subjects from "autism" research is something I have previously noted.  The spate of recent fMRI studies mapping the alleged "autistic brain" have in fact been restricted to subjects with High Functioning Autism only. 

It is very encouraging to see this frank acknowledgement by two autism experts in the New York Times of the shortchanging of low functioning autistic persons that has been taking place.

It is most encouraging to read that the US federal government has identified severe autism research as a high priority  area in autism work.  


Kim Wombles said...

You know that's not what my post says, and given the writing I've done in favor of the wandering code and against restraint, it should be readily obvious that I acknowledge that there is a sizeable minority of autistics who are severely disabled.

Disagreeing with me is one thing. Distorting my positions is entirely another and completely irresponsible.

Unknown said...

I stand by my characterization of what you have written about low functioning autism and autism and intellectual disability. Your anger and your allegation of irresponsibility are not persuasive.

jonathan said...

Kim Wombles is a bully who laughs at me when her friends make fun of my disability.

Unknown said...


Ms KWombles has insulted many people with whom she disagrees on autism issues, including me. By contrast although you and I disagree about the benefits of ABA you are always courteous in your comments.