Monday, October 31, 2011

DSM5 Combining Autisms into One Autism Disorder: Why?

It is common place today to refer to autism(s), plural, rather than autism, singular.  So why is the DSM5 combing the autisms into one Autism Spectrum Disorder? It is common in both professional and parent based discussions of autism to encounter comments like "if you've met one person with autism, you've met one person with autism".  So why pretend that these persons with widely varying challenges and deficits represent one diagnostic grouping?

My son is severely autistic and profoundly "developmentally delayed".  He has nothing in common with the persons with high functioning autism and Aspergers who write books, conduct research, make representations to the Supreme Court of Canada to oppose the only recognized evidence based treatment for autistic children, run successful businesses, get married, have children and drive automobiles.  

These very successful high functioning "free ranging Aspergians" and autistic persons  have very little in common with the "vast majority" of persons with Autistic Disorder and intellectual disability.  How does combining such different and diverse conditions under one umbrella help any of those involved, particularly those who are most severely affected by autism disorders. 

Very little media or research attention is now paid to those severely affected by the current Autistic Disorder.  Under the DSM5's New Autism Spectrum Disorder those most severely affected will likely disappear from the public and professional  radar screens altogether.

Why combine such different conditions under one  diagnostic label?  How does this help any of those who will carry the new label?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Autism Disorders On the Sidelines of the DSM5 Revolt

Several divisions of the American Psychological Association appear to be revolting against the American Psychiatric Association's DSM5.  A petition has been published on line.  In DSM5 in Distress Allen Frances, M.D., former chair of the DSM-IV Task Force and currently professor emeritus at Duke, summarizes the conflict between the warring APAs over the DSM5:

"Several divisions of the American Psychological Association have just written an open letter highly critical of DSM 5. They are inviting mental health professionals and mental health organizations to sign a petition addressed to the DSM5 Task Force of the American Psychiatric Association. You can read the letter and sign up at It is an extremely detailed, thoughtful and well written statement that deserves your attention and support.

The letter summarizes the grave dangers of DSM 5 that for some time have seemed patently apparent to everyone except those who are actually working on it. The short list of the most compelling problems includes: reckless expansion of the diagnostic system (through the inclusion of untested new diagnoses and reduced thresholds for old ones); the lack of scientific rigor and independent review; and dimensional proposals that are too impossibly complex ever to be used by clinicians.

The American Psychiatric Association has no special mandate or ownership rights giving it any sovereignty over psychiatric diagnosis. APA took on the task of preparing DSM's sixty years ago because it then seemed so thankless that no other group was prepared or willing to do it. The DSM franchise has stayed with APA only because its products were credible enough to gain widespread acceptance. People used the manual only because it was useful.

DSM 5 has strained that credibility to the breaking point and (unless radically changed) will be much more harmful than useful. We have reached a turning point that will soon become a point of no return. A near final version of DSM 5 must be ready by next spring and all final wording will be set in stone within a year. Time is running out if DSM 5 is to be saved from itself."

Dr. Francis has been the most vocal and persistent critic of the DSM5.  His criticisms have a particular significance because of his former role as chair of the DSM-IV revision team. His observations about the DSM5 revolt picking up steam are noted by forensic psychologist Karen Franklin, Ph.D. in her blog commentary Psychologists' DSM5 Petition Catching like Wildfire, also published on Psychology Today:

An online petition by psychologists concerned about the lack of science underlying proposed changes in the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) is taking off like wildfire, with more than 1,100 signatures as of this morning.

The blaze of interest is especially remarkable because the petition was launched without any publicity at all, and has gained traction solely through word of mouth.
The coalition of psychologists is publicly urging the American Psychiatric Association to reconsider the mental illness expansions and biomedical emphasis proposed for the fifth edition of the DSM, due out in 2013. The DSM-5 will reify disorders with little empirical support, lower the threshold for mental disorder, and foreground a purely biological approach to mental illness.

The coalition's online petitition comes on the heels of a similar public statement by the British Psychological Society, which I blogged about back in June.

The petition coalition expresses grave concern about the overemphasis on biomedical explanations for mental health problems, and the resulting overprescribing of dangerous psychiatric drugs"

The online petition expresses many concerns but makes no mention of the fundamental change to the autism disorders, grouping them together as one Autism Spectrum Disorder. Nor does it mention the exclusion of intellectually disabled persons from post DSM5 Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnoses.  The debates about autism causation are currently confused by many factors including the DSM-IV changes published in 1994.  Now, with fundamental changes in the definition of autism disorders, with the many becoming one, and with exclusion of intellectually disabled persons, epidemiological studies will once again be rendered limited if not worthless in helping us understand causes of autism.  The DSM5 rebels though make no mention of autism in their Petition.  

The DSM5 will have a huge impact on the Autism world,  if it is ultimately published AND accepted by psychologists. Autism is not a concern of the rebel forces though and Autism is left on the sidelines of the revolt.  The fate of many persons with autism disorders, and our understanding of autism disorders, will be significantly affected though by the outcome of the revolution.  

Saturday, October 29, 2011

My Son Is An Autistic Disorder Therapeutic Market Opportunity?

Pharma view of my son 

My view of my son

Apparently when pharmaceutical company executives contemplate the Autistic Disorder which limits the life of my son,  and the lives of many who suffer from the limitations imposed by Autistic Disorder, they see Autistic Disorder Therapeutic Market Opportunities, as described in thepharmaletter:

"The autism spectrum disorder (ASD) therapeutics market was valued at $3.1 billion in 2010 and is forecast to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.5% over the next eight years to reach $5.5 billion by 2018, finds GlobalData’s new report titled Autistic Disorder Therapeutics.

This market growth is primarily attributed to the high prevalence (0.6% to 1%) and prevalence growth rate (10-17%) of ASD in the US and in certain European countries. Co-morbidities such as anxiety, epilepsy and depression associated with ASD also contribute to the growth of the ASD therapeutics market.


Preference for educational/behavioral therapy over medication

GlobalData’s analysis suggests that educational/behavioral therapies such as Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) through environmental changes and behavior modification are the preferred treatment options for ASD patients. There are two approved drugs available on the market for the treatment of irritability associated with autistic disorder; while off-label drugs are prescribed to provide symptomatic relief only.

Therefore, behavioral therapy is the preferred treatment option over drug therapy. However, drug treatment is still required in certain physiatric disorders and with certain challenging behavior associated with ASD. Approximately 50%-70% people are prescribed drug therapy as behavior therapies alone are not always sufficient for managing the disease."

Translating from Pharma Speak ($$$) into one of the known human languages (English): pharmaceutical corporate profits should continue to rise with increases in Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnoses. Not to worry about ABA and other behavioral interventions ... "preferred" options ... depriving "pharma" (their expression not mine) of profits.

I hope pharma will forgive me. When I see my son I do not see an Autistic Disorder Market Opportunity I see a wonderful and amazing boy who has enriched my life in a way not contemplated in pharma newsletters.  I don't see $$$ when I see my son.  I see his amazing smile, his laughter, the joy he brings us each day.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Autism and ABA Translated: Jacobson, Mulick and Green 1998

The fight to ensure that children with autism disorders receive treatment for their disorders engages many different people with many different priorities.  Autism advocates do meet political leaders and civil services officials who genuinely care.  But we also encounter those whose only concern is the bottom line, the mighty dollar.  To persuade these people that autistic children deserve treatment for their autism disorders you have to speak their language.  That is exactly what Jacobson, Mulick and Green did in 1998 with their paper Cost-Benefit Estimates For Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention For Young Children With Autism-General Model And Single State Case, Behavioral Interventions, Behav. Intervent., 13, 201-226 (1998)(headnote):

"Clinical research and public policy reviews that have emerged in the past several years now make it possible to estimate the cost-bene®ts of early intervention for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers with autism or pervasive development disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS). Research indicates that with early, intensive intervention based on the principles of applied behavior analysis, substantial numbers of children with autism or PDD-NOS can attain intellectual,academic, communication, social, and daily living skills within the normal range. Representative costs from Pennsylvania, including costs for educational and adult developmental disability services, are applied in a cost-benefit model, assuming average participation in early intensive behavioral intervention (EIBI) for three years between the age of 2 years and school entry. The model applied assumes a range of EIBI e€ects, with some children ultimately participating in regular education without supports, some in special education, and some in intensive special education. At varying rates of effectiveness and in constant dollars, this model estimates that cost savings range from $187,000 to $203,000 per child for ages 3-22 years, and from $656,000 to $1,082,000 per child for ages 3-55 years. Differences in initial costs of $33,000 and $50,000 per year for EIBI have a modest impact on cost-benefit balance, but are greatly outweighed by estimated savings. The analysis indicates that significant cost-aversion or cost-avoidance may be possible with EIBI."

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Medicare for Autism: Lewis and Marley Speak Up!

David Marley and Jean Lewis On the Need 
for Medicare Coverage for Autism Disorders

Jean Lewis, for 13 years, and David Marley, for 6 years, have been advocating, fighting is the better word given the powerful interests they have had to challenge, for medicare coverage of autism treatment in Canada. Autism disorders are exactly that ... disorders, very serious disorders in many cases, yet in Canada we do not consider intervention for autism disorders as treatments worthy of medicare coverage, we simply abandon our autistic children to the whims of social services bureaucrats in every nook and cranny of our very large nation.  

Monday, October 24, 2011

Fredericton Autism Intervention Services Founder Danielle Pelletier Honored Saturday Night

L: Danielle Pelletier, R: Harold Doherty

In the photo above I am standing with Danielle Pelletier, an SLP and founder of Autism Intervention Services Fredericton.  I was privileged to be in attendance and to have the opportunity to speak with Danielle who was honored Saturday night for her service to autistic children in the greater Fredericton area over approximately two decades.  She began her work as an SLP  working with autistic children at the Stan Cassidy Centre.  Danielle also provided moral support and professional credibility to a group of parent autism advocates known as FACE (Family Autism Centre for Education). FACE was the most active organization advocating for government funded evidence based early intervention services for autistic children.  Ultimately our provincial government did seek organizations to provide the early intervention services for autistic children.  Danielle answered the call in Fredericton where, six years ago,  she founded the Autism Intervention Services Fredericton Agency (1666 Lincoln Rd, Fredericton, NB) where she and her team have been providing evidence based ABA and Speech Language therapy for autistic preschoolers.  Danielle and her team have helped many autistic preschool children in Fredericton over the past 6 years and she absolutely deserves the honor and the standing ovation she received Saturday evening.  

Thank you Danielle for your outstanding contribution to the lives of autistic children in our community. 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Autism FACIAL Studies? Stop Wasting Autism Research Money and Our Children's Time

I am not going to provide a link to the recent reports of autism facial studies. I am just going to ask our learned academics and researchers to quit indulging their silly notions, quit wasting research dollars and quit wasting the time of autistic children an adults who might benefit from research aimed at finding causes, treatments and yes, even cures, for autism disorders.

I am the father  of a son with severe autistic disorder and intellectual disabilities.   He was diagnosed 13 1/2 years ago at age 2 with autistic disorder. We didn't seek medical attention for him because of his facial appearance which looked like any other child.  We weren't hoping to obtain an autism diagnosis for non existent autism services. We knew nothing about autism at that time and had barely even heard of it. We sought medical attention because of his lack of language development and because of some very unusual behaviors not because of his facial appearance.

Please don't tell me that a study of 40, 50, 60 or any other sample size tells us how to identify autistic children or adults. In my humble, common sense opinion, autism facial studies are a crock. 

Take a lesson from the late Dr. Ivar Lovaas and do some research that might actually help those whose lives are seriously impaired by autism disorders! 

Friday, October 21, 2011

Autistic Disorder and Intellectual Disability: 70% Is Not a Coincidence, It Is a Vast Majority

The DSM-IV and popular media interpretation of the autism disorders (pervasive developmental disorders), have encouraged the world to see autism as shy or introverted personality and a different, sometimes superior, way of thinking and has obscured the very obvious and close connection between autistic disorder, the most severe form of autism, and intellectual disabilities.

Autism is described in a CHARGE Study article as follows (emphasis added, HLD):

"Autism is a serious neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by impairments in social interaction, abnormalities in verbal and nonverbal communication, and restricted, stereotyped interests and behaviors (American Psychiatric Association 1994). Although a large proportion of individuals with autism manifest abnormal development from birth, a subset of at least 20–30% experience a regression with onset between 18 and 24 months of age after a period of apparently normal development (Lainhart et al. 2002). Autistic disorder is the most severe form of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), which include Asperger’s syndrome and pervasive developmental disorders (PDDs) not otherwise specified. Approximately 70% of individuals with autistic disorder have some degree of mental retardation, and about half are nonverbal or have very impaired speech.

The CHARGE Study: An Epidemiologic Investigation of Genetic and Environmental Factors Contributing to Autism, Irva Hertz-Picciotto et al.

CDC autism expert Dr. Marshalyn Yeargin-Allsopp has described those with intellectual disability as the "vast majority" of the original,  pre DSM-IV autism:

"But the autism umbrella has since widened to include milder forms, says Dr. Marshalyn Yeargin-Allsopp, a medical epidemiologist at the CDC. For example, it now includes Asperger syndrome, where the sufferer is socially impaired, but experiences typical language development.

Another difference between past and present autism diagnosis involves the presence of intellectual disabilities, 
adds Yeargin-AllsoppDuring the 1960s and 1970s, the vast majority of those diagnosed with autism had an intellectual disability but today, only about 40% have one."
CDC Autism Expert Dr. Marshalyn Yeargin-Allsopp 

The attempt to hide the very strong and clear relationship between autistic disorder and intellectual disability is more than just wrong it is the last politically correct form of discrimination ... discrimination against those with intellectual disabilities.  It is also a huge step backwards in understanding the truth about autism, that autism is a form of intellectual disability, most evident in those with autistic disorder.  Studies of high functioning persons with autism and Asperger's are routinely reported as representing all persons with autism disorders even those with intellectual disability who are intentionally excluded from the studies.  

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Autism Woe Canada: From Coast to Coast, No One Stands On Guard for Canadians with Autism Disorders

Two news reports show all too clearly that no one stands on guard for autistic children, youth and adults in Canada:

EDMONTON — A 51-year-old Edmonton man has been sentenced to seven years in prison for abuse and neglect of his teenage autistic son that left him looking like a "concentration camp victim." Vancouver Sun, Postmedia News, October 18, 2011 

Leave the Wild Rose province of Alberta and head to Canada's Ocean Playground in Nova Scotia and things don't get much better for Canadians with autism disorders.

"The provincial government has suspended Braemore's licence and replaced its executive director. The Cape Breton District Health Authority's board of directors is now acting as the interim board for the home.

The review was ordered by the province's Department of Community Services in February after officials found that an autistic resident of Braemore was locked inside a constantly lit room for 15 days last fall.

Minister says she feels 'absolutely terrible'

At the time, Community Services Minister Denise Peterson-Rafuse said the review was needed after her department concluded the 20-year-old man, who was allowed out occasionally for exercise and meals, sometimes urinated in the room when he couldn't leave to use a bathroom. The home's executive director, Debra MacPherson, later apologized.

Peterson-Rafuse, who was in Sydney on Tuesday to meet with the interim board, said she was taken aback by the report's findings.

"I accept the responsibility as minister to say that we could have done better too," she said in an interview."  CBC News, October 28, 2011"

A father in Alberta doesn't see what the fuss is all about over his failure to provide a humane level of care for his autistic son.  In Nova Scotia a government Minister is "taken aback" and, golly gee whiz,  she is just all shocked and surprised to see that a group home which is supposed to care for its residents didn't care at all and put adult squabbles and interests ahead of the dignity and well being of an autistic resident. 

Other Canadian provinces are no better.  Here in New Brunswick we have twiddled our thumbs and stuck stubbornly with an adult care system that does not provide safety, security and a dignified life for its autistic residents.  Adults who   suffer from severe autism disorders are sentenced to spend their lives in a psychiatric hospital. No one, including an Ombudsman's Office that has done little to help autistic children and adults in New Brunswick, will do anything to provide a decent life for the autistic adults in the care of the government once their parents succumb to old age and death. 

Our Supreme Court of Canada reversed decisions by a British Columbia trial judge and three BC Court of Appeal justices and put deference to government decision makers ahead of the best interests of autistic children in the Auton Case. Our federal governments under both Liberal and Conservative Prime Ministers have done nothing to provide Canadians with a Real National Autism Strategy.  

A Real National Autism Strategy is needed to ensure that regardless of where autistic Canadians live in this country they will be able to live in decent, humane conditions.  If we can't we should stop parading around the world, with a holier than thou attitude,  lecturing others about the way they treat their citizens.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Determined Autism Advocates Jean Lewis & David Marley Fight for Medicare Coverage for Autism Disorders

David Marley and Jean Lewis of Medicare for Autism Now!
Oakville, Ontario, 2008

David Marley and Jean Lewis of Medicare for Autism NOW! have been fighting for medicare coverage of evidence based treatment for autism disorders for many years.  I first met them in Halifax in May, 2007 and again in Oakville and Toronto in April, 2008.  Last year I had the privilege of seeing them again in Toronto while they were working on the film Medicare’s Orphans: Canadians Unworthy of Treatment  which is expected to set out the case for medicare coverage of autism treatment in Canada. The video below features Jean and David interviewed by radio host Bill Good.  It is the last trailer for the Medicare's Orphans film expected to be released this fall.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Monsters Among Us: 3 Arrested After 4 Mentally Disabled Adults Found Chained Behind Steel Door in Philadelphia Basement

Horrendous news out of Philadelphia where 3 people have been arrested after 4 mentally disabled adults described as having the mental capacity of 10 year olds were found chained behind a steel door in a basement. They were malnourished, with only a bottle of water between them.  The room smelled of the bucket they had to use for their body wastes.

The 3 arrested adults, as reported  on MSNBC with contributions from Reuters and the Associated Press, are suspected of having used the disabled adults for access to their  social security and disability cheques.

Vile, disgusting, loathsome. The English language doesn't really have words to adequately convey the foul character of those responsible for such crimes. Hopefully the justice system in Philadelphia arrives at the truth, convicts those responsible and sentences them to the harshest possible sentences. 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Conor Doherty Challenges Silly Autism Theory: Parental Stress Causes Autism? Really Dr. Maté? Really?

Conor Doherty, October 15, 2011, Out for a stroll with Dad 
and showing no obvious signs of stress in his life

In my last blog post I commented on Dr. Gabor Maté's theory that parental stress causes autism disorders including Autistic Disorder.  Dr. Maté is reported to have admitted that he had no proof of his theory but asked what else could be behind rising rates of autism disorder diagnoses.  The first picture  of my son Conor above was taken today. Conor was diagnosed at age 2 with Autistic Disorder. Below are some pictures of Conor as an infant, followed by a number taken at different points in Conor's life.   Stress induced autism? I don't think so and I don't think Conor would agree with Dr. Maté's wild speculation either. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Return of the Bad Parents Cause Autism Nightmare Monster

"DR. GABOR MATÉ: Well, the situation with fathers is, is that increasingly—there was a study recently that showed an increasing number of men are having postpartum depression, as well. And the main role of the father, of course, would be to support the mother. But when people are—emotionally, because the cause of postpartum depression in the mother it is not intrinsic to the mother—not intrinsic to the mother.

What we have to understand here is that human beings are not discrete, individual entities, contrary to the free enterprise myth that people are competitive, individualistic, private entities. What people actually are are social creatures, very much dependent on one another and very much programmed to cooperate with one another when the circumstances are right. When that’s not available, if the support is not available for women, that’s when they get depressed. When the fathers are stressed, they’re not supporting the women in that really important, crucial bonding role in the beginning. In fact, they get stressed and depressed themselves.

The child’s brain development depends on the presence of non-stressed, emotionally available parents. In this country, that’s less and less available. Hence, you’ve got burgeoning rates of autism in this country. It’s going up like 20- or 30-fold in the last 30 or 40 years.

AMY GOODMAN: Say what you mean by autism.

DR. GABOR MATÉ: Well, autism is a whole spectrum of disorders, but the essential quality of it is an emotional disconnect. These children are living in a mind of their own. They don’t respond appropriately to emotional cues. They withdraw. They act out in an aggressive and sometimes just unpredictable fashion. They don’t know how to—there’s no sense—there’s no clear sense of a emotional connection and just peace inside them.

And there’s many, many more kids in this country now, several-fold increase, 20-fold increase in the last 30 years."

Dr. Gabor Maté, interviewed by Amy Goodman, December 24, 2010

Once upon a time there was a monster born in the darker pits of human imagination, that haunted parents of autistic children in their nightmares,  and burst into the bold sunlight of world wide acceptance wreaking havoc on families, particularly mothers, of autistic children. The refrigerator mothers theory of autism, with no evidence in support, blamed mothers of autistic children for their children's autism disorders.  The monster was received with a warm embrace for many years by mainstream media,  academics and public health authorities alike and caused great harm to autism mothers, families and their children.

Remember too that this was in the days  when the vast majority who suffered from what was then called autism suffered from intellectual disabilities and serious deficits in daily functioning, the days before autism was transformed by the DSM-IV, Hollywood and the mainstream media into today's Autism Lite brand of shy quirky personalities. Try to imagine the guilt those mothers must have felt upon being told that their allegedly cold, uncaring personalities caused their children's serious, life limiting disorders.  Now the family wrecking monster of the refrigerator mothers theory has stuck its head out of the darkest sewers of academia and threatens once again to slander and malign those who are on the real front lines of the battle to defeat autism: parents of autistic children.

The Autism Pundit, Dr. Sabrina Freeman, in Refrigerator Moms Obsolete When Hell Freezes Over  has called out the new generation of Bettelheim autism monsters and pointed specifically at the Canadian physician,  Dr. Gabor Maté, who has a "theory" that parental stress is responsible for autism and a variety of other developmental disorders.  Dr. Mate even confesses, in a Times Union article, that he has no data to support his whack-a-do version of Bettelheim's Refrigerator mom's theory in which he substitutes stress for lack of emotional nurturing: "He can't prove it, but nothing else makes sense, Maté said."

Dr. Freeman pulls no punches in challenging Maté and other Bettelheim Heirs to back up their theories with data:

"Second, a theory is useless without any data supporting it. Put simply, show us the data, or put a sock in it! Since these big thinkers seem happy to posit theories that they have no plans to test and are, therefore, perennially without data to support them, let me have a go, and posit one of my own. Doctors and researchers with little talent and less integrity, tend to gravitate to fields where there is no known cause and no known cure – like autism. That way, B.S. can be purveyed with impunity, since few folks actually expect rigorous scientific standards of conduct (i.e., proper theory construction, hypothesis development, experimental design, testing, data collection, statistical analyses, presentation of results, and interpretation). In other words, where autism is concerned, it’s still the wild west of science. However, the good news is that as we learn more about the true neurobiology of autism, these ignorant pretenders will be relegated to the Flat Earth Society where they belong." (Bold, underlining added -HLD)

US and Canadian Autism Societies, Autism Speaks, the Association for Science in Autism Treatment  and public health authorities should join Dr. Freeman in calling out purveyors of this reincarnation of the Refrigerator Mothers Autism Nightmare and tell them to back up their theories with data or ... as Dr. Freeman said far too politely and with far more respect than they deserve ... put a  sock in it. 

Friday, October 07, 2011

Autism in Russia: Pravda Misrepresents Asperger's as Autism

Like its mainstream media counterparts in the US and Canada the Russian news service Pravda is busy misrepresenting Asperger's as Autism.  In Autism: Life full of struggle and success there is mention of Asperger's as "an" autism disorder.  There is also acknowledgement of some of the challenges faced by persons with autism. But there is no mention of those who CDC Autism Expert Dr. Marshalyn Yeargin-Allsopp  described as the "vast majority" of those with actual Autistic Disorder diagnoses; those who have autism and intellectual disabilities. The article read as a whole, including the title,  portrays those persons with Asperger's, and persons "with some traits of autism and Asperger's" who have found employment with companies like Aspiritech as representative of persons with autism:

The son of the founder Moshe Vittsberga at some point had problems finding work due to Asperger Syndrome diagnosis. For this reason, the Aspiritech undertook to help people with autism.
 According to specialists, work with computers is well suited for autistic individuals. In addition, many high-end programmers are people with certain traits of autism or Asperger syndrome.

Among professions preferred for autistic individuals are accounting, librarianship, archival work and drawing, and art. Autistic individuals are good at archeology, paleontology, and museum work.
Some people with autism are good at jobs involving visual thinking - computer-aided design, architectural modeling, industrial design, etc.

For example, in 2008, a fellow of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Wendy Jacob founded a studio where she worked with autistic individuals to create radically new art and design solutions in the field of interior design and the design of everyday objects specifically for people with autism spectrum disorders. This is the beginning of a niche market.

Autistic individuals are also good at work associated with fulfilling certain actions at certain times. Autistic individuals do not need a team and can work quite effectively in isolation.
However, work related to rapid processing of information in short-term working memory is not suitable for them. They should avoid such areas as history, political science, business, philology, or higher mathematics.

Monday, October 03, 2011

LA Times Gets It Right: ABA Is An Autism Treatment Worth Funding

I am a frequent critic of the mainstream media's tendency to misrepresent autism disorders. The mainstream media routinely presents feel good stories of autistic accomplishments, painting autism as merely a different way of thinking and speculating that many of histories great geniuses were probably autistic.  Discussion of autism treatments ranges from riding horses in Mongolia to swimming with dolphins.  More serious mainstream media treatments of autism treatments will acknowledge that early intervention is important for successful outcomes without mentioning ABA, applied behavior analysis, the most solidly evidence backed treatment shown for many years to result in a number of intellectual, language and behavior gains in autistic children who receive early intensive ABA intervention.

I have criticized all aspects of mainstream media misrepresentation of autism including the tendency to hide the evidence based effectiveness of ABA known for many years and confirmed by authorities from the US Surgeon General to the American Academy of Pediatrics.  It is only right that I acknowledge, with gratitude, when a mainstream media institution gets it right as the LA Times has done with its clear, straight to the point,  statement about the importance of ABA as a treatment for autism disorders:

"An autism treatment worth funding


A California bill would require insurance companies to cover the cost of applied behavioral analysis for the autistic. It's good policy.

September 30, 2011

State law requires insurers to include coverage for autism in comprehensive healthcare policies. Now, lawmakers want to go a step further, requiring coverage of a particular autism treatment: applied behavioral analysis. Insurers are resisting. They don't question the effectiveness of the therapy; they just say it doesn't fit the definition of "medical" treatment. Their position reflects how crucial parts of the healthcare system are wedded to the status quo, regardless of what's best for patients. State lawmakers have passed a bill to overcome the insurers' resistance, and Gov. Jerry Brown should sign it."

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Autism Reality Check: Huffington Post Now Misrepresents Autism Disorders

It is 6:40 am (Atlantic) time here in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada. Conor, my 6 feet tall, 15 year old son with Autistic Disorder, is now relatively quiet after several hours of screaming and crying.  The noise was accompanied by periodic outbursts of head slapping. That is the reality of my son's autism.  For my son autism reality is not, as it is for Elaine Hall and the Huffington Post, a fine line between obsession and genius.

In Autism: Is It An 'Obsession' Or Just A Preferred Interest? Elaine Hall ponders from her perch on the Autism Is Beautiful Page of the Huffington Post what she considers to be the fine line between autism and genius and wonders whether the world would be a better place if all those ignorant, ill informed,  parents of autistic children were as enlightened as she is and would look for and promote their children's strengths instead of trying to force  learning upon them:

"Sometimes I wonder if there is a fine line between autism and certain kinds of genius. Or artistry. Think about it: Anyone who excels at something has to have spent countless hours each day perfecting their craft, art or gift. For instance, if the mother of a young, would-be juggler were to say, "It's inappropriate to toss little balls up and down," no one would ever have the joy of watching an accomplished juggler. Or, think of scientists who spend hours in their laboratories developing cures for all sorts of ills.

How great would it be if every child had mentors who saw a child's strengths as a way toward adult life. This is not a new concept! In "The Republic," Plato urges educators to view a child's early interests and play as serious business that helps prepare a child for adult work. He emphasizes that forced learning cannot remain in the soul. What if parents, educators and therapists saw a child's intense interests in a positive light. Perhaps Joel could become a paleontologist; Marcy could sing in local plays. We homeschool Neal. He is now learning all about bees. In fact, his school curriculum is built around his preferred interests in bees to learn math, science, language, history, etc. His world is expanded by all of us following his intense interests. Perhaps one day he will be a bee keeper or a honey manufacturer. Clearly, the world can benefit from people who are free to explore and enact their obsessions."

For many people with autism disorders living their lives dependent on the care of others, in one form of residential institution or another,  autism is not the "autism" of Elaine Hall and the Huffington Post. Autism Reality for the "vast majority" of those with the original autistic disorder diagnosis includes intellectual disability, it includes serious self injury For some with autistic disorder it includes injury to parents and caregivers who love them dearly.

Two years ago autism for Trudy Steuernagel was the last thing she experienced as she lay dying, soaked in her own blood, killed by her own 18 year old severely autistic son whom she loved dearly and who apparently lacked the mental capacity to understand what he had done to his mother. All autistic persons do not kill their family members or care givers but many have very serious issues, serious inability to function in the real world.  For many, many persons with autism disorders and those family and friends who love them autism disorders are much, much more than a fine line between obsession and genius. They are disorders and they are serious impediments to healthy, positive lives for many who suffer from them and those who care for them.

Arianna Huffington sold the Huffington Post for a huge payday.  The Huffington Post Autism Big News Page is now just another mainstream media page misrepresenting autism, portraying it as a pretty blessing and hiding the realities and challenges of those afflicted with autistic disorder and their families.  Arianna sold  her "Post" and has sold out those with autism disorders and their families.