Posting in Education
It's an epidemic of discovery, of finding that people aren't so easily placed into categories, of people with formerly disabling diagnoses advocating for themselves, and parents becoming involved in loving troubled kids more deeply. It's an epidemic of awareness.
April is Autism Awareness Month.
I became more aware of autism myself recently when someone close to me was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, a form of high functioning autism.
Asperger advocates compile a running list of famous people from they past they identify as having had Asperger symptoms. If you or someone close to you was diagnosed recently this should cheer you up.
People with Asperger Syndrome also have a nickname for themselves -- Aspies. Sounds more like an award than a diagnosis. (Yes, I have an Emmy, two Tony's and an Aspie.)
A lot of people think there is an autism epidemic in this country. Some blame vaccines. They're wrong on the cause, but they may also be wrong on the epidemic part.
Fact is until recently psychologists -- especially child psychologists -- were not looking hard for autism. The Asperger diagnosis itself dates just from 1981. Hans Asperger himself published his first definition of the syndrome in 1944.
A big part of Asperger's own work lay in seeing the good side of the syndrome. Among his patients was Elfriede Jelinek, who later won the Nobel Prize for literature in 2004.
What has developed since 1981 is a spectrum of symptomologies, ranging from severe autism to moderate autism, through Asperger Syndrome, to ADHD, and people can find themselves anywhere on the spectrum.
Aspects of conditions like Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), exhibited by actor Tony Shalhoub in his long-running series Monk, can also fall inside the new definitions. You can have both OCD and ADHD. You can also be an Aspie and and not be brilliant.
All this combines into an epidemic of "discovery" among school-age children. Kids diagnosed with any disability -- ADHD, dyslexia, Asperger -- are covered under the IDEA Act. This encourages parents to demand an evaluation, public or private, in order to gain accommodation for kids who need it.
Once you're an adult your condition is covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act. This can prove a shock to parents. Their newly-diagnosed 18-year old darling has to be his or her own advocate, and colleges don't have to accommodate themselves to these kids in the same way.
If you were diagnosed with ADHD as a kid, as I was, it's possible one of your children now might be given an Asperger diagnosis. It's not the end of the world, and it's not that they're so terribly different from you. It's just a filling-out of a behavioral continuum, scientific evolution in action.
There is good news here. Aspects of autism are gradually being de-stigmatized, much as ADHD itself was a decade ago, and people with these conditions are starting to advocate for themselves.
One great place to see this in action is at Wrongplanet.net. It's a Slashdot for Aspies launched in 2004 by Alex Plank (above), then a teenager but now a college student and advocate for the idea that you can live within the autism spectrum.
(The name Wrongplanet comes from the idea that people with Asperger Syndrome often feel they're living on the wrong planet. They feel normal, and wonder what everyone's trouble is.)
I have personally concluded that if this is an epidemic, it's a good kind.
It's an epidemic of discovery, of finding that people aren't so easily placed into categories, of people with formerly disabling diagnoses advocating for themselves, and of parents becoming involved in loving troubled kids more deeply.
It's an epidemic of awareness. Care to join?
Apr 5, 2010
Yes, there is an autism epidemic. Who ever saw the symptoms recognized as autism, or asperser?s for that matter, much less anywhere near as frequently as now, when I was in school generations ago? My doctorate is in law rather than biology or medicine, but I do know a thing or two about both scientific evidence, other expert evidence, and legal proof of facts with or without either of those. I actually passed Statistics with a B, too, while learning enough to be very suspicious of statistics and other displays of alleged mathematical precision. The Supreme Court?s criteria for admissibility of both scientific and non-scientific expert evidence do weed out some ?junk science? but, in my view, pose more problems than they solved by making it practically impossible to prove things to their satisfaction that any reasonable juror or honest expert knows are almost certainly true. Getting a new technology, or field of expertise, accepted, especially where nobody tests and replicates the results from the first published article in another published article, is practically impossible. Way too much of the academic research is ?re-search,? rehashing what was proven years ago, rather than breaking any real new ground. Of course, for years, they admitted evidence about identical bullet composition analyses to prove they came from the same box before that theory was exploded, and some of the formerly accepted studies of how fires originated and progressed have since been disproved, after such incorrect science had been used to convict people of crimes up through capital murder beyond reasonable doubt, much less under the preponderance of evidence standard used in most civil damage cases. The courts rejected evidence that the odds of the number of children born in an area saturated with environmental pesticides, lead, etc., having the same rare and devastating birth defects were less than the odds that have long been accepted as proof of other facts beyond reasonable doubt. The narrowness of specialties required for expert testimony cannot be explained in any way I can prove or dare publish. Look at how many years of efforts to prove cigarettes caused cancer passed, and how many actual and purported academic research papers were published on that subject, before a whistle-blower finally leaked the ?smoking gun? records that proved that the tobacco industry had known and concealed the danger and damage from their products, including manipulating allegedly objective published work on the subject, for years. Does anyone really believe that the pharmaceutical industry, which has made billions selling drugs, and covering up problems with drugs, that were later proved unreasonably dangerous and recalled, or the regulators who let that happen over and over and over again, would come forward with any evidence, if any, they might have discovered that their vaccines caused autism? I can?t find any convincing evidence that vaccines caused the autism epidemic, or any specific case of autism, including asperser?s syndrome, and am shocked that such a theory would be accepted as more than a hypothesis to be further tested, on the basis of twelve cases, but I can certainly understand how and why the parents of autistic children would grasp at such an explanation. I have vivid recollections of some of the treatments tried, in good faith, for polio in the nineteen fifties. I have also read about, and read, academic ?research? touted in the media as some brilliant new discovery, up to a half century or more before somebody else had already proved and published essentially the same thing. There is too much politics, partisan and otherwise, in medical, psychological, and psychiatric research, the funding thereof, and the upcoming DSM-IV and other such standards that should be determined by other means. University and research politics can make Chicago Democratic politics look like bean-bag. Now if somebody can just figure out how to get either the market or the political processes, or any combination thereof, to do that free of political distortion, and get such process implemented in the real world, please publish it. As for the people on this thread who condemn psychology, psychiatry, antidepressants, etc., out of hand, while I have known incompetent, careless, and dishonest people in many fields, including those, these critics don?t know what they are talking about in that area, which makes me doubt their credibility or conclusions on the subject at hand which is autism and the spectrum of disease which includes it. Of course, just as we cannot say that all cancers have the same cause, I have seen nothing even beginning to tend to prove that ADD, ADHD, asperger?s, and what most people who have seen and dealt with it think of when one uses the term ?autism,? do either. As for whether there should be separate diagnoses, codes, etc., I have some thoughts but no settled opinion at this time. Far more research is needed.
First of the study said ?might? which means may or may not. And yes there have also been other studies linking cancer to vaccines and as I have foot noted, ones which link vaccination to ill health. These are documented and factual. Of course you can chose to ignore scientists work, after all you engage in biased reporter pedaling in half truths as you stated to me before thus what difference does it make to you what someone actually contradicts your beliefs. To quote yourself ?I wonder about people who feel ignorance must win out over science, and that their political rhetoric must triumph over reporting because they believe in it so strongly. It's very common in America today. And it's sad.? For once I could not agree with you more. PS. I have nothing against you Dana form a personal perspective and wish you all the best, however you must understand there are real people being affected and dying for various reasons some of which may have to do which vaccinations and they have a right to be informed of that possibility so that they can make an informed decision. I believe it is criminal of you to miss-resent facts, not state or quote or foot note medical journals in your articles while freely stating something not proven as fact as such. If you consider yourself a professional in your profession you must he held to that scrutiny as all others at ?SmartPlanet? You may chose to be biases as you said to me however you must then preface each and every article as such so others are aware of the nature form which you write and aware of its potential validity. If not for such articles I will contact CBC to investigate this type of reporting by yourself and other colleagues given the seriousness of their consequence to others who may read your (their) biased opinions you state as fact without proof and perhaps be swayed by that option to their determent. If you do not care if others may be harmed by our words and actions I certainly am.
The Lancet has formally retracted the Wakefield study. That's a very rare event, and occurs only after rigorous study. So, no, there is no reputable study showing vaccines cause cancer. There are thousands showing vaccines prevent disease. I would note that there has been a recurrence of H1N1 flu in the American South the last few months specifically because people refused to get vaccinated, due to the kind of ignorance you spread here. You also break Godwin's Law by going straight to a comparison of me and Goebbels. Once you go with the Nazis, your argument starts falling apart rapidly. I wonder about people who feel ignorance must win out over science, and that their political rhetoric must triumph over reporting because they believe in it so strongly. It's very common in America today. And it's sad.
To state an obvious is not to state a cause. So far there is not enough evidence to dismiss the notion that vaccines are not a factor. Until independent and repeatable tested are made it is very valid to say so. Second since you like to quote The Lancet then look at Vol. 359, No: 9309: 817-823. In it some researches state a virus of the kind that contaminated polio vaccines used decades ago may help cause some cases of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL). In 1961, the government ordered new batches of the vaccine to be made in a way that would prevent contamination with the virus. It then began studying whether the virus might cause cancer in humans. Scientists have since found SV40 virus in people born after the affected vaccines were last used, so they believe SV40 may be passed in some cases from mother to child, or by sexual contact, or other means. Further Dr. Alan Cantwell, Jr. states in his article of 1999, during World War II a yellow fever vaccine manufactured with human blood serum was unknowingly contaminated with hepatitis virus and given to the military. As a result, more than 50,000 cases of serum hepatitis broke out among American troops injected with the vaccine. In addition to this kids have been used as guinea pigs. Dr. Cantell states that ?in 1989-1991 when Kaiser Permanente of Southern California and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) jointly conducted a measles vaccine experiment. Without proper parental disclosure, the Yugoslavian-made "high titre" Edmonston-Zagreb measles vaccine was tested on 1,500 poor, primarily black and Latino, inner city children in Los Angeles. Highly recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), the high-potency experimental vaccine was previously injected into infants in Mexico, Haiti, and Africa. It was discontinued in these countries when it was discovered that the children were dying in large numbers.? I guess historical facts are not important for you since you state your reporting is purposly biases. I guess then that makes anything you say proper in you mind even if it is inaccurate. I guess when Goebbels said so the German people there was not such thing as a holocaust and the world was engaging in a conspiracy against the German people, he was right too? After all he was only stating his biased opinion and what harm can that cause right Dana?
Wrongplanet, the site run by Alex Plank who tops this post, reports that a movie on Temple Grandin is now in the works, starring Claire Danes. Here is a link to Alex's post on it http://www.wrongplanet.net/article374.html
Interesting theory. The idea that environmental toxins could be playing with our genes is not far-fetched. But the most recent culprit in the obesity epidemic is corn syrup. http://www.examiner.com/x-10675-San-Diego-Diet-and-Exercise- Examiner~y2010m3d29-Princeton-University-vs-High-Fructose-Corn-Syrup An increase in autism may be coming from mercury, as the vaccine haters suggest, but there's far more of it in the water and the air due to the burning of coal to make electricity. As always, more study is a good thing.
I keep noticing a few things as I read this thread. First, there are those saying there is an autism epidemic and that it's been going on for aabout a decade or two. That kills any possibility of it being vaccines since these vaccines were around long before this epidemic began. My nephew is an Aspie, so I have some concern about this. But something else has been mentionned. We've also been seeing an obesity epidemic which has been going on for roughly the same time period. Anyone with a scientific mind would look at these two items and go "Is there a connection?" I'm allergic to the plastisizer that leaches out of plastic pop bottles and into the pop. It's a rare allergy, affecting roughly 1 in every 8000 people, but it is a known allergy. I'm also allergic to various suphates, including supher dioxide, a common pollutant. Before they started desuphering diesel fuel, a passing truck or bus could send me into anaphalctic shock. My brother describes me as a "canaray in a cola mine". Putting all of this together, let's face it. We're pumping untold tonnes of toxins into the environment. We're packaging our food and drink in containers which contain potentially harmful substances. We're eating food which is clearly over processed and unhealthy. Could it be that autism is a symptom of all of this?
I recently read two very interesting books. Thinking In Pictures, My Life with Autism by Temple Grandin is a very informative book that reveals what it is like to be autistic by someone who is very capable of describing what she perceives to be the differences between her mental processes and those of non-autistic people. She talks about a "spectrum" of symptoms with the specific symptoms and capabilities being determined by how the individual brain is wired. The second book is How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer. In it he talks about how the brain works physically and how we come to decisions. He is not specifically talking about autism but rather lays out how we think and validates, with physical scientific evidence, what Ms. Grandin says in her book. Learning about the processes involved in thinking, how we decide things and what our built in biases and blind spots are, was fascinating and goes a long way toward explaining for me the wide range of both abilities and disabilities found in people. I find myself questioning my ideas about what normal might be.
There are those that are truly afflicted and others that are unscrupulous trying to take advantage of opportunities or others that are looking for excuses why they can't compete in society. Some have mentioned that society could be the cause; I agree that some aspects of society have created pressures and scenarios where some people are unable to cope to levels that could be chronic and prevent adjustment. Others are indeed disabled from birth, like my stepbrother, and require assistance throughout their lives. He was verifiably afflicted by a malady that was deemed autism, regardless of whatever range it will become broadened to cover. He suffered from an extremely debilitating condition that was immediately verified by by observing him physically and behaviorally. No subtlety about it. He wasn't the only person affected because my parents donated an extraordinary amount of time, effort, and expense to rear him so that he could cope as best as possible. We all wished he did not suffer so we all were committed to his well-being. The condition made us more acute to sensing his emotions and challenged us to find ways to communicate. As for the cause, who knows? The matter was that he needed assistance to the day he passed. Really now, what is normal? There are some behaviors in people that could be regarded as psychotic and sociopathic, but they are deemed professional qualities or politically motivated. Some diagnoses are questionable and the debate needs to continue but I hope that the frauds and excuse-makers don't dilute the clinical condition or muck up the level of assistance for the qualifiably afflicted people and their care-providers.
I am not diseased. I have ADHD. I was diagnosed i 1964, although I did not learn this until 1997. Had I learned in 1964, or even 1974, I would have saved myself a lot of pain. Knowledge is powerful. Our differences are not deviations from some ideal. They are what they are. We learn to live with what we can't rise above.
The Wakefield study has been withdrawn from The Lancet. They admit it was bad science. He looked at 12 kids who were not chosen randomely, and leapt to a conclusion beyond the evidence. Fact. Autism is not a single condition, scientists now say, but a spectrum of conditions, ranging from totally disabling to relatively mild and benign. They're also finding that the range of normal includes many, many people with a touch of what we formerly classed as disease. Thanks for writing.
My wife has a first hand experience interacting with autistic children on a daily basis. First in her 15 years of teaching the incident of children with autism has dramatically increased over the last 8years. This is not due to a diagnosis or a relabeling of mal behaved children. There are noticeable characteristic differences with these children which did not exist 10-15years ago for her and according to the general consensus of the school board in which she teaches any time prior to that. These children have specific behaviour/learning/personality conditions which necessitates special care in the school system such that specific resources must now be employed to address these children needs. It is not a question of family conditions ,social, environmental or pear pressure which though the normal course of dealing with these factors, mitigates the problem. Thus this strongly suggests that this is a new phenomenon increasing to epidemic proportions relative to other known childhood conditions and not one which is now just noticeable since it was labelled. No one needs a label to identify an issue. Labels are created post identification what is first observed not the other way around thus the notion that a label increases incidence or awareness is false logic. The notion that there may have been people now considered autistic is difficult to asses and should not be sued as proof positive that autistic children or people with autism existed in the past. Further my wife has not met one parent, not one who is glad, or mildly grateful or optimistic that there child has autism in any form. These children have difficulty in learning the basics of the subject matter, seem incapable of normal childhood manners or forms of behaving, have difficulty socializing or integrating with others etc. Perhaps for very mild forms there is greater optimism that these children will integrate well enough or coexist in a manner which allows them to succeed in life or seek their own personal satisfaction however for all other forms of autism this does not seem to be the case and is quite tragic for them and their parents. To say as fact that vaccination against measles/mumps/rubella does not cause autism is also a false statement. Until studies can be repeated by others to prove one way or the other this cannot be said as fact. However we do know may parents who?s children have become autistic believe so and it has been shown is a study by Dr. Wakefield. He has been condemned recently for several reasons however the since his study lead to a decrease in the use of these vaccines in the UK there maybe other motivations at play. This is not the first time this has happened in the medical profession ripe with special interest groups such as pharmaceutical cooperation?s which are known not to follow the most ethical of business practices. Keep in mind doctor Ignaz Semmelweis who ?despite ridicule and opposition, introduced compulsory handwashing for everyone entering the maternal wards and was rewarded with a plunge in maternal and fetal deaths, however the Royal Society in the UK still dismissed his advice.? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surgery http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jenny-mccarthy/whos-afraid-of-the-truth_b_490918.html http://www.google.com/hostednews/ukpress/article/ALeqM5itzTyzmNSq4nB5Z9SDYEJG1-lOlQ http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/7095145/GMC-brands-Dr-Andrew-Wakefield-dishonest-irresponsible-and-callous.html http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/3513365.stm http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/health/article7009882.ece
You're horribly off topic, but go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Body_mass_index . In case you missed it, the BMI was never designed as an individual measure, it's more of an overall population measurement. There have been medical professionals repeatedly saying it shouldn't be used, and in my limited knowledge of the subject, I'd have to agree. The taller you are, the more fat you can have before you're obese, according to the chart, yet every single tall person I've ever met has been on the skinny side. People who are shorter by several feet can weigh the same. The BMI is a measurement being used where it shouldn't be, and is convincing perfectly normal people that their obese if they're not below their BMI. Which funnily enough, sticks with the fashion industry beauty standard of thin = good. Conspiracy theorists, go!
Well yea, this is the part where we diagnose someone born with their organs on the outside as the next step in human evolution. ADHD, OCD, Aspergers, etc, are more a disease than a bonus to the person who has them. OCD with ADHD does not improve your life, trust me on that one. :P And I'm fairly certain that most people with those conditions would agree with me.
No really, psychology does more harm than good. Parents think their child has an issue, instead of sitting down and talking with them, they send them to shrinks and get them onto 10 different pills a day. Everyone's on anti-depressants, instead of saying, hmm, there must be an issue with society if everyone's depressed. We develop a Brave New World esque society where everyone's doping on anti-depressants. A big problem with anti-depressants too, is their psychological and physical impact. If a person misses their pill, they get extremely agitated, depressed, suicidal, irritated, etc. Throw in a symptom and they probably have it. They develop a psychological and physical dependancy on the pills, and they appear similar to an addict when they miss one. How is any of that good?
I recently read that fat asses like you add way, WAY more to to the total health care burden then smokers (which I am not BTW). We should enact laws that discriminate against overweight people because they raise the cost of health insurance at the expence of people who maintain their weight. Employers should require that prospective employees provide their BMI on their job applications and resumes. We should tax fatty/junk foods and require that obese people must eat highly caloric foods off company property and away from others. Because we do not want to watch fat f*cks shovel food into their pie holes. It is disgusting to watch and offends the senses. I am getting sick of fat asses raising my insurance bill.
This, of course, assumes that Autism is a disease. Personally, I don't think so. It's merely the next step in Human evolution. As mankind develops farther, he has to specialize ever more tightly. Autism is that specialization.
Yes, there really is an autism epidemic. Maybe one of discovery is going along side it, but there is a real autism epidemic. If you put Asperger's aside and compared the number of children with full blown autism to adults with full blown autism, you'd "discover" that there is an epidemic that has just recently come about. Likewise, there is an epidemic of obesity and diabetes. Were there just as many fat people around 25 years ago but we didn't notice them as much? Just because the diagnosis is more commonly known doesn't mean it's is only an "epidemic of discovery."
I just wanted to say "thank you" to all the people who have responded to this post (so far? ) I got here via ZDNet and the comments section can get real ugly there! Right now I have about 12 Wikipedia articles opened and ready to read. This disease affects my family as well. Everyone's replies have been courteous, respectful & thought provoking. I got what I came here for! Education and opinion! Thanks All
Thanks for your note. You have a conspicuousschtick. (Sorry, I have a bad case of pun disorder today.)
I share some of your concerns, and frustrations over the various psychological professions. But I disagree with your conclusion they've done more harm than good. We are increasingly discovering cures. Anti-depressants can help in the case of severe depression. And talk therapy, especially Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, has been proven to work for many many people.
I think you put your finger on what AutismReality fears, that by extending the spectrum you reduce the chances that those most seriously impacted will get the help they need. The DSM proposal to eliminate Asperger's as a separate disorder remains controversial. Because it sets a bright line between what may be Asperger's but may also be something milder, like ADHD. Unless they want to put mild ADHD on the autism spectrum as well. In which case I'll be marching alongside Mr. Doherty.
"This is controversial, especially among people with worse symptoms and among parents of newly-diagnosed autistic kids. The former want relief, the latter want to make sure they get services." I fail to understand how learning about autism and autism symptoms threatens you, or your son, or denies you services in any way. The bright line you see between your son's autism and other, related, and less-disabling conditions is not as bright as it may appear. That's what science says. I'm sorry about your situation and hope you get all the services you feel you deserve.
"Mr. Mayer" is clearly biased and uninformed. Psychology uses the same criteria of research studies as to natural sciences (what I assume he considers 'real' science), and must adapt with new knowledge - just as Darwin's theory (and its offshoots) must be altered with each new fossil discovery. To say that psychology has 'done as much harm as good' is blatantly absurd. Before the advent of psychology, persons were thought to be possessed, or simply expelled from society for being defective. It is the study of human behavior that given us an understanding of addiction as a disease, pharmaceuticals as treatment for various mental illnesses (because - shock! - psychology works with other disciplines to solve problems), grief processes, individual development curves, and the reduction, if not elimination, of the stigma surrounding many disorders contained in the DSM. If "Mr. Mayer" has such statistics, I suggest he list them, complete with references. Otherwise, he can feel free to join the ranks of Scientologists, who share his views. The current 'problem' with the autistic diagnosis, as others have pointed out, is that it is a spectrum disease, so there is a lot of room for misinterpretation, misdiagnosis, and misunderstanding. As ADHD was a 'trend' disorder in the late 90's, early 2000's, now autism has taken over the title, lending a certain 'hipness' to the idea of being an Aspie. Eventually, as the 'core' of the disorder is better understood, the pendulum will swing back to settle in a much more moderate middle. Until then, these claims of 'epidemics' should be viewed with great skepticism.
when someone comes up with a real diagnosis of autism, we can then determine whether there are a few or many. at present most of autism is in the mind of the parents. there are kids afflicted with autism in a form that cannot be mistaken, but there are not many. i have seen and been with them. i am sure the right parent would have been convinced my older son was autistic, but that would have been the usual bullpucky that paniced parents in the u.s. are prone to.
What is autism? The change in the DSM?s definition gives us a clue: it is whatever mental health professionals say it is this season, like most other mental and emotional disorders. Society and individuals must learn to take such diagnoses with a big grain of salt. After all, psychology (which also forms a big part of psychiatry) is not a real science. It is a valid area of study, but to try to apply this ill-defined library of observations on the most complex of topics to individual treatment is fraught with uncertainty. Statistically, psychology has done as much harm as good.
Most parents who are convinced that their child(ren) got autism from vaccines are experiencing recall bias. Autism in children is diagnosed at around the same time they get their childhood immunizations, hence the confusion. Changing the coding of diseases also causes a bias effect on the data. Before 1981, there were officially no cases of AIDS. There were plenty of people with opportunistic infections, though. Once the syndrome was defined, then the cases started being counted. It was not the case with AIDS, which was a true epidemic, but changing definitions like this do cause an unexpected, but very explainable, rise in the case counts of conditions.
There are definitely different levels of autism. Where does the line get drawn as to who needs help and who doesn't? I know of a woman who saw several doctors in an effort to have her son diagnosed with autism. The boy was fine by everyone's account but finally she found one who would say yes, he is autistic. Now she gets a check every month. Given her track record, we felt that was her goal all along, to take advantage of the system and it really does a disservice to those severely affected. Where does and who decides where the line is on who needs help and who doesn't???
Latest research, and the official DSM stance, is that the term Asperger no longer has any validity as a stand alone term. It should now be included under Austism, which is a very broad spectrum disorder. I agree with this latest finding.
Harold, isn't an 'epidemic of discovery' for autism only a good thing? Afterall, this discovery brings awareness of the situation. I can understand why many people don't see autism as wonderful - i really do. Professionals often state that there is no hope for these children and i have seen rooms full of parents who faced fears about institutionalising their chidren because of the lack of help that is available. I wonder if you have heard of the son rise program? I am a volunteer on a program with a boy who was diagnosed with severe autism and verbal dyspraxia. The diagnosis and prognosis was very dim; they said that maybe he would learn to dress himself and use the toilet, and he would never have meaningful relationships. 5yrs later, he is a very happy boy who loves interacting with people, is learning speech and who in my eyes has limitless potential. Regards A. Hopwood UK
I am the parent of a 14 year old boy with severe Autistic Disorder. You are free to blather on about epidemics of discovery and other trite nonsense because some people with very limited autism issues, some very high functioning persons express their opinion that they think their autism is wonderful. And because they have gone back in history and diagnosed famous persons as having been autistic. Is that what you call science? I have fought hard for autism services for my severely autistic son and others in the Canadian province of New Brunswick where I live. I have visited autistic persons living in institutional care, some after their parents are deceased. Life is not an epidemic of discovery for them or for my son. You do a great disservice to those severely affected by autism with your nonsensical, unsubstantiated and ill informed blather. Harold L Doherty Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada