A panel focusing on basic science research into autism spectrum disorders and brain development answer questions during the second annual Autism Symposium. From left to right: Dr. Anjali Rajadhyaksha, Dr. B.J. Casey, Dr. Francis Lee, Dr. John Walkup and Dr. Catherine Lord | Photo credit: Amelia Panico
[Note: Shared for #AutisticHistory archive purposes. This is NOT An Autistic Ally.]
Autism Symposium Focuses on Life Transitions; Offers Providers, Families Latest Insights and Research News
MAY 15, 2012
Researchers and clinicians are facing watershed moments in the field of autism, manifested in basic science studies and new clinical therapies that may pave the way for greater understanding of autism spectrum disorders, and improved care for children with these disorders.
That was the major takeaway from Growing Up with Autism: Life Transitions, a symposium sponsored by the Weill Cornell Autism Research Program (WCARP) in participation with The Clinical and Translational Science Center (CTSC), on May 11 at Weill Cornell Medical College. The program offered families and health care providers the latest information about and insight into autism research and clinical treatments and therapies, focusing on autism patients’ transition from childhood into adulthood.
“The sun is shining in New York City today, and I think the sun is shining in the field of autism,” said Dr. Barry Kosofsky, who is the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Professor of Pediatrics as well as professor of pediatrics in radiology, professor of neurology and neuroscience and the principal investigator of the Weill Cornell Autism Research Program. “We are in the midst of a revolution in our thinking regarding the diagnosis, therapies and understanding of autism spectrum disorders.”
Two panels of experts discussed just that during the day-long symposium, attended by nearly 200 people at Uris Auditorium and Griffis Faculty Club. The first panel, focused on research, featured Dr. John Walkup, vice chair of the Department of Psychiatry and director of the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry; Dr. B.J. Casey, director of Sackler Institute for Developmental Psychobiology; Dr. Francis Lee, professor and vice chair for research in the Department of Psychiatry; and Dr. Anjali Rajadhyaksha, associate professor of neuroscience in pediatrics and associate professor of neuroscience. The panelists relayed information about novel research into autism spectrum disorders and brain development.
The second panel focused on clinical treatment and featured Dr. Catherine Lord, assistant professor of psychology in psychiatry and director of the Center for Autism and the Developing Brain at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital’s campus in Westchester; Dr. John Brown, director of training and programs in applied behavior analysis at Hunter College; Dr. Michael Siller, an assistant professor in the Psychology Department at Hunter College and co-director of the Hunter College Autism Center; and Linda Meyer, executive director of Autism New Jersey and a consultant in private practice. The panelists shared the real-world applications of that basic science research.
The symposium also featured the insights of Dr. Martha Herbert, an assistant professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School and a pediatric neurologist at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston who recently published a new book, “The Autism Revolution: Whole Body Strategies for Making Life All It Can Be.” In addition, the event included breakout groups as well as a tabling session featuring local community organizations which provide services for autistic children in the region.
“The goal of the symposium is to communicate advances in research to service providers as well as families to try to give them a sense of current thinking,” said Dr. Kosofsky, also chief of the Division of Child Neurology at Weill Cornell and an attending physician at NewYork-Presbyterian’s Phyllis and David Komansky Center for Children’s Health. “We’re trying to make it as practical as possible.”
The autism symposium began last year as a byproduct of the Weill Cornell Autism Research Program, Dr. Kosofsky said. Established four years ago with the support of the Clinical and Translational Science Center, the program and its multidisciplinary scientists engage in research to improve the understanding behind the genetics and brain chemistry of autism spectrum disorders.
The investigators seek to better identify the physical and behavioral features demonstrated by patients with autism as a starting point in detecting the contributing genetic factors of autism, and potentially any related brain imaging changes. To accomplish this, the investigators enrolled more than 50 families affected by autism in a clinical study that includes clinical evaluations comprised of neuropsychological testing and the drawing of blood to see if they can identify any genetic basis for autism. The investigators sent the first batch of donated blood for testing a month ago, and will use a newly created database with four different sets of clinical information to look for patterns in the genes that may contribute to autism.
The symposium is one way to provide these families with some return on their personal investment, Dr. Kosofsky said. The first, co-hosted last spring at Hunter College, focused on autistic children from birth to five years of age and provided information on signs and symptoms, diagnoses and evaluations. This year’s symposium picked up at the transition from childhood to adulthood.
Helping patients, parents and institutions (schools and hospitals) cope with the challenge of the transitions from adolescence to adulthood is one of our greatest challenges in pediatrics,” said Dr. Gerald Loughlin, Nancy C. Paduano Professor and chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at Weill Cornell Medical College and pediatrician-in-chief of the NewYork-Presbyterian Phyllis and David Komansky Center for Children’s Health. “It’s a good problem to have because it means that children are living longer and are interested and able to engage in typical activities of daily living, but it’s also our greatest challenge.”
More With Catherine Lord
Autistic people have fought the inclusion of ABA in therapy for us since before Autism Speaks, and other non-Autistic-led autism organizations, started lobbying legislation to get it covered by insurances and Medicaid.
ABA is a myth originally sold to parents that it would keep their Autistic child out of an institution. Today, parents are told that with early intervention therapy their child will either be less Autistic or no longer Autistic by elementary school, and can be mainstreamed in typical education classes. ABA is very expensive to pay out of pocket. Essentially, Autism Speaks has justified the big price tag up front will offset the overall burden on resources for an Autistic’s lifetime. The recommendation for this therapy is 40 hours a week for children and toddlers.
The original study that showed the success rate of ABA to be at 50% has never been replicated. In fact, the study of ABA by United States Department of Defense was denounced as a failure. Not just once, but multiple times. Simply stated: ABA doesn’t work. In study after repeated study: ABA (conversion therapy) doesn’t work.
What more recent studies do show: Autistics who experienced ABA therapy are at high risk to develop PTSD and other lifelong trauma-related conditions. Historically, the autism organizations promoting ABA as a cure or solution have silenced Autistic advocates’ opposition. ABA is also known as gay conversion therapy.
The ‘cure’ for Autistics not born yet is the prevention of birth.
The ‘cure’ is a choice to terminate a pregnancy based on ‘autism risk.’ The cure is abortion. This is the same ‘cure’ society has for Down Syndrome.
This is eugenics 2021. Instead of killing Autistics and disabled children in gas chambers or ‘mercy killings’ like in Aktion T4, it’ll happen at the doctor’s office, quietly, one Autistic baby at a time. Different approaches yes, but still eugenics and the extinction of an entire minority group of people.
Fact: You can’t cure Autistics from being Autistic.
Fact: You can’t recover an Autistic from being Autistic.
Fact: You can groom an Autistic to mask and hide their traits. Somewhat. … however, this comes at the expense of the Autistic child, promotes Autistic Burnout (this should not be confused with typical burnout, Autistic Burnout can kill Autistics), and places the Autistic child at high risk for PTSD and other lifelong trauma-related conditions.
[Note: Autism is NOT a disease, but a neurodevelopmental difference and disability.]
Fact: Vaccines Do Not Cause Autism.