[Note: Shared for #AutisticHistory archive purposes. This is NOT An Autistic Ally.]
The Record of Hackensack, NJ
Sunday, Oct. 12, 1997.
Extra help for kids with autism
by Mary Amoroso
Heidi Rogers and her husband were concerned when their son Andrew wasn’t talking by the age of 18 months, but they chalked it up to the multiple ear infections he’d had. At 2 years of age, he still wasn’t talking, and the Ridgefield Park couple raised the issue with Andrew’s pediatrician, who recommended that the child be evaluated.
It turned out little Andrew had a lot of fluid in his ears, and so his hearing was indeed muffled. But a neurologist who assessed the boy told the Rogers that Andrews’s lack of speech, lack of eye contact, and other behaviors (like self stimulatory jumping) were “consistent with a diagnosis of pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified.” PDD is the newfangled terminology for a scary diagnosis for which there is no known cause or cure: Autism.
“The biggest clue is, does the child attempt to gain the parents attention and direct it to something else? Does the child say, ‘Hey, look at the water fountain over there’, even if it’s only by gesture of facial expression?” said Heidi. “For some reason, autistic children don’t engage in that interaction. The primary deficit in autism is social communication.” The neurologist who diagnosed Andrew suggested that the Roger family seek out the government subsidized early intervention program for disabled or developmentally delayed infants and toddlers. Because of snafus and limited funding, it was several moths before early intervention therapy was lined up for Andrew, and the two hours per week of government-funded therapy just didn’t seem to be enough. The Rogers decided to pay privately for an additional 18 hours a week of therapy, which seems to be making a difference. It costs them $300 a week.
“The therapy that seems to work for autistic children is called applied behavioral analysis, which forces the child to pay attention,” said Heidi. “The therapist finds something the child really likes–with my son it was puzzles and Cheerios–and teaches the child that if he learns to follow directions, he’ll get a reword he really likes.
“Prior to therapy, Andrew had typical autistic symptoms–when you spoke to him he didn’t seem to understand; when you called his name, he didn’t come running.” Now, said Heidi, Andrew can respond to simple directions, like “Sit down, come here, stand up, give me your foot so I can put your shoe on.” He doesn’t speak–other than to say “Hi” and “More” occasionally–but the Rogers think he’s come a long way.
In the process of finding the right therapy for Andrew, Heidi did a lot of research, and discovered an organization called “Cure Autism Now”, founded two years ago by a film producer and a scriptwriter from California whose little boy has autism. CAN is a highly activist organization. It notes that one in 500 children has some degree of autism, and that autism is the third most common developmental disability, following mental retardation and cerebral palsy, but that scant government funding is devoted to autism research.
CAN is also sponsoring a conference on autism at the Sheraton New York Hotel in Manhattan on Saturday, offering the latest information on biomedical research, testing and treatment. Among the speakers will be experts from the Seaver Autism Research Center at Mt. Sinai and from the National Institute of Health and Human Development. The cost of the conference is $75 per person. For more information, call (888) AUTISM-2.
Heidi notes that there’s a wide range of autistic functioning. Some autistic kids are completely locked in their own world, don’t speak and engage in rhythmic self-stimulating behaviors. Some children with autism are very smart and verbal, but interact poorly with other. This is often referred to as Asperger’s syndrome, which we’ve talked about in this column. Some autistic kids also are hyperactive or obsessive-compulsive.
“There are a lot of stories of spontaneous recovery, or recovery after intensive therapy,” Heidi said. “The book that’s an inspiration to a lot of families is ‘Let Me Hear Your Voice’, by Catherine Maurice, who had not one but two children with autism who were mainstreamed after intensive therapy.
“But that’s another mystery. Why do some kids recover while others don’t?” She hopes and prays and works to make sure Andrew recovers.
For more information on the New Jersey chapter of CAN, write NJ CAN, 809 Carter Lane, Paramus, 07652, or call (201) 444-7306.
More With Cure Autism Now
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.