Autism News Beat – A Round Up

NEW BLOGS FOR OLD

There is a new blog on the block. Autism News Beat opened with this.

“I’ve started this site as a resource for journalists looking for accurate, evidence-based information about autism. I plan to review and comment on print and electronic coverage of autism, and interview journalists, editors, and others to gain their perspectives on this much reported but little understood story.”

The second post seemed to recommend the evidence based intervention of ABA over stem cell therapy. In fact the evidence base for ABA is open to question as Michelle Dawson was quick to point out. Her blog, The Autism Crisis, is a useful source of well referenced criticisms of ABA. I suspect that Autism News Beat was probably so impressed by a news report which for once clearly rejected biomedical interventions, that they decided not to highlight the controversy surrounding  ABA. This is akin to backing Stephen Dawkins in an argument against  intelligent design while deciding not to mention his disagreements with fellow evolutionist, Stephen Jay Gould. Disputes within the evolutionary camp are of minor importance compared to the gulf that exists between us and the creationists. Similarly the differences that exist within autism science are clearly of a different order to the differences between autism science and autism woo. [Pace Ms Dawson. Despite the efforts of autism curebies to reduce it to the level of woo, behaviourism is science based.]

RDI

Another news story centres upon the death of an autistic child. Hakeem was not subjected to life threatening interventions to “cure” his autism. He was loved and accepted by  a mother who removed him to America to escape the ignorance about autism that leads people to regard it as a form of demonic possession in Senegal. Similar ignorance exists in parts of America, sometimes with tragic consequences.

Hakeem was not killed by quackery. His death appears to have been a natural tragedy. His mother was so impressed by the progress he had been making following a programme of relationship development intervention that she is returning to Senegal and mortgaging her home to set up a school based upon RDI principles to help autistic children there. I have some doubts about RDI. It comes across as evangelical and expensive. There are no independent studies to support it. But it is better than exorcism or stem cell therapy and I send good wishes to Hakeem’s mother, Sabelle Jelani and to her proposed school.

PC  VERSUS FC?

Another news story centres upon Ralph Savarese, who adopted an autistic child. They apparently made great progress using facilitated communication. The media interest surrounds his book on the subject. I have not read it yet. But I am  thinking that this is yet another approach that helps some individuals but is hyped up as a solution for all individuals and falls into the abyss when these impossible claims on its behalf are dismissed.

DISABILITY RIGHTS KNOWS NO BOUNDARIES.

Leaving autism aside, two other news reports caught my eye this week. One is about accepting people with Downs Syndrome  The early years of Downs Syndrome are reminiscnt of more recent attitudes to autism. In the year of my birth, 1952, the Guardian reports that parents of Downs children were told:

‘Not to worry, there are plenty of places for children like him.’ And she said, ‘In any case, they don’t live long.'”

Attitudes have changed, as the article makes clear.

“Or perhaps, as some of these stories may show, it could be because of a slow but growing understanding that a child born with Down’s syndrome today really does, perhaps for the first time, stand a chance of leading something remotely resembling a decent life.”

Downs Syndrome has not changed. But attitudes have. So Downs kids can now look forward to  decent life. As a consequence parents are no longer desperately seeking amniocentesis and therapeutic abortions in the numbers they once did. The level of Downs births is now constant. The level for positive outcomes is rising. Downs children are no longer routinely sterilized. Some of them may marry or have children.

DISABLED SEX LIVES!

I have seen severely disabled people in wheelchairs go potholing, abseiling and rock climbing. Usually this involves able bodied people and a lot of rope. There is no way they could do it on their own. Sometimes it is the same with sex. But helping a severely disabled person achieve sexual fulfillment involves a far more serious risk assessment than mountaineering. So full marks to Treloars College for tackling this and the Observer for a good job of reporting it. We have nuns arranging for a prostitute to visit a young man so he have sex before he dies, couples being assisted into position and them left alone, even marriage. And what about the possible offspring of these relationships?  If the love and care that facilitated their conception is transferred to their upbringing these will be lucky children.

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The Politics of Autism: from Hong Kong to London

If I were part of a group of parents of autistic children organizing an international conference costing in the region of 200,000 US dollars, I would want the best speakers in the world.  My top ten, out of all the speakers I have listened to at autism conferences, in alphabetical order are Tony Attwood, Simon Baron-Cohen, Gunilla Gerland, Chris Gillberg, Judy Gould, Temple Grandin, Wendy Lawson, Gary Mesibov, Clare Sainsbury, Lorna Wing. I can think of dozens of others who, in my opinion, would grace any international conference on autism, including old friends like Larry Arnold, Luke Beardon, Leneh Molton, Dennis Debbaudt and those I only know via the internet like Michelle Dawson, Roy Grinker, Mike Fitzpatrick, Dinah Murray and Estee Klar Wolfond. Then there are all the others whom I have never heard speak, never met and never swapped emails with, like Eric Fombonne and Donna Williams.

So who have the Autism Parent Network lined up for the Asian Autism Conference in Hong Kong this September? Here is the official list with their authorized biographies. There is not one internationally acclaimed authority on autism. And they have also studiously ignored the local talent. The authors of this paper and this paper who all found no connection between mercury and autism have not been invited to speak. But there are plenty of snake oil salesmen, faith healers, exorcists and nutty professors who still cling to the mercury hypothesis.

Dr Ken Bock

Dr Ken Bock received his medical degree with honors from the University of Rochester. He is an experienced DAN clinician, whose expertise lies in bringing a comprehensive integrative medicine approach to complex medical problems. Utilizing this patient-centered approach he has helped thousands of children on the road to recovery. In this lecture he will explain why the gut and diet are the first step on this road to recovery.

Dr Jeff Bradstreet

Dr. Bradstreet is the founder of the International Child Development Resource Center in Florida. He is an Adjunct Professor of Neurosciences at Stetson University, Florida and the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine, Phoenix, Arizona. Dr. Bradstreet serves as an active collaborator on research projects at numerous medical schools. His interests in autism include metal detoxification, hyperbarics and immunological management of gastrointestinal problems. Dr Bradstreet will review the favorable clinical observations and research outcomes regarding the use of Hyperbaric Oxygen in autism spectrum disorders and outline common protocols.

Dr Stephanie Cave

The years between 1991 and 2002 will probably go down in history as the most controversial for the vaccine program. Many children were given vaccines containing toxic amounts of ethyl mercury and aluminum, as well as live viral contaminants. Dr. Cave will discuss the impact that this has had on the pediatric population, and will give some information about the numerous new vaccines that are being recommended. She will explain how important it is to get vaccinated, but safely.

Dr Doreen Granpeesheh

Dr. Granpeesheh founded The Center for Autism and Related Disorders and through its 17 offices worldwide, she has provided diagnosis, assessment and behavioral treatment for over 5,000 children with autism and related disorders.

Dr Martha Herbert

Dr Martha Herbert is a Pediatric Neurologist at Massachusetts General Hospital (Harvard Medical School) and is on the faculty of Harvard Medical School. She specializes in children with learning and developmental disorders. In this lecture she discusses the growing body of research demonstrating biomedical problems like inflammation and oxidative stress in Autism which suggests that the brain may not be the prime target but rather caught in the crossfire of system-wide abnormalities whose treatment can lead to improved brain function

Dr Andrew Levinson

Dr. Levinson is an Advanced DAN!R Practitioner and has been working with children on the spectrum and their parents since 2000. He is an orthomolecular psychiatrist, a yoga master and the founder of Vitality Health & Wellness, a center committed to reversing the symptoms of Autism and related disorders and the AMRIT Foundation, a non-profit organization that raises monies to help families seeking biomedical interventions.

Dr Liz Mumper

Dr. Mumper is a general pediatrician who treats children with autism spectrum disorders and attention deficits and conducts clinical research in her Virginia practice, Advocates for Children. She is Medical Director of the Clinicians Training for Defeat Autism Now! and co-chair of the DAN! Advisory Board.

Dr James Neubrander

Dr Neubrander is board-certified in Environmental Medicine with special interests in heavy metals and folate/B12 chemistry. He has pioneered the use of Vitamin Methyl B12 in the treatment of Autism and evaluated over 75,000 injections of Methyl B12. It is his opinion that there are certain factors that must be in place, or avoided, for clinicians and parents to realize optimal benefits.

Dr James Partington

Director of the Star School in California on Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA), an important part of the overall treatment of ASD

Dr David Quiq

Dr. Quig received his PhD in Nutritional Biochemistry from the University of Illinois. He is currently Vice President, Scientific Support for Doctor’s Data, and has recently co-authored and facilitated several studies pertaining to toxic and essential elements in children with autism and learning/behavioral disorders.

Mr Stephen Shore

Mr Stephen Shore was diagnosed to have autism at young age. He obtained a Special Education degree from the Boston University. He actively participates in work relating to the education, social aspects, employment and rights of autistic persons. Mr Shore will be receiving his PhD in Special Education in September

I have no idea what Stephen Shore is doing in such company, nor why he, Temple Grandin, Valerie Paradiz and her son Elijah Wapner appeared at the recent

US Autism & Asperger Association Conference

Treating Autism as a Medical Disorder;
Bringing Biomedical Treatments and Behavioral & Developmental Therapies Together

Temple is probably the most famous autistic person in the world. When autistic people and their advocates appear at conferences like this they are not providing a countervailing view. They are giving tacit approval and validation to the quack remedies being espoused by their fellow speakers. who ask “If we are so off the wall why is Temple happy to share a platform with us?” Why indeed.

Meanwhile, a much less spectacular, but probably more important meeting is scheduled to be held in London next month. it features two of my friends, Larry Arnold and Dinah Murray.

 

THE POLITICS

OF AUTISM

7 pm September 2007

@ City Hall,

off Tower Bridge, London SE1 

SPEAKERS

Dinah Murray (University of Birmingham)

Larry Arnold (Member, NAS Board of Trustees)

David Morris (Disability advisor, Mayor of London) 

All speakers  currently provisional 

To register for the meeting please phone/ text 07875838968 or 020 79835773 or email david.morris@london.gov.uk or rocobley@hotmail.com. 

Owing to circumstances beyond our control we cannot guarantee a personal response to any or all enquiries, but all requests for registration will be added to the attendance list. 

VERY IMPORTANT NOTICE

Anyone wishing to attend this meeting MUST register in advance. No registration = No Admission.