ABC’S Nightline Features ASD Video Glossary
Read about the segment on the ABC News Web site. The ASD Video Glossary was also featured on the CBS Early Show on Oct. 15. View the segment and read more from CBS News. Plus, read coverage from the Associated Press.
The first-of-its-kind web-based video glossary is designed to help parents and professionals learn more about the early warning signs of autism spectrum disorders. Over 10,000 people registered with the glossary in the first two hours it was available online. Read more about the glossary and visit the glossary.
CBS News: The Early Show
Oct. 15, 2007
Web Site Seeks To Help Spot Autism Early
Video “Glossary” Tries To Show Parents Which Behaviors Might Be Red Flags
Julie Chen speaks with autism expert Amy Wetherby about what parents need to know about the disease’s early signs and how the Internet can be used as a helpful resource tool.
(CBS/AP) What is so unusual about a baby fascinated with spinning a cup, or a toddler flapping his hands, or a preschooler walking on her toes?
Parents and even doctors sometimes miss these warning signs of autism, but a new online video “glossary” makes them startlingly clear.
A new Web site offers dozens of video clips of children with autism contrasted with unaffected children’s behavior. Some of the side-by-side differences can make you gasp. Others are more subtle.
The free site, debuting Monday, also defines and depicts “stimming,” “echolalia” and other confusing-sounding terms that describe autistic behavior. Stimming refers to repetitive, self-stimulating or soothing behavior including hand-flapping and rocking that children with autism sometimes do in reaction to light, sounds or excitement. Echolalia is echoing or repeating someone else’s words or phrases, sometimes out of context.
The new site is sponsored by two nonprofit advocacy groups Austism Speaks and First Signs. They hope the site will promote early diagnosis and treatment, which can help young children with autism lead more normal lives.
Pediatrician Dr. Michael Wasserman cautioned that the site might lead some parents to needlessly fret about normal behavior variations, and said they should not use it to try to diagnose their own kids.
“Just as there’s a spectrum in autism … there’s a spectrum in normal development,” said Wasserman, with Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans. “Children don’t necessarily develop in a straight line.”
But Amy Wetherby, a Florida State University professor of communications disorders who helped create the site, noted that sometimes “parents are the first to be concerned and the doctors aren’t necessarily worried. This will help give them terms to take to the doctor and say, ‘I’m worried about it.’ ”
Wetherby, who’s with the school’s Center for Autism and Related Disabilities, told CBS News, “The expression a picture is worth a thousand words a video is way more than that. … My goal is to help parents connect up with early intervention sooner. That’s the bottom line because, if they get that, they can do far better.”
And while the children shown in the “Red Flags” video clips on the site have been diagnosed with some form of autism, the sponsors note that not all children who behave this way have something wrong. In fact, the behaviors in some of the short video clips — when viewed individually — look fairly normal.
The important thing is to seek medical help if a child does exhibit persistent unusual behavior, to either rule out autism or get an early diagnosis, said Alison Singer of Autism Speaks.
Added Wetherby, “We now know that one out of 150 children has autism, or one out of 94 boys. It’s not a rare disability. We also know that early intervention is critical.”
After the Web site was featured on The Early Show on Monday, the resulting traffic crashed the site several times, she said on Tuesday’s show.
Wetherby told Julie Chen that she wasn’t worried that children who didn’t have autism might be tested for the disability after their parents watched video on the site.
“We feel that the bigger danger is if you do not provide early intervention and the child does go on to have autism. So, it is really important because the research shows that for children with autism spectrum, if they can begin
early intervention by at least 3 years of age or even younger, they’re going to do far better than if you wait till school age,” she said.
As a split-screen video played, Wetherby explained the differences between two little boys who were given bottles of bubbles to hold. The boy on the left is “looking to his mom and showing her the jar and then giving it to her. So, we see that he readily uses his eye gaze and he coordinates
it with the gesture, the ‘give’ and the ‘show’ gesture, and his vocalization to draw her attention to it and then to get her to blow more bubbles for
“The child on the right is a child at risk for autism spectrum disorders, and he is not using many of those typical milestones of development.
And you see at the end of that clip he even gets frustrated. He rarely — he doesn’t look up. You’ll notice he doesn’t look up at the adults,” noted Wetherby.
“He notices their hand but doesn’t look at their face. He doesn’t have a ‘give’ gesture. He bangs it in an attempt to get it open. And then you see that he does get frustrated because he’s not successful in communicating.”
Several autism specialists who reviewed the site at the request of The Associated Press called it an unusually helpful tool for parents and doctors.
“The moving pictures speak a million words,” said Dr. Edwin Cook, an autism researcher and educator at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
“Not only do I see this as useful for the general public and for parents who might be wondering … but I will frankly be using it for education” and training, Cook said.
He has received research funding from Autism Speaks but has no connection to the new site.
Stefanie Voss of Tallahassee, Fla., said it will be a great tool “for parents who are in the situation that I was in three years ago, which is, ‘I’m not sure if something’s wrong with my child.’ ”
She said she asked her pediatrician about her son Nicholas when he was 14 months old and was told he did not show “the classic signs” of autism.
“He did smile and have eye contact, but what I’ve learned since is those aren’t the only red flags,” Voss said.
Nicholas did not point, wave, or demonstrate any other nonverbal communication. He would also spend hours opening and closing cabinet doors or spinning plastic bowls on the floor.
She eventually took him to Florida State where he was diagnosed at age 17 months and intervention began. Nicholas is featured in a video clip on the site.
With speech lessons, physical therapy and behavior training several hours daily, he is now affectionate, social, talking, walking and in preschool.
“It shows you that all your hard work and early intervention pays off,” Voss said.
Dr. Karen Ballaban-Gil, a pediatric neurology specialist at Montefiore Medical Center in New York, said the site “will be doing a real service.”
The site will eventually feature a section on autism treatments and Ballaban-Gill said the only scientifically sound ones are intensive behavior training. Others, including special diets, are unproven and should not be included, she said.
Singer said there is no decision yet on which treatments will be added to the site.
Autism Group Launches Web Site Aimed at Forewarning Parents
New Site Attempts to Share Autism Indicators, From Lack of Language to Lack of Interest
New recommendations urge earlier screening for autism spectrum disorders — an important step in getting help early. (Stephen Voss/WpN)
Oct. 15, 2007
On Alex Wiseman’s first birthday, his picture showed the face of a kid, his parents now say, on which autism was obvious. Though obvious now, they missed it back then.
Missing indications of autism is, unfortunately, a common problem; one that a leading advocacy group for Autism, Autism Speaks, wants to change.
To aid in doing this, it has launched a Web site contrasting typical behavior with autistic behavior in children. The Web site, called Red Flags of Autism, shows specific examples of behaviors in children 2 years and younger that may indicate autism.
Some of these red flags include lack of eye contact, lack of language and lack of interest in two-way communication with those around the child. These were symptoms that Alex Wiseman, an autistic 6-year-old, exhibited as early as a year old.
Though Alex Wiseman has now been diagnosed with autism and is being treated, his parents missed the subtle warnings when he was younger. His mother, Jodi, recalls Alex appearing disconnected at his first birthday party.
“It struck me as odd that he wasn’t very involved in his own birthday party because there was cake. He loved cake, he loved presents. Our family was there, and he was always connected to family but for some reason, he just wasn’t there that day. It struck me as odd that he was disconnected,” she recalled.
Though it struck her as odd, she didn’t realize that this disconnection indicated autism.
Autism is often not diagnosed until the age of 4 or 5, because the symptoms can be quite subtle and resemble behaviors of nonautistic children. Oftentimes, behaviors of autistic children are simply labeled “fussy” or “quirky.”
This is why Dr. Amy Wetherby, co-director of the First Word Project, a research project that tests young children for autism, began collecting the video that would become part of the Red Flags of Autism Web site.
“I would be worried if parents used this as a diagnostic tool to look at a single part and say my child does this, my child is autistic,” Dr. Patricia Granier, a pediatrician at Ochsner Medical Center in Louisiana said.
Despite this criticism, Wetherby is adamant that these videos are the best way to demonstrate to parents the early symptoms of autism.
“There is no biological marker for autism spectrum disorders and so in order to make the diagnosis, the only way we can do that right now is to look for a set of behavioral features,” Wetherby said.
Wetherby believes the videos are crucial and can more clearly indicate autism, than the written literature describing these symptoms does.
“It is difficult to just read the definitions and understand what they mean. So what we’ve tried to do with the video is illustrate the definition,” said Wetherby.
Jodi Wiseman wishes these videos had been around earlier and believes she would have been better equipped to help Alex had they been.
“I definitely wish I had the education earlier. I feel had I had the education earlier, then maybe Alex would have a brighter future,” she said.
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.