Archived | Autism Speaks: Letter from Autism Speaks Co-founder Bob Wright in New York Post | Circa November 21, 2007 #NotAnAutisticAlly


Letter from Autism Speaks Co-founder Bob Wright in New York Post

The following letter from Autism Speaks co-founder Bob Wright appeared in the New York Post on Wednesday, November 21. The letter was in response to the column, “Count the Casualties Before You Crusade,” which appeared in the Post on November 14.

For every child who is misdiagnosed, thousands will be identified early enough to start them on therapies that will help them realize their potential. 

Approximately 50 percent of children who start early intervention by age three will gain enough skills to be mainstreamed by kindergarten. 

Early diagnosis and intervention are the best weapons we have in the fight against a disorder that is growing in prevalence and continues to confound our best scientific minds.

Take those weapons away and we’ll be back to the era when society blamed parents for autism and considered affected individuals throwaways. 

Bob Wright
Co-Founder Autism Speaks Manhattan 

Read Bob Wright’s letter and other letters in response to the column below.


P

COUNT THE CASUALTIES BEFORE YOU CRUSADE

Early, universal testing for autism may please advocates – but it would likely mean more false diagnoses, with tragic results. 

AUTISM is a devastat ing condition, both for those who have it and for their parents. At this point, its causes are unknown – and if there is any cure, that is unknown as well. 

There are many ways of coping with tragedies. One of the less promising, and often dangerous, ways is to launch a crusade. 

Crusades may be emotionally satisfying, politically popular and welcomed by the media. But crusaders are not known for caution, for weighing evidence or for counting the costs, which may extend well beyond the cost in money. 

The crusade against autism has already led to many casualties – and there may be far more if recent recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics are carried out to have every child tested for autism twice by age 2. 

Think about it: How many people are qualified to diagnose autism? Enough to test every child in America? Not bloody likely. 

Professor Stephen Camarata of Vanderbilt University has tested and treated children with autism for more than 20 years. “While it is relatively easy to identify a 5-year-old as autistic,” he says, “it’s much more difficult to reliably diagnose a preschooler or toddler.” 

The word “reliably” is crucial. Anybody can unreliably diagnose autism, just as anybody can unreliably predict the weather or the stock market. 

The consequences of unreliable diagnoses of autism can be traumatic for parents and children alike. 

I’ve written books about late-talking children and their parents (the latest being “The Einstein Syndrome”). As a result, I’ve encountered more than a hundred parents with stories of emotional devastation after their children were diagnosed as autistic – diagnoses that the passing years have shown to be false more often than not. 

Camarata has a far larger group of parents of late-talking children, since he specializes in studying and treating speech disorders, and he has likewise found numerous cases of false diagnoses of autism among children who are late in beginning to talk. 

It’s not just the needless emotional stresses on the parents. Many of the treatments inflicted on children diagnosed as autistic would be called child abuse if they weren’t done as medical procedures – and they can set back or distort a child’s development. 

The “autistic” label can follow a child into schools and beyond, causing him or her to be treated differently by teachers, nurses and others. 

Too many people refuse to reconsider any evidence contrary to the label, however blatant that evidence becomes or however much that evidence increases over the years. 

The initial evidence on which a diagnosis of autism was based may be nothing more than a checklist of characteristics of autistic children – often administered by someone with nothing more to go on than that checklist. 

But many items on such a checklist can apply to many children who are not autistic. A study of gifted children, for example, found many of them showing the kinds of characteristics found on checklists for autism. 

Says Camarata, “Because there are no reliable biomedical markers for autism, diagnosis must rely on subjective rating scales – making it difficult if not impossible to conduct accurate screening in toddlers or preschoolers.” 

But it is precisely the checklist approach that is being urged by those who are crusading for every child to be diagnosed for autism before age 2. Like most crusaders, they seem unwilling to consider the possibility of errors, much less the consequences. 

The very definition of autism has been expanded in recent years to include what is called “the autism spectrum.” Among other things, this means there is now far more wiggle room for those whose diagnoses have proved to be wrong, who refuse to admit it, and who are now even more unaccountable than ever.


RAISING AUTISM AWARENESS

November 21, 2007 — How many children are parents supposed to lose to this devastating disorder before Thomas Sowell is satisfied (“Count the Casualties Before You Crusade,” PostOpinion, Nov. 14)? 

The number of “casualties” has finally risen to a level that warrants the launch of a “crusade” by public-health officials to identify what is causing those “casualties.” 

Instead of worrying that the recent recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics may result in some children being “falsely” labeled, Sowell should be worrying that such tests, even if accurately conducted, will not prevent a single child from becoming autistic.

Indeed, we are in desperate need of a “crusade” if we intend to identify what causes 1 in 150 to become autistic. 

Bob Moffitt
Sloatsburg
****

As a teacher, I have seen children, some autistic and some not, who should have received early intervention but didn’t due to various factors. Sowell has not. 

They fell behind academically and, without proper social skills, were shunned or ridiculed. If they were tested early enough, they could have a better chance to improve. Testing children for a disease that is growing rapidly in numbers is vital to making a difference – at least until a cure is found. 

Robert Abraham
Staten Island
****

While, as he states, it is a lot easier to diagnose autism in a 5-year-old as compared to a 2-year-old, Sowell fails to mention a very important fact. 

It has been proven that the earlier the intervention in treating an autistic child, the better the chance of the child leading a functional life. 

There will be far more “casualties” if we hesitate to make this diagnosis than if we wait until we are completely certain of it. 

Matthew M. Shatzer
Livingston, NJ****


For every child who is misdiagnosed, thousands will be identified early enough to start them on therapies that will help them realize their potential. 

Approximately 50 percent of children who start early intervention by age three will gain enough skills to be mainstreamed by kindergarten. 

Early diagnosis and intervention are the best weapons we have in the fight against a disorder that is growing in prevalence and continues to confound our best scientific minds. 

Take those weapons away and we’ll be back to the era when society blamed parents for autism and considered affected individuals throwaways. 

Bob Wright
Co-Founder Autism Speaks Manhattan



Note/Warning:

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 workIn 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.


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