Saturday, July 28, 2007

Clinic Notes: Public Awareness of Autism and ABA

According to a recent Schafer Report the mayor of Albuquerque has called for a Town Hall meeting on Developmental Disabilities. One of the panels at the meeting will be devoted to autism. I think this is a great idea. And If I were the mayor I would require all city employees to attend. Policemen, firemen, teachers, anyone who might come in contact with a child or adult with autism should be there. And perhaps a special workshop should be offered as a follow up. I am in the process of trying to organize a day camp for children with autism. Games and other activities would be available, all run by qualified staff. While the children with autism were involved in recreation I would talk to teachers, parents, and other interested adults about ABA and autism and Speech-Language Pathologists, Occupational Therapists, and others ould do their part. And hopefully the community to come together to help fight the epidemic.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Clinic Notes: Diagnosis and Denial--Denial and Diagnosis the Chicken and Egg of Autism

Everyone will agree that early diagnosis of autism and intense ABA, along with other therapies, is effective. Sometimes it is possible to diagnosis autism as early as 18 month and start intervention. But only half of all autism cases are diagnosed before kindergarten most of these the second and third year when language delays and other symptoms of autism become apparent. Parents can be in denial before and after a diagnosis. Last week a mother brought her three-year old child in to my clinic. She had thought something was wrong since the child was two but dad kept saying the child was just hard headed. Mom took a trip with her friends and left the three year old with dad. When she returned home dad told her to make an appointment because something was wrong. In this case the child was able to get a diagnosis and treatment at an early but often we do not see children for the first time until they are six or seven. The parents knew something was wrong but were in denial. And the parents did not seek services until the school system insisted. And it is not always denial in the parents that prevents a child diagnosed with autism from getting services. More often costs, both in time and money are to blame.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Clinic Notes: An ABA Army to Combat Autism

A friend of mine has just returned from Iraq. I was asking him about how the war was going and he told me that the press is not giving enough credit to our military forces. They are well-trained professionals, doing an excellent job, under extremely difficult conditions. This got me thinking about my "war" with autism. Everyday I am asked to travel here and there--sometimes to foreign countries--to set up ABA programs for children with autism. If I can't go then I'm asked to recommend someone. Professional, well-qualified ABA therapists are in short supply. Parents around the country, and the world, cannot find ABA services, and if they do fined someone they are either not qualified or too expensive. I'm retiring from my university appointment, staying on to teach an ABA course and direct ABA students in internships, but most of my time now will be devoted to my practice. What we need is some kind of national program to train ABA therapists--an army of ABA therapist to go out and fight the autism war. Of course we will also need OT's, SLP's, and pediatric neurologists in the army too. If we don't do this we will loose the autism war and there will be a large fraction of a generation incapacitated by autism. Autism research needs to be better supported too, but until we find some answers the ABA army will have to fight the battle.