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Posted by margaret on June 14, 2000 at 06:09:23:

I found thie following article at
http://psychiatry.medscapc.com/IMNG/ClinPsychNews/2000/v28.no5/cpn2805.39.01.html (geeze I hope that's
right)

Anyway...Here it is...it is VERY offensive and in my opinion a bunch of B.S. From Clinical Psychiatry News
Autism Masked in Sad Myths and Misconceptions Betsy Bates, Los Angeles Bureau [Clinical Psychiatry News
28(5):39, 2000. © 2000 International Medical News Group.]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

BRECKENRIDGE, COLO. -- The truth about autism is often so difficult to bear that the disorder is publicly
characterized by sad half-truths and misplaced hope, Dr. Andrew Morgan said at a meeting on practical
pediatrics sponsored by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

"This is a devastating disorder. I wish I had better news for you," Dr. Morgan said as he cast doubt on "miracle"
cures, from secretin to facilitative communication.

Of the many desperate myths that have built up around autistic disorder, the worst is this: "Underneath the
bizarre autistic behavior is a normal child waiting to get out if only you can find the right key."

"I wish this were true," Dr. Morgan said.

In reality, most autistic children are mentally retarded: 94% have a full-scale IQ of less than 68, while 75% have
an IQ of less than 50.

"Autism goes hand in hand with mental retardation," said Dr. Morgan, chief of the section on child development
at the University of Illinois, Peoria.

Other myths also persist.

Myth: If a child makes eye contact, he/she does not have autism. "Poor eye contact is a classic sign, but not an
absolute," Dr. Morgan said.

Myth: Autistic children are unable to show affection. If fact, some can be cuddly.

Myth: Children with autism are untestable. In fact, several tests identify autism accurately by assessing imitative
behaviors and the ability to put a puzzle together.

For example, one 12-point imitative play screening test developed by W. Stone and associates uses such
activities as building a tower of cubes or pretending to give an animal water (Pediatrics 86[2]:267-72, 1990). It
can be done in a physician's office and is a better tool than the Autism Behavior Checklist, he said.

Autistic children can also be given screening tests for other conditions -- deafness, for example.

Myth: Autistic behaviors do not change over time. The behaviors change but the overall function level of autistic
children remains stagnant. Outcome studies over the past 30 years consistently found that 60%-66% of autistic
children are completely dependent in adulthood.

Myth: Facilitative communication helps autistic children convey their thoughts. "This is a bunch of malarkey," Dr.
Morgan said. Despite numerous studies that show the facilitator is the one doing the thinking, school districts
are still being pressured into paying for facilitators.

Myth: Secretin is the answer. In a well-designed study of 61 children, secretin had no impact on scores on the
Autism Behavior Checklist. The need for parents to hold on to hope was illustrated by the fact that 69% of the
parents in the study remained interested in secretin as a therapy despite this information.

Myth: Autism develops as a reaction to the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine. This misconception
derives from a coincidence of timing, Dr. Morgan said.

The vaccine is given at 15-18 months, right about the time when autistic behaviors are recognized. "It just takes
time for parents to realize just how strange these children are," he said.

Myth: Autism is caused by aloof parents or parents who used cocaine. No evidence exists for either claim. The
cause of autism is unknown, although it does appear to be on the rise. It's worth noting, however, that autism is
unusual in intact families with good communication skills.

Dr. Morgan encouraged pediatricians to communicate frequently and support parents in their difficult task of
raising children with this degree of impairment.


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