Autism: A journey of recovery (from CNN)

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Juan
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08 Dec 2009, 4:08 pm

http://amfix.blogs.cnn.com/2009/12/08/a ... -recovery/

Posted: 10:26 AM ET
Kiran Chetry - Anchor, CNN's American Morning
Filed under: Health • Inside the Child's Mind
Editor's Note: New cutting-edge research is helping to unlock the mysteries of the child's brain and could give autistic children a whole different future. Watch part three of our special series, Inside the Child's Mind, tomorrow on American Morning.

By Kiran Chetry, CNN

As a baby, Jake Exkorn was everything his parents hoped for – happy and healthy.

“He hit all of the developmental milestones. He walked, he talked, he played,” says Jake’s mother Karen Exkorn.

But at 17 months, Karen says the light began to fade from Jake's face.


“At first he stopped responding to his name. And then he stopped playing. And then by his second birthday, he stopped speaking entirely.”

Karen worried it may be a hearing problem, or a speech delay.

“I never expected to hear the words, your child has autism. … It was completely devastating. It meant that there was no hope for my son. And yet I was determined to help my son in any way that I could. I knew that I wanted treatment for Jake that had science behind it. And a lot of treatments don't. But the one that had the most science behind it was a treatment called ABA.”

ABA – applied behavior analysis – is an intensive approach that uses repetition and rewards to teach autistic children the things that come naturally to most kids.

“We wanted to teach Jake to respond to his name. So we'd say, ‘Jake,’ and we'd take an M&M and we'd hold it up just between our eyes.”

Day after day, 40 hours a week, they plugged away – hoping to help Jake relearn what autism had taken away.

“Going into this there were no guarantees. Nobody ever mentioned the word recovery to us so that wasn't our goal ever.”

And there continue to be no guarantees, but for the first time a new study shows that early intervention therapy can improve language skills and behavior, and raise IQ – giving hope to parents of children with autism.

“What we know is that if children receive early intensive behavioral intervention, some of the children do lose their diagnosis,” says Geraldine Dawson.

Dawson is the chief scientist for the advocacy group "Autism Speaks." She helped design the study and says symptoms of autism may appear as early as eight months.

“So the most important thing is to be alert for those symptoms and then get into intervention right away.”

After a year of ABA therapy, Jake showed progress. Then, at age four – a turning point. When Karen took him for ice cream, without prompting, Jake told the man what flavor he wanted: “Nilla.”

“The man had no idea that this was this defining moment in my life, but this was huge. This was huge. And this marked the beginning of spontaneous language for Jake.”

What soon followed was an even bigger milestone. At Jake's 4 year check-up, Karen was told her son no longer had symptoms of autism. The doctor said Jake had recovered.

“Hearing her say that blew me away in the same way as when I heard her say the diagnosis.”

Today Jake is a thriving 13-year-old. He plays basketball and football, and is every bit the typical teenage boy.

“I like to hang out with my friends. … I don't love to study even though sometimes I have to. … I would describe myself as outgoing, athletic and nice,” says Jake.

A dramatic transformation for a family who once thought they lost their little boy to autism.

“I don't think about it too much but when I do it is kinda crazy. But, my mom and dad put in a lot of effort into it and so did I and it paid off.”

A payoff that, with more research, may be within reach for more children with autism. Researchers still don't know why some children recover so fully like Jake, and others don't. But most agree that early intervention is the best hope for a more positive outcome.



Willard
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08 Dec 2009, 4:47 pm

All that kid recovered from was a misdiagnosis.



TB
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08 Dec 2009, 5:06 pm

what a load of sentimental bullcrap, blegh. the way they always put a negative emphasis on autism where the video becomes all dark and depressed and then the recovery with shining lights its always the same brainwashing.



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08 Dec 2009, 5:18 pm

On a different note it's pretty wild how Geraldine Dawson and Autism Speaks (with media help of course) are able to jump in and take credit for it all. "Intensive behavior therapy" as an autism treatment was developed by Ivar Lovaas in 1987, nearly 20 years before Autism Speaks ever existed.

And Geraldine Dawson has never in her life been any part of an empirical study published in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, so how she is able to get her name on "trend-setting" research in the field is beyond me...


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08 Dec 2009, 5:20 pm

I really hate it when groups like Autism Speaks says stuff like 'recovered from autism'. You don't 'recover', you adapt and learn.


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08 Dec 2009, 5:35 pm

I know, right? :lol:

They don't even understand the function of the very technique they claim to have been responsible for creating.


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Juan
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08 Dec 2009, 5:36 pm

Willard wrote:
All that kid recovered from was a misdiagnosis.


How do you know that?



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08 Dec 2009, 5:45 pm

Juan wrote:
Willard wrote:
All that kid recovered from was a misdiagnosis.


How do you know that?


He doesn't "know" that. I think what he meant was that the research behind these techniques is empirically unproven to such a degree that the odds of a misdiagnosis are basically equally likely to the actual therapy being responsible for the kid's improvement.


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08 Dec 2009, 8:12 pm

amazon_television wrote:
Juan wrote:
Willard wrote:
All that kid recovered from was a misdiagnosis.


How do you know that?


He doesn't "know" that. I think what he meant was that the research behind these techniques is empirically unproven to such a degree that the odds of a misdiagnosis are basically equally likely to the actual therapy being responsible for the kid's improvement.
Actually, the odds of misdiagnosis are much larger.


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08 Dec 2009, 8:16 pm

Juan wrote:
Willard wrote:
All that kid recovered from was a misdiagnosis.


How do you know that?



Chibi_Neko wrote:
You don't 'recover', you adapt and learn.



^That's how I know^

I know because I've lived inside an Autistic brain for 50 years, kid, and I grew up with 'behavioral therapy' - only then they called it "get out there and behave like everyone else or get your @ss kicked for being a freak".

Did it alter the way I behaved? A bit, perhaps, but it didn't ultimately change who I was or how I interact with and react to the world at large, NOT ONE WHIT - because you can't cure autism - not with drugs, not with 'behavioral therapy' and so far, not with gene therapy, either.

This kid's behavior might have been altered a little, but if his reactions ceased to reflect autism to any noticable degree, it could only be because HE WAS NEVER TRULY AUTISTIC IN THE FIRST PLACE.

Noises don't stop being painful because your eye contact improved.



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08 Dec 2009, 9:30 pm

Willard wrote:
Juan wrote:
Willard wrote:
All that kid recovered from was a misdiagnosis.


How do you know that?



Chibi_Neko wrote:
You don't 'recover', you adapt and learn.



^That's how I know^

I know because I've lived inside an Autistic brain for 50 years, kid, and I grew up with 'behavioral therapy' - only then they called it "get out there and behave like everyone else or get your @ss kicked for being a freak".

Did it alter the way I behaved? A bit, perhaps, but it didn't ultimately change who I was or how I interact with and react to the world at large, NOT ONE WHIT - because you can't cure autism - not with drugs, not with 'behavioral therapy' and so far, not with gene therapy, either.

This kid's behavior might have been altered a little, but if his reactions ceased to reflect autism to any noticable degree, it could only be because HE WAS NEVER TRULY AUTISTIC IN THE FIRST PLACE.

Noises don't stop being painful because your eye contact improved.


:hail: You said it!


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10 Dec 2009, 2:44 pm

Willard wrote:
Juan wrote:
Willard wrote:
All that kid recovered from was a misdiagnosis.


How do you know that?



Chibi_Neko wrote:
You don't 'recover', you adapt and learn.



^That's how I know^

I know because I've lived inside an Autistic brain for 50 years, kid, and I grew up with 'behavioral therapy' - only then they called it "get out there and behave like everyone else or get your @ss kicked for being a freak".

Did it alter the way I behaved? A bit, perhaps, but it didn't ultimately change who I was or how I interact with and react to the world at large, NOT ONE WHIT - because you can't cure autism - not with drugs, not with 'behavioral therapy' and so far, not with gene therapy, either.

This kid's behavior might have been altered a little, but if his reactions ceased to reflect autism to any noticable degree, it could only be because HE WAS NEVER TRULY AUTISTIC IN THE FIRST PLACE.

Noises don't stop being painful because your eye contact improved.


exactly--either he wasn't autistic in the first place, or he simply learned to act and appear normal to those who don't know any better. he's still autistic inside his mind, no matter what sort of "behavioral therapy" he's had (read: been subjected to).



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16 Dec 2009, 3:13 pm

Willard wrote:
All that kid recovered from was a misdiagnosis.


But he must have had something right? I wonder what...


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16 Dec 2009, 7:30 pm

fernando wrote:
Willard wrote:
All that kid recovered from was a misdiagnosis.


But he must have had something right? I wonder what...

Sure, he could have had injury from a stroke for all we know, or pervasive persistent epileptic seizures that have gone into remission or a metabolic disorder of only temporary significance.



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17 Dec 2009, 4:34 pm

Autism Speaks better stick a sock in it, and stop brainwashing people that autism can be "cured." How many times do I have to roll my eyes in disgust here? I've about given myself a migraine! WE are not a disease! Stupidly typical NTs just want US to be like THEM! NEVER! :roll:



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20 Dec 2009, 7:46 am

I have nothing that I need to bloody recover from. I'm perfect just the way that I am. :evil:


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