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Conflicts of Interest in Early Autism Intervention Research: A Conversation with Dr. Kristen Bottema-Beutel

Photo courtesy Dr. Bottema-Beutel [image: Formal photo of Dr. Bottema-Beutel, a smiling white woman with medium-length side parted brown hair.] Advocates of early autism interventions often claim such approaches are “evidence based,” whereas critics have long pointed out individual flaws in cited studies. We were glad to learn about Dr. Kristen Bottema-Beutel’s analysis of general conflicts of interest in early autism research, and talk with her about how her findings complicate assertions about being early autism interventions being evidence based, and what else she and her team discovered. —- Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism: Can you tell us why you decided to pursue this analysis of conflicts of interest (COIs) in early autism intervention research? Bottema-Beutel: The short answer is that I’ve been following Michelle Dawson on Twitter (her handle is @autismcrisis). Michelle is an autistic researcher who has been sounding the alarm on undisclosed COIs for more than a decade—before I…

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“Can My Child Ever Learn to Speak?” Authentic Communication and Autistic People

Photo © Kasia_Jot | Flickr / Creative Commons [image: Photo of a young blonde girl standing outside a wooden door painted with aqua paint. Her legs are crossed at the ankle. She is holding on to the door handle with one hand.] Ann Memmott annsautism.blogspot.com Often, in my consultancy and training work, we get questions such as, “Can my child ever learn to speak?” The answer to this is important, because, for a lot of parents of newly diagnosed autistic children, it’s easy to become misinformed or misled on this point. A number of organisations will be keen to tell such parents that without their ‘ACME Treatment X’ or ‘Potion Y with Added Secret Ingredient,’ their child will never speak, never learn to communicate. The parents may be told that most autistic children who do not use speech at (say) four years of age will never do so. “Early intervention to enforce…

Early Ignorance

Karen Velez solodialogue.wordpress.com My son was diagnosed with autism in April of 2010.  He was almost four years old when we received this news.  It was not the shocking blow that I’ve heard other parents describe.  For me, that blow came at Christmas 2009. To me, my son was always a “sensitive” child.  I never baby sat and, literally, had no experience with children.  I knew no one with autism.  I knew no one with children with autism.  I was, truly, the epitome of autism ignorance. For the first three (nearly four) years of my son’s life, I had rearranged my own. Previously a trial lawyer working 45-60 hours a week, I cut back my hours to 9-12 hours a week. I thought this was “normal” for new mothers. My son was obsessed with space. I bought every book on the planets. I ritualistically pointed to Mercury, Venus, Earth…. at…

Early Screening: Ode to the MCHAT

Dr. Som The Pensive Pediatrician Editors’ Note: Some years ago, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that childhood primary care physicians –family practice and pediatricians — screen for autism in well-child visits, as well as screening for other developmental delays. One autism screening tool is the M-CHAT, or Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers, which is validated for children between 16 and 30 months of age. The following is Dr. Som’s plea to her fellow primary care physicians to use the M-CHAT regularly. Ode to the M-CHAT Parents with toddlers we know you can read. 23 questions is all that we need. Answer yes, answer no, is all that you do– Just five short minutes when your child is two. It need not be English. Try Hebrew, Chinese, Turkish, Polish, perhaps Japanese. What’s up, doc? You cannot? No, not today? No copier. No pens. Insurance won’t pay? But Adam’s autistic,…

All His Base Are Belong To Him

Susan Senator www.susansenator.com When Benj was a very little guy, he used to sit on my lap at the beach, holding on tight to some little palm-sized truck or being. He did not like to move from there. I was his base. He took a long time to get himself into the sand, and even longer to play in the waves the way he does now. It worried me, of course.  All the other little kids were sitting on their fat, puffed-up diapers and digging, crying, yelling, laughing, pointing. Benj could do all of it; he just had to do it from my lap. I tried pushing him off, prying him loose, setting him down, showing him how to play, but generally, he preferred my cushiony self. Sweet Baby. But oh, God, was I worried. He wasn’t like Nat, but he wasn’t like Max. So what was he? He was…