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Restraint of People with Autism and Developmental Disability

John Elder Robison

Some institutions can restrain people against their will. Should it be allowed?

Restraint is emerging as a hot-button topic among autistic self-advocates and some parents.  

People on both sides feel their position is obviously correct: Restraint leads to abuse, and should be banned; or restraint is necessary for the safety of some people, and those who deny it are crazy or idealistic.

Whenever people are restrained against their will there is always a risk of abuse and cruelty. The sad truth is, many staff working with developmentally disabled people are poorly trained and poorly paid – a bad combination that can lead to horrific outcomes. The condemnation those incidents receive is certainly deserved. Unfortunately, it’s just the tip of the iceberg and most abuse involving restraint is never reported.

With a limited on-screen presence, autistic characters have emerged in another medium: fan fiction

Jonathan Alexander and Rebecca Black

In one Harry Potter fan fiction story, Hermione Granger anxiously awaits the results from a recent test.

It isn’t her performance on an exam in a potions course that she’s concerned about. Instead, the higher-ups at Hogwarts had ordered she undergo some psychological tests. They had noticed how quickly she talked, along with her nervous tics.

Are Children Severely Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder Underrepresented in Treatment Studies? An Analysis of the Literature

Abstract

Despite significant advances in autism research, experts have noted that children severely affected by autism spectrum disorder (ASD) appear to have been understudied. Rigorous analysis of this observation has been limited, and the representation of severity has not been well-described. We assessed three domains of severity (communication ability, cognitive functioning, and adaptive functioning) in 367 treatment studies of children with ASD published 1991–2013. We found that the proportion of studies that included the severely affected population decreased significantly over time, as well as wide variability in measurement and reporting. Inadequate representation of the full autism spectrum in the literature could lead to an unbalanced picture of ASD and leave behind those with arguably the greatest need.

USA: One in 40 U.S. Kids Could Have Autism, Says a New Study. Here's Why That Figure Is Already a Matter of Debate

By Brittany Shoot

One in every 40 children in the United States could have autism or an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to a new article published in the journal Pediatrics.

By contrast, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) puts the estimate at one in 59 children having ASD nationwide.

The true number of children with autism in the U.S. may be somewhere in the middle. And the reason for that discrepancy may have to do with how the data was collected. The study published in Pediatrics relied on numbers from the 2016 National Survey of Children’s Health, which is based on reporting from 50,000 parents of children ages 17 and under.

How history forgot the woman who defined autism

Grunya Sukhareva characterized autism nearly two decades before Austrian doctors Leo Kanner and Hans Asperger. So why did the latter get all the credit?

It was 1924 when the 12-year-old boy was brought to the Moscow clinic for an evaluation. By all accounts, he was different from his peers. Other people did not interest him much, and he preferred the company of adults to that of children his own age. He never played with toys: He had taught himself to read by age 5 and spent his days reading everything he could instead. Thin and slouching, the boy moved slowly and awkwardly. He also suffered from anxiety and frequent stomachaches.

Hyping Autism Research "News" Is a Disservice to People with Autism

Alycia Halladay

Observations

It’s also harmful to serious science

Click-worthy health and science headlines are an essential currency in today’s media world. When they pertain to autism, they might include phrases like “groundbreaking trial,” “offer hope” or “game-changer.” But for people with autism and their families, these headlines and the research news stories they highlight often bring false hope, confusion—or worse.

Early interventions, explained

In 1987, psychologist Ole Ivar Lovaas reported that he had created a therapy that would make the behavior of some autistic children indistinguishable from that of typical children by 7 years of age1. His approach, applied behavioral analysis (ABA), involves hours of drills each day, in which children are rewarded for certain behaviors and discouraged from others.

But Lovaas had overstated his case: Of the 19 children in his study who were treated, only 9 went on to meet typical developmental milestones.

Still, given the dearth of treatments for autism, ABA quickly became popular and is now the most common behavioral therapy for autism — but it is not without controversy. ABA also forms the basis for most interventions delivered early in childhood. The accepted wisdom in autism research holds that early intervention offers the best promise for an autistic child’s well-being. But how effective are these therapies?

Here’s what researchers know about early intervention.

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