Autism Reality

Real Autism Awareness – Early Intervention is Vital

As my son ages, he is now 11, I continue to fight for improved health, education and residential care for him and autistic persons on all points of the spectrum. In doing so I have not lost sight of the critical importance of early intervention for improving the life prospects of autistic children. I am not, and never will be, one of those who believes that in order to accept, love and find joy in my son I must accept and find joy in his autism.

To parents of newly diagnosed autistic children I say over and over again – do NOT listen to the sometimes irrational voices that tell you to accept and embrace your child’s autism. Autism is by definition a disorder, a condition which brings with it many deficits in thought, communication, and behavior. True there are some savants and there are many high functioning autistic persons who have social deficits and some communication limitations. But there are also many lower functioning autistic persons for whom the reality IS life in residential or institutional care. It can be a life threatening and dangerous condition.

Love your child as he or she is, complete with his or her autism. But do not mistake your child for his or her autism. Fight to improve your child’s lot in life no matter how many hand wringing, joy of autism advocates tell you that you are suppressing and rejecting your child. They will not be there to help your child when he bites himself repeatedly, when she wanders out the front door only to be found hours later, or when you are sick, elderly, infirm or deceased. They are interested in their agenda not in your child.

The most important way to help improve your child’s abilities is to get as much behavioral intervention as intensively and as early as you can. ABA based intensive intervention meets the evidence based standards of federal, state, provincial, professional and academic autism organizations across Canada and the United States. To date it is the ONLY intervention that meets those high standards.

I am not alone in counseling new parents to seek as much early intervention for their autistic child as possible. There are many others. The following letter from the Journal-Standard really struck me because it was from the mother and father of an 18 year old young autistic man who also urge parents to seek early intervention for their autistic children.

J-S LETTER: Early intervention vital in autism awareness

Published: Saturday, April 14, 2007 9:44 PM CDT
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April is Autism Awareness Month. As parents of an 18-year-old son with autism, we are pleased that unlike 15 years ago, when our son was first diagnosed, the term “autism” brings thoughts other than from the movie “Rainman.” But there’s still a long way to go! Today, one in 150 individuals is diagnosed with autism. That is more common than pediatric cancer, diabetes and AIDS, combined! This epidemic needs to be addressed by all areas of society. We have a whole generation of children that have become “lost in autism.”

The following is an excerpt from Please familiarize yourself with autism and its characteristics:

“Autism is a complex neurobiological disorder that typically lasts throughout a person’s lifetime. It is part of a group of disorders known as Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). It occurs in all racial, ethnic, and social groups and is four times more likely to strike boys than girls. Autism impairs a person’s ability to communicate and relate to others. It is also associated with rigid routines and repetitive behaviors, such as obsessively arranging objects or following very specific routines. Symptoms can range from very mild to quite severe.

Autism Spectrum Disorders can usually be reliably diagnosed by age 3. Parents are usually the first to notice unusual behaviors in their child or their child’s failure to reach appropriate developmental milestones. Some parents describe a child that seemed different from birth, while others describe a child who was developing normally and then lost skills. Pediatricians may initially dismiss signs of autism, thinking a child will “catch up,” and may advise parents to “wait and see.” New research shows that when parents suspect something is wrong with their child, they are usually correct. If you have concerns about your child’s development, don’t wait: speak to your pediatrician about getting your child screened for autism.

If your child is diagnosed with autism, early intervention is critical to gain maximum benefit from existing therapies. Although parents may have concerns about labeling a toddler as “autistic,” the earlier the diagnosis is made, the earlier interventions can begin. Currently, there are no effective means to prevent autism, no fully effective treatments, and no cure. Research indicates, however, that early intervention in an appropriate educational setting for at least two years during the preschool years can result in significant improvements for many young children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. As soon as autism is diagnosed, early intervention instruction should begin. Effective programs focus on developing communication, social, and cognitive skills.”

For further information about autism, please go to Also, on their Website is a very informative 13-minute segment entitled, “Autism Every Day.” It gives an accurate portrayal of what life is like for an individual with autism, as well as how it affects the family.

Steve and Marie Bernhard


April 15, 2007 Posted by | aba, applied behavioral analysis, autism awareness, autism disorder, autism speaks, early intervention, Journal Standard | 1 Comment

Vancouver Province Calls for National Autism Strategy

The Vancouver Province has issued a call for a national autism strategy, including an amendment to the Canada Health Act to include autism as an insured health service. One omission from the Province’s statement is the need to address the plight of autistic adults particularly those living a custodial existence in mental health care and residential facilities. Still the Province’s call for a national autism strategy provides much needed support in the struggle to improve the lives of Canada’s autistic population and is appreciated by this father of a severely autistic boy.

A national strategy is urgently needed for autism victims

The Province

Published: Sunday, April 15, 2007

Advocates for the estimated 200,000 Canadians suffering from the neurological disorder known as autism suffered another setback last week in their campaign for greater government support.

A court battle launched by 28 Ontario families to try to get their provincial government to fund treatment for their autistic children ground to a halt when the Supreme Court of Canada declined to hear arguments in the case.


The help they get depends on where they live. Alberta, for example, pays up to $60,000 a year to age 18 for treatment. But B.C. pays $20,000 a year to age six and only $6,000 a year thereafter.

B.C. Liberal MP Blair Wilson, who campaigns for autism victims, says such inequity is unacceptable. We agree, and endorse a Senate committee’s call last month for a federal-provincial conference to develop a national strategy for autism, which now affects one in 200 children.

The plan should include an awareness campaign, plus more money for research and tax breaks for victims’ families. One sweeping solution would be to amend the Canada Health Act to include autism as an insured health service.

We are well aware that the additional burden on health costs would be considerable and would have to be weighed against competing priorities.

But, as a caring nation, we have a moral obligation to do what is right.

April 15, 2007 Posted by | autism disorder, autism treatment, Canada Health Act, national autism strategy, Supreme Court of Canada, Vancouver Province | Leave a comment