Sunday, March 29, 2009

jenny mccarthy: more ammo for angry neurodiversitites?

I have just read an interesting piece about Jenny McCarthy . These are some stories that her ex-husband are claiming about some rather salacious sexual exploits that Ms. McCarthy was involved in. As most persons interested in autism know, Jenny McCarthy has a son with this ex who has been diagnosed as autistic (the son not the ex). She has embraced biomed treatments and the rather notorious generation rescue run by the litigation happy J.B. Handley. She is now claiming that chelation and other biomed treatments have cured her son as well as other questionable allegations.

Though I despise the neurodiversity movement, I do agree with them that McCarthy is doing harm and giving parents false hope. However, I do believe she is a mother who has the best intentions and wants to help her child and other children. She does seem to provoke the ire of the neurodiversity movement and autism diva once called her Jenny McDumbbell. Since ND's often want to engage in personal attacks I suspect they may use this article as further ammo.

On an interesting side note I met Jenny McCarthy at a DAN conference. DAN conferences are not something I would normally attend and I would probably never go to one again, but Stephen Shore who is a friend of mine was presenting at one relatively close to where I live, so I checked it out. McCarthy had stated on the Larry King show that she had never met any autistic adults. Steve, a girl named Kelly, and myself were the first adults with autism that McCarthy met. When I pointed that out to her, her response was "you guys are awesome".

Also interesting is the last line of the article with John Asher, McCarthy's ex, making the comment that having an autistic child either brings the parents closer together or pulls them apart. It would seem that he is implying that their son's autism is responsible for their divorce- I kinda suspect that's going to rattle the cage of ND just a smidgen.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

My sister's book

I thought that I would give a shameless plug for Melanie Mitchell, my sister, who has just published a book. My sister is a professor of computer science at Portland State University. I am reading her book now, still not quite finished with the book, I am about two-thirds of the way through it. I must confess it is somewhat technical and because of my disability and the generally difficult time I am going through I am having some trouble understanding all of it. I thought I would write about it in spite of this fact. Her book deals with the subject of complexity or how simple interactions among a myraid of individuals or indivual things can produce complex systems, such as how ants forage for food, how neurons in the brain interact to produce consciousness, etc. Scientists are very good at predicting simple things, like the velocity at which a bullet travels from a gun and the impact that it can have by simple equations. Other phenomena, such as weather prediction, the stock market, are much harder to predict because they involve the complex interactions of many entities. Melanie's book details how scientists study this phenomena.

Melanie also talks about research she has done in trying to teach computers how to be more human like by teaching them analogies, such as if abc___> abe what would fgh_____> be, things like that, except somewhat more complex type of analogies.

She also gives historical background on various physicists and mathematicians going back to the 17th century to near the present day, Isaac Newton to John Von Neuman.

What is especially interesting to me is the implications it could have for possibly studying the brain and maybe helping to find some real answers to autism and related neurologic conditions.

Another reason that I thought I would post about this is that two of the looniest looney tunes in the neurodiversity movement, Phil Gluyas and Clay Adams, have claimed that the reason that I long for a prevention and cure for autism is that I had a terrible mother who taught me to hate myself. They went on to say abusive and derogatory things about my mother in various forums. I realize that no rational person would take either of these two wingnuts seriously. However, after seeing what my sister accomplished and the book that she has written, if anything this should suggest my mother was exemplary in raising a child who has become the eminent scientist that my sister is.

Portland and Los Angeles are about a thousand miles away from each other so I don't get to see my sister and her family very often. My sister is married and has two sons. My brother-in-law is a ph.d. physicist, his younger brother is also a ph.d. physicist as is their father. Neither of my nephews has autism and I am fairly certain there is no family history of autism in my brother-in-law's family. This provides evidence against the absurd arguments of Temple Grandin and Simon Baron-Cohen that autism should not be eradicated because it is responsible for the genes that produce these scientists as well as their equally absurd claims that autism is necessary for invention and civilization. I discuss this in more detail in in an essay I wrote

Thursday, March 19, 2009

more businesses and organizations for neurodiversity to boycott

I see that as part of autism awareness month, the reviled (by the ND movement) autism speaks is pursuing massive fund raising involving several different organizations. For those, such as myself who regularly read the blogs on the autism hub we see that a few bloggers have urged a boycott of Lindt chocolates. The reason for this is that they have teamed up with autism speaks and are donating a portion of their proceeds on each sale of chocolate to AS. It would seem that Lindt is not alone in this endeavor. The following companies have also teamed up with AS in some capacity:

Toys"R"Us, Inc., TJ Maxx, Modell's Sporting Goods, Build-A-Bear Workshop®, Discovery Health

I wonder if hub bloggers will start writing posts to boycott all of these pristine companies. In the United States, Toys 'R' us is one of the biggest retailers of children's toys. Wonder if their children will cry tears, when they are told, they will have to go without a toy for Christmas, because they are claiming that AS is deliberately trying to abort autistic fetuses and all the other nonsense they espouse.

One wonders at what point, the ND's will have to wear barrels because every clothing manufacturer is teaming up with autism speaks. What will happen when various grocery stores and restaurant chains start teaming up with autism speaks. Will they go on a hunger strike, will they die of starvation? I can't wait to see what happens.

I don't know whether or not the true prevalence of autism is rising. It is possible that the increase may be partially real because more men are becoming first time fathers at later ages. There has been research showing an association between paternal age and the likelihood to father an autistic child. There is also a temporal relationship between autism and the passage of special education legislation at least in the u.s.a. and possibly other countries as well. Whatever the reasons more and more persons are being diagnosed with autism than ever before. I don't know if the prevalence will rise to greater than 1/150 persons or not.

The point is that the more persons diagnosed with autism, the more interest there will be in funding science that may lead to preventing autism in children and possibly finding a cure. For that reason, more and more businesses will be teaming up with autism speaks and donating money to them, much to the chagrin of the neurodiverse. Neurodiversity may claim they comprise a good portion of the autistic community or even the autism community. In reality they are a fringe group whose view is out of the mainstream. Most persons who are touched by autism support autism speaks' agenda of trying to find a cure and prevent this tragedy from happening to other children. So, as more and more enterprises start teaming up with autism speaks, one wonders whether the crusade against Lindt chocolates will be expanded to these other enterprises. How many consumer goods will the ND's deprive themselves of? Only time will tell.

However, one member of the ND movement, Michelle Dawson, apparently does not want to boycott autism speaks, at least not when money to fund research she is involved with is concerned. Her mentor Laurent Mottron mentors post-doctoral fellow luc Keita who works on a grant from AS. Also Michelle has coauthored at least one paper with Jocelyn Faubert, a scientist funded by AS. . I am baffled as to why Michelle would not consider this money tainted, why she would not resign from the Mottron lab in protest. Yet, her fellow ND's still cherish, her and her writings. Michelle is not considered a quisling (a term more than one ND proponent has called me) or a sellout.

So I guess for all those reasons I will have to wait and see what and who the ND movement boycotts next.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

jake crosby takes NDs to task again

I have just read another work of jake crosby . At some point, I may not publicize his individual essays as he certainly does not need my help given the relatively large circulation at age of autism and thankfully they are publishing even more of his essays; therefore it might be hard to keep up.

But once again, he writes of the struggles of a high functioning autistic, the fact he only got a C on one of his college term papers because his autism impairs his ability to multitask. I realize this is trivial in comparison to the problems of the connor dohertys, russell rollens, dov shestacks and john belmontes, who barring an improbable miracle, will never be able to dream of going to a university like Brandeis that Jake attends and never be able to take care of themselves or live independent lives or be able to communicate at anything but the most rudimentary level. I am thankful to Jake for both letting us know about how flawed a concept neurodiversity is in a forum that will get good exposure and for the final line of his essay discussing about the antipathy that society has towards those of us on the spectrum and our delegation to the figurative wood pile.

One thing that I would like to elaborate on and slightly take Jake to task for is not being specific enough. What I mean by this is that often the problems of persons at the less severe end of the spectrum such as Jake and myself are not acknowledged. I agree with Harold Doherty when he criticizes the NDs who want to speak for all autistics, including his son whose problems are far more severe than theirs. However, this does not mean that those of us at the upper end don't suffer. I agree barely passing a history term paper might seem trivial compared to other issues that befall certain autistics on the spectrum, but it still hurts me (and apparently Jake also) that we can't do as well at things as those without a disability.

Joseph (one of the more prominent ND bloggers) has apparently felt that I am making a big deal about my mediocre academic performance in college claiming that I should be content with being average. This is in spite of the fact that I nearly flunked out of college, my ambitions to go to graduate school did not pan out, so I could not be an autism researcher like Matthew Belmonte or Lindsay Oberman and the others, he and the rest of the ND crowd just want to trivialize that. Yet Joseph in one of his old posts comes up with some figures projecting a 70% employment rate for all autistics at some future point. When there will be a 70% employment rate for autistics, I am not sure and Joseph not surprisingly is quite vague about the timeline. Also I am not sure where Joseph gets this figure, other than the fact that maybe 70% of autistics diagnosed today are not intellectually retarded and then a tacit assumption that all autistics without retardation will be able to work. Then Joseph goes on with the disclaimer that he is not claiming all nonretarded autistics will be able to work. So I am mystified where Joseph comes up with this figure. So, he seems to think I complain about nothing, yet my problems have impaired me from making a living and I have not been employed for some time, so according to Joseph's projections I am in the bottom 30th percentile.

Temple Grandin has a similar attitude about mildly versus severely autistic persons. She favors a cure for those on the severe end of the spectrum, but apparently wants to preserve autism in mildly autistic people, because she believes that autism genes are responsible for invention and creativity.

Simon Baron Cohen also wrote an essay claiming that high functioning autism should not be considered a disability as opposed to low functioning autism. The demarcation between functioning levels is not made clear by SBC. I notice he consulted David Andrews for this essay, someone who stoops to the nastiest insults and most abusive language you could imagine towards anyone who dares to disagree with his view on autism. Andrews' participation in this essay should certainly diminish its credibility.

SBC also takes a view about autism genes being advantageous in society that is similar to Grandins. I have refuted their reasoning in this essay.

So don't forget those of us with mild autism. Even if our problems are not as bad as Connor Doherty's and John Belmonte's, they are still bad enough. The inability to do well academically and in employment and in romantic relationships does make life hard for at least some of us. This is a fact that should not be forgotten.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Should insurers be required to pay for behavior therapy for autism

I was interested to read an article in the los angeles times today about the California state department of managed care declining to force insurers to pay for behavioral therapy for autistic children in spite of the fact that they are saying that insurers must pay for speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy. The article quotes behavioral therapy as being quite expensive, costing as much as $70,000/year. The legal argument for requiring insurers to pay for autism care is a law called the Mental Health Parity Act, which requires insurers to treat mental conditions the same as medical conditions. I do not believe that this law would cover behavioral therapy ,as the mental conditions that are treated under this law are quite different from behavioral therapy for reasons I will outline in this blog post.

The insurers argue that they are not required to pay for behavioral therapy because it is an educational service and not a medical condition. They also argue that this would drive up insurance premiums though studies from other states have found increases to be minimal. I suspect one problem with these studies is that the states which provide insurance for behavioral therapy have only recently done so and it is too early to measure effects that it would have on insurance costs.

The article quotes ABA advocate Gina Green as saying some studies show that 47% of children are able to enter school with no further interventions and few if any symptoms of the condition. The only study that I know of that fits that description is Lovaas (1987) in which aversives (now illegal in the state of California) where used and in which there are no adult outcomes published, though they have been given NIMH money to study these and publish the results which they have not done.

One of the differences between speech therapy/occupational therapy and behavior therapy is that speech therapists and occupational therapists are required to be licensed in California and are regulated by state agencies. Such is not true of ABA therapists. There are no licensing requirements for ABA therapists, no training requirements. Many behavioral therapists are college students, taking courses for credit in college in exchange for coming to people's homes and doing in home ABA, some of them are not even old enough to legally buy a six pack of beer. There is no state regulation of ABA therapists and they are accountable to no one. I presume the treatments covered by the mental health parity act, are done by physicians( mostly psychiatrists) who are licensed and regulated by the state. Therefore it is my belief that the mental health parity act may not be a legally valid argument for forcing insurers to cover behavioral therapy.

The precedent for no credentialing requirements for ABA therapists has its origin in special education case law. The Shannon Carter decision by the U.S. supreme court said that under IDEA parents could be reimbursed by the local education authority for private school education, even if the teachers in the private school are not credentialed. The Carter decision paved the way for the case of Malkentzos v. DeBuono which decided that uncredentialed Lovaas therapists could use behavioral therapy on autistic children. So under the IDEA there is a legal basis for the lack of credentialing and regulation of ABA therapists.

However, the IDEA is not the mental health parity act. I feel that under the latter law, the former law would not be applicable and insurers should not have to pay for uncredentialed, unlicensed and unregulated ABA therapists.

Parents have the legal right to pursue ABA therapy at taxpayer expense under IDEA. One of the problems with this is that the school districts will do what they can to avoid paying for the possible $70,000 a year treatment. Thus, parents will have to hire a lawyer and possibly pay a retainer of thousands of dollars, spend multiple time fighting the school district and even have the possibility of losing their case. If insurance covered this treatment this would not be a problem for the parents. This is why autism speaks unfortunately has successfully lobbied several states to enact legislation forcing insurance to pay for these treatments. This is why there is this movement in California.

Another problem that I have written about in another gadfly post is that once insurance starts covering multiple autism treatments, autism will be looked at as a pre-existing condition. This means that if an autistic child has leukemia, needs heart surgery, they may not be able to get insurers to insure them or their families if they change medical insurance and have had insurance pay for an autism treatment.

Hopefully, the effort for insurance to pay for these treatments, particularly behavioral therapy, will not come to fruition in California, but with the resources of autism speaks as well as other powerful lobbies behind the people pushing for these changes, I am not terribly optimistic.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Kristina Chew just doesn't get the message

I see once again Kristina Chew is railing for her son's educational future, by demanding that he receive "the best" level of education that can be offered. In the days when Chew was blogging on autism vox she also trotted out this fallacious argument that her son was entitled to "the best" (her words) education that could be obtained for him.

Legally this is a fallacious argument. In the Rowley case in 1982 the supreme court determined that the words "free and appropriate education" did not mean "best" It is described on this website Here is some of the wording :

The Supreme Court overturned the Court of Appeals' decision, finding that the IDEA (then known as the EHA - Education Handicapped Act) did not require schools to proportionally maximize the potential of handicapped children. Rather, the Court said, Congress had more modest goals in mind. The Supreme Court relied upon the text and legislative history of the statute to find that Congressional intent was only to provide a "basic floor of opportunity" to students with disabilities by providing them access to public education, as opposed to addressing the quality of education received once in school.[10] The Court stated:
By passing the Act, Congress sought primarily to make public education available to handicapped children. But in seeking to provide such access to public education, Congress did not impose upon the States any greater substantive educational standard than would be necessary to make such access meaningful …
Thus, the intent of the Act was more to open the door of public education to handicapped children on appropriate terms than to guarantee any particular level of education once inside.[11]

So we see that Kristina Chew is asking the school district for something that she is not legally entitled to receive under special education law. What is surprising is that this is one of the most famous examples of case law that was decided by the supreme court. One wonders about the quality of special ed attorneys Ms. Chew has and what sort of advice they are giving her in terms of pursuing an education for her son and what she should say in IEP meetings. Because of the Rowley decision back in 1982 special education lawyers often advise their clients not to use the word "best" because of the Rowley decision. I don't know what sort of services her son Charlie receives, but one reason they may be less than satisfactory is that Ms. Chew exercises such bad judgment from a legal standpoint.

What is most surprising of all is that in the days when she was blogging on autism vox prior to her moving over to, she would often trot out this same fallacious argument. Time and time again I posted comments on her blog advising her that she was factually incorrect about the law and advising her of what the law under IDEA really is. In spite of this she never seemed to listen and now is posting this same nonsense again in her latest post.

This is a woman who has claimed to me that she is satisfied with the functioning level of her son and that she has no desire to cure him. She claimed on national television that she was not suffering or heartbroken because of her son's condition. This is in spite of the fact that she has used ABA on her son, a treatment that purports to cure nearly 50% of all autistics. She has given her son dangerous psychiatric medications to control his behavior. In one recent blog entry she talked about the possibility of her son having to live in a residential placement. For this reason I suppose nothing she says should surprise me as is the case with most neurodiversity proponents.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Kevin Leitch gives take on IACC strategic plan

Kevin Leitch who writes for the leftbrain/right brain blog has just given his take on the IACC's strategic plan He seems to think there are some good things about it and some bad things.

I have a couple of problems with him giving a take. First off, he lives in England and it is unlikely he has ever paid a dollar in American taxes. I wonder why it is anyone's business who has never paid taxes in the U.S.A. what a program created at taxpayer expense does . He is not the only one to do this. A couple of years ago Mike Stanton and Michelle Dawson(two other non-Americans) contacted the NIMH and gave their take on the direction that autism research should go in. I wrote about this when it happened but don't have the link handy. Estee Klar-Wolfhond (another non-American) also seems to think that she has a right to suggest what the IACC does in a letter she wrote to them with Ari Nee'man and some other persons.
I wrote about this in a previous gadfly post The second problem I have is that apparently the NDs seem to think they should take an interest in this law, though this law was clearly passed with the intention of curing and preventing autism, something they have consistently opposed.

As far as I am concerned no person who preaches a neurodiversity anti-cure philosophy has any business critiquing the IACC. If they are American taxpayers then they can write congress and attempt to have the combating autism act abolished. They then could suggest to congress that research and tax dollars be spent on the autism concerns that they are interested in. I agree they have a right to do this and try to have legislation passed that will pursue their agenda. If they have never paid any taxes in the U.S.A. as is likely the case with Kev Leitch, Michelle Dawson, Mike Stanton and Estee Klar-Wolfhond then I don't believe the CAA or the IACC is any of their business nor is any publically funded American autism research undertaking.

One of the concerns that Kev has is about the intent of the plan to prevent autism. He seems to think it is a bad idea to prevent children from becoming crippled and sick as his daughter is. I find it very hard to believe if there had been a way for his daughter to live without being handicapped that he would not want this.

Kev also seems confused as to whether or not the plan has the intent of curing autism. This should not be an issue. The IACC grew out of the combating autism act which was lobbied by Cure Autism now. There should be no question that the intent of the IACC strategic plan is to cure autism. The CAA said that one autistic person had to be appointed as one of the voting public members of the IACC. An unfortunate choice was made in appointing Stephen Shore, a member of the neurodiversity movement who opposes a cure for autism. Other than that one exception it is a pretty safe bet that every other public member and government member of the IACC is in favor of curing autism and is just as disgusted with the ND point of view as I am. This should be obvious to him, but it apparently is not.

Joseph of the natural variation blog comments on this post and puts in his $.02. He writes:

Preventing autism is something that people outside of the autism communities see as a positive. It does nothing for those of us in the autism communities. I’m sure even the anti-vaxers don’t care a whole lot about prevention. For those of us in the autistic community it’s even somewhat offensive.
Of course no one would oppose prevention of viral-cased or chemically-caused brain damage with a phenotype that presents as autism, as RAJ’s strawman attempts to suggest. I am, however, completely opposed to any type of “prevention” that involves genetic screening and abortion.

The anti-vaxers are certainly in favor of prevention, as it is their belief that taking thimerosal out of the vaccines and changing the vaccine schedule will prevent children from becoming autistic in the first place.

Joseph once again trots out the tired cliches of the ND movement. It would seem he has either not read the wording in the IACC strategic plan or does not understand its meaning.

He speaks of the "autism community" implying that people who believe in ND comprise the entire autism community but not autism speaks or most people with an interest in autism who do want to cure and prevent autism. We see this pattern of ND's trying to speak for all or most autistics or people interested in autism, when they are the ones out of the mainstream of the true autism community and are nothing but a fringe group. He also implies that prevention means abortion when it means nothing of the sort. The IACC's plan is here Here is the text that they write about prevention:

It is critical for research to identify the methods and approaches that can be used to prevent the challenges and disabilities of ASD. Additionally, if one views ASD as a biological disorder triggered in genetically susceptible people by environmental factors, then prevention can include prevention of new cases of ASD through the identification and elimination of environmental causes. What is essential for ASD research is to develop the state of knowledge to a level similar to what is now available in fields such as cardiology. No longer do we need to wait for someone to suffer a heart attack before providing life-saving treatments. Rather, early interventions are applied upon the detection of risk factors so as to preempt these more serious consequences. Having sound research on the risk factors and the environmental triggers for ASD ultimately may allow us to achieve the goal of prevention: preventing the development of the disorder in some people at risk or reducing the degree of severity in those affected.

with the talk of environmental causes and the comparisons with knowledge of cardiology, I don't see how prevention in this context can possibly be construed as genetic screenings for abortion. Leave it to the neurodiverse to misrepresent the facts.

On a sidenote the CAA and the IACC seem to be a joke in that they would appoint Steve Shore an anti-cure autistic to a board created with taxpayer dollars with the intent of curing autism. Also, the appointment of Lynn Redwood and Mark Blaxill to the board in spite of the overwhelming evidence that vaccines don't cause autism is a travesty.

Perhaps it is time for the private sector to take over as it would seem public sector funding may be keeping us in the stone age as far as advances in finding cures and prevention for autism are concerned. Of course, Autism Speaks, the main private sector funding body is probably a less than perfect organization, but I guess that will have to wait for a future post.

Addendum to post: I see that Michelle Dawson is questioning my veracity on her TMOB comment board, denying that she has contacted the NIMH in any way trying to influence the direction of autism research in the USA. In my post of October 1, I stated that she and Mike Stanton had written letters to the NIMH. I may have phrased this badly and had a memory lapse involving what had happened more than a year and a half earlier. What I was referring to was a petition that was circulated by the autism hub a little over two years ago. Mike Stanton wrote about it on his blog in a post here. This was the instance that I was referring to in my post and what I wrote on Jonathan's journal on January 8,2007. Mike provided a link to the petition, unfortunately it is broken, so I cannot prove that Michelle Dawson was one of the people signing the petition. However, I would not make this up. A petition is a letter, so though Michelle Dawson never wrote a letter that was separate from the petition per se, she still contacted the NIMH by signing that petition to the best of my recollection. If Michelle can produce the petition and prove to me that she never signed it I will stand corrected. Otherwise I still stand by my allegation that she has tried to influence the direction of research financed with American tax dollars by signing this petition.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Jake Crosby Strikes again

Better watch your backs neurodiversity proponents. Jake Crosby has written
yet another article that takes on some aspects of your agenda. Jake writes about a study that apparently tries to show that neurodiversity results in greater self-esteem for persons not only with autism but other developmental disabilities as well. I wrote about this same study very recently .

I only read the abstract of the study and not the actual study itself, so I did not feel that it would be appropriate for me to comment on its methodology. Unlike myself, Jake has done his homework. He has read the entire study and gives a very interesting critique of its methodology. One of the critiques was that only a small percentage of the study's subjects had an autism spectrum disorder and others had other types of developmental disabilities. Of course I am not sure how relevant that is because the concept of ND could be applied to disabilities other than autism.

Jake does take to task the fact that the study only apparently concentrated on career ambitions rather than actual success in careers itself. He also cites the influence that neurodiversity proponents such as Kathleen Seidel and Camille Clark (AKA autism diva) have on doctors such as Paul Offit and possibly others as well.

One interesting thing that caught my eye in Jake's piece was the fact that apparently this study included strokes as a category of neurodiversity. I wonder if anyone who becomes aphasic or paralyzed from a stroke would just consider themselves as having a different form of brain wiring. This would also be inconsistent with what some neurodiversity autistics have said about comparing autism to conditions such as Parkinson's disease. That autism is something that you are born with so it is part of your intrinsic brain wiring, so I am not sure anyone else would consider stroke victims as having a form of neurodiversity other than the authors of this study.

I won't go into the rest of Jake's article as it would spoil it for anyone else who may want to read it.

Again, the age of autism is a webpage that gets far more readership than mine, so although I disagree with many of things they publish there I am glad that they have Jake as a contributor and that he is willing to have the chutzpah to take on the ND movement. Something very few pro-cure autistics have unless they are willing to be called quisling and house autistics and all of the other abusive terms they use to insult anyone who disagrees with their point of view.

Unlike, their excuse to bash autism speaks because they have no autistics on their board of directors, they cannot use this with the age of autism folks who are willing to have at least one autistic person as a contributor and in a position of some power in their organization.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

My Turn: Is special education money well spent

I have just read an interesting article in the my turn section of Newsweek magazine written by a woman who has an autistic son and educationally gifted daughter who experiences the frustration that society is willing to provide ample funding for her son's special education under the IDEA law but not extra funding for her daughter. She seems to think gifted children should get more funding because they are bored and unchallenged in school. One good thing about the article was the last sentence which stated that if the autistic boy's gifted sister got the education she needed at taxpayer expense, she might find a cure for autism. At least this author does not adhere to a neurodiversity philosophy.

The question is, should either the gifted or the challenged person receive extra funding, I believe the answer is no in both cases.

If the author of the article would like to have a special gifted education for her daughter, let her pay for it out of her own pocket. Why should the taxpayer's foot the bill? The gifted child can clearly do the work and has an easier path than most. Richard Nixon came from a poor family, always went to public schools and received scholarships to ivy league schools, though he could not afford to live away from home, so attended Whittier college instead. He went on to graduate third in his class at Duke law school. Bill Clinton also came from a family of modest means, yet managed to become a Rhoades scholar and went on to Yale law school and became president of the United States. The daughter of friends of my parents also went to public school, but then went on to do well and attend yale university and later get a doctorate in english literature. If this girl is bored in a nongifted program, perhaps the girl's mother could encourage her to learn things on her own and acquire a broader education by going to the library.

Of more salient interest is whether the state should pay the extra costs of special education for her autistic son at all. Is the IDEA a good law or just a travesty? It costs taxpayers billions of dollars, jams courts with parents who litigate for all the pie-in-the-sky promises that this law has to offer and drains their finances. It discriminates against the poor who cannot afford to pay attorneys to help them navigate through the maze of complex special ed law. Only the relatively wealthy are benefited by IDEA with the more impoverished parents of disabled kids getting the short end of the stick.

Does this law really help kids live better lives? Will it improve their outcome after age 21 when they are aged out of the program? If there are any statistics, controlled studies or facts that demonstrate this I am certainly not aware of them.

I only know of the other side of the coin about an article some years ago in the Atlanta Journal Constitution stating that the more years children spent in special education, the lower their achievement was academically. Also not long ago I wrote about half of california special ed students failing the high school exit exam.

Ivar Lovaas published the famous 1987 study claiming that half of all autistics he treated with ABA functioned at a completely normal level and were indistinguishable from their peers. In effect, he claimed that he could cure autism in half of all cases. This study is used as evidence in special education lawsuits in order to obtain this costly treatment to students at taxpayer expense. Yet, the study employed aversives which are now outlawed in California where I live and probably other jurisdictions. Lovaas also distinguished between clinic based and work group ABA, the former consisting of many more hours and better trained personnel. His study employed clinic based ABA. As far as I know, there is nothing in the law that prevents a parent from suing for work group ABA or compromising with a school district so that the costly and unpleasant litigation can be avoided by both sides and having the school district pay for less hours and lesser trained personnel than were used in the 1987 study.

Most germane of all, there are no published adult outcomes of the children whom Lovaas treated. They are now in their late 30's and early 40's and we have no idea what happened to them or how they did occupationally or whether they functioned at a completely normal level as adults. Lovaas has never published these results in a peer reviewed journal. Perhaps the reason for this is that the outcomes were actually less than stellar.

On an interesting sidenote, I also wrote an essay about the irony of the Lovaas institute for early intervention and the social security office being located on the same floor of the same building in West Los Angeles. I submitted this essay to the Newsweek My Turn column. I never heard back from them. They only publish 1 in 200 essays they receive. Unlike the lady who authored this latest piece, mine did not make the cut. Instead, I published it on my web page The question still needs to be asked. Are the recipients of Lovaas' interventions today, the SSI collectors of tomorrow? There is certainly no evidence that the answer is not yes. Perhaps after making a visit to Lovaas' office in west L.A. they will go back to the same floor of the same building to apply for social security disability.

Perhaps it is really time to rethink the whole IDEA law. I believe it is time to abolish it.