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Autism Speaks' “My Name Is David” Covering Up the Epidemic

AS childManaging Editor's Note: In 2006, Autism Speaks put its name on a video called  D_200603_d200 "Autism Every Day" when they first launched - the movie was powerful, raw and evoked the struggles families face trying to do their best for their children with autism. Some groups felt the portrayal of autism was too harsh, maybe too real, not in keeping with the message that autism is simply another way of being. AS has since tried to tread the middle ground - pleasing no one but the mushy middle, government agencies,  certain donors and industries. Neither the firmly Neurodiverse nor the biomedical communities feel that this corporate entity with autism in its name is meeting the needs of the community.  The photo on the left is an ad from AS. Sure we think our kids are superheroes, but the photo on the right is from Autism Every Day.  We wish David (below) all the best and we too celebrate his capabilities which mirror that of many of our kids. But not all.

By Anne Dachel

This autism awareness video is just out from Autism Speaks.  It’s supposed to be a response to the allegations of a link between autism and violent behavior like the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, but in truth, it’s a strong message that seeks to downplay the reality of what autism is doing to our children. 

An animated boy named David talks about how autism affects him personally. It’s more indoctrination to convince us to accept that no one knows the cause and that we’re really not much interested in why autism happens.  David talks about “autistic people” and we’re told that “millions of people are affected by autism.” The message we take away from this is that autism affects individuals across the entire population—not overwhelmingly children, which is the truth about autism. 

David:

“People with autism have challenges in social situations.”

“It is not an illness.  It will not go away. No one knows exactly why people have autism.  I will always have autism.” 

Here’s what Autism Speaks has to say: 

“As we all know these are difficult times. Not only for our entire country but also for the millions of people affected by autism. As media outlets speculate on the preposterous link between autism and violence there are many innocent people being harmed. We must try and be as loud as we can that this horrifying act has nothing to do with autism.” Matthew Asner, Executive Director for Autism Speaks

“’My Name is David’ is an animated short film from one of the animators of Robot Chicken, Matt Manning, that depicts a young student’s speech to his fellow classmates about his autism. The film features the actual words and voice of the author of the speech, 14-year-old David Shapiro Sharif. Sharif’s speech aims not only to educate children and adults about autism but also to give a voice to the more than one million young men and women with autism in schools throughout the country.”

David’s message is hardly a cause for alarm.  He evokes images of Rain Man. He has excellent verbal skills and it’s easy to imagine that kids have always been like this. Autism doesn’t seem so bad.  This kid sounds like he’s doing okay.

I wonder how this would go over if we were shown a boy flapping his hands, unable to speak, wearing a helmet with a voiceover saying,

“There are many children with autism who can’t speak and they are sick a lot.  Their parents are constantly worried that they might do something to hurt themselves or they might get out of the house and run out into traffic.  Sometimes these children are still in diapers as teenagers.

Many kids who have autism were born healthy and were developing normally until they suddenly got sick, lost learned skills and regressed.  Doctors can’t explain why this happens.

Parents are also worried about what will happen to their children when they’re not able to care for them anymore because no one has ever been able to show us a significant population of adults with autism and each of these children will cost society millions for their support and care.”

Comments

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Um, is anyone on this thread actually autistic?

He looks like a super kid. They mislead the population and
only the parents know how difficult and how desperate their
life or future is. Intermittent explosive disorder? They make up many new diagnosis on the go,psychiatry is blooming in America.People need to listen to you Anne to find out the real truth.

I propose that these other diagnoses are secondary to (caused by) the vaccine poisoning/damage/autism. People who suffer chronic illness and pain, especially those isolated and misunderstood, can be expected to exhibit all kinds of emotional distress, including and especially "major depression". Some of them will muster the will and the energy to reverse the inertia, perhaps overdoing/overcompensating in throwing themselves into what will appear to be "mania". It isn't unreasonable to think that a mind overcome by sadness, intractable pain, disability, isolation, and for some, inappropriate chemical interference, would resort to the creation of an altered reality in order to cope (psychosis). The anxiety of their dire situation could lead to manifestations of OCD in an attempt to control the uncontrollable. OCD and psychosis may come from a mind constantly living on the edge of despair, as would be expected in a severe case of vaccine poisoning/damage/autism. Or the OCD could result not from the anxiety, but from damage to a certain part of the brain, which again, I propose is in most cases the same damage which is causing the "autism". Reading "intermittent explosive disorder" just made me laugh. The chronically ailing individual intermittently gets so frustrated, so upset, that he "explodes". A diagnosis that is just a restatement of a symptom is not a valid diagnosis.

Just what is the difference between autism and, say, schizophrenia or bipolar disorder? We are talking about a difference in a checklist, a subjective guess that a "doctor" makes by observing and talking to people (either the individual affected or the family). No hard science or biology involved whatsoever.

The discussion here (and the public dialogue) repeatedly compares mental illness disorders as if they are defined and concrete. Co-morbidity? If we don't even know what any of these things are biologically, neurologically, how can we draw any lines between them?

While I don't think any linkages between autism spectrum disorders and violence are fair/appropriate, I am also bothered by the high horse position that autism is not a mental illness (like those other bad things that of course do contribute to violence).

I believe ALL mental illness has a biological, physical basis. I think it is easier to see this with autism, but as a society we need to tackle the "mental health" stigma and find real causes and treatment for these diseases of the mind and nervous system.

Oh Vickie
But of course adults vs children it would change.

They are talking about PDD-NOS and aspergers not classical autism.

I guess the classical autism parents will be glad to get rid of the higher functioning kids because we are just bringing them down.

The study said for those with average intelligent that

However, "schizophrenic-type illnesses" represent around one-tenth of all psychiatric comorbid diagnoses in a review by Howlin [8]. Additionally, a number of clinical case reports have described psychotic symptomatology, including auditory hallucinations, paranoid ideas, or delusional thoughts in subjects with ASDs. It seems probable that ASD is one possible vulnerability factor for the development of psychotic symptoms and schizophrenia [19].

I hate brain injury, I hate the silence of the whole world on this. May everyone that turned their back on this, refused to allow discussions on it rot in Hell.

For me another whole entire blog deleted after I carefully said things, replied to things, linked things to studies, even the exact pages or the exact place in a video.
It all came down to one over bearing
hot head that couldn't win his argument fairly just getting mad and saying he was going to quit that website because he was tired of psuedo science

I understand the saying this is the time that tries men's souls - because I really hope they are not allowed in heaven.

I more and more say he is vaccine damage ...and then go and tell them about VD depending on how much they want to listen..

Angus

This European study is on adults with ASD, published in 2009. http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-244X/9/35
They found 53% had a mood disorder, 8% had bipolar, and 12% of adults with ASD in the study (n=122)had a psychotic disorder, 6% had intermittent explosive disorder.

Note that the 2006 study cited in a previous comment was on children. Most mental health diagnoses which can include psychosis start in the teens or later, although it is possible - but rare - for younger children to have psychotic breaks. So the 2006 study results may not hold once the cohort reaches adulthood.

Andrea;
I thought he did a good job. He may need to look at comobitities link and memorize some of those numbers -- less than two percent had bipolar (bipolar is not that dangerous - only if they have a prolong manic episode - and leads to psycosis -- Am I right about that one??

There are smart people on here -- is it a long mania?

But there is no schizo.

Hmmm still there was a family member that had a non violent schizo - so according to our "OH GOD" must I say it is geneitcs when I think it is an inheritable environmental condition--- family schizo is there lurking about too.


I want to know - if there are still families out there that have not been touched with mental heatlh?

It seems to me that autistic people can have co-morbidities just like any other person.

co-morbidity; Thank you so much for this link; I would have given my eye teeth 25 years ago for this.

Your link said:

*The most common DSM-IV lifetime diagnosis in the aut- ism sample was specific phobia. Forty-four percent of the children with autism met diagnostic criteria. The majority of children with autism had phobias of more than one object or situation. Fear of needles and/or shots and crowds were the most common (32%). Specific types of phobias that are common in the general population of children, such as fears of flying, stores, standing in lines, bridges, and tunnels, occurred at very low rates in the autism children. Over 10% of the children with autism had a phobia of loud noises, which is not common in typically developing children.

*Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
The second most frequent DSM-IV disorder was OCD, diagnosed in 37% of the children with autism. The mostcommon type of compulsion was a ritual involving other individuals. Nearly half of the children diagnosed with OCD had compulsions that involved others having to do things a certain way. Examples included the parents having to perform certain daily routines and greeting and separa- tion rituals, or having to act or respond in a certain way. Another frequent compulsive behavior was the ‘‘need to tell/ask’’, which mostly involved repeatedly having to ask the same question in extensive question-asking rituals or having to say the same statement over and over. Interest- ingly, the diagnosis of autism involves deficits in social reciprocity and the two most frequent compulsions in the autism group involve dysfunctional interaction with other people in a compulsive manner.

*ADHD
The third most common diagnosis was ADHD, diagnosed in 31% of the children with autism. The rate is increased to nearly 55% when subsyndromal cases are included. Sixty- five percent of the children diagnosed with ADHD had the
inattentive sub-type. In children without developmental disorders, the hyperactive type is most common.

*Major Depression
Ten percent of the children with autism had had at least one episode of major depression meeting DSM-IV criteria. When subsyndromal cases are included, the rate of major depression increased to nearly 24%.

*Other Disorders
None of the children with autism met criteria for schizo- phrenia or related disorders or for panic disorder. Less than two percent of the children had had a manic episode and met criteria for bipolar I disorder.

Hopefully, the press won't get a hold of the research that has been done to link autism with co-morbid psychiatric problems. The first time I heard some "expert" talking about this I was horrified. I guess it's possible if you buy into all these labels. Kristina Chew regularly talks about her son's family history of Bi-polar disorder. How you diagnosis bipolar in a child who can't speak conversationally is beyond me, but they are doing it I guess.

These co-morbid conditions only make autism look scarier then it already is.

http://www.bu.edu/autism/files/2010/03/2006-Leyfer-et-al-comorbid-disorders1.pdf

Anne

Thank you for exposing this. You are just amazing! We just can't shy away from the truth regarding all of autism and all of what we do as families, even if it might be unpleasant for other advocacy organizations. The nice thing about "the truth" is that it is "the truth." You are always on the side of truth, my friend!

I no longer even tell people my son has "autism" . I tell people he has brain damage.
Not an illness-- AS is truly despicable for putting out such misinformation.

You can't put a single face on autism. Ever.

Bob Wright was on Erin Burnett's show last night attempting to clear up the confusion and explain Aspergers and Autism. And why it is not responsible for this massacre. Was he effective?

Here's the video : http://outfront.blogs.cnn.com/2012/12/19/advocacy-group-dont-blame-autism-disorder-didnt-lead-to-shootings/

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