Don’t Believe the Hype: Cause or Cause for Concern?

Annie Tanasugarn, PhDc, BCBA CEO/AUTHOR, The Autism Analyst
"Autism Awareness simply means to acknowledge that Autism exists; Acceptance is to acknowledge its value."

Are you like me where you are on the lookout for the latest trending article on Autism? If so, read on….

Let’s face it: the minute you jump on the internet and do an internet search on Autism, you are bombarded with everything from trending stories, pictures, “cures”, “causes”, and a myriad of other sordid stories, blogs, and tweets about Autism. The fact is, the more you scour the internet about Autism, the more you can be left scratching your head in confusion. There are so many contradictory findings and opinions on the internet, what the heck is a parent to do?

To add fuel to this blogger’s fire, I was on the internet the other day and came across a trending story from a local news channel that alleged that some researchers overseas had found “the cause” (yup, yet another cause) of Autism. Ok, so?…..well, this “cause” alleges that not only is Autism “caused” by pregnant mothers who smoke, the findings (and I use the term very loosely) suggested that Autism skips a generation and only impacts maternal grand-daughters. While it was a good read, the point to be taken from this story is that we as #EmpoweredParents cannot simply take a trending news story as legitimate “cause” of Autism…..Right?

Is your head spinning as much as mine is yet?

 

So, how do you sort out the junk from the stuff that is actually respect-worthy?

Get Off The Internet! Seriously, while the internet is jam-packed with tons of information, as an #EmpoweredParent you need to be leery of what you read. Don’t take the latest trending “cures” or “causes” at face value. More often than not, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. I suggest cross-referencing the information you found to see where else you find it. Can it be found in academic journal articles? Are there legit references on the bottom of the article? Look on websites and see who is responsible for putting this information online. Is the information coming from a professional in the field such as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst or Autism Researcher? Or was it placed online by a third-party website?

Get On The Internet! While this may sound as contradictory as the thousands of webpage articles on Autism out there, what I mean by getting on the internet simply means to join support groups with other parents who can relate to your situation, likely because they are also touched by Autism. Find local Autism support groups on your favorite social media sites and see what all the buzz is about in those groups. Connect with local advocacy groups in your area and reach out to professionals in the field (like myself) who can help direct you legit sources of information.

Research, Research, Research. Now, research can come from many places, even some unexpected ones! After joining some Autism support groups, start asking questions on where you can find legit information such as statistics, research articles, and tried-and-true interventions that actually work. There’s a plethora of information out there for #EmpoweredParents like you – I say start with browsing your local library on Autism books and academic journal articles. While these sources may not be as exciting as the latest trending picture or blog on Twitter, academic sources are often extremely reliable and valid sources of information for parents.

Ask a Professional! Professionals in the field of Autism have often gone through advanced education, licensure and training in Autism and can be a plethora of valuable information on where to look for legit insights, honest feedback and family support for you and your little one. Don’t have a professional that you know? Reach out to me for help at: info@theautismanalyst.com

Learn the Latest Lingo: There’s just as much lingo surrounding Autism as there is information on the internet about it! Research some of the most commonly used terminologies and what they represent as your first line of defense in legitimizing what you read. Some common terms include: IEP, ABA, Aspie, Autism, high-functioning, low-functioning, moderate-functioning, Neurodivergent, Special Education, Autism Spectrum Disorders, diagnosis, prognosis, DSM-V, sensory integration disorder, stim, self-stimulatory, fixation, rigidity, communication disorder, non-verbal, self-injurious, aggression, self-regulation, social reciprocity, proprioceptive, vestibular, Wilbarger protocol, expressive language, receptive language, engagement, developmental goals, milestones, progress report, eye contact, hyperresponsiveness, hyporesponsiveness, scripting, joint attention, nonverbal behaviors, routines, sameness…..phew…just to name a few!

Some things to Consider:

  • There’s currently NO KNOWN CAUSE for Autism
  • There’s currently NO KNOWN CURE for Autism
  • Current statistics suggest 1:68 children are diagnosed with Autism
  • The ratio for boys to girls is currently: 4:1 – 1:42 boys; 1:189 girls
  • Autism does not discriminate based on socioeconomic status, religion, race, nationality, or gender
  • Autism is lifelong and pervasive; children do not “outgrow” Autism
  • Many children diagnosed with Autism have dual-diagnoses with other childhood developmental disorders and/or cognitive delays
  • Parents of a child with ASD have up to an 18% chance of having other children diagnosed
  • Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA therapy) is currently the only scientifically validated and empirically supported intervention with proven results in helping individuals with Autism
  • Autism is quite expensive; estimates range from $40,000 – $70,000 annually for medical costs and behavior interventions
  • Early and consistent ABA intervention has been proven to promote prosocial behaviors and minimize maladaptive behaviors associated with Autism

 

Stay tuned for more legit #EmpoweredParent information from the fastest growing parent support community at: www.theautismanalyst.com

 

Your friends at,

The Autism Analyst

 

Reference

Center for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC]. Data & Statistics. (2016).

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