False Words and False Hope
Autism is a childhood disease where the child is in a private world of their own. A description of an autistic child by her mother is: We start with an image---a tiny, golden child on hands and knees, circling round and round a spot on the floor in mysterious self-
absorbed delight. She does not look up, though she is smiling and laughing; she does not call our attention to the mysterious object of her pleasure. She does not see us at all. She and the spot are all there is, and though she is eighteen months old, an age for touching, tasting, pointing, pushing, exploring, she is doing none of these. (Groden 2) This is the most important trait in an autistic child: They don't interact or socialize with other people. Other characteristics in autistic children are language retardation and ritualistic or compulsive behaviors. It used to be thought that children became autistic because of poor parenting and that the only solution was that the parents should be removed from the child (Baron-Cohen 26). Now it is known that autism is caused by biological factors due to: neurological symptoms, mental handicap, genetic causes, infections, and even
difficulties in pregnancy.
Even though autism is thought of as a disease or disorder, autistic children can demonstrate special skills. These skills are referred to as isolated islets of intelligence (Baron-Cohen 53). Some examples of these are found in an autistic child's ability to draw, play music, or recall a certain date. Nadia, an autistic child, has the ability to draw in an almost photographic way (Baron-Cohen 54). Autistic children can also play instruments, accurately sing songs, recognize structures of music, etc. A problem that arises when autistic children are going through therapy is that they start to lose their remarkable skills. For parents to find out that their child is autistic can be very
shocking. They go from having a bouncy, livey baby to a having a total stranger
as their child. Many therapies have been devised to help autistic children.
Some of these therapies are: behavior therapy, speech and language therapy,
holding therapy, music therapy, and the newest one, facilitation therapy.
Since most autistic children are different and their behaviors are different, one
therapy may be more effective than another one. Facilitation therapy is catching
on, but is already becoming a controversy. Although facilitation therapy is one
of the most popular used methods in communicating with autistic children, it is
being downgraded because of the controversies where the children are being
manipulated by the facilitators.
A child with autism can be detected by the age of three. If treament is
started right away, the child may gain their normal functioning. This is a critical
factor in reversing the disorder (McEachin 105). Other elements in autistic
therapy that are important factors in helping with the child are observations,
establishing relationships, and changing behaviors (Simons 27). Once autistic
children have made a relationship, they are brought closer to the outside world.
That is why facilitation therapy is so popular. This kind of therapy helps the
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outside world to communicate with the lost child. The autistic child is supported
by a facilitator who holds the arm, the wrist, or the hand. This support helps the
child to control his/her movements in order for the child to point to words,
pictures, etc. In this way autistic children can express feelings or thoughts that
no one thought they had.
So why is there controversy over facilitation therapy ? The autistic child
is being observed, a relationship is formed between the child and the facilitator,
and the gap is being closed. The problem with facilitation therapy is expressed
by Dr. Green from the New York Times, Facilitated communication seems
tantamount to a miracle, but it's more like a self-fulfulling prophecy - you see
what you want to see (C11). There is always the chance that the child is not the
one expressing the thoughts. Scientists in the New York Times are likening it
to a Ouija board (C1), because as people subconsciously move the message
indicator to get an answer to their question, facilitators can move the autistic
child's hand to what they want. Another argument against