Saturday, February 20, 2010
Dear Ms. Berlinger:
Twenty-five years ago, I read a book about the Son-Rise program as part of an undergraduate psychology course. It was a compelling story. To date, there has not been a single study documenting the effectiveness of this method. This is not unique to Son-Rise. Autism treatment has become a multi-million dollar industry with those who cobble together the most touching and heart-wrenching testimonials earning the greatest profit. Many journalists, as exemplified by this article, share these stories for public consumption without asking critically important questions such as:
1) Are there any published research articles documenting the efficacy of the method?
2) If not, why not?
3) How much does the intervention cost? Are these costs reasonable?
4) Who may benefit financially from your article?
In reference to autism treatment, you quote Lindee Morgan, "There's no way to say one is better than the other." I completely disagree. Research in peer-reviewed journals can tell us which way is better than the other. This is done for the vast majority of disorders. Without research, treatment for conditions such as childhood leukemia and diabetes would be a veritable free-for-all.
Sadly, many of those who provide autism treatment seem to have a pass on having to prove their methods in verifiable and objective ways, and instead are given free rein to make a lot of money from parents desperately trying to help their children.
Parents of children with autism should not have to work so hard to find effective interventions. Let me be clear: there are over 100 treatments proposed for autism and most lack any scientific support. Instead, parents deserve access to a community that values science over profit, expects accountability from all treatment providers, and gravitates towards methods already proven to be effective.
David Celiberti, Ph.D., BCBA-D
Association for Science in Autism Treatment