Autism Speaks should pause to listen, for just a moment

Parents have a very difficult time negotiating the world of autism treatments. Everyone is out there offering the latest treatment for the disability of autism. This is nothing new, and until there is actually a cure for autism, various forms of autism snake oil will continue to be sold through the unreliable, age old testimonial.

What’s different now is that the researchers have upped the ante. They now have a well-funded, well-heeled autism organization provide legitimacy to propagate autism treatment myth. The organization I’m referring to is
Autism Speaks.

The last thing we need is for
Autism Speaks, and the scientists who work under their umbrella, to be associated in any way with autism treatment quackery. Today, there was yet another feel good testimonial on the Autism Speaks Official Blog espousing the virtues of Floortime. This testimonial is the product of training from a $15,000 grant provided by Autism Speaks!

I’m floored! Here are researchers,
using a technique with no scientific evidence, receiving big money to train an army of therapists, teachers and respite providers across twenty-two states. Now the first kids to graduate from this program are being presented as success stories.

I’d like
Autism Speaks to listen, for just a moment:

Prior to giving money to train people in a technique that has no scientific evidence, it is incumbent upon
Autism Speaks to support well-designed research into the experimental treatment known as Floortime, to discern whether or not the treatment actually improves the condition of autism as compared to other treatments that are currently considered best practices.

I would like to say this to
Dr. Geraldine Dawson, Chief Science Officer, Autism Speaks: you should know better! It does no service for children with autism, and the parents who advocate for them, for a leading autism organization to misinform about the efficacy of treatments; yet this is exactly what Autism Speaks is doing in this instance. By promoting and propagating quackery, Autism Speaks dilutes its legitimacy. In my view, this is shameful. Autism Speaks has enormous potential to change the lives of children with autism, if only they were to use that power responsibly.