Adelphi University has been working for years to raise awareness of and inspire discussion on autism-related issues on Long Island. Our faculty are internationally known experts in autism, and our events, initiatives, and services all reflect their expertise. The following experts offer their opinions in response to the New York Times Magazine article, ‘After Autism’ byRuth Padawer, August 3, 2014.
Stephen M. Shore., Clinical Assistant Professor of Education, Adelphi University
While it is great to read people with autism are doing well – they have not "beaten autism".
The individuals mentioned in the article are described as having residual effects of autism – usually in the social areas. The question is... have these individuals recovered from or eliminated characteristics of autism? Or have they learned how to work with the strengths that come from being on the autism spectrum? As a person on the autism spectrum, I believe we would be much better served if the focus remains on what can be done with the characteristics autism gives a person rather than having to deny or defeat it.
Judith H. Cohen, Ph.D., J.D. Professor of Education, Adelphi University, author of “Succeeding with Autism—Hear My Voice
Responding to the recent NY Times article by Padawer, the outlook about autism is changing dramatically due to the increase in knowledge about the spectrum disorder. Documented case reports about individuals ‘recovering’ from autism have become more frequent providing greater hope for many families.
We now know that individuals do change over time and core deficits can be reduced or modified. There are still no early indicators in childhood behaviors that reliably predict later functioning. However there are indicators that are associated with better outcomes: early diagnosis, early intervention, consistent and expert intervention, medication to address symptoms, language ability, desire to change, intelligence, and maturity.
I prefer to use the term ‘managing and succeeding’ with autism rather than recovering from autism.
Two, very high functioning adults that I know had severe and classic autistic attributes in early childhood and the recommendation was that both should have been institutionalized. Instead, their needs were addressed in early childhood through public education and home support. Today both are independent adults with professional careers and both are still on the autism spectrum. Have they ‘recovered’ or have they learned to manage their areas of deficits and modified aspects of behavior?
Pat Schissel, LMSW , Executive Director, Asperger Syndrome and High Functioning Autism Association(AHA)
These kids are not "beating" autism. Simply put they do not meet the diagnostic criteria at this point. So what.
So what indeed! They still have social issues. They have highly focused interests. They have the past experiences of ASD (bullying and poor self-esteem). Most likely, in my experience, they will need to be supported and encouraged to embrace who they are. Not who the diagnostician in their narrow frame sees. They can do well going forward - as adults when this is acknowledged. I am not a big believer in denial.
Mitch Nagler, MA ’06 Director of the Bridges to Adelphi Program for students on the Autism Spectrum or those who struggle with Social Anxiety or other non-verbal learning disorders
By saying someone is cured of Autism is misleading in my opinion. Two people can present the same at the age of diagnosis [as referenced in the New York Times article], they can be given the same therapies and services, but faced with different individual variables their reaction is bound to be different.
Autism is a developmental disorder, so it makes sense to me that as people mature, they grows into themselves at a different paces compared to others. As they develop, I have seen many students that have less characteristics of the disorder than when they started in the Bridges to Adelphi Program. We just never know how much someone will progress, or when it will happen. Our approach in the Bridges Program is to support each student’s strengths, with that comes a building of self-esteem and lesser attention on their weaknesses.