Dear Ms. Tsouderos and Ms. Callahan:
On behalf of the Association for Science in Autism Treatment (ASAT), we would like to commend you for your recent article entitled, “Autism treatment: Science hijacked to support alternative therapies” (November 23, 2009).
Parents of children with autism are bombarded with treatment options, often to the point of confusion. This article correctly informs the reader that physicians are making grossly inaccurate claims about the scientific evidence behind unproven biomedical treatments, as well as about the “recovery” of children who undergo these treatments. Such claims raise false hopes and distance parents from treatments proven to be effective.
While we especially appreciate your review of the research and court testimony demonstrating the lack of empirical support for these alternative therapies, we wish that you would have emphasized how important it is for parents to rely on science-based treatments for their children with autism. For example, many of the interventions grounded in the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) have copious scientific evidence supporting their efficacy for children with autism.
There is an urgent need to promote effective, science-based autism intervention, and we commend the Tribune for taking a strong stand against unproven, potentially life-threatening interventions.ASAT (www.asatonline.org) agrees that the pursuit of unproven, potentially dangerous “treatments” saps family resources and takes time away from effective interventions that can make a lasting difference.
Thank you for your commitment to raising awareness about autism interventions.
Hannah Hoch, Ph.D., BCBA-D
Media Review Committee, Association for Science in Autism Treatment
Daniel W. Mruzek, Ph.D., BCBA-D
Board Member, Association for Science in Autism Treatment