Sep. 6, 2004
Give kids the tools for independence

Autism not a disorder that must be `cured'

Letter, Sept. 2.

I would be interested to know what qualifies Corey Vermey to make such inaccurate and outrageous statements. 

First, while autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may not be a "disease" that can be transmitted, or that causes progressive physical deterioration, medical researchers have found a number of physical differences in the brain structure of individuals with the disorder. ASD is not a psychological or mental illness as Vermey seems to suggest in scoffing at the "need to medicalize" ASD. Such attitudes as this are only one frightening step away from portraying autism as resulting from bad parenting, a view only too recently dismissed by medical professionals.

Second, while it is inspiring to see the names of historical figures such as Albert Einstein as an illustration of the great success that individuals with autism spectrum disorder sometimes achieve, the sad fact is that many more individuals with ASD do face the lifelong prospect of hindered or even absent communication and social skills unless their caregivers are able to provide them with intensive behavioural intervention, perhaps along with other complementary therapies.

Vermey needs to realize that the Einsteins, Freuds and Betrand Russells of the world are the exception in autism, not the rule.

What we parents want in seeking ABA/IBI treatment for our children is not a cure, per se, but a clinically proven method of giving our children the tools they need to overcome those aspects of their autism that would otherwise prevent them from eventually leading a fulfilling, independent adult life. 

As for the "wide array" of treatments and therapies available for individuals with autism, I would respectfully suggest that Vermey visit the Canadian Autism Intervention Research Network at for a reality check as to how many other clinically substantiated treatments and therapies are really available.

Leah Myers,

President, Autism Society Ontario Durham Chapter