Steve Gutstein on Autism Awareness
RDI Connect offers a podcast series exploring aspects of parenting and teaching children with autism. The following is an excerpt from a reflection of what autism awareness really needs to be, by Dr. Steven Gutstein.
“There’s a lot more awareness that there is such a thing called autism, but there is not a great deal of awareness of what the consequences of autism are and what the research is demonstrating or telling us of what autism is really about.
There’s such a gap between what we’re doing and what the research is showing us, that’s really concerning and doesn’t seem like it’s changing.
There’s still a myth that early intervention works, and if we get more kids into more interventions and early interventions things will be better, but it’s just not based on reality.
What the reality shows us is that the psychiatric illness rate for people with autism is up to 80% when we look at adolescent people…the suicide rate is 7x higher than it is for typically developing people, neurotypical people…the unemployment rate is huge, despite education and such.
So, the outcomes that we’re seeing based on the interventions we’re doing now, the most popular interventions, are not good. And yet there doesn’t seem to be any awareness that we need to change what we’re doing to reflect this.
We’re learning that the major impairments, the impairments that seem to be the things that keep people with autism from having a good life, from having success at work or in relationships, are not the things that we’re intervening with. And they could be addressed in the ways we do intervention.
They’re more complex, and they require a developmental model, and not a discrete skills model. They require the involvement of parents and families, not trained students. They require us to understand much more about typical development, and how these abilities that are not being addressed for people with autism, how do these things develop in neurotypical children. What happens there?
So, I think while there’s more awareness on a general level that autism exists, there really hasn’t’ been much progress in understanding what we really have to do if we’re going to help people with ASD to be able to succeed in their lives, in order to have quality of life.”
You can view the full episode here: