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Topic : 12/19 Parents’ Ultimate Test: Dealing with Autism

Number of Replies: 290
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Created on : Thursday, December 13, 2007, 05:12:39 pm
Author : DrPhilBoard1
The ultimate test for any parent is loving a child who is difficult, sometimes frightening, to the whole family. It’s a test parents of autistic children are put to daily. Ten-year-old Luz throws screaming tantrums, barks like a dog, and tells his mother, Sara, that he plans to kill her. Sara has long felt despair at Luz’s out-of-control behavior, yet she was shocked when a doctor diagnosed him with autism. Go inside the daily life of this family, see Luz’s wild behavior caught on tape, and learn why Sara’s main coping mechanisms might be putting her at risk. Then, a member of Dr. Phil’s own staff achieved miraculous results for her autistic child and her whole family through an intense program. Could a similar treatment work for Luz? Plus, what causes autism? Several recent media reports and high-profile parents such as Jenny McCarthy have pointed the finger at vaccinations. Is there a link? Child care expert and pediatrician Dr. Jim Sears weighs in. Then, imagine having a crime committed against you, but not having a voice or any way to tell someone you’d been wronged. Some mothers in Las Vegas say that’s exactly what happened when a teacher allegedly abused their autistic children, and they’ve filed a lawsuit. Hear them recount the painful details of the alleged abuse. What are their chances of winning in court? Share your thoughts here.

Find out what happened on the show.

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December 19, 2007, 12:21 pm CST

Causes of Autism

Just wanted to state one more thing.

I believe that the cause of Autism is two fold.  There is a genetic component, but there is also external factors.
December 19, 2007, 12:47 pm CST


 I have a 16 month old daughter with SID (sensory intergation dysfunction), it can be associated with autism. I cant believe what some of you are posting, it blows my mind that some people can be such idiots about mental illness.
We're doing early intervention and within the last two months we've seen huge improvements. Early intervention is a state run program, that i believe is availabe in all 50 states. Do a google search for "early intervention [your state]" and i'm sure you can find tons of resources.
I'm glad dr. phil is doing a show on autism to shed some light on the subject. my only fear, like others, is that people will assume that all children with autism are violent.
I can also relate to the first mother, its tough, its emotionally draining, but with early intervention and they make a step in the right direction is SO rewarding. She seems to be doing a good job and i bet she's a strong women & i can only hope that her family does well and dr.phil sent her home with some good reasources!
December 19, 2007, 12:58 pm CST

abuse of autistic kids in school

 My husband taught in a public middleschool in which autistic kids were mainstreamed.  Any parent is welcome to sit in on any class, to volunteer, and to be active in almost any way.  I don't know where this is not the case.  Sometimes the parents use school time to be an escape from their children, consequently, many happenings are ignored.  Parents need to know that they may be their child's only, be ACTIVE at your child's school.
December 19, 2007, 1:06 pm CST

lottie did you notice???

Quote From: lottie100

 My husband taught in a public middleschool in which autistic kids were mainstreamed.  Any parent is welcome to sit in on any class, to volunteer, and to be active in almost any way.  I don't know where this is not the case.  Sometimes the parents use school time to be an escape from their children, consequently, many happenings are ignored.  Parents need to know that they may be their child's only, be ACTIVE at your child's school.
that the school that had the abuse problem looked like a warehouse of sorts?  It was like there were no windows even & like you originally I thought "well you have to pop in school every now & then" & really even with kids who are capable of speaking you have to be able to *see in* because we're not really able to just walk in any more you know?  That so called school didn't look to have hardly any windows if there were any at all.  And I agree one needs to be real active in school. 
December 19, 2007, 1:07 pm CST

12/19 Parents’ Ultimate Test: Dealing with Autism

Being an educational aide in the public school system, I watched with interest today's show on autism.  I was hired specifically as a one on one aide to a first grade autistic child.  This child, although diagnosed "high functional", had many emotional as well as behavioral issues.  Were the abused children in a public school or were they in a special school for autistic children?  That raises a whole set of questions about the "inclusion" of these children into the mainstream of public education.  During the time I was the aide to this child, I learned to love him and accept his many challenging emotions.  Not knowing from one day to the other of what the day would bring, I could end the day in tears over milestones reached or tears from being kicked, smacked or being told he hated me and that he was going to kill me.  Many days I worried that I would accidentally leave buises on his arms from trying to hold him from running himself into lockers or slamming himself on the floor.  There were times it was absolutely necessary that this child be moved from laying down in the hallway when he would throw himself on the floor and refuse to get up.  Never would I intentionally hurt that child or any other child in my care.  However, I am an adult, there were children that were on the other side of his emotional outbursts, resulting in children that were also being kicked and hit.  I feel for the mothers of these children and hope that any wrongdoing on the part of an adult, teacher, aide, etc. be addressed and dealt with harshly.  Please, just be sure all the facts are known.

December 19, 2007, 1:17 pm CST


I personally know of only one case of autism.  That young man is now 18 with the functioning ability of a 5 year old.  He is the sweetest and most loving young person I have ever met.  He does not show any signs of hurtful or destructive behavior.  He does have to be under the watchful eye of his parents.  Because of his innocence, he loves to go up to people and hold their hand or touch their arm. Most people are understanding. 


May I play devil's advocate for a moment? Are some of these more severe cases misdiagnosed when actually the child may suffer severe psychological problems and could pose a very serious danger to not only to himself but his siblings and parents?  At what point do drastic steps have to be taken to prevent such a tragedy from occurring? I also find it distressing that Sara the mother has approached her other child Julio about the future and about taking care of his brother.  That is an overwhelming question to ask a child.  And yes, Julio is still a child.  Those other two siblings have enough to deal with living under the conditions they do. I surely thought Dr. Phil would address that aspect.  It is the parent's responsibility to care for their child and prepare for his future.


We have a family instance where the young lady had severe physical and social problems.  Her parents are gone now and did nothing to ensure some sort of future for her.  Her sister is now responsible for her, and it unfortunately has cost the sister her marriage.  I do hope everyone on the show can find the answer to their dilemmas.

December 19, 2007, 1:37 pm CST

Re: Luz

I am watching your program and saw the tape of Luz. I have been an educator for over 25 yrs. and have worked with many children in ages 4K-MS/HS. I agree with your suggestions to the parents, but I am not sure in my lay person experiences that autism is what's going on. Luz's behavior on the tape at least reminds me more of a child with RAD, Reactive Attachment Disorder. I noticed Luz looking for reactions and body language from others. The interventions that I was taught by an excellent therapist specializing in RAD were extremely effective and not always interventions/strategies that one would think intuitively would be effective. Again, I am a teacher/educator, not a Dr. but I have worked with many children with autism and children with RAD...and the strategies were different but worked. That couple might want to look into a second opinion. I know it's hard to make judgments from a short video clip, but I saw things that made me think RAD, not autism. Just my 2cents. Thanks.
December 19, 2007, 1:43 pm CST

dealing w/ autism

I am a mother of a 17 year old daughter with Autism.  I have no (0) friends or caring family. Everyday I worry about what will happen to her when I am gone.I am married, and my husband has legally adopted her some years back. He is not much help when it comes to the daily struggles of dealing with Autism. What do I do? Who or what can I do now to  ensure she has a  happy, well maintained life after I'm gone?
December 19, 2007, 1:56 pm CST


You know, it really burns me up when someone says autism  is or may  be caused by immunizations.  Honestly, some know-nothing movie star or whatever writes a book and people will believe her!  I have taken a nice 20+ hours of psychology classes in college, including childhood development and abnormal psychology, and the one constant factoid I hear is AUTISM IS NOT CAUSED BY IMMUNIZATIONS!  There have been test out the ying-yang about this whole thing and there is no supporting evidence what so ever that supports this theory.  The only link is autism appears by age three, yes?  How many immunizations should your child have by about age three?  Just about all of them, right?  There's your link!  Let's start the witch hunt!  I know it must be a scary thing.  I pray to whatever higher power out there that when I have children, that they are all healthy physically and mentally.  I cannot begin to imagine the trials and tribulations involved in having an autistic child.  But these crazy, irrational theories are not helping anyone.  They will not help your child, they will not help you deal with your child, they will not fix the problem.  It's just more finger pointing that keeps scientists running in circles rather than finding the cause/cure/prevention/etc for autism.

Oh, and one more thing:  According to my abnormal psychology class, autism doesn't just magically appear.  There are warning signs that can be sported.  I believe as early as age one.
December 19, 2007, 1:59 pm CST


As a doctoral level psychologist who specializes in autism assessments in the school setting, I am particularly disturbed that Dr. Phil keeps  referring to children with autism as "autistic."  Whatever happened to "people first language?"  As a fellow professional, I would expect Dr. Phil to put the child first.  By calling a child (or an adult) "Autistic," you are using that term to define that person.  The reality is that "Autism" is just a term to describe a pattern of behaviors that one is exhibiting.  They are a person with autism...just like you would be a person with any other disability.  Which sounds better - a "diabetic" which labels someone by their diagnosis - or a person with diabetes, which describes just one thing that makes up who that person is?  Maybe I am being extremely picky here, but it just bothers me everytime I hear someone being described as "autistic" rather than a person with autism.  Dr. Phil should know better.

Also, I want to also piggyback on the post below stressing that no two children with autism look alike.  Autism is a spectrum disorder meaning that it runs the gamut from mild to severe.  Not all children with autism will have every symptom - most have a different combination of symptoms that express themselves in a variety of ways.  The children shown on the show today are just examples - but are not representative of what all children with autism look like.  The reason why different interventions (treatments) work for different kiddos - and that there's no one 'treatment' for autism - is that each kiddo is different.  What works for one does not work for all kids.

Finally, in response to the post about Asperger's.  I am a school psychologist, as stated above, and absolutely believe that such a syndrome exists.  We (assessments are done as a team) diagnose Asperger's wherever appropriate.  The only difference is that Asperger's tends to develop later (around age 7) because of the strong language component whereas classic autism is present by age 3.  Asperger's is not something that goes away - if it is diagnosed in childhood it will progress into adulthood.  However, many famous and successful people out there have been diagnosed with Asperger's (e.g., Bill Gates). 

I could go on forever, but I will stop.  Overall, I am disappointed in today's show and in Dr. Phil's portrayal of Autism Spectrum Disorders.  I know that he does not see individuals or families as clients, but he really showed how out of touch he is clinically with today's show.  Even having the suggestion that vaccinations may play a role was misguided - there was a research article published in the fall that already showed evidence that there is NO LINK between autism and vaccinations.

Just my thoughts,
Dr. Tonya
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