A Tale of Two Schools

A Tale of Two Schools

There are 7 comments on the Time story from May 15, 2006, titled A Tale of Two Schools. In it, Time reports that:

From the moment parents absorb the shock that their child may be autistic, they enter a dizzying world of specialists, therapists and, alas, purveyors of snake oil.

Join the discussion below, or Read more at Time.

Diane Daniels

Butler, NJ

#1 May 18, 2006
I found this article to be disturbing in that I expect unbiased journalism from a publication like Time Magazine. This was not the tale of two schools, it was the tale of one school.... a school that uses silly string and kooshes in place of proven therapies. My criticism is not aimed at the school, it may be a fine alternative learning situation for some children. It most certainly does not address learning at all nor issues with techniques used for autistic children who exhibit injurious behavior.

In short, I found the article biased. I treated a very serious subject by minimizing the needs of autistic children in a school setting, implying that Silly String and a Koosh will solve all the problems of autism and AT THE SAME TIME, downplaying the fact that the Alpine Learning Group, with its expertise in ABA therapy is without a doubt one of THE best placements for an autistic child in the country.

I expect more from Time. Well I did expect more. Apparently this is the kind of journalism they peddle.
Maria New Jersey

Sparta, NJ

#2 May 27, 2006
As someone who uses ABA teaching methods with autistic children I want to applaud TIME MAGAZINE for shedding light on an exciting new concept in autistic education. This article revealed how far we have come in our knowledge of a mysterious and heartbreaking condition.
The ABA system has been the only way we understood to teach children with autism. Many autistic children can easily be taught to recite the Preamble to the Constitution, the Gettysburg Address, and the entire poem "The Raven" by Edger Allen Poe. But that same child will not be able to tell you what they just said or what any of it means. The brain just does not connect to that concept. The methods used by Celebrate the Children helps an autistic child build new connections to those feelings and understandings.
It is so exciting to see this method of reaching these intelligent but socially stagnant children’s minds. From what I Have read here in the Time magazine article, as well as the things I have read on the web site for Celebrate the Children, The DIR method has begun to open the minds of autistic children to the world around them. These children are no longer just parroting what they are told to say and do. They are thinking and responding purposefully and meaningfully for themselves!

Youngsville, NC

#3 May 29, 2006
I think it was a good article.

Brunswick, Australia

#4 Jun 3, 2006
Any program is good for autistic children,providing this or that program helps the individual child,becouse every autistic child is a unique individual with separate needs.I think it is wrong for any particular program to claim to be successful for every autistic child

Butler, NJ

#5 Jun 4, 2006
well..... it all does come down to of course the obvious...... do anythting that works. i think the artitcle played on all the stereotypes that have already been disproven and shed no light really on much. It really was based on two myths: ABA therapy churns out little robots and the old adage, just play with your kids and they won't be autistic.

we know both of these myths are false at this point. if floortime and silly string could do what ABA therapy does, there would be no autistic kids. not to mention the fact that i would hesitate to squirt some pressurized plastic chemicals with fleurocarbons on the head of my autistic child.

clearly the goal is make a connection with the child. if playing with them does that, it's great. we know that aba therapy has enabled non-verbal children to speak..... can floortime do that? can floortime teach autistic children skills that they need to live in the world, like brushing their teeth, getting dressed, etc. i'm not sure that the education provided by aba therapy and the ability it has shown to bring many autistic children to a level where their development is close to typical children. is there any evidence that DIR method has accomplished that? is there any evidence that the DIR method has brought a child to a level that is "indistiguishable from their peers"? we know that aba therapy has accomplished that as well.

so, from the perspective of what the main approach to dealing with autism, aba is the only proven therapy. i think the DIR method is probably a great adjunct to ABA, but i certainly wouldn't put my child's future in the hands of silly string and a koosh alone. without ABA. I do know for certain that my daughter did not learn one thing that she didn't learn through the use ABA therapy. She is 4 years old, she is not a robot, she speaks in complete sentences, she attends ballet school where she is the only child with autism, she communicates her needs. She is autistic, but ABA therapy has taken her to a place in one year that I never imagined she would be.

from my point of view, the article was negligent in its obvious slant towards the unproven, undocumented, unscientific DIR approach. the one child they showed who was in an ABA program had a binder 7 inches thick. to some that may seem like 7 inches of data. but to those of us who know better, that's a tremendous amount of documented progress, rapid learning of new skills, and taking a child who came into an ABA program with nothing, 7 inches past where she started. again, not to flog a dead horse, but it is a no brainer at this point in time: what I want for my child is a binder full of 7 inches of learning in one year, not a can of silly string and a giggle. i do think the article also implied that in a school that uses aba therapy there is no floortime, no playing which is of course utterly ridiculous. anything that's used in DIR is also used in schools in ABA centered schools as well.

when parents of an autistic child are being slammed left and right desperately trying to find appropriate therapy for their child, a magazine like Time singing the praises of DIR alone is actually throwing gasoline on a fire of confusion and pointing people who don't know what to do in a direction that should not be the first line of treatment for autism. one day when they have some data to show the effectiveness of DIR it may very well be proven to be very effective for social interaction issues which would be great. but until that is proven it's not a direction that I personally would point someone. A major news publication should certainly be cautious when they do. as those of us who know, people's lives and futures hang in the balance.
Lawrence Naresh

San Jose, CA

#6 Jun 12, 2006
My 8 year old son Mervin is Autistic and we were so thrilled that such schools were there in NJ. We also read that the high fees too is covered by the Govt.We are thinking seriously wheather we should move fromn Central Jersey to Paramus to give our child this theraphy . Would welcome views and opinions on this. mail id lawrencenaresh@yahoo.com
Jenn Metts

New Albany, IN

#7 Jun 25, 2008
I read the Time article and we as a family picked everything up and moved to New jersey for a year so that my son could attend the Celebrate The Children school. my son had ABA therapy from the time he was 18 months until the day we moved. My son had made much progress with ABA but he had a ton of aggression, and we just weren't seeing anything outside of academics from the ABA therapy. I just have to say Celebrate the Children is such a great school!! I wish we didn't have to move back to ky.;(
While my son was at the school the school had me come in for training one day a week. I was ALWAYS welcome to visit whenever I wanted. They had science fairs,plays,video presentations..it was more school than any parent with a child with Autism could even dream about.
At Celebrate The Children my son had math,reading,all the basics...the key is they go at the childs pace. The staff is awesome! When you enter the school you are surrounded by 5x7 pictures of all the children in the school laughing,engaging,enjoying! They have a Student of the week..this is where they put a pic up and write about him and what he enjoys.

They also have a social skills group that meets after school which is great, and during the summer they hold a summer social skills camp.

I just can't say enough about this school. It gave me my son back. He know smiles, the aggression is gone, and I now have the knowledge to do it myself at home.

CHEERS!! to CTC, I would give anything to have your school here in Kentucky.

Jenn Metts,Harrison's mom

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