When it comes to intervention programs for children with autism, it seems that people making decisions on the efficacy of these programs can be questionable. In an article which appeared in LaPresse on Wednesday, January 15th, 2014, “Une méthode d’intervention nécessaire,” authors Claude Belley and Rose-Marie Charest comment on the positive comments made by Véronique Hivon, Minister for Social Services and Youth Protection in contrast to the negative comments of Dr. Chantal Caron, Psychiatrist at Hôpital Rivière-des-Prairies.
According to Véronique Hivon, there is a significant increase of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, creating a backlog on the waiting list for services. This declaration from the minister shows that she has a realistic picture of the seriousness of the situation. One hopes that something will be done about the need for more services.
As the authors celebrate what the minister has declared, they are definitely not pleased with Dr. Caron. She argues that 20 to 40 hours of Intensive Behavioural Intervention (IBI) is ridiculous, and that there is little scientific evidence supporting the benefits of this intervention for children. I agree that 20 to 40 hours a week can be demanding for both child and parent, but to declare that it doesn’t help the child at all, well…
Professionals working with these children find Dr. Caron’s position goes against best practices. No one argues that we should aim for uniforming standards in Quebec, but questioning an intervention based on a personal opinion and offering no solutions can influence parents not to opt for this type of service that has proven to be beneficial. It makes people opt out or opt in without weighing the positive and the negative. Maybe 20 hours is too much, but what about 15, 10 hours?
When I read an article like this one, I hear Jenny McCarthy all over again. Using the Oprah Show as a platform to influence parents by claiming that vaccines are the cause of autism brought many parents to believe her and make the decision to not vaccinate their child even before knowing the scientific facts. Fact is, there is NO CAUSAL RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THIMEROSAL-CONTAINING VACCINES AND AUTISM RATES IN CHILDREN! But, Jenny McCarthy and her power of influence that comes with showbiz had a bigger impact on the belief system of people than scientific proof.
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