Author: Raphael Bernier, PhD

A Conversation With My Younger Self

The title of this blog series is “A Conversation With My Younger Self”. We wondered what parents and providers would say to their younger selves having the wisdom of hindsight and if there might be any words of wisdom our younger selves might have for us today. We begin with providers. 

Anita Wright, Speech Pathologist

As a young professional, there was a lot I didn’t know or understand about autism.  I should have taken more time to describe to parents the strengths their child exhibited, not just the deficits, not just the worrisome behaviors.  I would have helped parents recognize and emphasize the positive aspects of their child and point out how we can build on those strengths to broaden the child’s skills in other areas.  

As a parent, I’d remind myself not to be too quick to give up on teaching new things, even when the going seems incredibly slow.  Time and persistence on a parent’s part can sometimes bring surprising Read full post »

Autism and Race

Based on Kanner’s observations of the children he worked with, autism was once thought to be a disorder that disproportionately affected families of higher socioeconomic status (Kanner, 1943). He noted that the parents of the children he described in his seminal work were highly educated, upper middle class, and of European-American descent. Subsequent studies failed to corroborate Kanner’s belief. The likely reason for Kanner’s finding was a result of bias caused by a greater access to diagnostic and treatment options for families with financial means.

In the 70 years since Kanner’s report we now know that autism clearly affects children from diverse racial and socioeconomic backgrounds yet disparity continues to exist in services. Nowhere is this more Read full post »

Autism and Broccoli

broccoliYes, you read the title of this blog correctly. My colleague Katrina forwarded me an article with this headline: Broccoli Extract May Reduce Autism Symptoms. Being the discerning parent/provider that I am, I thought it was just another wacky autism-treatment idea so I didn’t run out to buy a boatload of broccoli, but I did go to one of my most trusted sources for all things autism to get his read on things. Here’s what the good doctor Raphe Bernier had to say.

Lynn: Tell us Dr. Bernier, what is your first impression of this study?

Dr. Bernier: Well, many of the intervention studies in autism have methodological flaws that make drawing conclusions difficult. This makes sense, conducting studies is costly and difficult. I’m not excusing, just explaining. However, this study addresses many of those methodological flaws: there is random assignment to a treatment or control group, there is a placebo condition, there are outcome ratings that are judged by raters who are naïve to Read full post »

Autism and Recent Research

We often get queries from parents about research studies they hear about in the media. Often they relate to potential treatments and parents wonder if it is something they should try for their child.

In order to help parents better understand various studies, TheAutismBlog will post from time to time on studies we think worth mentioning. We’ll translate the scientific language found in peer-review journals and provide more depth than media sound bites, aimed at grabbing attention.

Today we share with you two studies focused on possible treatment for autism. Read full post »