Oprah on Autism

Well, it finally happened. Oprah did her first show on autism yesterday, and it was truly a great experience to watch it.

I really think she did the subjects of family issues and public awareness great justice, and tried to present autism from a family's point of view, instead of a clincian's– a refreshing change. I'm grateful for what she did, and am so glad that they featured the parents from the Autism Speaks video. It was a touching, inspiring, and informative piece for all of us.

The Autism Speaks video is here:

 http://www.autismspeaks.org/sponsoredevents/autism_every_day.php 

It's a great piece about how autism can and does affect many families, but I caution you that if you are really upset about your child's autism, that it's not filled with a lot of hope, and  you may not want to watch it. I think that the mothers in the piece were understandably truly grieving about their child, and had never considered a different, more optimistic and positive view about their child's autism.  We all can do that, and I only wish that a positive outlook was more evident in the press.

Oprah mostly featured families of children that were normally developing and then lost skills, which is less common than children that never gain the social and communication skills to begin with.

That might cause the public to think that most children with autism start out normally and lose skills, which is not the typical autism scenario. Also, not enough time was spent on the warning signs of autism in early development, because they were featuring mostly those who had lost skills at 18-24 months.

Overall however, I was very moved and think she did a great service for the autism community at large, by creating some wonderful public awareness about autism and  how it manifests in daily life. I have a lot of respect for what Oprah does, and this show is no exception.

8 thoughts on “Oprah on Autism

  1. Whilst I agree with what you say and wouldn't care to cast aspersions or contradict you, at the same time, the programme gave me considerable hope in the sense that the more people that become of autism the better, both for ourselves but more importantly, people who are throes of developmental issues.

  2. Hi Sandy,
    I was wondering if you have an opinion on why Oprah didn't mention the risk factor of advancing paternal age for some autism. I would appreciate your wisdom on this. This is a very different condition, I guess than having engineers for parents. http://archpedi.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/161/4/326
    Austim Speaks does not inform on this issue and Andy Shih had a peculiar comment, quoted by Tracey Wong Briggs in the USA TODAY article, on the Kaiser Study.
    As you can tell this avenue to “autism” is important to me and I think the public should know about it.
    Thanks for the fantastic site.

  3. Sandra,
    Do you have an opinion about why Oprah didn't mention the risk factor of paternal age for having a child who has autism? Even though the Kaiser study found up to 13% in their population had a parental age factor involved, that study included children who were born up to January of 2000. Average paternal age is still high and I believe it is a proven risk factor.
    http://ebdblog.com/paternalage/
    http://archpedi.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/short/161/4/334
    Thanks for your wisdom and your opinion,
    Les

  4. This is the first I've heard of the age of the parent being a piece of the puzzle, so it's new to me too. I need to look into it for sure. Thanks so much for your input.

  5. Thank you for your feedback. I'm so glad that you got that from the Oprah show. And did you get that from the Autism Every Day video too?
    I felt that way about the Oprah show too. The Autism Every Day video, which is very powerful, gave me the impression that there was little hope for the children. I don't know if that was their intention, but that was my take on it.

  6. This is the first I've heard of the age of the parent being a piece of the puzzle, so it's new to me too. I need to look into it for sure. Thanks so much for your input.

  7. Sandra,
    Thanks so much for responding. I am quite surprised to learn that you hadn't heard about this factor for
    autism.
    It is amazing that the CDC and the major autism organizations keep this aspect of the epidemic so hidden from the American public.
    The following is a link to a review paper of some of the other studies finding maternal or paternal age as a risk factor for autism.
    http://archpedi.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/161/4/326
    Best wishes,
    Les

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