wo of the Competing TheoriesRUNNING HEAD: Competing Theories for Treatments of Autism
The Linwood Method and the Bio-Medical Approach: Two of the Competing Theories
For the Treatment of Patients with Autism
The author of this paper gives and explanation of what autism is. He also tells you a b it about Jeanne Simons and why she created the Linwood Method and what it is. Then, in addition, you are given a description of who Dr. Jacquelyn McCandless is and her reasons for creating the Bio-Medical Method. She also gives the main idea behind the Bio-Medical Method.
I have chosen the topic of autism because I have a family member that, at the age of two, was diagnosed as being autistic. I wanted to understand why he acts the way that he does. I also wanted to know what kids of treatments are out there; maybe it could be some use to his family. I found two theories of treatment that were very different from each other. My goal is to describe what autism is and then compare then Linwood Method and the Bio-Medical Approach.
What is Autism?
Autism was not classified as a separate syndrome until 1943 by Doctor Leo Kanner, a child psychologist at John Hopkins Medical School. HE described it as:
Early onset- possibly from birth, but certainly before age two and a half
Social and emotional impairment- often shows up at birth
Communication disorders- encompass both the development and the use of speech
Retardation or deviance in cognition- with approximately 60 percent of people with autism having measure IQ’s below 50, 20 percent between 50, and 70, and only 20 percent having IQ’s 70 and above
An excessive need for sameness- with autistic children usually reacting to changes in their environment with great distress
Abnormal responses to sensations- with these children often being overly reactive to sensory stimuli” (Simons 4)
There are other symptoms that are not included in this listing, such as, hyperactivity, abnormal sleep patterns, strong fears and phobias, delays in self help skills ( dressing themselves, toilet training, etc.), difficulties with balance and fine motor coordination, self aggression and violent temper tantrums.
“Today it is generally accepted that there may be several causes of autism, each producing similar symptoms. Among these are untreated phenylketonuria, rubella, celiac disease, and chemical exposure in pregnancy” (Simmons)
Children with autism are very distant. At times you would think that they might be deaf. A loud sound could happen and they would not even notice. These children do not create connections with people. They see the people around them more like objects to be used to get what they want. Sometimes they do certain behaviors over and over again, like rocking back and forth or repeating a phrase to themselves. It seems as of they are on their own little world that no one can get to, not even the parents and other
family members they see everyday. I think you can see how frustrating and sad this might be for the families.
The Linwood Method
The Linwood Method focuses on the psychological treatment and behavior modification of the patients. Jeanne Simons started Linwood in the 1950’s. She was working for Children’s House in Washington in 1949, when she realized that some of the children that she was in charge of did not fit into the category of “emotionally disturbed”, but they all seemed to have similar behaviors with one another. They were all socially and emotionally isolated. They set up boundaries around themselves. She thought that there had to be a better way to help these children. So, she worked with this specific group, not even knowing six years prior to that Dr. Leo Kanner had described their distinctive behavior. She started to work with a young man named Lee who had been diagnosed by Dr. Kanner himself. Through Lee she met Dr. Kanner and realized that she needed to create a residence to take care of these patients. Therefore, Linwood was created through a lot of hard work and sacrifice.
The first thing that happens when a child comes to Linwood is he or she is observed by the doctors. Since conventional tests don’t work, this is the only way for the professionals to see if, first of all, the child needs to be there and second, if they child will fit into one of the groups that is already set up.
There are many things that they work with children about. Relationships are one of the first items that they try to work on, because they want to try and forge relationships with the patients. Without some sort of attachment the child may not trust the doctor. Next they work on shaping behavior. When trying to shape a patients behavior the doctors have to pick an appropriate motivator. Each person will have something that when taken away will make them upset, whether it be the ability to go on a trip somewhere or a special food.
Then they try to set limits. Each child is allowed a lot of freedom when they first arrive. Some of the patients have very self-destructive behaviors, like hitting themselves. There was on child that was described in The Hidden Child that hit himself until he had huge bruises across his chest. They also try to limit dangerous behavior, aggression towards others, destructive behavior, and “naughty” behavior. Next is getting rid of compulsions. Most patients have routines that they have to follow and if anything gets in the way temper tantrums will ensue. This process is to try and help them become more adaptive to their environment, instead of everyone having to adapt to them.
Two of the hardest things that they have to do are developing language and thought processes and developing social and emotional skills. These take a lot of time and patience on the part of both the doctors and the families. Children with autism inherently do not have social and emotional skills, and very few have language skills. When they ant something they will either grunt and point or they will lead you to what they want. They have some wonderful success stories from the Linwood Home. Most patients have the ability to be taught to become a working part of society. Others have left there and have productive relationships and good jobs; almost if they had never had a problem. Not to say that this happens for a lot of them, it is actually very few.
The Bio-Medical Approach
Dr. Jacquelyn McCandless, the author of Children With Starving Brains: A Medical Treatment Guide for Autism Spectrum Disorder, had very personal reasons why she w anted to write this book. Her granddaughter was diagnosed with autism when she was nearly three years old. Dr.McCandless studied the way that hormones, vitamins and other nutrients help brains; this helped her to come up with the Bio-Medical Method. When her granddaughter was diagnosed she did not know very much about autism and set on her way to discovering just what it was that her family as going to go through (McCandless 8).
When she started to research what other physicians had come up with, she did not like what she was reading. Since she had studied what nutrient depletion and lack of vitamins in diet could do to people she wondered what would happen if she tried it on a patient with autism. Her daughter was very patient and followed through with all of the suggestions of her daughter.
Nutritional deficiencies affect every part of the body. “I cannot emphasize enough that the brain does not function in isolation. It is a team player; it needs vital nutrients as well as informational input. To fill these needs the brain depends heavily on complex interactions between the immune, endocrine, and gastrointestinal systems.” (McCandless 38) One of the eccentricities of some children with autism is being a picky eater. Very often they will only eat one or two foods and if they do not get them, temper tantrums are thrown. Usually these foods are not ones that are any good for them. They are more like French fries or pudding. With this lack of variety in diet, the autistics child’s immune system is affected as well as the functioning of his or her brain.
Many autistic children have problems with their gastrointestinal system. “There can be many causes of gastrointestinal problems in children with autism. Multiple studies have shown malabsorption, maldigestion, gut pathogen (fungal, bacterial, and viral), and abnormal intestinal permeability in many ASD children. Many parents do not realize at first that there is a connection between their child’s autism and their gastrointestinal abnormalities. Unfortunately, many doctors also have not yet learned about that connection. Constipation and diarrhea, and sometimes both at alternate times, are frequently reported by parents, as well as abnormal amounts of gas, belching, and foul smelling stools.” (McCandless 40)
So, as someone can see, these problems would make anyone uncomfortable. By replacing the vitamins that these children are not getting in their daily diet some of these problems can be resolved. If the gastrointestinal system is not working correctly, it also affects our immune systems. Out gastrointestinal system is what flushes out all of the stuff that is no good for our bodies. So, if that is backed up, there is a much greater chance of infection and other things spreading and therefore, lowering the power of the immune system.
In conclusion, this paper outlined what autism is and gives an idea of two of the possible treatment methods for autism. Autism is a very serious disorder. It affects the person’s entire life and the lives of everyone else around them. I have seen with my own eyes how much patience it takes to be the family of a child with autism. It takes a very special person or group of people to handle it as well as I have seen.
Celiac Disease. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. 30 April 2003
Genes and Disease. The National Center for Biotechnology Information. 30 April 2003
German Measles or Rubella. Medinfo. 30 April 2003
McCandless, Jacquelyn. Children With Starving Brains: A Medical Treatment Guide For
Autism Spectrum Disorder. Canada: Bramble Books, 2002
Park, Clara Claiborne. Exiting Nirvana: A Daughter’s Life with Autism. 1st Edition. New
York: Little, Brown and Company, 2001
Simons, Jeanne and Sabine Oishi. The Hidden Child: The Linwood Method for Reaching
The Autistic Child. Maryland: Woodbine House, 1985