Lorene Amet of Autism Treatment Trust discusses her beliefs about autism

6 Jul

Lorene Amet, Principal Scientist at Autism Treatment Trust and I got into a debate at Autism Gadfly blog during which I asked her to discuss her view on vaccination. She expanded these views into a blogpost which she entitled ‘Autism and the Environment’. I was puzzled at first as to why she would name a debate about vaccines such a misleading title but then, look again at the ATT page in which Lorene Amet is listed at ATT. Her heading is described as Dr Lorene Amet and whilst she is no doubt a doctor, it is maybe a little misleading that her biography does not make clear that she isn’t a medical doctor.

Amet’s post is awash with Truthiness. Take this passage for example:

First point I would like to make is that Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), regressive autism, Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS) are conditions that are on the increase starting from about 1988. I believe this is a real increase that is not just related to a greater awareness of the conditions and change of diagnostic criteria. However, there is no clear picture as far as Asperger Syndrome (AS) is concerned. There is no data on prevalence of AS alone, and almost certainly this condition was essentially unnoticed, considered as some sort of quirkiness, even in very recent past. Equally, many adults with AS have remained undiagnosed to this day. It is therefore possible that AS is not on the increase, in any case, the data is not there yet to answer this question accurately. However for the rest of the ASD kids, the increase seems real. I can argue this point using a range of additional arguments, but let’s not get too distracted, even if this is an essential point.

Feels true doesn’t it? Except that ‘on the increase’ is a pretty ambiguous term. ‘On the increase’ suggests that there was a clear, unambiguous starting point where we knew exactly what the prevalence of autism was. The truth is, we don’t. There is no agreement from 1988 on an international level about the prevalence of autism. Even on a county by county level in the UK or State by State level in the US, data diverges wildly if it exists at all. If anyone disagrees with this, I’d love to see concrete figures from 1988. Because only from a concrete starting point can we make concrete estimates about ‘increases’.

Amet also falls into the trap of assumption. Assumption that the only two non-environmental aspects of an ‘increase’ can be a) greater awareness and b) change of criteria. Besides these two, there are issues such as greater attainment (more centres and more experts capable of diagnosing autism), diagnostic substitution and change in public policy towards ASD (amongst others).

So is there an autism epidemic? The absolute truth is that nobody knows. To claim or even infer otherwise is misleading. As Richard Roy Grinker says in Unstrange Minds:

…the old rates were either inaccurate….or based on different definitions of autism than the ones we use now.

Amet then goes on to discuss things other than autism – a lengthy part of her post which, as it doesn’t touch on autism, isn’t important to me or _this_ post.

She then says:

The fourth point I would like to make is that Autism is associated in about 60% of the cases with health issues, digestive system, immune system and commonly presents with a regressive feature (again about 60% of cases). Some preliminary reports can be found discussed in the BMJ. This is important because we are starting to conceive that some people might be more vulnerable than others if they are placed in situations of overload. Overload can be understood quite broadly. Overload in terms of insult to the immune system, overload in terms of specific toxins (e.g. organophosphates), or overload in terms of stress, etc.

This is a very contentious argument which is again more truthiness than true. The 60% figure is unsourced and _seems_ to be numbers gained from a very biased source – ATT caseload. I would warn Amet against the dangers of cherry picking data that seems to support your ideas. Maybe it would be better to find support from the independent science on this issue.

Although this is a post that is supposed to be about vaccines and Amet’s own views on the matter, the only ‘hard’ unequivocal statement on the matter comes here:

In short, yes, in my opinion vaccination is implicated in some cases of autism, my guess estimate is in about 20% of cases of today’s autism, possibly more, but not less. There are other issues that are very important to consider and vaccination almost certainly affects a person in combination with others environmental factors and together with a genetic susceptibility.

No data is presented to support Amet’s guess, or even to support Amets guesstimate of 20%. This is the crux of the matter to me and yet I see nothing of any substance in Amet’s long post to support this belief.

50 Responses to “Lorene Amet of Autism Treatment Trust discusses her beliefs about autism”

  1. Lorene Amet, PhD July 6, 2010 at 16:50 #

    Thank you for mentioning my post to your readers. The 20% represents parental account, not a proof of causality, but an account of concerns which I voiced in response to your query. As my post explains it, the issue of vaccination in autism is not a black and white one and is not an issue we are working on. I would encourage your readers to visit my blog (http://skymaker69.blogspot.com/) and our web site (www.autismtrust.org.uk) for a more accurate and fuller representation of our work and research in autism.

    As for my qualifications, they have always been clearly indicated on our web site, is there any possibility you do not understand these diplomas?
    Your post does not address any of the issues I raised satisfactorily but I could not expect you could have done so without the scientific or medical knowledge required.

    • Kev July 6, 2010 at 19:38 #

      As a humble lay person Lorene, I ask you to consider that you made no assertions – aside from the ‘20%’ statement and the ‘epidemic’ paragraph – that it is possible for anyone to refute because you referenced no facts and built no real ‘case’.

      In short, anyone can hold an opinion – even an educated one – but opinions are like arseholes. Everyones got one. If you’re passing yourself off as an expert in these matters, you’d better be prepared to be challenged when your non-facts are called on to support your ideas.

  2. Ian MacGregor July 6, 2010 at 18:13 #

    This post is marginally off topic, but I read today about the effort to protect people from stem cell fraud.

    http://med.stanford.edu/ism/2010/july/stem-treatment.html

    In the post there is a link to a site sponsored by the International Society for Stem Cell Research

    http://www.closerlookatstemcells.org

    You can submit a clinic for evaluation and read short essays on such things as how science becomes medicine.

    We don’t have anything like this concerning the treatment of autism, perhaps regulations protecting the doctor/patient relationship would make it difficult. However, it seems a good thing if a parent of an autistic child, or a person with autism able to seek treatment on their own could rely on a similar group.

    I would also think that places which claim success through alternative medical treatments would welcome such a group to provide verification of their claims.

  3. Edgar July 6, 2010 at 18:20 #

    Mmm, because people with scientific & medical knowledge make up their own statistics based on anecdotal evidence, “concerns” and opinion.

    Certainly they know better than to pay any attention to all that pesky evidence.

    If everyone would just listen to their gut and adopt an unjustified sense of superiority, we could have solved this problem by now!

  4. Visitor July 6, 2010 at 18:27 #

    You’re right, Kev. She just mouths this stuff off, with nothing behind it. Overload, 20%, 60%, we’re finding… blah blah. Almost anybody can do that, if they have the motivation.

    The main thing for anyone visiting the Autism Treatment Trust is that Amet is not a doctor. If she involves herself in acting as if a doctor, giving medical advice or opinions, representing herself as dealing with her patients etc, then those at the receiving end may wish to consider talking to a lawyer, and making adequate records and formal reports of the matter.

    Certainly, the recent legal case in which they were involved would lead one to be concerned that the proper position may not always be understood by vulnerable parents. As you point out, she is quite willing to hold forth on things about which she isn’t an expert, and without offering any source of expert information and opinion.

  5. Concerned professional July 6, 2010 at 18:37 #

    Perhaps you should make your qualifications clearer to the parents that access your services… And also make it clear that when you advise/ prescribe OSR you are advising/ prescribing chelation…
    Just a thought…

  6. Jennifer July 6, 2010 at 19:12 #

    Maybe it’s some of both – increased prevalence coupled with more awareness and broader definitions. Take a look at the website for Brain Balance . It discusses the underlying cause of neuro-behavioral issues and therapies, education, and diet changes to strengthen the weaker side of the brain. Very interesting info…

  7. Joseph July 6, 2010 at 20:04 #

    I believe this is a real increase that is not just related to a greater awareness of the conditions and change of diagnostic criteria.

    @Lorene: And your belief is based on…?

  8. Edgar July 6, 2010 at 20:16 #

    Doctor’s intuition.

    😉

  9. Calli Arcale July 6, 2010 at 21:08 #

    “The fourth point I would like to make is that Autism is associated in about 60% of the cases with health issues, digestive system, immune system and commonly presents with a regressive feature (again about 60% of cases). Some preliminary reports can be found discussed in the BMJ.”

    Is it the same 60%? That is, are the 60% with comorbidities also the 60% with “a regressive feature”? Or is it just a coincidence that it happens to be a similar ratio?

    What does “regressive feature” mean? It seems like a terribly vague term, even a way to allege more children to have “regressive autism”.

    Is it actually unusual for 60% of any population to have some sort of health problem? You particularly note “digestive system, immune system” which cover a pretty large range of disorders. Add them up, and 60% may not be unusual.

  10. Lorene Amet July 6, 2010 at 21:11 #

    I have not seen anyone here giving any kind of argument to disprove what I said, or to present an understanding of what could be at stake in autism and how to address it. Instead I see people making statements based on beliefs, not facts. All you are trying to do is to continue to promote an ideology.

    If anyone of you would take a little bit of time to research openly each point raised, the ones for example you have addressed here- you would actually get a more interesting and important contribution to make.

    But just to make matters straight- to report findings over the whole sample group of 400 children with statistics in place is not making up data. It is not explaining autism either, it is describing a group of people, full stop. Reporting parent’s point of view is not promoting a dogma or belief, because I don’t have anything to promote, it is only reporting parent’s experience, full stop. I am not even making any judgement what the data are like, I have reported them straight and without cherry picking.

    The explanations I posted, which Kev has deliberately distorted, partly because he does not understand them, is as I said, a possible bigger picture in which to place these data into perspective. To me, and to others (because there is nothing original about these) it makes a lot of sense. Yes, you can disagree, please do so, but with arguments, facts, a proper discussion, amongst educated people.

    Autism should not be an ego trip, Kevin Leitch’s ego, who is he? My ego, who am I?

    Who cares?

    The facts- not religion.

    Have a good summer everyone and have a bit of fun, why don’t you consider a few days in France, good wine, good food, sex, it would do you a lot of good! Life is too short.

    • Sullivan July 6, 2010 at 21:34 #

      Ms. Amet,

      If autism should not be an “ego trip”, why do you rely so much on the assertion that Kev doesn’t have the medical and other background to understand your arguments? Why assert that Kev “doesn’t understand” your arguments? It sounds very “ego trip” to this reader.

      I’ve read your post. Kev very rightly points out that it is full of assertions. You do not back up what you say with facts. Having made the assertions, it is *your* duty to support them, not Kev’s duty to disprove them.

      I would point out that when you are skirting the line of giving medical advice, it is appropriate to avoid the use of “Dr.”. That complaint is quite appropriately applied to you.

      You are not reporting parental experiences. You are reporting “points of view”, as you also state. Points of view are interpretations. They are not “data” as you would assert. What you are doing is shifting the blame to the parents. From what you have written, it isn’t your fault if the information, the points of view, are incorrect. You are merely reporting them. That doesn’t work. Either you have the skills you claim in medicine and scientific inquiry or you don’t. If you have those skills, it is up to you to apply them rather than reporting raw “points of view”. If you don’t have the skills to process the information, you should make that abundantly clear in your reporting.

  11. Kev July 6, 2010 at 21:22 #

    Lorene, there’s an excellent list of fallacious arguments (I’ve helpfully linked straight to the one you are most guilty of) that can help you.

    Your data is not peer reviewed is it? It is not published in a quality journal is it? You simply cherry picked it from your ATT caseload. Nobody other than you has access to this data. It is not blind, double blind, random or even systematically checked. What you and ATT do is choose kids from ATT caseoad, listen to the parents who already believe their kids are vaccine injured or have some form of ‘autism entercolitis’ and make your proclamation from there.

  12. lilandtedsmum July 6, 2010 at 21:36 #

    Lorene,
    How on earth can you say that you do not have anything to promote? Perhaps you would care to describe exactly what your line of work is…and the kinds of treatments that you offer/provide/recommend and allow others to judge whether or not you have anything to promote.

    Also, how can you say that other peoples’ comments are based on belief and not fact when you use parents’ opinions as a basis for your arguments and, let’s be honest, the majority of parents that you will come into contact with have already made their minds up to venture into more alternative methods, so it’s hardly factual evidence is it?

    You’re right, life is too short. My daughter’s life is far too short to have people like you who are not qualified time wasting, distorting and ignoring facts and taking the focus away from proper peer reviewed, factual research which will benefit her in the future. So please, you go to France, enjoy the food, enjoy the sex and do us all a favour and stay there.

  13. Concerned Professional July 6, 2010 at 21:44 #

    ‘Dr’ Amet…
    Your research is flawed, your opinions are based on nothing more than your own ‘conspiracy fuelled’ beliefs- there are no facts. You prey on vulnerable families who rely on you to cure their children…when a man with little English asks you as you hand over your box of’supplements’ – ‘when will my daughter speak”?’ and you tell him that she will speak as long as he gives her the medicine….you tell parents that if they don’t follow your advice their child will never get better and it will be their fault….and you pretend you are something you are not… I know all of this because I have had the pleasure of watching you in action more than once and have picked up the pieces of your bad practice on many occassions….
    I like it best of all that when you google your name- the headline ‘The Great Autism Rip Off’ comes up first with a lovely picture of you; you must be so proud.
    I don’t know how you sleep at night Lorene. Maybe you should go spend some time in France if you like it so much- at least that will keep you at a safer distance from Scotland…
    As for you saying you have nothing to promote….pull the other one- it’s got bells on!

  14. Edgar July 6, 2010 at 22:13 #

    I really admire you guys for putting together such excellent responses, because I honestly can’t even work out what she’s actually saying.

    All I can tell is that it’s brazenly hypocritical and willfully ignorant and it’s made me very angry.

  15. Joseph July 6, 2010 at 22:18 #

    Is it actually unusual for 60% of any population to have some sort of health problem?

    Indeed, the lifetime prevalence of illness is no doubt 100%.

  16. Joseph July 6, 2010 at 22:25 #

    I have not seen anyone here giving any kind of argument to disprove what I said

    @Lorene: The burden is not on us to disprove, but on you to back up your unsubstantiated assertions.

    Reporting parent’s point of view is not promoting a dogma or belief, because I don’t have anything to promote, it is only reporting parent’s experience, full stop.

    Nonsense. You’re clearly reporting parent biases (i.e. dogmas or beliefs.) And those biases would tend to be reflective of the sorts of parents that would seek the services of ATT. That seems straightforward to understand.

    The facts- not religion.

    I think several of us here would be interested in discussing facts. You have not posted any verifiable facts or claims of note, unfortunately.

  17. RAJ July 7, 2010 at 03:58 #

    Apparently Kev dismisses Dr. Amet’s qualifications to discuss autism because she is not a medical doctor, rather she holds a PHD.

    Kev wasn’t so dismissive of the work of Dr. Stephan Sherer when he interviewed Scherer on the implications of the recent Nature study,implicating CNV’s in autism. Dr. Scherer is not a medical doctor either , his bio lists him as attaining a PHD, just like Dr. Amat.

    http://www.hhmi.org/research/international/scherer_bio.html

    Dr. Scherer has what I consider his own set of ethical problems. He sits on the board of CombiMatrix Molecular Diagnostics Inc.

    In his work with children with epilepsy he has taken out a patent, claiming the gene he identified as a susceptability gene for epilepsy is his ‘invention’.

    http://www.faqs.org/patents/app/20100009346

    He does stand to profit from selling diagnostic tests for this invention. I don’t see anything particulalry wrong with his taking on a patent on a gene but it does suggest he has a bias in overhyping his work in molecular genetics.

    Scherer has desribed his Nature article making hyperexaggerated claim that CNV’s ‘Cause’ autism.

    • Kev July 7, 2010 at 08:09 #

      RAJ, thanks for that totally OT comment…aside from the false claim I dismiss Amet’s qualifications to discuss autism. As far as I know, you don’t need _any_ qualifications to _discuss_ autism.

  18. RAJ July 7, 2010 at 12:28 #

    Off Topic? Here’s what you wrote:
    ‘Her heading is described as Dr Lorene Amet and whilst she is no doubt a doctor, it is maybe a little misleading that her biography does not make clear that she isn’t a medical doctor’.

    So why didn’t you clarify to your readers that Dr. Sherer isn’t a medical doctor?

    On topic

    • Kev July 7, 2010 at 12:30 #

      Read what I wrote RAJ. I said _aside_ from that false claim. All the stuff about Scherer is totally OT. If you want to comment on that, go to the right thread.

  19. Dawn July 7, 2010 at 16:03 #

    I can’t read the blogpost as it’s blocked here at work. However, I can go to the ATT biography page and actually found it very interesting. Ms Amet’s name is ALWAYS listed as Dr Amet, while the 2 professionals who would be commonly listed as Dr here in the states vary from always having Dr used (the OB/Gyn) to Cem (the person’s first name).

    I can’t speak for usage in Europe, but I actually do find the information a little deceptive. If I was just glancing at the list of names, I would think that Ms Amet is a physician, along with the Chiropractor and the other PhD. While in a university setting, “Dr” is used for a PhD, here in the US, in the general public, if you call yourself “Dr” it is assumed you are a physician. If I was introduced to Ms Amet as Dr Amet, I would assume she is a physician and would accept treatment recommendations. If I found out later that she is NOT licensed to prescribe treatments, I would be quite upset.

    I would like to see the data/facts her comments are based upon. Why do people who “have the facts” shy away from having information published in peer-reviewed, reputable journals? If the facts are correct, they can be duplicated and the original researcher is lauded. Isn’t that what everyone wants?

  20. daedalus2u July 7, 2010 at 18:33 #

    I am much more critical of ATT than the others here have been. As I see it, they are quacks pushing unproven and potentially dangerous treatments on unsuspecting patients. They support the “mercury causes autism” idea (still, in 2010? hasn’t that dead horse been beaten enough?)

    http://www.autismtrust.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=8&Itemid=9

    The one article in PubMed of Dr Amet on autism is on porphyrinuria which she tries to tie to heavy metal exposure, even though there has not been a single study on autism showing elevated levels of heavy metals in people with autism. To me it is fraudulent to use a non-specific test to show the presence of something that a specific test shows is absent.

    They also have a link to Doctor’s Data for testing. Doctor’s Data testing has been in the news recently because they are suing Dr Steve Barrett over his excellent article

    http://www.quackwatch.org/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/Tests/urine_toxic.html

    on the use of chelation provoked testing of urine for heavy metals. I agree with Dr Barrett that the use of chelation provoked urine testing is fraudulent. SBM has a good article on it.

    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=5983

    ATT also recommends chiropractic adjustments for autism. Are there any studies showing that chiropractic treatments are safe and effective for autism? PubMed shows zero hits for the combination chiropractic autism. I guess not.

  21. Edgar July 7, 2010 at 18:38 #

    There aren’t any decent studies showing chiropractic is effective for anything (except maybe lower back pain).

  22. David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E. July 8, 2010 at 07:14 #

    Regarding Dr. Amet’s right to be referred to as ‘Doctor’… well, she holds a doctoral degree (and, it being a D. Phil., says to me it’s either from Oxford, Sussex or York; and neither York nor Sussex are mentioned in her biography on the ATT site, so – by exclusion – we can see she got it at Oxford). Anyone with a doctoral degree is absolutely within their right to use the title ‘Doctor’, and it is not misleading to use that title.

    I notice that Dr. Amet is studying for the M. Ed. at Birmingham. I know that course well (I’ve given lectures to students on it, as well as tutoring for it and marking a thesis for a Finnish student taking the course, and I was on it myself), and I know that – as a result of taking that course – Dr. Amet will be aware that many of the so-called ‘treatments’ offered by the ATT are basically bogus. I mean things like:

    Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
    Auditory Integration Therapy
    Cranio-sacral Therapy

    As for the doctorate… very respectable qualification to have, but if it has no relevance to autism (and I suspect that it may not have), then the holder of it is a ‘noob’ when it comes to autism. The M. Ed. should remedy that, but I know that people can take courses and sit exams and only use what they learned to get through the exam… after which they carry one with preconceived ideas that are plainly wrong. I am hoping that this isn’t how it goes with Dr. Amet.

    Regarding what Sullivan says: “Kev very rightly points out that it is full of assertions. You do not back up what you say with facts. Having made the assertions, it is your duty to support them, not Kev’s duty to disprove them.”

    This is absolutely accurate. And I would expect a D. Phil. scientist to be aware of that fact.

    Regarding Calli’s question: “What does ‘regressive feature’ mean?”

    Basically, it means nothing. If it were a regressive gene, it would be specified as such. If it were a regression, it would be specified as such.

    As for Kevin’s notion that Dr. Amet’s statement (quoted) shows ‘truthiness’ … he is absolutely correct. It does. Here goes:

    “First point I would like to make is that Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), regressive autism, Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS) are conditions that are on the increase starting from about 1988.”

    Says who? What is the evidence that supports this statement?

    “I believe this is a real increase that is not just related to a greater awareness of the conditions and change of diagnostic criteria.”

    On what basis does Dr. Amet make this statement? Pure personal belief or belief based on actual data, summarised statistically and presented as part of a replicable study?

    “However, there is no clear picture as far as Asperger Syndrome (AS) is concerned. There is no data on prevalence of AS alone, and almost certainly this condition was essentially unnoticed, considered as some sort of quirkiness, even in very recent past.”

    You can reference this, Dr. Amet?

    “Equally, many adults with AS have remained undiagnosed to this day.”

    This is true, and it is hard to quantify since the studies are not being done widely enough to ascertain the numbers. However, the fact is demonstrated in at least two UK studies: can Dr. Amet tell us what they are? I know of them, but I’d like to know if Dr. Amet does.

    “It is therefore possible that AS is not on the increase, in any case, the data is not there yet to answer this question accurately. However for the rest of the ASD kids, the increase seems real.”

    Weasel-word alert: seems real? Either Dr. amet believes it is real, or she believes that it isn’t. ‘Real’ doesn’t come in two opposite flavours. If it only ‘seems’ real, Dr. Amet should state the basis for saying – not just why she believes it is real – but why it ‘seems’ real… what can she see that could counter the notion of a real increase in numbers outside of greater awareness and diagnostic substitution and broadening of the diagnostic criteria.

    “I can argue this point using a range of additional arguments, but let’s not get too distracted, even if this is an essential point.”

    No, Dr. Amet … let’s do exactly that. You make statements that do not add up in light of the current evidence, you should be stating sources and backing those statements up.

    Dr. Amet – I so hope that your work for Birmingham is a lot better than your efforts here. Were I your tutor on that course (a feasable thing to ponder. since I have good connections with that course and the people involved in running it), I would fail you for that quote statement.

  23. Concerned Professional July 8, 2010 at 12:05 #

    Thank you David!!
    I am also a researcher, with a specialist qualification in Autism; and I understand how flawed Amet’s claims are…but as a concerned professional I am all too aware of how the key people in this issue- the families and the children- do not have the same understanding of how flawed these claims are….and how this very vulnerable group of people are being taken in by this organisation on a daily basis (due to my geographical location and my current role I have experienced this first hand on many ocassions)…
    Apart from all the rubbish Amet is spouting- there is a very real, serious issue with the impact that her nonsense is having on families- and to date there seems no way to stop it and families will continue to be persuaded by the 60 percents and 20 percents that although they may have no substance to those that understand ‘bad science’- are the means by which many, many parents are being convinced that ATT can ‘cure’ their children…

  24. Dawn July 8, 2010 at 18:16 #

    Thank you, David. I wondered if common usage was different in Europe than in the US. I didn’t mean she didn’t have the right to the title doctor. Should have been clearer.

    As I said, here in the states, most persons with PhDs will use their titles only in a university setting. I know very few PhDs who use them the way the ATT bio page has them.

    I would understand her bio blurb saying Lorene Amet PhD and then in the body talking about Dr Amet. I just find seeing Dr Lorene Amet DEA, DipBiotechnol, D Phil confusing; the letters after her name have no meaning to me so I would assume she is a physician with an additional doctorate.

    • Sullivan July 8, 2010 at 18:54 #

      Dawn,

      it is generally somewhat odd to use both “Dr” and the degree. For example you might see “Dr. J. Smith” or “J. Smith, Ph.D.” but not “Dr. J. Smith, Ph.D.”

  25. stanley seigler July 8, 2010 at 19:22 #

    [LBRB say] ‘On the increase’ suggests that there was a clear, unambiguous starting point where we knew exactly what the prevalence of autism was. The truth is, we don’t…on a county by county level in the UK or State by State level in the US, data diverges wildly if it exists at all…I’d love to see concrete figures from 1988. Because only from a concrete starting point can we make concrete estimates about ‘increases’.

    Agree fully w/ LBRB and 90% of the blog criticism of Lorene Amet’s opine…

    nothing concrete: but it may be worthwhile to factor in CA Department of Developmental Services now funds 38,000 (13.4 percent annual increase since 2003) spectrum children/folks that meet the requirement to receive services (tax dollars)…this in spite of a tightening of requirements in 2003 that annually eliminates support to approximately 400 on the spectrum.

    there is an increase in something…the cost to provide support in CA USA…if nothing else…

    A CA Report Autism Spectrum Disorders
    Changes in the California Caseload An Update: June 1987-June 2007

    [CLIP] Currently there are more than 38,000 people in California receiving services for ASD, growth that has averaged 13.4 percent annually since 2002. Based on current projections, regional centers and developmental centers will be serving more than 50,000 people with ASD by September 2009. If the trend continues, DDS may serve as many as 70,000 people with ASD by June 2012.

    If interested, for rest of story (33 p) goto: http://www.dds.cahwnet.gov/Autism/docs/AutismReport_2007.pdf

    stanley seigler

  26. David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E. July 8, 2010 at 20:43 #

    “Thank you, David. I wondered if common usage was different in Europe than in the US. I didn’t mean she didn’t have the right to the title doctor. Should have been clearer.”

    Indeed. The point is that she cannot practice medicine with that doctorate. And her Diplome d’Etudes Approfondies doesn’t entitle that. But is she herself recommending medical remedies? This is the important question. If she is, then she’s out of line. If not, then she is acting within her rights as a Doctor of Philosophy.

    “As I said, here in the states, most persons with PhDs will use their titles only in a university setting. I know very few PhDs who use them the way the ATT bio page has them.”

    I’d use my title in any official capacity if I had a doctoral degree, but I’d not iuse it in informal situations. If Lorene Amet has a doctoral degree, she is at liberty to advertise it as she so wishes. We can’t have any argument with that: it is the law. Only if she makes specific recommendations can she be seen as out of line.

    “I would understand her bio blurb saying Lorene Amet PhD and then in the body talking about Dr Amet. I just find seeing Dr Lorene Amet DEA, DipBiotechnol, D Phil confusing; the letters after her name have no meaning to me so I would assume she is a physician with an additional doctorate.”

    Indeed, but that is really of no consequence. The assumption is that anyone reading those qualifications would check out what they are – and this is a case in point: Dr. Amet has not professed to be a medical practitioner as far as I can tell. However, I have seen the website and I can say now that a good deal of what is offered as ‘treatment’ is plain ugly hairy and very fucking sweaty bollocks.

    I hope that she learns something from her work at my alma mater. I’d hate to see her drag the name of that fine place through the mud with that crap that’s on the website.

  27. David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E. July 8, 2010 at 20:57 #

    “Thank you David!!”

    For what? I’m just an autistic guy with some professional training who gets to work with autistic people sometimes…

    “I am also a researcher, with a specialist qualification in Autism; and I understand how flawed Amet’s claims are…but as a concerned professional I am all too aware of how the key people in this issue- the families and the children- do not have the same understanding of how flawed these claims are….and how this very vulnerable group of people are being taken in by this organisation on a daily basis (due to my geographical location and my current role I have experienced this first hand on many ocassions)…”

    This is a serious problem I find and this is why I am very concerned about her claim of being a student at my alma mater… because I know that the crap I saw on the ATT website would be rubbished by all the staff in that institution. I know the vast majority of the people who teach on the course she’s on: Dr. Glenys Jones; Andrea MacLeod; many others too. But the fact that I know those two names should make Dr. Amet realise that I am very much in contact with the university she is doing her M. Ed. at. Incidentally, they are considering asking me to do the revision suggestions for the adult specialism course, like they asked me to do with the children specialism course the other year. Am I going to recommend much that the ATT would recommend?

    The short answer is ‘No!’

    “Apart from all the rubbish Amet is spouting- there is a very real, serious issue with the impact that her nonsense is having on families- and to date there seems no way to stop it and families will continue to be persuaded by the 60 percents and 20 percents that although they may have no substance to those that understand ‘bad science’- are the means by which many, many parents are being convinced that ATT can ‘cure’ their children…”

    The cure gambit has died its death many years ago: nobody has yet ever shown a person cured of their autism except as a result of death. That is a shite batting average for anybody. ATT better get used to that.

    As better Dr. Amet herself.

  28. Laurentius Rex July 8, 2010 at 22:59 #

    Regarding the degree of Dr, I dare say a thirty third masonic degree ultra Royal arch would trump it in certain circles:)

    Doctor signifies the same as Master in the nedieval trade guilds, that is to say the capacity and ability to teach, that is what it means in latin, but cares these days.

    Those Doctors of medicine rarely are qualified to use the title, they assume as it is only a courtesy title not a degree, but there you go that is etiquette for you, custom and practice.

    As I maintain, ducks walk and talk and if you can’t tell the difference what good is that?

    I too teach at Birmingham University, the only thing worth going, the social deconstruction of the whole bollox.

    Doctor of Divinity trumps the lot, (except amongst the illuminati and rosicrucians of course who have titles that make even those of the British Empire look sensible, order of the bath indeed ?!)

    You can buy a decent Doctor of Divinity on the internet.

    Waah as if it all means anything, what does mean something is knowledge and the ability to use it.

    I do not see many people in academia who really qualify in any kind of renaissance sense as polymaths, and that is the pity. A lot of them are doctors and many of them publish. I would put most of the big names in that poor category of lacking a general academic ability much beyond there own specialty, it is the sickness of our times.

  29. stanley seigler July 9, 2010 at 02:28 #

    [l. rex say] Regarding the degree of Dr, I dare say a thirty third masonic degree ultra Royal arch would trump it in certain circles:)…I do not see many people in academia who really qualify in any kind of renaissance sense as polymaths, and that is the pity. A lot of them are doctors and many of them publish. I would put most of the big names in that poor category of lacking a general academic ability much beyond there own specialty, it is the sickness of our times.

    oh my/wow, pretty much say it all re the self aggrandizing publish or perish crew…indeed a pity and sickness…

    OTOH have know many who are polymaths…real renaissance wo/men…many do not use the dr title when introducing themselves…guess they see the truth in what l.rex say…they tend to let their actions, not degrees, speak for them.

    stanley seigler

  30. Laurentius Rex July 9, 2010 at 13:04 #

    In reference again to Dr’s and well read scholars, I have been reading somewhat of biographies of the 19th Century, and the early twentieth.

    One name seems to come up time and again, that of “Dr” Arnold, never mind the coincidence of the surname with mine. Apparently he did much to introduce a more “modern” curriculum into the public schools of the day, and the family was connected with just about anybody who has come down to influence this century, notwithstanding his son Matthew Arnold, the list of names goes on, the Darwin’s and the Huxley’s for instance.

    Notwithstanding his educational reforms, they did not count the introduction of English literature amongst them, that was a much later introduction into the grammar schools and universities for a very interesting reason.

    It was assumed that this was something that need not be taught, because any educated person would be expected to familiarise themselves with the various classics of the genre. Indeed they did, which I think resulted in a much higher standard of writing than most academics (myself included) are capable of today.

  31. Edgar July 10, 2010 at 01:10 #

    It’s incredible how one can appear to be saying so much without saying anything at all.

    …By which I mean: L. Rex, what the fuck are you talking about? You’re commenting on an autism blog. You could at least do us all the courtesy of speaking plain English.

    If you insist on attempting to project an image of yourself as an intellectual, you could at the very least employ coherent punctuation and grammar.

    I cannot understand for the life of me what you are trying to say; and I am fairly sure that that is not due to any linguistic deficit of mine.

    You can tell yourself you’re a polymath all you want, but all the evidence I’ve seen suggests that you’re just a pompous tool.

    Two questions:

    1. WHAT POINT ARE YOU TRYING TO MAKE? BE CLEAR.

    2. DO YOU NEED SOME HELP WITH YOUR ENGLISH? I’M HAPPY TO BE OF ASSISTANCE.

  32. Dedj July 10, 2010 at 02:15 #

    I don’t appear to be having the same problem with understanding Larry, nor do any of the multiple organisations and academic institutions that hold him in some regard.

    It’s fairly standard mildly-hyperlexic high-functioning autistic associational writing style.

    Compared to Lorene, Larry is fairly straight forward and proceeds in a relatively linear direction, with minor digressions.

  33. Edgar July 10, 2010 at 02:21 #

    Maybe it’s just me.

    If that is that case, I sincerely apologize for being so confrontational; but I seriously just can’t understand what he’s saying at all.

    I don’t mean to be rude but if someone could explain the relevance of his last comment I really would appreciate it.

  34. Edgar July 10, 2010 at 02:42 #

    NB: In retrospect, I would like to remove the “pompous tool” comment & the two unnecessarily aggressive questions – Since I can’t, I’d like to say that, though I stand by my main points, I’m sorry for being so rude. I really shouldn’t comment on blogs when I get home from the pub. :/

  35. stanley seigler July 10, 2010 at 12:06 #

    I [edgar] really shouldn’t comment on blogs when I get home from the pub. :/

    in general, not specific to edgar: if pub attendance is reason for attacks and salty language…then we all should refrain from comments after pubbing…i do not practice what i preach.

    also hope this (attacks/unscientific language which occurs with some frequency on LBRB) is not a characteristic of high functioning autism…butif so then;

    apparently they have not evolved past the normal population’s mentality, re using ad hominem illogic vice addressing issues…which is disappointing…thought they were better than i.

    oh/and/btw…i enjoy l.rex’s insights/comments…even when off topic and with which i may disagree…its nice he has time/inclination to share.

    stanley seigler

  36. Edgar July 10, 2010 at 12:29 #

    I think it’s mostly just characteristic of my being a jerk.

    I’m very sorry.

  37. Dedj July 10, 2010 at 13:45 #

    Meh, don’t be so hard on yourself.

    Larry is hard to understand if you’re not used to his writing style.

    His style can often seem like the word-salad or stream-of-thought posts that can pervade autism discussions, and which are so common on pro-cure or ‘autism-mom’ websites. As such, it’s easy to think he’s just jibbering when he actually has a solid logical flow.

  38. Edgar July 10, 2010 at 23:16 #

    Yeah but my failure to understand what he was saying was no excuse to be rude.

    I’m really sorry, Larry. Please disregard my comment(s).

  39. stanley seigler July 10, 2010 at 23:44 #

    [dedja say] Meh, don’t be so hard on yourself.

    we should all be hard on ourselves…stop excusing/rationalizing our mistakes/bs…include myself and hope one day i practice what i preach…

    oh/sigh/btw, have no doubt edgar is a good person…so are we all…not a scholar but didnt willie s let mark anthony say something like that…”so are they all honorable men” comes to mind.

    stanley seigler

  40. Joseph July 10, 2010 at 23:52 #

    It’s fairly standard mildly-hyperlexic high-functioning autistic associational writing style.

    I don’t think it’s fairly standard, and I presume Larry would not like that characterization, actually.

  41. Laurentius Rex July 11, 2010 at 09:37 #

    I have been disinclined to leap to my own defence recently for a number of reasons.

    Firstly, this is the blog world, not academia, anything goes, it’s Punch and Judy and I couldn’t be bothered as I had an Post Grads conference yesterday and a presentation to make (and following on that the difficult task of re-editing it into more conventional academic English for publication)

    There is a difference between the styles of rhetoric (and visually enhanced rhetoric which I apply in my presentations and lectures) and lucid academic writing, which I like those I am criticising equally struggle with.

    Secondly, I am not feeling to brilliant (metaphorically and actually) dealing with an infected insect bite, one of those summer woes)

    Anybody who wished to understand the origin of academic distinctions in the UK, the USA, Europe and elswhere can easily go google it and will see that a Doctorate although in standard a “third” degree various immensely in how it is styled, taught, researched and awarded.

    Physicians are Doctors by convention, they don’t require anything higher than a bachelors degree, so how an ordinary physician can be considered to have more academic standing or authority than a PhD, DPhil DD LLD or any of the other styles of doctorate is beyond me.

    Laying even that aside, the curiosity of the doctorate as an academic degree is that it is usually awarded because of some very narrow and in depth contribution to the field one is studying, it means one has become a specialist and confirms no indication of breadth of knowlege, that one migh have if one instead had a number of first degrees.

    There is also no real comparison between the worth of degrees in various disciplines, a degree in Chemistry does not make one an expert in 19th Century French literature for instance. Never mind we are all aware that in terms of prestige, Universities and there reputation in teaching varies, not only accross Universities but within them.

    Now my specialty is Autism, and very specific cognitive aspects of that. However my generality is education, which indeed was what the conference I attended yesterday is all about. I do understand all these particulars of the sociology and the history of higher education.

    The point I have been trying to make is that unfortunately a degree even a higher one, is no guarantee any more of having a general ability to comprehend a wide range of very different subjects from a wide range of perspectives as it once was what were undoubtedly more elitist times. It is no guarantee that the knowlege is lacking either. There are many who are experts who have no formal qualification in the subject either, beyond having made significant contributions to the study in literature, or working in the non academic research world.

    What I would like to see in general, is more critical thinking and less appeal to authority. Sure the supernumerary letters connote something, and that usually means having put some hard work and study into it, but it doesn’t give the whole picture.

    I believe an academic, or researcher, ought to be a well rounded person capable of seeing there own specialty from more than one direction, that way they will fall into less error in believing in there own perfection.

    I don’t idly call myself a Polymath, as it is a dangerous claim to make if one doesn’t have that string of degrees to back it up. However my research is born out of the confluence of at least two academic disciplines, and I am fortunate enough to have a supervisor who also has that requisite background to properly evaluate and criticise what I am doing.

    Beyond that I have always been an active student of anything that has taken my interest, even temporarily, It may be my autism, it may be something else, but I have always had a desire to know more about any subject that most people are content with so I go off on little knowledge binges.

    My Brother, who has no higher academic qualification than a diploma in building, is one of the few people I can discourse with (when he is in the mood) on a number of subjects which require a fair amount of background as he is the most well read person I know, and his current employment is in a warehouse. He dropped out of Uni.

    In the end it is not the letters after ones name that really qualify one, it is the quality of the output, and I have to say a lot of people do trade on the faux authority when defending “woo”

    So in the final analysis it is Caveat Emptor, and examine all the goods carefully. In my opinion anything Lorene Amet (inter alia) is selling does not comply with my understanding of those topics she discourses on.

    One day I hope to “Dr” Arnold, like my famous namesake of Rugby, but it will not guarantee anything other than the fact that I have gone through a number of academic hoops and rituals, sometimes as arcane as those of Freemasonry which makes it a useful metaphor to invoke, particularly if one has “Monty Python” in mind.

  42. Edgar July 11, 2010 at 11:31 #

    There was nothing to defend, anyway. The only reason I thought that you were incoherent is that my cognition was severely alcohol-impaired. Why it evoked such aggression, I don’t know, but I sincerely hope you were in no way offended and that the net result of this outburst is just my lingering sense of shame.

    Having said that, thank you very much for clarifying your point; it’s a very salient one in regards to Dr. Amet and in general. One should certainly not place any weight on an individual’s qualifications unless they have demonstrably the knowledge & intellect to back it up. This is especially the case when the individual in question is discussing something outside their field of expertise – as is clearly the case with Dr. Amet.

    From a pragmatic perspective, though, when The Public see the title Dr. – especially in the context of any sort of medical information – they will tend to infer that the individual is a physician. The title may or may not be historically and etymologically inappropriate for many physicians, but to the general public, that is its primary association – and people are far more likely to trust medical advice from someone whom they believe to be a physician.

    Point being, while it is indeed highly uncritical to assume that a title or qualification should confer trust, most people are highly uncritical (hence the success of ATT & its ilk) and given that, it is arguably misleading for Dr Amet to use that title in that way & in that context.

    Again, I apologise unreservedly for my earlier behaviour and comments. The internet may be, as you say, Punch & Judy; but condescending is certainly not something of which one can be proud.

    I hope you regain your metaphorical and actual brilliance very speedily.

  43. stanley seigler July 11, 2010 at 18:04 #

    [l.rex say] Firstly, this is the blog world, not academia, anything goes, it’s Punch and Judy…etc, etc…

    thanks to edgar for eliciting l.rex’s comments…it something like finding the pony in a manure pile…maybe it’s OK to make comments after a visit to the pub…”anything goes, it’s Punch and Judy”

    stanley seigler

  44. sel August 25, 2010 at 00:32 #

    main article: http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7015/2/39/
    citations:
    http://www.springerlink.com/content/t1021146741328jl/
    http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/full/285/24/3093
    http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/108/5/1155

    i think Amet’s comments about ‘increasing’ incidence was based on these publications. come on people, we cannot expect a blog page to be formatted with citations as in research articles. if Amet is fooling around with weasel words and misinformation, then it would not be very long before the parents realise that they are wasting time. i dont assume parents to be dull-heads, in that they jump in to getting advices blindly, not in 2010. she cannot prescribe medicines but i guess any one can give advices as long as they can get a listener. i think parents can decide whether to continue hearing or to show their backs. time will answer the criticisms. just a reminder (again a weasel word), the absence of proof is not the proof of absence. in this case, i dont think any one in the posts above has a SOLID proof.

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  1. Tweets that mention Autism Blog - Lorene Amet of Autism Treatment Trust discusses her beliefs about autism « Left Brain/Right Brain -- Topsy.com - July 6, 2010

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