Autism, Current Affairs, Television

"Autism Is A World" has been nominated in the documentary short subject category. It was directed by Academy Award winner Gerardine Wurzburg and writtern by Sue Rubin who is autistic herself and though was initially diagnosed as retarded she has gone on to thrive in college. Co-producer of the firm is Douglas Biklen the professor of cultural foundations of education, disability studies and teaching and leadership in Syracuse’s School of Education. He is a promoter of the technique known as facilitated communication.

Current Affairs, Dore Achievement Centres, Television

The Dore Achievement Centres / DDAT proudly display on their web site the logos for the BBC and that of the ITVshow “This Morning”. These are not DDAT’s only appearance on TV. They have appeared on Channel 4‘s Richard & Judy show and they have run their own TV adverts. However both the TV advert and the spot on the Richard & Judy show have raised complaints from viewers that were upheld by the ITC / OfCom.

On the 1st May 2003 they appeared on Channel 4‘s Richard & Judy show. A viewer complained about DDAT’s claim that it was “a long-awaited and remarkable breakthrough” and that DDAT had “pioneered” the theoretical basis of the treatment. The ITC upheld the complaint but makes clear in its report that “the ITC does not express, nor does it seek to express, any view whatsoever on DDAT as an organisation or the relative efficacy of its treatment for dyslexia, neither of which was the subject of this finding.” This is almost an exact repeat of the complaints and judgment that the ITV show “Tonight with Trevor McDonald” receive in 2002 when covering DDAT. (Incidentally, it was the spot on the Tonight show where I first found out about the DDAT treatment which led to the successful treatment of my dyslexia).

The TV adverts that ran earlier this year ran foul of the the UK’s notoriously complicated advertising rules. Specifically “Rules .. (Evidence) and .. (Assessment of medical claims) … Rule .. (Impressions of professional advice and support). Doctors and other medical professionals are not permitted to appear in advertisements giving the impression of professional advice or recommendations.”. The full report is to be found on page 5 of this OfCom Bullitin [PDF]. UPDATE: The link is broken. See the second item down in this report.

UPDATE: DDAT have had similar problems in the USA where the treatment was featured on CBS’s news magazine program “60 Minutes II” (October 22nd, 2003). This generated a pointed response from the International Dyslexia Association

Auditory, Autism, Television

There was an unexpected but positive mention of the Tomatis Method on the tough police drama “The Shield” . Vik Mackey, one of the lead characters, has an autistic son who makes notable improvements thanks to a teacher who uses the Tomatis method. Its a very brief scene and unfortunately the message that comes across is that listening to classical music offers a quick and easy solution to autism but it at least raises awareness of Tomatis method. Overall autism is handled very well in “The Shield” with the problems of bringing up an autistic child, especially the emotional difficulties for the parents, being a regular background story line for the show. I suspect that someone involved with the show has some first hand experience of the problems.

Worth noting that Michael Chiklis who plays Vik Mackey helps with funds raising and publicity for the Cure Autism Now Organisation.

Balance & Coordination, Games, Television

Whilst research is still being done on the full effect of video games on a child’s brain, one thing for certain is that children are spending a lot more time sitting in front of the television and computers. As movement is a vital part of the brain’s development, the loss of time spent being active may have a significant impact on a child’s educational progress. It also tends to lead to over-weight and unfit children which has a serious impact on their long-term health. An arcade game called Dance Dance Revolution in which the player has to dance in time and in step with the game’s directions is being put forward as an aid to weight loss.
Recently I’ve been looking into similar games to see if they can be used to assist people with under-developed vestibular and cerebellum. Eye-Toy Groove is a Sony PlayStation 2 ConsolePlayStation game where you have to dance and wave your arms about in time with music. There is no doubting its a lot of fun (especially for drunk adults) and if you are looking for a fun, simple way to get you or child moving, this is it. Its clearly not a replacement for a properly designed vestibular / cerebellum development programme but it could help someone learn to move their body more freely. The downside to this game is that even at its easiest levels it may be too difficult for some people and without a lot of help and positive support it could have a negative impact on self-confidence.
See Also: Watching TV ‘is bad for children’;Children’s progress ‘hit by TV’.