Friday, August 6, 2010

Dr. Lovaas and Me (Not but I wish)

Many in the autism field mourn the passing earlier this week of a pioneer in autism therapy, Dr. Ivar Lovaas.

In the world of autism, there was no "inbetween" when it came to Dr. Lovaas.  You loved him or you hated him.  Whichever end of this spectrum you are on, you have to admit that Dr. Lovaas changed the field of early intervention for those with autism forever.  Many have benefited.

It's tempting but I am trying hard not to play the "what if" game.  For Bil, there was no treatment, only a special ed program in school that failed him miserably.

Dr. Lovaas, back in the 1960's, started to pioneer an early intervention program for children with autism that became something now called ABA. (Applied Behavioral Analysis) It had its share of critics because originally it used something called "adversives" (i.e. there was an element of punishment) but Dr. Lovaas later changed his stance totally on this.  Today, many consider ABA to be the "gold standard" of childhood treatment.  It is said that some of these children, as they progress in school, even lose the label of "autism" all together.

In a way I am also sorry I never had the chance to look into this.  Back when Bil was younger....well, I just didn't know there was hope.  It was a different age and I was in a different place.  I can not beat that person up.  She no longer exists.  So, all I can give is an indirect tribute, as an "in law" of a man with autism. 

I know at least one area "autism mother" who did have that privilege of meeting him.  She is one very strong woman and I have to believe it was a life changing experience for her.

Dr. Lovaas opened many doors to children with autism either directly or through the ABA he pioneered.  He also opened the door to hope for their parents.  And isn't that what it is all about.


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