Many years ago, in a lecture I attended at the University of California, Ivar Lovaas, one of the world-renowned experts on Autism said something along the lines of:

There are people who believe that in every child with Autism there is a normal child hidden in there somewhere that we need to just find the way to bring out. I am telling you that in children with Autism, there is something missing. It isn’t in there.

People with autism all have difficulties with social interaction, communication and restricted interests. Not everyone with Autism has trouble controlling emotions, but many do, having tantrums, screaming, attacking other people or hitting themselves.

This sounds very depressing, but the flip side is the effectiveness of early intervention. Please click here to watch an eight-minute video from the Today Show courtesy of the Autism Speaks organization. If the movie does not start playing on its own, click on the button in the left corner of the movie screen.

[Note: This video does not work on some computers. If you cannot get the video to play, try going to this page from Autism Speaks. It is the second video on the page. ]

At this point, I feel compelled to be like one of those Jenny Craig weight loss commercials, you know the ones where they show the person who lost 250 pounds and then say, “Your results may vary.”

Early intervention is sometimes effective. Applied Behavior Analysis is sometimes effective. There are a lot of treatments for Autism (more about some of those later) but none is a guaranteed cure.

So far, it seems like you are not getting a straight answer, doesn’t it? Sometimes people with Autism do this, sometimes they do that. Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn’t. Part of the problem is that Autism is not a single disorder but a group of disorders.