This is a jewelled box. A famous myth in the ancient Greek world surrounded a woman named "Pandora" who had such a box. The "box" was said to hold all of the evils we experience in the world: falsehood, cowardice, avarice, cruelty, etc. Depending on how the story goes, Pandora either releases "hope" as well, or she prevents the opposite evil, "foreboding" from leaving the box. Hope is an essential feature of the human experience; without it, we would all become depressed and give up, knowing our fate in every situation, knowing every outcome. Hope is also a huge business in this world, beyond a measurable dollar figure. Sometimes people are so desperate for hope, this are willing to buy it even when deep down they know it may just be smoke and mirrors. Barack Obama sold hope very successfully in his campaign to be the American president. I'm making no comments about whether or not Obama's hope was real or not, but I have some American friends who did tell me they felt "hopeful" about their country when he was elected. Obviously he sold his message well.
The definition of hope, according to dictionary.com is:
"The feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best".People want to be hopeful - in fact, they are desperate to be hopeful. Some would argue religion sells hope. Many quack medical professionals sell hope. Thousands of products and services are sold everyday to provide hope to people wanting to overcome everything from a balding hairline to a low sex drive.
Autism, having no cure, has many treatments available with all of them claiming to work. As a parent, wading through this list is overwhelming. People are willing to overlook reason and research in the name of hope... and I am definitely not immune to this and admit I do it all the time.
Here is a list of current autism therapies (this is not exhaustive and not all of these are complete therapies, but some may rather look at a particular portion of the disorder):
Applied Behavioural Analysis - Lovaas
Applied Behavioural Analysis - Verbal Behaviour
Pivotal Response Training
Early Start Denver Model
Solomon Play Model
Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)
Hanen More Than Words
Gluten-Free Casein-Free Diet / Heavy Metal Poisoning
Biomedical Approaches / DAN protocol
(Feel free to add to this list).
How do you as a parent know what's the best option for your child? First I would examine the studies done to see where the evidence lies for treatments. Are the treatments verified independently in studies by people other than those selling it? If not, be cautious, but don't necessarily run away. If a treatment is neither proven or disproven, it may work. If you are a regular reader of this blog you know I am primarily an ABA proponent but I also see great promise in some other therapies. I would also recommend Hanen's program.
In the end, if one treatment does not work, you will inevitably try another. I understand this, but be careful you are not buying hope instead of help. Perhaps for some this makes little difference in the end... but I caution you anyway. Autism is big business, a huge industry. They are all selling hope.