Not too long ago, two reporters of my acquaintance wrote an excellent article for the Miami New Times regarding the Geiers and their political antics. They blogged on the affair (and what it says about the media) on Thursday; the entry is of general interest to the autism-relevant communities.
Almost exactly one week ago, Peter Bell and Geraldine Dawson of Autism Speaks held a pair of "forums" here in South Florida, one in Miami and one in Boca Raton. A recording of the Boca Raton forum is available in two parts here and here. I spent a good part of the week transcribing various parts of these recordings -- trying to get a record of the more notable quotes and timestamps in them. I've finished with Part One (Bell's presentation), but have yet to even start on Part Two (Dawson's presentation and the subsequent Q&A). This is unfortunate, as there's some genuinely good/useful stuff in that part.
Cleaned up somewhat, my transcript (which has various notes, etc.) reads as follows:
10:31 : Their advocacy efforts -- "a way in which we give the autism community a voice."
12:52 : Start of a discussion of his son's "regression".
13:14 : Implicit endorsement of the opioid excess theory (and the GF/CF diet).
14:42 : Start of the "duplo discussion" (sequence RE son's play styles)
15:28 : "... he basically disappeared in front of our eyes."
21:08 : "We're also, ah, as I said, getting ready for the adult years, um, we're actually, we had our first meeting, ah, about, ah, guardianship last week, um, which we'll be going through when he turns eighteen in January..."
25:54 : "And autism today, in some people's estimation, is an epidemic. Um, certainly the increase in the last twenty years, which we, uh, estimate at about six hundred percent, um, has reached epidemic proportions. It is better understood; um, I think most researchers would say that it's not well understood yet. We, uh, have some ideas about what some of the causes might be, um, but, ah, we certainly don't know what probably is behind the vast majority of the cases. Um, it is considered a spectrum disorder, um, I mentioned, ah, before, ah, how there are different types of autisms, um, and uh, certainly we refer to autism these day, these days as autisms, and, uh, that there are multiple types of autism. It is, by and large, considered to be a treatable disorder, ah, this notion of 'recovery' is real. Uh, and I use the quotations over 'recovery' because it's more or less a term that's defined by no longer meeting the criteria of autism after having been previously diagnosed with it, um, and it is believed that anywhere between maybe ten to fifteen percent of cases of autism, um, the child does recover or ultimately lose his their diagnosis."
27:22 : "The earlier you get it, the better the outcomes are going to be."
28:28 : "We're fortunate in that, in the mid-1990s, several national organizations were established, one of which Jackie referenced, was, which was the National Alliance for Autism Research, which had an amazing presence here in South Florida, largely because of Jackie and all the efforts that she did. Ah, another organization that was founded around the same time was Cure Autism Now, which was based out of Los Angeles. And CAN and NAAR, really, between the two of them are largely responsible for having created what is now the research -- autism research -- field, which, ah, probably totals or numbers at least two thousand scientists around the world who have dedicated their careers to autism."
29:07 (Continuing): "Um, the DAN! movement also happened around the same time, um, and sure some of you have, ah, seen DAN! doctors and so forth, and, ah, certainly, uh, this whole attitude of thinking of autism as something that they can actually ameliorate and make better and so forth, um, again, I think also contributed to that whole notion."
30:19 : (Some credit-mongering/AutSpeaks bragging. Not really politically useful, but worth listening to.)
32:58 : "We're also very involved in family services; this was a department that was formed not long after the merger with Autism Speaks, and that's about helping families, ah, live a better life through quality of life for those who are living with autism today." (compare the numbers)
35:15 : "We're very proud of, um, what we're able to do in terms of helping families."
(Discussion of what they do to "help families".)
51:10 : Community grants in Florida. Total $136,435 over three years. Compare Geri Dawson's salary.
51:56 : "Uh, we have funded, uh, four different CARD programs throughout the state, um, as you found listed here."
54:41 : "So let's shift gears and talk a little bit about advocacy and, uh, what we do in government relations, and, as I said before, this is all about giving those that have autism and their families a voice. Ah, I will do a little bragging down here and say that our AutismVotes website, which is AutismVotes.org, did recieve a Webbie award, basically being one of the best healthcare sites, ah, that's available, ah, for political campaigns."
(Lots of credit-seeking.)
56:39 : "And we've also to ha-have more dialogue with the office of disabilities. We do recognize that autism is part of the larger disability community, and so we've started to make some inroads in helping to figure out what place autism has in that, within that spectrum."
1:07:43 : "Believe me, when I go home tonight, and it probably won't be until tomorrow morning when we all wake up, 'cause I get home very late, uh, in the wee hours of the morning, but I'm very cognizant of the fact that when I wake up tomorrow morning and see my seventeen-year-old son, it's going to be hard to think about the progress that we've made, 'cause he still has autism, and his life is very challenging."
(Closing remarks from the 1:07:43 timestamp are well worth listening to.)
1:09:37 : "It is still a public healthcare crisis, or a 9-1-1, so to speak, um, we have to make sure that people recognize that we have, for the most part, an unexplained six-hundred percent increase in the last two decades, and we need to understand why. Um, and there is absolutely a sense of urgency in terms of what we need to accomplish in order to get the answers that we need."
1:10:31 : "I think it's also critically important that people with autism have a voice in this. Um, and even if you're not able to communicate verbally, doesn't mean you're not able to have a voice. Um, I know we, as uh, a-y'know my son is is marginally, ah, communicative, ah, or verbal, um, and y'know it's hard to really get a sense of what is it that he wants out of life and what is his future, but y'know what, we, we go through great, um, ends to try to figure out what it is that he wants, um, and I think that we have to, as a community, stop and listen, and listen to the individuals that have autism, and, and have them be a part of what we're, what kinds of decisions that we're making on their behalf."