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The Reality Of Autism

February 17, 1991

I agree with fellow father of an adult autistic son Josh Greenfeld that autism is a syndrome, not a single-disease entity, and that the term autism encompasses many variations in both causes and characteristics.

However, I disagree with his assertion that autism is merely "anecdotal" and not real. Could anyone seriously claim that there is really no such thing as an automobile because there are instead Fords, Chevrolets, Mercedeses, Toyotas, etc., all of which are different in various ways?

Greenfeld's review of "Sound of a Miracle" by Annabel Stehli (Jan. 20) does not do justice to the book or the story behind it. Annabel's daughter Georgie was autistic. She is now recovered (the only autistic person I have met whom I would classify as totally recovered). Her recovery does appear to be the result of the auditory training she received from Dr. Guy Berard.

A number of other autistic children with severely hypersensitive hearing have also benefited--to a much more limited degree--from auditory training, but nobody knows as yet what proportions of autistic children may be helped by such treatment. My guesstimate would be about 15% to 20%, but only research--now in its beginning stages--will answer that question.

BERNARD RIMLAND, Director, Autism Research Institute, SAN DIEGO

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