The word autism was mentioned during one of the presentations I attended. Patricia Kuhl, PhD presented on “The Child’s First 2000 Days” where she spoke of that critical period, those first 5 years of life, when the brain has its single biggest growth spurt. She cited some studies done on tri-lingual and bi-lingual children, showing that critical period of growth is sustained for a longer period. She spoke of how children respond to humans, the mother’s voice, and how technology should not be used in the first two years of life.
And then she said the word “autistic.” She spoke about the need for more research, how in those children the mother’s voice was not sought, in fact it seemed to cause discomfort. She spoke for about two or three minutes about studies being done with autistic children and then continued with the rest of her presentation before opening it up to questions from the packed room. Hands flew up and suddenly there was the man with the autistic child asking for more information about technology’s role in teaching autistic children. Then there was someone else with a question about language acquisition and autism.
I was sitting in the last row and usually do not ask questions during these discussions but wait until after the talk to approach the speaker. But I couldn’t help myself. Up went my hand, was she aware of Henry Markram and his Intense World Theory for Autism and if so, what did she think of it?
But though she’d heard of him, she wasn’t familiar with his theory. Still, I was pleased that someone had included autism in the hundreds of discussions and presentations even if for just two minutes. And it got me thinking…
If you could put together a series of discussions on Autism presented at a festival such as the Aspen Ideas Festival, attended by some of the wealthiest and most influential people in the country, where the mainstream press is well represented, who and what would you want to see and hear? A couple of people wrote in the comments section yesterday and it was exciting to hear them. I’d love to hear more from anyone who cares to weigh in.