Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Autism and celebrity

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  • Gareth Ward,

    was part of a publicity blitz tied to Geoff's new album

    Yech.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 1727 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    It turns out that the Sewells’ appearance was part of a publicity blitz tied to Geoff’s new album

    As Laurence Olivier once remarked, “money, dear boy”.

    Seriously though, this can’t be allowed to go unchallenged. The Royal Society of NZ and others need to call bollocks on it. Quickly.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5441 posts Report Reply

  • Shaun Lott,

    That doesn’t mean we in the media are absolved of responsibility for what they do with that airtime.

    Though the term has been much abused in the climate change 'debate', surely the onus is on the journalist to provide some sort of balance in the context of the show? A follow up from the RSNZ or whoever with the actual facts a few days later (or more likely, never) doesn't really cut it. So I guess Seven Sharp turns out not to be journalism. Oh, wait... that's not news.

    Waitakere • Since Aug 2009 • 113 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Shaun Lott,

    So I guess Seven Sharp turns out not to be journalism. Oh, wait… that’s not news.

    Actually, Seven Sharp was by far the best of the three. The Newstalk interview with Hosking was insane.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    Thanks Russell. I see that Geoff Sewell is playing in Wellington tonight. (And disclosure - I have helped with an autism fundraiser associated with one of their earlier visits soon after their daughter had her 'tragic' diagnosis).

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3226 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    Parents who have not in the first instance accepted who their children are may be inclined to credit any improvment, real or perceived, to dubious therapies.

    When I was 14 I was taken to an ‘ear, nose & throat specialist’ under the belief that my excessive blinking was allergen-related, specifically yeast allergy and its associated fad diets. On top of that, what my folks didn’t realise was that the Japanese cram school-style/tiger parent regime they were foisting on me at the time was breaking the camel’s back.

    On top of that, they still deny I’m on the autism spectrum to this day. I’ve said it before, but if I was a Japanese living in Japan, I probably would have been a hikikomori. I’m living proof that forcing a square peg into a round hole with a bigger hammer doesn’t always work.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5441 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe,

    Fuckers. Those journos should know better: they should all be able to recognise tinfoil-hattery. Accepting the tying of autism "cures" to a record launch is disgusting.


    [Literal in third par care/cure]

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2899 posts Report Reply

  • Allan Moyle,

    I note that Geoff Sewell is on RNZ Afternoons w/Jim Mora today, no doubt being given yet another unchallenged session to spout his BS science and cure

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 103 posts Report Reply

  • TracyMac,

    If someone is going to turn their promotional blitz into a shill for various less-than-proven therapies, I think that essentially gives the interviewer licence to stop with the promotional routine and start playing hardball with these "facts".

    Perhaps that would encourage Sewell to stick to the interview topic. Alas, can't see it happening.

    Canberra, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 701 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    For every medical condition, some people will get worse, other people will get better. If you’re interested in a particular ‘cure’, then you will notice that some people will get better at the same time as the ‘cure’ is administered. In many cases, more severe the disease, the more likely it is that person will transition to a less severe form of that disease.

    This is why we have science: if there is a plausible mechanism, then it can be investigated. In the case of gastro-intestinal inflammation, it appears that since the immune system is implicated in many diseases, it was considered worthy of study. Trials were conducted, and no association was found. The problem is that autism's mechanisms are still not well understood (AFAIK) and so cures can be thrown around without needing to be justified under any criteria.

    I just wish there was a willingness among our media institutions (the management as much as the journos) not to be party to these self-promoting auto-didacts.

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    My own sons have a various times, made rapid and lasting gains in their interactions with the world.

    Oath. I think of Jimmy as a very dear friend, and I hope a contributing factor is (in no small part due to you and places like this) I don't see him as a "problem" that needs "fixing." (I know it's a bad analogy, but I find living with manic-depression a lot easier surrounded by people who don't treat me as just one twitch away from becoming a serial killer.)

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to George Darroch,

    Bah, rubbish in the media. Bah, I say, Bah!

    For every medical condition, some people will get worse, other people will get better. ... In many cases, more severe the disease, the more likely it is that person will transition to a less severe form of that disease.

    It even has a name: reversion to the mean. On average, variable things far from the mean tend to get closer to it. It's not rocket surgery.

    My impression is that gastro-intestinal problems are becoming more common, but a lot of people are not aware of the problems they have. Especially because a lot of the symptoms are "I don't feel so good after I eat X", which naturally and unconsiously leads to not wanting to eat it. Even without a "NEW MIRACLE DIET CURE". But as soon as you pick a random person, medicalise them, and start looking for dietary problems, you find them.

    I mean, I've been on the spectrum all my life, but only gluten intolerant for a few years. If I'd been like this as a child I would have noticed because the bulk of my carbs were gluten-heavy... I lived on pasta and bread. No so any more!

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1233 posts Report Reply

  • graeme muir,

    I accept your points about the tweet and headline online. ABA is not new and it's not a miracle cure. All of which we were careful to point out in the on-air programme but, in this case, our left hand didn't talk to the right hand and I'm sorry we got it wrong. The online headlines have been changed to correct this - so hat tip to you for that.
    I think our reporter Gill Higgins was very careful to present the case for ABA treatment as one that attracts very fervent supporters (i.e mostly those parents of autistic children who've seen improvement in the treatment of negative symptoms through ABA) and its fair share of detractors. It's your prerogative to criticise the cost of the treatment and how a celebrity like Geoff Sewell can obviously afford it (although that was the point of his now sincere - whatever you might think of him and the links on his website - efforts to raise funds and awareness). We didn't shy from highlighting how expensive it is, which is why I think it might have been fair to point to the case of the other boy in our story, Jed, whose parents received 2 years of funding for ABA treatment because they're residents in Britain, where it is funded. (Surely it's not because his parents aren't celebrities, Russell?;). Autism, as I'm sure you don't need me to point out (!), is a hugely complex issue and last night we presented one side of it (and will do more stories in the future - no doubt by the excellent Gill Higgins)
    Cheers
    Graeme
    Editor of Daily Content, TVNZ

    auckland • Since Apr 2007 • 8 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Actually, Seven Sharp was by far the best of the three. The Newstalk interview with Hosking was insane.

    Well, Hosking.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2935 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to graeme muir,

    I accept your points about the tweet and headline online. ABA is not new and it’s not a miracle cure. All of which we were careful to point out in the on-air programme but, in this case, our left hand didn’t talk to the right hand and I’m sorry we got it wrong. The online headlines have been changed to correct this – so hat tip to you for that

    Thanks for engaging on this, Graeme, and for the correction.

    I perhaps could have covered the other family’s experience too, but to be honest what I wrote took me three hours this morning and there’s a burden both in the research and in going over all this stuff, again. It is quite wearying after a while.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to graeme muir,

    and will do more stories in the future

    Glad to hear it. Can I suggest contacting some of NZ's actual autism experts when you do those.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand,

    I don't know whether it was because I emailed them (home today, nursing a 'orrible cold) but Jim Mora referenced Russell's thread in his interview with Sewell just now. I suggested that if the conversation strayed from the first purpose of plugging his new album (ever so middle-brow!), they needed to read Celebrity and Autism firstly.

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2560 posts Report Reply

  • Ianmac,

    The return to Behaviourism in the context of helping improve the lot of Autistic may be a great help. By breaking down every action into measurable steps which have measurable outcomes may help.
    Unfortunately the political push these days (Parata) is to foist Behaviourism onto school programs. (National Standards.) This had a rise in the 80s but soon it was evident that children do not learn well this way and was declined by good teachers. It looks good in that it seems that if you do this plus that the result will be obvious - but it can have the very reverse effect.
    So to break down behaviours into tiny steps might help autism but keep it away from schools.

    Bleneim • Since Aug 2008 • 135 posts Report Reply

  • Luke Williamson,

    Micro-discussion . . . As the father of daughter with coeliac disease (NO gluten allowed - not just because you feel like trying out a low-gluten diet), I can tell you that gluten is the popular bete-noir for every dietician, naturopath and homeopath at the moment. It seems to be the go-to diagnosis for all that ails you, however, there are very few people who really follow through on being properly gluten-free when they find out how incredibly difficult and annoying it is to implement. So, invariably, they become low-gluten diets (or give up all together) and move on to the next fad cure. Having been involved in a lot of study of gluten-free diet, it strikes me as unlikely that it would somehow be associated with autism – correlation maybe but anything beyond that would surprise me. Pseudo-science should named and shamed whenever it is encountered, especially if it is in the media. I'm disappointed with Marcus Lush but expect nothing better of Mike Hosking.

    Warkworth • Since Oct 2007 • 297 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Casey,

    I was watching Myth Busters at the time. They showed that with the correct diet you could adjust your gut to eliminate any unwanted effects from Hosking or Lush exposure.

    Since May 2014 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Lindberg, in reply to Luke Williamson,

    I can tell you that gluten is the popular bete-noir for every dietician, naturopath and homeopath at the moment

    Gluten is bad shit, man!

    Stockholm • Since Jul 2009 • 802 posts Report Reply

  • Grant McDougall,

    As soon as I saw the start to Seven Sharp last night I immediately thought "This is as bogus a load of quackery as when One News opened with a story about NZ greenlip mussels being a cure for cancer a few years' ago."

    Dunedin • Since Dec 2006 • 760 posts Report Reply

  • Bryan Spender,

    The credulous interview style of television and radio interviewers is annoying but they are only a dripping tap in front a tsunami of internet pseudo-science.

    I have been impressed with critical thinking skills that my son’s generation ( born in the 2000’s ) have received. That is the best defense against bad information.

    We need more scientists like Dr Siouxsie Wiles on Nine to Noon pushing back the woo.

    Auckland • Since May 2014 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • Bryan Spender, in reply to Grant McDougall,

    You do know that herbal highs are a cure for cancer ? :-)

    Auckland • Since May 2014 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • Sue,

    i think this like so many unknown things everyone wants to talk about 'cure, cure, cure' i get this all the time with CFS. I get this all the time with Depression. With both there is no one cure, fits al there is so far no CURE!
    but the most disgusting thing i have faced from medical practitioner & counsellors is supplements, supplements, supplements. another way for someone to make money out of helpless people looking for an answer, any answer

    that this gets thrown at parents of children (and being a parent is a big hard job as it is) who love and cherish their autistic children only wanting the best, well it's wrong wrong all kinds of wrong. It is a crime with financial victims because our health services s have insufficient funding to do what's needed

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 527 posts Report Reply

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