2010-12-16 Presentation on Eliza, My Songbird, a Child With Autism

Speaker: John Mury, Father of a Child with Autism, Eliza.

John is a Pastor here in Natick. Autism is a brain disorder with no known source. When people hear about Autism, they often think it is mental retardation, which it is not. Social skills and the ability to generalize is the problem. Ex. See that bottle at the top of the cabinet? –You all naturally looked at the bottle. This is a unique ability to humans. Yet, children with Autism will not follow the social queue to look at the bottle. They have to be taught to look up at the bottle. It may sound surprising, but the lack of this skill has a huge effect on the ability of a child to function. We all take it for granted.

He played a short video with wife describing their challenge with identifying and managing their daughter's Autism [Go to YouTube and search for "Eliza, My Songbird" to view.] One of the reasons why we made this documentary is to help other parents recognize Autism. The average age of diagnosis is at 5 1/2 which is much too late to begin therapy.

You may have heard of Temple Grandan, a famous person with Autism. She wrote a book called Thinking in Pictures.

The cost to the families is not talked about and there are emotional problems and stress. For example, Mom’s become willing to devote all time and energy to one child while dad is more “big picture” and doesn’t want to sacrifice everything to save the child. Financial costs – Have to hire an aid to go with her to summer camp to help. Typical costs for special schools are $70,000 to $90,000/year. Most families cannot afford this cost.

Other types of mental retardation appear later. Autism occurs earlier. Hard to know exactly what the cause is. There has been a lot of discussion about this but few concrete findings. Estrogen Analog chemicals. Hits boys at 4.5 times as often. Autism is a collection of symptoms without identified causes.

Goal is to get them to become independent and contributors to society.

25th Anniversary Party
– We need to guarantee 50 attendees.

Happy Dollars: Peter – for all of the contributions from the Dictionary Project; went well and very happy. John – Got to be happy for NE sports teams. Red Sox and impressive Patriots and win by Celtics last night. Bob – to be back home but not about temperature; for Gary’s Red Sox – new home being built in Naples; ready in 2012; lots of construction and development adjacent to ballpark. Ed – V. happy to be becoming a member this week. Dick – Happy to see Adam up so early in the AM. George – to see Ed on Dictionary distributions; looking forward to having him on the “team”. Betsy – Helping to solidify my rock star status with my daughters on Dictionary Project. Gary to see such a full table. Hank – to thank wife for bringing the speakers so that we can hear the presentation. Adam – to be here with some old friends and see that the club is doing so well.

Announcements: Theresa is collecting gifts including gift cards for Veteran’s Shelter in Worcester. Please get your gifts to her office by Friday, December 17th.

Attendees: Lyman, Bob, Hank, Neill, George, Dick, Gary, Jason, Peter, John, Theresa.

Guests: Lee Ann Moon, friend/neighbor of Peter’s; Adam Shipman, Charter Member; Betsy Wadland of Framingham Club; John Mury.