Buyer Beware: Giving it Away Doesn’t Mean it Works
I recently wrote a piece on various listening therapies that ran at Science 2.0 and at TPGA. The most comments for the piece were at TPGA, and one in particular bears greater scrutiny.
The AAP rejects listening therapy/auditory integration training as a recommended therapy: “Their use does not appear warranted at this time, except within research protocols.” My suggestion to parents was that they answer a series of questions before choosing a therapy:
Does the program promise to recover your child from autism?
Are the total costs hidden?
Do you have to buy special headphones and special equipment?
Is the program prohibitively expensive?
What evidence do they offer? (website articles and testimonials do not count as good evidence)
I want to let you know that we at Vision Audio, the creators of the Electronic Auditory Stimulation effect (EASe) CDs, NEVER claim a cure for autism. We don’t sell expensive equipment and we have always given away our products to non profit organizations. EASe CDs have been used, virtually without complaint, by many tens of thousands of parents, professional therapists, teachers, school systems, state organizations, ASA’s all over the country, and hundreds of non profit groups since 1995.
Also, please know that achieving a study at a major university is extremely difficult. Our EASe Games are being studied this fall and it has taken four years of hard work to get to that point. We hope it will take less time to get our upcoming EASe app for the iPad and iPhone under study! In addition, Vital Sounds techniques were studied in 2007 and found effective in the treatment of autism.
I would also point out that there are no therapies in the treatment of autism that have been sufficiently studied to be declared the only effective method available. The 550 child AIT study done by the Autism Research Institute in the mid 1990’s appears to be one of the largest ever done and the conclusions were positive.
So are we who have made it our life’s work to help children most at risk in our society, supposed to stop innovating until products and processes we developed fifteen years ago can be tested in the VERY suspect modern theater of peer review? I hope not.
If you would like a set of EASe CDs, or EASe Games or even the upcoming EASe iPad app to test for yourself instead of having to rely on second hand information, I would happily send you a set for review. Please let me know.
William P Mueller
Vision Audio Inc.
My response to him, there, is as follows:
You write, “I would also point out that there are no therapies in the treatment of autism that have been sufficiently studied to be declared the only effective method available.”
Now, I have to wonder why you phrased it this way. My piece doesn’t argue there’s one effective method and only one. My piece also doesn’t claim that your method promises a cure. It is a post about listening therapies and auditory integration training and the lack of evidence of its efficacy as a treatment for autism.
It is, sir, irrelevant, that you give it away free to some people and that tens of thousands have used it without complaint. That doesn’t mean it actually works at mitigating core deficits in autism.
Not all research is funded or conducted by universities, also a red herring. I would submit that PARENTS might feel they do not have the time to wait for research, and that they should be diligent. If it’s inexpensive, has little chance of causing harm, and is plausible in its mechanism, then the parents should go ahead if they so choose.
Companies selling a product and making claims, though, don’t get the same leeway. You’re making the claim–substantiate it. Show that it works. Reliance on testimonies and appeals to popularity while engaging in strawman arguments doesn’t show your product is effective in doing what you claim it does. And parents, when that is the level of evidence provided, would do well to pay attention to the advisory warnings that medical organizations offer about various treatments.
“So are we who have made it our life’s work to help children most at risk in our society, supposed to stop innovating until products and processes we developed fifteen years ago can be tested in the VERY suspect modern theater of peer review? I hope not.”
I hope that parents looking for treatments to mitigate troubling behaviors and symptoms will carefully evaluate claims before investing. I hope they will be aware of the various fallacies that are often employed to sell product. I hope that parents will read claims like this and see through them. Let’s label this one an appeal to martyrdom followed by an ad hom. Which is it–university-run studies are hard to do or peer review is suspect?
Again, my recommendation to parents was to be wary. If it’s inexpensive, plausible, and offers little chance of harm, go for it.
On the other hand, if there’s lots of unsubstantiated claims, fallacious appeals, and the theory behind it is implausible, then think twice.