- Paperback: 216 pages
- Publisher: Vanderbilt University Press (April 1, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0826519768
- ISBN-13: 978-0826519764
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 8.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 12 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #644,344 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Each Day I Like It Better: Autism, ECT, and the Treatment of Our Most Impaired Children Paperback – April 1, 2014
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"Amy Lutz shines a bright spotlight on the needs of the most severely affected children with autism, a group that has long suffered in the dark. These kids, whose lives are challenged by self-injurious behaviors and aggressive outbursts that drastically limit their ability to interact in the world, should have access to all evidence-based interventions that science indicates can improve their lives, including ECT."
--Alison Singer, President, Autism Science Foundation
"In addition to being one of the most moving accounts imaginable of the love and devotion that parents of these challenging but splendid children bring forth, the book is also one of the best informed: Amy Lutz is thoroughly familiar with the scientific literature, and applies it to her own, stricken world to great effect. I myself was at times close to tears in opening this book, and I think other readers may be as well."
--Edward Shorter, University of Toronto, co-author of Shock Therapy: A History of Electroconvulsive Treatment in Mental Illness
"Amy Lutz takes us inside the mysterious world of autism and provides a heart-wrenching chronicle of what it is like to love a child with almost overwhelming needs. She gives voice to the thousands of parents who must face the almost unimaginable challenges of getting help for a child with autism, and describes the unanticipated benefits of electroconvulsive therapy. I recommend this book not just for parents of children with autism, but for anyone facing the physical and emotional rollercoaster of caring for a loved one with a devastating illness."
--Eve Herold, Director, Office of Communications and Public Affairs for the American Psychiatric Association
From the Inside Flap
The story of how a family raises a violent and self-injuring child with autism
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When autism is depicted in the media, what is seldom acknowledged, rightly or wrongly, is the dark side of self-injurious and aggressive behaviors. When a family becomes more knowledgeable of the functions of maladaptive behaviors, typically through the guidance of a behavior analyst, some of those behaviors can be addressed successfully through a behavior treatment plan. But what do you do when the behavior is rooted in something not socially mediated but is entirely physiological and threatens the safety of that person and/or others around them?
As Amy Lutz describes, in that scenario, intervention typically begins with pharmaceuticals. As there is no test that can be administered to determine which chemical pathways in the brain need intervention, a process of trial and error begins and hopefully the right “cocktail” of medications will be put together to alleviate that person’s suffering and self-injurious or aggressive behaviors and enable them to stay in a community setting. If that fails, institutionalization, as undesirable as it is, may be necessary (side note of my own - that is if you can find a vacancy somewhere other than a prison, as states have decreased the number of facilities and beds available for acute mental crises.) Then what?
As Amy Lutz describes in detail with supporting clinical research, electroconvulsive therapy is an intervention that has positively changed the trajectory of the lives of people like her son Jonah. The book also describes the stories of Matthew, Paul, Gary & David, Sam, and John who had tried everything else without success. She describes the catatonic symptoms that the procedure helps to alleviate. In the world of autism, catatonia has very rarely been a topic of discussion. While we continue to struggle in our understanding of the brain, I suspect that this condition is more prevalent than is diagnosed and for that I am grateful to the author for bringing attention to it. She notes that ECT is a procedure that works on a temporary basis and in most cases, requires maintenance therapy. The author continues her discussion on the side effects of the procedure, mainly memory loss and loss of cognitive functioning. However, both side effects have been shown to be temporary in basis only.
The lack of providers and facilities in this country is one hurdle to access of this treatment. The widely held but misinformed view that ECT is cruel and inhumane constitutes another hurdle. The author notes that anti-ECT activists are vehement in their opposition to it based upon decades old, abandoned historical protocols. She does a superb job of describing the advances that have made ECT a safe and viable option. The procedure has been indicated for catatonia, major depression, and those with bipolar disorder and acute suicidal ideations. As with any medical treatment, one must weigh all costs and benefits. For those with self-injurious behavior so severe that, when everything else has failed and death from self-inflicted injuries is highly likely (as the author notes in the tragic story of Jeff Apple who hit his head so hard that he died), serious consideration in conjunction with a doctor’s recommendation should be given to ECT.
It is not without tremendous love, persistence, and courage that Ms. Lutz took to publish this book. Her willingness to share their story, inviting inevitable but highly misinformed criticism, is commendable. This is a book that is more than worth the time it takes to read for any family attempting to address their child’s self-injurious or aggressive behaviors that have failed to respond to traditional interventions.
I can truly say that my son has suffered no noticeable side effects after eight rounds of ECT (four to go, then maintenance) and his eye gouging and other self abusive behaviors have stopped. Even better, it's like he has "checked back into the building." He's recovered abilities I truly believed were gone forever. To see him smiling, laughing and enjoying life again is the most priceless, precious gift I could ask for.
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For decades, I have been frustrated by the unscientific hysteria that demonizes ECT, a...Read more