Monday, April 24, 2006

Give the people what they want

This evening I was browsing through a magazine that Bud brought home from school - Parent & Child: The Learning Link Between Home And School, a monthly publication from Scholastic, apparently provided free of charge to the school district. It seemed to be the same tired and rehashed minutiae I've come to expect from parenting magazines - limit screen time, don't co-sleep with your infant, buy our great new bubble bath.

Then I got to the page titled Focus on Health, which featured three one-paragraph blurbs: the link between childhood television habits and adult obesity; the problems associated with lead paint; autism.

Oh, autism! Let's have a read...

Autism is now the third most common developmental disability in the U.S. By defining early predictors, researchers hope at-risk infants and toddlers will receive the early intervention that can potentially prevent the onset of autism. Visit for information.

Potentially prevent the onset of autism?

Are you kidding me?

Who ARE these people?

I visited Kennedy Krieger Institute's web site and learned they are "an internationally recognized facility located in Baltimore, Maryland dedicated to improving the lives of children and adolescents with pediatric developmental disabilities through patient care, special education, research, and professional training." Surprisingly, there was no banner headline on their home page instructing me to click here to find out how to potentially prevent the onset of autism. So, instead, I clicked through their autism links and got - well, autism information.

Perhaps I was looking in the wrong place.

I found the box that would allow me to search their site and typed in "prevent onset autism." My results read:

Here are your results for search: prevent onset autism
No results where return for Search

Maybe I was being too verbose.

I went back to the search box and entered "prevent autism." That yielded:

Here are your results for search: prevent autism
No results where return for Search

Apparently Kennedy Krieger loves them the bad grammar, too.

Okay, so maybe I should have entered a direct quote from the magazine. I typed in "potentially prevent the onset of autism." That got:

Here are your results for search: "potentially prevent the onset of autism"
Error: null Function: get_search{? = call get_search(?,?,?,?,?,?,?)}Unable to process search. Either retry with a different, or contact the web administrator if problem persists.

It seems the nice folks at Kennedy Krieger have had just about enough of me.

Now, I understand that this is just some give-away magazine that is mostly just advertisements posing as feature articles. I know they don't expect people to actually read it. And I get that it makes nice copy, this little blurb that implies that if you pay enough attention to your small child's development, then you can whisk him away from that pesky little autism thing you keep reading about.

But shouldn't some standard of journalistic integrity apply, even to the publishers of Parent & Child: The Learning Link Between Home and School?

I mean, shouldn't they, on some level, have to actually tell the truth?


Kristina Chew said...

Time to email--write a real letter--to Scholastic...... and send your blog to Kennedy Krieger, who should know better.

Zilari said...

It's an interesting modern world we're living in. I've found, quite seriously, that there is a greater chance of finding useful (and gramatically correct)information on the Internet these days than there is of finding it in mainstream magazines.

Of course, there is a lot of loony stuff online too, but there is just so MUCH information that some of it seems to actually end up being accurate. I think that perhaps modern times are ushering in a new mandate for personal responsibility, in terms of being informed. "Experts" and "credentials" no longer even mean much -- readers need to develop their own critical thinking skills. Thank you for using yours in this case!

Kev said...

The KKI have some familiar sounding staff on the faculty. I can't recall off the top of my head if its 'good' familiar or 'bad' familiar so will research further.

This to me sounds like a magazine getting carried away and misunderstanding the phrase 'intervention'. If I were you I'd go after them. Tell them you're blogging their responses and ask the hard questions.

Phil Schwarz said...

"Apparently Kennedy Krieger loves them the bad grammar, too."

Conflating the words of Stephen Shore and Zero Wing (

Somebody set up them the Autism Bomb!


-- Phil
for great justice

Kristen said...

So much out have to be careful what you read. I love your posts though....look forward to them every day! It's nice to enjoy funny, creative and intelligent writing from someone who is "in my shoes". I laugh every time I read your stuff because I feel like you could be writing about my son. Keep up the good work!!

Big Orange said...

as for co-sleeping... it's probably one of THE main reasons my son isn't 100% behind his "glass wall" all the time. By sleeping with us and getting all that contact, he's much more touchy-feely than a lot of ASD kids.

as for the autism article... Well, in a world where apparently the Ben & Jerry people can't use the 'net or make a few phone calls about the choice of "Black n' Tan" for an ice cream flavor and have to apologize about it later.

::sigh:: whatever happened to the Good Ol' Days when folk actually CARED about what they put in print? Maybe they just assume that 'cuz it's a free flier, no one's actually gonna READ the thing??

Debbie Feit said...

I have felt your indignation and wholeheartedly agree with Kristina to contact the magazine directly.

I just love the way you infuse humor in what is an exasperating experience and I look forward to reading more.


MothersVox said...

Right now the only thing that is keeping Scholastic afloat financially is the magic of Hogwarts. Now we know why -- they aren't holding up any standards anywhere else. I'd sign a letter.

Anonymous said...

FYI... THE Kennedy Krieger Institute is a wonderful place. They have one of the best Autism programs around, for everything from the medical side to the educational side. Search results on a website with bad grammar is certainly not something that is their fault. Poor grammar by a web developer is the reason for that.

Anyway, I assume what the article was getting at is that the KKI has a partnership with the National Institutes of Health in which they are searching for a genetic/biomedical cause for Autism in hopes they can eventually develop a medical treatment/cure.

KKI is fabulous and internationally renowned, and living in the DC-Baltimore area is great for our kids in this area because between Johns Hopkins, KKI, and the NIH, it's by far one of the best areas for Autism research and treatment in the world.

Make sure you are fair to places like KKI before you suggest they are quacks.

Also Anonymous said...

Anonymous, I think the commentary here is on the magazine, not on Kennedy Krieger. I see no suggestion that anyone is a "quack."