TV Review: The twin who could only scream

TV Reviews:
One Life: The Twin who Could Only Scream
BBC1, 28 June


This moving account of Stuart and Dawn Clinch’s attempts to engage
their four-year-old autistic son Thomas through the “Son-Rise”
programme raised more questions than it answered,
writes Michael Fitzpatrick.

If the US programme is supposed to be implemented by parents,
why did Thomas apparently only improve when the visiting expert
from the US was conducting the therapy? Why is it now necessary for
Thomas’s parents to raise money to take him to the US for further

The heroic commitment of Stuart and Dawn reflected both the
determination and the desperation that are characteristic of
parents of children with autism. But we saw little of Thomas’s twin
sister Aimee and learned nothing of the wider impact on the family
of this demanding programme.

Barry and Samahria Kaufman claim that, through their efforts in the
1970s, their son Raun was transformed from being regarded as
“severely and incurably autistic” into a “highly verbal and
socially interactive youngster with a near genius IQ”. They have
established a commercial treatment centre to promote Son-Rise to
other parents, recently extending their operations to the UK. Yet
they have consistently refused to allow their programme to be
independently evaluated.

Are the hopes of vulnerable parents being unrealistically raised by
this sort of unquestioning film, as they are by the offer of a
miracle cure by the promoters of the Son-Rise treatment programme?

Michael Fitzpatrick is a GP in London and has an autistic

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