Michelle Dawson, who attended the conference at which Deborah Fein presented, similarly notes the disconnect between the media reports and the actual study [via The Autism Crisis]:
Taking creative liberties with the media. What the heck right? There's no harm to bandying about the term "recovery" and linking it to a therapy when that link is unsupported. It's not like parents are looking for hope or anything, are they?
...But in her presentation, as in her abstract, Dr Fein did not associate the findings she reported with any kind or quantity of autism intervention or treatment. When
speaking at IMFAR, she expressed doubt that this in fact could be done.
Dr Fein clearly added more information when speaking with the media. She expressed her view that recovery from autism, what Dr Fein calls "optimal outcome," was associated with early intensive ABA-based autism interventions. Like all researchers, she is free to say what she wishes to the media. However, her statements relating kinds and amounts of intervention to outcomes in autistic children are not supported by any of the data she chose to present at IMFAR 2009, either in her oral presentation or in a series of related posters.
Indeed her study design does not permit any conclusions about effectiveness of interventions, no matter how "effectiveness" is defined. She has not conducted a true experimental design in which well-known sources of bias can to some degree be accounted for and therefore the effects of interventions, their benefits and harms, can usefully be assessed.
People are starting to realize that the emporer has no clothes. Even mommyblog "ParentDish" expressed skepticism. Ditto for a popular professional association newsource I read. Deborah Fein does a disservice to her patients/subjects and the cause of promoting ABA mandates. You don't gain credibility with hyperbolic claims based on fantasy.