PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 May, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 May, 2010, 12:00am

Angered by claims over autism 'cure'

I read with dismay the report ('Public subsidy urged for autism treatment', May 14). I totally disagree with Dino Trakakis and his concern group calling for taxpayers' money to subsidise applied behavioural analysis treatment. This may not be the right option for all children with autism.

I am the father of a 13-year-old autistic boy. My son was diagnosed at the age of 14 months. All these years I have journeyed through all kinds of services that are available in Hong Kong and abroad. I have kept in touch with my son's current and ex-classmates' parents, and there are more than 40 of them.

We also keep in close contact with many of the teachers, social workers and professionals in the special-needs community. I have yet to meet a severely autistic child who was 'cured' through any known method. It is wrong to make claims that autism can be cured with no concrete or scientific proof. This gives false hope to parents.

Over the past 10 years, many people have made claims regarding different kinds of autism treatments. Many of them do not guarantee anything and are very expensive.

Their favourite selling point is that if you don't do it you are failing your child by not getting the best possible treatment for him.

Many times I and other parents have felt the pain and guilt of walking away from such treatment because we refuse to pay for it or simply cannot afford it. From music therapy to hyperbaric oxygen therapy to dolphin therapy, I have seen it all.

I have to say that some of it can and does help some autistic children by making them calmer, better behaved and more focused but never, ever, cured.

Of course, there are many mildly autistic children who manage to get into mainstream schools after various therapies.

I would like a newly diagnosed autistic child's parent to know that if you cannot afford or refuse to pay for expensive therapy, it does not mean that you are failing the child. There are many other treatments and therapies available, and there are also government services available that admittedly may not be the best in the world, but are just as good as some in the private sector.

I want the government to expand its services to teaching life skills to older children.

My son was formerly in a private special-needs school and, because of his age, is now in a government special-needs school. He is happy, well behaved and focused but, of course, not cured.

William Sim, Ap Lei Chau

Strong message from voters

More than 500,000 Hongkongers went to the polling stations on Sunday to vote in the by-elections and to send a message that they want universal suffrage to be introduced at the earliest opportunity.

I was lucky enough to have been involved in the election campaign. I helped hand out fliers. I also acted as a polling and counting agent.

To see the lawmakers who had resigned returned by large margins was an uplifting experience.

We should be grateful to these candidates and to all those citizens who went out and voted.

I hope the government and legislative councillors can reach a consensus on the package of political reforms for Hong Kong.

Following these by-elections, it must be clear that Hong Kong people deserve to have universal suffrage and that they are mature enough to have a fairer and more democratic electoral system in the SAR.

Alpha Keung, Sai Wan Ho

Corruption goes unpunished

Back in the hope-filled days of Cory Aquino, the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) was set up to investigate the Marcoses' crimes and misdemeanours. Yet things unravelled over the years, to the extent that very little of the stolen wealth was retrieved.

This is what seems to be happening now with our prospective president, even before he's taken the reins of office ('Corruption watchdog goes soft on the Marcoses', May 14).

It is totally disheartening to hear the new president-elect make pronouncements about going after his predecessor when various other miscreants have long needed to be brought to justice. But Filipinos are famous for forgiving and forgetting past transgressions, so we seem doomed to see a rerun of the PCGG parody.

With the Marcos clan elected into office once again - thanks to the perverseness of many misguided voters who overlooked the disgraced former president Joseph Estrada's unconstitutional status and gave him massive votes - the same old charade is once again in place.

No doubt Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo's transgressions will likewise be consigned to a legalistic limbo.

To call all this a national shame is putting it mildly. Of course hopes rest on Benigno 'Noynoy' Aquino's being able to reform the government, but reforming the entrenched feudal society (of which he's a part) is another thing altogether. And that famous Filipino religiousness, which has succeeded in producing a variety of Christian sects promising a better life, will go on ad nauseum.

Isabel Escoda, Lantau

Government ad lacks logic

Would the government department concerned please urgently change the content of its radio advert? This advises landlords to secure the rooftops of apartment blocks in their effort to reduce incidents of articles being discarded from above.

In the case of a fire starting on a lower floor, residents must have access to common rooftop areas as an emergency escape route, if all others are impassable.

It is very doubtful that a ground-floor-based security officer would fight his way up through fire and smoke to unlock the upper security door to save the lives of trapped apartment residents.

The advert conveys a well-meaning thought, but some logic is required.

Nick Helms, Quarry Bay

Hospital may be best place

The chopper attack tragedy which left two dead in Kwai Chung has shocked the Hong Kong community.

This is the second such attack in two years which has cost the lives of innocent civilians.

Officials seem unwilling to accept the threat that is posed to our community by some mental patients who have been discharged from hospitals. It is as if these officials are saying that attacks like this will happen. They should show more consideration for the concerns expressed by residents.

I believe there are too many former hospital patients with psychological disorders living among us, and some of them do pose a threat to citizens.

Many find it difficult to adapt to life in society after being in a hospital environment. In a hospital or clinic they can be given a more comprehensive form of care. They will suffer from less stress. The authorities should recognise the risks involved and allow more of these patients to stay for longer periods in hospitals. This will increase their chances of making a full recovery.

Michael Leung Chung-hong, Sham Shui Po

Estate agents can flout rules

To a certain extent, I think new rules which will be applied to estate agents will help prospective buyers of new flats ('Watchdog revises rules for sales of new flats', May 7). The actual size and layout of the show flat being viewed will be made clear.

Also the government has advised that purchasers should be allowed to take photos. This will mean people are better informed before they decide whether or not to buy the flat.

However, I do see some potential loopholes. Ultimately it will be up to the estate agent to decide whether or not someone can take a picture. Also they might argue that in terms of dimensions the show flat is not an exact copy of other apartments.

Finally, if estate agents do not adhere to the rules they will not face fines. There is still the possibility that they will continue to do as they wish. Laws must be passed that estate agents have to obey.

Kwan Ho-yin, Kwai Chung

Serious social problems

Two headlines put into focus the out-of-balance priorities evidenced in Hong Kong these days ('Tung Chung site fetches HK$3.4b in lacklustre sale', and 'One in nine living below breadline in Hong Kong', May 12).

Add in those at or slightly above the breadline and we may well be looking at a significant social malaise indicating a dangerous future for Hong Kong.

It seems an appropriate time to be addressing issues of a living and minimum wage, strengthening the social safety net by putting our hoarded tax dollars to good use and overhauling an education system that is not able to produce graduates who can fill the jobs our businesses require.

Michael Lavergne, Lantau

More tears than smiles in nation

The May 15 edition of the travel magazine of the Financial Times had a full-page advert showing a lovely picture of a flower vendor, with a temple towering behind her, smiling at a customer buying her blooms.

The accompanying text read: 'Discover what you've been missing. In this wonderful country where smiles seem to be the national language'. The headline was 'Amazing Thailand'.

An amazing irony indeed in view of the fact that Thailand today is tearing itself apart, producing more tears than smiles.

Beatriz Taylor, Cheung Chau