Autism & Moneyball

I’ll indulge myself a bit here and compare my medical practice that helps ASD patients to the story in the movie Moneyball. It’s about Billy Beane, the general manager of the Oakland A’s, who changed the way that baseball evaluated, paid for, and used players to win games.

Regarding developmental concerns, my practice represents a sea change… to insist that the modern epidemic that we call autism is medically treatable. This is NOT a fixed, genetic disorder with little hope of recovery other than that which takes place by the use of ABA, S&L, PT and OT. “That’s it. Therapies are what you do. Everything else is bullshit and you’re wasting your money if you try,” parents are told.

“You got what you got, deal with it,” claim the conventional docs.
Yo, bro, it just ain’t true.

And, like the story in Moneyball, the first teams that try to run their game plan in a novel manner are ostracized, criticised, derided and dismissed by the establishment. At first, there were some errors as the new practice attained more experience and fine-tuned the algorhithms. Sometimes, it took firing the old-timers who refused to change. In this case, that would be the neurologist who wants to see your child back in 6 months to tell you the same thing that he told you 6 months ago.

Other obstacles that needed to be cleared in the movie were overpaid players who really didn’t help the team. I’m thinking that represents the allergists and dermatologists. Not all, just the ones that aren’t helping us win. And what about the psychiatrists? I think that they are in a different ballpark altogether (nothing new).

Then, there is cajoling the coach into coming on board with the innovative plan. That’s YOU, the parent, of course. I consider every parent THEIR CHILD’S expert. Parents know what their child can do, how much skill they have locked inside, what they can accomplish if you could just get through. But, as in the movie, coaches need to be convinced before taking such a risk.

That makes me Bille Beane, the General Manager who has decided that the present practices are not working. The new paradigm recognizes that too much money was being spent on the wrong stuff and not enough thought is going into what makes a successful therapy.

In baseball and medicine, positive results are what really count. Since I have been practicing medicine by including complementary and alternative treatments, I have been successfully improving lives and winning over patients and their families.

By the way, although I have compared my work to the Moneyball metaphor, I am in no way comparing myself to Brad Pitt! More like Jonah Hill (pictured above).

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Brian D. Udell MD
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