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Family Shares Embarrassing Perm Photos To Help Autistic Son

When you go to the doctor, you want the latest, greatest treatment. If you have decent insurance, you expect them to cover something that's at least pretty good.

So you can imagine this mom's shock when her insurer told her that the only treatment options for her son, who has autism — treatments that had worked for him in the past — would not be covered based on scientific opinions popular in the 1970s.


Lots of children with autism benefit from applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy. For some, it's the only treatment that works. But many insurers don't cover it, citing research from an era before personal computers. Or Justin Timberlake. Or disposable contact lenses.

ABA, this miracle therapy, is crazy expensive. It can cost up to $50,000 per year. (But don't let sticker shock freak you out, retronauts — DollarTimes tells us that's only $8,088.43 in 1970's dollars.)

(Apparently smocking was a thing in the '70s.)

I learned about this because of a kid named Martin. Martin is a nice kid. He re-creates OK Go videos in Lego and could tell you everything you never wanted to know about every single U.S. president. He just has a bit of trouble with social situations. Sometimes more than a bit.

When he was 4, he did some intensive ABA therapy. It taught him how to talk. It taught him how to use the toilet. It helped him do all sorts of everyday things, from putting on clothes to trick-or-treating.

Years later, he needs some more intensive treatment. Social stuff is getting more complicated as he heads toward the hormonal toxic waste dump that is middle school. In his frustration, Martin began to act out. He threw fits. He started hitting his teachers and family members. His parents decided to see if they could get him back into ABA. It worked a miracle before, and although it was once controversial, it's now accepted as best practice for many people with autism. Martin's parents are well-insured. They both work for the University of Texas at Austin.

But their insurance won't cover the therapy that worked for him in the past. Rather than trust recent studies that show ABA's effectiveness, the insurers doubt the science and reflect skeptical attitudes about ABA from the 1970s.

You remember the 1970s, right? Back when polyester was in, disco was hopping, and gas was leaded?

Martin's mom, Dr. Jennifer Graber, got super pissed off. She's been fighting for him for a long time now, and she has had enough.

The law in Texas actually requires insurers to cover ABA, but UT is exempt. The reasons are complicated, but that's how our insurance system goes. Loopholes and fine print everywhere.

And you know what? Your insurance very well might not cover ABA either. Many states don't require it. You might not find out what you don't have until you desperately need it. Or your friend does. Or your grandkid.

According to Autism Speaks, many states have tried to pass legislation to require insurers to cover ABA. But even within states, like Texas, that have passed reform legislation, loopholes allow large institutions to avoid coverage. There are also several states where efforts to pass reform measures have not succeeded and others in which no reform legislation has been brought forward. There are thousands of children with autism in the U.S. with no affordable access to ABA therapy.


It's time to exit the 1970s. Martin's mom has started a petition to hassle the folks at UT about their retrograde policies, as well as a hilarious/depressing/hilarious Facebook page where people are sharing their reasons the 1970s were, as decades go, suboptimal. You can add your own awkward '70s photos and sign their petition.

I'd like to propose a bigger action. Check out the law related to insurance coverage of autism in your state and if it stinks, write your representatives. You might not have a person with autism in your life right now, but statistically, it's only a matter of time before this hits home.

UPDATE:

Good news! After Dr. Graber's petition got a bunch of signatures, the University of Texas announced that it will begin covering ABA therapy for children with autism in fall 2015! But there are unfortunately still many children with different insurance who don't have access.

Joy

Nurse turns inappropriate things men say in the delivery room into ‘inspirational’ art

"Can you move to the birthing ball so I can sleep in the bed?"

Holly the delivery nurse.

After working six years as a labor and delivery nurse Holly, 30, has heard a lot of inappropriate remarks made by men while their partners are in labor. “Sometimes the moms think it’s funny—and if they think it’s funny, then I’ll laugh with them,” Holly told TODAY Parents. “But if they get upset, I’ll try to be the buffer. I’ll change the subject.”

Some of the comments are so wrong that she did something creative with them by turning them into “inspirational” quotes and setting them to “A Thousand Miles” by Vanessa Carlton on TikTok.

“Some partners are hard to live up to!” she jokingly captioned the video.

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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

True

Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

The mesmerizing lost art of darning knit fabric.

For most of human history, people had to make their own clothing by hand, and sewing skills were subsequently passed down from generation to generation. Because clothing was so time-consuming and labor-intensive to make, people also had to know how to repair clothing items that got torn or damaged in some way.

The invention of sewing and knitting machines changed the way we acquire clothing, and the skills people used to possess have largely gone by the wayside. If we get a hole in a sock nowadays, we toss it and replace it. Most of us have no idea how to darn a sock or fix a hole in any knit fabric. It's far easier for us to replace than to repair.

But there are still some among us who do have the skills to repair clothing in a way that makes it look like the rip, tear or hole never happened, and to watch them do it is mesmerizing.

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Pop Culture

Artist uses AI to create ultra realistic portraits of celebrities who left us too soon

What would certain icons look like if nothing had happened to them?

Mercury would be 76 today.

Some icons have truly left this world too early. It’s a tragedy when anyone doesn’t make it to see old age, but when it happens to a well-known public figure, it’s like a bit of their art and legacy dies with them. What might Freddie Mercury have created if he were granted the gift of long life? Bruce Lee? Princess Diana?

Their futures might be mere musings of our imagination, but thanks to a lot of creativity (and a little tech) we can now get a glimpse into what these celebrities might have looked like when they were older.

Alper Yesiltas, an Istanbul-based lawyer and photographer, created a photography series titled “As If Nothing Happened,” which features eerily realistic portraits of long gone celebrities in their golden years. To make the images as real looking as possible, Yesiltas incorporated various photo editing programs such as Adobe Lightroom and VSCO, as well as the AI photo-enhancing software Remini.

“The hardest part of the creative process for me is making the image feel ‘real’ to me,” Yesiltas wrote about his passion project. “The moment I like the most is when I think the image in front of me looks as if it was taken by a photographer.”

Yesiltas’ meticulousness paid off, because the results are uncanny.

Along with each photo, Yesiltas writes a bittersweet message “wishing” how things might have gone differently … as if nothing happened.
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