home
RSS
April 2nd, 2008
01:26 PM ET

Finding Amanda

By Dr. Sanjay Gupta
Chief Medical Correspondent 

All day long, you have most likely been hearing and reading about autism on CNN and CNN.com. The numbers, the costs and even the cultural impact. But, what do you really know about it? Have you ever met someone with autism, and would you even know what to look for? These were things I had been thinking about for some time. In our documentary tonight, I will take you on a journey I found remarkable. Straight into the life of someone who has autism.

ALT TEXT
Dr. Sanjay Gupta with Amanda Baggs

Amanda Baggs is 27, super-intelligent and witty. She lives on a beautiful lake in Vermont and is very skilled at shooting and editing videos. In fact, it was one of her videos on YouTube that first caught the attention of CNN. If I had met her only through e-mails and the Internet, I'd be telling you a very different story. But I was able to visit her in person. Tonight, you will see what I saw and hear some of my first impressions.

Despite the friendly invitations and our lively e-mail banter, Amanda would not look at me when I walked in the room and during my time with her. She wore sunglasses and sat in a wheelchair.  She could make some noises, but she did not speak. If it were not for a device that synthesizes words as she types on a keyboard, we would not have been able to communicate with her at all.

To be clear, Amanda is not typical of people with autism. At a young age she went to school and was considered gifted.  At age 14 her autism was diagnosed.  The diagnosis came late, though her parents and doctors say in retrospect, the signs were almost always there. She rarely made eye contact; she was sensitive to sound and never socialized well with children.  It was only after a child psychiatrist recognized it, that she got the diagnosis.  During Amanda’s teenage years, doctors, social workers and Social Security services who would provide her benefits analyzed her case and confirmed her diagnosis.

She taught me a lot over the few days we spent with her. She told me that looking into someone's eyes felt threatening, which is why she looked at me through the corner of her eye. Amanda also told me that, like many people with autism, she wanted to interact with the entire world around her. While she could read Homer, she also wanted to rub the papers across her face and smell the ink. If she saw a flag blowing in the wind, she might start to wave her hand like a flag.  She rides in a wheelchair because she has a diagnosed problem with her motor skills. But she also says balancing herself while walking takes up too much energy for her to also type and communicate. To an outside observer, the behaviors would seem eccentric, even bizarre. Because Amanda was able to explain them, they all of a sudden made sense.

In case you were curious, there is no possible way that I was being fooled. I checked what Amanda was writing and saying over and over again. I spent time alone with her, so she could not get any visual cues from other people in the room. It was Amanda, herself, communicating with me through this technology.

It really started me wondering about autism. Amanda is obviously a smart woman who is fully aware of her diagnosis, and quite frankly mocks it. She told me that because she doesn't communicate with conventional spoken word, she is written off, discarded and thought of as mentally retarded. Nothing could be further from the truth. As I sat with her in her apartment, I couldn't help but wonder how many more people like Amanda are out there, hidden, but reachable, if we just tried harder.

I am a neurosurgeon, who has spent a large portion of my life working in the field of brain disease and disorders, and Amanda Baggs opened my eyes about the world of autism.

Programming Note: Watch "Finding Amanda" an Anderson Cooper 360 special report with Dr. Sanjay Gupta, at 11 p.m. ET.

Editor’s Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation. 


Next entry »
soundoff (223 Responses)
  1. Best Window Washing Service Near Me Berkeley, Denver, CO

    A great read. I'll definitely be back.

    https://signaturewindowwashing.blogspot.com/2021/03/looking-for-commercial-window-cleaning.html

    March 27, 2021 at 06:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. home ac repair near Mission, TX

    Fairly high-quality explanation. continue the good work

    https://acrepairmissiontx.wordpress.com/2021/03/18/why-its-advisable-to-hire-an-air-conditioning-repair-service/

    March 27, 2021 at 06:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. locksmiths

    Your writing style has been surprised me. Thank you, quite great article.

    https://www.scoop.it/topic/automotive-locksmith-services-prevent-vehicle-damage

    March 27, 2021 at 07:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Best Window Cleaning Service Near Me Civic Center, Denver, CO

    very nice! Ireally like your blog

    http://business.theantlersamerican.com/theantlersamerican/markets/news/read/41077120/

    March 28, 2021 at 00:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Best Window Washing Service Near Me LoDo, Denver, CO

    this is very informative and intersting for those who are interested in blogging field.

    http://google.co.kr/url?q=https://goo.gl/maps/hwAqB4KE4ybHPmDK9

    March 28, 2021 at 02:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Window Cleaning Service River North Art District, Denver, CO

    Impressive! Thanks for the post

    https://google.co.zm/url?q=https://goo.gl/maps/hwAqB4KE4ybHPmDK9

    March 28, 2021 at 06:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Window Washing Service River North Art District, Denver, CO

    Thanks for the information.

    http://google.com.et/url?q=https://goo.gl/maps/bDKYVuKajtBKA72h9

    March 28, 2021 at 06:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Window Cleaning Service Civic Center, Denver, CO

    I really like this post

    https://google.com.af/url?q=https://goo.gl/maps/bDKYVuKajtBKA72h9

    March 28, 2021 at 07:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Boomcycle Digital Marketing SEO company

    Interesting stuff to read. Keep it up.Boomcycle Digital Marketing Offers Tested And Trusted Bay Area SEO Services.

    http://business.punxsutawneyspirit.com/punxsutawneyspirit/news/read/41137738/Boomcycle_Digital_Marketing_Offers_Tested_And_Trusted_Bay_Area_SEO_Services

    April 7, 2021 at 11:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. best restaurant Orlando

    Usually I never comment on blogs but your article is so convincing that I never stop myself to say something about it. You're doing a great job Man,Keep it up.

    https://www.christinis.com/

    April 7, 2021 at 11:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. italian restaurants orlando

    such a great information for blogger i am a professional blogger thanks

    http://italianrestaurantorlando.blogofoto.com/29952728/italian-restaurants-perfect-for-sunday-meals

    April 7, 2021 at 12:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. orlando italian restaurants

    this is very informative and intersting for those who are interested in blogging field.

    http://italianrestaurantorlando.jiliblog.com/57564771/myths-about-italian-restaurants

    April 8, 2021 at 06:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. italian restaurants orlando

    very interesting , good job and thanks for sharing such a good blog.

    http://italianrestaurantorlando.diowebhost.com/53585008/five-must-try-dishes-at-your-local-italian-restaurant

    April 8, 2021 at 06:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Italian Orlando

    Your writing style has been surprised me. Thank you, quite great article.

    http://italianrestaurantorlando.arwebo.com/22867494/a-guide-to-extraordinary-italian-restaurants

    April 8, 2021 at 07:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Italian Orlando

    I'm not sure where you are getting your information, but great topic.

    http://italianrestaurantorlando.look4blog.com/38646803/italian-restaurants-a-wide-variety-to-choose-from

    April 8, 2021 at 09:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. orlando italian restaurants

    very nice! Ireally like your blog

    http://italianrestaurantorlando.alltdesign.com/basic-food-options-offered-by-italian-restaurants-19619869

    April 8, 2021 at 11:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. italian restaurants orlando

    Thank you, I've just been looking for information approximately this topic for a long time and yours is the greatest I have discovered so far. But, what in regards to the conclusion? Are you certain concerning the supply?

    http://italianrestaurantorlando.blogdigy.com/the-local-italian-restaurant-has-much-more-to-offer-13456315

    April 8, 2021 at 11:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. orlando italian restaurants

    Fairly high-quality explanation. continue the good work

    http://italianrestaurantorlando.link4blogs.com/22760543/how-to-find-the-best-italian-food-restaurants

    April 8, 2021 at 12:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Best Window Cleaning Service Near Me Platt Park, Denver, CO

    Thank You for your information

    http://dailynewsviral.info/content-marketing-in-sam-ramon-ca/

    April 9, 2021 at 05:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Window Washing Service Athmar Park, Denver, CO

    Your writing style has been surprised me. Thank you, quite great article.

    http://activealert.us/content-marketing-in-sam-ramon-ca/

    April 9, 2021 at 06:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Window Cleaning Service Auraria, Denver, CO

    thanks for sharing!

    http://goldencirclewebdesign.com/content-marketing-in-sam-ramon-ca/

    April 9, 2021 at 07:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Window Washing Service Curtis Park, Denver, CO

    This blog is great check it out

    https://www.bing.com/maps?ss=ypid.YN873x16166619447012457553

    April 9, 2021 at 07:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Window Washing Service River North Art District, Denver, CO

    this is very informative and intersting for those who are interested in blogging field.

    https://www.chamberofcommerce.com/united-states/colorado/denver/abrasive-products-manufacturers/2011452241-signature-window-washing

    April 9, 2021 at 08:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Best Window Washing Service Near Me Globeville

    best i have ever seen!Hello, always i used to check webpage posts here early in the daylight, for the reason that i love to gain knowledge of more and more.

    https://citysquares.com/b/signature-window-washing-23572866

    April 9, 2021 at 09:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Window Cleaning Service Five Points, Denver, CO

    very nice! Ireally like your blog

    https://www.cylex.us.com/company/signature-window-washing-28558292.html

    April 9, 2021 at 10:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Best Window Washing Service Near Me Civic Center, Denver, CO

    Really very happy to say,your post is very interesting to read.I never stop myself to say something about it.You're doing a great job.Keep it up

    https://www.elocal.com/profile/signature-window-washing-20438183

    April 9, 2021 at 10:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Window Washing Service Washington Park, Denver, CO

    such a great information for blogger i am a professional blogger thanks

    https://ezlocal.com/co/denver/window-cleaning-service/0916246364

    April 9, 2021 at 11:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Window Washing Service Athmar Park, Denver, CO

    Keep this going please, great job!

    https://ezlocal.com/co/denver/window-cleaning-service/0916246364

    April 9, 2021 at 12:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Best Window Washing Service Near Me Southmoor Park, Denver, CO

    carry on, dont stop

    http://www.insiderpages.com/b/15302412956/signature-window-washing-denver

    April 9, 2021 at 13:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Best Window Cleaning Service Near Me Lower Highlands, Denver, CO

    Impressive! Thanks for the post

    https://www.merchantcircle.com/signature-window-washing2-denver-co

    April 10, 2021 at 02:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Best Window Cleaning Service Near Me City Park, Denver, CO

    Usually I never comment on blogs but your article is so convincing that I never stop myself to say something about it. You're doing a great job Man,Keep it up.

    https://www.showmelocal.com/profile.aspx?bid=23190647

    April 10, 2021 at 03:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Best Window Cleaning Service Near Me East Colfax, Denver, CO

    Thanks for the information.

    http://www.tupalo.co/denver-colorado/signature-window-washing

    April 10, 2021 at 03:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Best Window Washing Service Near Me Capitol Hill, Denver, CO

    Your writing style has been surprised me. Thank you, quite great article.

    https://www.brownbook.net/business/49319385/signature-window-washing

    April 10, 2021 at 05:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Best Window Washing Service Near Me Berkeley, Denver, CO

    This is a very interesting article. Please, share more like this!

    https://www.cityfos.com/company/Signature-Window-Washing-in-Denver-CO-22578926.htm

    April 10, 2021 at 06:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Best Window Cleaning Service Near Me Baker, Denver, CO

    Interesting stuff to read. Keep it up.

    https://www.dexknows.com/denver-co/bp/signature-window-washing-550947371

    April 10, 2021 at 06:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Best Window Cleaning Service Near Me Washington Park, Denver, CO

    thanks for sharing!

    http://www.lacartes.com/business/Signature-Window-Washing/1794313

    April 10, 2021 at 08:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Best Window Cleaning Service Near Me Lower Highlands, Denver, CO

    this is very informative and intersting for those who are interested in blogging field.

    https://www.manta.com/c/mkkd5lp/signature-window-washing

    April 10, 2021 at 09:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Best Window Washing Service Near Me Lincoln Park, Denver, CO

    Thanks for the information.

    http://www.salespider.com/b-487999294/signature-window-washing

    April 11, 2021 at 06:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Window Washing Service Montclair, Denver, CO

    best i have ever seen!Hello, always i used to check webpage posts here early in the daylight, for the reason that i love to gain knowledge of more and more.

    https://www.yelp.com/biz/signature-window-washing-denver-4?osq=Signature+Window+Washing

    April 11, 2021 at 07:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Best Window Washing Service Near Me Capitol Hill, Denver, CO

    carry on, dont stop

    https://www.alignable.com/biz?_tid=971277

    April 11, 2021 at 08:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Best Window Washing Service Near Me Platt Park, Denver, CO

    carry on, dont stop

    https://medium.com/@tiptopkhanjohn/benefits-of-hiring-a-professional-window-cleaner-2cb9db461a97

    April 11, 2021 at 08:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. zithromax canada

    what is zithromax https://zithromaxes.com/ z pak wiki

    April 12, 2021 at 17:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. vardenafil cvs

    vardenafil cvs https://vegavardenafil.com/ ed pills vardenafil

    April 14, 2021 at 07:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Nick's Air Conditioning And Heating Orlando FL

    Usually I never comment on blogs but your article is so convincing that I never stop myself to say something about it. You're doing a great job Man,Keep it up.

    https://goo.gl/maps/XvoN8MViDYEdHcqv9

    April 14, 2021 at 14:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. 40 mg tadalafil

    what is tadalafil https://elitadalafill.com/ tadalafil pills 20mg

    April 15, 2021 at 09:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. signature window cleaning denver CO

    Thank You for your information

    http://windowcleaningdenver.blogprodesign.com/22709563/is-it-necessary-to-hire-a-commercial-window-cleaning-services

    April 15, 2021 at 11:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. is it safe to order cialis from canadian pharmacy

    do you need prescription for canadian prescription of cialis in usa https://canadacialisstore.com/ cialis canadian pharmacy

    April 17, 2021 at 02:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. sildenafil in india

    sildenafil tablets from india 100mg tablets https://eunicesildenafilcitrate.com/ buy sildenafil citrate online

    April 20, 2021 at 15:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. signature window cleaning denver

    very nice! Ireally like your blog

    https://gaddisemanuel.picturepush.com/album/2971840/p-Signature-Window-Washing2C-1801-York-St2C-Denver2C-CO.html

    April 21, 2021 at 15:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. homes for sale coeur d alene idaho

    http://www.jp-sex.com/amature/mkr/out.cgi?id=05730&go=http://meganleary.com

    April 24, 2021 at 03:09 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5

Post a comment


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

Next entry »
Advertisement
About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.