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Stonebridge Capital Consulting is a commercial real estate consulting and advisory firm. Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania as 1 of 4 girls, Nancy lost her parents at a very young age. Her son Michael was born in the early 90s. At 3 years old, Michael was diagnosed with autism. The self-injurious behaviors seemed to stop overnight. He got into a good sleeping pattern, and no longer felt the need to over sensitize himself. Doctors were recommending Nancy to load Michael up on medicines.

She refused. She wanted for her son what we all want — a healthy, thriving life. So she raised Michael working full-time as an IBM executive then coming home to her full-time job as a mother with the added attention, care, and support needed for her autistic child. Nancy and her husband were so busy making sure Michael had a happy and healthy childhood growing up.

They succeeded. But from making sure he could get on soccer and baseball teams to juggling regular household and job responsibilities, long-term planning had escaped Nancy. They realized Michael had no options once he graduated high school. No government support services. Autism in popular culture has come to mean "smart, quirky, and possessing no people skills. Hell, it barely seems like a disorder at all; just a specific kind of geeky personality. But saying that someone has autism is like saying that they have "an animal" in their room.

Are we talking about a hamster or silverback gorilla? After all, some forms of autism are so severe that the sufferers can't speak, or even begin to care for themselves. We spoke with Ryan Nichols, whose seven-year-old son Sam is on the "gorilla" end of the spectrum. He told us how Sam bites things when he is upset.

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This has led to more than one broken phone when we weren't paying enough attention. On one occasion, he took a drinking glass and bit clear through it, cutting his lip. We had to quickly get him away from the broken glass and make sure that he didn't swallow any of it. There was a similar incident in which Sam had a handful of popcorn kernels in his mouth, and when I tried to fish them out, he bit down on my finger -- hard. Like, bear trap hard. My wife was outside and couldn't hear me screaming for help.

I tried to massage his mouth and pleaded with him to stop, but to no avail. It was very hard to remain calm and not do anything rash until he finally settled down and released me. Now, before you run out and demand that all autistic kids be legally required to wear those Hannibal Lecter masks, let's make something clear: By far, the most frequent victim of Sam's impulsiveness is Sam himself. Recently, Sam wandered off without me for the first time.

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I was in the bathroom upstairs, and when I got out, I saw him playing with his Matchbox cars, doing his normal routine. I thought nothing of it until I heard my neighbors knocking on the door. Upon answering, I learned that Sam had gone outside, jumped excitedly on a parked car, and tried to get into the neighbor's house, all in the span of the five minutes that I was on the toilet. Thankfully, my neighbors know Sam and helped lead him back into the house without incident. We've since added a top lock to the door, but Sam running off is now something we have to be constantly vigilant about.

Certain obsessive behaviors can also lead to self-harm. One huge challenge we have is that if Sam has a runny nose, he will rub his face raw. More than once, he's come home from therapy with a deep rash on his face, because he's done nothing but rub it like a dude with a head full of angel dust for the last seven hours.


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The first few times this happened, we didn't know what to do, other than restrain him so that he couldn't remove the healing ointment we applied to his face. This failed miserably, because he wound up rubbing his face on a wall, floor, or any object he could find. We had to stay home from work and physically block him from rubbing his face as often as we could throughout the day, which is a fantastic excuse to try to explain to your boss.

Since then, my wife has come up with a brilliant solution: She takes a sheet of paper and writes down every number from to 0. Sam isn't allowed to wipe the ointment off his face until it ends. Countdowns are a lifesaver for us; Sam can focus on the progression, where otherwise he thinks that unpleasant things will never end. Sam communicates both at therapy and at home with an iPad, utilizing a series of menus to navigate to what he would like to say. He can communicate basic needs, like "I want to eat a giant container of grapes" or "I need to use the restroom," but can't say anything that is not already programmed in, such as "I find the metaphors in the Twilight series to be ghoulishly contrived.

This is fine for shopping, but isn't appropriate in most other situations. One striking example of this came during our outings to Target.

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There was a period of several weeks during which he would throw a giant fit every time we tried to go into the store -- grabbing himself, grabbing me, and jamming his shirt and anything else nearby into his mouth to bite in frustration. A few times, we left without buying anything, and he cried inconsolably for over an hour because he was so upset that we weren't able to understand him.


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Eventually, we figured out that he was throwing fits because he wanted to go to the Starbucks across the parking lot for a bagel with cream cheese. Which is reasonable, because cream cheese is delicious. He simply didn't know how to communicate that desire effectively. As Sam gets older, he is becoming more aware that he is unable to communicate what he's thinking, and this devastates him. Sick days are extremely challenging, because he can't tell us what's wrong.

When he was five, he had strep throat like clockwork about once every two months. The first few times he got it, it took me days to figure out what was bothering him, because he never pointed to his throat or indicated in any way that he had pain there. I've since learned to immediately check his throat like some kind of Throat Whisperer every time he gets sick, but I also know that my child might not be able to tell me when he's seriously ill, and that's terrifying.

This lack of communication is something strangers can never understand. I've had people try to communicate with him and look shocked when he either didn't respond or responded with a high-pitched squeal. Others get offended, assuming that he's a spoiled little boy with no manners. This was often compounded by the fact that Sam used to always carry an iPad -- which, if you remember from earlier, was his only means of communicating when he was younger.

Bettelheim theorized that children with behavioral and emotional disorders were not born that way, and could be "cured" through extended psychoanalytic therapy, treatment that rejected the use of psychotropic drugs and shock therapy. Bettelheim's ideas, which grew out of Freud's , about alleged subconscious injury caused by mothers of troubled children are now seen as particularly damaging.

The University of Chicago was later criticized for not providing their normal oversight during Bettelheim's tenure. When his father died, Bettelheim left his studies at the University of Vienna to look after his family's sawmill. Having discharged his obligations to his family's business, Bettelheim returned as a mature student in his thirties to the University of Vienna. Bettelheim's first wife, Gina, took care of a troubled American child, Patsy, who lived in their home in Vienna for seven years.

Bettelheim would later claim that this was part of what inspired him to study autism, though there is disagreement regarding whether or not Patsy was autistic. In the Austrian academic culture of Bettelheim's time, one could not study the history of art without mastering aspects of psychology. Though Jewish by birth, Bettelheim grew up in a secular family. After the Nazi invasion and Anschluss political annexation of Austria on March 12, , the Nazi authorities sent Bettelheim, other Austrian Jews and political opponents to the Dachau and Buchenwald concentration camps where they were brutally treated, and tortured or killed.

Bettelheim was arrested on May 28, and was imprisoned in both these camps for ten and half months before being released on April 14, As a result of an amnesty declared for Adolf Hitler 's birthday which occurred slightly later on April 20, , Bettelheim and hundreds of other prisoners were released.

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Bettelheim drew on the experience of the concentration camps for some of his later work. Bettelheim arrived by ship as a refugee in New York City in late to join his wife Gina, who had already emigrated. They divorced because she had become involved with someone else during their separation. The Rockefeller Foundation sponsored a wartime project to help resettle European scholars by circulating their resumes to American universities. Through this process, Ralph Tyler hired Bettelheim to be his research assistant at the University of Chicago from with funding from the Progressive Education Association to evaluate how high schools taught art.

Once this funding ran out, Bettelheim found a job at Rockford College, Illinois, where he taught from In , he published the paper "Individual and Mass Behavior in Extreme Situations" about his experiences in the concentration camps, a paper which was highly regarded by Dwight Eisenhower among others.

Through Ralph Tyler's recommendation, the University of Chicago appointed Bettelheim as a professor of psychology, as well as director of the Sonia Shankman Orthogenic School for emotionally disturbed children. He wrote a number of books on psychology and, for a time, had an international reputation for his work on Sigmund Freud , psychoanalysis , and emotionally disturbed children. He stated that the Viennese psychoanalyst Richard Sterba had analyzed him, as well as implying in several of his writings that he had written a PhD dissertation in the philosophy of education.

His actual PhD was in art history, and he had only taken three introductory courses in psychology. At the Orthogenic School, Bettelheim made changes and set up an environment for milieu therapy , in which children could form strong attachments with adults within a structured but caring environment. He claimed considerable success in treating some of the emotionally disturbed children. He wrote books on both normal and abnormal child psychology , and became a major influence in the field, widely respected during his lifetime.

His wife died in Bettelheim analyzed fairy tales in terms of Freudian psychology in The Uses of Enchantment He discussed the emotional and symbolic importance of fairy tales for children, including traditional tales at one time [ clarification needed ] considered too dark, such as those collected and published by the Brothers Grimm. Bettelheim suggested that traditional fairy tales, with the darkness of abandonment, death, witches, and injuries, allowed children to grapple with their fears in remote, symbolic terms. If they could read and interpret these fairy tales in their own way, he believed, they would get a greater sense of meaning and purpose.

Bettelheim thought that by engaging with these socially evolved stories, children would go through emotional growth that would better prepare them for their own futures. At the end of his life, Bettelheim suffered from depression. He appeared to have had difficulties with depression for much of his life. Currently, many of Bettelheim's theories in which he attributes autism spectrum conditions to parenting style are considered to be discredited, not least because of the controversies relating to his academic and professional qualifications.


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  • Though he spent most of his life working in psychology and psychiatry, Bettelheim's educational background in those fields is murky at best. Sources disagree whether Bettelheim's PhD was in art history [29] [30] [31] or in philosophy aesthetics. Determining Bettelheim's education is complicated by the fact that he routinely embellished or inflated aspects of his own biography.

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    As an example, Bettelheim's first wife, Gina, took care of a troubled American child, Patsy, who lived in their home in Vienna for seven years. Although Bettelheim later claimed he himself had taken care of the child, there is general agreement that his wife actually provided most of the child care.

    There is disagreement, however, among sources regarding whether or not Patsy was autistic. When he applied at the University of Chicago for a professorship and as director of the Orthogenic School, he further claimed that he had training in psychology, experience raising autistic children, and personal encouragement from Sigmund Freud. Under Mr. Pollak's magnifying glass, Bettelheim is seen in a new, harsh light, and stands exposed as a brilliant charlatan.

    Bruno Bettelheim

    First, he lied; that is, he both exaggerated his successes at the school and falsified aspects of his background, claiming a more elaborate academic and psychoanalytic history in Vienna than he had actually had. There is conclusive evidence to support both charges. In a Weekly Standard article Peter Kramer, clinical professor of psychiatry at Brown University, summarized: "There were snatches of truth in the tall tale, but not many.

    Bettelheim had earned a non-honors degree in philosophy, he had made acquaintances in the psychoanalytic community, and his first wife had helped raise a troubled child. But, from to , -- the bulk of the '14 years' at university -- Bettelheim had worked as a lumber dealer in the family business. McHugh , then director of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Johns Hopkins, stated "Bettelheim — with boldness, energy and luck — exploited American deference to Freudo-Nietzschean mind-sets and interpretation, especially when intoned in accents Viennese.

    However, within a year of his death, an article appeared in the winter edition of The Journal of American Folklore which presented a case that Bettelheim had engaged in plagiarism by borrowing without acknowledgement from a number of sources, including author Alan Dundes' paper on Cinderella, although primarily from Dr. Julius E. A Los Angeles Times article stated, "Alan Dundes, a widely published expert on folklore and a year veteran of Berkeley's anthropology department, details what he says is 'wholesale borrowing,' not only of 'random passages' but also of 'key ideas' in Bettelheim's book.

    Heuscher himself was gracious about the charges, and stated, "We all plagiarize. I plagiarize. Many times, I am not sure whether it came out of my own brain or if it came from somewhere else I'm only happy that I would have influenced Bruno Bettelheim. I did not always agree with him. But that does not matter. Poor Bruno Bettelheim. I would not want to disturb his eternal sleep with this".

    Dundes stated, "If an undergraduate were to turn in a research paper with this sort of borrowing without any attribution, he or she would almost certainly be accused of plagiarism. On the other hand, Jacquelyn Sanders, who worked with Bettelheim and later became director of the Orthogenic School, states that she had read Dundes' article but didn't believe many people would agree with his conclusions.

    She said, "I would not call that plagiarism. I think the article is a reasonable scholarly endeavor, and calling it scholarly etiquette is appropriate. It is appropriate that this man deserved to be acknowledged and Bettelheim didn't Pollak gives a damning passage-for-passage comparison of the two [Heuscher's book and Bettelheim's book]. There is some disagreement as to whether Bettelheim's use of corporal punishment rose to the level of abuse or was in keeping with the standards of his time.

    Some staff who worked at the Orthogenic School have spoken out that they saw Bettelheim's behavior as being corporal punishment, but not abuse. Incensed upon learning of this, Dr. Bettelheim proceeded to slap the boy two or three times across the face, while telling him sternly never to speak that way to a woman again.

    This was the only such incident I observed or heard of during my year at the school, and it should be noted that until fairly recently, the near-consensus against corporal punishment in schools did not obtain. Conversely, many students and staff at the school have argued that Bettelheim was abusive, violent, and cruel to them and to others. There are multiple newspaper accounts of abuse, in letters, [46] [47] [48] [44] [43] editorials [49] and articles. Others say their stays did them good, and they express gratitude for having had the opportunity to be at the school.