Monday, February 2, 2009

The problem with neurodiversity

I just wanted to quickly highlight one of major the problem with the so-called "Neurodiversity" movement. For those who haven't seen this term there is a passable if skewed definition on Wikipedia -

Neurodiversity is an idea which asserts that atypical (neurodivergent) neurological development is a normal human difference that is to be recognized and respected as any other human variation.


or basically respect and acceptance for people on the autism spectrum. Sounds good, right? I wish it were that good it reality. What starts out as acceptance leads to all sort of strange notions about how your shouldn't attempt to "cure" or change people with autism, you should rather focus on changing society to accept them. While I could go into much more detail about this movement I wanted to highlight a specific example of why I believe that this concept is very harmful to people with autism.

The case in point will be a post on a blog called The Autism Crisis that is written by a women with autism named Michelle Dawson. Ms Dawson is an active advocate in the field of autism and is a large supported of the neurodiversity movement.

Ms Dawson believes that ABA therapy for child with autism is not a good thing and does not work. In her most recent post on the subject she goes back to the very early days of research into ABA from 1949 and gives yet another slanted view of what modern ABA is about. Well, actually, she isn't really talking about what ABA is like now any more than talking about using leeches is talking about the cutting edge of neurosurgery.

She is entitled to her opinion. However, and this goes to the heart of what is so wrong about this movement, if you look at the comments on the above linked post, you come across this gem :

I have been reading some of your very well-written work and am grateful to you for providing this perspective. I believe that my 28 month old son, who does not use words, is on the autism spectrum. While I wish to help him communicate effectively in whatever way suits him, my immediate response upon learning the basics of ABA/VB was repulsion and dread. Due to the overwhelming push in favour of ABA, however, I had begun to become resigned to it.
...
I have no interest whatsoever in changing [him], all I want is to be able to communicate with him. Thank you again for this under-represented and important perspective.


Ms Dawson responded in a subsequent comment :

...In my view, everyone changes through development and learning and so on, but I'm concerned when it's assumed that autistic traits and abilities, the way we develop and learn, and so on, are simply wrong. I'm also concerned about the poor quality of research in the area of ABA-based autism interventions.


(This is only a snippet of the full comment, I would suggest reading the entire original post and comment to get the full context.)

There are a few interesting things in his little exchange. Notice the mother saying she "has no interest whatsoever in changing him" and Ms Dawson's "assumed that autistic traits and abilities ... are simply wrong". These are core ideas in the neurodiversity movement and quite wrong headed. But I digress.

The real problem I see with this exchange is the impression that readers of Ms Dawson's blog are left with about ABA. ABA might not be for everyone and it certainly isn't a cure all but it is a widely accepted therapy to help young children with autism. The science is in on this treatment and it can help.

So, what we have here is a parent who is worried that their child has autism and what Ms Dawson has done is to convince her ABA is a bad thing before she even tries it or gets a true professional opinion about whether or not it would help her son.

Ms Dawson has never met this person, never met the child in question and yet she has quite possibly changed the course of his life by convincing his mother to not pursue a therapy that could give him the skills he needs to live in the world. I have no way of knowing whether any of this will actually happen or not. It is possible that his mother will decide to give ABA a try after all and it won't help. Or it is possible that she will and and it will work wonders for him.

But the way that is looks now Ms Dawson has convinced a parent not to try something that could potentially make a large difference in this child's life.

That's a problem.

35 comments:

  1. I understand your point, but at the same time, most surely the best people to ask on the subject are autistics themselves, which is so often ignored. My son, who is diagnosed with autism, for example, does not want to change his autism, or undergo therapies. Where he does not find his struggle to adapt to his world easy, it is only he that can do it in the long run, and in his own way. He informs me where he needs support. I talk to many autistic adults, who have managed to do this successfully when given the open space to do so. The struggle is often in having to amend towards the narrow minded view that sees the disability before the person. It is only by listening and understanding individuals within the autistic spectrum themselves, and with acknowledgement that each individual need is different, that we can learn what is appropriate to apply and what is not. There are already plenty of people who wish to apply treatments and cures out there to make it far from a worry of not treating the condition. In fact treatments and therapies are often falsed on many individuals with autism in order to 'normalize' them. Physical and social disabilities make life difficult enough as it, but the largest disability that autistics suffer are peoples ignorance of the condition, and unfortunately, too often from parents who may be mislead by their own guilts and tribulations for having an autistic child. (Please view my blog on the subject http://jakki-d-on-autism.blogspot.com/). Autistic children have little choice and have to go through whatever their parents deem to be right for them, just or unjust. We cannot generalize individual needs for autism, since the spectrum covers a huge scope of disabilities need is and each is different. I would encourage all autistics to speak up for themselves, their voices should be heard. Many thanks.

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  2. "Ms Dawson is an active advocate in the field of autism ..."

    No, Ms. Dawson is an active *researcher* in the field of autism.

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  3. Jakki-D, I understand what you are saying but I have to respectfully disagree, especially when we are talking about children.

    Take for example my twin girls four year old girls who are on the spectrum. They are not able to speak, so asking them if they want to undergo therapies is an exercise in futility.

    ABA is helping them to learn to communicate so that they will have the ability to communicate.

    If you take away the ABA I don't believe that they would be able to communicate and even with it they are no where near the point where they would be able to express this type of idea.

    When they get to the point that they are able to express this complex of a concept then they will be able to give their opinion about what different therapies.

    As an aside, they actually like their TSS and enjoy the sessions. The TSS are very playful with them in addition to running the ABA programs. So ABA isn't as bad as horrible as it is made out to be.

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  4. MJ,

    Thank you for expressing your concerns about the activities over the Internet of Michelle Dawson. I may need a couple days to consider if I wish to add my own comments on this matter which I do think is extremely important.

    Before I do, I note that you state that your four year-old twin girls on the spectrum do not speak yet even though they are receiving ABA services. I have not had the opportunity to read anything else on your blog, but could I ask if you are considering AAC - alernative and augmentative communication and if so, what are you doing? If not, as the father of a 37 year-old son Ben who does not speak, but has tried several different methods of AAC for over 30 years, I hope I can offer you some suggestions.

    Arthur Golden

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  5. The problem I have seen in the ABA programs in which I have worked (and in several of the non-ABA programs in which I have worked) is the assumption that the child is never going to learn anything without whatever intervention is being applied.

    I occasionally babysit for an 8yo autistic boy who started speaking in 2007. He was 7yo. He has never had ABA - just play-based interventions and some behaviour management for self-injurious behaviours - but was given access to PECS and later to a DynaMyte. He no longer uses the DynaMyte, so it has been re-homed to someone else who needs it. His speech is not yet simple to understand, but he obviously prefers it to using pictures.

    Sure, everyone is different, but it's important to recognise that people are going to grow and learn and develop, regardless of the interventions used to teach them.

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  6. I am the mother who wrote the "gem" to which you refer in this post, and I would like to clarify a few points.

    First, as you quote a few "snippets" from our exchange, you write:

    'Notice the mother saying she "has no interest whatsoever in changing him" and Ms Dawson's "assumed that autistic traits and abilities ... are simply wrong". These are core ideas in the neurodiversity movement and quite wrong headed. But I digress.'

    Please, do digress. Please explain why it is "quite wrong headed" that I should not wish to change my perfectly lovely son. What is it that I should change about him through ABA or any other process? This is not a digression; rather, it goes to the heart of the matter.

    Next, I would like to address this comment:

    "ABA might not be for everyone and it certainly isn't a cure all but it is a widely accepted therapy to help young children with autism. The science is in on this treatment and it can help."

    The "wide acceptance" of ABA is part of my objection to it. It is, in most mainstream Autism websites (all of which are run entirely by non-autistics if I'm not mistaken), presented as being exactly what you admit it is not: for everyone, and a cure-all. Additionally, the science of ABA is exactly what Ms. Dawson has diligently and academically challenged. Her blog is only one of MANY of her academic writings that I have read, the most persuasive of which that I have read so far being "The Misbehaviour of Behaviourists" (forgive the absence of a link, but I am new to this blogging business, and don't feel like figuring out hyperlinks just now. A Google search will turn it up, and if I know jypsy, she'll probably post it for me when she reads this.)

    Next, you write:

    "So, what we have here is a parent who is worried that their child has autism and what Ms Dawson has done is to convince her ABA is a bad thing before she even tries it or gets a true professional opinion about whether or not it would help her son."

    Nowhere in my post did I say I was "worried." Furthermore, and I want to be VERY clear about this: in NO WAY did Ms. Dawson convince me that ABA is a bad thing. I knew that ABA was a bad thing from the first time I read about it, and nothing in any of my subsequent research into the subject persuaded me otherwise. I had resigned myself to it because it was presented as the ONLY WAY I could help my son to communicate. What Ms. Dawson's writings, and the writings of numerous other autistics that I finally found (Google searches are as ABA-biased as everyone else) did was to make me realize that my initial reaction to ABA was justified. Ms. Dawson provides detailed, scientific criticism. She utilizes something called critical thinking, which you, with your snide tone and presumptions clearly do not.

    Lastly, you wrote:

    "Ms Dawson has never met this person, never met the child in question and yet she has quite possibly changed the course of his life by convincing his mother to not pursue a therapy that could give him the skills he needs to live in the world. I have no way of knowing whether any of this will actually happen or not. It is possible that his mother will decide to give ABA a try after all and it won't help. Or it is possible that she will and and it will work wonders for him."

    As I said, Ms. Dawson did not convince me of anything, but she did provide some excellent criticism in an area where it is badly needed. Also, you have never met me or my child, yet you feel qualified to comment in your (very poorly written) blog.

    I can assure you that I will not be trying ABA. I am, at this point, very familiar with how it is practised today. I have read extensively on the topic, and seen numerous videos on You-Tube of current ABA practices, including a child who spends much time in the bathroom because it is recommended that ABA be done in a small, distraction-free room. Her "play time" consisted of her standing on top of the toilet singing a song. By all accounts, ABA is to be practised "intensively", ideally for at least 40 hours a week. I would have to strap my son into a chair for this (as I have seen many parents doing). Incidentally, I couldn't really do ABA for my son even if I wanted to, as I do not have the thousands of dollars required to pay therapists for those many hours. I also happen to live in Germany, where ABA is rarely used. The speech therapist we are taking my son to here said that she "got chills" when watching demonsrations of ABA. Ms. Dawson is not alone in her objections.

    In closing, I have a confession to make. The first time I saw a website that talked about not wanting a cure for autism, I, too, thought it ridiculous. Then I educated myself. I suggest you do the same.

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  7. "A Google search will turn it up, and if I know jypsy, she'll probably post it for me when she reads this.)"

    Here you go:

    THE MISBEHAVIOUR OF BEHAVIOURISTS
    Ethical Challenges to the Autism-ABA Industry

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  8. Thanks jypsy. And thank you for brining this to my attention.

    I would like to add one more comment, regarding the You-Tube video I mentioned of the little girl who does her ABA therapy in the bathroom. It is clear from the video and the way her mother speaks to her that this girl is very well-loved, and she does not appear unhappy or mistreated in the video. I do not wish to pass judgement on other parents' decisions regarding their children, particularly based on so little information.

    I can't help but find it depressing, though, that she and her daughter should spend enough time in the bathroom to require a play break, and that the break itself is in the bathroom. This is due to the advice that this parent received. I would hope that she, too, would have at least been made aware that there is another point of view so that she could have based her decision about therapy on ALL of the information now available, not just the information provided by people who will profit greatly from a pro-ABA choice. There is a real conflict of interest there. Perhaps she has a diligent friend who will alert her to this posting and she can comment for herself. . .

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  9. Arthur Golden - Thank you for taking the time to comment.

    My daughters do some have alternative ways of communicating, specifically they can use PECS and some limited sign language. They are currently trying to learn how to speak - they can use some single words when prompted. If you have some other suggestions I am all ears.

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  10. Jannalou - I think we are saying very similar things. I agree that children are going to grow and learn on their own without any interventions. However, at the same time the interventions, when done properly, can be of enormous benefit.

    I think the important thing is to be proactive in attempting to help children. If they need assistance with communications, then give them help in that area. If they need help managing behaviors, then address that. If something isn't working them try something else.

    But it is very important to try to address the problems that are autism and to not take the "just who they are" approach.

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  11. Can you define the "the "just who they are" approach" and give an example or two of parents who are using it?

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  12. MalchowMama you wrote :

    Please, do digress. Please explain why it is "quite wrong headed" that I should not wish to change my perfectly lovely son. What is it that I should change about him through ABA or any other process? This is not a digression; rather, it goes to the heart of the matter.

    Yes, it most certainly does. I am sure I will be writing about this in the future but to give a brief digression...

    Autism is a disorder. It is not a "difference" or something that just needs to be accepted. Autism is not a part of the person any more than any other medical condition that the person has is.

    Autism is a set of behaviors, or the observation therefore of – this is how the condition is currently defined. Anyone who tells you differently aren’t talking about autism, they are talking about something else.

    I am sure that your son is perfectly lovely. However, when he exhibits behaviors that are inappropriate do you look the other way or do you correct the behavior? If he walks up to another child and hits them, do you say “he’s just different” or do you correct the behavior? And isn’t the same as changing him?

    Take that a step further, if a child hits herself when she gets upset, is it wrong to correct the behavior? Or should we accept the ND philosophy that this is just a “difference” to be accepted?

    Self injury can be a part of autism and correcting these sorts of behaviors can be done using ABA. I know this because this is one of the things that one of my daughters is working on right now in ABA – how to redirect the impulse to hit herself and instead direct it to squeezing a ball or clasping her hands. Now, that is concrete example of what ABA is. Notice that I did not refer to anyone as “subhuman” not did anyone use any electroshocks to accomplish the goal.

    The "wide acceptance" of ABA is part of my objection to it. It is, in most mainstream Autism websites (all of which are run entirely by non-autistics if I'm not mistaken), presented as being exactly what you admit it is not: for everyone, and a cure-all.

    I think you are confusing topics here. Mainstream is normally used to refer to a commonly accepted view and, in the context of discussing autism, normally refers to medical views, since that is what we are talking about, a medical condition. So if we are talking about medical organizations like the AAP then the concept of them having people with autism “running” them is completely incorrect. You don’t limit the eye doctor you see to ones that have blind people advising them, do you?

    If you talking about autism specific organizations like Autism Speaks then that is something different. It is a common complaint among the neurodiversity movement that there are no people with autism on their board. While I am not particularly fond of AS I don’t see what good it would be to have someone on their board who fundamentally disagrees with the direction of the organization. But this is a discussion for another time.

    Additionally, the science of ABA is exactly what Ms. Dawson has diligently and academically challenged. Her blog is only one of MANY of her academic writings that I have read, the most persuasive of which that I have read so far being "The Misbehaviour of Behaviourists"

    I assure you that ABA is not like Ms Dawson portrays. But don’t take my word for it, go talk to a local professional in your area who specializes in this and ask them for yourself.

    Nowhere in my post did I say I was "worried."

    You think your child has autism are you aren’t worried?

    I knew that ABA was a bad thing from the first time I read about it, and nothing in any of my subsequent research into the subject persuaded me otherwise.

    You do understand what it means to have an open mind when considering a subject?

    I had resigned myself to it because it was presented as the ONLY WAY I could help my son to communicate.

    No, there are many different approaches to treating autism, ABA is just one of the ways.

    Ms. Dawson's writings, and the writings of numerous other autistics that I finally found (Google searches are as ABA-biased as everyone else) did was to make me realize that my initial reaction to ABA was justified

    How exactly is Google biased? It is a search engine, it only searches the information available on the internet and presents it – it is only “biased’ by the information that is available.

    And what exactly does the writing of “numerous other autistics” have to do with the validity of ABA? Adults with autism are not experts in treating autism nor are they even experts about autism most of the time. If you want the straight story about treating autism then I suggest that you speak with a professional who specializes in this area and is an expert.

    Ms. Dawson provides detailed, scientific criticism. She utilizes something called critical thinking, which you, with your snide tone and presumptions clearly do not.

    No, she provides rationalizations and her opinions of a therapy that she does not like.

    I am going to guess you are missing the irony of you saying that I have presumptions when you say “I knew that ABA was a bad thing from the first time I read about it”. But there I go being snide again.

    Also, you have never met me or my child, yet you feel qualified to comment in your (very poorly written) blog.

    One, I believe the point about discouraging therapy and handing out advice was one of the points that I made in the main post. I was not attempting to comment on your personal choice just the fact that the misinformation from the ND movement seemed to influence what you decided to do.

    Two, if you don’t like what I write then you don’t have to read it. Oops, I guess that was being snide too, wasn’t it?

    Three, I am qualified to comment on and give my opinion about what I have read about and what I know about ABA from first hand experience. And after having read much of the material that the ND movement has produced and watching what they have been doing for several years I believe I am qualified to have an opinion on what they do.

    I can assure you that I will not be trying ABA. I am, at this point, very familiar with how it is practised today. I have read extensively on the topic, and seen numerous videos on You-Tube of current ABA practices,

    YouTube? You consider that a definitive source as to how ABA is practiced? Really? You have to be smirking when you are writing that, you can’t be writing that with a straight face.

    Consider this then, the videos that are on youtube about ABA, what purpose did the people who made those videos have in making them? Were they an attempt to portray ABA in a fair manner or were they meant to make it look bad?

    Have you ever watched a real ABA session in person? Have you ever sought out and spoken to another parent who has their child in this type of therapy? From what you are writing I am guessing the answer is no.

    including a child who spends much time in the bathroom because it is recommended that ABA be done in a small, distraction-free room. Her "play time" consisted of her standing on top of the toilet singing a song.

    I am not defending holding sessions in a bathroom, but perhaps that is the best environment that was available to the family? And as for standing on a toilet singing, I could imagine that my one child would have a blast doing that, but she does tend to be a nut.

    By all accounts, ABA is to be practised "intensively", ideally for at least 40 hours a week. I would have to strap my son into a chair for this (as I have seen many parents doing).

    Yes, you have that partially correct, the theory is that for ABA to be the most effective it should be up to 40 hours a week. Although in practice I don’t think I have ever talked to anyone who had the full 40 hours let alone more than that.

    But where on earth did you get the idea that you would have to strap your son into a chair for this? It isn’t like they make the child sit in a chair for 8 hours straight five days a week. When done correctly, the running of the actual “programs” (which is when they sit at a table) will be for very short periods of time. The rest of the time will be filled with other activities or just playing. I think the longest they keep my children at the table at a time is something like five minutes. And the whole reason for sitting at a table is to minimize distractions and to help the child focus on learning.

    Incidentally, I couldn't really do ABA for my son even if I wanted to, as I do not have the thousands of dollars required to pay therapists for those many hours

    This is a completely different issue.

    The speech therapist we are taking my son to here said that she "got chills" when watching demonsrations of ABA

    Really? Why is that exactly?

    Ms. Dawson is not alone in her objections.

    No, she isn’t. But my post was intended to be about neurodiversity, not Ms Dawson specifically. She was just the example that I was using.

    The first time I saw a website that talked about not wanting a cure for autism, I, too, thought it ridiculous. Then I educated myself. I suggest you do the same.

    At the risk of sounding snide again, your child is very young, you are not even sure that he has autism, and from what you write it is clear that you do not have a firm grasp of what it means to have autism.

    I have had three years of “education” of dealing with autism on a daily basis and that is with two children of the same age on the spectrum. My job as a parent is to do the best job I can to prepare my children to live their lives on their own. Autism is something that they are going to have to struggle with for the rest of their lives – it will get in the way of normal activities that most people take for granted. So of course I want to spare them that and help them reach their full potential of who they are, and their full potential will be blocked by autism.

    I hope your child does not have autism and, I mean this sincerely, that you do not have to face the facts of what it really means.

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  13. I would hope that she, too, would have at least been made aware that there is another point of view so that she could have based her decision about therapy on ALL of the information now available, not just the information provided by people who will profit greatly from a pro-ABA choice.

    Huh? Who exactly profits from ABA? It certainly isn't the TSS who actually performs the therapy, and it certainly isn’t the BSC who designs the treatment plan. And actually, in this country, in a lot of areas the cost of ABA is at least partially picked up by government health care plans so the organizations that provide the service don’t make a ton of money either.

    It certainly isn’t organizations like Autism Speaks, they don’t get any funding from organizations that profit from ABA.

    So who profits from it?

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  14. Can you define the "the "just who they are" approach" and give an example or two of parents who are using it?

    Is that a serious question?

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  15. I am not autistic, so it is not for me to say, but I have seen this statement - "Autism is not a part of the person any more than any other medical condition that the person has is." - specifically contradicted in the writing of many, many autistics.

    As for this:

    Take that a step further, if a child hits herself when she gets upset, is it wrong to correct the behavior? Or should we accept the ND philosophy that this is just a “difference” to be accepted?

    My son does not hit others or himself (though he has banged his head on the wall a few times). I don't try to "correct" it any more than I would try to "correct" him for crying. I try to stop him from doing it and figure out what was causing his distress so that we could avoid it in the future. I am delighted that you do not refer to your daughters or other autistics as sub-human or use electric shock on them, but I don't recall ever accusing you of doing so.

    I am not confusing topics when I refer to mainstream autism websites. I am familiar with the definition of mainstream, and the "commonly accepted view" on Autism Websites (yes, I am speaking of Autism Speaks, as well as Autism Web, Autism Healing Threshholds, Autism Society of America (who may have autistics on their Board, I don't know) among others, is uniformly pro-ABA. The AAP is not an Autism Website. It is the American Academy of Pediatrics, which includes information on Autism, largely by providing links to the many of the sites I just mentioned.

    You write:
    "It is a common complaint among the neurodiversity movement that there are no people with autism on their board. While I am not particularly fond of AS I don’t see what good it would be to have someone on their board who fundamentally disagrees with the direction of the organization."

    I find it interesting that it seems to go without saying that there should be no autistics on their Board because they would fundamentally disagree with the direction of the organization. ABA has been around for some time now, but there seem to be precious few adult autistics who have been through ABA who are in favour of it. In fact, as Ms. Dawson has pointed out, there don't seem to be any major studies of post ABA outcomes in adults at all, and nowhere have I seen any pro-ABA autistic adults. I would really love to hear from them if they are out there. Can you direct me to anyone? Because without exception, the writings I have seen from adult autistics are along the vein of "autism is who I am, and while it can be a difficult existence at times, I cannot have the autism "trained" out of me."

    Have you actually read Ms. Dawson's work? You state:
    "I assure you that ABA is not like Ms Dawson portrays. But don’t take my word for it, go talk to a local professional in your area who specializes in this and ask them for yourself."

    This is, in fact, a key element to her critique. You want to have it both ways. You say that the scientific evidence supports ABA, but then immediately point out that ABA isn't actually practised in the way that it was in those same scientific studies.

    "You think your child has autism are you aren’t worried?"

    Nope. My son is happy and healthy, and we communicate well. We will tackle any challenges that arise together. Why would I worry? What purpose would "worry" serve my son?

    Regarding my comment that I knew ABA was a bad thing and was not persuaded otherwise, you wrote:

    "You do understand what it means to have an open mind when considering a subject? "

    If I didn't have an open mind, I would not have continued reading and researching, would I. But I am persuaded by evidence, not blind consensus, and I, like Ms. Dawson, do not see any GOOD scientific evidence in support of ABA. A bit of the pot calling the kettle black in any event!

    As for this inane comment of yours:

    "And what exactly does the writing of “numerous other autistics” have to do with the validity of ABA? Adults with autism are not experts in treating autism nor are they even experts about autism most of the time. If you want the straight story about treating autism then I suggest that you speak with a professional who specializes in this area and is an expert"

    How dare you! The sheer arrogance of this comment is so astounding, I think it speaks for itself.


    As for Ms. Dawson, I doubt very much that you have read her work (as opposed to just her blog, which is much more informal). She does not provide "rationalizations and her opinions of a therapy that she does not like." She provides detailed, annotated, academic criticism, in keeping with her role as a researher at the University of Montreal.

    As for my mentioning You-Tube videos, these are typically of an educational variety, and are usually posted by parents who are trying to help educate other parents. I am grateful to them and do not wish to vilify them here. But my son does not sit still, even for 5 minutes, and the methods I have seen used would, I believe, be very stressful for him, not to mention ineffective. I realize that You-Tube is not an ideal learning resource, but since ABA is not a typical treatment here in Germany (which cannot be accused of being backwards in the treatment of mental disorders, including pervasive developmental disorders), I would have precious little opportunity to watch an ABA session in peson.

    Lastly, you cannot be sincere in saying that nobody profits from ABA and from autism scare mongering. The number of websites selling everything from PECS cards to "screening kits" to books on how to do ABA, DVDs, ABA cards and materials are legion.

    Don't worry, this is my last post here, and I will not be reading any more of your blogs. I am sure you are sincere in wanting to help your children, but I really don't think you are quite the expert you fancy yourself to be.

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  16. I assure you my questions are always asked in an honest and serious way. Often I need to seek clarification; much better than assuming and assigning my meaning to the words of others. I've heard it said the "ND" believe "acceptance means do nothing" and autistics "should be left in the corner to rot" and I'm trying to ascertain if this is your meaning or not. Whether or not it is, an example or two would help me understand what, exactly, you're talking about.
    Thank you.

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  17. MalchowMama - you do understand that autism is a medical condition, correct? From how you write I am not sure that you do.

    If you have cancer would you assume that everyone who had cancer was an expert on it and understood it? Would you rely of them for treatment?

    If you had depression, would you assume that everyone else with depression was an expert in the topic? Would you want only people with depression to design treatments?

    As as far as profiting, I am guessing that you do not know that PECS is a separate thing from ABA, although ABA can incorporate it.

    But again, don't take my word for it, ask your speech therapist about PECS.

    But I would like to thank you for providing a perfect example to illustrate what I was talking about in my post.

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  18. jypsy - I do not think that most of the ND movement believes that believe "acceptance means do nothing" and autistics "should be left in the corner to rot".

    However when you look at the actions of some people in the ND movement acceptance often becomes do nothing. I read more about why this won't work, it is wrong to do that, yet when asked what they do recommend you never really get an answer.

    As for leaving anyone in the corner to rot, I don't think anyone really thinks that.

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  19. "jypsy - I do not think that most of the ND movement believes that believe "acceptance means do nothing" and autistics "should be left in the corner to rot"."

    I did not say anything about *you* in relation to these comments made by others.

    I don't know *anyone* in "the ND movement" who believes "acceptance means do nothing" and autistics "should be left in the corner to rot"." and I've been around a long time. Do you know a single person who believes such a thing?

    "However when you look at the actions of some people in the ND movement acceptance often becomes do nothing."

    Can you give me an example?

    Leaving them in the corner to rot was Lenny Schafer's characterization of "acceptance". It was as inaccurate as "doing nothing". Some Canadian parents have apparently described their autistic children who are not in intensive ABA programs as "rotting on the vine."

    However, none of that answers my initial question --

    Can you define the "the "just who they are" approach" and give an example or two of parents who are using it?

    ReplyDelete
  20. MJ,

    You end your original blog entry with:

    "But the way that it looks now Ms Dawson has convinced a parent not to try something that could potentially make a large difference in this child's life. That's a problem."

    While the actual facts in this particular situation are not so clear, the problem you point out is a problem that is of great concern to me before your blog entry, which confirms my concerns. However, rather than further discuss this problem right now (but I hope to do so in a subsequent comment), I would like to try to do the "opposite" - to bring to your attention (but not to try to convince you about) different approaches so you would consider "to try something that could potentially make a large difference in this child's life" (in your situation, your twin girls). I assume you are trying your best to help your 4 year-old girls but also that you can be overwhelmed by them!

    Most importantly, I urge Jypsy to tell you about her own actual experiences with her then nonverbal 4 year-old son Alex, even though it was over 15 years ago (but personal computers did exist by then). My own experiences with my now 37 year-old still nonverbal son Ben may not be quite so relevant, but I also have information about many others with autism.

    Actually, I should note that sign language was started with my own son over 30 years ago when he was a preschooler, so it is not exactly state-of-the-art but it could be effective for some. After an evaluation by Dr. Howard Shane, speech pathologist, of the Communication Enhancement Center of The Children's Medical Center of Boston, MA, Ben started at age 11 to learn to point to Mayer-Johnson symbols. I realize PECS was started later, but to me it is similar to using pictures except that a "reliable point response" (which my son Ben already had by age 11) is not a prerequisite.

    I have no idea where you are located and what resources you have available locally, so please forgive me if what I try to bring to your attention is already known to you. Anyway, I would urge you to find a speech pathologist who is an AAC specialist who believes in the potential of young children with autism, to do a thorough evaluation of each of your twin girls. I am not a specialist in this area, but I hope the AAC specialist will recommend you try an AAC computer device NOW! I pray that doing so will result in what you yourself wrote - "to try something that could potentially make a large difference in this child's life." If you have questions and wish to try to discuss with me this suggestion further, I will try my best.

    I think I will wait to get some feedback to this comment from both you and Jypsy before I comment further on "That's a problem."

    Arthur Golden

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  21. "I am guessing that you do not know that PECS is a separate thing from ABA, although ABA can incorporate it. But again, don't take my word for it, ask your speech therapist about PECS."

    Can you explain how "PECS is a separate thing from ABA"?

    Mr. Golden, you're more than aware of how freely & honestly I've shared in the past. If "MJ" is indeed interested in an open honest exchange and dialogue, (answering my simple questions would demonstrate that), I'll be more than happy to share. As you know, my writing was never about "why this won't work" or "it is wrong to do that" and while it's not my place to recommend, I have, and do, share extensively the things we've done that worked in our lives & Alex's.

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  22. I did not say anything about *you* in relation to these comments made by others.

    I don't know *anyone* in "the ND movement" who believes "acceptance means do nothing" and autistics "should be left in the corner to rot"." and I've been around a long time. Do you know a single person who believes such a thing?


    If you notice in my comment I drew a distinction between the beliefs of the person and their actions. You can easily believe one thing yet your actions say another.

    I am not going to play silly buggers and attempt to say that person X believes this specific thing nor will I go search the net for a comment that I can take out context to prove that such a thing. No good comes out of this.

    I am writing my own opinion which is based on the my observations and impressions.

    If I happen to run across what I feel is a good specific example of the concept than I will be sure to point it out.

    Can you explain how "PECS is a separate thing from ABA"?

    PECS is a alternative communication system. It refers to using pictures in place of words to indicate what is desired. There are different ways that PECS can be taught and differing views about what the steps that should be used. Some places keep in informal and try to encourage usage of pictures while other places will teach it in different phases.

    From my experience it is normally the domain of speech therapy and normally they are the onces to attempt to teach it, especially in its more phased approach.

    While it is possible that ABA can be used to teach the concepts it is not limited to ABA nor, in my experience, a part of what ABA is about - ABA is a teaching method, PECS is a method of communication.

    An similar example would be that sign language can be taught using ABA but it certainly is "different" from ABA.

    I have to think that you would already know the difference between the two, so I am not sure why you would ask.

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  23. I'm sorry you can't/won't answer my original question. If you can't supply a single example are you sure you aren't just perpetuating a myth?

    I believe you are as ignorant as I once was in your use of the term "PECS". The link you provided means I don't need to direct you to the fact that PECS *is* ABA and they are quite clear that the places that "keep in informal and try to encourage usage of pictures" are not practicing PECS. PECS is a specific protocol.

    ReplyDelete
  24. The comment that I was addressing regarding PECS was this one :

    Lastly, you cannot be sincere in saying that nobody profits from ABA and from autism scare mongering. The number of websites selling everything from PECS cards to "screening kits" to books on how to do ABA, DVDs, ABA cards and materials are legion.

    In this context selling "PECS cards" is listed as one of the profit centers for ABA. In this regard PECS cards are not part of ABA.

    Futhermore, I said "There are different ways that PECS can be taught and differing views about what the steps that should be used." I was alluding to the fact that there are differing views about PECS from the informal one of using pictures to communicate to the formal this exact protocol must be used to teach it and outside the use of the protocol is it not really the PECS method.

    My mistake.

    However, when you consider the facts that the only group that, under normal conditions, differentiates between the meanings are speech therapists and people looking to score debate points, and the fact that the original item I was replying to was to the purchase of "PECS cards" which could arguably be used for either the formal or informal meanings, I would have submit that I was correct in my original statement that PECS is not ABA. Most of the people that I have been exposed to who work in or are involved in the autism field will use the phrase PECS to refer to either meaning (which the exception of the speech therapists again). Although to be perfectly correct in every technical detail I guess I should have clarified which form of PECS I was referring to.

    As for providing an specific example of every concept on demand I think I addressed that point. My failure to provide an exact example of my opinion neither invalidates it nor makes it a myth. If you feel that it does then you are certainly entitled to your opinion.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Arthur - Thank you for the suggestions. Actually both girls have two speech therapists in addition to a host of BSCs, TSS, OT, and developmentalists who work with them on a weekly basis. We are fortunate enough to live in an area where there are very good services available. And we try to be very proactive in providing them what they need to be able overcome the disabilities that they have.

    We have thought about using a communication device but so far the consensus of their team has been to not go that route because they are making progress in learning how to talk. They are also pretty good at using the signs that they know and the PECS (informal usage alert) to communicate and failing that they will drag you to what they are after. Occasionally they will even point at what they want - but that is a very new thing for them.

    Right now they are just starting to use some words for what they want. This has just started in the past month or two and is so far limited to saying parts of words. But they are moving forward and getting better able to talk every week.

    If they stop making progress in talking (and other forms of communication) we will definitely have to consider changing our approach (as we have had to do a few time already).

    I do appreciate the suggestions though, thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  26. [Please note that this comment was written before the last 3 or so comments were posted. I will try to reply later today - it is now about 5:30 a.m. here.]

    Jypsy,

    You wrote while I was asleep (and I should still be asleep but my son Ben woke me up over an hour ago before 4:00 a.m., but that is another matter):

    "Mr. Golden, you're more than aware of how freely & honestly I've shared in the past. If "MJ" is indeed interested in an open honest exchange and dialogue, (answering my simple questions would demonstrate that), I'll be more than happy to share. As you know, my writing was never about "why this won't work" or "it is wrong to do that" and while it's not my place to recommend, I have, and do, share extensively the things we've done that worked in our lives & Alex's."

    Yes, in the past, such as when I first contacted you in the middle of 1997, 11-1/2 years ago, you freely & honestly shared. Although "Neurodiversity" can be traced back that far, I did not know about it until several years later and clearly Michelle Dawson did not seem to make her appearance on the Internet until several years later. I greatly appreciate how you freely & honestly shared, IN THE PAST. But now (and it seems since you became enamored with Michelle Dawson) you write about MJ:

    "If "MJ" is indeed interested in an open honest exchange and dialogue, (answering my simple questions would demonstrate that), I'll be more than happy to share."

    What has happened to you? As you know, it took me many months to try to answer some of your "simple questions" and I will publicly state that what you now consider to be "simple questions" I found to be extremely difficult if not impossible to answer questions.

    MJ has two completely innocent four year-old twin girls. Why should your disagreement with their mother deny these innocent girls the opportunities that you had the good fortune to give to your high-school graduate son Alex, thanks to information that was "freely & honestly shared" over 15 years ago by other parents (probably with a source that can be traced to Kristi Jorde and her Adriana Foundation)? I would never do anything that might have the effect to convince another parent to not try ABA (which I do believe is a serious problem with Michelle Dawson) but since you and MJ are in contact, however it came about, and you know about her four year-old twin girls on the autism spectrum who do not speak, please make sure MJ knows about the success of Alex, who once upon a time was a four year-old boy who I believe was with a DSM 3 diagnosis of autism disorder who did not speak.

    Your very old and (despite our recent misunderstandings) long-time friend Art

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  27. MJ,

    Thank you for the detailed report on the current situation of considering AAC for your 4 year-old twin girls. I would like to comment further but first I would like to finally specifically address the main point of this blog entry, which I think is well summarized by quoting two sentences from your blog entry "The Problem with Neurodiversity:"

    "...While I could go into much more detail about this [Neurodiversity] movement I wanted to highlight a specific example of why I believe that this concept is very harmful to people with autism."
    "...But the way that it looks now Ms Dawson has convinced a parent not to try something that could potentially make a large difference in this child's life. That's a problem."

    As I first commented 3 days ago, I think this matter is extremely important. As I wrote yesterday, the problem you point out is a problem that is of great concern to me before your blog entry, which confirms my concerns. Later in that same comment I wrote that I would never do anything that might have the effect to convince another parent to not try ABA (which I do believe is a serious problem with Michelle Dawson).

    Giving Michelle Dawson and others in the Neurodiversity movement the benefit of the doubt, I do not think they are intentionally trying to convince anyone to not try something that could potentially make a large difference in either one's child's life or, for an adult diagnosed with autism, in one's own life. They are raising issues and giving opinions that need to be seriously considered Instead, I think they are not being careful about thinking about the practical consequences of their opinions. I think this problem raises serious concerns about ethics, even if it is not intentional.

    I do have a different specific example that is actually of great concern to me. I would prefer to bring my specific example to the attention of Michelle Dawson by private email. Unfortunately, the 4 private emails I sent to Michelle Dawson over the past year (about other concerns) have all been completely ignored and then she publicly complained about my sending her too many emails, so I have stopped attempting to bring my concerns to her attention by private email. I am glad that someone else - you, MJ - decided to express your concern about the same type of issue. I do not think it is so important if you mistated a few unimportant details.

    I think the basic problem is extremely important and an ethical person should carefully consider such criticism and try to see if any corrective action should be taken - especially when the parent in question is continuing to write to Michelle Dawson on her discussion board for advice. I find it so frustrating when I know that the discussion board of Michelle Dawson is not the appropriate forum for such advice. I also realize that most other forums are too pro-ABA and I respect the parent's desire to consider other alternatives even though I do not think that ABA should be dismissed out of hand. Unfortunately, I am supposedly only one of two people in the whole world banned from posting to Michelle Dawson's discussion board and also her blog (while people like Harold Doherty and Jonathan Mitchell are not so bad to be banned!), so I am unable to directly inform the parent that there are some forums to discuss her concerns that are not too pro-ABA. Oh well...

    Art

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  28. Mr. Golden asked: "What has happened to you?"

    And you could well have asked "what happened to your website?" as the answers are likely linked.

    The autism community got really ugly, that's what happened. All of a sudden some people got really keen to make statements and accusations about people and groups but not back them up. Much mud got slung. It's not about Michelle Dawson and though I could name names and give you a list of who I would "blame", I won't. People started making ridiculous claims about "neurodiversity" and things like "acceptance". I have had to start making sure I understood what people were actually talking about when I try to have a conversation or discussion. This very act of clarification can get characterized as a hostile act and any discussion I try to have can get called a "debate" in the process. Sad fact. The "autism community" is a much uglier place than it was when Alex was 4 or even 14.

    As I see it, if I cannot be accommodated with a simple clarification, (usually a definition) does the other person seriously want to engage in conversation with me? I don't understand the problem here. When people ask me what *I* mean by a certain word or term I just tell them.

    There is absolutely nothing stopping you from pointing "MJ" to the information I would have. If you believe it's that important, how about less scolding of me (while you air your own issues with others) and just give her the URL.

    MJ,
    About PECS, are you saying I'm trying to score debate points or that this is not a normal condition?

    ReplyDelete
  29. I am going to break my own promise not to post here again in order to address a few matters. First, going back a few comments, MJ wrote:

    "If you have cancer would you assume that everyone who had cancer was an expert on it and understood it? Would you rely of them for treatment?

    If you had depression, would you assume that everyone else with depression was an expert in the topic? Would you want only people with depression to design treatments?"

    1. If I had a choice of oncologists who were otherwise equally qualified, but one was herself a cancer survivor, you bet I would choose the cancer survivor, as she would have a perspective on the matter unavailable to a doctor who had not been through it.

    2. I have not asked Ms. Dawson or anyone else to design treatments for my son.

    3. I do think that people who have cancer know far more about WHAT IT IS LIKE TO HAVE CANCER than their doctors, although the doctors may well (one hopes) have better knowledge about how to treat it.

    4. AUTISM IS NOT CANCER. This was my initial reaction to my slow realization that Sam may be autistic. "Well, thank god it's not something potentially fatal, requiring years painful procedures." Little did I know that that is exactly how many people do, in fact, view autism.

    I was going to let that comment slide, but I felt compelled to respond to Arthur Goldin, so I figure I may as well as address the above, since it was bothering me.

    Now, as for you, Mr. Goldin. You first remind us of what MJ wrote:

    "...But the way that it looks now Ms Dawson has convinced a parent not to try something that could potentially make a large difference in this child's life. That's a problem."

    Then make this reply:

    "As I first commented 3 days ago, I think this matter is extremely important. As I wrote yesterday, the problem you point out is a problem that is of great concern to me before your blog entry, which confirms my concerns."

    How is it possible that this posting "confirms your concerns" that Michelle Dawson is convincing parents not to try ABA? What part of my reply below did you not understand?:

    ". . . I want to be VERY clear about this: in NO WAY did Ms. Dawson convince me that ABA is a bad thing."

    You then go on to state:

    ". . . especially when the parent in question is continuing to write to Michelle Dawson on her discussion board for advice. I find it so frustrating when I know that the discussion board of Michelle Dawson is not the appropriate forum for such advice."

    Michelle Dawson is an autism researcher. I have, perhaps, overstepped my bounds in asking her for advice at times. She, however, has never overstepped her bounds in providing advice. When what I have asked is outside her area of expertise, she has stated so. When she has only anecdotal or person experience to offer, she has made that clear. I cannot see anything inappropriate about that. Particularly when you go on to lament:

    ". . . I am unable to directly inform the parent that there are some forums to discuss her concerns that are not too pro-ABA. Oh well..."

    I take it other forums are appropriate for me to get advice from, just not Ms. Dawson's discussion board? Please. And while I will not be reading any of MJ's further blog entries, I have continued to monitor this one, so if you wish to suggest some forums to me, feel free to do so here.

    Incidentally, I have no idea why Ms. Dawson does not wish to communicate with you, but I could hazard a few guesses. Perhaps she has already addressed your "concerns" in her work, her blog, and her many comments and does not feel compelled to keep repeating herself. Perhaps she is tired of being criticized personally, as opposed to having her work criticized specifically (i.e. Ms. Dawson write in MBoB that . . . however, this is contradicted by such and such study, properly cited, etc.). I am not an academic, but I think that is how it's done. For the last time, Ms. Dawson supports every statement she makes with a citation of some sort. This is in complete contrast with MJ (and who is this guy, anyway? what are his credentials, beyond having fathered autistic twins?? Or is it mothered?), who does not feel that citations or examples are necessary. She offers evidence, he offers opinion.

    Lastly, and this touches on what jypsy wrote last, I have been completely naive in my postings in the "autism community". I had no idea when I first started looking for advice, guidance, and information on the internet that this subject was so unbelievably politicized. How ever did I get dragged into this? All this cutting and pasting of comments, trying to clarify where I've been misconstrued. I really have far better things to do with my time, as my child is not in the care of a bevy of "experts" all day (I can be as snide as the next person. More so, I dare say). I guess I will have to be far more careful of my wording in the future, lest my posts be misconstrued and/or used by someone like MJ to try to make more baseless claims.

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  30. To: Mrs. Janet ("Jypsy") Norman-Bain (since you seem to wish to be so formal with me, but I want others to know who I mean)

    You wrote to me:

    "Mr. Golden, you're more than aware of how freely & honestly I've shared in the past. If "MJ" is indeed interested in an open honest exchange and dialogue, (answering my simple questions would demonstrate that), I'll be more than happy to share."

    I then wrote (among other things):

    "As you know, it took me many months to try to answer some of your "simple questions" and I will publicly state that what you now consider to be "simple questions" I found to be extremely difficult if not impossible to answer questions."

    I also then wrote:

    "...but since you and MJ are in contact, however it came about, and you know about her four year-old twin girls on the autism spectrum who do not speak, please make sure MJ knows about the success of Alex, who once upon a time was a four year-old boy who I believe was with a DSM 3 diagnosis of autism disorder who did not speak."

    You then wrote back to me:

    "As I see it, if I cannot be accommodated with a simple clarification, (usually a definition) does the other person seriously want to engage in conversation with me? I don't understand the problem here. When people ask me what *I* mean by a certain word or term I just tell them."

    You also then wrote back to me:

    "There is absolutely nothing stopping you from pointing "MJ" to the information I would have. If you believe it's that important, how about less scolding of me (while you air your own issues with others) and just give her the URL."

    In the above exchange, I did express disapproval of your first statement to me. However, I did not intend, from my understanding of the meaning of the phrase, to reach the level of "scolding of [you]." Since you state that "When people ask me what *I* mean by a certain word or term I just tell them" please tell me what you mean by using the phrase "how about less scolding of me."

    Thank you for considering my request.

    Your very old and (despite our recent misunderstandings) long-time friend Art

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  31. "please tell me what you mean by using the phrase "how about less scolding of me."

    I mean comments like these:

    "What has happened to you?" (with an inference that knowing Michelle has anything to do with it). Is your implication that I am not as "good" a person as I once was?
    "Why should your disagreement with their mother deny these innocent girls....."

    scolding (plural scoldings)
    A succession of critical remarks, such as those directed by a parent towards a misbehaving child.


    You posted a very long, wordy comment about me (and Alex) when, if you really thought it was important, a very short URL to my site would have sufficed.

    As to the questions you "found to be extremely difficult if not impossible to answer" -- it was ONE single question and I'm absolutely floored that you would bring it up. I don't believe you want my feelings on that expressed in any public forum.

    Excuse me MJ for answering this exchange on your blog. If I have anything further to say to Mr. Golden I'll take it to Mr. Golden's discussion board

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  32. Please do not use the supposed
    "Mr. Golden's discussion board."

    That QuickTopic discussion board was set up by Michelle Dawson without my knowledge nor approval and I have no idea who has control over it. Since Michelle Dawson banned me from contacting her and her discussion board, I have no way of notifying the people she told about this discussion board, such as Mrs. Janet ("Jypsy") Norman-Bain to not use it. If you go to it, it is blank. I immediately filed a complaint with QuickTopic Administration about this matter but I have not heard back from them about this specific matter. I question whether setting up this unauthorized public discussion board in my name is ethical.

    After months of agonizing over how to respond to Mrs. Janet ("Jypsy") Norman-Bain about explaining a particular statement I made in a private email to her (in response to a "public" negative statement she made about me), I finally did so but as she knows my response was private and confidential and she does not have permission to disclose my private emails to her.

    She seems to have forgotten that she also publicly asked me to define "recognized standards of science and ethics" and I found it difficult to do so. Of course, she is welcome to do so now.

    While I am expressing disapproval of her statments, I disagree that my statements, in the context I actually wrote them, constitute scolding. If she wishes to discuss this matter further I request she do so by private email and not on any public forum, especially one I do not have any idea who administers it. By the way, my old email address of over 11 years golden@shani.net is now dead and emails to it go into a blackhole without notifying senders that I did not receive the emails. Private emails should be sent to my account that goes to and from Outlook Express - a_golden@012.net.il

    Art

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  33. To: MalchowMama

    Your frank comments are understandable to me given this complex situation.

    First of all, I sincerely believe that the "autismlist" of Yahoo!Groups would be appropriate for you to post the information you are currently posting to the discussion board of Michelle Dawson. Please go to the homepage of autismlist which has an open membership (and please note that the autismlist messages are open to the general public, as are the messages on the discussion board of Michelle Dawson):

    http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/autismlist/ (if this URL goes to more than one line, please make sure you have the entire URL)

    While autismlist has 849 members, is over 10 years old and has a fully searchable public archives of over 27,000 messages, it is currently pretty inactive. However, if you choose to post the type of messages you are currently writing, I will do my best to make sure that you get appropriate replies.

    Second of all, I will state that I cringed when I read MJ mention cancer. However, I do not think she understood how some of us would respond to her analogy. Again, I really think MJ is making an important point about the problem she points out, even if the actual facts in her example are not as simple as she thought.

    Third, I realize you do not believe that Michelle Dawson has influenced your decision-making, but I am still concerned that the positions of the Neurodiversity movement are having a profound influence on you and many others, even if you do not have a conscious awareness of such influence. The Psychology of Influence is a complex area and I think that the people in the Neurodiversity movement do need to exercise more care in considering the influence of their positions, especially where there is a genuine risk of serious harm. While I was an enthusiastic supporter of ABA-type services for my own son for over 5 years (in 1980 to 1985) from age 8 to 13 but I have been leery of ABA-type services for over 23 years, I would still suggest that you and others remain open-minded to ABA. By the way, I have had some contact with speech therapists in Germany dealing with autism and I am generally impressed. I wish you success in being a good mother to your children.

    Fourth, and I do wish to quote your statement, you then write:

    "Incidentally, I have no idea why Ms. Dawson does not wish to communicate with you, but I could hazard a few guesses. Perhaps she has already addressed your "concerns" in her work, her blog, and her many comments and does not feel compelled to keep repeating herself. Perhaps she is tired of being criticized personally, as opposed to having her work criticized specifically (i.e. Ms. Dawson write in MBoB that . . . however, this is contradicted by such and such study, properly cited, etc.). I am not an academic, but I think that is how it's done. For the last time, Ms. Dawson supports every statement she makes with a citation of some sort."

    In the above quote, you write what I would expect from an objective outside observer, in the absence of specific information. However, let me assure you that I sincerely believe that I have actual evidence to show that when Michelle Dawson has a personal bias, as I believe I have found that she does in at least one critical area, she will make statements that are not supportable by the hard evidence. It is possible that I misunderstand what is happening and I have to figure out a way to discuss my concerns before going public. Therefore, I will not mention this matter any further in public.

    Lastly, I am sorry about the politics and I agree you should try to avoid them and concentrate on trying to help your children.

    Art

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  34. "as she knows my response was private and confidential and she does not have permission to disclose my private emails to her."

    And so I cannot recommend strongly enough to everyone - do NOT engage in private correspondence with Mr. Golden.

    There is nothing in my correspondence to Mr. Golden I would not put on a public forum. Enough said.

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  35. MJ,

    This past week has been very hectic for me and I just remembered that the day before you wrote this blog entry that I posted a message to the "autismfc" yahoo!group that I "own" that I now realize is very relevant:

    Schizophrenia instead of Autism Spectrum Disorders?

    This message is accessible to everyone in the public archives:

    http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/autismfc/message/1852

    Art

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