Monday, July 02, 2007

Blogger Blogged While Blogging

Canada Day in Fredericton brought out all kinds of people to enjoy the festivities. It should come as no surprise that New Brunswick's most popular blogger, read by government, police, legal counsel and a legion of fans and malcontents, would be busy taking pics for his blog site. In this shot Charles LeBlanc, the ADHD Activist turned general pain in the ... neck and social conscience gets blogged while blogging. You are getting too old and slow on the draw Charles!

Charles is currently pitching in to help get signatures on our petition to the House of Commons to include autism treatment in Medicare coverage. Thanks for the help Charles!


Blogger Charles LeBlanc said...

I promise to get at least three pages by wednesday....

You know how long it took me to do my own got me.....

Anonymous said...


A student here, studying ASD and neuroscience just a province over. Also, like many people involved with autism, I am motivated by a daily reality that includes autism.

A few comments on your letter to Dr. Gernsbacher:

I noticed you selected a quote from Dawson out of the Globe & Mail, in an article written by Andre Picard. I trust you can appreciate how a few sentences outside of their original context can lose their original meaning.

Having read many of Ms. Dawson's papers, letters, and other writings -- some of which you can also read at this website (the rest require access to scholarly journals) -- I know that Ms. Dawson has said nothing like you suggest.

Rather, she challenges persons who view autism as wholly negative (particularly those who use words like "a plague" and "a dread disorder" to describe the spectrum) and ABA as the only treatment for autism. She also challenges the scientific validity of ABA, and raises legitimate concerns.

About M.A. Gernsbacher -- did you know that her only son was diagnosed as profoundly autistic and severely retarded? She has a couple videos about autism and her experiences with him on her website that you might find interesting. (See: Exploring Autism & More on Drew. In fact, if you have time I recommend all her videos.)

I know you know that autism effects different people on the spectrum in very different ways, and I know that you understand how wrong it is to treat every person with autism as if they were the same. For this, I think you have more in common with Ms. Dawson and Dr. Gernsbacher than you realise.

Like you, both professionals are reacting to popular myths about autism and sweeping generalizations that fail to acknowledge the full variety of the autism spectrum.

I don't think that either professional would say that autistics who have "substantial communication and comprehension abilities" (as you put it) are representative of your son. What they do say, is that there are many autistics out there who are capable of joining in on scientific research and discussions, and that their input is valuable.

I'm sure you can appreciate that a capable autistic person can at the very least, represent themselves, and that -- like you, they have a personal stake in these matters. Through their inclusion, autistic people can clear up misunderstandings about themselves and stimulate new avenues of thought and research. This can only be a good thing, and indirectly, may lead to a greater understanding of autistics like your son and how to help them.

Rachael C.

Anonymous said...

ps. I found your site, and your letter, while Googling for an article by Dr. Gernsbacher. I've posted my comment up here, because I'm not sure if you check the older posts. I hope you're not tired of discussion, because I'd like to hear from you! :)

- Rachael C.

Unknown said...

Rachael C.

Thank you for expressing your different perspective in polite terms. Your courteous tone is appreciated.

My quote from Ms Dawson is not out of context. It is entirely consistent too with remarks Ms Dawson has made, widely available on the internet in which she mocks, ridicules and demonizes parents seeking to cure their autistic children. She does so in general terms as in the quote under discussion and by reference to individuals including me, Andrew Kavchak, Jean Lewis, and many, many others. You are, with respect, simply wrong when you imply or assert that Ms Dawson has not made other similar statememts.

You are attempting to place Ms Dawson's comments in a more reasonable context than she herself has done. Her rhetoric is extreme and unwarranted. Your reference to access to scholarly journals is uncessary. I have access to such journals and am quite capable of reading them. Much of what Ms Dawson writes is on the internet and is not scholarly literature; it is rhetoric of a person with a political agenda who sharply attacks and dismisses anyone who disagrees with her.

Ms Dawson's "concerns" about ABA are not shared by the dozens of academics of good standing who form the advisory board of the Association for Science in Autism Treatment, the state agencies of New York, California and Maine, the office of the Surgeon General of the United States or the recent UK report all of which endorse ABA as to date the ONLY evidence based effective intervention for helping autistic children. That is what Ms Dawson has lobbied against in court and Senate, the provision of evidence based effective intervention for autistic children.

Nor are Ms Dawson's concerns about ABA consistent with the exprience of tens of thousands of parents, including me, who were unable to even communicate with their severely autistic child, let alone help him reduce dangerous behavior and teach him skills like reading and writing until ABA was used. If you are truly a student, then I challenge you to open your mind, abandon your obvious loyalty to Ms Dawson and consider the possibility that all these parents and all these professionals might not be wrong as Ms Dawson argues.

Ms Dawson is entirely capable of representing herself. I have never said or suggested anything different. My issue with her, and with Ms Gernsbacher who supports her in this effort, and with you in your concluding remarks, is that Ms Dawson does not and can not speak for those who lack her impressive communication abilities. The differences between my son and Ms Dawson on the ability to communicate are profound and fundamental. What intellectual ability can be more important than the ability to communicate with other people? What can set a person apart more from other people, including from high functioning autistic persons like Ms Dawson than an almost complete lack of ability to communicate?

I have met and worked on autism issues with high functioning autistic persons who do not share Ms Dawson's views. She does not speak for them either. If you truly embrace diversity then you should recognize as I do that not all high functioning autistic persons have the same personality, and not all think identically on the issues which affect them.

Michelle Dawson is an activist for her particular beliefs. She opposes the government funding of ABA for autistic children. She has set herself up in opposition to parents seeking to help their own children. If she has a leglitimate interest in doing that I fail to see what it is.

If you are a true student you may wish to broaden your perspective some what. Consider the possibility that Dawson, Mottron and Gernsbacher might not have all the answers when it comes to autism. Try reading with an open mind the hundreds of studies all showing some improvement in abilities for autistic children in receipt of ABA. Try understanding what the evidence based standard of evaluation of such interventions means. And if you are truly open minded imagine for a moment that parents who live with, love and care for, their autistic children 24/7 might have more understanding of their own children than Ms Dawson, a total stranger, with markedly high communication abilities. Just try it as an exercise in intellectual growth. Or try it for the heck of it.

As for Ms Gernsbacher, and for you, it is fine to assert that Ms Dawson can be, and should be, consulted as one voice of the high functioning end of the spectrum. But please ask Ms Gernsbacher to expressly make it clear that she is not suggesting that by involving Ms Dawson she is not involving lower functioning autistic persons or even those high functioning autistic persons who do not share Ms Dawsons activiist anti-ABA agenda.

Unknown said...


Just three pages?

Just kidding. Thanks for your help.

Blogger Charles LeBlanc said...

If I can find