Thursday, November 15, 2007

Autism Heroines Lara Hawkings and Sally Eva

In the United Kingdom parents fighting to help their autistic children overcome the deficits of their autism disorders, fighting to help their children as all parents do, face opposition from a National Autistic Society which has drunk deep from the kool aid of the neurodiversity "movement". In Autism: What are the ethics of treating disability the Independent reports on a letter Treating Autism signed by parents, including Lara Hawkings and Sally Eva, fighting for treatment for their autistic children in the face of opposition by the National Autistic Society.

In the UK the National Autistic Society has adopted the "autism is beautiful" ideology and frowns upon parents like Lara Hawkings and Sally Eva who fight to help their own children overcome and recover from the sometimes debilitating deficits of their neurological disorder. Awareness is helpful. But saying that society should change how it views autism will not help those autistic children who need help for the more serious symptoms of autism, a neurological disorder.

Neurodiversity ideologues are not human rights advocates. They are in fact suppressing the human rights of autistic children; their right to be treated for their neurological disorders. And they are suppressing the rights of parents to help their own children. The UK NAS should be ashamed of itself for imbibing this topsy turvy ideology and for helping suppress the human rights, including the right to be treated for their neurological disorders, of autistic children in the UK.

I wish the best for Lara Hawkings and Sally Eva and all parents in the UK trying to help, to truly help, their autistic children. And for the NAS I wish that some day they will cease swallowing the neurodiversity kool aid and drink from the well of common sense.


Maya M said...

What amazes me in these discussions is that at least one of the sides, and usually both, speak of "treatment" of autism as if we really have something as effective as insulin for diabetes and the only question is whether to use it or not.
Not so long ago, you wrote yourself a post about the GFCF diet not (yet) supported by evidence and proven ineffective in the case of Conor. Ms. Hawkings has put her son on this diet, this is the treatment she advocates for. While I acknowledge that a properly done trial could find a proportion of autistics benefiting from GFCF, I doubt whether people should be advised in the meantime to subject their children to a diet so terribly impacting quality of life.

Unknown said...


I did publish a post about GFCF diet not being supported by evidence - yet. As for Ms. Hawkings advocating for that diet based on her personal experience I see nothing wrong with that. Anecdotal evidence is evidence, it is just not as strong as other forms of evidence. An evidence based approach looks at the various types of evidence in support of an intervention and ranks them according to the quality of the evidence with anecdotal ranking very low.

The real issue with NAS v parents, and it is a general issue between neurodiversity generally and many parents, is whether treatment and cure should be sought for autistic children at all. A parent, in my view, has a right and a duty to seek treatment for their child's disability if one exists and if it is available. ABA is an effective intervention based on the quantity and quality of the research although it is not a cure.

Neurodiversity advocates, including NAS, oppose attempts to treat or cure autistic children. They have no business doing so. Children have a right to receive effective medical treatment if it is available. If someone tries to prevent such treatment from being received they are infringing on that child's human rights. To the extent that NAS supports such efforts they are supporting the infringement of the human rights of autistic children.

Anonymous said...

Maya M
read the article again. the child in question is on the diet because of severe bowel problems. The NAS is the major autism charity in the UK, it has a duty of care over all children with autism but gives NO advice on diet over its help line. "we don't do diet"
Perhaps they should employ a couple of dietitians rather than promote a pointless and offensive campaign.

Anonymous said...

As the husband of Lara I would just like to thank you for saying nice things about her. please check you Gmail account in regard to this ;-)