Saturday, November 03, 2007

The Wrath of Michelle Dawson

Erin Anderssen and the Globe and Mail have incurred the considerable wrath of researcher Michelle Dawson of the Autism Specialized Clinic Rivière-des-Prairies Hospital University of Montréal. Ms Dawson objected to the article, ‘Autistics': We don't want a cure, published in today's Globe and Mail , and written by Ms. Anderssen, who apparently did not follow the script Ms. Dawson expected to see in the article.

In Erin Anderssen does not take autism seriously Ms. Dawson, the anti-ABA activist* who does not want to be called an activist, issues one of her scathing attacks, this time against Ms. Anderssen. Ms. Anderssen should not be too concerned though. Anyone who does not march to Ms. Dawson's tune on autism issues receives the same treatment, sometimes with virtually the same title - Autism advocates do not take autism seriously.

I have, once again, been singled out for condemnation by Ms. Dawson in her reaction to the Globe and Mail article. After all I speak candidly in describing my son, who has Autism Disorder, and who is described by two professional assessments as autistic with profound developmental delays. And, I advocate persistently for evidence based interventions to assist autistic children. Two reasons to merit Ms. Dawson's condemnation.

To date only Applied Behavior Analysis, or ABA, meets evidence based standards as an effective autism intervention. Before Ms. Dawson writes yet another blog comment mocking 'Harold Doherty's science' she might want to read what the American Academy of Pediatrics said this week about ABA, following the reports of a number of state and federal agencies in the US over the past decade who have reached the same conclusion:

The effectiveness of ABA-based intervention in ASDs has been well documented through 5 decades of research by using single-subject methodology21,25,27,28 and in controlled studies of comprehensive early intensive behavioral intervention programs in university and community settings.29–40 Children who receive early intensive behavioral treatment have been shown to make substantial, sustained gains in IQ, language, academic performance, and adaptive behavior as well as some measures of social behavior, and their outcomes have been significantly better than those of children in control groups.31–4

American Academy of Pediatrics, Management of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

That is the result that I, and many parent advocates for ABA intervention for their children, have been seeking to obtain - gains in IQ, language, academic performance, adaptive and social behavior - not for Ms. Dawson and other high functioning autistic adults - but for our own autistic children. Some, like my son Conor, do not enjoy Ms. Dawson's considerable intellectual and communication gifts. For seeking to help our own children we have earned the wrath of Michelle Dawson; a wrath which is in fact a badge to be worn with pride and honor.

*(although the case did not involve her personally, Ms. Dawson appeared as an intervenor "An Autistic at the Supreme Court " in the Auton Supreme Court of Canada case to voice her opposition to government funded ABA treatment for autism, and again to the same end before the Canadian Senate)


Anonymous said...

Well done. I missed this one. I may write on it with a link to your post on Monday.

Unknown said...

Thank you sandy.

I look forward to reading your post on this subject.