Friday, July 17, 2009

Autism and Abuse in a Georgia School - Parents and Media Can Make A Difference

I am not always impressed with national and international media coverage of autism spectrum disorders.

I have often been critical of CNN and CBC for their dilettante coverage of autism disorders and their periodic rediscovery and presentation of the same tired Neurodiversity rhetoric that has argued against the UN declared rights of autistic children to treatment for their autism disorders. But the mainstream media does, occasionally, do an excellent job reporting autism as was the case with the Vancouver Sun series Faces of Autism which offered comprehensive coverage of the autism spectrum including the challenges facing low functioning autistic persons and their families. Another, more recent, exception can be found in Autism Story Changes Policy For All Georgia Students in which 11 Alive News of Atlanta, Georgia pats itself on the back, deservedly, for its media coverage of the school abuse of a non-verbal autistic boy. The coverage prompted action by the Georgia governor to put in place policies to protect autistic children, and other children with disabilities, in Georgia schools.

The article also describes the determined and courageous efforts of the boy's parents, Marcelo and Carolyn Ferrari, in obtaining proof that the abuse occurred at school and fighting off a bureaucracy that was more devoted to defending itself, and attacking the parents, then in bringing out the truth and protecting children at school. Autism Story Changes Policy For All Georgia Students confirms the important role that parents play in protecting our autistic children. It also confirms that the media, particularly local media, can play an important role when it is prepared to get involved and practice real journalism.

Some things will never change. In another year, and the year after that, and so on, some one sitting in a plush, comfortable chair at the CBC's National offices will, probably "discover", once again, that Michelle Dawson, Ari Ne'eman, Alex Plank and Amanda Baggs do not want to be cured of their autism and Aspergers Disorders. Hopefully though real journalists will continue to roll up their sleeves and provide relevant and important coverage of autism realities like that provided in Faces of Autism and Autism Story Changes Policy For All Georgia Students.

Parents, and real journalism, can make a difference, a positive difference, in the lives of persons with autism disorders.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Fascinating, putting those two objections together considering that a considerable portion of Ari Ne'eman's work is around stopping cases of abuse like the one you just described.