Defining autistic people by upsetting them

I had an experiment. I put the words autism and behaviour into Google and looked at the fist result. This is about how people see us. This in italics below is what I found

A child or adult with autism spectrum disorder may have limited, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests or activities, including any of these signs:

  • Performs repetitive movements, such as rocking, spinning or hand flapping.
  • Performs activities that could cause self-harm, such as biting or head-banging.
  • Develops specific routines or rituals and becomes disturbed at the slightest change
  • Has problems with coordination or has odd movement patterns, such as clumsiness or walking on toes, and has odd, stiff or exaggerated body language
  • Is fascinated by details of an object, such as the spinning wheels of a toy car, but doesn’t understand the overall purpose or function of the object
  • Is unusually sensitive to light, sound or touch, yet may be indifferent to pain or temperature.
The neurodiverse symbol, an infinity symbol in rainbow colours, on a gold background.
Neuro-diverse symbol

I think the definition above, from the website of Mayo Clinic, a business in the USA which manages to get the top Google hit in the UK, is very misleading. That us not the full list, I have abridged it for reasons of space, but the rest of the bullet points are in the same vein. I also recognise myself in many of the points: Clumsy – yes. Light and touch sensitivity – yes. Fascinated by details – yes. But it is not me, especially in relation with clumsiness, I only get clumsy when I am upset.

The behaviours most associated with autism are the things autistic people do when upset

I wonder how psychologists would like it if we defined their behaviour by what they do when upset. But it is part of the plan to sell treatments that may not be needed, think of it as advertising, but advertising is aspirational, buy our product and you could be like these people (no I couldn’t, their lounge has the same floor space as my whole house). This is the opposite, trying to make out the lives of autistic people look a lot worse than it actually is.

It is a conspiracy theory. Conspiracy theories use facts which can be demonstrated as true but deliberatly ignore lots of other facts thereby creating a distorted picture of what the problems, if any, actually are. The example I have given ignores the the many positive attributes of autistic people which were known since the work of Hans Asperger in the 1930s.

But it is worse. They are advocating the use of interventions like applied behaviour analysis (ABA). I have seen a lot of therapists claim thet ABA has a scientific basis, but none state in their websites what that basis is. Some say that autistic children do not progress without ABA, but the number of adults being diagnosed with autism who have never had ABA or similar therapies shows that autistic children do develop as they grow older, otherwise these adults would still be behaving like infants.

I will repeat a challenge: If anyone involved in ABA therapy can show me a scientific double blind study with a reasonable sample size that shows that ABA has a scientific basis then I will apologise, publish the findings and remove anything I have written critical of ABA from the internet. There you are, I await your replies.

Here’s your starter, you will need evidence to refute this:

Long-term ABA Therapy Is Abusive: A Response to Gorycki, Ruppel, and Zane

What I am saying here is that the means used to prevent autistic behaviour is upsetting autistic people, creating the reactions that autistic people have when upset then claiming that the therapy causing the upset is helping the people it is upsetting. Why not stop upsetting autistic people.

Unless you can show otherwise. Your move.

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