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The Misbehaviour of Behaviourists - Michelle Dawson

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Michelle Dawson
02:32 AM ET (US)
Can't resist: Giant Minion causes chaos on Irish road "The Minion was eventually deflated and carted away in a wheelbarrow."

If the autism-relevance isn't immediately obvious, see upthread...

And while I'm here, spectacular Ontario thunderstorm, excellent photos and videos sadly this one did not at all hit Montreal, I feel cheated.

And everyone should feel cheated by ASAN's latest promotion of far lower standards (of science, ethics, evidence, medicine, etc) for autistics than would be acceptable for anyone else Note that many of the interventions ASAN claims "do not include or rely on ABA" are ABA-based, and have they really read the aversive-heavy FCT literature? Note also that ASAN's recommendations are brought to you by ICDL, which markets DIR/Floortime.

Using research resources to devise and apply segregated low standards for autistics, something ASAN demonstrates and promotes, is a human rights issue--in my view. I mentioned that not long ago upthread ( /m13648 ). But then ASAN claims I'm reprehensible, pathological, criminal, etc.

For something completely different with respect to standards, the worm wars Sorry I only have one link left, ergo chose one which links directly or eventually to many others, including a long piece by Ben Goldacre (him again!).
Edited 08-04-2015 02:36 AM
02:14 PM ET (US)
Michelle, re getting behind; try starting a business:)

100 hours per week of work and the rest will take a back seat for the next life.

Michelle Dawson
03:53 AM ET (US)
I seem to be setting a "personal worst" in getting behind in everything...

Here's Stephen Wiltshire's recent drawing of Montreal Mostly what you see in the foreground is McGill. The big round building is the Health Sciences Center--or that's how I think of it. It used to house one of the four McGill libraries I haunted back when, when there was no other way for me to read papers. Now of the four, I believe only one still exists--the Humanities Library.

Also if you go to Laurent's lab website and click on the last (5th) featured image, you'll find a great photo of two colleagues unfurling one of our IMFAR 2015 posters in the great outdoors (...probably the hospital parking lot)

And this is a really cool finding using a very interesting task that's a free paper. So glad to see this study published--can retire now for sure (or, maybe not). Full disclosure: I'm in the acknowledgments.

Finally, long interview with Ben Goldacre (him again!) I did comment, on twitter, re his views on person-first language, but have run right out of links.
Deleted by topic administrator 07-01-2015 07:20 PM
Roy Grinker
08:56 AM ET (US)
Thought you would find this of interest. RG
Michelle Dawson
08:14 PM ET (US)
"It is accomplished"

That's Andrew Sullivan, unretired for at least one more blog post. Autism-relevant!
Michelle Dawson
11:33 PM ET (US)
In the neglected "scientists are so funny" dept, a peer-reviewed marriage proposal some of the comments are scientist-funny too

And this year's Dance Your PhD contest info, for those interested

Also, ASAN's latest official foray into Canada (that's what, the 4th?), this time Vancouver-based, has been "not found" for a few weeks now
Michelle Dawson
05:14 AM ET (US)
David Sackett died recently and Ben Goldacre (him again!) tweeted a reminder about Sackett's published personal views on expertise and retirement

And here's the link again of course autism-relevant
Michelle Dawson
04:52 AM ET (US)
Still in post-IMFAR fog, but here are links to the abstracts for the posters I was involved in: "Assessment of Intelligence in Young Autistic Children: A Comparison of Tests Available Under and over Age 3"

And "Young Autistic Children in a Stimulating Play Situation: Nature and Frequency of Emotions"

Salt Lake City has a spectacularly distinctive setting, which helped make up for awful problems in traveling--we nearly didn't get to IMFAR this year.

Also, the Cabot Trail Relay Race report and photos, great result for Alex and his team
Michelle Dawson
01:37 AM ET (US)
Putting this here to put it somewhere on the record.

I was grossly misrepresented in this French media story which I found only by accident, long after it was published

The journalist, Marianne Niosi, had contacted me and I had expressed my willingness to answer her questions. She ignored this and wrote about me anyway, changing my views and work and so on to suit her story.

When I found the resulting article, I wrote to her and to Mediapart, the publisher. Soon after that, the article was then paywalled (as it is now), which might be a coincidence.

Eventually, after a lot of back and forth where I asked for a general correction and apology, I was told the article had been amended with a correction. I no longer have access, so I can't confirm this. But here is the text of the correction, or so I've been told:


La chercheuse Michelle Dawson, dont nous citons les propos dans cet article, souhaite apporter les précisions suivantes:

- « Je ne cautionne pas l’idée d’une « culture autiste » et me suis opposée à ce point de vue de façon publique. Les organisations qui soutiennent la « culture autiste » ont fait savoir qu’elles étaient opposées à mon point de vue et à mon travail. »

- Lors du procès Auton, qui a vu la Cour suprême statuer sur le remboursement de la thérapie par ABA, elle précise qu’elle a pris position contre les plaignants mais aussi contre le gouvernement. « Je me suis opposée à la négation, par les deux côtés, des droits fondamentaux qui sont cruciaux pour le bien-être des individus. »

- Enfin, à propos de l’ABA : « J’ai cherché de façon exhaustive une justification aux standards scientifiques très bas imposés aux autistes dans la littérature qui sert de caution aux interventions basées sur l’ABA. Il n’y en a pas. Au contraire, il y a de fortes preuves que les normes de base de la science et de l’éthique sont aussi importantes pour les autistes que pour d’autres. »


That is the journalist's translation of what she selected from her request that I "annotate" her article. This doesn't cover all the false claims she made about me. Here is some of the "annotation" I sent her:

"In this article, all autistic adults are assumed to have similar views. We don’t. For example, my view that autistics deserve basic standards of science and ethics is strongly opposed by ASAN, which claims to represent autistic adults."

"This misrepresents my position in Auton, where I opposed both sides, which were indistinguishable in imposing rock-bottom standards on autistics, and argued that the facts from both sides should be thrown out. Here is my position in Auton, in opposing both sides: autistics should benefit from and be protected by the basic standards of science and ethics which everyone else can take for granted. And yes, this is a human rights issue. In other words, I opposed the segregation of autistics, by both sides, from the basic rights and standards which are crucial to the well-being of all individuals. And note that by the time a case arrives at the SCC, there are major limits on what can be argued; I had to argue within these limits."

"I do not see autism as a way of being or as a way of living. I have never expressed this view, much less defended it. I would never express or defend this view."

Note: In fact I don't even know what it means! Often when I'm interviewed, it's assumed this is my view, but like a lot of other assumptions from media and academics, it is not based on what I've actually said or done.
"I do not support “autistic culture” views of autism and have publicly opposed these views and the poor standards which have accompanied these views. Organizations which support "autistic culture" views of autism have strongly opposed my views and work."

"The only thing I’ve brandished is basic standards of science and ethics, which all nonautistic people can take for granted. My knowledge of the literature in the area of autism and ABA is excellent. I have exhaustively searched for any justification for the extremely low standards imposed on autistics in this literature and in the promotion of ABA-based autism interventions. There is none. To the contrary, there is strong evidence that basic standards of science and ethics, and basic human rights, are as important to autistics as to everyone else."

"I take ABA seriously as a field of science. This means reading the very large literature (including textbooks, manuals, as well as peer-reviewed papers) and applying basic standards of science and ethics to this literature. This is a lot of work, but I think autistics are worth the time and effort, and this is what I do in every field. This is not an attack on ABA. Criticism is a crucial part of science; it is not an attack on science."

"I have written about the problem of autistics who have not received ABA-based autism interventions being written off. But this again is an issue of scientific and ethical standards. Using these basic standards, which mean extensively reading the literature, it can be shown that these claims are not accurate, according to what we know now. The proliferation of false claims reflects very low standards of science and ethics on the part of those making them. The proliferation of false claims also makes it difficult to conduct fair tests of the benefits and harms of popular expensive treatments. We thus have expensive popular autism treatments whose benefits and harms, even in the short term (much less the long term), are largely unknown."

"I did not testify at the Supreme Court of Canada. This misrepresents not only me but the SCC process in Auton."
"In Auton, I had to argue that autism is not a fatal disease, as this had been claimed and accepted as true in the lower courts. My arguments about differences were based on how all other individuals are regarded and treated under the relevant law in Canada. This was not a vision but a simple argument that autistic people are human beings and should have the same basic human rights as everyone else."

For the record, etc.
Edited 05-06-2015 01:39 AM
Michelle Dawson
10:10 PM ET (US)
Awareness I can totally support

"Hedgehog Awareness Week runs from the 3rd to the 9th of May and this year the focus is on gardens, and the simple measures that can be taken to make a positive difference."

Always a relief when April ends. As you can see, May is a big improvement.
Michelle Dawson
10:41 PM ET (US)
While I'm here, the IMFAR 2015 program (and program book) is up

"Anxiety" appears 38 times in the program book pdf! Plus "anxious" twice. There's an entire anxiety special interest group (doesn't look good to me) as well as an oral session

By the way, re /m13644 , the paper that springs to mind for me, re anxiety and autism, is in which autistics and nonautistics worked and learned together as equals. What a concept. But I'm pretty sure some people would call this approach "ableist" for not using the right model or for who knows what. Anyway, the "autistics and nonautistics work together as equals" approach has been pretty much trashed by advocates and academics who use words like "ableist," and who in my experience promote segregation--at least when it comes to autism.
Edited 05-02-2015 10:42 PM
Michelle Dawson
10:27 PM ET (US)
There's a really big literature on anxiety in autistics and it's pretty interesting, if you read it carefully.

But I'm not sure what "ableism" means, sorry. Different people define it in different ways and it's not a word I know how to use. Maybe someone could clarify that for me.
08:50 PM ET (US)
Hi everyone,

I am doing research for my class at CUNY SPS for psycho social about how Autistic people struggle with anxiety with their families and the community they are in because of not only needing to cope with anxiety but dealing with the ableism around too. Every time I search for sources, everything is based on the struggles that families and the communities have, but not what Autistic people have.

What do you think I can use for sources? Does anyone have any suggestions for sources I can use?

Michelle Dawson
10:30 PM ET (US)
In the same week, first Alex's Boston Marathon (I'm in awe...), then Roland Fryer wins the John Bates Clark medal

Pretty sure I mentioned Roland Fryer upthread, when he won a MacArthur grant He uses RCTs to address difficult questions about schools, and has memorably stuck by his standards--for which I've quoted him in presentations many times

"“I am a pointy-headed economist who refuses not to aim for the gold standard in empirical research (i.e. randomization) whenever possible,” he said in an e-mail Wednesday morning. “Anything less is not fair to kids, their parents, or the policy makers who use the research.”"

Edited 04-25-2015 10:31 PM
07:32 PM ET (US)
Alex's first Boston Marathon
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