Autism Reality

Autism Symposium Cancelled – Harper’s Book of Dirty Tricks Page 2

The Harper Conservative government strategy to address the Autism health crisis in Canada is beyond pathetic; it is wretched. It is nothing more than a ploy from the now infamous Conservative Party Book of Dirty Tricks.

The Harper Conservatives’ autism strategy was announced in November 2006 by Health Minister Tony Clement and consisted of a web page and a stakeholder symposium to be held in 2007. Yes there were other elements – sort of. A research chair was mentioned – sort of. The Harper conservatives pledged to begin exploring the establishment of a research chair focusing on effective treatment and intervention for ASD. They also pledged to launch a consultation process on the feasibility of developing an ASD surveillance program through the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) to help shape appropriate ASD programming and research. I wonder which generation of Canadians will be around to see whether an ASD surveillance program, whatever that is, is determined to be feasible?

Of course there is the pledge to address Canada’s autism health crisis by designating a bureaucracy within a bureacracy, the pledge to designate the Health Policy Branch of Health Canada as the ASD lead for actions related to ASD at the Federal Health Portfolio level. Health Canada itself of course is the federal government Department charged with responsibility over health matters which the Harper Conservatives tell us [ignoring the development over decades of cooperative federalism] is a matter entirely within provincial constitutional jurisdiction. Gee, the policy branch of the federal department responsible for a matter which the Conservatives claim is entirely within provincial jurisdiction will be designated as the lead branch of that department for actions related to ASD at the federal level. WOW!!

Then there is the autism web site promised by Health Minister Clement. Personally I believe it to be the least informative autism site on the internet. But that may be a bit harsh. There may be autism web sites that are still “under construction” and actually say nothing at all. Judge for yourself:

http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/dc-ma/autism/index_e.html

Then there is the “stakeholders” symposium promised to be held in 2007. As one who has been an autism activist for the last 8 years in New Brunswick I recoil at the use of the word “stakeholder”. It sounds like a property interest in a commercial transaction. I am an autism activist because of my profoundly autistic son. He, with his brother, are the joys of our life but they are not “stakes” in a poker game. And government typically defines the stakeholder concept broadly to include any group that might be useful in pushing the government’s own agenda. Careful selection of a few stakeholder groups for government funding and support invariably results in useful tools for creating division and weakness in the disability community whose issues are being addressed, allowing government to divide, delay and deny provision of necessary services.

I was asked by the Autism Society New Brunswick to participate as the ASNB representative at the autism stakeholders symposium which was scheduled to take place mid-June 2007 in Ottawa. I contacted the Canadian Institute for Health Research to register for the event and was told that the federal government wanted the Autism Society Canada, the federal organization of which ANSB is a member, to forward the names of participants for the autism symposium. Thus the provincial body, the ASNB, could not forward names directly of representatives for a national symposium to address an issue which, according to Stephen Harper, Tony Clement and Edmonton area MP Mike “Bigfoot” Lake [Conservative Party autism spokesman and Autism Dad]is entirely within provincial jurisdiction. The Autism Society Canada put my name forward at the request of ASNB and I waited to receive my invitation. I had been told the invitations would be sent out two weeks ago. When I followed up last week I was informed by CIHR that the symposium was being discussed at a more senior level and that so many names were put forward that it was necessary to arrange a new larger location. In the meantime I had become aware that prominent, no nonsense autism activists like Andrew Kavchak in Ottawa and the FEAT-BC folks had also been put forward as participants in the national autism stakeholders symposium. Last week it was formally announced that the symposium was “postponed” to an unspecified date in the fall.

I do not believe the excuse that the Government of Canada could not find a large enough room to accommodate a national symposium of autism representatives by mid-June. The federal government is THE consumer of services for such activities in the National Capital Region and has a lot of purchasing/bargaining power. There is a substantial industry in the region which thrives on hosting such events and the capacity has been developed for these purposes. The federal government itself owns a good chunk of the national capital real estate and surely has the facility to itself host a symposium.

The Harper Conservative government became increasingly aware that activists such as yours truly, Andrew Kavchak, some FEAT-BC reps, and some of the family members involved in the Auton and Deskin-Wynberg autism cases were coming to Ottawa to participate in the national autism symposium and they wanted no part of it. That is the more plausible explanation for the postponement/cancellation of the symposium. The whole national autism “strategy” could have been lifted from page 1 of the Harper Book of Dirty Tricks recently exposed and which directs Conservative MP’s to to obstruct the progress of parliamentary committees, including stacking such commitee proceedings with witnesses who would support the Harper Conservatives’ agenda. The page was turned to page 2 when the only pledge of any merit, the national autism stakeholders symposium was “postponed” until the fall of 2007. IF the symposium does proceed in the fall you can be sure that every effort will be made by the party of Harper and Clement to ensure that the voices of serious autism activists will not be present and will not be heard. As dictated in Harper’s Book of Dirty Tricks only sponsored, docile autism representatives supportive of the Conservative Party agenda will be invited. … Continued on Page 3, Harper’s Book of Dirty Tricks.

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May 20, 2007 Posted by | autism disorder, Autism Society Canada, Autism Society New Brunswick, CIHR, Dirty Tricks, FEAT, national autim strategy, Prime Minister Harper, Tony Clement | Leave a comment

Autism Crisis – Australia


ABC is reporting on an Australian study which indicates that autism is costing Australia [ Population 20,823,333, May 14 07, Australian Bureau of Statistics] up to $7 billion a year; a reflection of a 10 fold increase in rates of Autism and Aspergers. Dr. James Morton of Autism Early Intervention Outcomes Unit says the problem has caught government unawares. Apparently the Australian government is as oblivious to the realities of autism as the Canadian government. Maybe Roy Grinker, Kristina Chew and others can offer some soothing anthropological perspective and some new literary metaphors to assist the Australian families who are struggling to help their autistic children acquire basic language and life skills.

http://tinyurl.com/38l6b

span style=”font-weight:bold;”>Autism costing Aust up to $7b: report

A new report has found the treatment of autism and related conditions such as Asperger syndrome are costing the Australian economy up to $7 billion a year.

It was commissioned by Dr James Morton, one of the founders of the Autism Early Intervention Outcomes Unit.

Dr Morton says the report’s release in Brisbane today has been timed to mark the start of Autism Awareness Week.

“It’s really gone under the radar. It’s exploded in the last 10 years. Some of the studies suggests that the incidence has increased 10-fold in the last decade,” he said.

“I think that is why it’s caught government unawares. It wasn’t anywhere near the problem it is now 10 years ago.”

Dr Morton says the official response to the rising incidence of autism has been too little, too late.

“I hope that this study brings [autism] to the community’s attention and leads to funding for early detection and early intervention, which makes an enormous difference and is very under-funded in this country,” he said.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200705/s1921975.htm

May 14, 2007 Posted by | Australia, autism awareness, autism crisis, autism disorder, Autism Early Intervention Outcomes Unit, Autism Society Canada, Dr. James Morton, Kristina Chew, Roy Grinker | 2 Comments

Put ABA back in HB 1224 – A Perfectly Cromulent Blog

The attached excerpt and link are from Put ABA back in HB 1224 on Pete’s blog A Perfectly Cromulent Blog Pop culture related smart-assery . The article is written in the blogger’s irrevent style and is a textbook example of the need to include specific reference to ABA in legislation governing provision of health care coverage for autism. Whether it is Canada or Texas governments and lobbyists do not want legislation to require that Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) be covered as a health care intervention for autism. Even though ABA is THE proven effective intervention for autism, even though autism reates are soaring, and even though studies document huge long term savings to governments and society ABA is still resisted while almost any other treatment for any other ailment receives coverage. Pete’s commentary is very well written, gets to the point and tells a tale of government unresponsiveness to autism which is as true of the Government of Canada as it is of the Government of Texas.

“Which is what makes the amendment to HB 1224 so maddening. After all, if I was feeling a little down in the dumps, my health plan would cheerfully cover the cost of my happy pills. If I drunkenly jawed off to Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipović in a Zagreb bar and he broke my jaw, insurance would cover the emergency room visit and my subsequent weeks of pain meds. Hell, if I was an 80-year old man having trouble getting a goddamned hard-on, insurance would cover my boner pills, but therapy to help my daughter become a functional and productive member of society and not just another ward of the state after her parents die? We can apparently fuck right off.

So we’re choosing to tell our daughter’s story now, after being quiet about it for the last 16 months: to emphasize how important it is that this bill pass in its original form. If it seems opportunistic or self-serving, well…there’s not much I can say about that, except that things like ABA and other therapy programs would seem to be the point of insurance: to insure the well-being of these kids who otherwise would be without hope for a future.

Finally, the only thing that really gave me pause about posting this was something that was said to me about the possibility SWSNBN might read this later on in her life and be mortified. My only response to that is this: I’m not a religious person, so prayer is out of the question, but I hope beyond anything I have ever hoped in my miserable life that my daughter, at some point in the future, is able to read this blog and yell at her father about it. I want that so badly it physically hurts.”

http://www.whiterose.org/pete/blog/archives/010441.html

May 13, 2007 Posted by | A Perfectly Cromulent Blog, aba, Applied Behavior Analysis, autism disorder, Autism Society Canada, Canada Health Act, government, HB 1224, legislation, Texas | Leave a comment

Autism in Canada – MP’s Fail Autistic Children


Published Tuesday May 1st, 2007
Appeared on page A4


MPs fail autistic children

Ottawa does occasionally take action… just not for our autistic children.

It has been over five months since the House of Commons passed a motion (by a vote of 231-45) calling on the Government of Canada to create a National Autism Strategy. M-172 from Andy Scott, Liberal M.P. for Fredericton requires the federal government to work in co-operation with the provinces and territories to establish national standards for treatment and delivery of services, study funding arrangements, create a national surveillance program, and provide more funding for health research on autism. Andy Scott along with Peter Stoffer, NDP M.P. for Sackville-Eastern Shore have both blasted the federal government for not providing funding in the 2007 budget to help families with autistic children.

It has also been over a month now that the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology has released its report on the funding for the treatment of autism: “Pay now or pay later: autism families in crises.” Senator Art Eggleton will move that the Senate request a complete and detailed response from the government, with the ministers of National Revenue, Intergovernmental Affairs, Health and Finance being identified as ministers responsible for responding to the report.

With the proper support structures in place now, autistic children will have the greatest chance to reach full potential.

The cost to society for inaction will be enormous.

BRIAN RIMPILAINEN

Fredericton

http://www.canadaeast.com/ce2/docroot/article.php?articleID=135900

May 2, 2007 Posted by | Andy Scott, autism disorder, autism interventions, Autism Society Canada, Peter Stoffer, Senate Autism Report | 1 Comment

Is The Neurodiversity Movement Ashamed of Lower Functioning Autistic Persons?

It seems at times that the Neurodiversity Movement is ashamed of the lower functioning members of the autism world. Autism is defined by the ND movement as simply another natural variation of human wiring. “Autistic intelligence” is defined as a different, perhaps even a superior form of intelligence. Doubt is cast on whether lower functioning autistic persons even exist by the more strident ND’ers. Even autistic persons who have demonstrated no communication skills, engage in seriously and repetitively self injurious and dangerous behavior should not be treated or cured in the view of the ND movement.

Parents who seek to help their OWN children, not the ND’ers themselves, but their own children, through attempts at cures or treatment are vilified by the ND movement. Every major parent driven autism advocacy organization from Cure Autism Now to Autism Speaks, Autism Society Canada, Autism Society America, National Autism Society UK, FEAT organizations, all are roasted for their efforts. They are derided as self centered whiners by the proud members of the ND movement. Pejorative labels such as “Autism Squeaks” and “curebies” are used to dismiss those seeking to cure or treat autism.

Recently CNN’s Dr. Gupta featured the story of Amanda Baggs, diagnosed as being a low functioning autistic person, but clearly very intelligent and, with the aid of technology, an excellent communicator. The implied message – even low functioning autistic persons are really quite intelligent and do not need a cure or treatment. Unfortunately Dr. Gupta played into this denial of the existence of truly low functioning autistic persons by continuing a long history of media focus on autistic savants and other high functioning autistic persons while ignoring the sometimes brutal realities which confront low functioning, seriously disabled, autistic persons.

My autistic son, Conor, is a low functioning autistic person who brings me great joy. I delight in talking about how happy he makes me every single day. But, unlike members of the Neurodiversity I am not ashamed to admit the severe challenges he faces in life and I am not afraid to talk about them publicly. Unless such public discussion takes place there will be no improvements for Conor and other autistic persons like him. Of course that is exactly why the Neurodiversity movement attempts to censor such discussion. Content with themselves they wish to deny the opportunity for lower functioning autistic persons to be treated and cured. Is the Neurodiveristy movement ashamed of its lower functioning autistic cousins? It certainly looks that way to this “NT” (Neurotypical).


TIMES ONLINE

Is autism simply in the wiring?


Ailments come and go. I don’t mean in a personal sense — although my lumbar vertebrae are creaking again after a blissful period of quiescence — but in a social and historical sense. Homosexuality is no longer an illness. Lefthandedness no longer merits a cure. Could autism be next?

Some people argue that the developmental disorder — which compromises communication, social interaction and imaginative play — is merely an example of human “neurodiversity”. Just as disabled individuals sometimes prefer to call themselves differently abled, some people with autism would like to be regarded as differently wired. To try to alleviate or cure autism, they say, is tantamount to oppression. And genetic tests, which are in development to identify autism in the unborn, are a mere step away from eugenics.

This movement, which boasts groups such as Aspies for Freedom (a reference to Asperger’s Syndrome, a high-functioning form) and the Autism Liberation Front, does not accept the image of autistics as odd loners. Instead, nonautistics are portrayed as sad conformists unable to operate outside the social horde. It opposes any attempts to “cure” or even treat autism.

The movement is driven, unsurprisingly, by those at the high-functioning end of autism. It is ironic that they have been accused of not empathising with others at the low-functioning end, who are less able to cope with everyday life.

Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, a leading autism researcher at the University of Cambridge, says: “I agree that high-functioning autism is better characterised in terms of neurodiversity. Low-functioning autism may also be, but is probably best characterised as involving additional disabilities, such as learning disability, language delay, epilepsy and so on. I don’t think we are looking to ‘cure’ autism any more than we are looking to cure lefthandedness or being gay. But if there were treatments or interventions that help without affecting the areas of strength [such as the excellent attention to detail] I imagine these would be welcomed.”

http://tinyurl.com/2t6yp9

February 26, 2007 Posted by | Autism Society America, Autism Society Canada, autism speaks, autism spectrum disorder, Baron-Cohen, CNN, Dr. Sanja Gupta, FEAT, neurodiversity | 6 Comments