Monday, October 30, 2006

Instant institutionalization

It's a basic tenet of Canada's autism advocates that autistics just naturally belong in institutions, and can only stay out of institutions by undergoing "medically necessary" ABA starting very early in life. From the autism advocate "fact sheet" again, the one disseminated to all of Canada's political leaders,

Without treatment, autism is a lifelong affliction that results in 90% of afflicted individuals placed in institutions and residential facilities, facing an unfulfilling and bleak existence for both the individual and family members.

This has clearly caught on. Here is Senator Jim Munson, speaking about autistics in the Senate on May 11, 2006:

However, honourable senators, we need to act. Nine out of 10 children who do not receive the treatment they need are institutionalized.

The 90% institutionalization rate (even higher rates have been promoted) is a reflection of the values and goals of autism advocates and has no foundation in the existing science. It's a complete fabrication that I wrote about from many different angles here. I would challenge autism advocates to give me one reference (a primary source from peer-reviewed science, please) that supports this fictional figure, in any era, much less the current one.

But what happens to autistic children who, as autism advocates demand, undergo "medically necessary" ABA from an early age? Michael Lewis is a Director of Autism Society Canada and the President of Autism Society British Columbia. He has been involved in ABA litigation and is one of our leading autism advocates and promoters of "medically necessary" ABA for all autistics. His son was diagnosed autistic at age 3. From a 2005 media story, here's a description of Mr Lewis' son:

Now in grade five in a regular classroom, the boy is a busy 11-year-old. He bikes, skis, swims and even plays clarinet in his school orchestra. He's also, "an active participant in family life," says Mr Lewis, who also serves as the President of the Autism Society of British Columbia. "Whatever we do, he's part of it."

Mr Lewis credits all of this to his son's ABA program. However...

But if his son's treatment was stopped, Mr Lewis is convinced the child would need to be institutionalized, possibly immediately. "If not now, then shortly," he says.

So Mr Lewis' son has undergone "medically necessary" ABA for many years, and has, according to his father, acquired a lot of impressive skills in this program. But the moment this ABA program stops, Mr Lewis promises to put his son in an institution. The impressive skills don't seem to belong to the boy, but to the "medically necessary" ABA program on which he is totally dependent, and without which the impressive skills instantly vanish and he is instantly doomed. He goes straight from a regular classroom to a bleak existence (as they say) in an institution, immediately or shortly after his ABA program stops.

This seems to cast some doubt on the effectiveness of "medically necessary" ABA, but Mr Lewis has no such doubts. Instead, there's that certainty that autistics belong not in families or society but in institutions. Even autistics who are considered to have succeeded in ABA programs, who stay in them for years, aren't safe. The only way to be safe is to be normal. Or else.