Tuesday, November 14, 2006

A very outspoken advocate

Kit Weintraub is an important and respected autism advocate. Her work has gained the approval of the Association for Science in Autism Treatment (ASAT), and of the leaders of Canada's autism community. I've been alerted to some letters she made public earlier this year. These letters appear on the "JRC Parents/Friends" blog. This is a blog run by the Judge Rotenberg Center and featuring testimonials supporting the work of the JRC. For information about how the JRC treats its "students", many of whom are autistic, see this report. Ms Weintraub's letters mostly speak for themselves.


Comments submitted to JRC from the mother of two autistic children

-----Original Message-----
From: website@judgerc.org [mailto:website@judgerc.org]
Sent: Wednesday, March 29, 2006 6:40 AM
To: Burt, Sarah
Subject: Comments Submitted by Kit Weintraub

Comments: Dear Judge Rotenberg Center, Just wanted to say that I saw Dr. Israel on CNN with Anderson Copper and Bennett Leventhal. I was so impressed by Dr. Israel. I have two kids with autism, one, a girl, twelve, who is extremely self-injurious. We have run a very high quality ABA program for her for years, but could never get rid of the self-injurious behaviors. Only on risperdal are they reduced, and we have seen her gain close to 100 lbs on the medication. We have had all sorts of behavioral experts come in and try to extinguish the behavior with positive behavioral interventions, unfortunately, they did not work. No one wants to try electric shock with their child, it is a last resort, but I would do it in a heartbeat if I could get my precious child to stop hurting herself. Is the risperdal less abusive? Weight gain, tardive dyskinesia, disabetes, Dr. Leventhal has no answers. I am sorry you had to be subjected to his condemnation, but you carried yourself with grace and dignity. Thank you. Kit Weintraub, mother to Emily Weintraub PS I had to check admission in order to send this, unfortunately, in Wisconsin, there is no way our district would pay for the school. I am checking admission in order to send the email, this is really just a comment. PS, I sent a similar comment to Anderson Cooper.


-----Original Message-----
From: Kit Weintraub
Sent: Wednesday, March 29, 2006 7:48 PM
To: Israel, Matthew
Subject: Re: Comments Submitted by Kit Weintraub

Thanks, Dr. Israel. You are welcome to use my comments on your blog. I have been a very outspoken advocate for behavioral treatments that raise the quality of life for our children. It is not easy to stand up for the truth, and the truth is, for some kids, aversives are all that keep them from killing themselves or others. No one should be judged or condemned for earnestly trying to extinguish dangerous behaviors in children who cannot be taught by any other means. It never fails to amaze me that people don't get the difference between beating a child and using an aversive under controlled circumstances in the presence of extreme behavior that has not responded to anything. Leventhal was lying. There are kids for whom nothing besides aversive behavioral interventions works short of drugging them into a stupor. Good God, what parent wants to be in the position, or what clinician, for that matter, of choosing electric shock or watching their child put their eye out? Bottom line is, I guess most people would rather see the kid put their eye out, and just wring their hands and shrug their shoulders. I guess I am preaching to the choir. I have been lambasted, too, for supporting aversives in extreme last-resort circumstances too, so I guess I can somewhat relate to what you and your staff must be going through. It is hard. No one likes being called a child abuser.

Thanks for all that you do.

Kit Weintraub
mother to Emily and Nicholas Weintraub


As I wrote earlier, the JRC isn't widely admired by behaviour analysts, and I've assumed it isn't admired by autism advocates in Canada and elsewhere. I would never dispute Ms Weintraub's claim that she is a "very outspoken advocate", and she clearly has many important supporters, among whom ASAT and Canada's leading autism advocates are prominent. For this reason, among many others, it's important to know what exactly Ms Weintraub is advocating for, and what some of the consequences of this kind of advocacy are, for autistic children and adults.