Friday, May 11, 2007

How many hours is forty hours?

For those interested, my first-author poster at this year's IMFAR (International Meeting for Autism Research) has been posted on the No Autistics Allowed website.

That would be this poster:

Dawson, M., & Mottron, L. (2007, May). How many hours is forty hours? Range of treatment intensity in Lovaas (1987). Poster presented at the International Meeting for Autism Research. Seattle, WA.

You can find it as a pdf linked to this page. This page also provides the full text for the excerpts of Leaf's testimony. These excerpts aren't clear on the small pdf of the poster, unlike on the original ppt version (if anyone wants the ppt version, they can write to me).

It is such an unconventional poster that I'm pretty sure we were all surprised it was accepted for IMFAR. The information we put forward raises a lot of interesting questions at multiple levels. One of the most basic questions for me was, does this kind of information belong in a venue like IMFAR? Is it autism research? The answer was yes (at least so far). This leads to more questions, about what to do with the information we have, and about what may or may not be accurate information in this case.

We don't, e.g., know who's right, or how many hours forty hours is. But for now it remains a possibility that if accurate information had been provided by Lovaas and colleagues going back 20 years, re treatment intensity in the experimental group in Lovaas (1987), then the subsequent behaviour analytic research in autism may have looked somewhat different than it does now.

Setting aside all the uncertainties and unknowns (in the absence of accurate information from the authors in question), it seems that there should be agreement on one point. Accurate information may not always serve the many vested interests of scientists, service providers, advocacy groups, politicians, and lobbyists. But accurate information always serves the real-life interests of autistics. Then it's a matter of deciding on priorities.

IMFAR was overwhelming, as usual (this was also the first IMFAR where I was involved in more than one presented study as an author), and this year I have a variety of post-IMFAR deadlines to make things a bit more challenging. I hope I'll eventually blog something useful about IMFAR 2007, once the haze clears and the dust settles.