Happy Christmas to our Autism Centre community. Here are some tips compiled by Emma Sterland (Guardian Professional 18/12/12) on how to make Christmas a time of fun and celebration for those who prefer their usual routine. http://www.guardian.co.uk/social-care-network/2012/dec/18/learning-disabilities-tips-family-christmas?CMP=twt_gu
It’s been 12 years since I last lived and worked in the US, and there are times when I realise how far my views have come from the days I, too, saw autism entirely through the lens of the medical model. Reading about how parents are dosing their autistic children with bleach compounds in a misguided and dangerous attempt to “recover” them is one of those moments. Reading through the comments below the article only deepens my sense of despair and makes me worry, as this approach is now spreading beyond the boundaries of the US. Such a lack of understanding of basic scientific principles, and a well-intentioned rejection of what passes for mainstream approaches in the US (i.e. the use of pharmaceutical drugs, also not the way to go but just a different route proposed for the same aim) that leads to abuse. Is it the lack of a coherent healthcare system? Is it the knowledge that having a disability in a country without a decent social care system for adults or social acceptance for being different really does look like a disaster to families? Is the fault of poor science education? Is it the “cure at any cost” rhetoric pumped out by Autism Speaks and other organisations with a similarly high profile?
And why is it that if suddenly parents of children with Down Syndrome were giving their children bleach internally and bathing them in it, there would be an uproar, but when parents of children with autism do so, there seem to be no consequences other than comments on a Web site?
Have you or another parent you know tried or considered using Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) but decided it wasn’t the right way to go for your autistic child? A BBC documentary producer would like to interview you about your decision. Get in touch with me if you’re interested…
No, not that terrible story that used to make the rounds of parent groups–the real thing…
I’m excited to report that I’ll be in the Netherlands during the first week of November to talk about autism and disability studies with Dutch colleagues. I have been spending lots of time in the Netherlands this year, and I’m very impressed with the high quality of its education system. I’m looking forward to learning more about the level of support available for people with disabilities, and hopefully to contributing in some way to bringing disability issues forward in higher education.
I’ve just started a new post at Sheffield Hallam University, where I will be leading the MA Autism programme and teaching on other undergraduate and postgraduate courses. After a difficult summer of job-hunting, this is a welcome surprise–especially since this was actually the post I most coveted as a post-doc five years ago!
For me, the most positive aspects are that I’m joining a team of fantastic people, and it’s a programme with a strong basis in the social model of disability. Oh, and it’s in Sheffield, one of my favourite cities 🙂
I’m still scrambling to get up to speed on University systems and practices, and with a new module to develop over the next three weeks and others to prepare for (and two conference papers to complete and deliver) you can be sure that there won’t be much time for blogging. Be sure to check out the Autism Centre’s own blog, which I’m following, for updates on all the things we are doing as a team, and you can look forward to bits of news and announcements from me as well.