ASAT’s Contribution to Responsible Journalism

Many consumers and providers turn to the media for information about autism and its treatment. Sadly, the media’s portrayals of autism treatment are often fraught with inaccuracies and misinformation. Media Watch is intended to improve upon the accuracy of media representations.

Media Watch has three main purposes:

  1. Responding to both accurate and inaccurate information or portrayals of treatments reported by the media, and
  2. Increasing awareness of both scientific evidence and scientific methods that can lead to real hope for those touched by autism by embedding important considerations in our letters
  3. Sharing information about effective autism treatment with media professionals

Media Watch would not be possible without the participation and efforts of a number of individuals. We have representation from our Board of Directors and externs, but have also supplemented this team with others who help us to respond in a timely manner.

Through Media Watch, we provide written feedback to journalists and other media professionals who write about autism and its treatment. Many members of ASAT’s Board of Directors are behavior analysts who know that in order to increase a behavior, it must be reinforced. Consequently, if there are accurate depictions of autism, intervention based on the current state of the science, we strive to acknowledge the efforts of those individuals responsible for educating the public with sound, accurate information. However, when an autism intervention is portrayed inaccurately, we provide feedback to media professionals to encourage correction of the inaccurate information in the article or more careful consideration when writing future articles.

Inaccurate portrayals of autism treatments in the media include, but are not limited to:

  • Exaggerating the research support for an intervention for which no research exists,
  • Ignoring the research basis that may already exist for the treatment in focus,
  • Disregarding the relevance of science,
  • Disregarding position statements from various professional organizations that warn against or discourage the use of a particular treatment, and
  • Failing to acknowledge research that does NOT support a particular intervention

To read actual Media Watch responses.

We wholeheartedly welcome you to join our efforts. You could be involved by alerting us of articles or media pieces that may warrant our attention or you could assist us with tracking information more formally by setting up an alert system to identify important articles as they come out. If you would like more specific information about how to participate in Media Watch, you can reach us at MediaWatch@asatonline.org. We hope to hear from you!