ASAT Responds to NY Times Story "A French Film Takes Issue With the Psychoanalytic Approach to Autism"
Sunday, January 22, 2012
To the Editor:
Thank you for your recent article by Mr. Jolly and Ms. Novak titled, "A French Film Takes Issue With the Psychoanalytic Approach to Autism". This documentary features interviews with several psychoanalysts who espouse a belief that the mother's psychological make-up has harmed her child and that the father has failed to protect the child from the negative influences of the mother. If anyone has failed, it has been the psychoanalytic community which, in the last 50 years, has been unable to produce credible evidence for its assertions, has robbed children of their futures, and has abdicated responsibility for the harm they have caused families.
Medical ethics teaches that physicians should "first do no harm." Children with autism who are treated psychoanalytically are denied scientifically-validated treatment and exposed to outmoded and ineffective interventions. Their parents are made to believe that they are part of the problem, rather than an integral part of the solution towards improving their child's condition. If any other medical, psychiatric or developmental condition was treated in this manner, the word "malpractice" would come to mind.
This story is an important one. When we as a society take children with autism under our care, it is our responsibility to use evidence-based procedures and to carry out intervention in a manner that is accountable, humane and transparent. This documentary casts light on the fact that a thoroughly discredited and harmful approach to autism still has its die-hard defenders, no matter what the evidence, and no matter how egregious might be the damage to vulnerable children and struggling mothers and fathers. However, we should not be complacent and believe that the problem is localized to a few fanatical French psychoanalysts. Our country too has its share of bogus treatments for autism - you can find over one hundred of them currently on the Internet - many of whose practitioners continue to cling to their outlandish claims and lucrative practices decade after decade in spite of their failure to produce any shred of evidence that meets peer-reviewed standards. Facilitated Communication and the never-ending demonization of vaccines are just two examples.
Children with autism deserve better.
David Celiberti, Ph.D., BCBA-D
President, Association for Science in Autism Treatment
Catherine Maurice, Ph.D
Author of Let Me Hear Your Voice
Founding Member, Association for Science in Autism Treatment