Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Dear Mr. Schofield,
Here at the Association for Science in Autism Treatment (ASAT), we have a Media Watch initiative to identify how the media is portraying autism and what is said about treatment, and are writing to you with the following comments on your BBC News piece ("France's autism treatment 'shame,'" BBC News, April 2, 2012).
First, it is reassuring to see the discussion continue about the prevailing theory and treatment for autism in France. Issues like this one, prompted by the documentary, The Wall, often explode and are covered by much of the media for a short period of time, and then die down.
Second, you gave a reasonable (and greater than previous pieces about this topic) amount of attention to the "mainstream alternative" that is, applied behavior analysis (ABA), which is based on scientific evidence of effectiveness, although the portrayal was quite simplistic ("set of rewardsâ€) for an applied science with over six decades of significant contribution, both to science and to people, whose lives have been improved by its efficacious strategies.
Finally, the quotes of the parents are well placed, representative of several sad cases, and quite relevant to the debate. For example, the fact that only 20% of French children with autism attend school, and that psychiatric placement is prevalent, likely has to do with which has been the treatment of choice in France over the last several decades.
For future stories, we suggest that you contact a specialist in behavioral intervention and autism; look for a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (France has 13 listed on the Behavior Analyst Certification Board website www.bacb.com), who will be well suited to provide accurate information about the long and successful history of behavioral intervention with individuals with autism. It is essential that absurd statements such as the one quoted by the French child psychiatrist about the scientific evidence of behaviorism be corrected. This ill-informed statement has potential to damage the entire service done by the remainder of the article.
We thank you for your article, and hope that you keep reporting on the progress of the groups advocating for change, as well as on outcomes of the health ministry's calling psychoanalytic treatment for autism into question.
Daniela Fazzio, Ph.D., BCBA-D
Board Member, Association for Science in Autism Treatment
Read More at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-17583123