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What Happened to Ethics, in Research About Autistic People?

Photo © Thomas Haynie | Flickr / Creative Commons  [image: Scrabble tiles spelling out the word “Research.”] Ann Memmott annsautism.blogspot.com I wondered whether a recent major international autism conference had discussed ethics as a topic this year.  I found one discussion. Well, that’s better than none, for a three day conference about our lives.  Here’s part of that research team’s paper. It’s called “Pervasive Undisclosed Conflicts of Interest in Applied Behavior Analysis Autism Literature” and was written in 2021 by Bottema-Beutel, and Crowley for a journal called Frontiers in Psychology.   “Result:  Of the 180 studies that met inclusion criteria, we found that 84% had at least one author with …a conflict of interest, but that they were disclosed as conflicts of interest in only 2% of studies…Five of the eight journals we examined had policies requiring disclose of conflicts of interest related to employment; clear violations were evidence in four of…

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Recognizing How Autistic Children Express Love

Image © Farid Iqbal Ibrahim | Flickr / Creative Commons [image: The fingers of two silhouetted hands forming a heart shape.] Ann Memmott annsautism.blogspot.com I want to talk about how autistic children might express love for their parents or carers.  A well known book about ‘five love languages‘ says that these languages are: Words of affection. Doing things for someone Giving gifts Quality time together Physical touch It’s certainly true that there may be a good few autistic young people who express their love for their closest family using one or more of those. But there are other ‘languages of love’ in autistic communities: 1) “I love you, so I won’t cause you a brain event by overloading you with eye contact and other social/sensory stuff.“ But of course in the world of non-autistic people, this may be deemed rude, aloof, ‘in their own world.’  A misunderstanding. 2. “I love…

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Ridiculously Misguided Autism Research Strikes Again!

Ann Memmott annsautism.blogspot.com In the recent Lancet article The gut microbiome in neurological disorders by Cryan et al, confused researchers have mistaken reducing stomach pain for curing autism (yet again). Now, autism researchers, when was the last time you had a hurty tum? How was your behaviour? Having an ‘aha!’ moment now? Thank you. If you want a hint of the joys within the Lancet paper: it references Tomova et al’s 2015 paper Gastrointestinal microbiota in children with autism in Slovakia, which involves nine autistic children ages 2-9, in an unblinded study (meaning they knew which kids got the probiotic supplement) and parent reports of “behaviour.” Apparently after the treatment autistic children showed less “challenging behaviour” which led to the the supposition that “…appropriate… microbiota is required for normal social development.” The problem is that autism isn’t a behaviour, any more than being Deaf is a “behaviour.” The cited quest to…

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Autistic Children and Toilets: Misunderstanding the Difficulties

Photo © Ann Memmott [image: A disorientating digitally altered photo  looking down into an empty toilet cubicle.] Ann Memmott annsautism.blogspot.com Many autistic children sense the world very differently from how many parents and teachers expect. Above, an example of how an autistic child may see a room with a toilet and hand basin in it. A tiled wall, a patterned vinyl floor surface. Would you put your feet on that floor? Could you work out what it was? Could you even reliably find the toilet? Now let’s add in the ‘smellscape.’ Perhaps air fresheners. Toilet cleaners. Hand soaps. Wee. Poo. Then, let’s add in the soundscape. Noisy pipes. The jet-engine-like flush. The deafening smash of wee or poo hitting the water, and the terrifying prospect of freezing water splashing up. Let’s then add in the elements of freezing cold toilet seat, ice cold taps or boiling hot taps, the ice-cold…

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“Can My Child Ever Learn to Speak?” Authentic Communication and Autistic People

Photo © Kasia_Jot | Flickr / Creative Commons [image: Photo of a young blonde girl standing outside a wooden door painted with aqua paint. Her legs are crossed at the ankle. She is holding on to the door handle with one hand.] Ann Memmott annsautism.blogspot.com Often, in my consultancy and training work, we get questions such as, “Can my child ever learn to speak?” The answer to this is important, because, for a lot of parents of newly diagnosed autistic children, it’s easy to become misinformed or misled on this point. A number of organisations will be keen to tell such parents that without their ‘ACME Treatment X’ or ‘Potion Y with Added Secret Ingredient,’ their child will never speak, never learn to communicate. The parents may be told that most autistic children who do not use speech at (say) four years of age will never do so. “Early intervention to enforce…