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Towards Autism Acceptance: An Interview With Researcher Desi Jones

Non-autistic people harbor assumptions about autistic people, whether they’re aware of them or not. And those biases can get in the way of autistic people being included both socially and professionally. We talked with Desi Jones, a Doctoral Student at the University of Texas at Dallas, whose recent paper Effects of autism acceptance training on explicit and implicit biases toward autism examines how autistic acceptance efforts both succeed and fail in addressing stereotypes about autism, and what this means. We also discussed her work on structural racism in autism research, and how institutions can do better by their autism researchers of color—and why that doesn’t merely mean recruiting more POC. Photo courtesy Desi Jones [image: Desi Jones, a smiling Black woman with curly shoulder length purple-tinged hair.]  TPGA: Can you tell us about your background, and what drew you to autism research? Desi Jones: I double majored in Neuroscience and Psychology…

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Conflicts of Interest in Early Autism Intervention Research: A Conversation with Dr. Kristen Bottema-Beutel

Photo courtesy Dr. Bottema-Beutel [image: Formal photo of Dr. Bottema-Beutel, a smiling white woman with medium-length side parted brown hair.] Advocates of early autism interventions often claim such approaches are “evidence based,” whereas critics have long pointed out individual flaws in cited studies. We were glad to learn about Dr. Kristen Bottema-Beutel’s analysis of general conflicts of interest in early autism research, and talk with her about how her findings complicate assertions about being early autism interventions being evidence based, and what else she and her team discovered. —- Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism: Can you tell us why you decided to pursue this analysis of conflicts of interest (COIs) in early autism intervention research? Bottema-Beutel: The short answer is that I’ve been following Michelle Dawson on Twitter (her handle is @autismcrisis). Michelle is an autistic researcher who has been sounding the alarm on undisclosed COIs for more than a decade—before I…

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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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Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome: An Autistic Autism Researcher’s Insights

Dr. Emily Casanova  [image: Black-and-white headshot of a white woman with medium-dark, chin-length waved hair.] Ehlers-Dahlos syndromes are disorders that affect connective tissues. It is both under-researched, and a common co-occurring condition in autistic people. We wanted to know more about how Ehlers-Danlos gets diagnosed (and overlooked) and the state of the research, so we spoke with autistic autism researcher Dr. Emily Casanova, who presented on this topic at INSAR 2019, the annual meeting of the International Society For Autism Research. Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism: First you can tell us a little bit about you and your work? Dr. Casanova: My work has two major foci. The first centers around the relationship between Ehlers-Danlos Syndromes (EDS)/hypermobility spectrum disorders (HSD) and autism, trying to tease apart their shared biology so we can better define and understand precisely what these overlapping conditions are. The second branch of my work focuses on the…