How CBC News Failed Autistics

So I woke up this morning checking my social media sites and when I came across on Autism article. I of course clicked on CBC’s news article thinking that it would be interesting.. instead what I found was an article full of misinformation. There is a notable lack of Autistic voices in the article. (Article linked at the bottom of the post).

The very first sentence after the Autism Diagnosis questioned in Canadian-Led review is “lead researcher says criteria for a diagnosis has become trivial”. This angered me greatly because the Autism Diagnostic Observation System(ADOS-2) and the Autism Diagnostic Interview (ADI-R) which are the gold standard for Autism Diagnosis are extremely expensive tests. That most medical professionals aren’t even trained in, those that are quite often don’t have the tools for the test because of the expense, making getting a diagnosis even harder for Autistic people.

Why Are So Many Autistic Adults Undiagnosed

Next we find that the researchers in the article have analyzed 11 previous major reviews on people with autism. This tells me that not only are they not doing the research themselves but that they also have no connection with the Autistic community based on their choice of words “people with autism” Stop Saying People With Autism. Apparently one of the author’s from a study claimed that the problem is that the criteria has shifted to the point where a diagnosis could become nearly meaningless. This tells me that they have never read either the DSM 4 or the DSM 5 which isn’t surprising.

I’m going to include two pictures straight from the CDC website. Which if you note the highlighted section which reads that things like Asperger’s are now under Autism Spectrum Disorder however if you keep reading you will also note that people that don’t fit into the criteria for Autism should be evaluated for social communication disorder. So no, the diagnosis material most definitely isn’t meaningless especially if you are seeking support from your province and Canada itself.

Let’s move on to the next problem in the article..

“They say about 30 years ago someone would have to show strong difference is social skills, facial expression and other characteristics to receive a diagnosis in Autism”. Wow.. anyone that has done some actual research knows that until recently Autism was very misunderstood and biased towards white cis gendered males. The old research on Autism didn’t include intersectionality of culture and identity so those that were trans, non binary or female weren’t studied at all. Okay let’s move on…

“The researcher’s anaylysis found that the differences between the groups in five of the seven main constructs that define autism, including emotion recognition, theory of mind, planning and brain size have decreased over time” Hmm.. brain size has nothing to do with neurology that’s like saying the size of your house determines how it’s wired with electricity.. if I’m understanding their comment correctly there.

“Psychology, Philosophy. the ability to interpret one’s own and other people’s mental and emotional states, understanding that each person has unique motives, perspectives, etc.:” –Dictionary Definition. So if we take into account the definition of theory of mind, then yes an Autistic person can understand such a thing because we are people. Some with intellectual disabilities may miss some stuff but that’s not Autism but intellectual disability and shouldn’t be counted in a strictly Autism study/research unless you are looking into both.

Planning on the other hand, I’m going to assume they are talking about Executive Dysfunction. “a set of cognitive skills used to control one’s thoughts and behavior, especially the skills needed to focus on and organize tasks.”-Executive Function Dictionary Term so if that’s how executive function works then Executive Dysfunction would translate into difficult or painful executive function. This isn’t Autism though but does occur commonly with Autistic people. It’s a separate condition altogether as many people with ADHD also have it.

So now that we have cleared up why those ideas have decreased over time let’s get on to the next section of the article

“Globally, the number of people diagnosed with autism has risen dramatically in recent years” well when you consider the old model of diagnosis was only based on white cis gender males, it’s no wonder a lot of people didn’t get diagnosed properly. Autism itself has no gender but can present differently in different people.. so it’s not really a rise in Autistic people getting diagnosed but that more people are accurately getting diagnosed with something they have had all along but were missed. However the article tries to paint that fact as “greater public awareness and a lowered threshold for diagnosis”… yeah getting diagnosed is HARD!! There are multiple tests for it, and awareness is only of the white cis male autistics and not of autism in it’s entirety… so that’s a fact fail right there.

“Motrin said the criteria for a diagnosis have become “trivial”, including a child’s lack of friends or a dislike of haircuts or tags on clothing.” Okay the problem with this is that they are confusing Sensory Processing Disorder with Autism. While the two conditions do frequently occur together, they are not the same thing. Also, Autistics can have friends the fact that they try to use that as an indicator of Autism shows a real lack of knowledge on their part.

“Currently, parents and teachers and the school system put pressure to obtain an autism diagnosis to get services” first where the heck are they getting this information because most parents refuse to get a diagnosis because of the heavy stigma surrounding autism, they don’t want their kids labelled as Autistic. Teachers and the School Board aren’t trained to diagnose Autism and psychology is full of diagnoses some of which are similar but not autism so seeking a diagnosis is the smart way to make sure you understand and help the student.. why is that a problem??

“Motrin acknowledged that the situation is complicated because mild forms of autism do exist. However, he noted that having certain autistic traits isn’t the same as having autism and it’s “fundamental” for medical professionals to move beyond a simple checklist for symptoms before issuing a diagnosis” Wow so much ableism in such a little sentence. First there are no “mild forms of autism” there are just autistics that don’t require as much support, it’s not the same thing so please quit using functioning labels. There are TESTS not just a checklist, which proves that you don’t know about how Autism diagnosed in the first place in which case you shouldn’t be speaking about a subject where you lack basic knowledge.

Let’s move on.

“Dermont Cleary, chair of Autism Canada, said Motrin is well respected. Cleary supports the move away from a purely observational-based diagnosis” – so clearly you miss the parts about tests being involved and this coming from Autism Canada that provides a Adult Screening Tool on their own website seems to be a bit.. contradictory especially since Autistics have had to put up with dismissal of their official diagnosis thanks to internet tests/screening tools. I have also removed Autism Canada from my resources section of my website after seeing them support a Light It Up Blue campaign. Light it up Blue is a campaign by Autism Speaks a known hate group within the Autistic community.. so you can see why Autism Canada is problematic. The glaring omission of Autistics United Canada or even A4A Ontario two Autistic led organizations in Canada makes this article even more of biased mess.

“I think of the example of a lot of young women who are identifying as autistic now who were missed in earlier years. They talk about the ways that having an earlier diagnosis would have helped them throughout their life” -Dr. Melanie Penner. This is a double edged sword though as the lucky few that did receive an earlier diagnosis were made to go though ABA Therapy. I literally have a whole page of links as to why ABA Therapy is abuse, so a late diagnosis may have saved many an adult autistic from that horror.

Now let’s move on to the Autism Parent narrative section of the article..

“Marguerite Schaba’s son, Peter, 7 has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The Toronto boy’s motor skills allow him lay wooden trains tracks. He’s nonverbal.” Seriously.. non verbal.. and no mention of an AAC device or RPM. It’s clear CBC could read On Using NonSpeaking, Minimally Speaking, Or Unreliably Speaking Over “Non-Verbal”: NonSpeakers Weigh In one of many articles on the subject of non verbal and non speaking. They could also watchCommunication First’s Video “Listen” or The Reason I Jump either of these would have provided more education on the subject.

Marguerite Schabas does make a valid point by saying “if you need glasses you should be able to get them. It doesn’t matter what intensity your prescription is, but you need the right prescription. For our kids it’s the same thing. They have different needs.” A big cheer for saying different needs instead of special needs. Although I do wonder how they define Peter as thriving after diagnosis as many people claim the same thing after ABA Therapy only to have that same child come back later with PTSD from the abuse (I’m not saying Peter is in ABA or anything it’s merely a thought).

So that’s how the article ends and what I also find interesting is that there is ZERO mention of the Double Empathy Problem research. Milton’s ‘double empathy problem’: A summary for non-academics

Autism Diagnosis Questioned in Canadian-Led Review