Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Support for NSW Premier's non-support for an autism awareness day by Autism Speaks

The respected autistic neuroscience researcher and research critic Michelle Dawson has recommended that New South Wales Premier Barry O'Farrell be sent flowers for his non-support for $40,000 worth of blue-coloured lighting of the Sydney Opera House to mark an upcoming autism awareness day which was initiated by the controversial US organization Autism Speaks. It isn't often that a politician get a bouquet for not funding or not supporting something, but in this instance, I think it is justified. Autism Speaks is has done many deplorable things in the past, and the early intervention services which they are lobbying for are routinely hyped with regards to the level of evidence for effectiveness. You might think me a oddball, but in the distant past, before I ever became interested in the autistic spectrum or matters neuro-psychological, I contacted authorities asking them to maintain their lack of support for early intervention services that lacked an evidence base and showed clear potential to do more harm than good. This was a part of my own personal commitment to demand only evidence-based medical and other services. 

I support Dawson's support of O'Farrell's non-support. Don't do it, Mr O'Farrell! You are in good company. Like the Sydney Opera House, I believe the White House will also remain white on that day.

In this laughable comment article in the Sydney Morning Herald the author claims that if a child has a "meltdown" in a cafe or shopping centre and the event becomes an anecdote shared, then the chances are that the child had autism. Really? I don't think there is a child yet born in Australia who hasn't chucked a major wobbly in a restaurant, cafe or shop. It's a completely normal part of growing up in an adult-centred world, in which young children are expected to spend a large portion of their day being dragged around their mother or father's social life and daily round of shopping and errands, leaving children feeling bored, tired, hungry and frustrated. It's little wonder that the rate of autism diagnosis has soared in recent years, if this is all supposed to be evidence of autism

I've looked, but I've been unable to find out why the colour blue was chosen for this autism awareness day. I can guess that perhaps it was picked because blue has cultural connotations as a sad colour and Autism Speaks likes to depict autism as a tragedy. I'm also wondering if the book Born on a Blue Day by Daniel Tammet who was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome might have been an influence on the choice of colour. I'd puke if that were the case. 


Laura said...

I think they chose blue because blue is the color of the Autism Speaks puzzle piece logo. Nothing to do with Daniel Tammet.

Lili Marlene said...

One report is that it is blue because autism is more often diagnosed in boys. If they are so keen to foist the colour blue onto the public I think they should at least give an accessible explanation of what it is supposed to mean.