A Rehabilitation Proposal for Non-Autistic Canadian Citizens

Filed Under (Activism) by Estee on 11-04-2013

I highly recommend Alicia A. Broderick’s article Autism As Rhetoric: Exploring Watershed Rhetorical Moments in Applied Behavoiral Analysis in Disability Studies Quarterly by clicking here. In it, she describes the false premise of autism “recovery” of ABA therapy and the masters of “recovery” constructions, Ivar Lovaas, and Catherine Maurice. She also addresses the neo-liberal construct of corporate “charity” with careful analysis of Autism Speaks. A quote:

“One may argue that rhetoric is at its most powerful when it functions most successfully ideologically – that is, when the systems of ideas that it draws upon and represents are so naturalized and appear to be so commonsensical that one may fail to even notice what it obscures and precludes. Wilson and Lewiecki-Wilson (2001) argue that language and rhetoric play a performative function, ‘calling this naturalized meaning of disability into circulation,’ and in so doing, ‘actually restrict[ing] thinking about disability in any other way.” (2011)

I’d like to suggest a new Senate Committee Report to update the Pay Now Pay Later: Autism Families in Crisis which was drafted in 2007 after Auton to consider an additional prong, of “autism service” that would address the “crisis” that Canadians now face. That is, I propose a report to rehabilitate all non-autistic Canadians via an urgently needed national strategy as outlined in a Rehabilitation of Canadian Attitudes Towards Autistic Citizens report. This strategy would aim to accept autism as part of the Canadian mosaic and to recognize the substantive equality of autistic individuals. This would include, but not be limited to, education, inclusion, all services that assist autistic Canadians, as well as access to services and entitlements that are available to all Canadian citizens. Further, this report could suggest methods for committees that have “invited” autistic people to “stakeholder meetings” so as not to assume that all autistic people can communicate or participate on the same terms and time limits, and with complete independence (i.e.;without support staff or facilitators). This committee could recognize the value of autistic Canadian citizens in an effort to accommodate and make available the means by which verbal and non-verbal citizens can suggest, for themselves, the types of supports they may require to participate in their communities. Also, the report’s committees would consist of autistic individuals – the highly verbal to the non-verbal – and be a model for participatory methods.

The rehabilitation service component could involve 40 hours of intensive therapy per week to modify the behaviour of non-autistic Canadians currently engaged with autism charity, and the like. These individuals are often “trapped” inside the body of the rhetoric of science (a highly subjective field costumed as “objective” by lexical construction) and could be cured. This would recover all non-autistic Canadian citizens from subjectivity and discrimination – to name the core symptoms of this disease. This should be the treatment of choice to ameliorate the prejudice towards, and the exclusion of, autistic citizens which would thereby create a more united and inclusive Canada that accepts that autistic people are both different and equal. I strongly suggest that the Canadian government provide funding for this therapy as a “non-core medical service” to be funded under Medicare to help relieve the burden and costs of prejudice that eventually all Canadians will have to bear.

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About Me


I’m a PhD candidate at York University, Critical Disability Studies, with a multi-disciplinary background in the arts as a curator and writer. I am the Founder of The Autism Acceptance Project (www.taaproject.com), and an enamoured mother of my only son who lives with the autism label. I like to write about our journey, critical issues regarding autism in the area of human rights, law, and social justice, as well as reflexive practices in (auto)ethnographic writing about autism.