A Public Statement on Respectful and Responsible Presentations on Autism

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Inspired in response to Dr Iain McClure’s presentation at the National Autistic Society Professional Conference, March 2018

When an individual is given a prominent and public platform to speak about autism, we believe they have a responsibility to use that platform to disseminate respectful and responsible information.

On a recent occasion, this was not the case. Interested readers can read an abbreviated transcript of the talk here.

As members of the autistic community, and allies of that community, we are highlighting two ways in which we think this talk violated basic professional standards:

  1. The language used to talk about autism was disrespectful.
  2. The statements made about autism were not grounded in research evidence nor derived from personal lived experience.

In the context of a professional conference, where expectations are of cutting-edge and high quality evidence from research and practice, such pejorative, unsubstantiated statements are potentially highly misleading and damaging. It is disappointing that, despite the many strides made in understanding and acceptance of autism in recent years, it is still necessary to have to point out what should be fundamental professional standards.

In future, we hope that conference organisers will take care to ensure that speakers are selected on the basis of their well-received writing, research output, activism or advocacy. In particular, people promoting a forthcoming book which has not yet been reviewed may present a risk.  In a field dogged by pseudoscience, myth and scaremongering, there is no place for conjecture or wilful controversy.

Signed by:

Please add your name and affiliation / description via this link: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1zwD4iNfgqS9ULAcEZKQ2b1l2p9u_A8cck3UD1W5Lnqg/edit

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