A Touch of Alyricism

Dedicated to the equally fascinating topics of autistic advocacy and the 'sisterly sophistries' of radical gender feminism. Other topics may occasionally crop up. Contactable at alyric@gmail.com


Polemicist since Grade 8

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Very Sad News

Not many of you may be aware, but Alyric, our wife and mother, has been bravely battling cancer for the last year.

It is with a lot of sadness that we must tell you that she passed away last Saturday. She was an incredibly courageous woman, and whether or not you agreed with her, she always fought for what she thought was right. She always fought for the betterment of people, and not the detriment.

More than that, she was a woman who deeply touched those around her everywhere she went.

And she was the most wonderful wife and mother that anyone could have asked for.

We shall leave the blog existing as it stands as a memory to the hard work and dedication Alyric put in for a cause she truly believed in. Thank you to all those who cared for her.

- Clomle44 (alyric's daughter) and Alyric's Husband.

Friday, March 13, 2009

IACC Strategic Plan and Environment

The Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) Strategic Plan for Autism Spectrum Disorder Research has now been published. It’s a very broad reaching document which is good for a strategic plan. Characteristic of the document is the unfinished nature of the research goals. That is also good in a strategic plan. In all events, the specific goals will be dictated by discussions of a different purpose and much greater depth.

The IACC leans somewhat heavily on the Autism and the Environment: Challenges and Opportunities for Research, Workshop Proceedings 2008, Institute of Medicine of the National Academies for their environmental goals. Inexplicably they also manage to mischaracterise the results and purpose of the workshop. The IOM workshop made no recommendations. What they tried to do was tackle the ‘environmental’ angle with the broadest brush possible and with anyone who could have a stake in the issue. The range of research possibilities discussed was enormous. Those are loosely collected together in Appendix A. These workshop proceedings are definitely worth a read just to get a feel for the size of the problem and some of the ways that research is developing.

The IOM invited many parent organisations to participate, giving the lead to the three prominent anti-vaccination organisations, the National Autism Association, Safeminds and Generation Rescue. So the usual players were represented; Sallie Bernard, Mark Blaxill, Kelli Ann Davis, Lynn Redwood, Robert Krakow. Though there were several representatives of Autism Speaks, the perspective of the parent ‘advocates’ was given by Laura Bono of NAA. Now the IOM workshop organisers bent over backwards with this crew. Not once did they object to the silliest statement or the most specious argument and Laura Bono’s perspective had plenty of both. A brief summary of her points is as follows:

$ “Declare autism a national health emergency under the Public Health Act and treat it with urgency.”. The one thing anti-vaxxers do well is Science by fiat and/or assertion. There is no evidence for an epidemic, but that counts for little against the need for autism to be a medical condition that is by definition not genetic and treatable (by their methods).

$ “Autism is both economically and emotionally devastating to the children and their families. Many families are on the brink of bankruptcy as they struggle to get insurance and the medical attention their children need. Murder/suicides of parents and their autistic children are on the rise.” Apart from bankruptcy chasing expensive and unproven CAM therapies, I doubt there’s a grain of truth in the rest of it.

$ Laura then chides the CDC for ‘credibility ‘problems in failing to declare an epidemic then quotes Julie Geberding, Director CDC’s explanation for it: “Our estimates are becoming better and more consistent, though we can’t tell yet if there is a true increase in ASDs [autism spectrum disorders] or if the changes are the result of our better studies.” This is then called a denial which is unacceptable because it thwarts research into environmental factors. Why should it?

$ “Autism is an environmentally triggered problem. If it is environmental, then it is treatable and preventable. It is not hopeless and lifelong. It is hopeful, with a possible cure.” Again it’s science by assertion but also a really good example of wishful thinking.

$ “Recent clinical investigations have identified numerous comorbid disease states in children with autism. These include immune system abnormalities; inflammatory bowel disease; oxidative stress; disordered urine and serum chemistries, including elevated porphyrins; methylation disturbances; increased body burdens of metals, including mercury and lead; chronic viral, fungal, and bacterial infections; and microglial activation in the brain.” This is certainly what is treated biomedically and very often all these comorbidities occur inside the one child reading treatment accounts, which isn’t a good fit for the healthy looking shiny haired children posing on the back cover of Laura’s presentation.

$ “The research paradigm needs to shift from autistic children are genetically defective to autistic children are sick and treatable. We should only grant money to genetic vulnerability and epidemiology studies that have a clear environmental hypothesis.” That’s clear enough. If you are genetically defective you can’t be treated or so this false dichotomy is saying. That narrow thinking carries on to dictating a narrow funding rationale based on no evidence whatsoever.

$ “There is a growing body of evidence implicating vaccine overload, mercury and aluminum from vaccines. Thousands of parents agree with this research. They watch their children regress after being vaccinated.” Again this is science by anecdote. There is no evidence corroborated by carefully documented case histories, which is surprising when these anti-vaxxers point to this as a major plank in their rationale.

$ “Regardless of controversy surrounding any theory, we must research and produce successful antioxidant, methylation, and blood-brain barrier chelation treatments, as well as immune system, detoxification, and inflammation interventions.” Note the anti-science attitude reflected in the call to produce the remedy well ahead of any good theoretical grounds for doing so. Also note that it is rather heavily implied that chelation is not effective given the lack of a blood-brain barrier chelation treatment. So why do they continue doing it?

$ “The guiding principles should be to pursue research and treatments that will impact the most lives as quickly as possible and follow clues provided by treatments currently working in children. Such an agenda would best be served by a translational research protocol where clinicians who care for children with autism advise research into the most promising areas of intervention.” So the guiding lights are to be a bunch of DAN doctors directing the agenda.

$ “It is imperative that the working group proceed with urgency and follow the truth wherever it leads.” Yes but it’s only if it fits our definition of truth.
Well no one laughed not even when Laura specifically exhorted the workshop to use provoked urine samples for heavy metals testing, a species of fraud. But because no one laughed or raised the least protest at the amount of anti-science on display, the advocacy groups became essentially token participants and not taken seriously. They could have taken advantage of this phenomenal opportunity to look at the research currently on offer particularly the prospective style initiatives where a specific group is tracked basically before anything happens. Not all of them will cover environmental factors but some include them. The National Children’s Study certainly does. The US is also involved in the Norwegian ABC study, which tracks 100,000 women from early pregnancy taking all kinds of samples on the way. This includes addressing things like vaccine history as they arise. This is exciting research with the best possible chance for turning up meaningful data including valid biomarkers for autism.

So what, if any of their wish list made it into the IACC strategic plan? In very general terms, some will but not the narrow concerns of NAA and associated organisations. As the plan states:

“A clear need exists to advance understanding of the many phenotypes of ASD, including studies that link genotype to phenotype, investigations of natural and treated history, analyses of genetic interaction with environmental exposures, and studies of co-occurring medical conditions. “

There is a need to look with a very broad brush because we don’t know enough at present to narrow the exploratory field prematurely.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Katie Wright:: Autism Speak's Liability

“While large scale studies have not shown a link between vaccines and autism, there are lingering legitimate questions about the safety of vaccines that must be addressed. “

So said Autism Speaks in response to the Autism Omnibus Proceedings decisions by the Special Masters. Of note, they must have completely ignored the actual decisions to make that statement, as did every anti-vaxxer site masquerading as an autism organisation. In all cases the Special Masters spoke eloquently and in considerable detail about the lack of a credible link between vaccines and the development of autism in the individual child. There was nothing large scale about it, so why did AS put in this regrettable performance? Can they now be aligned with all the other anti-vaxxer sites? It would appear so given the anti-science displayed by Geraldine Dawson in her bid for a more collaborative approach to immunisation questions. Her approach to neuroinflammation and immune dysregulation noted in some ASD folk is at decisive odds to the findings of the experts in front of the Omnibus. She wants to give legitimacy to what amounts to parent pandering by giving undue importance to isolated findings. What is questionable at this stage is the legitimacy of parent pandering under the guise of collaboration. It could be well argued that it’s the parents who are entirely responsible for the current fiasco having decided against all professional advice that vaccines are responsible for their children’s autism. Throwing more money at vaccine safety questions is unlikely to persuade them especially in the oh so likely event that vaccines are exonerated from blame. If it’s not the answer they wanted they will ask for yet more research and where does it all stop?

Autism Speaks shift to the anti-vax agenda got a rather large push from the daughter of the founder who was rather vocal in her disapproval of Allison Tepper Singer. Katie Wright is a fervent anti-vaxxer who believes firmly that her son’s autism developed from vaccines. Autism Speaks founders, Bob and Suzanne Wright’s wish to support their daughter’s beliefs may be more than a little shortsighted if it means the derailing of the agenda of a significant research funder. Note that Allison Tepper Singer resigned over the vaccine research agenda. For her it was ‘we know the world is round’ and it’s time to move to more important questions. Katie Wright is still in the picture and the picture is less than rosy with her in it. It may well be that Katie becomes a liability that Autism Speaks can well do without. There are limits to the scientific veneer Geraldine Dawson can maintain with Katie’s contributions in the background.

When Jenny McCarthy wrote her latest, she included Katie Wright as one of her Mother Warriors. Thematic through the entire book was a lack of consistency in accounts. None were more inconsistent than Katie’s. Here’s her opening line:

“ We tried everything: traditional therapies, ABA, speech, OT, everything. We even tried the heavy pharmaceuticals and we were warned over and over again, not to do the diet, that it was very dangerous.”

Note the monumental absurdity that an exclusion diet is ‘very dangerous’ and no mention at all of the very real dangers of heavy duty pharmaceuticals. This is typical Katie Wright, overly florid emotional outpouring untempered by critical thinking skills. Embarassing it may well be but harmless compared to what she is capable of doing in the way of character assassination, most of it the figment of an overly active imagination. The best example to date is her latest for AoA. This is Katie’s reaction to Nancy Minshew and Paul Offit’s response to the Omnibus decisions. The article however is extremely short with Offit rating two small paragraphs and Minshew one.

Brevity notwithstanding, Katie makes the most of it. Offit and Minshew are introduced as “wealthy vaccine profiteer Dr. Paul Offit and Dr. Nancy ( all autism vaccine research is ‘crappola’) Minshew.” who “held a shockingly angry pity fest. “. Where the latter comes from is anybody’s guess. She carries on with “Even when Offit’s side wins, he is still angry, lashing out at grass roots autism organizations”. Here she names two - AS and NAA interspersed with other material she would like to attribute to Offit including that he’s fuming. Here’s how she puts it:

“It would be nice if autism orgs (AS, NAA) actually advocated for children with autism!” he fumes. “Instead they are anti-vaccine organizations (because demanding safety studies = heresy!)…and it is high time that these orgs stopped deluding people…”

Reading the original article it’s amazing the difference between the quite restrained tones of what Offit actually said and what Katie wished he said. No mention in the original of any organisation by name. Her quote is incomplete and there would have been plenty of room to quote the lot if her inaccurate additions had been omitted. This does not look especially like someone fuming:

"It would be nice if autism advocacy organizations actually advocated for children with autism," Dr. Offit said. "Instead, they are anti-vaccine organizations, and the fact of the matter is vaccines have nothing to do with autism and it's high time that these organizations stopped deluding people into thinking that vaccines do have something to do with autism and started focusing on the real causes of autism,"

Her next contribution is informative:

“Wow, is this guy angry, what a freak! Does it infuriate him that AS provides cash grants to communities in need? Or is Offit angry that AS has undertaken a huge campaign to provide insurance re-imbursement for autistic kids? How awful! Maybe Offit is also infuriated by NAA’ s modest research budget investigating how to help sick autistic children as well as their grants to struggling families is need. That is, obviously, really wrong!”

Offit goes to being an angry freak. But he has not mentioned either organisation or a single word about them. Why then the unsubstantiated vitriol, which continues for another paragraph?

Her next foray is against Nancy Minshew:

“Minshew re-iterates for the millionth time “I hope this begins an end to the death threats and character assassination against scientists!”

This she allies to
“Naturally Minshew expresses no sympathy or concern for the long suffering Cedillo family or their daughter Michelle, who is so severely physiologically affected.”

There is the rather large question of why Minshew would see the need in this article in this situation. Curiously, Katie asks “what character assassination?” one paragraph further. I think she has perfectly answered her own question. As for how much the autism community dislikes Nancy Minshew, Katie makes the common mistake of assuming her anti vaccination organisations, which use autism to further their anti-vaccination agenda are more than fringe dwellers of the autism community.

Katie concludes that Minshew and Offit are a couple of drama queens because no parent she knows would offer death threats. The FBI would certainly disagree with this piece of historical revisionism.

Katie then goes on to quote Minshew’s comments on death threats in full:

"I also hope this begins to end the death threats and character assassination against scientists and physicians who have tried to convey the science of this to the public."

What Katie objects to is the nature of the science being conveyed. As she puts it:

“Oh, The Science, meaning the science she likes. What about The Science behind the Hannah Polings decision? What about exploring The Science behind the 700% increase in autism over the past decade? What about The Science regarding the dozens toxic adjuvants in infant vaccines? How about researching The Science behind post vaccination regression? Or how about science not paid for by vaccine makers or the CDC?”

I suppose this is a fair summary of Katie’s scientific illiteracy. You don’t get to like some science and not others; it’s not a democracy. The science behind the Poling decision is what exactly? The decision was made on certain grounds but were they scientific ones at all? The science behind the increase in autism says there is no real increase in autism prevalence. There are no dozens of toxic adjuvants in any vaccine. Calling for research not done by CDC or vaccine makers is a typical appeal to conspiracy theories.

Katie naturally concludes that Minshew and Offit are working overtime to stop further research into vaccines and autism links. They both feel that too much money has been wasted already and there are other more profitable avenues for research but neither is working actively to prevent such research. That is in Katie’s head. Unfortunately there are many such notions and Katie has applied these with a broad and inaccurate brush to two quite respectable practitioners of respectively autism research and vaccine expertise. AoA censors all criticism directed at it so Katie could be forgiven for thinking that her style is acceptable. Outside of that protected environment it is not and reflects badly on any organisation with which she is associated. Bob and Suzanne Wright may regret placing their family loyalty above their duty to protect the reputation of their organisation. Currently Katie represents nothing more than a liabilty.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

JB Handley's Latest Frivol.

JB Handley has thrown the gauntlet to Paul Offit and sued him and the publisher of Autism’s False Prophets for ‘false light invasion of privacy’, whatever that means. The piece makes for fascinating reading.[HERE] According to the authors the crux of the matter lies at point 3:

“3. To stoke the fires of this controversy, to sell more copies of his book, and to place supporters of his pro-vaccination views in a more favorable and sympathetic light, Offit fictionalized the exchange between Seidel, a supporter of Offit's views, and Plaintiff, one of Offit's sharpest critics. Offit accomplished this fabrication by creating a made-up "plea" by Seidel for Plaintiff to stop promoting a certain autism therapy. Offit then falsified a "response" to this phony "plea" by quoting, completely out of context, a message that Plaintiff had posted on a different message board in response to an entirely different topic.”

So in the middle of a work of non fiction there is this piece of fiction expressly designed to make JB look really bad. I wonder what the courts will make of it. Does he look so terrible? As is usual in any of AoA's productions there is the occasional gaffe, like this one:

“If you don't like what we have to say, stop listening.We will bring the full resources of myself and Generation Rescue to stop this. We will sue you for libel and we will go after your homes and assets. My lawyers live to investigate and sue people like you.This will be your only warning.”

Did they really want the courts to know how fond of litigation JB is? Wouldn’t appear to be all that helpful to this upstanding businessman wanting to look like an offended party.

It’s a very rambly piece and hard to know what they're trying to string together given that though Kathleen is a non party in a hamfisted way there is an attempt to tie in neurodiversity to harassment of Gen rescue’s angels. But acknowledging that the harassers remain unidentified and then stringing it to unknown neurodiversity proponents is a bit of a stretch, but not for this crew apparently.

Needless to say, Columbia University Press and Paul Offitt aren’t taking this at all seriously and maybe the court’s will treat this as a piece of frivol.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Action for Children's Diabolical Advertising Campaign

Dear Mr Day,

I am writing to protest the remarkably inappropriate advertising campaign you have running to apparently raise awareness of autism and how Action for Children charities can help. I have also seen the series of motherhood statements issued in response to similar protests, all more or less taking the combinatorial line that our intentions are pure and that these are Dan’s own words. The latter point may have had some validity if it were not for one expert who thought the whole thing smacked of brain washing and didn’t mind saying so. In fact some of the world’s leading experts have come out publicly criticising this advertisement. Here’s some of what they had to say:

From Dr Mitzi Waltz,

I had been hearing for several days about this advert. It has been incredibly distressing for many people with autism and their family member

I have now had a look and must say that I share their views. The voiceover distinctly says that his AUTISM was the problem, and implies that a special school is the solution to that problem.

You note above that families are struggling to cope, and I agree. As a parent, I have been in their shoes. The answer would not have been to remove my bullied, upset, hurt child to a residential school and then tell him that he needs to be a "better person."

The answer would be to provide support to struggling families and children in their own schools and communities, and to advocate for changing the system that seems to feel it is OK for young people with autism to be bullied and excluded.

This advertising campaign is disappointing and demeaning (by the way, the advert about the young carer also seems to fit the theme of accepting that children are dumped on, and that providing individual support without advocating for systems change is adequate.)

Dr. Mitzi Waltz
Lecturer in Autism Studies, University of Birmingham
(writing in my personal capacity)

From Professor Baron-Cohen
"Whilst I support any efforts to help children with autism and to alleviate suffering, I hope there will be more thought given to both the language and the imagery we use, to avoid risk of offence. For example, the name of the charity DAN contains the word "Defeat", as if autism is a disease like cancer against which we have to wage war. Autism is a complex mix of disability and strength, and whilst we need to work to find imaginative ways to reduce the disabling aspects, we do not wish to "defeat autism" since this would also eliminate the positive aspects. The latter include an excellent attention to detail, excellent memory for detail, and the ability to focus for long periods on a narrow topic. These features are not just seen in the high-functioning individuals or those with Asperger Syndrome but are seen right across the autistic spectrum. Sometimes these positive aspects can result in remarkable talents.

We need to work to get the balance right, between using treatments for those aspects of autism that need treatment (such as the language difficulties, the epilepsy, the self-injury, the gut issues, or the learning difficulties) and encouraging those aspects of autism that do not need treatment and are special, so that the person can fulfil their potential. An image of a child as a demon in an ad campaign is equally unhelpful if we are to educate the public about autism. These issues, about language and imagery, are important if we take seriously the notion of neurodiversity, and wish to show respect towards those who are neurotypical and neuroatypical."

Professor Baron-Cohen of the Autism Research Centre at Cambridge University

From Dr Tony Attwood

“I am very concerned that the advert gives a message that children with autism and Asperger’s syndrome are dangerous and potentially disturbed.

When the child refers to “correct errors in my behaviour” this seems to imply ‘brain washing’ and a sense of guilt for how he behaved.

Many of the behaviours I consider as coping mechanisms for the lack of understanding and respect from other people.

He refers to reacting when people insult him. Those that insulted him need the treatment.”

Dr Tony Attwood, author of “The Complete Guide To Asperger’s Syndrome”

Many other knowledgeable folk have protested this ill thought out campaign. It becomes apparent that Action for Children did not consult with anyone in the field before airing this sorry advertisement. For future endeavours, would you mind doing so?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Great Words of Jonathan Mitchell - A Compilation

Clay Adams collated this collection of the Great Words of Jonathan Mitchell, all from the comments section of one post here.
jonathan said...

"david i pity you, anyone who would post such nasty insults and abuse is pathetic."

Hmmm, well let's just see about that, shall we?

jonathan said...

harry williams (aka socrates) a man who can't even have a roof over his head and house himself never accomplished squat in his life trying to give someone advice in an insulting manner, absolutely pathetic.

jonathan said...

harry you are homeless, you don't even have a loo to crap in, you did not do any of those professionally besides being a dishwasher. [Socrates had listed the range of jobs he had done and Jonathan declared they hadn’t happened, by fiat more or less]. The only girls you had sex with walked on four legs and are in the dog pound or animal shelter.

jonathan said...

Andrews: The person who needs pyshciatric help is you. You are one very sick dude, I suggest you get some help for your daughter's sake if not for your own sake.

Clay Adams: You are nothing but a gutless liar, what you said about my admitting on my blog that i learned to hate autism from my mother's knee is a complete and deliberate fabrication on your part. Grow up and get a life, you are truly pathetic.

Jonathan said:

Clay: I published your drivel on autism's gadfly. I have no problem publishing something where someone makes the complete jackass out of themselves that you did. You showed that I never said what you said. You proved yourself that you are an out and out liar, you only showed what a sleezeball you are by having to stoop to saying things about my mother and your lack of intellect about having to use these ad hominem arguments instead of stating some facts.

Gluyas: I am going to be charitable to you and not even respond to a deranged wingnut like you.

Jonathan said:

As I have said before for the umpteenth time, why don't you try to take your own advice and get a job and find a way to house yourself so at least you can have a loo to crap in anytime you want.

jonathan said...

Gluyas, if your mother had put you in an institution where a wingnut like you belongs, you would not be in the position you are in right now. You would be in a straight jacket without access to a computer or internet connection so you would not constantly be making the complete jackass out of yourself that your moronic behavior is doing.

jonathan said...

It saddens me that a moronic jackass like Clay Adams does not understand charity. I was only trying to spare him the embarrassment of looking like the imbecile that he is by not publishing what he wrote. But obviously, Adams just doesn't get it. He is too stupid to realize that he is only hurting himself by posting what he is posting him, showing himself to be the absolutely self-hating geriatic (says he's 58 but looks more like 88 in his photos) senile piece of shit slimeball that he is. He is only hurting himself with his lies, abusive behavior and assinine statements, not me. [I wonder what a psychiatrist would make of this gem?]

jonathan said...

For a homeless bum like you who never made a quid in his life except a brief stint as a dishwasher who has to crap and piss in his underwear and has to go to the dog pound to get his rocks off, you tell me, harry.

jonathan said...

Then why don't you do us all a favor then cubed. Why don't you get a smith&Wesson .38 and just shoot yourself in the head and end it all today so we don't have to read your long-winded chattering and nonsense on these forums and your ludicrous attempts to justify neurodiversity.

No, Jon-boy wouldn't stoop to such nasty insults and abuse. That would be, er, pathetic.
Not being as charitable as Clay, I see this as a public service announcement. Knowing the depths that Mitchell is capable of should be sufficient warning not to take the gentleman too seriously.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Why is it UNETHICAL to mention the telepathy of persons with autism?

I was asked this question recently in connection with Facilitated Communication (FC) and armed with some references, I am going to attempt to answer it. Primarily the lack of ethics involves the unproven nature of ESP including telepathy. Secondarily telepathy is being used to caulk the holes in the lack of evidence for independent communication in FC by some participants, generally those of less ability.

The James Randi Foundation has a one million dollar cheque ready for anyone who can demonstrate any form of ESP including telepathy. Notably in the 1990s when Randi first encountered telepathy mixed with FC his first problem as he discovered was to authenticate the authorship of the communication. This he was unable to do and so the search for telepathy became moot in this context. [here]

Authorship authentication is what drives belief in telepathy. Here is one coherent explanation of why the client is expressing the thoughts and feelings of the facilitator; not because the facilitator is the only one communicating but because the client is reading the facilitator’s mind. This can reach ridiculous levels as demonstrated by the online writings of Mary Ann Harrington. Not only does she acknowledge that the facilitator can have enormous though subtle influence over the communication; [here] her thesis is that at a ‘higher level of consciousness’ the two can form a partnership, which is a different entity to either facilitator or client alone, based on telepathy.

Harrington is also a fan of the fairytale school of science. First, assume that fairytales exist. In her case she would like research, a great deal of research to be done, not to demonstrate the reality of telepathy but to explore its practical aspects. As the following list of questions for scientists to pursue suggests, she is firmly of the belief that telepathy exists:[here]

• Do our brain wave frequencies entrain during 'thought joining' creating a sympathetic resonance?

• What areas of the brain are being activated during the exchange? Are brain wave patterns altered during interactions?

• Is 'joining' occurring at a subconscious level? Does it assist in tapping into an emanating universal field of knowledge in addition to the knowledge base of the agent? Does adhering to the vibration of the agent help the brain filter material? Does it help the person with severe autism experience typical perceptual reality through the sensory system of the agent?

• Is it possible that two distinct frequencies blended together form a third frequency? (Think of binaural beats or chemical changes) How does this shared frequency affect communicative output?

• Can 'joining' be compared to the synchronization of coupled oscillators? Does this also help to explain group resonance?

• Does the agent serve as a catalyst, providing the stimulus necessary for the individual to access a response? Are his high-speed fleeting thoughts and chaotic flow being entrained by magnetic signals of the agent? Could these radiations produce image or thought receiving experiences by acting on the temporal lobe?

• Do sub-vocalizations enhance the process?

• Is the right brain being stimulated during the connection? Is that why the language used when paired with an agent is often prosaic?

• Does aligning with the rhythm of the agent help the person perform in a synchronized manner? Does it help the individual attune to the frequency of the earth? Do these signals smooth out circadian rhythm?

• Is the pineal gland primarily hyper active in kids with severe autism causing them to let go of ego based consciousness? Is it hypo active in higher functioning individuals resulting in rigid concrete behavior? Might this also be true of the amygdala? Might pineal gland and/or the amygdala be affected by the joining process?

•What role if any does the reticular activating system play?

But Harrington is not alone in fairytale science. These bona fide researchers ought to know better. Konstantareas and Gravelle conducted some research into the relative contributions from the facilitator of physical, emotional and mental support [1]. Crucially they assumed that the communication was authentic. They found that mental support, that is, the advance knowledge of the mental requirements of the communication task by the facilitator was necessary for successful communication. As the authors note, performances with mental support were around 100% successful, but without this knowledge, performances bottomed out to near zero. A skeptic would not be surprised. All experiments on the independence of the communication found exactly the same thing. The communication is coming from the facilitator not the client in the majority of tested cases.
From what I can see, telepathy looks attractive to some people because it explains the apparent input from the facilitator. This is not an ethical position to take however when the bigger question, the authenticity of telepathy itself remains unanswered. There are other reasons why ascribing telepathic abilities to autistic individuals may not be ethical. Firstly given the experimental history of disconfirming the authenticity of the communication, the field does not need any more controversy. Secondly, autistics deserve the same standards of science as anyone else. Harrington shows they are a long way from gaining the minimum. Thirdly, belief in magical thinking blinds you to other and more realistic possibilities. Everything I have read points to the unusual degree of rapport that develops between client and facilitator. Facilitators are in a much better position than most to point out subtle communicative efforts of their non verbal clients, knowledge that would be invaluable to parents of such children everywhere. Telepathy as the explanation for the rapport is frankly unhelpful as well as unethical.

1. Facilitated Communication: The Contribution of Physical, Emotional and Mental Support, M. Mary Konstantareas and Gregory Gravelle, Autism 1998; 2; 389