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

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Polemicist since Grade 8

Monday, October 13, 2008

What sort of an advocate is this?

On this day of Thanksgiving in Canada, one would think that most people would reflect on what’s right with their world, an opportunity to be an optimist if only for a day. For some, this is never going to happen. No matter how much it would be in their interests to join in the celebrations, if the good things do not precisely match their specifications then there is nothing in it for them to be thankful about. Such a dog in the manger attitude matters not at all, unless you claim to be seen as an ‘autism advocate’, in which case it matters a great deal.

Harold Doherty claims to be an advocate for autism in Canada, but take a look at his reaction to Michelle Dawson’s success in her Canadian Human Rights Tribunal case against Canada Post. His blog post covers all the tried and true strategies of dishonest folk everywhere; quote mining, lies, defamation and an appeal to the readers worst instincts, though the attempt at the latter is so juvenile, the persuasion value is probably nil.

It must be noted that everything Harold writes should be seen through the filter of his personal agenda, which is that if the family, for whatever reason, decides that their offspring is too much of a burden, then the State should provide care. Basically it’s a return to institutionalisation. Naturally any attempts to understand autistic people or refer to aspects of autism that may be positive or even neutral are to be undermined at the first opportunity in case some official takes note and might think that institutionalisation may be highly inappropriate for autistics, simply because they are autistic. That an autism advocate has such an attitude is passing strange but this is Canada, where as Michelle Dawson has remarked with considerable accuracy:

““Autism advocacy” is the widespread effort to make the world as free of autism — that is, of autistic people — as possible. “

Quote Mining

Interestingly, Harold’s quotes cover those aspects that mitigate Canada Post’s actions or highlight the disability factor. Do read them, What is entirely absent are those aspects of the case that are so important to parents who know, not merely fear, that their offspring are going to face that same sort of discrimination in the workplace. That the Tribunal recognised the following is pure gold to worried parents:

“the Tribunal finds it disturbing for the future of autistic people that they be seen because of their condition to pose a threat to the safety of others and some form of nuisance in the workplace. An employer has a duty to ensure not only that all employees work in a safe environment but also that ill perceptions about an employee's condition due to poor or inadequate information about his disability lead other employees to have negative and ill-founded perceptions about him.”

What sort of an advocate is this?

Lies and Let’s do a spot of defamation

Harold Doherty does not like Dr Laurent Mottron and he frequently and probably erroneously attributes an anti-ABA position to him. In order to bring his name into disrepute, Harold is not as careful as he ought to be. Though ‘care’ may be insinuating that Harold is simply careless rather than adopting the age old tactic that if you sling enough mud, some of it will stick eventually. Be that as it may, Harold once again gets the facts wrong:

“The expert evidence was provided solely by a Dr. M called as a witness by Ms. Dawson. Dr. M. was qualified as a credible expert witness by the Tribunal despite his close ties to Ms. Dawson:pertaining to Ms.Dawson’s condition.”


Ms Dawson didn’t call any witnesses and Dr M, otherwise known as Dr Laurent Mottron was there in his capacity as a well known and highly regarded researcher, in other words, as an expert on autism. Insinuating that his credibility could be compromised by his working relationship with Ms Dawson is Harold’s little stab at defamation. Note, it looks like Harold has cleaned up this post somewhat. The original accused Michelle of having covered up her role in Auton. That’s the real deal in legally liable defamation.

What sort of an advocate is this?

Juvenile Dementia

The majority of the post is devoted to taking pot shots at Dr Mottron. Most of this is incredibly juvenile and in the form of references to the ‘mysterious Dr M’. This is surprising because Dr Mottron’s testimony to the Tribunal is incredibly informative about autism (see pages 24 to 29). What parent wouldn’t want to know about this information. It’s not as if there is such a pile of it to be found. Harold’s reaction is to harp on yet again about the statement made by Dr Mottron and Michelle that to search for a cure is nonsensical. This is hardly controversial no matter how Harold likes to spin it. We have no way of curing a brain configuration laid out in the first trimester of gestation, which is what a cure necessarily entails. It cannot be done, not now and not for the forseeable future.

What sort of an advocate is this.?

8 Comments:

Blogger Arthur Golden said...

I just clicked on this blog entry and read it.

I should have read it before I commented on your blog entry about "defaming autistics."

I even try to be positive about Harold Doherty and I might share some of my positive thoughts.

Arthur Golden

11:02 AM  
Blogger Arthur Golden said...

The Friday, October 3, 2008 blog entry of Harold Doherty
"The Mysterious Dr. M: The Notion of Curing Autism Is Nonsensical" was obviously written in a somewhat sarcastic tone but I am not aware of any "lies, defamation and an appeal to the readers worst instincts." Since I do not wish to encourage the public posting of negative statements, I would prefer to receive any specific information to make me aware of such matters by private email to golden@shani.net My overall impression of the blog entry of Harold Doherty is that the tone is neither "extreme" nor "blunt" - comments made about the statements of Michelle Dawson.

Further, I do not think that I would characterize the position of Harold Doherty to be:

"It must be noted that everything Harold writes should be seen through the filter of his personal agenda, which is that if the family, for whatever reason, decides that their offspring is too much of a burden, then the State should provide care. Basically it’s a return to institutionalisation."

In the sparsely populated province of New Brunswick I believe there never have been any institutions. But complete independence as an adult does not seem to be a realistic goal for Conor, the now 12 year-old son of Harold Doherty. It has been my experience that almost everyone in his situation is ignorant about the realistic goals for "community connectedness" and I doubt that New Brunswick currently has the assistance found in similarly sparsely populated Western Australia, but extensive material is available to arrange such assistance before Conor becomes an adult. Too bad no one in Canada is trying to be positive by making Harold Doherty aware of such realistic options. Thanks to the internet, I am willing to try to provide such information from 6,000 miles away.

Both Harold Doherty and I are lawyers, but there seems to be confusion about the use of the term "witness." While there may not have been any witnesses for Michelle Dawson to the facts of the case, there is a different type of witness which I would refer to as an "expert witness." Dr. M may not have been the first type of witness but was he the second type of witness? Or, was the nature of these proceedings such that the usual court procedures of either type of witness was not technically applicable. The information provided is very confusing to me about this issue of who was a witness.

As I wrote in my first post to the blog entry about "defaming autistics" I think it is quite appropriate to end this post:

"I think it is very important that everyone who wishes to help persons with autism try to work together and help each other, even if we have some differences in our opinions."

"...let us try to go forward in cooperation to help persons with autism."

Arthur Golden

12:19 PM  
Blogger Alyric said...

Arthur

Nice of you to try the mediatory position, but not necessary.. Harold has his pro-incarceration agenda and he's sticking with it. It's the only way that explains why a lawyer in New Bruswick who claims to advocate for autism spends so much time making up stories about two prominent autism researchers who are both doing their best to further understanding of the autistic condition. That makes absolutely no sense.

Now to bolster that bit of absurdity, he has to spread misinformation among which that Mottron is 'anti-ABA'. Harold cannot back up that silly statement, which he's made many many times. If Mottron had ever expressed such a position I would be extremely surprised. It is designed simply to slur Mottron and by extension his work. Is that not defamatory?

And Harold has been defamatory - accusing Michelle of being underhanded with her intervention in Auton with the CHRT. That he changed eventually on his blog but not before a great many people read it. Also original web pages can be found back again, so it's not necessarily a good tactic to defame now, remove later.

This is the kind of advocacy that nobody needs. Why would any kind of advocate not want all the research you can get?

As with everybody else, he has never been able to refute one sentence of "The Misbehaviour of Behaviourists". He's a lawyer of course, but even the behaviourists couldn't do it.

7:48 AM  
Blogger Arthur Golden said...

Alyric,

Thank you for the detailed response on your blog and also for the private email.

I must admit that I find this situation about Harold Doherty very confusing. Concerning "The Misbehaviour of Behaviourists" I found every sentence of this essay to be just fine so I am not surprised that no one has ever been able to refute one sentence of it. As you know, I do have some serious problems with the QuickTopic discussion board entries of Michelle Dawson, which I think are better to be discussed first by private email, as you and I are in the process of doing.

I just wish that Michelle Dawson was willing to try to resolve our differences by private email.

Arthur Golden

10:54 AM  
Blogger Alyric said...

Since this post is about Harold's peculiar form of autism advocacy, I'd like to reply tp your email query about Harold's insistence that Laurant Mottron's work deals only with 'high functioning' autistics.

One, it isn't true and cannot be true. How you can conduct research on intelligence without the range there is just not possible. I guess Harold has never read the actual research. Now why would Harold make yet another statement that's so easily refuted? He doesn't want to have credibility?

Two, Harold the lawyer is claiming that research conducted with autistic subjects with an IQ greater than 70 cannot apply to autistic subjects with an IQ less than 70, which is the official definition of low functioning. And he knows this because??? Well, we'll never know because he sure can't say.

Three - Harold uses an intervention with Connor - ABA and that intervention, well all of them really could be made more efficient and effective, the more you understand how autistics look at and experience the world. This is Mottron's work, and Harold thinks it's a bad thing? Why? This could only help his own son and a lot more like him.


Really, this sort of advocacy is not what we need. It isn't advocacy period.

Oh, Harold's "abuse of ABA" posts. Looks like another series of false statements. You won't find such statements in Michelle's writings unless you're looking at early Lovaas and everybody would agree that his early work was abusive. There have been incidents of abuse in ABA programs of course, but that sort of thing happens no matter what label is on the program.

8:53 AM  
Blogger Alyric said...

Harold at it gain, this time on Michelle's blog at http://autismcrisis.blogspot.com/2008/12/autism-advocacy-standards-aba-and.html.

The mantra is as usual - this is all anti-ABA, which is nearly irrelevant. It's a discussion of very poor quality research, the kind that adds not one thing to to the knowledge base. As usual, Harold wants to concentrate on the 'severely' autistic, whatever that means, which is beautifully ironic since this paper defines nothing that would properly indicate where the children are intellectually.

And to top it off, far from being 'anti-ABA' Michelle makes the point that even though it appears that the ABA group had more stereotypy and aggression, the paper is so poor that you really can't make any such conclusion. Harold must have missed that one.

So we have an autism advocate exalting shoddy research. Why?

2:59 PM  
Blogger David N. Andrews MEd (Distinction) said...

"What sort of an advocate is this?"

Essentially, a piss-poor one.

11:42 PM  
Blogger David N. Andrews MEd (Distinction) said...

"Ms Dawson didn’t call any witnesses and Dr M, otherwise known as Dr Laurent Mottron was there in his capacity as a well known and highly regarded researcher, in other words, as an expert on autism. Insinuating that his credibility could be compromised by his working relationship with Ms Dawson is Harold’s little stab at defamation. Note, it looks like Harold has cleaned up this post somewhat. The original accused Michelle of having covered up her role in Auton. That’s the real deal in legally liable defamation."

(my italics)

Since Dr. Mottron was there essentially as an amicus curiae, HLD's attack on him make of HLD a contemnor - a fact he must have been aware of, since he evidently changed his blog.

12:09 AM  

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