Archive & Timeline | Catherine Lord: American Autism Researcher | #AutisticHistory #BanABA #BanConversionTherapy


[Note: Shared for #AutisticHistory archive purposes. This is NOT An Autistic Ally.]

Timeline | Archives

[This timeline is in progress. Last updated December 26, 2021]


  • 1960s

    Catherine Lord was an undergraduate student in psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

    Lord worked with Ivar Lovaas, pioneer of Applied Behavioral Therapy (ABA).

  • 1976

    Lord finished her Ph.D. and began a clinical internship at the TEACCH program at the University of North Carolina.

  • 1982

    In 1982, Lord went to London to work with world-famous psychologist Sir Michael Rutter on a diagnostic tool that would distinguish children with autism from those with other kinds of mental impairments.

    Together, they came up with ADOS ― the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule ― which comprises a few hours of tasks that require verbal social interaction, such as make-believe play with action figures. Each task is scored by a trained examiner, and the scores are totaled at the end.

  • 1989

    Lord and Rutter then tweaked ADOS so that it included only the tasks that best predicted whether a child would receive an autism diagnosis. They published their protocol, the first of its kind, in 1989.

    The new version, called the Pre-Linguistic-ADOS (PL-ADOS), focused on non-verbal tasks such as watching balloons being blown up, that tested for social abilities.

    Dr. Lord is a co-author of The Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS-2) and receives royalty income from the sales of those kits.

  • 2001

    Lord launched the University of Michigan Autism & Communication Disorders Center (UMACC).

  • 2007

    Effects of Parent-Implemented Intervention for Toddlers with Autism Spectrum Disorders

    Autism Speaks Funded Study

    $898,556 over 3 years

    Amy Wetherby, Ph.D.
    Florida State University

    Catherine Lord, Ph.D.
    University of Michigan

  • April 26, 2011

    Autism Policy: The PBS NewsHour series ends with a discussion of the public policy issues raised in the series, including the enormous discrepancy in the quality and availability of services for children and future adults in what the federal committee that determines research priorities for autism now calls a “national health emergency” with a panel of experts including:

    Dr. Thomas Insel, Director of the National Institute of Mental Health, Catherine Lord, Professor of Psychology, Pediatrics and Psychiatry at the University of Michigan, Ilene Lainer, Executive Director of the New York Center for Autism – a private advocacy group, and John Shestack, a Hollywood producer and the co-founder of “Cure Autism Now” a former advocacy group.

  • June 2, 2011

    Renowned Autism Expert Dr. Catherine Lord to Lead New Comprehensive Autism Treatment Institute

    Institute for Brain Development Will Offer Evaluation, Treatment and Research for Autism Spectrum Disorders in Children and Adults

    Created in collaboration with the New York Center for Autism, the Institute will be a center of excellence for best-practice evaluations and treatments for individuals living with autism spectrum disorders and other developmental disorders of the brain, across their lifespans.

  • 2012 – 2018

    Professor of Psychology at Weill Cornell Medical College

  • August 4, 2014

    Study Finds Some Children Diagnosed With Autism As Toddlers Have No Symptoms Two Decades Later

    This work was supported by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health (MH081873), the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (U 19 HD 035482), and Autism Speaks.

  • April 25, 2016

    Three organizations help launch the largest autism study ever undertaken in the United States

    NewYork-Presbyterian, Weill Cornell Medicine and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons have helped launch the Simons Foundation Powering Autism Research for Knowledge (SPARK), an online research initiative designed to become the largest autism study ever undertaken in the United States.

    Sponsored by the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI), SPARK will collect information and DNA for genetic analysis from 50,000 people with autism and their families to advance scientific understanding of the causes of the condition and to hasten the discovery of supports and treatments.

    Dr. Catherine Lord will lead the effort locally.

  • 2017

    Lord joined Tilray’s Medical Advisory board.

  • 2018

    Elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

  • Co-Chair, Scientific Research Council Child Mind Institute

    Distinguished Professor-in-Residence School of Medicine University of California, Los Angeles

    Senior Research Scientist Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior

  • December 7, 2021

    The Lancet Commission Formally Recognizes the Term ‘Profound Autism’

    Dr. Catherine Lord, a professor at UCLA’s Center for Autism Research & Treatment, Lancet Commission co-Chair and a member of ASF’s Scientific Advisory Board, first publicly introduced the term “profound autism” at ASF’s 2020 Day of Learning, explaining that the goal was to create “useful categories that might bring attention to the different needs of different people.”

    “This is not an ideological subtype. It just reflects the degree of services,” said Lord. “We hope that this will move us forward to different ways of looking at different aspects of autism.”



Autistic people have fought the inclusion of ABA in therapy for us since before Autism Speaks, and other non-Autistic-led autism organizations, started lobbying legislation to get it covered by insurances and Medicaid. 

ABA is a myth originally sold to parents that it would keep their Autistic child out of an institution. Today, parents are told that with early intervention therapy their child will either be less Autistic or no longer Autistic by elementary school, and can be mainstreamed in typical education classes. ABA is very expensive to pay out of pocket. Essentially, Autism Speaks has justified the big price tag up front will offset the overall burden on resources for an Autistic’s lifetime. The recommendation for this therapy is 40 hours a week for children and toddlers.

The original study that showed the success rate of ABA to be at 50% has never been replicated. In fact, the study of ABA by United States Department of Defense was denounced as a failure. Not just once, but multiple times. Simply stated: ABA doesn’t workIn study after repeated study: ABA (conversion therapy) doesn’t work. 

What more recent studies do show: Autistics who experienced ABA therapy are at high risk to develop PTSD and other lifelong trauma-related conditions. Historically, the autism organizations promoting ABA as a cure or solution have silenced Autistic advocates’ opposition. ABA is also known as gay conversion therapy.

The ‘cure’ for Autistics not born yet is the prevention of birth. 

The ‘cure’ is a choice to terminate a pregnancy based on ‘autism risk.’ The cure is abortion. This is the same ‘cure’ society has for Down Syndrome. 

This is eugenics 2021. Instead of killing Autistics and disabled children in gas chambers or ‘mercy killings’ like in Aktion T4, it’ll happen at the doctor’s office, quietly, one Autistic baby at a time. Different approaches yes, but still eugenics and the extinction of an entire minority group of people.

Fact: You can’t cure Autistics from being Autistic.

Fact: You can’t recover an Autistic from being Autistic.

Fact: You can groom an Autistic to mask and hide their traits. Somewhat. … however, this comes at the expense of the Autistic child, promotes Autistic Burnout (this should not be confused with typical burnout, Autistic Burnout can kill Autistics), and places the Autistic child at high risk for PTSD and other lifelong trauma-related conditions.

[Note: Autism is NOT a disease, but a neurodevelopmental difference and disability.]

Fact: Vaccines Do Not Cause Autism.

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