[Note: Shared for #AutisticHistory archive purposes. This is NOT An Autistic Ally.]
Autism Speaks urges Department of Defense to expand, not restrict, services for military children with autism
Burdensome changes to Operations Manual and flawed research review pose barriers for military families
May 6, 2021
Autism Speaks urges the Department of Defense to reconsider recently announced changes that would make it harder for children with autism to access needed care. These changes would make applied behavior analysis (ABA), an evidence-based treatment that helps reduce challenges with social communication and repetitive behaviors, less available in school and community settings.
The changes would also impose new burdens on families and otherwise create more barriers to services. The changes are memorialized in the TRICARE Operations Manual, which sets guidelines for the healthcare program for military families.
Children with autism benefit from an array of intervention, including occupational therapy, speech therapy, physical therapy and behavioral interventions like ABA. ABA is a routinely covered benefit for the children of federal civilian employees. But for the children of military families in TRICARE, ABA is considered an “experimental treatment” available only through a demonstration program.
“TRICARE should listen to the voices of the military families affected by the Manuel changes and reverse course. TRICARE is making it more difficult for these families to care for their children,” said Stuart Spielman, Esq., senior vice president for advocacy at Autism Speaks. “The thousands of autistic children of military service members who rely on TRICARE deserve to have the services they need to reach their full potential. We strongly urge TRICARE to turn its focus to how it can maximize, not restrict, the benefits it offers to its beneficiaries and follow the science when it comes to ABA.”
The Manual changes follow Department of Defense reports to Congress on the Autism Care Demonstration program that cast doubt on the effectiveness of ABA.
“More than 20 studies have established the benefits of ABA therapy,” said Thomas W. Frazier, Ph.D., chief science officer at Autism Speaks. “While we support continued high-quality studies of interventions that use blinded assessments or other objective measures, the evidence that the Department cites does not meet that standard and is not appropriate to justify the finding that ABA lacks effectiveness. TRICARE stands alone in its assessment of ABA as ‘experimental.’ The flawed methodology it has used to evaluate ABA’s effectiveness appears as if it is designed specifically to show a lack of evidence of its efficacy. We hope TRICARE will reconsider this approach, meet with experts and families, and transparently revisit their findings.”
The Autism Community Is Not The Autistic Community
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 work. In 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.