Timeline: The Politics & Marketing Behind The Autism Epidemic | The 10s

Timeline: The Politics & Marketing Behind The Autism Epidemic | The 10s

Timeline: Early Years | 80s | 90s | 00s | 10s | 20s

2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015 | 2016 | 2017 | 2018 | 2019

[Timeline in progress. Last updated: September 8, 2022]








  • March 29, 2016

    Bob Wright, Co-founder of Autism Speaks

    Former NBC CEO Bob Wright sits down with Matt Lauer to talk about his new book, “The Wright Stuff,” which chronicles his NBC tenure as well as his co-founding of Autism Speaks, an organization to help families dealing with an autism diagnosis, as his has. He also candidly discusses his wife Suzanne’s pancreatic cancer diagnosis. Hoda and Matt Lauer that he’s just too stubborn to die.

  • March 31, 2016 

    Autism Speaks: CDC Update On Autism Shows Gap Between Early Concerns And Formal Evaluation Risking A Delay In Intervention For Children

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today released its newest estimate of autism prevalence among the nation’s children. The report shows that, overall, less than half the children identified with autism (43 percent) had received comprehensive developmental evaluations by age 3. This proved true despite the fact that the vast majority (87 percent) had developmental concerns noted in their medical or educational records before age 3. Currently, autism can be reliably diagnosed by age 2, with earlier diagnosis affording greater opportunities for intervention that supports healthy development and improves function and quality of life.

    In response to these findings, Autism Speaks calls on legislators, public health agencies, the National Institutes of Health and others to join in urgently advancing programs such as universal autism screening for toddlers and enhanced and expanded early intervention services – as well as the personalized medical care, support and resources needed by the growing numbers of people with autism now reaching adulthood.

    (Note: Early intervention = early ABA = $$$)



  • 2018

    Evidence of increased PTSD symptoms in autistics exposed to applied behavior analysis

    Henny Kupferstein

    “Nearly half (46 percent) of the ABA-exposed respondents met the diagnostic threshold for PTSD, and extreme levels of severity were recorded in 47 percent of the affected subgroup. Respondents of all ages who were exposed to ABA were 86 percent more likely to meet the PTSD criteria than respondents who were not exposed to ABA. Adults and children both had increased chances (41 and 130 percent, respectively) of meeting the PTSD criteria if they were exposed to ABA. Both adults and children without ABA exposure had a 72 percent chance of reporting no PTSS (see Figure 1). At the time of the study, 41 percent of the caregivers reported using ABA-based interventions.”

    “One of many emerging pieces of research, none of which are a surprise, since ABA requires autistic people to mask being autistic. No different to asking a gay person to mask being gay. Not healthy.” – Ann Memmott

  • January 2018

    Autism Spectrum Disorder: The Impact of Stressful and Traumatic Life Events and Implications for Clinical Practice

    “Stressful and traumatic life events should be considered by clinical practitioners when conducting assessments and determining appropriate treatment plans for people with ASD experiencing comorbid symptomatology and or/an exacerbation of core ASD symptoms to help ensure that underlying causes of these symptoms are not overlooked.”

    “Research in that one shows that too many behaviourists are not checking for underlying mental health conditions before applying behavioural ‘therapies’ to autistic people. Often also failing to note that the person has PTSD, so thinking it’s just autism causing the ‘behaviours’  and the person is being ‘challenging’. 

    As many behaviourists are unqualified in autism or mental health conditions, (let alone the highly specialist interplay of autism and PTSD), hardly surprising.   There is clear potential for harm.” – Ann Memmott

  • February 12, 2018

    A Study Pointing Out That ABA Doesn’t Work

    Clinical outcomes of staff training in positive behaviour support to reduce challenging behaviour in adults with intellectual disability: cluster randomised controlled trial

    Published online by Cambridge University Press.


    No treatment effects were found for the primary outcome (challenging behaviour over 12 months, adjusted mean difference = −2.14, 95% CI: −8.79, 4.51) or secondary outcomes.


    Staff training in PBS, as applied in this study, did not reduce challenging behaviour. Further research should tackle implementation issues and endeavour to identify other interventions that can reduce challenging behaviour.

     (‘ABA’ often now rebranded as Positive Behaviour Support)

    “Big research study. 3 yrs. 2018… .

    Oh dear.  Next time someone says ‘gold standard’, refer to the study and ask them what they mean.” – Ann Memmott

  • May 9, 2018

    A Study Pointing Out That ABA Doesn’t Work

    Early intensive behavioral intervention (EIBI) for increasing functional behaviors and skills in young children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD)

    Authors’ conclusions: 

    There is weak evidence that EIBI may be an effective behavioral treatment for some children with ASD; the strength of the evidence in this review is limited because it mostly comes from small studies that are not of the optimum design. Due to the inclusion of non-randomized studies, there is a high risk of bias and we rated the overall quality of evidence as ‘low’ or ‘very low’ using the GRADE system, meaning further research is very likely to have an important impact on our confidence in the estimate of effect and is likely to change the estimate.

    “That one is the Cochrane Review.  The ultimate independent audit of whether early-interventions such as Applied Behaviour Analysis (‘ABA’ often now rebranded as Positive Behaviour Support) improve autistic lives. 

    Conclusion – nope, not proven. Weak evidence of vague improvement after two years of effort, which frankly could be achieved by anyone after two years.  Children grow up.  They learn skills with or without ABA.  This is awkward, isn’t it.” – Ann Memmott

  • July 2018

    Risk markers for suicidality in autistic adults

    “Results confirm previously reported high rates of suicidality in ASC, and demonstrate that ASC diagnosis, and self-reported autistic traits in the general population are independent risk markers for suicidality. This suggests there are unique factors associated with autism and autistic traits that increase risk of suicidality. Camouflaging and unmet support needs appear to be risk markers for suicidality unique to ASC. “

    “The research in that one is worrying, frankly.  Cassidy & team noted that if autistic people are having to mask their autism (which most behaviourist approaches teach them to do), their risk of suicide rises. . …Are we normalising autistic children at the later cost of their lives?  For whose benefit? I leave the questions there.” – Ann Memmott

  • August 10, 2018

    We are not OK | By Kieran Rose: The Autistic Advocate

    “The pressure we are put under by Society, by the people in charge, the people we work for and with, our friends, our family; and people who we don’t know and whom will never know us, to act in the way that they insist we do, is immense. Overbearing.  Backbreaking.

    The price we pay for refusal is greater than the price we pay for doing our damnedest to conform.

    Some of us, particularly Autistic people of Colour, particular Autistic people in countries where the view of Autism is archaic, often hateful, pay an even greater price than me every time their Mask slips.

    All Autistic people pay for our safety and your comfort with OUR lives.” – Kieran Rose


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