Some professionals in autism and people with autism comented on the film "The wall - psychoanalysis put to the test for autism"
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REACTION OF PROFESSOR TRAVIS THOMPSON , PhD
Special Education Program
Dept of Educational Psychology
University of Minnesota
Minneapolis, MN 55455
I viewed the six segments of The Wall with a mixture of sadness and outrage. Sadness because France was home to Jean Itard, who first described autism and introduced reinforcement methods and iconic communication (similar to PECs) for teaching Victor over two centuries ago, and of Claude Bernard, the father of modern physiology who emphasized the importance of the scientific method and of eschewing hypothetical causes of human disorders or disabilities.
Bernard was responsible for creating the ABA reversal research design. France was also the home of Louis Pasteur, who discovered most infectious diseases are caused by germs, known as the "germ
theory of disease", is one of the most important in medical history. His work became the foundation for the science of
microbiology. France has a remarkable scientific history, which makes this video all the more saddening.
The theoretical notions expressed by the several psychoanalysts interviewed have no empirical foundation and would be amusing or simply embarrassing, if it weren’t for the fact that apparently many people take them seriously in France. They are especially troubling because they perpetuate unsubstantiated damaging ideas about adverse maternal effects on development of autism in children begun by Bruno Bettelheim, which have been entirely discredited.
Their accounts of autism and its treatment amount to folk tales, myths, like shepherds pointing to stars and planets in the night sky, making up appealing metaphorical stories to account for the movements of the constellations, in this instance, the behavior of young children with autism spectrum disorders.
I am outraged to learn that seemingly educated medical professionals and psychologists are preventing children with autism from receiving the most appropriate treatment and educational methods that have been shown repeatedly in controlled research in various countries (Norway, the UK and the US) to be highly effective in
reducing, reversing and preventing further emergence of autism symptoms. It appears the psychoanalysts interviewed for the film are not expected by their professional associations or government agencies to be familiar with the clinical scientific research literature regarding autism treatment. The first of these studies was published in 1987 and the most recent was in 2010.
One of the psychoanalysts interviewed referred to such behavioral intervention as a “whim.” There are over 20 such controlled studies extending over a quarter of a century, which seems more than a whim.
It is increasingly clear that autism is a neurogenetic disorder most often involving failure to develop components of brain connections or synapses. There is persuasive evidence that experience-dependent synaptogenesis can over come some of these problems.
I suggest the psychoanalysts interviewed for this video read: Murrow et. al. (2008) Identifying Autism Loci and Genes by
Tracing Recent Shared Ancestry. ScienceVolume 321,pp. 218 – 223. The authors conclude: “
The connection between experience-dependentneural activity and gene expression in the postnatal period forms the basis of learning and memory, and autism symptoms typically emerge during these later stages of development.
Our finding that deletions of genes regulated by neuronal activity or regions potentially involved in regulation of gene expression in autism suggests that defects in activity-dependent gene expression may be a cause of cognitive deficits in patients with autism. Therefore, disruption of activity-regulated synaptic development may be one mechanism common to at least a subset of seemingly heterogeneous autism-associated mutations.” The logical
implication of their finding is that compensatory experience in the form of intensive early behavioral intervention is capable of overcoming some of the consequences of these gene defects by promoting synaptogenesis, a fact that I pointed out in a paper in 2005 [Thompson, T. (2005) Paul E. Meehl and B. F. Skinner: Autitaxia, Autitypy and Autism. Behavior and Philosophy, 33, 101-131] in which I compared Paul Meehl’s analysis of the etiology of
schizophrenia with autism.
I am very sorry to see such views continuing to assert dominance
in a developed and scientifically sophisticated country like France.
REACTION OF DONNA WILLIAMS
Austrian woman with autism author of the book " si on me touche je n'existe plus " ( "nobody nowhere" )
Fact is that neurologically impaired kids with sensory perceptual
disorders do need a family that is switched on, present, able to put
their neurosis and dramas and ego aside and without engulfing
co-dependency embrace the adventure of working with those issues so
the child with them doesn't encapsulate against a world that is
cognitively overwhelming... but the psychoanalysts need to go back to
REACTION OF PROFESSOR ATTWOOD
Masters degree in Clinical Psychology from the University of Surrey
Honours degree in Psychology from the University of Hull
PhD from the University of London
Thank you so much for your email and link to the YouTube sections from the documentary on the psychoanalytical approach to autism and Asperger’s syndrome in France. I am slowly going through the movies as I think they are so important and my own clinical opinion is that psychoanalysis is actually dangerous for children with autism but also their parents, especially the child’s mother.
I return to France every two years and will be back in Paris in early June next year. When I present information on alternative approaches, I do know that parents are often quite stunned that there is an alternative approach and some of the professionals have great difficulty comprehending that there is an alternative and I would say, more effective, approach.
Do pass on to the law firms that are preparing a legal argument that I would like to offer my support to them as I think this is so important for French families and especially for the children.
Thank you so much for sending the links to the YouTube videos.
Professor Tony Attwood
Tel: +61 (0)7 3285 7888
REACTION OF TEMPLE GRANDIN ABOUT PSYCHOANALYSIS AND PACKING TREATEMENT
American woman with autism
Dear Magali - Autism is not caused by bad parenting. It is totally wrong that psychoanalysis is the main treatment for autism in France. It is shocking that France is so backward.
I would hate packing. The child should be able to control the pressure himself. The squeeze machine works on this principle. Packing would be useless and highly stressful for the child. Sincerely,
REACTION OF JUDY BARRON
Mom of Sean Barron, autistic adult, both coauthors of thbook "Moi l'enfant autiste" ( "there's a boy in here")
I just watched the footage with the horrifying band of psychologists / psychiatrists sharing their ignorance on the subject of autism. It's as if they're speaking from the 1950's. Have they learned nothing in all the intervening years? How profoundly harmful to any parents & teachers who see this"