Re: The problem is lack of institutional memory. bmj 24 January 2005
Lisa C Blakemore-Brown,

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Re: Re: The problem is lack of institutional memory. bmj

I wrote at least a couple of years ago to the on precisely this issue.

During the seventies when my own interest in this once very rare disorder began to emerge, if I told people about this interest they usually thought I was saying `artistic` as `autistic` was unheard of.

As Hilary Butler says, the incidence was SO low that the behaviours we now see in front of us in every classroom - the BEHAVIOURS Camille, not the DIAGNOSES - were confined to very few children who invariably were found alternative schools as they could not be taught and managed in the school system.

As the epidemic of autistic BEHAVIOURS has risen dramatically in the last few years, the system has introduced various measures and sleights of hand to make us all think that these BEHAVIOURS were all there before but not seen. INCLUSION policies put pressure on everyone including EDUCATIONAL TRIBUNAL PANELS to ensure these BEHAVIOURS are not viewed as autism but MISINTERPRETED as something else - anything else but not autism given the legal challenge/iatrogenic issue - and increasingly seen to be the fault of the parents. Independent professionals such as myself are targeted.

Teaching hospitals are removing diagnoses and reinterpreting the BEHAVIOURS which now have teachers and assistants on their knees trying to cope yet forced into saying they can cope - especially in Educational Tribunals.

Tried and tested intensive methods and facilities which used to be in place when the numbers of autistic children were manageable are now being removed from schools with staff forced into introducing wholly ineffective `BEHAVIOURAL` policies with `the child must take responsiblity for his own BEHAVIOUR` at their pivot. This is because the numbers of children with autistic BEHAVIOUR problems has sky rocketed, so its cheaper and easier to blame the child or the parent to limit the resource costs. It also conveniently shifts the focus of the real causes.

The system has polished up its methods for focusing on parents who are blamed for causing their children's disorders, but it dare not introduce the methods to help the children as this is not only expensive but tantamount to admitting what it refuses to accept - that there is an epidemic of autistic spectrum disorders and that there must be an explanation.

Focused, intensive but costly interventions delivered by specialists are being replaced by general `programmes` drawn out of the cascade model after someone attends a one day seminar then passes on information on a photocopied sheet to be delivered by classroom assistants on the lowest hourly rate of pay.

The whole thing is a massive, massive scandal.

Competing interests: Expert in Autism