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Credit due to Tony Humphreys for illuminating the fallacies and foibles of the diagnostic presumptions which engulf autistic spectrum discourse.
Apart from some slight generalisations, his observations are truly valid.
Augmenting his valuable commentary, he quotes rigorous research conclusions from seminal 2011 book by child psychiatrist Sami Timimi (et al), The Myth of Autism, which promotes that “there is no such thing as autism and the label should be abolished”.
Having worked for many years within various dedicated “autistic” services, I’ve witnessed many forlorn frameworks visited upon those ‘deemed’ to have autistic spectrum disorder. Sadly they weren’t always driven by the purest motive.
Spurious, self-serving professional machinations have often dogged the ASD assessment, diagnosis, and therapeutic response templates for years.
Dietetic, neuro-genetic, behaviourist, applied analytical, and various communication/cognition/education/biomedical gurus all wish to claim some inside track, while avoiding the obvious: Fundamental emotional empathy.
Or, as Tony Humphreys puts it, “the deepest need of every child is to be unconditionally loved”. This is a glaring need that is still frequently overlooked in the race for clinical/educational control by various groups.
Flexible, therapeutic creativity should be regularly engaged to address the idiosyncrasies of each individual, rather than only fixed panacea behavioural or educational programmes applied relentlessly, sometimes ruthlessly, across the ASD range.
Nuanced and varied child-centred interpersonal explorations, geared particularly to emotionality awareness, development and well-being should be de rigeur in all programmes.
Tony Humphreys clearly identifies “that focus needs to be on the relationship contexts of these children’s lives, and to take each child for the individual he or she is, and to examine closely the family and community narratives, and discover creative possibilities for change”.
Ne’er a truer sentiment better expressed.
Senior music therapist
1 Chapel St
Lismore Co Waterford
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