Once upon a time, I disassembled a study by Lisa Sherman in which she claimed to find evidence for autism “recovery”. It did so primarily by deciding a priori not just that recovery from autism was possible at all but that any potential explanations for signals of such recovery which contradicted this recovery narrative would be excluded out of hand.
All this despite that the allegedly-recovered autistics nonetheless still in fact contended with “language and learning disabilities and a variety of emotional and behavioral problems”—just the sorts of indicators one might expect if they hadn’t recovered so much as learned to deeply camouflage their autism.
Not long after, I also detailed a takedown by Jonathan Shedler of the overused catchphrase “evidence-based therapy”. He mainly was discussing Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, but his argument carried eerie echoes of the ways in which the actually-autistic community discussi Applied Behavior Analysis, itself typically described by its proponents not just as “evidence-based therapy” but as the only such therapy for autism.
Today’s followup comes via Ann Memmott who points the way to a study of early ABA treatment which found only “weak evidence” that early-intervention treatments for autism is effective—-suggesting that Shedler’s suggestion that “evidence-based therapy” might be little more than a marketing phrase seems to apply to early-intervention treatments for autism as well.
One thing that probably should be studied as researchers start to explore the actually-autistic adults out there is the impacts of ABA upon those who were subjected to it. Anecdotes are everywhere, but if it’s going to continue to be touted as “evidence-based therapy” for autism, longitudinal studies across autistic lifetimes seem to be called for.