Media Watch (a subcommittee of the Public Relations Committee) has three primary initiatives:
- Educating the public about effective autism treatment through proactive contact with the media;
- Responding to inaccurate information or proposed treatments described by the media (as it relates to scientific findings about their effectiveness); and
- Supporting accurate media depictions of empirically–sound interventions for individuals with autism spectrum disorders.
We seek to increase awareness of the scientific underpinnings surrounding autism treatment that can lead to real hope for those touched by this disorder.
Top 10 Questions Journalists Should Ask Before Writing the Next Autism Story
- Are there any published research articles in peer-reviewed journals documenting the efficacy of the intervention method featured in my article or I am just finding hopeful testimonials? If not, why not, and how should I pitch my article given the absence of supporting research? If so, are the studies well designed?
- Who am I interviewing for this story and what are his/her qualifications? What does (s)he stand to gain by this interview? Is (s)he making claims of efficacy or effectiveness that are not supported by scientific data?
- Is there any evidence of harm associated with this intervention? What are the risks?
- How much does the intervention cost? Is the cost reasonable? How is it paid?
- What kind of training and supervision do treatment providers need to have before implementing the intervention? If none or little, have I explored the ethics involved and asked if there is adequate consumer protection?
- What position statements from respected professional organizations support or do not support this?
- Are already science-based interventions (such as applied behavior analysis) recommended by these organizations?
- Have I consulted with an unbiased entity for their input?
- As described or discussed in this article, "Does the intervention encourage false hope or suggest un-realistic benefits for a family coping with a pervasive developmental disability?"
- Have I provided readers with related resources and references that are objective, science-based, and minimize the risk of coercion or manipulation?
Below are some recent letters showcasing our Media Watch efforts.
ASAT Responds to The Detroit News story, "Study: Michigan autism teachers need more training: experience, effective practices lacking, says a report from MSU"
Friday, September 16, 2011
...however, all too often, when given license to "use a variety of approaches" we have seen some special education teachers do what they want, what they like, what is easiest, what is cheapest, and what they already know...
Thursday, August 18, 2011
We believe it is important and necessary to make the distinction between the joys of a relationship with a pet and the effects of treatment for autism...
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
While I recognize that the author summarized comments of others, the story contains misleading information...
Sunday, July 31, 2011
How disheartening to think that with the level of evidence that is available to support behavioral intervention, "effective treatment would need to be "trial and error" for children with ASD..."
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Waiting until adulthood to teach complex work skills within service delivery models that have low staffing ratios will not likely culminate in proficient and marketable skills...
Monday, June 06, 2011
Faced with aggressive and, in some cases, disingenuous marketing tactics, how can families and persons with autism confidently investigate possible treatments?
Saturday, April 30, 2011
Important conversations about autism treatment are sidetracked when journalists use sensationalism in the titles of their articles...
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
...there are no published research studies supporting the effectiveness of the DAN protocol, and furthermore, many of the techniques practiced by DAN physicians are considered to be harmful by the medical community at large...
Monday, March 28, 2011
You astutely point out that there are both direct and indirect costs for allowing pseudoscience to persist...
Sunday, February 27, 2011
Your evaluation of the recent books published by Paul Offit and Seth Mnookin highlights for the reader the clear empirical evidence in support of vaccinations...