On conflicts of interest in autism research: Interview with Kristen Bottema-Beutel and Micheal Sandbank

In this episode, I talk with Professors Kristen Bottema-Beutel and Micheal Sandbank, who have done a systematic review and meta-analysis of 151 group design studies of interventions for young autistic children. For this work, Dr. Sandbank was awarded the Young Investigator Award in 2021 from the International Society of Autism Research. Drs Bottema-Beutel and Sandbank have also done further studies into conflicts of interest (COIs) in autism research. Among their findings are that COIs are prevalent in several areas of autism research. They also found that ABA researchers, who frequently had conflicts of interest, reported these conflicts as rarely as 2 percent of the time.

We discuss what conflicts of interest are, the teams’ findings and some of the implications for autism research going forward.

Listen to the audio at the link below or on Stitcher here or iTunes here.
Read the transcript, below audio file.

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Transcribed by Julie-Ann Lee: Transcript_Noncompliant_Bottema-Beutel and Sandbank

Bios

Photographed for Boston College by Caitlin Cunningham

Kristen Bottema-Beutel is an Associate Professor in the Lynch School of Education and Human Development at Boston College. Her research focuses on social and language development, and social interaction dynamics in autistic children and youth. She is interested in pairing qualitative and quantitative methods to better characterize autistic communication and sociality, and in developing community-based strategies to support meaningful engagement of autistic students. More recently, she has explored metascience topics such as researcher ethics and research quality in intervention research for autistic children. Dr. Bottema-Beutel is the director of the autism specialization at LSEHD, a program that prepares future special educators to support autistic students.

Micheal Sandbank is an Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Special Education at The University of Texas at Austin. She researches social communication and language interventions for young children with disabilities. Dr. Sandbank is the lead researcher on Project AIM , a scoping systematic review and meta-analysis of group design studies of interventions for young children on the autism spectrum. She was awarded the Young Investigator Award in 2021 for this work, from the International Society of Autism Research.

Links

Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. Sandbank, et al. Research Review: Conflicts of Interest (COIs) in autism early intervention research – a meta‐analysis of COI influences on intervention effects

Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. Bottema-Beutel, et al. Adverse event reporting in intervention research for young autistic children.

Journal of American Medical Association-Pediatrics. Sandbank, et al. IBI Intervention Recommendations for Children With Autism in Light of a Changing Evidence Base

“Co-Regulation is Key”: A Conversation with Occupational Therapist Greg Santucci

  In this episode, I talk with Occupational Therapist Greg Santucci about the problems with ABA from his perspective as a practitioner, as well as new and better approaches in schools and the challenges of the post-pandemic period in education. An interesting and inspiring conversation!

Listen to the podcast at the audio link below or on Stitcher here or iTunes here.

Read the transcripts, attached below the audio link.
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Transcribed by Julie-Ann Lee: Transcript_Noncompliant_Santucci

Bio
Greg Santucci
is a Pediatric Occupational Therapist and the Founding Director of Power Play Pediatric Therapy. He has been an OT for over 20 years, and currently is a Supervisor of Occupational Therapy at Children’s Specialized Hospital in New Jersey. Greg is the creator of the Model of Child Engagement and has been lecturing nationally for over a decade on topics related to sensory processing, child development, behavior and best practices in the public schools. He has dedicated his career to promoting neurodevelopmentally-informed, relationship-based interventions to help parents and teachers support children of all abilities and learning styles.

Links
Learn more about Greg’s work at https://gregsantucci.com/
Greg’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/gregsantucciOT

“Most of the victims have to move on from these pathological relations”: Interview with Dr. Marc D. Feldman about medical child abuse

I had a very informative and thought-provoking conversation with Dr. Marc D. Feldman, an expert on medical child abuse and factitious disorder. We talked about medical child abuse, including Munchausen-by-proxy and the abuse of autistic children through autism pseudoscience. We also talked about interventions and supports, the need for education and what we all can do to stop the abuse.

Listen to the podcast right here by clicking the audio link below.
Full transcript below the audio link.

Listen to this episode on Stitcher here
Listen to this episode on iTunes here

 

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Transcript, by Julie Ann Lee: Feldman_Transcript_Noncompliant_The_Podcast

Bio
Dr. Marc D. Feldman is Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Adjunct Professor of Psychology at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. A Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, he is the author of 5 books and more than 100 peer-reviewed articles in the professional literature. Dr. Feldman is an international expert in factitious disorder, Munchausen syndrome, Munchausen by proxy, and malingering.

In his recent book, Dying to be Ill: True Stories of Medical Deception, Dr. Feldman, with Gregory Yates, has chronicled people’s acts and motivations in fabricating or inducing illness or injury in themselves or their dependents.

Links:
American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children (registration required for some resources but the content is free.

 

“Remove and normalize”: Discussing Canada’s residential institution history with Megan Linton

megan photoIn this episode, I talk to scholar Megan Linton about the history and current status of residential institutions for autistic and neurodiverse youth in Canada.

Content warning: Discussion of sexual assault, institutional abuse.

Click to hear the audio below or find the podcast on  Stitcher here and  iTunes here


Transcript: Noncompliant_Transcript_Megan_Linton

Bio: Megan Linton is a disabled student earning her Masters of Public Policy and Administration at Carleton University, where she is currently working on thesis research surrounding sexual citizenship for institutionalized populations. Megan’s research interests include data gaps and disabled people, incarceration, and legacies of eugenics in Canada.

Megan and I talk about the largely unwritten history of residential institutions for autistic and neurodiverse youth in Canada—a history that she and other scholars are now documenting along with Canada’s eugenics practices, which operated hand in hand with the residential institution system. We also discuss shifting notions of eugenics in the postwar period, revolving around anxieties about “the creation of the conformed family.”

As Megan points out: “This was the goal of the moral reformers for decades leading up to that point. Every single part of constructing Canadian citizenship was about enforcing order and conformity, so when we saw the construction of the carceral settings throughout the mid 19th century then we too saw the building of ‘The Canadian Citizen’ [including] this construction of the deviant other who needs to be put away and those outside of the institution are those who are conforming.”

We also discuss how “reformed” institutions today maintain the same purposes as the older institutions, even as the Canadian government has promised de-institutionalization for decades. Megan discusses how, in Manitoba, provincial political parties bent to lobby pressure to keep the institutions open and how progressive politicians turned their back on human rights in favour of “jobs in the community” and pressure from labour.

One residential institution in Ontario, the CPRI, now a so-called therapy centre for neurodiverse youth, is housed in a former sanitarium and located at the end of a street named Sanitarium Road. Like the older residential institutions, which meted out class action human rights settlements in the hundreds of millions, the CPRI is now the subject of a class action by former residents as recent as 2011.

Megan and I focussed on both the large institutions (50 or more youth) and then on the small “i” institutions–such as group homes. Both Megan and I place these on a continuum of segregation, along with all-day programs such as sheltered workshops for adults and Intensive Behaviour Intervention centres for preschoolers.

Megan and I conclude by talking about alternatives – viable solutions such as independent-supported community living and the money-follows-the-person model in some parts of the US. In Canada, 80% of federal funds for housing for I/DD people go towards segregated housing or “congregate care” homes and only 20% goes towards independent living in the community. Yet there’s robust research that shows clear benefits of living in the community, for I/DD individuals and for the community. Canadian politicians

To change the policy landscape, we need to apply pressure on politicians as we also work for a broad societal understanding of the human rights of disabled people and the true options that are available outside of Canada’s residential institution model.

Links
Linton, Megan. We Have Always Been Disposable: The Structural Violence of Neoliberal Healthcare. Canadian Dimension. March 31, 2020.

Autistics for Autistics. Controversial Residential Institution to Lead Workshops for Parents of Autistic Children. a4aontario.com. January 3, 2020.

“People have the right to communicate in the method that is best for them, period.” An Interview with Derek Burrow

For this episode, I interviewed Derek Burrow, an Ottawa-based librarian, writer and tabletop RPG player who is part of a movement to normalize AAC and increase accessibility to it.

Listen at the audio link below, or on Stitcher here or on iTunes here

Read the transcript (link below audio file).

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Transcribed by Julie Ann Lee: Transcript_Noncompliant_Burrow
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Bio
Derek Burrow is an Ottawa-based librarian and freelance writer who is also deeply passionate about tabletop roleplaying games, with 25 years in the hobby. Derek uses augmentative communication, also known as AAC (specifically Proloquo4Text and Proloquo2Go) to communicate, and is  exploring how augmentative communication can be normalized within society and also incorporated into tabletop gaming. Derek wrote the latest support documentation for Proloquo2Go and Proloquo4Text. He is also involved in Autistics for Autistics, the Canadian autistic self-advocacy organization and as a consultant on accessible materials and services in Ontario.

About AAC
Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) is any tool, system or strategy for communicating rather than verbal speech. AAC can include pictures; gestures; sign language; visual aids; speech-output devices like phones or iPads; and more. Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) is an essential aspect of life for non-verbal and semi-verbal autistic people and communication access is a right. Unfortunately, many are still denied access to AAC, a topic we discuss in the podcast.

The episode
This interview is so informative, broad-reaching and thought-provoking. Derek and I talked about various aspects of AAC and his experiences before and after getting access to AAC, as well as AAC in tabletop roleplaying (RPGs).

We also talked about the social applications of the RPG model. As Derek said: “Everyone has strengths and weaknesses and in any group of people, someone is going to have a skill that no one else possesses. In gaming, we design characters around their strengths and the world is set forth in such a way as to let them succeed through them. That’s a far better model than real life where we are often put in places that attack our weaknesses and are expected to excel.” The best aspects of the RPG community are a model for our broader culture in creatively cultivating co-operation, valuing diversity and ensuring accessibility.

Because this was one of my first interviews, I was a bit nervous on the mic! But it was a great way to start off the podcast. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Links from the conversation:
Deej, the movie

AAC right-to-access, legal cases

More about AAC