Living in our global industrialised society is traumatising, especially for hypersensitive Autistic people, and this has increasingly been the case since the earliest days of industrialisation, even before the term “autism” entered the vocabulary of the medical profession.
Adults seeking a diagnosis of autism are often looking for an explanation of their lived experience, which often includes highly traumatic experiences, in many cases starting in childhood. Parents seeking a diagnosis for their child are typically driven by the fear that their child won’t be able to “succeed” in the competitive world of so-called education, jobs, careers, and social status.
A global multi billion dollar autism industry has been built on the backs of Autistic people and is critically dependent on the ongoing traumatisation of Autistic people. This is glaringly obvious in terms of the perpetuation of traumatising behaviourism that is sold as a “treatment for autism” to the parents of Autistic children, but it is not always quite as obvious in relation to the “treatment” of Autistic adults.
Discrimination against Autistic people is comparable to the level of discrimination against LGBTQIA+ people 50 years ago. The pathologisation of Autistic ways of being has led to what some critical researchers refer to as the Autism Industrial Complex.
In this discriminatory cultural environment, many services from the autism industry must be considered unethical, and obtaining a diagnosis can be an invitation for potential abuse and exploitation, as illustrated in the account of adult diagnostic experience in Australia below. Even the most well meaning diagnostician will produce “offical” documentation that is coded in pathologising language.
🧵Attempting to understand Autistic people & culture is difficult for many, because of the chasm between a) the pseudo-scientific and culturally biased behaviourist framing of autism in the DSM and b) accounts of Autistic ways of being articulated in the neurodiversity paradigm. https://t.co/z42YpWSV4q— Jorn Bettin (@jornbettin) May 2, 2022
Trigger warning: if you are currently keen on obtaining an official diagnosis of autism, the account of abuse and diagnostic trauma below may prompt you to rethink, and draw your attention to the Communal Definition of Autistic Ways of Being.
Regardless of diagnostic status, the account below should prompt all Autistic people
- to question the value of official diagnosis,
- to consider the value of Autistic peer support networks,
- and to focus on what can be achieved by co-creating healthy Autistic communities.
An anonymised diagnostic experience
Surviving professional abuse accompanying autism diagnosis
Letter to the psychologist who in diagnosing my Autism simultaneously assumed the entitled right to abuse me:
Survivors are quiet because they are haunted, because they still cannot entirely accept what happened. Khan, Ausma Zehanat (2017) The Unquiet Dead, UK, Oldcastle Books Ltd
“Tony Attwood, an acknowledged expert on the autistic spectrum, writes that there is a ‘quasi-philosophical quality’ to the autobiographies of adults with Asperger’s analysis’. What he is referring to is generally accepted to be an over-rationalistic, hyper-reflexive self-awareness, and a disengagement from emotion and embodied existence, which is very much in accord with my experience of looking after subjects on the autistic spectrum. Moreover, there is an abstract, quasi-philosophical mode of talking that is common in some kinds of schizophrenia, at first impressive, but ultimately recalcitrant to understanding; it is sometimes actually referred to as ‘pseudo-philosophical thought disorder’. Both autistic and schizophrenic individuals have an antipathy to what is embodied, uncertain and unknown (or unknowable), preferring what is abstract, certain and known, all of which is characteristic of the left hemisphere.” McGilchrist, Iain (Nov 2021) The Things that Matter: our brains, our delusions and the unmaking of the world, London UK, Perspectiva
I first read the above McGilchrist quote in December 2021, with awe. I recall thinking, what confident audacity for the author and Tony Attwood to expose their un/conscious bias, their subjective gaze, their neuronormativity so publicly in the year 2021 for all the world to witness. And then I realised in breathtaking shock, they suffered no risk. I was naïve. Theirs is the populist imagination of the fearful conspiracy theorists. It is we Autists who continue to be the ones at risk as they perpetuate their dehumanization of the neuro-other. (These comments will apply equally to schizophrenics I suspect, but I would need to ask a Schizophrenic human to truly know that.)
I still find it unbelievable that old white men still exercise such power and authority in the 21st century. They are both around my age as it happens. Yet I shouldn’t be surprised; pragmatically I realise their narrative has a long tradition of attracting unquestioning followers waiting in line for a share of their empires; power and prestige are very seductive. And then there is the opportunity to accrue wealth; it turns out the Autism Industry is a great money spinner. Too many reasons to dehumanise; none of any value to not.
However, in 2018 I did not know this form of confidently overt Ableism still thrived; I was undoubtedly ignorant. I did not know careers were still being built and fortunes being made on the backs of Autistic humans. I wasn’t looking for Ableism, but neither was I looking for Sexism, Misogyny, Homophobia and/or Ageism. (In hindsight I can comfortably assume Racism and Transphobia would have also presented if I had been a POC and/or Transgender.) I was so naively confident I was safe that I walked into your offices alone; I believed I was merely undertaking a series of objective tests. It never occurred to me in my wildest dreams that I would not be safe from/with you.
I had not long turned 67 when I first walked in your door. At that time, I had little insight into what it meant living an undiagnosed Autistic life as a woman; but you did. Autism continues to be your advertised area of expertise.
What I do continue to know is that statistically few women can reach my age without experiencing some forms of abuse, particularly Violence Against Women (VAW). What I do continue to know is that Women with Disabilities face a far greater risk, experience VAW at a far higher rate. Given the political and media attention to VAW and abuse of people with disabilities this century, it was/is surely not possible for you to be ignorant of its ubiquitous nature unless you deliberately chose to wear blinkers.
Given what I assume you knew (and know) about the incidence of domestic/family/sexual abuse among Autistic Women and Girls, diagnosed and undiagnosed, it can hardly have been an earth-shattering surprise that I revealed in response to your questions in that first session, a history of domestic/family abuse.
Given what I assume you knew (and know) about the incidence of domestic/family/sexual abuse among Autistic Women and Girls, diagnosed and undiagnosed, then you surely must have been trained in how to respond appropriately to such revelations. Training: Trauma Counselling; Managing exposures of Domestic/Family Abuse in the counselling room; Privacy and Confidentiality; Client Safety.
Because in 2018 I was blind to your Ableism, I experienced your abuse primarily as Sexism, Misogyny, Ageism and Homophobia. Now all those may be true also. Most likely were/are. But what I hadn’t considered from your worldview was/is that they may all be subcategories of your Ableism. Or that they were/are inextricably enmeshed with your Ableism.
I am astonished that in 2022, our society and economy continue to be controlled by a culture of patronising paternalism in a hierarchy determined by intersections of race, class, gender, wealth, the list goes on. This is utopian naivete on my part because equality is popularly delivered as the democratic narrative when in reality the survival of extant democracy requires equality to be non-existent, only illusional. I wonder if that is why paternalism seems mistaken for emotional maturity by a passive majority, because we are encouraged to see the world through rose-coloured lens; it may explain the current popularity of daddy politicians around the planet. Whereas it is the reverse. Emotional maturity rather requires self-awareness, compassion and empathy. Paradoxically, while we live in a culture which encourages dependency on a self-appointed minority perceived as “experts”, our “experts” will never gain emotional maturity.
I am labouring the point of emotional maturity as in 2018, I was struck by its absence in your language and presence. Even today when I recall your voice, I hear that of an earnest little boy. You were so young, younger than my own sons. But even then, I wasn’t alarmed as I trusted your professional training should have compensated for your youth; it could even have been an advantage. It is a somewhat humorous fact of life that as you age you become more aware of the youth of working people around you and you need to learn to accustom yourself to that reality. Thus, I entered your office with increasing hope that a young man could be more aware and not mansplain a woman as an older man might.
Consequently, I was caught totally unawares when your primary narrative to address me after the first session was Shaming and Blaming Coercive Control. I would have corrected my children for speaking to another, including me, in that manner. I would have called it out for what it was: Disrespectful and Abusive. It is the language only one of my children ever tried as an adult, and that was when he wanted to manipulate and bully from me something to which he wasn’t entitled. I just had too many frameworks from which to try and comprehend your behaviour: emotional immaturity, sexism, misogyny, ageism, homophobia, classism, poverty, single mother stereotypes, or some combination of some, or a combination of all.
I am now 71. One of the experiences of ageing is the illusion that time is passing at an escalating speed. In some ways, that is an existential truth as the presence of death hovers ever closer in mathematical probability. Thus, as I age, there is an increasing sense of urgency to gain increased insight into the dynamics of your abuse in 2018. And I have been wondering how that might be possible.
I wonder what happens when my experience of your abuse metamorphoses into another where as many as possible of the toxic stereotypes you embraced, except maybe your Ableism, are written out. Is it possible to create a hypothetical scenario to explore if it takes the client to the same place you took me: Denied Humanity? The most commonly accepted example that most closely resembles the experience of the domestic/ family violence victim-survivor is that of the War Veteran with PTSD.
So here goes. I address this to you, my professional abuser, where the word “professional” is a pun, carries the double entendre of your self-perception as a professional as well as being an expert abuser. It is in this extraordinary, detached retelling that I am realising how severely you abused me.
Imagine a “white” middle-aged heterosexual man,
professionally attired, open-necked shirt, chinos and loafers,
straight backed, slender, physically fit deportment,
well spoken, well educated,
gentle quiet demeanour,
firm in his convictions and confidence,
self refers to your office for Autism assessment.
He attends alone
a little nervous understandably
but feeling confident safe and trusting
believing there is no reason for concern
seeking answers with open curiosity,
after meeting serendipitously
and a brief ensuing conversation with an Autistic man.
In the first of the four sessions, the introductory session, you learn:
His parents are deceased, he has no siblings (only child).
He and his ex-wife separated and divorced many years ago.
They had no children.
He has been living alone since his marriage ended.
He also reveals to you
he is a retired high-ranking army officer (let’s say major or captain) and
completed his university education as a civil engineer
while in the Australian Defence Services.
In response to your questions about his army career
you learn he was deployed to two terms of service in a war zone
as an active soldier and officer
You ask: Where? What country? What war?
He replies: It doesn’t matter what country or what war. Witnessing the atrocity of war is witnessing the atrocity of war.
You ask: What was your experience of war?
He replies: I saw enough to return with PTSD. War Veterans are highly probable to return with PTSD. I am no different. You see things you can never unsee. Things that inhabit your worst nightmares.
You ask: When did this happen? What years?
He replies: When? 1990s? 2010s? Why does that matter. It is irrelevant.
You ask: Have you recovered from your PTSD?
He looks at you bewildered; his look says “You ARE a qualified psychologist, aren’t you? Did you really ask that idiotic question?”
Did you catch that look?
He smiles gently and explains: There is no such thing as full recovery from PTSD. The scars are permanent. Healing is modifying your life as you painfully learn to care for your emotional scars. You recreate your life.
You don’t acknowledge that answer.
Reluctantly into your unresponsiveness, evoking his own embarrassment and shame, he adds: I was also a POW for some time, imprisoned in isolation in deprived conditions.
You don’t acknowledge that additional information or his overtly and fearfully presented feelings.
Into the silence and your downturned head, he offers: I have become a practitioner of Zen Buddhist meditation which brings a lot of peace to my life. And Defence have provided me with a trained Companion Dog. A Golden Retriever.
You don’t acknowledge that feedback.
He smiles watching you ignore him: Her name is Irene. The Greek Goddess of Peace. She brings serenity and joy, laughter and playfulness to my life.
You don’t acknowledge that information.
Rather you say as if he hasn’t spoken: Diagnosis requires family members complete questionnaires regarding their observations of your behaviour.
He nods slowly trying to absorb, comprehend why what he thought was objective scientific tests suddenly became subjective observation. He knows how trauma fractures families. As do all War Veterans. And there is only one potential family member to contact. He waits.
You implacably demand with quiet authority: I need a family questionnaire completed by your wife.
He replies: I have already told you I am separated from my wife and as is for many returning War Vets with PTSD, our marriage ended badly. I do not want to do that. That will not be fair on her, or on me, particularly when we have had no contact for many years now. It will also be understandably impossible to obtain lack of bias from her.
You demand quietly, rigidly, without emotion: I need a family questionnaire completed by your wife.
He replies: As you believe this is necessary, I will try to find her, explain to her you need this, hope she will understand, but I ask you to acknowledge our shared history, to protect and be respectful of both of us during this process.
You do not acknowledge this response but move on.
You demand unemotionally: You need to contact your POW jailers to complete questionnaires. Can you organise that?
Now he looks very confused, asking: Why do I need to do that?
You reply quietly aloofly: Their responses are necessary for the diagnostic assessment.
He looks at you in shock, but he thinks to himself: this is your area of expertise, you must know what you are doing. Discovering if he is Autistic is very important to him as he continues trying to make sense of his life.
But still he replies: I put myself at enormous risk if I do this and the Army may well object.
You demand quietly implacably: I need their completed questionnaires.
The War Veteran replies with great fear: I will see what I can do. But I am trusting you to keep me safe. I am trusting you not to breach my privacy and confidentiality. If the Army agrees, I will arrange for them to forward their responses directly to you so I do not need to have direct contact with them; I will organise contact via a third party, via Army personnel.
Did you catch his fear? Do you see how crazy this story is becoming?
You choose not to respond to or acknowledge his feedback.
You choose not to acknowledge his fear.
You choose not to engage with him in adult/adult language, but rather infantilize him.
You choose to disrespect him and his ex-wife while simultaneously privileging her narrative.
At a later session, you will tell him: You have Alexithymia and will not explain what that means.
You will later tell him: You have no connection to your feelings, or You have no feelings, despite his exposure of his feelings in your office, his years of personal counselling, tertiary education, officer training and career.
You will tell him: You do not have empathy
And when he queries, you will tell him: You do not have real empathy.
You will tell him: You do not know who you are.
But you do not tell him whom he is.
You will order him to attend his GP ASAP, to go back on antidepressants and antianxiety medication urgently. You don’t acknowledge him informing you in a previous session that his GP has said he doesn’t need them, that he hasn’t taken them for years. His GP will be furious. With your irresponsibility.
You will order him to defer all decisions regarding his life to a young man, a defence services cadet, about 30 years younger, he has been mentoring. A young neighbour, one of the few current friends/acquaintances he has told you about in his responses to your questions about his social life.
You will choose to implacably ignore but rather, coldly observe him, the session he devolves in a trauma response of your own creation because you denied his fear and risk. You will also ignore the risk to him inherent in his presenting trauma response. You will further choose not to do any follow-up care after his trauma response to your abuse.
You will write him an unsolicited Executive Function Report in infantilizing language telling him he needs a carer as he is incapable of self-care and making his own decisions. You will do this even though he has told you that he has been living capably and independently alone since his marriage ended many years earlier. And he is a mature age adult who has a successful career behind him.
Three years later, your colleague will advise him that you wrote that document using the word-processing search-and-replace function to insert his name in place of that of a young child. In a proforma document intended for young children.
It is a letter so infantilizing and minimizing that he would never even address a child in that manner.
Three years later, your colleague will advise him that the document was “unhelpful” but that you didn’t mean to be “unhelpful”.
You will email him that unsolicited infantilizing document on a Saturday morning three weeks and five days after the fourth and final session.
In your email to him, you will not acknowledge that you are also in receipt of the email his POW jailers sent him about two hours before you sent your email. The email that his abusers also confidently sent you. He knows you have received it because your correct email address is in the cc field.
You will not feel it necessary to check in with him to ensure that he is ok after receiving both emails so close together on a Saturday morning.
You will repeatedly deny over a period of three years, despite the evidence to the contrary, ever having contact with his POW jailers.
You will tell him in writing He has lied to you about his cohabitation status. That He doesn’t live alone as he claims but is cohabiting with another person. (document forwarded late 2021, over three years post diagnosis.)
Your false accusations about his cohabitation status are so crazy that he can only wonder why make such a false accusation. Was there something you meant to say that you didn’t say?
You will tell him in writing he is “offensive” (stet) (same document forwarded late 2021)
You will shame him and trigger his internal shame. Shame is easily triggered in PTSD victim-survivors.
What you choose not to tell him:
- You will not consider it necessary to keep him safe.
- You will expose him to his abusers.
- You will gift them a further opportunity to abuse him. They can hardly believe their good luck. And they will exploit their good fortune.
- You will be manipulated by his abusers because you want to be manipulated by his abusers.
- You will preference his jailers’ narrative over his narrative.
- You will treat his narrative of his abuse experiences as over-emotive reactions having no validity or credibility because all PTSD victim-survivors and Autists have over-active imaginations. Or naturally deceive.
- The narrative of his torturers and jailers will be his irrevocable truth and reality.
- You will consider it reasonable to breach the Professional Standards of your industry; you will consider it reasonable to breach his Privacy and Confidentiality because, as he is not fully human, he is not entitled to their protection.
- You will not tell him that the wealth-creating Autism Industry has still not surrendered its Eugenic roots, rather celebrates them.
- You will not tell him that the Autism Industry is ableist, founded on the Medical Model of Disability. (In preference to the Social Model)
- You will not tell him that the Autism Industry facilitates the systemic abuse of Autistic children through such practices as ABA because the Autism Industry believes Autists have no feelings.
What he will do:
- For over three years, he will try to gain insight and healing using the tools of negotiation and mediation while simultaneously requesting staff training, contacting you, then your colleagues. He will not be successful in that endeavour.
- He will discover that he cannot gain support for professional abuse from another psychologist or mental health worker as they close ranks with the mantra “you didn’t mean it”. That mantra is ubiquitous; it is nigh on impossible for anyone to gain professional support for professional abuse.
- Because there is no external support available:
- he will traumatise and retraumatise himself to process his trauma alone as his only available healing path and
- he will read multiple texts on Trauma Recovery to enable that path and
- he will read literature and texts about Autism written by Autistic people to educate himself about Autism and
- he will discover that ableism is rife within the Autism Industry
- Through his reading, he will discover that it was totally unnecessary for you to abuse and traumatise him; that professionals assess and diagnose Autism every day taking into account trauma histories of their clients; that they do not contact their abusers.
- He will request support from the relevant State Health Ombudsman who will reply stating that
- He is exactly 12 months too late to lodge a complaint; the cut-off date is 2 years
- His complaint is not deemed sufficiently serious to consider investigating beyond the 2-year cut-off date and
- They do not consider your other clients are at risk of similarly repeating abuse which would call for risk assessment and training
- Over a period of 3 ½ years, he will attempt multiple times to gain access to all the documents in his file.
- He will not be successful.
- Different documents will appear at different times but only if he can name them.
- One of the documents will make false allegations to which he has no recourse.
- Over a period of six months in 2021, he will exchange frequent emails with two of your immediate colleagues. They will variously tell him:
- They are not responsible for any aspect of your professional practice even though one of them was the owner of the practice at the time of the abuse
- You were “unhelpful” but didn’t mean to be “unhelpful” (stet)
- One will refer him back to you for resolution although
- he has informed both colleagues he has tried this path many times before unsuccessfully and
- your colleagues know it is not best practice or safe to refer a client back to a professional who has abused them
- They will employ various overt tactics to silence him.
You will deny his truth and reality.
You will choose to abuse and traumatise him for an unstated reason.
Because you and your colleagues do not believe he is truly human and you and your colleagues believe it is also necessary for him to know he is only pseudo-human.
He is Autistic, recalcitrant to understanding, suffering from pseudo-philosophical thought disorder.
My question is: Will you abuse a War Veteran and POW victim-survivor the same way you abused a Family Violence victim-survivor? I cannot answer that question for you. I do not know your answer; only you do. But the indications are that you will as you and your colleagues believe Autistic people have no real humanity.
You know you are safe, that he has no path to redress.
You have got away with it. Successfully and easily, with minimum fuss.
What say you?
i try to gain self-deprecating comic relief from your abuse
i tell others how glad I still am to receive the autism diagnosis
that was worth every hard found dollar i paid for it
but I continue to be left speechless by
your unsolicited entirely unexpected abuse
that accompanied your assessment
i know you didn’t charge me for it
you gifted me your abuse and trauma free
but … i could have done without it
four years later
i am still bewildered by its
inanity meaninglessness senselessness
four years later
i still puzzle what you got out of your abusive behaviour
authority power control ego some need to punish but punish what
you stampeded over my life
with all the privilege of a wealthy white boy
let loose in a vast lolly shop
you behaved like a spoilt indulged irresponsible child
but you were not a child
you were an adult
you executed authority
with unquestioning arrogance indifference
utterly denying the existence of family violence
you denied and exploited my history of intergenerational family violence
to feed some want of yours maybe ego
you shamed me
with no regard for my wellbeing
you disregarded my safety
with the ease and disregard that
a quake trembles and abysses the earth’s crust
you unstitched in a brief moment in time
half a century of my hard work recovering from domestic abuse
violently ripping the seams apart
you broke my trust
breached my privacy and confidentiality
with the same indifferent insignificance as snapping a slender twig underfoot
you breached with equanimity
professional ethics, member code of ethics, antidiscrimination legislation and UN human rights
while iterating to me many times you were an ethical man
you blindfolded me
set my back against a bloodstained brick wall in front of a firing squad which
you implacably orchestrated and conducted
an unexpected subversive volcanic eruption
a projectile of projected toxic stereotypes
you told me I had no empathy
or no real empathy
i am still waiting to meet your empathy or your compassion
with onerous much-practiced precision
coercive control and minimization
you cast away my humanity
you erased my identity my existence
with self-righteous authority
you broke and shattered my body
scattering it atom by atom
to every corner of the universe
you accelerated my soul my essence
the length of the Large Hadron Collider and
unceremoniously dumped every particle into the endless depths of a black hole
you assigned me relentlessly
to a hell
of your own creation
you cast a swathe of chaos
through my life from which four years later
i am still trying to recover
i still struggle
to negate my internalized anger and judgmentalism
for my stupidity trusting you
i remind myself I was the client
i remind myself you were the psychologist
it was your responsibility to protect me
but don’t you worry
your prestigious colleagues believe you did the right thing denying my humanity
but four years ago
i didn’t understand why you would put choose to put my safety at risk
when I warned you of my peril
but four years ago
i didn’t know that you believe I am so valueless
you also believed it was totally reasonable to put my personal safety at risk
but four years ago
i didn’t know you chose to abuse and traumatise me
as you and your colleagues believe i am not capable of feelings
but four years ago
i didn’t know that you and your colleagues believe autistic humans
are not entitled to the protection of the professional standards of your industry
but four years ago
i didn’t know that you and your colleagues believe autistic humans
are not entitled to the protection of government antidiscrimination legislation
but four years ago
I didn’t know that you and your colleagues believe autistic humans
are not entitled to the rights of conventions set down by the united nations
but four years ago
I didn’t know you and your colleagues believe
autistic humans have no humanity no heart
but four years ago
i didn’t know you and your colleagues believe autistic humans are
pseudo humans and quasi philosophers
But four years ago
i didn’t understand that you and your colleagues believe autistic humans
are “recalcitrant to understanding” with ‘pseudo-philosophical thought disorder’
but four years ago
i believed the autism industry had moved beyond its history of eugenics.
i was wrong
your ableism your sexism misogyny ageism and homophobia
have successfully unravelled me like a carelessly knitted cardigan.
if that was your intent
congratulations, human, congratulations
you and your colleagues, succeeded where my every family member before you failed
they will all be proud of you
I am no where
I am no when
I am no one
Agarwal, Pragya (2020) Sway: unravelling unconscious bias, London, Bloomsbury Sigma
Ford, Ian (2010), A Field Guide to Earthlings: an Autistic/Asperger view of neurotypical behaviour, Albuquerque, Ian Ford Software Corporation
Gadsby, Hannah (2022), Ten Steps to Nanette: a situation memoir, New York, Ballantine Books
Hill, Jess (2019), See What You Made Me Do: power control and domestic violence, Australia, Black Inc (winner of the 2020 Stella prize)
Jane, Emma A (2022), Diagnosis Normal: living with abuse, undiagnosed autism, and covid-grade crazy, Ebury Press (Penguin Random House Group)
Milton, Damian (2017), A Mismatch of Salience: explorations of the nature of autism from theory to practice, UK, Pavilion Publishing
Milton, Damian (lead editor) (2020), The Neurodiversity Reader: exploring concepts, lived experience and implications for practice, UK, Pavilion Publishing
Silberman, Steve (2015), Neurotribes: the legacy of Autism and how to think smarter about people who think differently, Allen and Unwin
Sosa, Lorena (2017), Intersectionality in the Human Rights Legal Framework on Violence Against Women: at the centre or the margins? UK, Cambridge University Press
Professional Standards in Australia
Antidiscrimination legislation in Australia
- Attorney-General’s Department (Federal) https://www.ag.gov.au/rights-and-protections/human-rights-and-anti-discrimination/australias-anti-discrimination-law
- Australia was one of eight nations participating in the drafting and adopting the UN Universal Declaration on Human Rights in https://humanrights.gov.au/our-work/publications/australia-and-universal-declaration-human-rights
- Australia has been a party to CEDAW since 17/08/1983 https://humanrights.gov.au/our-work/sex-discrimination/publications/womens-human-rights-united-nations-convention-elimination#:~:text=The%20Convention%20on%20the%20Elimination,bill%20of%20rights’%20for%20women
- Australia signed the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in July 2008 and July 2009 https://www.dss.gov.au/our-responsibilities/disability-and-carers/program-services/government-international/international-participation-in-disability-issues#:~:text=UN%20Convention%20on%20the%20Rights%20of%20Persons%20with%20Disabilities&text=On%2017%20July%202008%20and,CRPD%20and%20the%20Optional%20Protocol.
- Australia ratified the CRC in December 1990 to protect the rights of all children https://www.ohchr.org/sites/default/files/Documents/ProfessionalInterest/crc.pdf
- There is no separate international human rights agreement that deals specifically with sexual orientation or gender identity. However, all people have the same human rights regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. https://humanrights.gov.au/our-work/section-4-human-rights-and-discrimination-basis-sexual-orientation-or-gender-identity
- Qld Human Rights Commission https://www.qhrc.qld.gov.au/resources/legal-information/legislation#:~:text=File%2C%20905.5%20KB)-,Anti%2DDiscrimination%20Act%201991,complaint%20and%20have%20it%20resolved
- Universal Declaration on Human Rights https://www.ohchr.org/sites/default/files/UDHR/Documents/UDHR_Translations/eng.pdf
- The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) was adopted in 1979 by the UN General Assembly and entered into force on 3 September 1981. https://www.ohchr.org/sites/default/files/Documents/ProfessionalInterest/cedaw.pdf
- The Convention on Rights of People with Disabilities https://www.un.org/disabilities/documents/convention/convoptprot-e.pdf
- The Convention on the Rights of the Child https://www.ohchr.org/sites/default/files/Documents/ProfessionalInterest/crc.pdf
- The Yogyakarta Principles on the Application of International Human Rights Law in Relation to Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics to Complement https://yogyakartaprinciples.org/
Violence Against Autistic Women and Girls and People with Disabilities
- Snapshot from Royal Commission https://disability.royalcommission.gov.au/news-and-media/media-releases/alarming-rates-family-domestic-and-sexual-violence-women-and-girls-disability-be-examined-hearing#:~:text=The%20data%20presented%20during%20this,or%201.7%20million)%20without%20disability.
- AIHW report on violence against people with a disability https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/disability/people-with-disability-in-australia/contents/justice-and-safety/violence-against-people-with-disability
- Violence Against Autistic Women http://www.australianautismalliance.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Autistic-Women.pdf
- Sexual Violence against Autistic Girls https://www.spectrumnews.org/news/girls-autism-high-risk-sexual-abuse-large-study-says/
- Australian Government report on Elder Abuse https://aifs.gov.au/publications/national-elder-abuse-prevalence-study-final-report
- Code of Practice working with FV survivors https://safeandequal.org.au/working-in-family-violence/service-responses/specialist-family-violence-services/the-code-of-practice/
- Working with survivors https://www.vic.gov.au/maram-victim-survivor-practice-guides/print-all Australia’s first Royal Commission into Family Violence was completed in Victoria in 2015, three years before I stepped into your professional offices. It did make the national news. (https://www.vic.gov.au/about-royal-commission-family-violence )
- Destroy the Joint has been registering the numbers of women killed in intimate violence since 2012, six years before I stepped into your professional rooms. Those numbers continue to be made available to the media on a regular basis. (https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Public-Service/Counting-Dead-Women-Australia-111647810713234/ ).
- The final government report into institutional child abuse was released in December 2017, the culmination of five years’ work with the ongoing investigations being reported in the media on nearly a daily basis. That was seven months before I stepped into your professional offices. (https://www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au/final-report)
6 thoughts on “Autistic ways of being, trauma, and diagnosis”
thank you for this voice
wow what a nightmare!! we support you!! This needs to be reported to other health authorities, I bet there are plenty other stories. How did this practitioner get the expertise for autism assessments when he has this archaic understanding of autism? How is that even possible????
the psychologist concerned is registered in Australia with APHRA, has a PhD in Autism Studies and works from a service dedicated to providing services for Autistic children and doing Autism diagnoses. that is the problem.
wth??? How is that even possible? Can you document any of this and send it to APHRA, his institution and that service, complaining and letting them know that he fully stated to you “you have no real empathy” as well as demanding that you required statements for your “POW jailers”? What a completely psychotic and abusive statement to make to anyone on earth, even a suspected sociopath (antisocial personality disorder) where tht could in reality be just the case; still, any PROFESSIONAL or SANE practitioner would know it is highly unethical to make statments like this dircetly to the patient or to dehumanize them in such a way.
reporting professional abuse is extraordinarily difficult. the customer attends the therapist as the ‘expert”, as the person holding knowledge they don’t have. our culture encourages us to have faith in such “experts”. the therapist/customer relationship is an innate power and control imbalance, thus the therapist holds all the validity and credibility. a mature therapist will not exploit that power imbalance but use it as a place to improve their own practice with integrity, transparency and accountability. however, i think it is very difficult to be a mature therapist in a hierarchical authoritarian culture as is western culture – power, control, social prestige, economic status are valued more than integrity and are thus very seductive in western culture.
reporting professional abuse is a you said/they said environment unless the sessions are taped. i have become in favour of such sessions being taped. it would enforce honesty, transparency and accountability.
the “higher” prestige or status (education, social, economic) the therapist holds, the less likely it is that the customer will be believed. the greatest chance for the customer to be believed is that the customer holds equal prestige and status, but it is also unlikely that the therapist will abuse such a customer as little unconscious bias is evoked. (see pragya agarwal on unconscious bias)
reporting professional abuse to colleagues and member bodies is not effective, colleagues will most likely close ranks as protecting each other is more important than the wellbeing of the customer. professional bodies exist to protect the therapist, not the customer. thus the most likely outcome is discrediting the customer which is merely further professional abuse. it is close to impossible to find support from other therapists and professional bodies within the autism and psychology industries.
i think the best tool to analyse customer, ie human, validity and credibility is intersectionality (see kimberle crenshaw and other authors on human rights using this analysis). intersections of marginalization and alienation include race, class, gender, sexual preference, ability, religion. that is not an exhaustive list. roughly, credibility and validity decrease with the number of intersections a hierarchical culture can impose on a human. as a very crude example, a black autistic transwoman sex-worker reporting rape has a very high likelihood the poilice will dismiss her claims no matter how badly battered she presents.
it seems the autism and psychology industries are yet to confront their own subjective gaze as other human sciences have done eg sociology and anthropology. refusal to engage with their subjective gaze means they continue to view their clients with unchallenged unconscious bias. therapists see what they are trained to see, and what they want to see, underpinned by their unconscious bias. that is the success of eugenics in the autism industry.
the customer bears the consequences of the refusal of the autism industry to engage in urgently needed introspection.
Your in-depth commentary on the difficulties around reporting professional abuse below is spot-on. This is precisely why we offer an intersectional community-powered approach to monitoring cultural and psychological safety in the healthcare sector https://healthcare-solutions.s23m.com/employee-wellbeing/ (this specific service is concerned with employee wellbeing, but we are now working on a variant of the design that is concerned with patient safety and wellbeing).