Selling Hype or Giving Hope: Science and Pseudoscience in Autism Treatment (Thomas Zane)

Autism treatment has long been known as a ‘fad magnet’ that attracts well-vetted empirically-based effective treatments, but unfortunately, also attracts ill-advised, ineffective, and unethical treatments. Parents and caregivers seek effective ways of teaching skills, maximizing independence, and improving the quality of life for individuals with autism. They assume those professionals who have degrees, certifications, and visibility in the eld know what they are doing, and believe the hype and marketing that service providers disseminate about the methods they use. The proponents of all autism treatments assert that their treatments will work. They want parents and caregivers to be hopeful that their particular treatments will meet the goals and desires of those seeking treatment. However, the fact is that some treatment providers can only provide the hype without also delivering the effective outcomes of their therapy. Hype is freely given. Real hope, gleaned from evidenced-based strategies that produce objectively measured positive outcomes, is harder to come by.
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Thomas Zane, Ph.D., BCBA-D
Presented at the 2020 Michigan Autism Conference
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