Trigger Warning: ABA, Abuse
Since I'm planning to write a letter to Jenny McCarthy as well as to Playboy, I'm going to be reading the stuff she and her organization, Generation Rescue, put out on the internet. Most of it is so bad that I CAN'T leave it unanswered, so here comes answers.
The original article in this case is ``Let's Talk About … Stimming." The title makes it sound like stimming is something to be afraid of, but honestly? With the exception of a few actually dangerous stims, like hitting ones head against the wall or slapping oneself in the face, stims are only ``bad" if we decide they are. Maybe it's social expectations that need to change, not our stims. Because really. I flap my hands for a bunch of different reasons, and it hurts exactly no one.
His intro paragraph says that the treatment of these behaviors (stimming behaviors) depends somewhat on the cause, which is true enough if you WANT to treat it. Not a disease, but hey. Generation Rescue goes for cures, and Jenny said there were no autistic adults, so I guess stimming must be stopped. Using their (warped) logic, it makes sense.
He then goes to look for why the kid is stimming. (Since I'm not a kid, I guess he wouldn't look for why I stim. But then, the leader of his organization said I don't exist. Also, I know why I stim.) He points out all kinds of discomfort, which is true enough, and I'm more than happy to see stims that are to deal with discomfort stop because the discomfort stops (not if the kid is just hiding it, though.)
He also suggests removing electronics that provoke stimming. If it's that the electronics are causing discomfort, OK, but the ones he's describing sound more like happy/excited stims to me, so I say leave it be. Also, is he seriously talking about taking the iPad away from the autistic kid? Does he have ANY idea how many non-speaking autistics use iPads to communicate. Taking away someone's only method of communication is abuse, and it looks to me like he'd do it if the iPad was also leading to stimming. Because, you know, education can only truly begin when the kid is table-ready, aka not stimming. Besides, if you take away the way he communicates that isn't speaking, maybe he'll learn to talk. (It doesn't work that way.) So, as perhaps you can tell, I think taking away the electronics is often going to be a horrible idea and/or an abusive tactic. That iPad isn't just a toy, guys.
He eventually gets to stims that kids ``just prefer" to do. I'm not sure how accurate ``just prefer" to do is- I can stop most of my stims when I really want to, but it takes more effort than it does to stop something I ``just prefer" to do, and the super excited hand flapping and jumping isn't going anywhere even if I try. So I think he missed the ``that's how they express happiness" stims that nothing needs to be done about unless they are dangerous.
I was sad when I heard about the young man who said he wanted to rock and stim to the lights at Disney but that he knew it would be inappropriate. That young man has been successfully convinced that the way he is is wrong, and that it is not appropriate to do anything besides hide the way he is.
Finally, I know he says that children are more teachable when they aren't stimming. I disagree. I remembered what I learned much BETTER when I was allowed to fidget (stim) than when I had teachers who would confiscate my fidget toys, up to and including taking my pen on one occasion. I still don't sit still in class. You don't know that stimming means not paying attention, since it frankly doesn't mean that. Have you TRIED teaching something while the kid was flapping or rocking rather than trying to get the kid to stop first? It just might work. Of course, you're going for cures... so you want all symptoms gone, which means stimming has to go. That's why it's autism improving dramatically in your final sentence, not the coping skills or the abilities of the autistic kids improving dramatically, isn't it? You're trying to make them act neurotypical so you can claim a cure.