Abstract

ABSTRACT:

This paper has both theoretical and practical ambitions. The theoretical ambitions are to explore what would constitute both effective and ethical treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). However, the practical ambition is perhaps more important: we argue that a dominant form of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), which is widely taken to be far-and-away the best “treatment” for ASD, manifests systematic violations of the fundamental tenets of bioethics. Moreover, the supposed benefits of the treatment not only fail to mitigate these violations, but often exacerbate them. Warnings of the perils of ABA are not original to us—autism advocates have been ringing this bell for some years. However, their pleas have been largely unheeded, and ABA continues to be offered to and quite frequently pushed upon parents as the appropriate treatment for autistic children. Our contribution is to argue that, from a bioethical perspective, autism advocates are fully justified in their concerns—the rights of autistic children and their parents are being regularly infringed upon. Specifically, we will argue that employing ABA violates the principles of justice and nonmaleficence and, most critically, infringes on the autonomy of children and (when pushed aggressively) of parents as well.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-3249
Print ISSN
1054-6863
Pages
pp. 31-69
Launched on MUSE
2020-04-20
Open Access
No
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