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Concept Paper

How ‘Fake News’ Affects Autism Policy

School of Psychology, Ulster University, Cormore Road, Coleraine, BT52 1SA, UK
Centre for Behaviour Analysis, School of Social Science, Education and Social Work, Queen’s University Belfast, 69/71 University Street, Belfast BT7 1HL, UK
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Societies 2018, 8(2), 29;
Received: 13 February 2018 / Revised: 22 April 2018 / Accepted: 24 April 2018 / Published: 9 May 2018
Since autism was first recognised, prevalence has increased rapidly. The growing economic as well as social cost to families and society can only be mitigated by effective interventions and supports. It is, therefore, not surprising that there is much heated debate and most governments have developed public policies to address the management of autism. This paper describes how well-known ‘propaganda’ techniques, that have become prevalent in the helping professions have been used to influence autism policies by spreading ‘fake news’ about the scientific discipline of Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA). Over the past 40–50 years, meaningful evidence has accrued showing that interventions based on ABA can help people with autism reach their potential. In view of this, nearly all of North America has laws to mandate that ABA-based interventions are available through their health care systems. In contrast, across Europe there are no such laws. In fact, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), the body guiding health and social policy in the UK, concluded that it could not find any evidence to support ABA, and therefore could not recommend it. This paper addresses the reasons for these diametrically opposed perspectives. View Full-Text
Keywords: applied behaviour analysis (ABA); autism; policy; public health; RCT; misinformation; propaganda; fake news applied behaviour analysis (ABA); autism; policy; public health; RCT; misinformation; propaganda; fake news
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MDPI and ACS Style

Keenan, M.; Dillenburger, K. How ‘Fake News’ Affects Autism Policy. Societies 2018, 8, 29.

AMA Style

Keenan M, Dillenburger K. How ‘Fake News’ Affects Autism Policy. Societies. 2018; 8(2):29.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Keenan, Mickey, and Karola Dillenburger. 2018. "How ‘Fake News’ Affects Autism Policy" Societies 8, no. 2: 29.

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