”Core Connections”

An article was printed in the Irish Examiner yesterday which is about the ‘Myth of autism’. It’s written by Dr. Tony Humphreys who is a Consultant Clinical Psychologist.

You can read the article on the Irish Autism Action Facebook page. What I make of it is that the author is saying the parents of children with Autism are cold and unloving. So are therefore producing children who are unable to love and ‘exist mostly in their heads’. Apparently the parents of such children are the ones that need the help. These parents can’t express ‘love and affection and emotional receptivity’, according to Dr. Humphreys.

It beggars belief that someone can write this rubbish. What about in families such as my own where one child is on the autistic spectrum and the other isn’t? Even though they were bought up exactly the same.

What about poor children that come from homes where they were unloved and they aren’t autistic?

We are living in a world where it’s hard to get by if you have a disability (especially an unseen one) and are trying to get people to understand about autism. It’s not helped by articles like this.

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18 thoughts on “”Core Connections”

  1. Cat says:

    Completely ignores every other symptom as well. Where exactly did this guy get his degree? I guess we should be used to being called bad parents by now, but I’m not.

  2. colmoriain says:

    I can’t read the offending article on the blog link but from what you say this ‘attack’ on parents with autistic children is outrageous and you’re response is quite measured and justified. I don’t have any autustic children myself but have some experience of designing a school environment for them.I have always found the children themselves and indeed the parents/techers who care so lovingly for them to be highly admirable and I feel angered myself that broad insensitive generalisations by so called specialists only serve to add hurt rather than any useful insight into thedaily lives of the children and their families.

  3. Gaye Dalton says:

    My response to article as already posted on IAA Facebook page:

    I do not post on, or in any way affiliate with IAA and never will, but this article demands comment that very few people can give conclusively, and I happen to be one of them.

    My father was a mining engineer, my mother is clinically psychopathic. I am, fully diagnosed, autistic.

    I experienced all the negative things Tony Humphreys talks about in abundance through my childhood, no question, had it all, and then some…especially in that mother used Doctors as weapons and punishments, and I got slung with psychiatric diagnoses I never had a single symptom of, just to conceal the outward manifestations of abuse (eg, me screaming loud enough for the neighbours to hear when my father beat the cr*p out of me).

    I left home before I was 14, and since then, life brought me through an ongoing emotional vacuum to a succession of very dark places indeed, full of other people who had only ever known similar degrees of abuse.

    I knew I was about as thoroughly emotionally damaged as a person could be.

    I began to notice something. These other people, some even more abused than me, could recover, socially and emotionally, to a degree, and in ways, that I could not, even though I was more intelligent and more self aware than they were, and in many, many ways, far stronger, and even, in the worst of adversity, far more functional.

    I had to face the fact that I had a additional problem and it was very, very serious. My intellect was intact, my judgement was unimpaired, I was morally fully functional (I *get* right and wrong, truth and lies, control and responsibility rather more, if anything, than most people and have an almost driven preference for the side of the angels).

    It took 10 years or so to face and identify that “other problem”. I am autistic…and once faced and identified it suddenly became ridiculously obvious. All the emotional, and other abuse probably had the effect of making me appear far higher functioning than I am.

    There is a lot of toxic politics around autism…every autism org I am aware of would do well to note that being treated as outlined in the article by organisations who claim to support and represent us does us a lot of harm and really does not pass unremarked or go over our heads. We know, we just haven’t got a clue how to make them stop…so we mostly keep our heads down and avoid them. But there is just as much, equally toxic politics around a slightly newer concept, rapidly gaining ground, called “reactive attachment disorder” (this is what Tony Humphries is talking about).

    No question, there *ARE* reactive attachment disorders, they do happen, I have seen them with my own eyes, but they are *NOT* autism, and though they may appear similar outwardly, probably (as far as I can tell) feel very differently inside.

    To try and give you an example, therapy for emotional damage focusses on getting you in touch with your social and emotional intuition, which, effectively, does not exist in an autistic. There is no option on any “lightbulb moment” of insight, just a steady descent into meltdown…until you stop therapy (I learned that the hard way too).

    Autism is worth a lot of money and kudos, but it is oversubscribed, hence the new “reactive detachment lobby”. There is even an area of crossover where people make money and notice out of claiming that being involved with, or related to, an autistic causes a reactive attachment disorder called (singularly inappropriately) the Cassandra Syndrome (or similar, it keeps changing).

    None of this stuff is about real caring, if it was, people involved would be behaving themselves. If you are the parent of an autistic and you were offended reading that article then you have some idea how it feels to be autistic and read the kind of agenda-driven cr*p regularly published on the subject.

    The truth is, of course that autism exists, reactive attachment disorders exist, people can have both, or neither.

    Even refrigerator mothers exist, I know, I have one (well actually, more of a “deep freezer mother”) but she did not make me (or my youngest brother) autistic…she just made sure I was well fecked up emotionally besides.

    Here endeth the lesson.

    • magnumlady says:

      Thanks for posting that Gaye. You sound like an inspiration! Yes you are right, there are all different conditions. People with autism have it in different degrees, this doesn’t seem to be taken on board in the article.
      What about the poor souls with it who can’t speak? Is it because they had ‘cold’ parents? I don’t think so.

      • Gaye Dalton says:

        I have a theory about non verbal autism Magnumlady…nothing but common sense and my own experience to base it on but I think it holds a little water.

        I believe that the emotional wasteland of my infancy is a huge factor in my apparently high functionality. I think if I had been born to parents I could have felt safe with. If I had cause for that first, learned trust that there is a caregiver who will feed you etc whatever, I would have withdrawn far further inrto myself. As it was, I did not dare.

        I am not inspirational, just an intelligent human being who lives a parallel, nightmare life in the same world as you. I can fake being like you, for short periods, under great stress, only too well, but I can never feel the same way you do, or be like you, or live the life you do, or even want to.

        I can do a perfect social act that will fool you into believing I am *normal* (in short, inrense bursts) but I can never feel comfortable among people for a second, nor develop real relationships with them. Concepts like “group identity” and “team spirit” creep me out, even if I could fake them I would still hate them. I have to live at a physical distance from people just to be comfortable enough to function.

        If I had a loving, emotionally present family I believe I would have shut down inside myself and lived a far less tortured life as a result…and at the end of the day, isn’t that what life is for?

        I am not saying that profound autism is a voluntary choice, it isn’t, what I am saying is that I believe, being born into a family where I was constantly threatened forced me out of a far more natural (to me), withdrawn state, into a lifelong nightmare, and that was a VERY bad thing.

  4. Catherine Rotte-Murray says:

    Haven’t read the linked article yet but have to say having heard the same Tony Humphries talk on parenting and emotional damage to children some years ago I have very little or no regard for his clinical psychology nor do any nurses I have worked with or known. The danger is that he is given credibility by those who take him at face value. I will read the article now. Don’t be taken in by it, or waste your anger on ranting, just a measured response like you gave in your post. I can see where Gayle is coming from, her own experience can’t be dismissed but she sees it as different from autism, this reactive attachment disorder.

  5. RD says:

    Tony Humphreys has already been rejected by Simon Baron-Cohen, and he is getting a thorough going over on Liveline (RTE Radio) – Sami Timimi has said the article is upsetting and does not represent his research. Professor Louise Gallagher (Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry) has said that Humphreys article is completely without basis in fact.

  6. Siobhan says:

    Why don’t Tony Humpries burn us at the stake(parents) after all look what we have done to our children. Tony, read Tony Attwood Guide to Aspergers.
    Siobhan parent of Son with Aspergers.

  7. danFitz says:

    Hi
    Some great comments, as an OT working with preschoolers, feel there needs to be broader discussion on not just ASD but labelling in general. Much of the recent push toward speedy diagnosis seems more about ticking a box to get resources than identifying needs. Can I recommend the Autism Matrix by Gil Eyal, it is a scientific packed look at history.and development of a diagnosis, that asks some hard questions about popular beliefs.

    And I’m confused, how come it takes a MDT months in some areas, seeing the child in different settings to diagnose ASD, where elsewhere a private practitioner can give a diagnosis in one session?

    Hats off to you Gaye a lot of great points,

    everyone keep talking and researching

    dan

    • magnumlady says:

      Thanks for your comment Dan. I honestly don’t know how a diagnosis can be given in one session.
      My son was seeing a psychiatrist for over two months on a weekly basis before he was diagnosed.

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