September 26, 2021


by: admin


Tags: Antiracism, Autism, bilingualism, Clinical, Community, Newsletter, practice, Spectrum


Categories: autism

Neighborhood E-newsletter: Anti-racism in medical follow, bilingualism and autism | Spectrum

Illustration by Laurène Boglio

Hello and welcome to this week’s community newsletter! I am your host, Chelsey B. Coombs, the engagement editor of Spectrum.

Let me remind you of a new Spectrum poll on how autism researchers will approach scientific conferences by the end of the year. Are you ready to relive the unique personal experience of the Society for Neuroscience Conference? Or will you watch the action from your lab (or couch)? We would be grateful if you would share your thoughts.

Our first social topics this week come from Diondra Straiton and Aksheya Sridhar, clinical psychology graduates from Michigan State University in East Lansing. The couple released a call to action in autism on how clinicians in the field can help end racism against blacks in the assessment, treatment and care of autism.

1/3 ** Please share! ** Have you ever wondered how you can address anti-black racism in your work as an autism clinic? @AksheyaS and I have just published an OPEN ACCESS paper on exactly this topic in @journalautism! See our records and the training resource appendix:

– Diondra Straiton (@DiondraStraiton) September 17, 2021

‼ ️ New open access pub, now in @journalautism @DiondraStraiton & I are proud to share our short report describing racism against blacks in clinical work with #autistic populations.

– Aksheya Sridhar (@AksheyaS) September 17, 2021

“Clinics have a responsibility to understand how anti-black racism affects access to quality assessments, accurate and timely diagnoses, autism-related services and quality care for blacks on the autism spectrum,” they write.

They offer five recommendations, including that clinicians should hear what black autistic people think of their organization, remember anti-racist learning is ongoing, and become anti-racism advocates.

The paper also includes attachments with suggested anti-racism readings and educational materials for clinicians. Sridhar tweeted that a website for the newspaper will appear soon.

We outline specific recommendations and append an appendix of resources that practitioners in their individual work and in their organizations may find helpful in advocating for systemic change in the fight against racism against blacks in our field. Stay tuned for a companion website!

– Aksheya Sridhar (@AksheyaS) September 17, 2021

Autism researchers and clinicians praised the paper highly. Sarah Edmunds, assistant professor of psychology at the University of South Carolina, tweeted that she was excited to implement these suggestions.

Cant wait to read this and apply in my own work! @DiondraStraiton & @AksheyaS, congratulations!

– Sarah Edmunds, PhD (@SarahREdmunds) September 20, 2021

Kristen Bottema-Beutel, associate professor of teaching, curriculum and society at Boston College in Massachusetts, tweeted that she had added the paper to her curriculum.

Just added this to my curriculum, excellent job!

– Kristen Bottema-Beutel (@KristenBott) September 17, 2021

Also this week, Rachael Davis, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, tweeted about bilingualism and autism based on a comment she co-authored.

New comment paper on #autism and #bilingualism from @BerengereDigard, @SueReviews and me about autism and equal opportunities in language learning: ⬇️

– Rachael Davis (@rachaelvdavis) September 22, 2021

Studies show that bilingualism can benefit autistic children by strengthening family ties and boosting self-confidence, she and her colleagues write. However, many parents fear that it can also lead to confusion or language delays. While there is no evidence to support this view, some clinicians and educators continue to advise parents against raising their autistic children bilingually.

Lorna Hamilton, Associate Professor and Psychology Associate at York St. John University in the UK and one of the reviewers of the comment, wrote that it was “great to see it in the world”.

Please read this important and timely paper. Great to see it in the world

– Lorna Hamilton (@DrLornaHam) September 22, 2021

Naima Bhana, assistant professor of special education at Niagara University in Lewiston, New York, tweeted that she had faced similar problems professionally and personally, calling the piece “insightful.”

I have experienced very similar problems in my professional and personal life (i.e. I don’t want autistic students to learn their native language because they are afraid of limited vocabulary). This is a very insightful article, especially for others who are unfamiliar with bilingualism

– DR. Naima Bhana (she / she / ella) (@BhanaNaima) September 22, 2021

Finally, Noah Sasson, Associate Professor of Behavioral and Brain Sciences at the University of Texas at Dallas, tweeted his thoughts on studies that purport to deal with autistic people but are actually about autistic traits.

I keep seeing essays titled “Examining X in Autism” only to read deeply into the essay to see that no real autistic people have participated, only people in the general population who have some degree of ” autistic traits ”. Can we stop doing this, please?

– Noah Sasson (@Noahsasson) September 20, 2021

It’s okay to do an autistic traits study. Just say it in the title! Be at the forefront.

– Noah Sasson (@Noahsasson) September 20, 2021

Clare Harrop, assistant professor of Allied Health Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, tweeted her own frustrations about the practice.

I found this immensely frustrating recently while doing a lighted review for a grant. Every time I think I’ve found a good piece of paper, it’s properties

– Clare Harrop (@ClareHarropPhD) September 20, 2021

“So would any animal study, of course,” noted David Mandell, professor of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania and editor-in-chief of Autism.

Of course, this would also apply to any animal study.

– David Mandell (@DSMandell) September 20, 2021

Don’t forget to sign up for our September 28 webinar, where Jeremy Veenstra-VanderWeele, Professor of Psychiatry at Columbia University, will share goals in developing new drugs for autism – and the barriers researchers face can.

That’s it for this week’s community newsletter! If you have any suggestions for interesting social contributions in the field of autism research, feel free to email me at We meet next week!


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