Responding to the Petition Against Autistic Canadians

"Autism is who we are."
—Frank Klein (2004)

In Ottawa and across the country, Canadians are being asked to sign a petition about the future of autistic people in Canada. Here is the text:



We, the undersigned citizens of Canada, draw the attention of the House to the following:

Whereas children suffering from an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are among the weakest and most vulnerable sector of Canadian society;

and whereas, in Canada the rate of children being diagnosed with ASD is high and increasing at an alarming rate (currently approximately 1 child in 195);

and whereas, until the cause and cure of autism are found, children suffering from autism can benefit from the provision of Intensive Behavioural Intervention (IBI) therapy treatment based on the principles of Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA);

and whereas, for a variety of reasons including lack of assigned resources, unconscionable waiting lists, and delegation to Ministries with little or no expertise, the provision of IBI/ABA therapy treatment to children with autism is woefully inadequate;

Therefore, your petitioners call upon Parliament

1) to amend the Canada Health Act and corresponding Regulations to include IBI/ABA therapy for children with autism as a medically necessary treatment and require that all Provinces provide or fund this essential treatment for autism; and

2) contribute to the creation of academic chairs at a university in each province to teach IBI/ABA treatment at the undergraduate and doctoral level so that Canadians professionals will no longer be forced to leave the country to receive academic training in this field and so that Canada will be able to develop the capacity to provide every Canadian with autism with the best IBI/ABA treatment available.



Whereas autistic Canadians are human beings with human rights, who must as all other Canadians be protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms; and

Whereas autistic Canadians do not suffer from autism, which is integral and essential to ourselves, but from the wide array of obstacles we face as autistic people in a world that is willfully ignorant of our needs and strengths as autistic people, and from the disrespect and defamation of ourselves propagated by non-autistic Canadians presenting themselves as socially and otherwise superior; and

Whereas attempts are being made to have one specific autism treatment (or at least approach to treatment) designated as "medically necessary" for all autistic persons, and that this treatment has among its stated goals the extinguishing of essential autistic abilities and characteristics, "recovery" from autism, and a person "indistinguishable" from his typical peers; and

Whereas autistic persons defined by autistic traits and abilities have existed for all of known history, and likely since the dawn of humanity; and are part of the human genetic heritage, as well as an essential part of human culture, conscience, and progress; and

Whereas the effective segregation of autistics who remain autistic from Canadian society, consequent to autistics having rights only if and when we have undergone medical treatment so as to resemble non-autistics, would result in the impoverishment of this society; and 

Whereas autistic differences, which are at the profound level of how we perceive the world and learn from it, are not and have never constituted a disease, disaster, or tragedy, and in fact encompass in all autistics strengths unavailable to the typical population; and

Whereas campaigns to eliminate autistic behaviours, traits, and/or genetics, including by inciting fear and hatred of autistic people through misrepresentation and sensationalism, are similar to previous campaigns to restrict then eliminate human differences, campaigns now universally recognized to be reprehensible acts of intolerance; and

Whereas, consistent with the intolerant campaigns described above, autistics have been barred from the entire public discourse about our nature, worth, treatment, and rights; and

Whereas identifiable groups who are barred from participation in decisions made about themselves, who are censored when they speak out, and who are freely denigrated and demeaned in their forced absence and silence, have the worst and most expensive outcomes:

Autistic Canadians and our allies call upon Parliament to recognize:
1.  That the portrayal of autistic persons by those claiming to represent us is inconsistent with the existing science and with scientific and ethical principles, as well as being in clear violation of basic Canadian values as represented by the Charter; and
2.  That dealing with profound human differences, as found in all autistic individuals, by applying one "medically necessary" treatment designed according to the needs, abilities, prejudices, and priorities of those designated as "normal", is equally a violation of basic Canadian values; and
3.  That excluding autistic people from any and all decision-making about ourselves constitutes a third violation of the basic Canadian values enshrined in the Charter; and
4.  That further to the above, it is entirely inappropriate for one group of Canadians to insist on the publicly-funded elimination of the differences, and therefore the existence, of another group of Canadians; and
5.  That Parliament as a whole has a responsibility to counter intolerant and hateful views of autistics now common in the media and in judicial proceedings, which views have the purpose of scaring the public and legislators into funding programs that will ensure autistic differences—our traits and abilities—are pathologized and presumed to require eradication; and
6.  That Parliament in a non-partisan way must uphold the value and humanity of autistic Canadians; and the value and contributions of our inherent differences to society; and our essential role in all decisions made about our treatment, our worth, our nature, and our rights in Canada.


This response was written, posted, and distributed by autistic Canadians, on behalf of all those who do not share the values represented in the PETITION, above. 

Michelle Dawson
"jypsy" - janet norman-bain
Ralph Smith
October 4, 2004