2020 – Current Advocacy Project
The Therapist Neurodiversity Collective partners with multiple disability agencies, self-advocacy organizations, and therapy companies and providers in a grassroots effort to strongly oppose and condemn the mandated competencies for the American Speech & Hearing Association’s Board Certified Specialty in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASHA BCS-ASD).
History: The Autism Spectrum Disorder Specialty Certification Board, led by Lynn Koegel, was approved by the Council for Clinical Certification in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CFCC) for official recognition from ASHA as a Specialty Certification Board on July 19, 2016.
It is important to note that this information and Koegel’s contact information were only recently added to the ASHA website in early November 2019, which is over three years after Koegel’s Board received Stage 2 approval from CFCC, and well after the public comments period had closed.
It is also important to note that the Council for Clinical Certification in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CFCC) changed the “Tenets for Specialty Certification” to add the following rule on November 1, 2019: “The Specialty Area directly affects the provision of services to clients/patients whose needs require a distinct body of knowledge, skills, and experience.”
Clinical Specialty Certification as a Specialty Certification Board
In the fall of 2019, ASHA CCC-SLPs and members of the Public raised issues with the lack of transparency from the Autism Spectrum Disorder Specialty Certification Board in the forms of an online petition as well as numerous emails sent to the ASHA Specialty Certification Board and to Lynn Koegel. An ASHA Town Hall Meeting was subsequently scheduled for the 2019 ASHA Convention and held on Friday, November 22, where Lynn Koegel and Stephen Camarata (co-presenter) publicly committed to answering all audience questions from audience members. However, instead of providing complete transparency as promised, the audience’s questions were heavily censored. Koegel and Camarata required that audience questions be submitted in writing on index cards during the Town Hall session. Towards the end of the session, the audience watched as Koegel shuffled through the cards while reading them, and hand-picked only the questions Camarata and she deigned to address. Upon completion of the Town Hall, the Founder of the Therapist Neurodiversity Collective approached Camarata and inquired as to why none of the four questions she had submitted had been addressed. Camarata asserted that all audience questions submitted and not answered during the ASHA Town Hall would receive an emailed response by the release date of the competencies in December 2019. During the Town Hall, audience members submitted their email addresses in order to be contacted by Koegel about updates to the BCS-ASD and to receive answers to our questions. To date, the audience’s unanswered questions have yet to be acknowledged and addressed, nor has the Founder of the Therapist Neurodiversity Collective received any emails, including notification about the release date of the competencies in mid-December 2019.
1) Percentage of Board Members and Committee Members who are BCBAs?
2) Percentage of Board Members and Committee Members who own or work in ABA Clinics or Businesses or Non-Profits?
3) If the Board or the Committee, or Stephen Camarata or Lynn Koegel had specifically reached out to ASAN or other “actually Autistic” self-advocacy organizations?
(This question was personally answered by Camarata after the session; he stated that the Board contacted Autism Speaks. Autism Speaks is not an Autistic self-advocacy organization.)
4) If a CCC-SLP is ethically opposed to the application of ABA methodologies in their practice, could they become board certified?
Our coordinated campaign will highlight the following:
- This BCS-ASD Board’s failure to meaningfully engage with stakeholder communities, including the Autistic and other Disability self-advocate communities
- This BCS-ASD Board’s failure to seriously consider the potential harm that may result from a process that completely ignores the experiences of Autistic self-advocates
- Our ethical opposition to the use of Applied Behavioral Analysis methodologies in our therapy practices as a mandate for this certification
- Our ethical opposition to a system of rewards/punishments in therapy practices as a mandate for this certification
- Our strong moral objections and ethical repugnance to the use of restraint and all aversive methods, including those “medically indicated” (Which calls to mind the Judge Rotenberg Center’s inhumane use of electric shock torture)
- The BCS-ASD Board’s embarrassing lack of knowledge and application of current scientific research (ex: autistic brain differences, trauma, emotional regulation)
- The perils and problems with the therapy goals of “normalization” and the trauma induced by masking, trauma induced by force-feeding, and trauma-induced by mandatory compliance
- Our strong opposition to the certification requirement for “supervision of ABA insurance-reimbursed services related to communication”
- The competency mandate for research should include Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR)
- Our objection to the statement regarding “Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD) and sensory integration dysfunction (SID)” and the lack of acknowledgment and application regarding current scientific research in these areas, including recent 2019 research conducted by BCS-ASD Board Member, Stephen Camarata (Use of the STAR PROCESS for Children with Sensory Processing Challenges)