Search for:
BBC Panorama is having their ethics called into question following the ADHD diagnoses expose

The other day, I wrote a response to this article about how such irresponsible reporting puts ADHD and otherwise neurodivergent people at risk. Since then there has been growing concern about the ethics behind the article and associated BBC Panorama documentary.

The first thing to note is this article written by the NHS consultant front Leeds who disproved the diagnosis of the three private diagnosticians in question. In the article, the doctor details how the situation being reported on is created by a history of underdiagnosis coupled with a lack of ring-fence NHS funding for ADHD services.

They comment on the fact that the Panorama documentary risks bolestering the arguments of people who falsely believe ADHD is overdiagnosed or that it isn’t a real diagnosis. I believe this is a very measured response to what is a massive failure by the BBC to ensure they meet good journalism standards.

However, there is more to this situation than improper reporting. A whistle-blower on Twitter believes that the reporter in question may have used a fake account to gain access to a female only space regarding ADHD in order to create the documentary and associated article.

The tweet is by Emily Mckenize on Twitter and details some concerning behaviour from the reporter behind this scandal:

Twitter thread by Emily Mckenzie

In particular I would like to highlight the end of the thread:

End of thread by Emily Mckenzie

This highlights a significant breach of boundaries and trust. This reporter appears to have posed as a woman to gain access to a female only space and then solicited information under false pretences. Is that not a flagrant disregard for journalistic ethics and integrity?

One thing is clear from this situation. The journalist, and perhaps the BBC themselves, had decided on the narrative they wanted to portray before actually investigating. They were willing to behave unethically and mislead vulnerable people in order to abuse a position of trust, just to sell this story.

They didn’t care what harm they were doing. They didn’t care that they were focusing on the wrong aspects of ADHD diagnoses. To make it worse, they have taken a space that felt safe for many vulnerable people and made them feel unsafe. This is not okay.

The BBC and the team at Panorama need to be held to account. The impact that this has had on a vulnerable community is unacceptable and highlights the ongoing ableism and uncontrolled privilege existing within the media. I would ask that everyone make a formal complaint to the BBC and request that they make reparations for the damage they have done.

Neurodivergent people deserve safety and support, not subterfuge and invalidation of their identity.

The BBC needs to do better.

NHS services in England’s South West are endangering Autistic children

Today, I came across an article by The Guardian that raises a life-threatening issue. It seems that due to a 350% increase in referrals for autism diagnosis amongst children since the pandemic, NHS managers have moved the goal posts and added extra criteria to meet before a child can be referred. Unless a child meets these criteria, they will not have access to diagnosis, with the irony being that early diagnosis could stop them from meeting this criteria; which indicates an extreme level of suffering to be required before getting the admittedly already pitiful support that is available.

Let’s look at the criteria, as discussed on the Sirona Website:

Who can be referred?
Children and young people meeting the following referral criteria can be referred :

Children and young people whose education placement is breaking down despite appropriate support (including those who are NEET – not in education, employment, or training – and those at risk of permanent exclusion, transfer, or long period of school refusal). This may include children and young people who need an Autism diagnosis to access the required specialist provision.  
Children and young people whose family unit is at risk of breakdown despite support from appropriate agencies (parents/carer and social care are unable to meet the children and young person’s needs, leading to risk of child protection proceedings and/or child needing alternative placement). This can also include children whose adoption is at risk of breaking down.
Children and young people in care or on a child protection plan for whom an assessment is needed (e.g., to inform placement planning). 
Children and young people who are open to Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) with severe and enduring mental health difficulties (i.e., high risk to self or others) where an autism diagnostic assessment is required to support their formulation and care. Or children who are not open to CAMHS but are presenting with a serious risk to self or others (e.g., risk of exploitation, significant self-harm, dangerous levels of aggression towards others). 
Children and young people who are involved with youth offending services and/or are engaged in repeated offending behaviours. 
Children with very low levels of communication where the difficulties are likely to be associated with autism (usually Early Years)

This means that we are expected to wait until a child or young person is already in crisis before they will even refer them for diagnosis. It’s tantamount to negligence and threatens the wellbeing of a demographic that is already significantly more likely to die by suicide.

People on Twitter are also speaking out against these unethical criteria.

Tweets like this highlight the fatigue so many of us feel from trying to make sure Autistic people are supported.

What are we supposed to do when those who are supposed to support us only choose to do it when they are given no other choice? How do we fight back against the brazen demonstration of how inconvenient our existence is considered?

Autistic children and young people will end up in crisis and maybe even die due to rules like these.

This is not ethical, and it is a failure to ensure reasonable adjustments. It is an overt indicator that equality laws can be broken when it’s too inconvenient to follow them. The NHS needs to put a stop to this before more lives are lost.

We are Autistic, and we deserve to be consulted before such inhuman criteria are created.

For further reading about the failure of the NHS to support and protect Autistic people, please check out these articles:

CAMHS nearly killed me, and it’s not okay.

CAMHS in crisis: The systemic failing of Autistic people

Autistics Incarcerated: The dark underbelly of the NHS

Here is a petition to reverse these criteria changes

Autistic people and criminality

Over the years, I have come across a number of stories of Autistic people and the criminal acts they have committed. Often, I find autism part of the discourse surrounding terrorism and random acts of violence. There are a number of factors at play in the development of criminal behaviour, and yet the media has a tendency to just focus on a person’s neurology.

Personally, I believe that the media focuses so heavily on people neurodivergence because it allows them to ‘other’ the criminal. When a tremendous act of criminality occurs, we don’t want to admit the cold, hard truth; given the right environment, any of us could break the law and/or behave unethically.

Being Autistic justifies the othering of criminals, we are able to place a distinct barrier between people using it. It is also indicative of the neuronormativity in society that we (as a society) can accept autism as a reason for criminality. Like many divergent neurocognitive styles, we are seen as inherently sub-human, so the public finds it easy to accept that we are dangerous or cruel.

Historically, we have dealt with ideas of criminal insanity. It provided a means to lock people away indefinitely. By denying a person’s capacity or “mens rea” on the basis of neurology, we justify inhumane treatment such as perpetual incarceration, forced medication, and assimilation by conditioning. Anyone who has been placed under section will tell you; there is a significant emphasis on how our outward expression and internal thought is “defective” and “disordered”.

So when we think about criminal acts with regards to Autistic experience, what are we missing with the medical model?

Autistic people are a minority identity. We are subject to systemic discrimination and minority stress. Knowing the links between social deprivation and criminality, we can start to form a picture of how an Autistic person might find themselves engaging in criminal acts.

We fave housing insecurity and poverty, especially by virtue of our under- or even un- employment. We are subject to structural failure of services designed to support us, not just because of our differences in culture and communication, but because we are pathologised for those differences. We are treated as challenging when we ask under-resourced services for our legal entitlement of support.

We experience clustered injustice. This leads us into life circumstances that lend themselves to criminal behaviour. We take drugs, drink alcohol, join gangs, and behave in ways that are considered antisocial. We desperately want connection, and often, we are exploited through that need by people who intend to leverage our vulnerability for their own gain.

On the topic of drug use; it provides a means to incarcerate and assimilate Autistic people. The criminalisation of drugs has a direct impact on Autistic people, many of whom live at the intersections of race, gender diversity, and psychologically distressing experiences. All of these intersections increase the likelihood of contact with the justice system.

If we want to reduce criminality and ensure that less Autistic people are absorbed into carcerative systems, we need to address the social issues in our society and the environments of Autistic people. If we can remove the multiple injustices that are faced by Autistic people, we allow for a world where criminality is not required to survive. Until such a time that this happens, it is likely that we will continue to witness revolving doors with people cycling in and out of the justice system in perpetuity.

Verified by MonsterInsights