The Human Rights Case Against Harmful Behaviour Modification for Autistic People

17 February 2022, 7:00 pm – 8:15 pm CET
at the Global Disability Summit

Organised by:

This event is also part of the global project of Autistic communities, towards the ban of harmful behaviour modification techniques such as Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) – which is sometimes branded as Early Start Denver Model (EDSM) or Positive Behaviour Support (PBS), as well as various local derivatives of these techniques.

Techniques such as Applied Behaviour Analysis or ABA are pseudoscientific practices of trying to change an individual’s behaviour to conform to the social expectations of a particular culture using psychological and physical interventions. Various jurisdictions around the world have passed laws against LGTBQIA+ conversion therapy. However, the same underlying techniques of coercion continue to be applied to young Autistic children and other vulnerable people.

We are building on the results achieved to date, focusing on the human rights violations in countries that have ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and  the Declaration of Helsinki  that is relevant for all members of the World Medical Association’s (WMA). 

In September 2021 our submission to the Conversion Practices Prohibition Legislation Bill in Aotearoa New Zealand was well received.

Now is the time for the governments all around the world to adopt adequate protocols to protect the human rights of Autistic people, and to act and ban ABA in all its forms. There are many groups, in many different jurisdictions, working in parallel towards this goal.

Target audience

  • The global disability community
  • Policy makers
  • Healthcare professionals (especially General Practitioners and Paediatricians who are involved in preliminary assessments of Autistic children)
  • Educators
  • Employers
  • Parents of Autistic children


Presentations will be in English, and will be provided with live captioning. An English transcript will be published following the event.


  1. Tania Melnyczuk, Founder, Autistic Strategies Network, South Africa
  2. Karen Muriuki, Autistic Self Advocate, Founder of Kenyans Living with Autism and a Bridge Kenya CRPD-SDGs fellow, Kenya
  3. Kim Crawley, Cybersecurity researcher and Autistic advocate, Canada
  4. Jorn Bettin, Co-Founder, Autistic Collaboration Trust, Aotearoa


  1. Introduction to Autistic ways of being, the commercial interests and the human rights violations of the global autism industry, and an overview of the current state of campaigns to ban conversion therapies, Tania Melnyczuk & Jorn Bettin, 10 minutes.
  2. The situation of Autistic people and spread of conversion therapies in Kenya and CRPD violations, Karen Muriuki, 10 minutes.
  3. The perspective of nonspeaking Autistic people in South Africa and around the world on the harm caused by ABA, Tania Melnyczuk, 10 minutes.
  4. The hypocrisy of banning LGBTQ+ conversion therapies and the concurrent introduction of ABA as a mandatory “support” for Autistic students in schools in Ontario, Canada, Kim Crawley, 10 minutes.
  5. The current state of the AutCollab campaign to ban all forms of conversion therapies in Aotearoa New Zealand, and the remaining challenges, Jorn Bettin, 10 minutes.
  6. Outlook: Globally coordinated campaigns by Autistic organisations worldwide to ban all forms of ABA, for all potential target audiences, Karen Muriuki & Jorn Bettin, 10 minutes.
  7. Interactive Q&A based on submitted audience questions, all speakers, 15 minutes.


To join this event, please register via the Autistic Collaboration Trust. You can also submit any specific questions you would like to see discussed. Any questions that we don’t not manage to cover in the Q&A session will be used as fuel for further panel discussions and will inform our online advocacy work on blogs, social media, etc.

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7 Responses

  1. I was not yet recognised as autistic, the 80s generation before awareness, when my troubled teenagers’ unit’s hard man ranted about “to get you in here and change you.” A permanently shocking trauma. Yet that too is the same thing. So that for suffering what they recognised to be a school abuse that was not my fault, I should be stripped of all personal liberty. For all kids who come into its power for any reason, child/youth psychiatry arrogating that it should dictate character change to its own ideals, including in ways that are nothing to do with what brought you to it. is behaviourism too and part of its history. .

  2. Interesting post and if it is true then it is good news. It is a nice thing to see that they are making progress with this. I also happen to know a website that goes by the name of smallstepsbd and it treats and helps people with autism and also other details about it. Its mission is to making our society least challenging and more acceptable for Autistic children.

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