Borders, Barriers, and Brains: Issue Definition in Rights Based Policy Related to Autism
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In issue definition related to rights based policy, Canada has been stereotypically understood as taking a more positive, human rights centered approach whereas the United States has been expected to take a more negative, civil rights based tact. While this difference in approach is expected to be a key to a broad base of differences between the two nations and societies, the difference is arguably unusually relevant in the disability policy arena. After all, recent changes in the understanding of disability is transforming disability from an issue of personal culpability overseen by medical professionals and tempered by charitable efforts to an issue of shared social and personal construction for which society at large is responsible. As the incidence of disability continues to rise, broad changes in social, political, and economic infrastructures are the expected result of recent innovations in disability related policy. These changes will affect society well beyond the lives of individuals with disabilities. Over the past decade, Canada, the United States, and several other counties have experienced a surge in the reported incidence of autism. The public management of needs related to the autism baby boom is an unfolding process. This year the Canadian Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the case of Auton v. British Columbia, which is focused on the question access to intensive therapy (specifically Applied Behavior Analysis or ABA) as a medical right. This case is especially interesting in the North American context both because of its inherent implications for the construction of rights and because of the compelling difference in the definition of the therapy from the United States (where students have a rights based access to special education and ABA is consistently defined as an educational right). To examine this question of the relationship between neurodiverisity and the construction of rights I am conducting surveys of issue stakeholders including parents, agency workers, school district representatives, and practitioners in the medical community. The surveys are correlated with the Participation and Activity Limitation Survey run by Statistics Canada. I examine how the current definition of rights in the realm of autism policy fits into the ongoing history of the definition of human and civil rights in North America.
Baker, D. L. (2004). Borders, Barriers, and Brains: Issue Definition in Rights Based Policy Related to Autism, Report 43- 2004 [Working Paper]. Retrieved 10-09-09, from University of Missouri - Columbia, Institute of Public Policy Web site: http://www.truman.missouri.edu/ipp/publications/workingpapers.html
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