Preprint Concept Paper Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

When Public Policy Is Guided by Misinformation: A Case Study in the Consequences of Fake News

Version 1 : Received: 27 March 2018 / Approved: 28 March 2018 / Online: 28 March 2018 (12:40:58 CEST)

A peer-reviewed article of this Preprint also exists.

Keenan, M.; Dillenburger, K. How ‘Fake News’ Affects Autism Policy. Societies 2018, 8, 29. Keenan, M.; Dillenburger, K. How ‘Fake News’ Affects Autism Policy. Societies 2018, 8, 29.


Since autism was first recognised, prevalence has increased rapidly. The growing economic as well as social cost to society can only be mitigated by effective interventions and supports. It is therefore not surprising that most governments have developed public policy documents to address the management of autism. Over the past 40-50 years, meaningful evidence has accrued showing that interventions based on the scientific discipline of Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) can help people with autism reach their potential. In view of this, nearly all of North America has laws to mandate that ABA-based interventions are available through the health care systems. In contrast, across Europe there are no such laws. In fact, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), the body guiding health and social policy in the UK, concluded that it could not find any evidence to support ABA, and therefore could not recommend it. This paper addresses the reasons for these diametrically opposed perspectives. In particular, it examines what happens when health and social care policy is misinformed about effective autism intervention.


applied behaviour analysis; autism; policy; randomised controlled trials; fake news


Social Sciences, Education

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