Autism Wiki

Michelle Dawson (born 1960-1961)[1] is an Autistic researcher whose paper The Misbehaviour of Behaviourists placed her onto the global Autism stage. Dawson has testified against the use of Applied Behavioral Analysis on the basis of serious ethical issues.


Dawson has written and co-written numerous papers about Autism and savant syndrome.[2][3]

The Misbehaviour of Behaviourists[]

The Misbehaviour of Behaviourists: Ethical Challenges to the Autism-ABA Industry focuses on ethical issues in behaviorist treatment of Autistic patients.[4] Her critique discusses the highly negative treatment of Autism, the lack of informed consent, its goals of normalizing at the expense of useful behaviors such as stimming, the aversives, scientific dishonesty, and the idea that Autistic people do not deserve ethics.

The paper created an explosion of discussion, some in support for her ideas, others attacking her.


Dawson has received strong backlash for her ideas, particularly her paper against ABA therapy. Some vitriolic critics resorted to bullying, defamation,[5][6] and stalking.[7]

Dawson has stated she welcomes criticism,[5] but that it should be on the content of her work, rather than an ad hominem attack on her character.[8]


Dawson has little interest in politics.[9]


Dawson believes that Autistic people should be allowed to take part in conversations about policies that affect them,[10] and encourages the involvement of Autistic people in research.[9]


Dawson vocally disagreed with the Autistic Self Advocacy Network in 2009, back when they supported ABA therapy.[11] ASAN has since revised its position.

Dawson's relationship with ASAN may still be strained, as suggested in a 2015 tweet of hers.[12]

Neurodiversity and Autistic Culture[]

I don't have a "side," much less a "crusade" and do not have what it takes to be part of any "movement" much less a cultural one.[11]

Dawson has been falsely attributed as a member of the neurodiversity movement and Autistic culture movements. She writes that she is only a researcher, and her focus is on ethics and human rights.

Some of her work has aligned with the Autism rights movement, such as her article "Oxytocin versus autism: A cure for altruism" in which she noted a study in which Autistic people showed a propensity towards fairness and against us-versus-them thinking (even at personal expense) and were less likely to be hypocritical or non-objective than neurotypicals were.[13] When a dose of oxytocin caused Autistic people to lose those attributes, she sarcastically called it a success.

Personal Life[]

Dawson remains very private about her personal life. What little information appears on Wikipedia has a hostile tone; on her blog she states "For the record: Almost everything about me on Wikipedia is wrong" without further elaboration.[14]

Her profile is a picture of a butterfly and the words "I believe that autistics deserve better," with her listed interests as science, ethics, law, and autism.[15]