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What is TACA afraid of?

February 26th, 2010 · 9 Comments · Easy marks


As the father of a child with autism, I assumed that $50 would get me in the door at the Wisconsin Real Help Now Conference, sponsored by the anti-vaccine group Talk About Curing Autism Now.

What was I thinking?

Dear Mr. Reibel,

The purpose of our Wisconsin Real Help Now Conference on Saturday, February 27, 2010 is to bring together members in the autism community in order to educate and support families and facilitate dialogue on important issues related to autism. As such we want to nurture an environment that is conflict free and allows open communication.

Your attendance at a previous national autism conference was disruptive to the mission and purpose of that conference. We want to ensure the focus of the conference is on education and support and that the environment is safe and supportive for conference attendees.

We have given you a full refund of the purchase price. You will not be admitted to this conference.

TACA Foundation

That makes three different explanations for my expulsion from the 2008 AutismOne conference, held at the Westin O’Hare Hotel. The first was that I had snuck into the gathering without registering. When conference organizer Ed Arranga realized that I was indeed registered, the story changed to “you broke your agreement not to videotape any of the meetings.” There was, of course, no such agreement, and no evidence of such an agreement. I filmed openly for two days without incident, as were dozens of other parents, not to mention film crews from local television stations. So that couldn’t be it either.

But this latest explanation brings vaccine rejectionists within shouting distance of the truth, even though they don’t know it. Skepticism and pointed questions are by their nature disruptive to the “mission and purpose” of these types of organizations. Asking “what is your evidence” at an AutismOne conference is like bringing a camera to a nudist colony – the longer you stick around, the more vulnerable the campers feel.

So what is the mission and purpose of TACA’s Wisconsin Real Help Now Conference? One clue can be found on the Real Help Now website, which reads:

TACA strives to ensure that the focus of our conference is education and support, and to provide a safe, supportive environment for our attendees. TACA reserves the right to refuse admittance to any individual.

In the real world, education means asking questions, challenging assumptions, and going wherever the evidence might lead. At a TACA conference, it means the opposite: providing a safe, supportive environment for denial and magical thinking, a sterile bubble where attendees can live in the moment, shielded from the pathogens of free inquiry and doubt. Support is served cafeteria style, so you can pass up the harder dishes of acceptance and responsibility, and head right for the dessert tray for a banana boat of recovery and blame.

As most adults suspect, the cost of entry to this magical land is much higher than the $50 entrance fee suggests.

Education and support were much in evidence at an Age of Autism Media Roundtable, during the 2008 AutismOne conference in Chicago.



9 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Sullivan // Feb 26, 2010 at 10:55 pm

    Can’t come to the conference?
    Of course, we wish you could join us. But TACA helps parents all over the U.S. even if they can’t come to a meeting or TACA event. If you are the parent of a child with autism who needs help, please check out our Live Chat feature or sign up for a parent mentor. You can also buy TACA’s Autism Journey Guide online.

    Did they give you a link for their live chat, seeing as how you can’t attend?

  • 2 autblog // Feb 26, 2010 at 11:45 pm

    No way. Just an email saying I wouldn’t be admitted.

  • 3 Sullivan // Feb 26, 2010 at 11:59 pm

    I noticed that the Google Cache version of the conference website didn’t have that disclaimer.

    Any guess as to whether that disclaimer was added after they found out you had registered?

  • 4 Clay // Feb 27, 2010 at 1:29 am

    I wish I could go in your place, and borrow your camera too.

  • 5 Broken Link // Feb 27, 2010 at 7:17 am

    “an environment that is conflict free and allows open communication.”

    Hmm. Open communication, honest communication sometimes leads to conflict. This little gem from the organizers implies that everyone has the same views. And yeah, they are going to make sure that’s completely true.

  • 6 Autism Blog - Did TACA change the rules to deny a blogger attendance at a conference? « Left Brain/Right Brain // Feb 27, 2010 at 7:56 am

    […] AutismNewsBeat was Expelled! from an autism “conference” (AutismOne). Today, he was denied admission to the TACA Real Help Now Conference in […]

  • 7 brandy wilson // Mar 1, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    That’s pretty messed up.

    If their arguments are as valid as they believe, wouldn’t they WANT you to come? After all, that would give them a chance to convince you they are right. Ugh. I will write about this in my blog, it is extremely messed up. (for lack of a better way to describe it)

    Disruptive would be screaming, making threats…not having a different opinion or making a videotape. BTW, is there any of the videotapes made by the other attendees on YouTube? Just curious, since they have such an issue with tapes.

    I can say though I’ve been treated respectfully by the members of the Autism Society of America although we don’t agree on some things. I haven’t had any contact with TACA, so I can’t say anything about my experience with them.

  • 8 FreeSpeaker // Mar 2, 2010 at 10:43 am

    BW said: “Disruptive would be screaming, making threats…not having a different opinion or making a videotape.”

    WRONG! Disruptive is not engaging in GroupThink.

  • 9 Shannon // Mar 5, 2010 at 9:25 am

    that video is kind of sad. they’re very deluded people. their delusions are causing them so much stress. you’d think they would be relieved to have the evidence that would unburden them. *shakes head*

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