Michelle Dawson

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Michelle Dawson (born 1961) is a Canadian Canada Post postal worker[1] diagnosed with autism in 1993-1994[2][3] and, since 2003, an autism research assistant[4][5] affiliated with the Autism Specialized Clinic of Hôpital Rivière-des-Prairies in Montreal, Canada.[6]


Michelle Dawson's highest level of formal education is a high school diploma.[3]


Before working under Laurent Mottron, Dawson was a postal worker for the Canada Post until she took an involuntary[7][8] permanent leave of absence in 2002.[3] While at work at the Canada Post in July 1999, other employees saw Dawson's self-inflicted[9] cutting scars on her arms and on her face, and became alarmed. In response to this incident, Dawson filed two human rights complaints against the Canada Post, alleging that she was being discriminated against as a result of self-injurious behavior that she said was caused by autism.[8][9] Dawson won the second human rights complaint. (The first complaint was settled out of court.)[10]

In 2003, Dawson joined Laurent Mottron's research team.[11][12] Dawson says that most scientists try to determine how autistic brains are broken, but Dawson thinks it would be more useful to try to determine how autistic brains work rather than how they are broken.[11][12]

Dawson's public statements about autism have generated considerable controversy. She wrote a paper[13] challenging the ethical and scientific foundations of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)-based autism interventions. She also challenged the medical necessity of ABA for individuals with autism in the Supreme Court of Canada in Auton v. British Columbia, 3 S.C.R. 657.[14]

She has collaborated with Mottron to publish research papers, with Mottron estimating that Dawson contributes about 20% to the finished product.[15]


She herself was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder in 1993-1994. Born in 1961, Dawson was not diagnosed as a child.[2][3] Dawson has been receiving disability benefits, on account of her autism diagnosis, since 2003.[10]


  1. ^ Kaplan, Karen (2011-11-03). "Autism researcher highlights the advantages of the disorder - Los Angeles Times". Articles.latimes.com. Retrieved 2013-12-01. 
  2. ^ a b "An Autistic at the Supreme Court - Michelle Dawson". Sentex.net. Retrieved 2013-12-01. 
  3. ^ a b c d Wolman, David (2008-02-25). "The Truth About Autism: Scientists Reconsider What They Think They Know". Wired.com. Retrieved 2013-12-01. 
  4. ^ Woodford, Gillian (May 15, 2006). "Rebels debunk autism weird science: Scientific mavericks rethink their 'neurocentric' attitudes about diagnosis and treatment" 3 (9). National Review of Medicine. Retrieved 2007-11-08. 
  5. ^ Bower, Bruce (July 7, 2007, Vol. 172, No. 1, p. 4.). "Hidden Smarts: Abstract thought trumps IQ scores in autism". Science News Online. Archived from the original on 2007-10-12. Retrieved 2007-11-08.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  6. ^ Michelle Dawson (2013-06-29). "CV - Michelle Dawson". Sentex.net. Retrieved 2013-12-01. 
  7. ^ André Picard (2009-03-17). "The postie and the prof dispute perceptions of autism". Toronto: The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2013-12-01. 
  8. ^ a b "Between Micxhelle Dawson and Canadian Human Rights Commission" (PDF). Hpod.org. Retrieved 2013-12-01. 
  9. ^ a b "Autism". Canada.com. 2007-12-01. Retrieved 2013-12-01. 
  10. ^ a b "Autistic woman wins human rights complaint against Canada Post". Canada.com. 2008-10-07. Retrieved 2013-12-01. 
  11. ^ a b Collier, Roger. "Autism" (facsimile). The Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved: 22 Feb. 2008
  12. ^ a b David Wolman. "Autistic : You got a problem with that?" (PDF). Wired.com. Retrieved 2013-12-01. 
  13. ^ Dawson, Michelle (2004-01-18). "The Misbehaviour of Behaviourists". No Autistics Allowed. 
  14. ^ "Michelle Dawson on Autism in Society, Law and Science". Hôpital Rivière-des-Prairies. Retrieved 2007-11-07. 
  15. ^ Autismconnect.org (February 20, 2006). "The 'odd couple' of autism research: Dr Laurent Mottron and Michelle Dawson". Toronto Globe and Mail. Archived from the original on 2008-05-25. Retrieved 2008-06-18. 

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