The ATEC Scale and why it isn’t a reliable source


The creator of the ATEC – Autism Treatment Evaluation Scale – was a man named Bernard Rimland. His own son was autistic and he very much believed autism was due to vaccine damage. DR Bernard Rimland Therefore, the model for this scale is very much a medical model of disease, rather than an acceptance of autism being a neurological difference. The ATEC scale is used as the primary scale used by the biomed industry. The scale fits right into the pseudoscience perspective of Autism.

Depending on age, language ability, anxiety levels, external factors autistic traits can change throughout lifetime. Increase in language ability often lessens obsessive behavior in young children.

Therefore, the model for this scale is very much a medical model of disease, rather than an aceptance of autism being a neurological difference. The ATEC scale is used as the primary scale used by the biomed industry. The scale fits right into the pseudoscience perspective of Autism.

Why it is not accurate:

To allow a parent to measure their child’s “autism levels” can be seen as irresponsible. A parent being with the child on a daily basis may see huge changes in development from small differences. The desire to see the change can easily influence the scoring. Many of these bio med interventions require dedication and a willing for it to work. Even sticking to a diet, such as the gfcf diet will require overcoming moaning, complaining, family arguments and also the expense of buying dairy and gluten free food. Of course you will see positive changes. From a yoyo dieters perspective, the first week you see a difference, the second you are removing your shoes to get weighed, to the 5th week its the removal of jewellery in a desperate attempt to see those numbers going down, the fact you have eaten 3 cakes that week and not really been on a diet, to see that one digit less seems to be your whole world. You dream of fitting into that dress. For a “believer” of the ATEC scale, you long to see your child playing with another child, or suddenly speaking in sentences. Your brain tells you what you want to hear. Your ability to give accurate results of your child’s progress becomes unreliable and tainted. The results are often very subjective.

However, Biomeds is a huge business, so we can’t always simply put any gains down to parental perspective. Parents following biomed interventions with their children, may realistically see lower scores on the ATEC scale. This can happen if the child does have food intolerances, or nutritional deficiencies, if diet changes or extra vitamins are advised. However, progress needs to be praised on improving general health and wellbeing, and optimising performance, rather than repressing autistic traits, or searching for “cures”.

What the professionals do:

Regular visits to paediatricians, speech therapists and other professionals can monitor progress of your child, highlighting any extra areas of therapy needed on an individual basis. Every child has unique strengths and weaknesses. They can give unbiased, evidence based support, along with any testing giving scientific and objective results.

So why is this scale wrong? Why is a biomedical chart not accurate for Autism?

Here is an example of some of the questions, and an explanation of why the answers have little or no relevance to the progress of your child

Screenshot 1 – For Autistic people Stimming and rocking can be an essential form of stress relief. It is healthy and often can be a sign of happiness to non verbal children. It is important not to repress or see this as bad behaviour or a problem.


Screenshot 2 – Eye contact, again something lodged in the minds of social expectations. Something which is often forced in incorrect therapies, and can be painful for a person on the spectrum. Again, this has no influence on the potential of the child’s abilities.


Screenshot 3 – Imagination, again, very much down to perception. Many people on the spectrum show amazing talents in Art and Literature, and who is to determine what is correct and what isn’t? Many people with autism thrive on more fact based interests. This has created the most amazingly talented people, focused in their field, this isn’t a deficit.

Screenshot 4 – A simple quiz to determine speech and language ability is not only naive, but very disrespectful to all speech and language therapists who studied long and hard to become therapists. Both expressive and receptive language skills are very complex and unique to every child, and need proper analysis to help children with any issues they may exhibit.

Monitoring progress of a child, needs professional guidance. Progress of a child must take account the child’s neurological differences, and not be compared to neurotypical expectations. Repressing Autistic traits can lead to added anxiety, depression and mental illness in later life. Learning about your child’s communication and sensory differences, is a very handy tool in helping your child to reach their potential.

Although there is major speculation of online tests of Autism, a more accurate one may be found here: to perhaps, get a rough idea of whether you or your child is on the spectrum, but it is not a diagnostic tool. Please seek professional help if needed.

Here is a good skeptical view of Biomed treatments as a whole:

And finally, please study this brilliant article written by an Autism Expert, which, is, of course, an Autistic Adult :


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