Monthly Archives: May 2019

An Update on Allegations of Munchausen by Proxy

(Original post folllows)

Thank you to all of the parents who have contacted me privately about their own cases involving allegations of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy.  This is very painful information to share and I am grateful for your trust. There are some common themes emerging, including school teams and medical professionals, all without specialized training in autism, jumping to the conclusion that the mother is to blame for the child’s behaviors. I also want to note one case in which the parent is grateful to her MCFD team for advocating in the face of unfounded allegations from a medical professional.

In the case ACT is engaged in, the allegations are that a parent subjected two autistic children with other complex disorders to a form of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy/Medical Child Abuse, that holds the caregiver responsible for physical or emotional harm to children.  In this case, the claim is that the parent inflicted the abuse or harm by instigating “excessive and unnecessary” medical assessments and interventions.   However, they refuse to say exactly which assessment and intervention was “excessive” or “unnecessary”, depriving the parent of the necessary information to put together a case to recover the children.   

The lack of autism expertise on the part of the school team and the local child abuse team, which includes a pediatrician, is surprising.  Most worrying, however, is that child protection workers, with the support of their supervisors, insisted on removing children from the family home without seeking advice from any autism specialists.   For five months they have ignored attempts by ACT, and clinicians involved in autism diagnosis and treatment, to explain the process in B.C. – which has been developed by government ministries.

To clarify, these children each went through an orthodox multi-disciplinary diagnosis before they were six. They saw clinicians whom ACT has recommended to dozens if not hundreds of families over the years, in accordance with our previous contract with MCFD. These were proper diagnoses and the children have been diagnosed only once. Yet, the mother was told, in my presence, that unless she accepted that she has emotionally abused these children by taking them to see too many professionals, the legal process could go on for much longer. Now MCFD has grudgingly accepted that the diagnoses were carried out by a qualified professional but still the process drags on while the children remain in foster care, allowed to see their mother only one hour a week.  ACT has contacted the Office of the Representative of Children and Youth but it has been of limited help both because this is before the courts and because they don’t advocate for parents.

Next Steps: Again, thanks to everyone who has contributed their insights both publicly and privately. Once this case is resolved, ACT will collaborate with other community organizations to focus government attention on the lack of training and accountability in our child protection system. Please provide personal information only to my email address to protect your privacy


Deborah Pugh, Executive Director, ACT – Autism Community Training

Original post:


ACT has been working with a family with two children with ASD where the mother has been accused of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy/ Medical Child Abuse. This is where the caregiver is accused of physical or emotional harm to children. In this case, MCFD is alleging the parent instigated “excessive and unnecessary” medical assessments and interventions.

While MCFD’s allegations have shifted over time, ACT has evaluated the multiple private diagnoses that the children have received from qualified professionals and we have found them to be within the normal range of those received by complex children with ASD. Given that the waiting list for publicly funded diagnoses is now over a year long, it is concerning that the mother has been accused of accessing private diagnoses as a means of gaining attention rather than finding early intervention for her children.

ACT is very concerned that both children, who are under 10, have been placed in foster care since January, as MCFD Child Protection tries to prove that their challenges are not related to their diagnoses but are a result of the mother’s alleged emotional abuse. There have been no allegations of physical abuse or neglect. The mother is only allowed to see them for one hour weekly.

Question: Is this case an aberration on the part of MCFD Child Protection services or have you seen similar situations elsewhere in British Columbia? Please do not post personal information on FaceBook instead email Your privacy will be protected.

Thank you.
Deborah Pugh, Executive Director

Cutting Edge Strategies with Sarah Ward

Looking for the 2021 Executive Function Skills with Sarah Ward webinar series? View details & registration here.


Sarah WardNew Cutting Edge Strategies to Improve Executive Function Skills

Wednesday & Thursday, September 25 & 26, 2019
Surrey, BC
Sarah Ward, MS, CCC-SLP

Co-Director, Cognitive Connections LLP, Boston

View event details & registration

Sarah Ward, MS, CCC-SLP, is coming to Surrey to teach hands-on practical strategies to improve Executive Function skills. These two days include many new strategies, so whether you’ve seen Sarah Ward before, or this is all new, you’re sure to walk away with fresh strategies that you can implement immediately.

Sarah Ward is the co-developer of the award-winning 360 Thinking Program which combines core concepts at the heart of executive functioning: situational and intention awareness, mental dress rehearsals, future thinking, time awareness and visualisation, which promote efficient and accurate completion of tasks. This model facilitates the development of 6 key skills for students: initiation, transition, planning, time management, self-regulation and meta-cognition. As the steps of a task are envisioned, potential obstacles can be anticipated for students to problem solve and achieve independence. See event details for a breakdown of each day. Day 2 builds on Day 1 so all registrants for Day 2 need to have attended Day 1.

Ms. Ward holds a faculty appointment at the Massachusetts General Hospital Institute of Health Professions where she provides instruction to graduate level students in the assessment and treatment of individuals with traumatic brain injury and other cognitive communication disorders.

Join us at the Surrey School District Education Centre or via live web-streaming.

Register before August 22nd to save $25!

View event details

School District staff please contact ACT to check whether your district has a special rate for this event.

Web streaming discounts for groups

Cost-effective training solutions for school districts and agencies

Is your school district, agency or community group looking for a low cost way to make excellent, practical training, featuring internationally respected speakers, available to your teams with reduced fees and without the cost of travel? Join us at our live events! All you need is a comfortable venue, good internet connection, big screen, and a sound system.

ACT uses a professional film crew, streaming high-quality video and sound along with a live-chat your registrants can use to ask speakers questions.

Groups of registrants watch together on one screen and pay a reduced registration fee. ACT sends all registrants links to the handout and the password for the web stream to the organizer.

Contact to arrange for your group’s web stream registration today!

View web streaming info

Bursaries for web streaming

Bursaries for those most in need, including para-professionals, parents who have children with special needs, and adults with ASD are available for web streaming, to the best of our financial ability.

For information on how to apply for an ACT bursary, please visit the Bursaries FAQ page

Mexico Shark Cruise Online Auction Now Open
Get your Tickets for Songs on the Water
New Video
ACT Videos & Resources Guide Spring Update

Summer with the Sharks in Mexico! – Online Auction is now open!

blankA Shark Watching Cruise in Mexico for one with Nautilus Tours! Sail to the waters of Guadalupe Island off of Baja California to experience the best Great White Shark diving on the planet!

This package includes accommodation and food on the Nautilus Belle Amie, with a spacious salon, sun deck, an expansive dive deck and, of course, a hot tub.

Bidding is now open and will end at ACT’s Songs on the Water event on June 4th. Visit the Songs on the Water page to book tickets for this fundraiser at the Vancouver Rowing Club, Stanley Park. All funds raised will benefit ACT’s free resources.

This trip is valued at over $3000 USD. Airfare not included.

Bid Now


Autism Videos at ACT

Family Centred, Culturally Responsive PBS

Joseph Lucyshyn, PhD, BCBA-D, University of British Columbia
Dr. Joseph Lucyshyn presents a multi-method study of family centered positive behavior support (FCPBS), designed to be culturally responsive to families raising a child with developmental disabilities. A fascinating case study demonstrates how the family was coached to use PBS strategies to transform their child’s ability to eat a nutritious diet and play with her sibling.

Watch now

blankThanks to funding from the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research and Collaboration (CIRCA) at the University of British Columbia, ACT is able to provide this edited version of the 2018 Setting the Stage for Success: Positive Behavior Support in School, Home and Community conference.

Coming soon: Visual Support Strategies for Individuals with ASD with Dr. Brenda Fossett

View all PBS Videos

ACT Videos & Resources Guide – Spring Update

blankWe’ve updated the ACT Videos & Resources Guide – now with 55 videos, as well as details of upcoming events, BC Resources, and the Autism Information Database.

New this issue: ‘Women & Girls with Autism’ and ‘Positive Behavior Support in Home, School, and Community’ learning streams, and a preview of new videos being released later this Spring.

View the Spring 2019 ACT Guide

Autism in the News

Parents decry cuts to B.C. autism program – CBC News

COMMENTARY || You can’t take autism and cut it out of me. I am who I am. – Folio

I’m autistic, not a child: Are casual cruelty and condescension neurotypical traits? – Salon

Kind flight attendant soothes autistic boy, 5, who had ‘meltdown’ on plane – Metro

‘Church’ to offer ‘miracle cure’ despite FDA warnings against drinking bleach – The Guardian

Autism runs in families with history of brain conditions – Spectrum News

How to ‘Hug’ a Kid With Autism – Offspring

Canada’s disability tax credit is valuable, but qualifying for it can be a huge challenge – Financial Post

Restraining students with disabilities is harmful – The Baltimore Sun

Miami Int’l Airport Opens Its First Multi-Sensory Room For Kids With Autism – CBS Miami

Family-Run Car Wash Employs 83 Workers with Autism: ‘It Provides Hope’ – People

3 Ways NYU Is Training New Teachers to Use Special Ed and ELL Strategies to Better Serve All Kids – The 74

Dimmed lights, no noise: Sensory friendly shopping coming to Vancouver Island – CTV News

Different for girls: understanding autism – The Guardian

Children who outgrow autism label end up with other diagnoses – Spectrum News

Every child matters: What principals need to effectively lead inclusive schools – The Conversation

‘Learning to trust himself:’ cook with autism works toward independence – Indiana Daily Student

Unique program pairs students, adults with autism – KARE11

What People Get Wrong About Autism – Esquire