Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Media Manipulation

The CBC did a wonderful job editing my story that aired on television tonight, making me appear a victim of social isolation rather than a victim of the systematic failure and discrimination of our political system. The story itself did accurately depict the daily struggles I face as a single mother of an autistic child, but I am astounded at the ideological and propagandistic response provided by Linda Beedham after the segment. Mrs. Beedham suggests that the main thing needed is for me to reach out to other parents of autistic children for support...that there are options!

Little mention was made of the fact that I have been protesting outside of Queens Park for the last 66 days. Beedham's response suggests that the main problem I face is lack of community, whereas the battle being fought here is over the lack of government and social services. Perhaps when I said "I don't know where to turn, who to talk to, what to do" I should have added that this is because I feel that I have already exhausted the options available to me.

The CBC show, despite all good intentions, had the strategic effect of shifting the problem of the lack of treatment of autism from the public realm of politics and the abuse of power, to the private realm of parent support communities. The message, in so many words, is: "It's sad that the government can't provide funds and infrastructure to ensure that autistic kids receive adequate therapy and educational programs, but you should seek the solace of the parents of other autistic kids who have been likewise abused by our health care system and government".

Omitted from the documentary: any mention of my blog, any mention of the petition, it gave only a vague mention of my protest.

They made me look like a helpless victim who doesn't know how to "reach out". They used my story as a "window" into the lives of "the people behind the news" offering my life as a way of understanding the tragic events in Edmonton and Mississauga that have occurred this month. But rather than delving into the political and social issues that create a situation where parents, from sheer desperation, kill their own kids, they "emotionalize" the issue, turning it into a story about the need for community.

It's truly astounding. Even in communist Poland, where I grew up, they didn't have such sophisticated channels of propaganda. The CBC story has served to deepen the problem of autism treatment in Canada. Rather than taking this month's tragic events as a warning and opportunity to raise public awareness about the actual administrative issues at stake (about spending taxpayers' dollars on effective treatment rather than expensive "babysitting" programs), the framing of the CBC story has successfully provided the illusion that we live in a caring society, thereby ensuring that parents continue to languish and grow ever more desperate, waiting for help that never comes, waiting for therapy that is systematically withheld.

If they really wanted people to "reach out" to me, why did they make no mention of my blog or the petition? This seems like a case of "one step forward, three steps back".


  1. Maryna- I was shocked by the coverage and the commentary provided by Linda Beedham. I was outraged when I heard her state that you needed to reach out to other families and create your own program. As if that was your only problem and as if it was that simple. She mentioned that some schools have wonderful programs but failed to mention that these programs don't exist in the public system. It costs families $50 to $70K a year to place their kids in a private program that meets their child's basic needs. We don't need support groups. We need direct services for our children. Plain and simple. Our children deserve to have their basic human needs met.

  2. The old Communists were absolute amateurs compared to the sophisticated spin, propaganda and manipulation used by those in power in Western countries. The CBC is a master at this type of 'human interest" manipulation. As for Linda Beedham, where exactly is the support and the networks she talks about. She needs to back up her claims with real information.

  3. oh Maryna this pissed me so much that I cannot eat.

  4. I have watched it 3 times and cried and still can't get rid of the lump in my throat.

  5. Hi Maryna my husband William was the construction worker that spoke with you at queen's park on monday, he agrees 100% that not only you but our kids have been cheated by the way CBC has twisted your story. It sickens me and I'm disgusted that they failed to mention your protest and the interview you and William did clearly stating where the problems lay.

  6. Marina- I watched your story two times,but I couldn't listen to Linda Beedham's comments for the second time. My husband and I were outraged by the way the story was twisted.


  7. What a ridiculous farce the CBC portrayed to the world last night. I have written to the show (DISConnect with Mark Kelly) asking them for a list of the services and supports referred to in the show by Ms. Beedham. I c.c.'d you on it. I have also posted about the whole outrage on the AZNews Blog as well. It is titled: "It's hard to imagine how more surreal it can become". I feel completely disgusted with the CBC (and the media in general) but please don't let their sensationalized ignorance get you down, Maryna! You are wonderful!!!!

  8. Maryna- I saw the piece last night and I also wrote to CBC to voice my opinion on the 'spin' they put on your story. You are a very strong woman and Sebastian is a beautiful boy. My husband and I signed your petition a few weeks ago, and we wish you all the best in your fight. Our family is currently on a 'wait-list' for funding for our daughter. I do believe that the only positive side to your story on CBCConnect is that it has provided some needed attention to your cause, and I hope that through all this Sebastian will continue to get the assistance he needs.

  9. Maryna, you are a strong, hard working, loving and committed mother.

    You courageously shared your story with the CBC to expose the provincial government’s neglect of children with autism and share how this impacts your daily life with Sebastian. Rather than profile your relentless advocacy work and heroic protesting at Queen’s Park, the CBC chose to end the segment by inviting someone that is affiliated with Autism Ontario, Lynda Beedham, to negate and diminish your challenges and experiences. I was shocked and appalled to watch Ms. Beedham suggest that your challenges are simply caused by a failure to “connect” with other families.

    Ms. Beedham is affiliated with Autism Ontario which receives public funding from the Government of Ontario. It is therefore not surprising that Ms. Beedham forgot to mention our provincial government’s failure to meet the basic needs of children with autism. She wouldn’t want to bite the hand that feeds her, would she? It’s too bad the CBC did not do its homework.

    Lynda Beedham’s commentary was trite, patronizing and insulting. Where are these wonderful accessible programs for children with autism that she refers to? There are certainly no wonderful programs for children with autism in the public education system. Ms. Beedham should know this herself- by the time her son was 13 years old he had been through 5 schools
    The only wonderful programs that exist are in the private sector and come with a price tag of $50,000 to $70,000 a year. Maybe Ms. Beedham is so out of touch with what families are coping with today because her son is an adult now living in a group home. She is mistaken in her assumption that the education system is better equipped to serve our children now than when she raised her son. Although on paper it appears that our public schools are doing more for children with autism, the reality is that these programs amount to nothing more than glorified babysitting by unqualified EAs.

    Don't be discouraged Maryna, the truth will prevail.