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Did TACA change the rules to deny a blogger attendance at a conference?

Posted Feb 27 2010 6:43am

Two years ago, AutismNewsBeat was Expelled! from an autism “conference” (AutismOne). Today, he was denied admission to the TACA Real Help Now Conference in Wisconsin .

TACA’s stated policy on the website is:

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.

But this seems to be a new addition to the website. The Google Cache version of that page, from February 11, doesn’t have that language at all.

Two years ago, AutismNewsBeat attended a conference and did what many other parents were doing: he videotaped.

That didn’t get him thrown out (although it was used as the excuse for why he was thrown out)

What got him thrown out was asking an important question in a respectful manner:

I also attended a Q&A with Dr. Jon Poling, MD, PhD, and his wife, Terry. The Polings have been on a media blitzkrieg since March when they were identified as test case petitioners in the Vaccine Omnibus hearings. The details of the case are shrouded in speculation, since the Polings have not publicly released their daughter’s relevant medical records. I asked the Polings if they plan to release those records soon. Terry Poling said she and her husband would not discuss their daughter’s case as long as there was ongoing litigation.

Soon after I asked my question, a hotel security official asked me to turn off my video camera. At the conclusion of the Q&A, 15 minutes later, I was surrounded by hotel security and escorted out of the building. I had registered six weeks earlier as media, and received a confirming email. I was handed a press pass and told to fill it out myself at the registration desk Friday morning, after being told the computer system was down and my name could not be pulled up. But the conference organizers were having none of it, although by now Westin security no doubt realizes I was totally truthful and cooperative, even turning over my driver’s license for photocopying.

The story as to why AutismNewsBeat was expelled has changed over time.

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.

So, now he has been denied entry to a conference for a reason which may not have been in effect when he registered.

It should be noted that after AutismOne, AutismNewsBeat did what many people have done before: he posted his videos to YouTube. Videos such as this one from an autism and the media session.

Perhaps AutismNewsBeat breaks the unwritten code: don’t expose those parts of the autism parent conventions that are best kept behind closed doors.

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