Autism News Beat – A Round Up

NEW BLOGS FOR OLD

There is a new blog on the block. Autism News Beat opened with this.

“I’ve started this site as a resource for journalists looking for accurate, evidence-based information about autism. I plan to review and comment on print and electronic coverage of autism, and interview journalists, editors, and others to gain their perspectives on this much reported but little understood story.”

The second post seemed to recommend the evidence based intervention of ABA over stem cell therapy. In fact the evidence base for ABA is open to question as Michelle Dawson was quick to point out. Her blog, The Autism Crisis, is a useful source of well referenced criticisms of ABA. I suspect that Autism News Beat was probably so impressed by a news report which for once clearly rejected biomedical interventions, that they decided not to highlight the controversy surrounding  ABA. This is akin to backing Stephen Dawkins in an argument against  intelligent design while deciding not to mention his disagreements with fellow evolutionist, Stephen Jay Gould. Disputes within the evolutionary camp are of minor importance compared to the gulf that exists between us and the creationists. Similarly the differences that exist within autism science are clearly of a different order to the differences between autism science and autism woo. [Pace Ms Dawson. Despite the efforts of autism curebies to reduce it to the level of woo, behaviourism is science based.]

RDI

Another news story centres upon the death of an autistic child. Hakeem was not subjected to life threatening interventions to “cure” his autism. He was loved and accepted by  a mother who removed him to America to escape the ignorance about autism that leads people to regard it as a form of demonic possession in Senegal. Similar ignorance exists in parts of America, sometimes with tragic consequences.

Hakeem was not killed by quackery. His death appears to have been a natural tragedy. His mother was so impressed by the progress he had been making following a programme of relationship development intervention that she is returning to Senegal and mortgaging her home to set up a school based upon RDI principles to help autistic children there. I have some doubts about RDI. It comes across as evangelical and expensive. There are no independent studies to support it. But it is better than exorcism or stem cell therapy and I send good wishes to Hakeem’s mother, Sabelle Jelani and to her proposed school.

PC  VERSUS FC?

Another news story centres upon Ralph Savarese, who adopted an autistic child. They apparently made great progress using facilitated communication. The media interest surrounds his book on the subject. I have not read it yet. But I am  thinking that this is yet another approach that helps some individuals but is hyped up as a solution for all individuals and falls into the abyss when these impossible claims on its behalf are dismissed.

DISABILITY RIGHTS KNOWS NO BOUNDARIES.

Leaving autism aside, two other news reports caught my eye this week. One is about accepting people with Downs Syndrome  The early years of Downs Syndrome are reminiscnt of more recent attitudes to autism. In the year of my birth, 1952, the Guardian reports that parents of Downs children were told:

‘Not to worry, there are plenty of places for children like him.’ And she said, ‘In any case, they don’t live long.’”

Attitudes have changed, as the article makes clear.

“Or perhaps, as some of these stories may show, it could be because of a slow but growing understanding that a child born with Down’s syndrome today really does, perhaps for the first time, stand a chance of leading something remotely resembling a decent life.”

Downs Syndrome has not changed. But attitudes have. So Downs kids can now look forward to  decent life. As a consequence parents are no longer desperately seeking amniocentesis and therapeutic abortions in the numbers they once did. The level of Downs births is now constant. The level for positive outcomes is rising. Downs children are no longer routinely sterilized. Some of them may marry or have children.

DISABLED SEX LIVES!

I have seen severely disabled people in wheelchairs go potholing, abseiling and rock climbing. Usually this involves able bodied people and a lot of rope. There is no way they could do it on their own. Sometimes it is the same with sex. But helping a severely disabled person achieve sexual fulfillment involves a far more serious risk assessment than mountaineering. So full marks to Treloars College for tackling this and the Observer for a good job of reporting it. We have nuns arranging for a prostitute to visit a young man so he have sex before he dies, couples being assisted into position and them left alone, even marriage. And what about the possible offspring of these relationships?  If the love and care that facilitated their conception is transferred to their upbringing these will be lucky children.

17 thoughts on “Autism News Beat – A Round Up

  1. Mike, you wrote about FC as “hyped up as a solution for all individuals and falls into the abyss when these impossible claims on its behalf are dismissed”.

    That may have been true in the early 90s, but those (such as AutCom) promoting FC for what it really is and should be recognized as — specific OT techniques to help surmount apraxia-related barriers to keyboarding as a means of communication — do not and have not made such hyped up claims.

    The real goal is to get keyboards into the hands of all who can use them. Receptive verbal language and literacy can and do develop in the absence of speech — and then keyboarding can literally open up a whole new world.

    Projects such as Dinah Murray’s Autreach can and should dovetail with the responsible use and promotion of FC — FC as it really is, not as the strawman it is portrayed as by those who fear the empowerment it — and keyboard and Internet access in general — can and will produce among those who gain access to it.

  2. Goood points, Phil.
    unfortunately, the common perception, still held by many clinicians and researchers, and perpetuated in the media, is that ABA is “the only scietifically proven method” and that FC was proven false back in 1993.

  3. Let’s see.

    The grossly false claims used to demand ABA-based interventions have had major and irreversible consequences. Autistics have been demonized, pathologized and dehumanized, and this has been enshrined in Canadian jurisprudence–in ABA-based litigation invoking Canada’s highest law, our Charter of rights and freedoms.

    All autistics who have not been in ABA programs starting very early in development have been written off and dehumanized. FEAT, the most powerful autism group in Canada, which has the support of major political leaders and parties, has without opposition promoted the view that autistics who are not in ABA programs must be institutionalized, abused (kept in restraints) and mutilated (our teeth pulled).

    The way ABA-based interventions have been and continue to be promoted (including using the “epidemic” to frighten everyone, claiming that all autistics are write-offs without ABA/IBI and that all autistics do well in ABA/IBI, the use of extreme defamation to silence science- and ethics-based criticism, etc.) is indistinguishable from how autism quackery is promoted.

    In Canada, major promoters of ABA-based interventions are also highly sympathetic to DAN!-type views and treatments, much more so than they are to science- and ethics-based approaches. Senator Jim Munson, who takes the position that all autistics who don’t receive early ABA/IBI are write-offs who belong in institutions, has also just sponsored a DAN!-type press conference on Parliament Hill.

    It is those promoting behaviour analytic interventions who have successfully demanded that autistics should never benefit from or be protected by recognized standards of science and ethics, and who have vilified anyone who challenges this. Indeed, promoters of ABA have successfully argued that recognized standards of science and ethics are bad for autistics.

    “There is something about autism that to me gave meaning to the phrase ‘death in life’. Autism is an impossible condition of being there and not being there; a person without a self; a life without a soul.”

    Dr Kartzinel promoting quackery? No, Catherine Maurice, from a book (Let Me Hear Your Voice) which is in Canadian jurisprudence via ABA litigation based on Canada’s highest law. That would be Catherine Maurice who founded the Association for Science in Autism Treatment, and who is an editor of one of the major current ABA manuals.

    Another line from Dr Maurice’s best-selling book:

    “She will not sit in the corner. She will not play with strings. She will not not look at me. She will not be mute. She may want it. I will not have it. She will be dragged, kicking and screaming, into the human condition.”

  4. I’m a big fan of Michelle’s post on Lovaas (1987) Intake IQ. It’s eye-opening. BTW, whatever happened to the adult outcomes of the experimental group from that study? Strange that no one seems to think it’s important to take the time to look into that.

  5. “BTW, whatever happened to the adult outcomes of the experimental group from that study?”

    In his 2003 book, Ivar Lovaas promotes the great importance of his highest-priority NIH grant to follow-up the Lovaas (1987) participants into adulthood. But the NIH CRISP database insists that this grant expired in August, 1996 (maybe the NIH is misbehaving?)

    There was a possibly relevant conference presentation in 1996 (I’ve seen traces of this, in German… long story…). But this is not cited in the literature, or by Lovaas (2003).

    There is a very brief (one paragraph) blurb, described as “preliminary,” about the outcomes of 6 of the 19 experimental group children within a book chapter by Lovaas published in 2000. But this is almost data-free. And Dr Lovaas’ follow-up paragraph is not peer-reviewed.

  6. Hi Mike

    About my experience with ABA for my son. This BCABA, ( is it allowed to say such words here :-) ) she had come to India for 8 months to work gratis at a small set up in Kerala, a southern state in India. I came to know of her thorough the internet and travelled 1000km to meet her. And she – who was set to return to her home in USA – decided to stay back and work with my son and three others for another 8 months.

    I have no idea about the ABA that is trashed about in the blogs but the “ABA” that she used is NOTHING like what you guys write about. Maybe we all need to update ourselves about what is happening there and how things are evolving in this early intervention world.

    The method she used for my son specifically, was mostly a combination of ABA, milieu teaching, RDI, pivotal response, verbal behaviour, montessori, etc ( this is my interpretation after having read wildly (prehaps widely too)about all this stuff) . In a two hour session, ‘table time’ was for just 10 minutes. which again was more child led. It was a kind of stealth learning, where my son, while he was enjoying all the attention and the play stuff, was also learning, and coping. Contrary to most peoples idea of clinically dull settings, predictability, routine etc, she was all fun and games and he really looked forward to her coming. And she insists she is an ABA person and continues to update her certification. She had 7 years experience working in NY region and is a masters is elementary education and special ed.Needless to say, we miss her.

    Thus i am more than a bit confused when people trash ABA. Mainly because, in my experience it looked more or less like very sensible interaction with a child who has difficulties with language ( receptive and expressive), cognition, etc and HAD a very limited repertoire of interests.

    ABA has moved on …. and we must too.

    Ajai

  7. Hi Ajai,

    I’ve taken the position that autistics deserve recognized standards of science and ethics. I’ve also taken the position that services for autistics, whatever those services may be, should be demanded accurately (with respect to the science), ethically, and respectfully.

    These two positions have encountered tremendous opposition from those promoting ABA-based interventions, including from behaviour analysts. This isn’t too hard to verify.

    I write about ABA-based autism interventions as they are reported in the peer-reviewed literature, up to the present.

    I also write about well-documented recent and ongoing legal cases in which ABA-based interventions, their goals, etc., are described. I write about political campaigns to have ABA mandated as the only approach to autism. In Canada, all these legal cases and campaigns have been founded on the writing off of all autistics who have not received ABA/IBI starting very early in life. That is most autistics in Canada–we are too old.

    You are free to say I made it all up. But then you are saying that the peer-reviewed literature, major legal cases (which have gone to the Supreme Court of Canada), speeches in parliament (both the House and the Senate), motions and bills, high profile public campaigns, major media stories, books written by parents and professionals (including the major ABA manuals, and recent descriptions of ABA programs written by major ABA service providers), prominent parent-run and professional organizations, etc., do not actually exist.

    Also, it may strike you as absurd or appalling that anyone would object to most autistics (all of us who are too old to have had ABA/IBI starting as children) in Canada being written off, being said to belong in institutions, etc. But I disagree with you.

    While I did not source all the information I provided in my message above, (I’m not sure I’m allowed to use more than one link), I could, and have sourced this information on my blog (linked to my name). You are free to say these sources don’t exist or, e.g., that Catherine Maurice and/or her books and/or ASAT don’t exist, but there is a lot of evidence that they do.

    The book from which I quoted above is cited favourably in Canadian jurisprudence–not in the dark ages, but in a major 2005 trial decision in a case involving Canada’s highest law. Yes, you can say I made that up, that I made up the Wynberg case, and also the Auton and Bettencourt and Sagharian and Hewko cases, and Ladouceur (the Quebec class action) and the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal cases, and so on. You are free to deny they exist.

    The program you describe would be called “eclectic” treatment (combining ABA with non-ABA interventions), and in Canada and elsewhere, “autism advocates” (that is, ABA parents, the ones who decide the future of all autistic in Canada) demand that such programs NOT be provided or funded, on the basis that they are ineffective.

    Major behaviour analysts have argued that the kind of program you are using is ineffective. You are free to argue that I am making this up. But this is on the public record, including in the peer-reviewed literature, some of it authored by BCBAs (e.g., Howard et al., 2005).

    And where is the science and evidence for this “moved on” ABA, apart from a few papers in which behaviour analysts conclude that “eclectic” treatment, the kind you are using, is ineffective. There’s also a very recent paper that finds ABA and “eclectic” treatment to be equally ineffective.

    All the ABA controlled trials cited by ABA parents in Canada (in legal cases and political campaigns) to support their demands are Lovaas-based. Often, Lovaas (1987) is the only ABA controlled trial referred to (see Wynberg, e.g., which is not from the dark ages, but from 2005).

    Canada’s most powerful “autism advocacy” group, FEAT, has a policy of kicking out anyone who even mentions VB (a form of ABA) or any non-Lovaas form of ABA (I assume that would also include PRT, PBS, RFT or is it ACT, precision teaching, etc.), much less anything that isn’t ABA. You are going to say I made that up, but FEAT has recently (not in the dark ages, in the last week) posted their position on all their discussion forums.

    I apologize for my “very limited repertoire of interests,” but if I did not have this wrong with me (as you would put it), I would not be “successful” (as some people believe I am).

  8. Hi Ajai,

    I’ve taken the position that autistics deserve recognized standards of science and ethics. I’ve also taken the position that services for autistics, whatever those services may be, should be demanded accurately (with respect to the science), ethically, and respectfully.

    These two positions have encountered tremendous opposition from those promoting ABA-based interventions, including from behaviour analysts. This isn’t too hard to verify.

    I write about ABA-based autism interventions as they are reported in the peer-reviewed literature, up to the present.

    I also write about well-documented recent and ongoing legal cases in which ABA-based interventions, their goals, etc., are described. I write about political campaigns to have ABA mandated as the only approach to autism. In Canada, all these legal cases and campaigns have been founded on the writing off of all autistics who have not received ABA/IBI starting very early in life. That is most autistics in Canada–we are too old.

    You are free to say I made it all up. But then you are saying that the peer-reviewed literature, major legal cases (which have gone to the Supreme Court of Canada), speeches in parliament (both the House and the Senate), motions and bills, high profile public campaigns, major media stories, books written by parents and professionals (including the major ABA manuals, and recent descriptions of ABA programs written by major ABA service providers), prominent parent-run and professional organizations, etc., do not actually exist.

    Also, it may strike you as absurd or appalling that anyone would object to most autistics (all of us who are too old to have had ABA/IBI starting as children) in Canada being written off, being said to belong in institutions, etc. But I disagree with you.

    While I did not source all the information I provided in my message above, (using links made my comment disappear), I could, and have sourced this information on my blog (linked to my name). You are free to say these sources don’t exist or, e.g., that Catherine Maurice and/or her books and/or ASAT don’t exist, but there is a lot of evidence that they do.

    The book from which I quoted above is cited favourably in Canadian jurisprudence–not in the dark ages, but in a major 2005 trial decision in a case involving Canada’s highest law. Yes, you can say I made that up, that I made up the Wynberg case, and also the Auton and Bettencourt and Sagharian and Hewko cases, and Ladouceur (the Quebec class action) and the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal cases, and so on. You are free to deny they exist.

    The program you describe would be called “eclectic” treatment (combining ABA with non-ABA interventions), and in Canada and elsewhere, “autism advocates” (that is, ABA parents, the ones who decide the future of all autistic in Canada) demand that such programs NOT be provided or funded, on the basis that they are ineffective.

    Major behaviour analysts have argued that the kind of program you are using is ineffective. You are free to argue that I am making this up. But this is on the public record, including in the peer-reviewed literature, some of it authored by BCBAs (e.g., Howard et al., 2005).

    And where is the science and evidence for this “moved on” ABA, apart from a few papers in which behaviour analysts conclude that “eclectic” treatment, the kind you are using, is ineffective. There’s also a very recent paper that finds ABA and “eclectic” treatment to be equally ineffective.

    All the ABA controlled trials cited by ABA parents in Canada (in legal cases and political campaigns) to support their demands are Lovaas-based. Often, Lovaas (1987) is the only ABA controlled trial referred to (see Wynberg, e.g., which is not from the dark ages, but from 2005).

    Canada’s most powerful “autism advocacy” group, FEAT, has a policy of kicking out anyone who even mentions VB (a form of ABA) or any non-Lovaas form of ABA (I assume that would also include PRT, PBS, RFT or is it ACT, precision teaching, etc.), much less anything that isn’t ABA. You are going to say I made that up, but FEAT has recently (not in the dark ages, in the last week), posted their position on all their discussion forums (NOTE: I again tried to post a link to this, as I have perviously tried to post links, but my comment disappeared).

    I apologize for my “very limited repertoire of interests,” but if I did not have this wrong with me (as you would put it), I would not be “successful” (as some people believe I am).

  9. Hi Michelle

    I am sure you are doing everything to help children and adults with autism, and indeed their parents from being ripped off by dubious therapies.

    My personal take is this: ABA, and indeed all teaching, is seen to be a science, which inter alia, asserts that it is system that has processes and can be replicated if the conditions are aligned. BUT…

    I believe, any activity that has a human dimension to it cannot be a science, particularly the “science” of teaching. Why is it that at university there is always a rush to be in some professors class and less in others. Given that they are all having the same knowledge, and intelligence?

    Teaching is an art.

    And an individual, with all the knowledge in the world cannot be a good teacher unless s/he learns, or has subconsciously absorbed, the nuances of the trade.The demeanor, integrity, understanding, love, conviction, empathy, humility, etc. Attributes that only now are being catalogued by experts in the field of management and leadership, to try and quantify what makes some people click where others fail.

    My BCABA, does not use the ecclectic approach – she uses the ABA approach. The difference is that she does not let the approach come in the way of what tools she chooses to aid my son’s learning.

    And my son is learning well. I personally do not need scientists to tell me the good teaching that has helped my son is not valid coz it has not been through trials. They do not know my son. Next they will say parenting in India with its cultural moorings is not vaild coz there have been no double blind studies to say it helps children.

    To give you an anology; about the time God told to Abraham to kill him his son, we have been having a type of medical system here, that has served us well for over 5000 years. NOW, we have western scientists telling us that it is not valid coz no studies have been done to validate it. DO we care?!

    Ajai

  10. And quickly:

    When we had our son diagnosed at age 18 ( it is months not years – something i hope is obvious in blogs that are concerned with AUTISM) we are told of two books – the ME book, and the Cathy M’s book. When i say ABA has moved on, i mean that the books and journals that i am reading now about autism interventions has little to do with stuff written in those books. But we still debate on electric shocks and corporal punishments in ABA. I do not know if these still exists but i agree that is not the way to go.

    Also is there only one right approach to helping children with autism learn ?

    While scientists are obsessed with the approach ( and rightly so) parents are obsessed with things and therapies that help their child cope with a world which is designed as openly hostile to their skill sets.

    Regards

    Ajai

  11. Hi Ajai,

    Yes, electric shock is still used on children and adults. So are restraints and overcorrection and other aversive procedures, all within ABA programs. This is reported in the science (too many references to list), not in the dark ages, but up to the present.

    The use of electric shock and other aversive procedures is described very favourably in the most recent edition of the major ABA text book (Cooper et al., 2007).

    I don’t think we should forget about autistic children and adults who are now subject to aversive procedures. I don’t think we should forget the autistic children who are currently (according to a recent Boston Globe story) put in a tiny, windowless room (a closet, really) in one of the best-respected ABA schools in the US (the New England Center for Children).

    I also don’t think we should forget about and discard autistics who were hit and shocked in the past. Some of them would be about my age, some would be younger. We should not write off these human beings because they are inconvenient to the promotion of ABA.

    The ME Book continues to be the basis of major ABA group designs published in the literature and cited in legal or political efforts to have ABA mandated as the only approach used with all autistic people. See Eikeseth et al. (2002, 2007) and Sallows & Graupner (2005). As you can see, those are very recent studies. The therapists in Sallows & Graupner (2005) were trained using The ME Book–this was the standard chosen by the behaviour analysts.

    And as I wrote, Catherine Maurice’s book is in recent Canadian jurisprudence, having been cited approvingly by a trial judge in a Charter (our highest law) case. I’ve already taken up too much of Mike S’s space, so I won’t go into the implications of this.

    But recently (was it a week ago?), a brilliant autistic boy was described in the media by his father–who is lobbying for ABA services–as a “death in the family,” a phrase that echoes Dr Maurice. And not long ago, Dr Maurice’s book was cited favourably by a Member of Parliament who has a brilliant autistic son.

    You are saying, who needs science, because you are happy. I’m glad you are happy. But–while you might not be impressed–there is a lot of science showing that highly marketed and popular autism treatments or interventions that parents are sure are “effective” in reality aren’t.

    And there are parents who use chelation and B-12 injections and Lupron and secretin (etc, etc) on their autistic children. These parents swear these treatments are effective and that science and ethics get in the way of them saving their children. The same argument was made by the ABA-promoting group, ASAT–that ethics get in the way of treating autistic children, and if ethical standards are applied, then autistic children will be doomed.

    I disagree–I think autistics deserve to be protected by and to benefit from recognized standards of science and ethics, including professional ethics. These standards exist because without them, people are harmed.

    There is also science showing that parents express great satisfaction with ABA programs which do not measurably help their children, and also that these parents (whose children have not been helped) will recommend and promote ABA (see, e.g., Boyd & Corley, 2001; Smith, Buch & Gamby, 2000; Volkmar et al., 2004; Eaves & Ho, 2004).

    I described your son’s program as “eclectic” because it includes non-ABA interventions like RDI. When RDI (etc) is added to ABA programs, behaviour analysts have called these programs “eclectic.”

    You wrote, “we have been having a type of medical system here, that has served us well for over 5000 years” and you don’t want Western scientists telling you otherwise, but then why do you need a BCABA? The field of ABA is not a “medical system” but it was defined by three Western scientists in 1968. The principles of ABA require things that you don’t want, including empirical evidence that procedures have produced measurable change.

    You wrote, “Also is there only one right approach to helping children with autism learn?”

    There has been very little interest in how autistics (children and adults) learn well, in the history of autism research. With my collaborators, I’ve written the only review of learning in autism in the history of autism research. This review is in press (it will be published in 2008). You can find a draft online, but I can’t link to it (if you go to my blog, you can get it from my CV, which is linked to my blog). This review is limited because we only had 6,000 words to work with. But maybe you will find it useful.

  12. Mike, if you DO read my book, you’ll see that I AM very careful about promoting FC. It’s not for everyone, though it’s hard to tell IN ADVANCE for whom it MIGHT be useful. In fact, I make clear in the book and on my web site that my wife and I focused on literacy for YEARS before we were comfortable with the idea of FC. We had our son pointing independently at letters and words on a page or blackboard, which took immense amounts of practice. He now has MULTIPLE facilitators, has passed informal message-passing protocols, and, as important, evinces a HIGHLY distinctive style. I say teach literacy and then address the motor problems your first comment mentions. I wouldn’t be surprised if more people, again not everyone, could be helped by this technique.

  13. Hi Ralph,
    I fully intend to read your book. Is it being published in the UK or should I buy the US edition? Regarding FC, I do believe that, if we go beyond the hype, it is a genuine aid to communication for some people.

  14. HI Mike/ Michelle
    Just wanted to add three points before i am yelled at for consuming so much e-space about nothing.

    Comparing the western attitude of wanting to have everything double-blind studied was one.

    Nature always had plans for us, and sometimes science takes time to catch up with what is the truth. That does not mean the truth is untrue till the scientists find it out.
    Maybe it is this kind of mind set that makes scientists attribute all of natures laws to themselves. You do not hear of “Nature’s laws of Gravity revealed to the world by Newton ” No, it is always “Newtons Laws of gravity “. What could be more vain. My 5000 year comparison was along those lines – things exist, whether scientists know about it or not.

    Secondly – eclectic: After seeing vidoes and notes of many therapies i feel that all good teaching is essentially operant conditioning. Using motivation, reinforcement etc which are the fundamental of ABA. Suddenly eclectic doesn’t seem that eclectic anymore to me.

    I do not know if it was GBS who said “A man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still” or “It is better to compromise with fools” ( there, now that sounds more like good ol’ GBS). So let us agree to disagree. Pretend i am an old fool.

    And before i end; I am shocked that corporal punishments Michelle talks about is still practiced as part of early intervention therapy. That is completely unacceptable. Its like Guantanamo moving into the neighbourhood! STOP!!!

    Much love

    Ajai

  15. Hi Ajai,

    You wrote: “After seeing vidoes and notes of many therapies i feel that all good teaching is essentially operant conditioning. Using motivation, reinforcement etc which are the fundamental of ABA.”

    It’s true that behaviour analysts are only concerned with one kind of learning. They are sure it is the only kind of learning, and that learning cannot take place in any other way.

    This causes behaviour analysts to write off as “self-stimulatory” etc., and to extinguish the ways in which autistics learn well (Dawson et al., in press). The ways in which autistics learn well are recorded in the science (and in popular accounts) as tremendous obstacles to autistics learning the “right” non-autistic things in the “right” non-autistic way.

    But behaviour analysis isn’t the only kind of science. There are other kinds of science, and there are other kinds of learning.

    I definitely agree that parents who promote ABA programs, come to be certain, as certain as behaviour analysts, that there is only one way to learn. They become certain that anything but this one way of learning is wrong and worthless, and interferes with learning the “right” things the one “right” way, via the principles of ABA.

    Then some parents and behaviour analysts have tried to impose this view on all autistics via public policy. But this view necessarily writes off–as public policy–all autistics who have not undergone ABA/IBI starting as young children, and indeed, we have been written off.

    This also necessarily writes off all autistic children (and adults) who do poorly in ABA programs. This is a lot of children and adults.

    And this may have something to do with the continued use of aversive procedures. When there is only one kind of learning, when it fails to “work” without aversive procedures, then behaviour analysts have often been able to justify the use of aversive procedures. After all, there is no other way to learn–they say. (See Cooper et al., 2007).

    I wish I could write even half as well, as clearly and elegantly, as you do, Ajai, and I wish you and your son all the best.

  16. Ajai and Michelle,
    I am enjoying your discussion and will add my own thoughts when I return to my computer on Sunday. I am off to a an NAS meeting in London for the weekend.

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