Stop Pathologizing Autistic Play

A topic came up in an autism support group I frequent. A mother said that her son's Early Intervention therapist was trying to get him to stop "repetitive play," and play more the way typical children do. The mom didn't see any harm in repetitive play, but the therapist claimed her son was doing the… Continue reading Stop Pathologizing Autistic Play

Behavior Modification: Use Sparingly and With Caution

In both cases, a preteen client was being physically violent. However, the two situations required very different responses. In one case, a behaviorist approach worked well for everyone involved, including the client. In the other, it would have been catastrophic, especially for the client.

We Need to Talk About Appropriate Language

Most of us can remember being unreasonably afraid of something-- or hoping for something impossible -- because an adult said something we misinterpreted, took too literally, or didn't realize was a joke. Sometimes we hold these misconceptions for years. For an autistic child, who tends to take language very literally, this probably happens far more often.

And yet again, ABA: what’s wrong with it, and what can be changed

Some thoughts that keep floating around in my mind lately, particularly in response to conversations I see on social media: I’ve said some positive things in the past about certain versions and applications of ABA. While I’m not retracting those statements, I feel I need to point out a few things. 1. Apparently, I have… Continue reading And yet again, ABA: what’s wrong with it, and what can be changed

Fever Dreams and Philosophical Musings

Last night, I fell asleep with a mild fever. My life chased me into my dreams. *** In my dream, my client breaks something while I struggle to help his mother in the kitchen. His ABA team makes him stay up all night cleaning, and in the morning a troop of therapists convenes to discuss… Continue reading Fever Dreams and Philosophical Musings

Proposed Guidelines for the Safe and Ethical Application of ABA Methods

Please note: This post is a work in progress. **** Behaviors targeted for modification or extinction must meet the following criteria: The behavior creates a physical safety risk for the client or other people, or causes significant damage to the surroundings. Behaviors may not be targeted for elimination/modification on the grounds of being atypical, embarrassing,… Continue reading Proposed Guidelines for the Safe and Ethical Application of ABA Methods

Breaking Down ABA, Again: Part 3; Some Advantages of ABA Methodology

This post continues from part 2 *** Let me note, before I start, that the advantages I'm talking about here are a matter of applying scientific and behaviorist principles to a situation. This doesn't necessarily require an ABA program-- it's just that, currently, ABA is the primary program in which these methods are used. ABA… Continue reading Breaking Down ABA, Again: Part 3; Some Advantages of ABA Methodology

When ABA Gets It Right: Collaborating with a Client

There's one ABA team I work with who are, on the whole, pretty awesome. I'd like to give a few examples of things that make me happy about them: - They acknowledge, in front of the client, that they know she understands a lot more than she is capable of expressing to us. They say… Continue reading When ABA Gets It Right: Collaborating with a Client

Breaking Down ABA, Again: Part 2: Goals and Underlying Philosophy

[This post continues a series started here] UNDERLYING PHILOSOPHY One major way in which schools of ABA can differ is in their primary goal, their understanding of how ABA methods should be used. *** 1) Traditional Approach: Fighting Against Autism Traditional ABA practitioners believe that it is inherently good for autistic children to appear, act,… Continue reading Breaking Down ABA, Again: Part 2: Goals and Underlying Philosophy