Thursday, November 4, 2010

Far from the Truth- part1

I am going to outline for you the misinformation presented by the video series "ABA vs Son Rise Program" in order as it appears.  There is just so much of it, and as you can see from the comments in the videos most people are starting to catch on that those who made the videos are either greatly misinformed or intentionally spreading untruths to make themselves look better.  I will give them the benefit of the doubt, and assume that they have not had much experience with ABA beyond the outdated methodology first outlines many years ago.

Let me start with the first video, found here on "Joining":

Now, this one is just silly.  For starters, and this is just purely superficial, you will be far more likely to find ABA therapists in jeans than in suits.  Why?  Because we work with kids.  Ones with autism.  Through the course of the day we will likely be joining a child on the floor or engaging in an activity that is likely to require frequent washing of our clothes.  Kids are messy.

Next they tell us the first order of business with ABA is to extinguish repetitive behaviors.  This is just ridiculous!  Do we sometimes do this?  Yes- when the behaviors are harmful or greatly interfere with the child's ability to learn and interact.  However unless the behavior is physically harmful (head banging, picking nails off of fingers, etc) they aren't likely to be the "first order of business."

Now on to scripted behaviors vs relating to people.  Yes, ABA may teach certain things in a scripted manner for some children.  However, there are many ABA techniques that teach the same skills in an un-scripted manner.  I question, as well, their definition of "relating to people."  By joining in repetitive behaviors, are they relating to us, or are we relating to them?  And will they be able to relate to other people, out in the real world, who are not going to join in their repetitive behaviors?  Which will lead to relating better to more people- joining a child in their hand flapping, or teaching them to ask and answer "how are you?"  And is there a reason we can't do both?

The second video in the series is about "Choice":

ABA therapists don't necessarily want everyone to choose ABA.  We want parents to choose therapies that are EFFECTIVE and have been proven to be so.  We do not want parents wasting their valuable time and resources of treatments that have no effect or are even harmful.  If there is only one therapy available that is proven effective, then it does not seem to me that there IS a choice, however.  Not having a choice of treatments doesn't imply there is anything wrong with the current treatment.  How often do people refuse speech therapy for a child who stutters?  Chemotherapy for a kid with cancer?

This cookie cutter idea.  This is one of the craziest things I have ever heard.  ABA is a highly individualized therapy.  Skills addressed are entirely determined by what the child's strengths and weaknesses are, and specific techniques within ABA which are used to teach those skills are tailored to what works best for each individual child.

The third video in the series talks about "Motivation":

Here is where the really out-dated information comes in.  Discrete Trials is ONE of the methodologies encompassed in the universe that is ABA.  This is NOT all that ABA is all about, though this is a popular misconception.  There are other, newer, methodologies such as Verbal Behavior which really use and focus on a child's natural motivation.  We do use things other than candy and food items.  If a child, for example, is enjoying playing with a shape sorter we use that to practice learning shapes and colors.  If a child really wants to talk about monkeys today, we can use that to practice differentiating facts and opinions.

I have decided that this deserves two parts, as this entry is getting long.  Stay tuned for my response to the remaining videos!


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