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MalchowMama
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11 Jan 2009, 4:56 am

I have some issues with ABA also, though I've only been researching it for about a week. My Initial reaction was very negative (it is essentially EXACTLY the way you would train a dog), and it seems the extreme emphasis on early intervention and intensive (i.e. many many hours) is meant to make parents panic. My child is 2.25 years old, and babbles alot, but has no language. Obviously, I want to help him acquire language (verbal or signing, whatever helps him to communicate) as soon as possible, but he loves being outdoors and there is no way I'mgoing to lock him away at a desk for 40-60 hours a week. I do however think some of the methods make alot of sense and I will likely adapt them into something that I think suits my child and his individual personality. Also, if ABA is so effective, why does it require so many hours and hours and hours of intensive work? What about time spent outdoors, actually experiencing life?

If my child was extremely unhappy, with constant tantrums (he's never even had one yet!), self-harming, etc., possibly this intensive approach would be appropriate, but from what I've learned so far, I have a few problems with the accepted wisdom in the "autism community":
- it makes no sense to me that one therapy would be right for the hugely diverse needs of children with such a variety of characteristics;
- Please stop calling my child ABNORMAL! He may nnot be typical or average, but like the original poster, I do not see him as needing "fixing"
- so many "symptoms" are completely typical behaviours for young children (interest in spinning things, not interacting with peers (at 2?! have they heard of parallel play?), which brings me to
- a real lack of age-appropriate information

As for the woman who tried to bully you into ABA/VB, I think you should fire off that email putting her in her place. Nobody with that attitude should call themself a therapist!



SG
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11 Jan 2009, 5:09 am

luvinmykid wrote:
My daughter, sure - she has her quirks, but I don't think that she needs to be sat down and have something hammered into her head. She's a smart kid, just does things differently and has trouble with sensory issues, etc....


Something i wish to god was hammered into my head as early as possible was social skills.. its torture not to have them in school



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11 Jan 2009, 9:42 am

Here's my opinion on ABA

http://chaoticidealism.livejournal.com/54077.html

Basically, it may work at extinguishing symptoms, but it doesn't prepare kids for life...

I think you should be focusing on finding a good speech/language therapist who can work at setting up a communication system for you and your child. I don't know what will work; babbling seems to indicate that she will learn to speak verbally, but there are other things that can take up the slack in the meantime (sign, pictures, symbols, etc.) and allow her to communicate with you. Other benefits of alternative communication is that it gives her the idea that communication is done through symbols--that a picture can represent an object, a gesture can represent an action, etc. which gives her a head start on speech. Lots of moms with typical babies teach their kids baby sign, and report that it really cuts down on the kids' frustration-induced temper tantrums during their toddler years; because sometimes it helps to have an alternative way to say things. Communication is top priority when autism is concerned, because it's communication that helps you understand what your child is feeling, and lets your child tell you what she wants.

If I had been the one advising you, I'd say, Look, I don't care if she likes spinning things; so do I, and I'm in college. I don't care if she doesn't play with others. I don't do much of that myself. But if I couldn't write; if I couldn't speak; if I didn't have some way of getting my thoughts to other people, I couldn't do the things I'm doing now and I'd be a thousand times more frustrated.


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11 Jan 2009, 10:56 am

Within the realm of ABA material I think there is some interesting and useful practical advice about understanding basic teacher cause/student effect when working with autistic children. It can help taking the edges off behaviors that are huge roadblocks to progress of actual teaching them. However it isn't a fix-all that many proponents claim it as. I didn't understand where ABA could go, especially if the practitioner went "old school" with it, when my son started in a pre-school program that was specifically for autistic kids. So I was very fortunate that they were of the mind that ABA was mostly rubbish, partially because they were a program for kids that showed signs of having average or better cognition even if their skills were near non-existent coming in.

Ironically because of ABA entrenchment they had to pay lip service to ABA just to get government funding. On paper they used ABA but what they really did, for nearly all the students, was a million miles away from even the "kind, gentler" ABA discreet trials. They did do a little bit of the red peg in the red bucket, blue peg in the blue bucket stuff. For one child when he was starting there because they were having trouble reaching into his world at all. I actually helped with that a couple days with that child. But it wasn't more than 10-20 minutes at a time for the activity. We stopped when he was showing signs that enough was enough (I noticed him starting to stim by chewing the end of his sleeve).


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11 Jan 2009, 11:54 am

Yeah, ABA for AS kids is focused on rote memorization of pre-determined social 'scripts'. It might make elementary school easier in some cases, but it doesn't prepare the kid for when someone will deviate from the script. Which will be...always. The sooner they learn that scripts don't exist for life, the sooner they start using their critical thinking skills to learn how to communicate with others.



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11 Jan 2009, 12:24 pm

SG wrote:
luvinmykid wrote:
My daughter, sure - she has her quirks, but I don't think that she needs to be sat down and have something hammered into her head. She's a smart kid, just does things differently and has trouble with sensory issues, etc....


Something i wish to god was hammered into my head as early as possible was social skills.. its torture not to have them in school



There are more humane methods than using ABA therapy.



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11 Jan 2009, 12:34 pm

ABA is dehumanizing for EVERYONE, not just 'smart' 'aspies' and 'HFA'. So what if they don't talk? That doesn't mean that they suddenly lack the ability to feel uncomfortable when somebody ABA's them. Severe autism means you have to be extra careful when dealing with therapies and things. It does not mean 'do anything to them, they won't care'.

Don't go. Your friend is wrong. Why did she even get her education involved? Does she honestly think ABA=College? 8O



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14 Jan 2009, 4:36 pm

I'm currently reading "Understanding Autism for Dummies" (Wiley Publishing, Inc.) and there are several chapters about the diverse autism treatements (Chapter 2, and Chapter 9). Though there is not an in-depth discussion about the different methods the book is a good starting point if you want to get a general overview of the different methods and learn a bit about each of them. I haven't read chapter 9 yet but chapter 2 looks interesting. The discussion is balanced and there is a foreword by Temple Gradin which seems to be a good sing.

You can also find a more in-depth (a bit technical) discussion at this Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autism_Treatment.

Hope this might help! :wink:



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08 Nov 2009, 7:47 pm

I read through this thread and was pretty disappointed because it seems like everyone is criticizing a field that they don't know about. It is unfortunate that some people don't employ the techniques properly but when any child autistic or not learns a skill, the reason they learn that skill is because of the principles of behavior/learning. ABA as a field aims to define how people learn and recognizes that there are different modes of learning. The studies that report 40 hours/week show that the child makes the most gains with 40 hrs/week. Most autistic children are not taking in naturally from the environment like a non autistic child would. Therapies help the child interact with the world around them and take in the information that they aren't taking in. Most people providing ABA services to children especially little ones, do not sit at the table and do discrete trials for 40 hours/week. They are playing with the child and helping them interact, communicate, and decrease tantrums/biting/etc. If someone tries to do this with you, they are following a very outdate style of working with the children and you should find a different provider. Here is a myths about ABA and autism that might be helpful I found it from a company called Knospe that I am in no way affiliated with I would post their website but am too new for the forum to let me:


Myth: “ABA is an experimental treatment and not scientifically demonstrated effective.”
This is the exact opposite of true. Of all the forms of therapy and education that are available for use with children with autism, ABA is the one that has the most scientific study and support for its principles, techniques and overall effectiveness. There are a dozen or more professional journals that are dedicated to the science of ABA, Autism intervention, and mental retardation that have published thousands of individual research findings and large group studies. Although there will always be a single study or two that was not able to show success of a specific intervention or program, an overwhelming percentage of the available research shows quite clearly that ABA is not only extremely effective for use with children with autism but also the most effective approach available for most children with behavior and learning difficulties. In fact, ABA is currently the only autism therapy recommended for long-term benefit by the United States Surgeon General. As a treatment for autism, Chapter Three of the Surgeon General’s report on Mental Health, 1999, states, “Thirty years of research demonstrated the efficacy of applied behavioral methods in reducing inappropriate behavior and in increasing communication, learning, and appropriate social behavior.” What other therapy option can boast all of that?
Myth: “ABA does not teach how or why a child should do something. It only trains them to behave in a certain way.”
This Myth deals with the mistaken idea that in ABA programs children are not being taught to be independent thinkers but merely trained to react to stimuli. All learning has some aspect of rote memorization and practiced routine, whether you are in an ABA program, regular school classroom, Montessori school program, or simply learning from mom at home. There are always going to be things that a child is expected to do, “Just because Mom said so.” Additionally, there will always be behavior we choose without thinking. Humans are creatures of habit. When discussing “training,” one is generally talking about creating habits of behavior – things we do without thinking about them. However, this fact has nothing to do with ABA but rather how all people learn. Many of our behavior choices in life are reactions and habits. When it is time to brush your teeth you do not think about each of the behaviors used to make that happen (wetting the toothbrush, squeezing the toothpaste, raising your hand to your mouth etc.). These habits have all formed the way that they have because guided practice has led to success. Success then leads to repetition. It is true that ABA is very successful in breaking down seemingly simple tasks such as brushing teeth and teaching them in small steps to help a child find success where they might not otherwise. However, the premise that ABA is limited to only teaching this sort of memorized or habitual task is absolutely false.

Just like any form of teaching, a good ABA program needs to be designed to teach to all of the needs of the individual. This includes concepts such as complex language, social interaction, problem solving, flexible thinking, and theory of mind. Although, these skills are much more complex in nature, they are not immune to the same behavioral principles that guide all of our learning. The issue then becomes, “how creative and experienced is the person running the ABA program at addressing this sort of learning?” In the early days of ABA it is true that there was much less experience addressing these more complex learning processes. Thus, some early ABA programs may have been deficient. However, that was a result of the professional’s inexperience applying the principles and not problems with the principles themselves. The benefit of ABA is that it is a science and therefore progress made anywhere in the world is made available to all through the studies published in scientific journals. Over the past 40 years there have been an uncountable number of breakthroughs and experience gained addressing even the most complex human issues with the principles of ABA. With a qualified program that is up to date with the latest information and techniques available, there is little concern that you will find any type of learning that cannot be addressed in all of its complexity.

As a final point, it is important to remember that ABA is the science of what works. ABA is outcome oriented. A program is only successful if the learning goals that are targeted are being met on a frequent and consistent basis. Even if there was a method of teaching that contradicted our current understanding of the ABA principles, the fact that ABA is outcome-oriented would mean that the procedure would be recommended as long as it had been shown ethical and effective.

Myth: “ABA is merely animal training adapted for human use.”

Although it is true that all living beings respond to the environment in similar ways, the reality of animal behavior is that it cannot compare to the complexity of that seen with even the earliest developing human life. ABA is a comprehensive understanding of why people tend to make the choices that they do. It is also the application of that understanding to help people make choices that are more effective and support happier and more successful living. The fact that some behaviorists use this understanding to help adults, others have used it to help children, and still others have used it to train animals, does not diminish its value in supporting better choice making in children with autism. I always laugh when I hear this myth and think, “hmm, people sometimes choose to feed meat bones to their dogs. Does that mean that my New York steak with peppercorn sauce is merely dog food adapted for use with humans?”

Myth: “ABA just uses food and toys to bribe kids into doing things. “

One of the most misunderstood concepts of ABA is the value and importance of Reinforcement. ABA is a Reinforcement based science. We understand that, in life, the things we do that are followed by positive changes in our environment are most often the things we choose to do again. This “success leading to repetition” is what creates our behavior patterns and ultimately helps us to determine the kind of people we are to become. Reinforcement is defined as any change in the environment after a behavior that increases the likelihood of that behavior recurring under similar circumstances. The fact that Reinforcement is defined as occurring after a behavior shows that the terms “Bribe” and “Reinforcement” are not synonymous. Bribes involve saying to someone, “If you do this, I will give you this.” Bribes are dependent on a negotiation before the behavior occurs. Since Reinforcement occurs only after a behavior is completed, they are not one in the same. In fact, most ABA programs teach that the use of “If, Then,” statements are often contrary to good teaching.

Additionally, there is nothing in the definition of Reinforcement that dictates what reinforcement is or can be. It only dictates when reinforcement occurs and what it does for a behavior. The actual stimulus that serves as reinforcement should not and cannot be determined by the ABA program developer. Instead, reinforcement is always determined by what actually does increase future behavior.

In general, some forms of food, access to items, physical or mental stimulation, attention, praise, and self-satisfaction act as the reinforcement for most everything we do. We eat because it tastes good and/or to nourish our bodies, read books because it stimulates our brains in positive ways and tend to be nice to others because it gives us some combination of attention, praise and self-satisfaction. The same things are true for children with autism but to differing degrees. Our job is not to judge what acts as reinforcement, but to work hard to uncover what it is that works as reinforcement. Once identified, we can help the environment present those stimuli to the child after behavior choices we want to see reoccur and not after behavior that has been deemed inappropriate, less effective or ultimately harmful to the child’s future.

The truth is that Reinforcement is what guides us all in our behavior choices. Parental Praise, school grades, financial payment and a sense of accomplishment are all forms of Reinforcement that guide us through our daily behavior choices. But, how many of these things actually work to help a child with autism make better behavior choices? Depending on the child, it is quite possible that none of these higher-level stimuli support behavior change. That leaves us with only lower level items to work with at the start of a program. Food, physical play, music, videos, and toys are often good early reinforcers that help a child to learn important new skills. But, as important as it is to identify what currently works as reinforcement for a child, it is just as important to increase the amount and level of reinforcement meaningful to the child. Luckily the science of ABA and the advancements of the Verbal Behavior research in ABA have given us many very successful tools to help us do just that.

Myth: “There is only one kind of ABA.”

It is true that there is only one science of ABA, but that does not mean that there is only one kind of ABA and that all ABA programs are the same. It is common for people to see an ABA program or hear about a single recommendation of a single child’s program and assume that all ABA is done this way or recommends this technique. Nothing could be further from the truth. ABA is nothing more than an understanding of why people make the choices that they do and an application of this understanding to help a child make better choices. Because no two individuals (with or without autism) are alike, no two ABA programs should look the same. Everything done in an ABA program has to take into account the individual needs and desires of the child who is being helped. It has to be implemented and assessed objectively to determine if the desired results are occurring in a timely manner, and it needs to be altered to represent what is determined to be most successful for that individual. The goal of any good ABA program is to understand what works best for the child and apply those teaching techniques in comprehensive ways. This is done to address all of the potential deficits that can come with autism. If you have looked into ABA at all you might have heard of Lovaas programming, Verbal Behavior, Pivotal Response Training, German Verhaltens Therapy and many other forms of ABA that have been developed to help children with autism. The truth is each of these approaches is ABA because they all take into account the behavioral principles. The difference is in how the principles are being applied and what the focus of the intervention is. Some forms of ABA might be better for some children and other forms better for others. Regardless, just deciding to put your child in an ABA program is not enough. You need to consider the background and training of the specific institute to see that qualified individuals run it. You also need to determine if the institute offers the approach to ABA that most suits your belief system and your child’s specific needs. (Note: Knospe-ABA offers programs that focus on the Verbal Behavior Approach to ABA)

Myth: “ABA is a specialized Autism Therapy and is not useful for children with other diagnosis.”

The truth is, ABA is a science that was theorized and developed long before there was any thought of applying it to Autism Spectrum Disorder. ABA is used the world round to help all kinds of people overcome all kinds of social and behavioral problems, such as quitting smoking, personality disorders, relationship counseling, obsessive compulsive disorders, and many other common human issues. Behavioral principles only began being used for children with autism in the late 1960’s and 1970’s. Although the techniques were basic and not very comprehensive at the time, experiment and study has made ABA a valuable tool for autism intervention as well as other maladies. In addition to scientific Journals such as “The Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis” (JABA) and “The Behavior Analyst Today” (BAT), studies supporting ABA intervention are being published in many scientific journals such as “The Journal of Autism and Developmental Disabilities,” “The Journal of Mental Retardation,” “The Journal of Early and Intensive Behavioral Intervention” (JEIBI) and “ The Journal of Speech and Language and Applied Behavior Analysis”. Studies are available that support the use of ABA programming with children affected by any number of different disabilities including Downs Syndrome, Cerebral Paulsey, Emotional Disorders, General Developmental Delay, etc.

Myth: “ABA is far too expensive for any family to seriously consider.”

It is not uncommon for people to use quotes of ABA services in the US costing $20,000 to $40,000 per year. Although it is true that you can find programs that do cost this much, it is not a necessity. It certainly isn’t the case with programs run by Knospe-ABA in Germany. Our program costs less per hour and requires fewer hours of direct service per year than most other intensive intervention programs. Our average cost per child in direct service is less than 9,000 Euro in the first year with yearly costs designed to go down over time as the family imporoves their skills.

Additionally, over 70% of Knospe-ABA’s bills are being paid for by local government agencies. Whether the bill is being paid for by the government or by an individual family, the stated goals of our Institute is the same – “We help a family work toward therapeutic independence.” This means that with many of our programs, the longer a family is with us, the more they are capable of achieving without direct service. Less direct service means less yearly cost.

Myth: “ABA Institutes pressure parents into signing long and expensive contracts.”

I cannot comment on any other ABA providers, as I do not know their business practices. But, I can tell you that Knospe-ABA has never signed a service contract with a family.

Ongoing service is always the choice of the family and can be cancelled at any time for any reason. In fact, Knospe-ABA will not charge families for any services (even after the service has been given) if the family does not feel that the service was worth the cost. This is stated on our website and has held true from the day Knospe-ABA opened its doors in January of 2004. It will remain true for as long as I am the supervising lead behavior analyst for Knospe-ABA.

Myth: ABA institutes like Knospe-ABA sell you false hope by telling you they can cure your child of autism.

Hope is something that all parents of children with autism are desperately seeking as they see a life that they had planned for their child changing drastically in front of their eyes. The loss of hope that is associated with families of children with autism can be devastating. It is often the response of professionals who have been unable to find meaningful success for children with autism in their own careers to try to ease parents away from having hope. This is meant to prepare the parent for what the professional sees to be the family’s new “reality.” However, the truth is, a parent either has hope for a better life for his child or he is hopeless to provide his child with a better life. It is my belief that encouraging families to give up on their hope for a better life for their kids should be considered the real problem. Nobody knows what is or is not possible in the education of any child. We only know what we have learned and what we have seen. To say that a child cannot learn just because the individual saying it does not know how to teach that child is just plain wrong. I, for one, will never take part in the act of stealing hope away from a parent who will need all of their strength and determination to find the best possible path for their child and family.

At the same time, it is important to not “sell” hope that is unfounded. Unfortunately, talk of amazing breakthroughs and magical cures for Autism have been sold to parents for as long as there has been a disorder called Autism. Regardless, it remains important to refute the “old world” belief that nothing can be done for a child simply because he was given a diagnosis. The trick to appropriately supporting families of children with Autism is to let hope build naturally through progress and success. We need to focus our time and energy looking for all of the things that can be done instead of trying to predict what cannot be done. We then need to work hard at what we can do every day and watch as the progress begins to lead to a more successful life for child and family.

I want to make this very clear. Nobody at Knospe-ABA has ever made the statement that Autism can be cured. As it stands, we currently do not know the exact cause or causes of Autism. Without that knowledge, how can anyone say that the cause has been removed? Curing Autism is not a goal of Knospe-ABA. Educating children with Autism to their fullest potential is our only goal. The best way to achieve this is to make systematic progress toward each and every important goal day by day. When this is done well, research and our experience shows us that children with Autism are capable of much more than was previously believed. Not with tricks or magic but through hard work, it is often possible to completely change the type of life a child with Autism can ultimately live. Children with early and intensive Behavioral intervention are more likely to learn to communicate with spoken language, are more capable of staying in their local schools, remaining with their families or living independent adult lives. (See the Studies also available on this website)

There are some children who have been able to overcome the deficits associated with the diagnosis of Autism to the point that they no longer meet the behavioral criteria that caused them to get their diagnosis. These kids are considered to have “recovered” from Autism. The term Recovery means that the child no longer demonstrates enough symptoms to be called autistic. The number of children enjoying this best outcome has grown over the years as teaching methods and dietary understanding (among other things) has improved. However, the number of kids recovering from Autism remains far too small and more work need be done.

And this myth is my personal favorite: “ABA is some sort of cult like scientology that brainwashes parents into giving away their money and convincing others to do the same.”
Anyone who has any experience with actual ABA programming knows that this is ridiculous nonsense that has absolutely no merit. ABA is nothing more than a method of teaching skills to children and reducing inappropriate and sometimes dangerous behavior. How one goes about doing it can be ethical or unethical as with any other form of teaching. There is nothing about the principles of behavior that make this more or less true in ABA. The Behavior Analyst Certification Board, which I am a member, demands the highest ethical standards and insists that all interventions used are therapeutically valid, necessary, and performed only with client or parental consent.
Parents and teachers are understandably impressed and amazed when something finally starts to show meaningful progress with the children that they care about. This is especially true for those who have experienced nothing previously but failure, fear, and prolonged anguish. It is also understandable that these parents and teachers want to share this information with others. Some might even become annoyingly “pro ABA.” But that excitement and desire to share the benefits of ABA does not make for a cult. It merely shows that ABA is a strong teaching methodology that continues to develop a growing number of satisfied clients.



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08 Nov 2009, 9:42 pm

I wasn't put through ABA thearapy and I turned out just fine. I went to a developemental preschool, instead.


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starlight208
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08 Nov 2009, 10:02 pm

ABA is not a therapy though. Applied Behavior Analysis is the field that studies how people learn. Did the school you attended use Grades, social praise, positive feedback, access to items? Did the school you attended break skills down and teach them in small steps? Those are just two examples. There are lots of therapies that claim not to use ABA but pretty much anything that is teaching behavior and works, is making use of the principles of the behavior. Parents and others need to decide how they want that therapy to look and what they want therapy to work on but it will only be successful if the person doing the therapy makes use of principles of learning. I know that sounds pretty black and white and concrete but the principles have been replicated time after time and shown to be true with multiple populations in multiple settings. The only time they don't work is when the person implementing them doesn't implement them correctly or accurately identify the situation and the factors involved.



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09 Nov 2009, 1:35 am

starlight208 wrote:
ABA is not a therapy though. Applied Behavior Analysis is the field that studies how people learn. Did the school you attended use Grades, social praise, positive feedback, access to items? Did the school you attended break skills down and teach them in small steps? Those are just two examples. There are lots of therapies that claim not to use ABA but pretty much anything that is teaching behavior and works, is making use of the principles of the behavior. Parents and others need to decide how they want that therapy to look and what they want therapy to work on but it will only be successful if the person doing the therapy makes use of principles of learning. I know that sounds pretty black and white and concrete but the principles have been replicated time after time and shown to be true with multiple populations in multiple settings. The only time they don't work is when the person implementing them doesn't implement them correctly or accurately identify the situation and the factors involved.


I do agree with you that MODERN A.B.A. is quite different from that which many of us were exposed . I have had the chance to speak to a graduating (A.B.A.) class about my experiences as a child and growing up. Most of the A.B.A. graduates were quite appalled at some of the stuff I was put through. I have since had opportunities to observe A.B.A. in action (without the knowledge of therapist or the child), and I was quite impressed. Much of it was the same as what my mom did with me. When I was young, the kind of treatment that I had was not called, "A.B.A." I have also had very horrible treatment from teachers and a couple of staff members at other places. I think this is the case with many of us in our younger years - especially when there was little known about autism.


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09 Nov 2009, 2:34 am

Starlight, thanks for your great post. But I don't agree with it and probably it's why I never agreed with schools and prepared my exams alone. When I talk to my daughter I explain her what I/she need and why and tell her to find a way to do it. This is the exact opposite of ABA, isn't it? It works. The main problem with my daughter is that I need to make her care of something, not make her DO something. I want that she wash her teeth because otherwise they will became black, not because she is trained in doing it. If, after that, she try to wash them but she don't know how, then an ABA-like method can work, but... it's simply how EVERYBODY learn something. When you learn to dance, the teacher make you do 1 step at time, then 2, then 3.. till you can dance, is the same, the difference is that:

I want my child ask me to train her body to do what she want. I don't want to train her body to do something I want.


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09 Nov 2009, 8:09 am

Nightsun,
Thank you for the reply. What you are talking about is the focus of the services/therapy/education. Rather than taking input from parents a lot of schools/providers just do what THEY think the child needs instead of allowing for the child or the parent (if necessary) to decide. One of the core principles and tenets and ethical requirements of the field of Applied Behavior Analysis is that the skill taught must have social significance - meaning that it is an important skill for the child to learn and the child or the parent (if necessary) WANTS/needs to learn the skill.

All of the research in the field shows that you have much more success with someone learning a skill if they want to learn the skill. What you described about teaching your child to do something because she wants to learn not because you want her to learn it, is another core principle/area of research in ABA - motivation.

I think what you are referring to is source of control of who decides what the child should learn rather than the teaching technique. I don't know your daughter but am very happy that she is motivated to learn health care such as brushing her teeth. Part of the issue with some of the children is that there is no motivation for the skills that most people would deem pretty essential to having a good quality of life and participating in society such as using the bathroom, brushing teeth, showering, and most importantly a means to communicate. I am not saying that people should HAVE to do these things but in our society these things are deemed very important and people typically have a higher quality of life when they can do these things. This is where ABA as a field comes in big time. Behavior analyst can determine how to motivate the child to want to do these things without the parent forcing the child to. Unfortunately though, the initial decision of what to teach the child in the beginning tends to lie with the parents otherwise the child would not want to learn the skill and would never be motivated to learn the skill or might be motivated to learn it later in life after going through embarrassing incidents. Keep in mind too that most children's parents choose at first what their child should learn and what to teach their child.

The key for most people with learning anything is that the person has to want to learn it. With a lot of people, they want to learn it because it is inherently reinforcing to them: I greatly enjoying talking about autism and ABA no one made me talk about it but I enjoy it so I talk about it without any outside motivation, I don't know why I enjoy it but I talk about it more than I play Chess because for whatever reason I don't like Chess. If however someone offered me $1,000 to learn how to play Chess. I would be pretty excited about learning to play Chess and I would learn to play. Obviously neither of these skills are important to my ability to participate in society but I just used them as examples.

For the example you gave below about brushing her teeth you say "I want that she wash her teeth because otherwise they will become black" If your child knows this and does not want her teeth to become black she will brush her teeth. This is called Negative Reinforcement - she wants to avoid her teeth becoming black so her toothbrushing behavior increases. Refining the behavior would also incorporate ABA principles because someone will probably break down the skill and teach it to her using prompting and small steps (shaping) until she knows how to brush her teeth. If however your daughter couldn't care less about her teeth turning black but she loves My Little Pony stickers and you tell her "everyone who brushes their teeth gets a My Little Pony sticker" and show her you getting a My Little Pony sticker after you brush your teeth and she then wants to brush her teeth, you have used 2 more ABA techniques - Altering the environment (showing her you getting a sticker) to increase motivation and Positive reinforcement: giving her the sticker after she brushes her teeth and her toothbrushing behavior increases.

The bigger point I am trying to make here is when people say "I dont like ABA" they are essentially saying "I don't like behavior change, I don't like people to learn things" ABA as a field pure and simple is how EVERYONE learns. The principles are objective and well established (example:people do things more when they are motivated and experience what they perceive as positive consequences, people do things less when they are not motivated and experience what they perceive as negative consequences)
People might not like how those principles were implemented: 40 hours of therapy at a table, focusing on skills the child doesn't need/want to learn. But the effectiveness of the principles themselves is not going to change. The key is finding someone that can make use of the principles in a way that you feel comfortable with and/or the parent can learn the principles and make use of them in the way they see fit.

I just saw another great example of ABA on the news. At a subway station not enough people were using the stairs so they made the stairs into a piano that makes music. There was a 66% increase in people using the stairs because it is fun to make music instead of take the elevator. The people at the subway station changed the motivation: they made the stairs more fun than the elevator and now more people take the stairs. Principles of ABA are all around you that is why the field fascinates so much!



Maggiedoll
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09 Nov 2009, 8:49 am

SteveK wrote:
luvinmykid wrote:
she said that she guessed the 6 years she spent in college were a waste then weren't they.


Nine times out of ten, ESPECIALLY with THAT attitude, you can answer "RIGHT, THEY WEREN'T!", and be right!

I agree with that.. when somebody throws a hissy fit like that, it's usually because they can't actually back up what they're saying, so they throw a tantrum and get all self-righteous so that you won't argue with them, for fear of setting off another outburst. Somebody who spent six years in college to study something should be able to back it with a whole lot more than just shrieking that they spent six years in college studying something.