Conditioning by the environment and now ABA?

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Amity
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26 Oct 2019, 2:05 am

How are the *general outcomes of ABA for younger Autistic people different to the conditioning by their environment that older Autistic people (pre 1985 or there abouts) went through?
*Not just the extremes :)



ASPartOfMe
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26 Oct 2019, 3:56 am

I do not think what the “optimum outcome” is has changed nor the basics of rewards and punishment. What has changed is the intensity and amount of conditioning which is way more in the ABA era. There was much more of an expectation the kid having problems will “grow out of it” by learning from their mistakes ie. “the school of hard knocks”.


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jimmy m
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26 Oct 2019, 5:51 pm

One of the key differences between how the present generation of Aspies are treated today vs. back in the olden days is that current society relies heavily on using drugs to control Aspies. I was never diagnosed as an Aspie or having ADHD when I was growing up. I never went through consulting and was never feed a diet of drugs to control these conditions. Granted it was much more brutal. From my perspective, I feel this was a much better approach than what is used today. It meant that I felt the sheer strain from being abused by my peers during Junior High School. But that made me tough and more capable for what was to come later. It taught me how to overcome stress and become extremely independent.



Amity
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27 Oct 2019, 8:35 am

ASPartOfMe wrote:
I do not think what the “optimum outcome” is has changed nor the basics of rewards and punishment. What has changed is the intensity and amount of conditioning which is way more in the ABA era. There was much more of an expectation the kid having problems will “grow out of it” by learning from their mistakes ie. “the school of hard knocks”.


I'm no ABA fan to be clear, the school of hard knocks isnt appealing either.
So with ABA its more intensive conditioning leading to an automatic ability to mask autistic ways of communicating. I suppose the school of hard knocks was less focussed/more random and allowed for more self determined outcomes.



Amity
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27 Oct 2019, 8:44 am

jimmy m wrote:
One of the key differences between how the present generation of Aspies are treated today vs. back in the olden days is that current society relies heavily on using drugs to control Aspies. I was never diagnosed as an Aspie or having ADHD when I was growing up. I never went through consulting and was never feed a diet of drugs to control these conditions. Granted it was much more brutal. From my perspective, I feel this was a much better approach than what is used today. It meant that I felt the sheer strain from being abused by my peers during Junior High School. But that made me tough and more capable for what was to come later. It taught me how to overcome stress and become extremely independent.


Its the more brutal parts that makes me want to dismiss learning the hard way.

There has to be a way to learn from the environment/experiences without having to grow up early.

Perhaps how we view childhood is misaligned with becoming independent.

I'm with you on the drugs btw.



jimmy m
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27 Oct 2019, 10:32 am

Amity wrote:
Its the more brutal parts that makes me want to dismiss learning the hard way.


From my perspective, the brutal part is almost a central ingredient for an Aspie to successfully evolve into a Non-Conformist. One needs a very tough hide in order to survive in a world of conformist. This comes from the brutality of life. Drugs only deaden the pain and blocks the transformation.



ASPartOfMe
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27 Oct 2019, 11:12 am

Amity wrote:
ASPartOfMe wrote:
I do not think what the “optimum outcome” is has changed nor the basics of rewards and punishment. What has changed is the intensity and amount of conditioning which is way more in the ABA era. There was much more of an expectation the kid having problems will “grow out of it” by learning from their mistakes ie. “the school of hard knocks”.


I'm no ABA fan to be clear, the school of hard knocks isnt appealing either.
So with ABA its more intensive conditioning leading to an automatic ability to mask autistic ways of communicating. I suppose the school of hard knocks was less focussed/more random and allowed for more self determined outcomes.

The school of hard knocks expected self determination. It was on you, if you could not figure it out you were a loser, a failure in life, and if a guy a wuss, a homo, a fa***t. Bullying was considered a normal part of growing up, boys being boys. You were expected to fight back, not necessarily win but fight back. That unwritten social rule is what me and I suspect many undiagnosed autistics did not understand. My “logical” mind thought fighting back when they were bigger then me, more coordinated then me, and there were more of them was stupid and would invite worse retaliation. What I wished I understood was that while the cost of fighting back would be me getting beaten to a pulp a few times I would eventually gain respect and the bullies would become the outcasts. Instead my “logical” mind choose the path that invited escalation.

Today it is different, the original infractions are not filmed, the retaliation is, the autistic child is arrested and perp walked and more hours of the “gold standard” ABA and more drugs are prescribed because he or she is the weird one, the one with autism. It is the bullies that are believed.

That I and many other older members here think the way we grew up with all of its serious faults is preferable to growing up autistic today greatly saddens, angers, and frustrates me.


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jimmy m
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27 Oct 2019, 11:33 am

ASPartOfMe wrote:
Today it is different, the original infractions are not filmed, the retaliation is, the autistic child is arrested and perp walked and more hours of the “gold standard” ABA and more drugs are prescribed because he or she is the weird one, the one with autism. It is the bullies that are believed.


The bullies were believed 60 years ago when I was a boy in Junior High School.

As a child transitions into being a teenager, they are confronted with another major transition. In this age bracket they pass into puberty and teasing and bullying becomes a major force in their peer group. Those terms are very understated. The term teasing and bullying are terms developed to protect the abusers. They minimize the offense. A more accurate phrase is cruel and relentless torture. In adult society, the terms used are physical abuse, psychological abuse, and assault and they are criminal offenses.

* Bullies are very adept at what they do. It is almost like they took a course in the subject.
* They instinctively recognize those that are weak, alone and defenseless - venerable individuals. * Bullies choose to torment individuals away from the eyes of authorities. They know where in the playground or inside the school, they can strike outside the purview of the authorities. So the location of the fight generally was well hidden – not only by location they had chosen but also by the crowd of spectators that form.
* They know how to inflict the maximum amount of pain without leaving visible marks as evidence [such as a jab to the ribcage, a kick to the nuts, or a chokehold].
* They know about the unwritten rules such as the “Code of Silence” and the “Never Snitch”.
* They enforce these rules to silence witnesses.
* In general, bullies are cowards and rarely fight fair.
* They operate as a group, a gang with lieutenants and soldiers.
* In a conflict, it is always about the one (the victim) versus the many (the gang).
* You show up armed only with your fists to protect yourself, while they might show up armed to the teeth. Any fight is rarely fought on a level playing field and the conclusions are rarely left up to chance.
* And in the aftermath of the physical and verbal attack, it is always the word of the many (the gang), combined with the silence of the eyewitnesses (unwritten code of silence) against the word of the one (the victim). And in general, the victim is blamed.

To understand bullying one must look at it through the lens of a primate. The reason why teasing and bullying is exhibited in humans is because it is an evolutionary trait that evolved in primates. Primates exhibit a social tribe structure based on Alpha, Beta, and Omega members.

This structure is also exhibited in tribes of humans. Humans form into societal groups called gangs. A gang is led by an Alpha Male (otherwise known as the bully) and his lieutenants, Beta Males. Generally this tribe encompasses the entire school class because the other members of the tribe participate as soldiers in the gang or as silent eyewitnesses. The leadership of the gang is determined by brute force. A male Aspie fills the role of an Omega Male, a communal scapegoat or outlet of frustration.

One of the interesting observations about school bullying is that generally for males it peaks in the Junior High School years. This is no accident. What makes the timing of that phase interesting and special? It is because males are transitioning into puberty at that age.

In primates, Alpha Males often gain preferential access to sex or mates and as a result to reproduction and offspring. In humans, this bullying is part of thinning out the herd just prior to the mating age. It either mentally cripples Aspie males for the rest of their life or causes them to become loners and leave the tribe.



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27 Oct 2019, 11:53 am

Having only experienced the old way, I can't say which would be worse. Going through misery every day with no one helping you or giving a sh**, or being labeled with a disorder and drugged and put through ABA. In my experience the bullies were always believed anyway because they were good at lying, and a reputation as a weirdo was still damaging before it had a name. On the other hand, I never got treated like I was incapable of doing anything in life or that expectations were less for me. If I'd grown up in these times my life might have turned out much worse, because my family would probably have treated me as if I was incapable of doing anything, and I would have internalized it. I'll just say for that reason I'm glad I grew up the old way, even though it was brutal.



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27 Oct 2019, 12:50 pm

This is a really good thread. Thanks for making it. I am an older aspie, but I escaped a lot of bullying, mainly because of the way my parents socialized me I was able to kind of fit in, and being very good looking (which I always deliberately downplayed my entire life) really did help, sad to say, as looks should not make such a difference. Still I felt like an alien my entire life and still do and have been through horrible suffering, mainly because of what happened to me in my family in my childhood, which violence shaped and warped my personality. I have done lot of work on myself, though, over the years, but some things I should have worked on I did not, as I did not have it in me to do so. I am having to come to terms with some of that now, at a kind of old age.

Re ABA--are autistic people doing this to each other? It does sound to me, actually, like the kind of therapy some aspies would advocate because of the tendency for the thinking being so kind of black and white in many. I believe that it is only human for people to try to change their behavior in order adapt and fit in; however, imo, the desire needs to come from within in order for the change to be completely generative. This said I am not completely against trying to re-conditioning ones responses or even necessarily against getting some kind of help in trying to do so.

Also, I know a lot of autistic people who, as myself, definitely were not like others, even out and out really odd, but who still were not bullied, and I think many so-called nt's were bullied, though, yes, people are more likely to scapegoat people who are overtly different. I do think most if not all bullies were themselves bullied. The way I see it this is a 'human' problem, not that these bullies are being human. So I will say it is a people problem.



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27 Oct 2019, 1:16 pm

ASPartOfMe wrote:
The school of hard knocks expected self determination. It was on you, if you could not figure it out you were a loser, a failure in life, and if a guy a wuss, a homo, a fa***t. Bullying was considered a normal part of growing up, boys being boys. You were expected to fight back, not necessarily win but fight back. That unwritten social rule is what me and I suspect many undiagnosed autistics did not understand. My “logical” mind thought fighting back when they were bigger then me, more coordinated then me, and there were more of them was stupid and would invite worse retaliation. What I wished I understood was that while the cost of fighting back would be me getting beaten to a pulp a few times I would eventually gain respect and the bullies would become the outcasts. Instead my “logical” mind choose the path that invited escalation.


^ This.

Growing up undiagnosed in the 70's-80's you were literally on your own to figure it out. Each day was a challenge in survival. I mean you were on your own to figure it out because in my case I didn't know how to communicate my problems to my parents and the one time I tried when the bullying was at its worst, my Dad threatened to publicize my issue to many people and make things a spectacle which would have made it worse for me.

The only difference for me is that once I did fight back after getting punched in the face with a group of kids standing around to watch. I was led out of the school not thinking I was about to be in a fight. The other kid was laughing and smiling beforehand so I thought it was a joke and I was one of the players. After I got punched and it hurt I punched him back, knocking him down and giving him a huge black eye that lasted for weeks. It's true that he never touched me again and no one else in that particular class hassled me.

I've said it many times that I believe autistic adults are survivors. Survivors of life. While this makes us resilient, focusing purely on surviving each day means thriving can be elusive or extremely difficult.


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27 Oct 2019, 1:30 pm

Magna wrote:
...the one time I tried when the bullying was at its worst, my Dad threatened to publicize my issue...

"If you're getting bullied for being weird, then stop being so weird", was pretty much my Dad's attitude - there wasn't anything in life that couldn't be fixed by "pulling one's socks up" by his book.

Magna wrote:
I've said it many times that I believe autistic adults are survivors. Survivors of life. While this makes us resilient, focusing purely on surviving each day means thriving can be elusive or extremely difficult.

Very well said; I couldn't agree more. It wasn't until I was diagnosed that I realised the extent to which making myself "invisible" had become my primary motivation in life. I never gave much thought to what I wanted from life, only the desire not to do anything that others would disapprove of. Not just the bullies, but everyone around me, were my informal ABA therapists, and I fail to see how formalising it is likely to lead to any different results, other than losing the feeling that, in some small way at least, my coping strategies were a form of self-sufficiency, however dysfunctional.


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27 Oct 2019, 2:25 pm

jimmy m wrote:
The bullies were believed 60 years ago when I was a boy in Junior High School.

I do not know about other victims, but it was never my word against theirs because I never complained or talked about it. This was because as I mentioned before I thought silence would mitigate the damage and a social rule I did understand was complaining about your problems was considered unmanly or more to the point "queer". What we understand today to be homophobia was normal then, it is what most of us believed. The term "Homophobia" was not even coined until 1969.

Homophobia is relevant to ABA because the other "bad" behaviors besides autistic that ABA was invented to target was effeminate behaviors of homosexual boys.


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27 Oct 2019, 4:36 pm

ASPartOfMe wrote:
That unwritten social rule is what me and I suspect many undiagnosed autistics did not understand. My “logical” mind thought fighting back when they were bigger then me, more coordinated then me, and there were more of them was stupid and would invite worse retaliation. What I wished I understood was that while the cost of fighting back would be me getting beaten to a pulp a few times I would eventually gain respect and the bullies would become the outcasts. Instead my “logical” mind choose the path that invited escalation.


Can relate to a lot of that growing up, thanks for putting it in words, watch the movie The Accountant that touches on this in an entertaining way.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Accountant_(2016_film)



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27 Oct 2019, 5:11 pm

ASPartOfMe wrote:
That I and many other older members here think the way we grew up with all of its serious faults is preferable to growing up autistic today greatly saddens, angers, and frustrates me.

It's crazy that its preferable, but it did also in my case lead to more independence, not by choice but by necessity.

It's the necessity element that's missing when a child is reared as disabled. Parents do the best they can, I make no judgement there, there must be an expected idea of what they need to do to be 'good parents'. Perhaps children are protected and sheltered more, which really isnt a bad thing, but if the 'acting out of necessity' isnt practiced, it could I think lead to a compounding of being disabled or reliant on others for regulation and critical thinking.