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Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Comment Made on Daybreak

I made this comment on Daybreak Autism blog:

I just wanted to give you my input, as an autistic person who has heard a lot about ABA, and some of the long-term effects of ABA.

Your goals should not be to render a child to be indistinguishable from his/her peers. This is impossible, as there is no set mold for human beings.

You also should not be aiming to make a child automatically obedient, as this may damage the long-term ability to make decisions for his/her self and be able to avoid potentially abusive situations.

You goal should be to help people in the community, the family and the child to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the child, and help the child to develop skills to overcome disabilities and develop life skills in order to become as independent as possible. The goal is like being a parent, to raise a child to, ultimately, not need you anymore.

The difference is that there are various degrees of independence, and some have different potentials, but what really matters is being able to live freely, interacting as one wishes, and living happily.

this is my opinion as an autistic.

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10 comments:

  1. Very finely and truly said, especially the last two paragraphs. (From: Your goal should be... to living freely and happily).

    Hopefully Julite (Daybreak) will be open.

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  2. I totally agree with this, but with one reservation: it depends where the desire to be indistinguishable comes from. It may not always be right to assume that therapy is driven by parents who don't want a child who's 'different.' For most NT children, the desire to be just like their friends is a very strong one - hence the desire to have similar toys, follow fashions etc. This is part peer pressure, but also part instinct. If a child with autism shares this instinct it seems reasonable to support them to be 'just like everyone else', if that is what they want. For many others this won't apply, and in those cases the ABA desire to create conformity is not appropriate. As you so rightly say, we are all different - thank goodness!

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  3. Those are great points, Corina, not to mention the exorbitant cost of ABA, and too many parents are driving themselves to the poor house in the mistaken belief that it will do any real good. It may be helpful to some, in some specific and basic ways, but I believe it does more harm than good.

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  4. @bbsmum, you do raise a good point. Kids do have a want to fit in, to be accepted socially, from having the "cool" toys to be able to interact. Part of this, I think, is the desire to have friends, not realizing that having many "friends" doesn't always mean having a good quality of friends. At least, that's how it felt when I went through it.

    I think that teaching social skills is one of those developing skills I pointed out. It's a difference I really need to remember to distinguish.

    What I want to avoid is the squashing of autistic behaviours just because it's autistic behaviours. Not all stimming is bad, and can be very beneficial, for calming down and dealing with stressful situations.

    I just hear horror stories where ABA methods have stripped a person of long-term coping skills, where they spend so much energy in trying to appear "normal" that they break down.

    I've also heard of stories where people who went through strict ABA and institutions have been taken advantaged of sexually and abusively, because they had been taught to "obey" anyone who appears to have authority.

    slightly relevant thought, I remember looking at the rethinking autism ABA videos, of where there are two little girls, and one of the girls was saying "do this" and then doing something like scribble on a piece of paper, or jump up and down, touch her nose, etc. And the girl with autism was rewarded when she basically copied what the other girl did.
    And I remember thinking, omg, this is like dog training, and what if a pedophile came up to her and said "do this"? The thought horrified me.

    @Clay, indeed!! And there's evidence that it might not even work in most cases! I agree that working on social skills, manners, and other things as early as possible, cause then they know it for life, but it's not even proven that current methods of ABA actually works (at least, according to Michelle Dawson).

    So in my province, there's this big long wait list that parents are demanding the government provides more funding to, for something that might not even work!!!

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  5. You're quite right, and that type of ABA appalls me too. The 'dog training' analogy and over-compliance issues are very serious problems for ABA. I was trying to say that the best approaches are those that teach a range of 'behaviours' (for want of a better word) to choose from, stimming or 'fitting in', if that is what the person wants. I want to think that offering choices, and then honouring those choices, is the best outcome. It would be truly dreadful to take away coping strategies without replacing them with equally effective ones. I'm playing devil's advocate here, because we didn't do ABA with BB. I just thought that maybe someone in different circumstances might gain benefit from it. Maybe ABA's drawbacks outweigh potential benefits. I don't know.

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  6. @ bbsmum,
    I'm not entirely sure, since I've never had it cause I was diagnosed when I was 17, but I heard that there's an age limit for ABA.

    I know at least in Canada, there's an age limit for government funded ABA, which is why there's such a fuss about early diagnosis and the long wait lists and lack of funding.

    But you do raise a good point, to teach a person what they want to be taught. ABA is, then, a teaching method. But there are other ways to teach and learn.

    I know a service provider who considers the autistic person to be the client, and while will listen to the family's wants, turns to the autistic and ask "what do you want to do?" In the autistic's method of communication, of course. But then they work on what the autistic client wants to do, whether it's learn to cross the road, to learning to cook, to getting a job.

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  7. I Just wanted to ask you if I can translate it in french on the ASPERANSA Forum.
    It is difficult to formulate in a good way why I am always "méfiant" (can't find the english word right now) when I hear about a method (new or not... in fact in France all the method seems to be kind of new, since until a very recent time there was only the psychoanalytic approach there) to teach to autistics... and why I am not immediatly enthusiast when they say that the result are said to be good.
    and I think you put it very well.

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  8. @Ole Ferme l'Oeil

    my translator has "méfiant" as "suspicious".

    But yes! If you want to translate, go ahead!

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  9. Hi, good post. I’ll definitely be coming back to your site. Beautiful! You are very talented.

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