March 16, 2006

Applied Behavior Analysis

Posted in Autism/Asperger's at 3:31 am by caelesti

I thought I would make a series of posts on terms used in the context of autism, my thoughts/experiences on them, and links to resources if possible.

In my last post, I mentioned ABA, and Dad asked me what it was. ABA stands for Applied Behavior Analysis which “is the design, implementation, and evaluation of systematic environmental modifications for the purpose of producing socially significant improvements in and understanding of human behavior based on the principles of behavior identified through the experimental analysis of behavior. It includes the identification of functional relationships between behavior and environments”

From Wikipedia
It is a therapy that is commonly used for children with autism. It’s rather intensive, and can cost a lot of money, because it takes a lot of one-on-one therapy with an specially trained ABA professional, from what I’ve heard. Though it’s possible some parents do it themselves. Not sure. A lot of people in the autistic rights movement/autistic community are very critical of it, honestly I don’t know enough about it to really have an educated opinion.

But here’s a critique of it that’s been circulating the online scene and creating a buzz:

The Misbehaviour of Behaviourists

Also, read about the whole “No Autistics Allowed” controversy as well- basically Autism Society of Canada is not allowing autistics to have a say in the organization, and Michelle Dawson is arguing against it.

March 14, 2006

Social Skills vs. Social Conformity

Posted in Autism/Asperger's at 3:04 am by caelesti

Lately I’ve been reading autism blogs- and one thought that has struck me is how professionals & parents of autistic kids confuse the issue of social skills with conformity. Case in point-Kit Weintraub
“Ms. Weintraub’s son, Nicholas, has benefited greatly from A.B.A., she said, and she is unapologetic about wanting to remove his remaining quirks, like his stilted manner of speaking and his wanting to be Mickey Mouse for Halloween when other 8-year-olds want to be Frodo from “The Lord of the Rings.”

Now I can understand, and support helping autistic folks get help in learning better social skills. We all need them to get along with others and survive in the world. But you can have good or passable social skills and still be “different” or eccentric. People might make fun of you, but that’s their problem not yours. My parents, while helping me improve social skills as a kid, appreciated my uniqueness. But then they are both rather eccentric as well- as are many parents of autistics- it has to come from somewhere doesn’t it? Unfortunately, other autistics are stuck with parents who want not just a kid that can function in a neurotypical society- but one who totally conforms to it.
The Autism Society really needs to discourage this- hmm- we need a national “It’s Ok to be Eccentric” campaign.
Ref: How About Not Curing Us