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At Last! A real analysis and rebuttal of common anti-ABA criticisms

(13 Posts)
sickofsocalledexperts Tue 19-Mar-13 23:37:45

...for anyone fighting to get ABA, or fighting the common prejudices trotted out by LAs. Written again by Prof Richard Hastings. V useful document

profhastings.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/autism-and-evidence-5-15-criticisms-of.html

jomaman Wed 20-Mar-13 11:02:50

wow - this is brilliant, have only just skimmed it so far but wanted to say thanks for pointing it out smile

Inappropriatelyemployed Wed 20-Mar-13 11:32:06

This is really interesting. My ABA experience to date has been poor even with two consultants who appear to have very high levels of experience and skills.

However, I wonder how much those working in the system get bent by that system. Looking at the points made on normalisation and how our education system functions, I can see how those working within it, and this includes ABA professionals, may think that fitting a child in to any environment is the core goal and that has certainly been my experience.

Similarly, my experience was there was very little attempt at engagement with the child even though my child is high functioning and articulate. It seemed easier to avoid talking to him which meant that you were potentially working against him and not with him. I found this odd.

I also am highly hmm that anyone, not knowing a child and not being an OT, can look at a child and work out whether something is sensory based or not.Such an approach is highly frustrating when you have not even bothered to talk to the child.

So, this is very interesting and I think it is probably right to say that there are too few people applying this properly and to a high enough standard and certainly very few who understand the complexities of the Asperger profile. Although everyone will say they can do it, I have seen no evidence and certainly not evidence from a parent/child's perspective that it has worked for them.

As opposed to a professional saying 'yes we do this all the time with high functioning children and have great success'. My NHS SLT team say that about their service too hmm

sickofsocalledexperts Wed 20-Mar-13 12:47:06

Interesting points, and yes I have mainly seen ABA with the more severe kids, though there is one supervisor I know who has now started working mainly with higher functioning boys, on school behaviour.

salondon Wed 20-Mar-13 14:07:16

An important point to make is that just because some individuals or organizations argue that ABA can lead to some sort of recovery from autism does not mean that this is what ABA is all about. That pretty much sums it. It all depends on your therapists

Children fail to generalize skills Even if they do, I would be happy for my daughter to learn the skills in an evironment rather than not learn them at all! I am sure some mums here will know what I mean

Some experts in the field of autism adhere to a position that sensory sensitivities are a core feature of autism Amen to that. My daughter's fine motor skills are hindered because she wont let us hold her hand. Lack of speech makes things even harder. Our very nice therapists have now asked us to integrate more OT in the sessions for this very reason.

Excellent. I'm impressed by his subtle acknowledgement that ABA practice in the UK can be poor and his subsequent blaming of LAs for that.

sickofsocalledexperts Wed 20-Mar-13 15:07:59

He is a scrupulously honest man and a much-respected academic

Inappropriatelyemployed Wed 20-Mar-13 16:11:11

I think the lack of LA involvement has to have an effect on practice . If something isn't 'mainstream', it becomes more unregulated and people with wide experience are few and far between. It also creates a drive on the part of practitioners to perhaps 'show their worth' by demonstrating how they can make children 'fit in' to benefit schools and the system.

For example, my son finds being in a classroom with lots of other children very hard. ABA won't 'cure' this. It may create a plan to help him find a way through the experience but there will be a limit to his capacity to withstand that environment. Does that matter if he copes and works sometimes elsewhere? No. His self-management of his situation in a reasonable way is the key to his own ability to cope in life.

The drive is, however, often to show how the child can be made to look the same. The end result is not sustainable and has not taught life skills. My experience is also that if you bash a square peg into a round hole, you may get it to stay there for a bit but it will pop back out eventually.

That has been my experience of ABA so far - what does the teacher want to happen. But I think this is because there are so few therapists used to working with highly verbal older children. The methodology and principle may be the same but the child is very different.

moondog Wed 20-Mar-13 17:06:51

Come and meet the very lovely Prof. Hastings in person here in London next week. He is my colleague!
I'll be there too.
I gave a lecture with him last year. I can pass on his and my slides for that for anyone interested.
smile

moondog Wed 20-Mar-13 17:08:00

Oh and as great as his blog is, not one of the many people I work with would think differently to what he says. That is exactly how we all feel and is the message we all put out.

HotheadPaisan Wed 20-Mar-13 17:14:24

That's interesting ie. I'm struggling with all that atm. People seem surprised when the wheels come off but I'm not particularly.

moondog Wed 20-Mar-13 17:44:19

No one in their right mind would say every ABA programme or person is a demigod. It's as foolish as saying all teachers are useless.
There's superb, great, good, ok and crap on every level in every set up.

Inappropriatelyemployed Wed 20-Mar-13 20:01:21

I agree why would anyone have the expectation that every ABA consultant is going to be a demigod or even remotely effective? That would indeed be naive.

Perhaps that is something to do with the expectations the profession raises. There are some professionals out there who perceive themselves to be demigods, who think they have all the answers and talk about their skills as if they were sent from God. They talk like they are the rock stars of the education world and that no one else has got anything to contribute.

This stuff isn't rocket science but it can be very effective in the right hands and in the right context. Like any science or skill it has its limitations but I don't see alot of preparedness to engage in discussion about that.

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