ABA TV documentary - 5 Nov, 9pm, BBC Four

(116 Posts)

Anyone else going to be watching this?

bigTillyMint Tue 05-Nov-13 20:30:24

Ooh, thanks for the heads-up - yes, I will!

MyBigShoutingDay Tue 05-Nov-13 20:32:13

Thanks for the reminder.
Meant to set the sky box for this earlier in the week.

You're welcome!

Oooh, it's starting!

I'm watching.

mariomadmum Tue 05-Nov-13 21:37:14

I'm watching

GobbySadcase Tue 05-Nov-13 21:38:37

It's actually pretty balanced.

googlenut Tue 05-Nov-13 22:04:11

Think ABA came out on top which is what the research shows as well. The school which was being portrayed as the 'softly ' approach said the boy that wouldn't eat would be eventually tube fed whereas the ABA school got the lad eating sausages in 6 months.

NewBlueCoat Tue 05-Nov-13 22:04:44

It was a LOT more balanced than I thought it would be. I caught a bit on the lunchtime news about it, and my heart sank - most of the piece was about Skinner, with footage of pigeons pecking buttons and emphasis on the animal training/Pavlov's dog aspect.

But the programme was good overall (I missed the first 20 minutes).

Jack reminded me a lot of my own ds, physically - a real heartbreaking grin.

NewBlueCoat Tue 05-Nov-13 22:06:16

I was horrified, tbh, by the school's virtual shrugging of shoulders and talk of tube feeding as inevitable. That could so easily have been my child they were talking about, a total food refuser.

GobbySadcase Tue 05-Nov-13 22:14:02

I don't think either side came out 'on top'.
Shows how polarised the two schools of thought are and explained well why, too.

I don't want to change my kids, which does fit in with my personal view on ABA for my own family.

I do recognise many families do find it of yes, however.

I don't want to change my Ds either. But I want him to change his impulse to spit in peoples faces. I want him to change his eating habits of using his hands and smearing his food all over the table. I want him to change his way of requesting things with a scream to a sentence that will sound polite enough to get him what he wants.

When he has those skills in his repertoire he is then free to chose his new or his old behaviours.

Rentahoose Tue 05-Nov-13 22:18:42

Granted it was an interesting documentary though I did find lots of it distressing.

I have no experience of autistic spectrum personally but (fresh out of uni) once went for an interview in North London as an ABA teacher. Granted this was 20 years ago. I think it was for a unit somewhere.

It was the strangest interview I've ever been to in a house in a residential street. I had no teaching qualifications and no experience with children and yet they had invited me to an interview (because I would have no preconceptions). They weren't interested in what I had read about autism and spent most of the interview selling me/ telling me about their wonderful system but not really asking me any questions.

I seem to remember all the teachers had reward charts/point systems of their own so everyone staff and pupils were following a positive reinforcement system which I found a bit strange.

I did coming out feeling I'd been a bit brainwashed. Having said that I didn't get the job (just as well as I wouldn't have been very experienced/qualified).

It does seem to have brought about some amazing results though I'm not surprised the system is seen as controversial.

GobbySadcase Tue 05-Nov-13 22:22:25

I agree that undesirable/harmful behaviours need to be stopped. If ABA works then fantastic.

Didn't work with my three.

NewBlueCoat Tue 05-Nov-13 22:27:19

rentahoose, could you explain what you find controversial about a system of positive praise and reinforcement?

I find this stance odd. I have a dc at an ABA school. HIghly structured, although seems to spend a lot of her time playing board games at the moment grin

I also have dc at mainstream school.

the similarities between the two are greater than many would think.

in the ABA school, the system is more individualised, but the overall goals are the same (encouragement to behave in a socially aware and responisble manner, as befits being in school) as in mainstream. event he systems used are not that different - in the ABA school, the reinforcements come quicker (dc has to work through a set amount of 'tasks' before getting reinforcement - which is playing a board game. at mainstream, my dc have to work through a set amount of work, before being allowed 'golden time' - where they mostly choose to play board games grin)

obviously, the curriculum is differentiated at the ABA school, and the staff ratio is much higher. but overall? same system, different school.

Rentahoose Tue 05-Nov-13 22:39:02

Yes but you see I don't really like punishment reward systems myself. Although I accept they do probably need them in a school environment, I've tried to avoid star charts and time out etc at home. But that's my personal opinion.

I didn't feel comfortable with the teacher saying if it takes 3 hours to get the required result so be it and no one likes to see children so distressed when being given new foods to eat ( though granted they did back off when the child became too distressed). a lot of it seems like dog training to me.

RE controversial I'm also talking about what some people were saying on the programme (thought the autistic mother spoke very movingly about this) about autism being the way someone is wired and whether ABA denies the existence of something that makes them who they are. Granted for those on the milder end of the spectrum it is easier to accept this argument.

I think the blurb for the programme indicated that some people think the system is abusive ( I know they are largely talking about in the past when punishment was used, ie in some of the old footage)

But the whole of society is built on punishment/reward systems.

Why do you recycle your cardboard? What do you gain from going to work? Why do you have a wash in the morning?

You can't tell me that none of these behaviours aren't at least shaped by other peoples expectations of you.

Why did the child only eat liquid food?

Coukd it possibly be because the mother had been rewarding the behaviour that enabled the child to continue without moving on, from a very early age?

Btw, I'm not saying it is her fault, but that she should have been given a lot more support a lot earlier and that child's behaviour should never have developed that way making it harder to address.

banana87 Tue 05-Nov-13 22:47:22

I was really pleased with the documentary. I thought it was well balanced and ABA clearly came out the better intervention for children with autism.

I challenge anyone who states "ABA didn't work for my child". How do you know it was the ABA? ABA does not work if it's not consistent. If an individual is being reinforced intermittently for behaviors, those behaviors will continue. If you stop reinforcing unwanted behaviors, and replace them with more appropriate behaviors (and reinforce the occurrence of THOSE behaviors), you will ALWAYS be successful. ABA is used in everyday life. It's why we work, talk, clean, etc. There is no such thing as "ABA didn't work". Rather, the consequences were not effective, the function of the behavior was not considered, or the teacher was not effective in reducing behaviors. Not the "ABA wasn't effective".

I think everyone would find it really unacceptable if you went to the dr with a specific infection and were told "here, I'll give you something that covers it all...maybe...oh wait, the science hasn't proven this med to be effective but here, try it...it might work". So why is it acceptable to do that with children with autism?

googlenut Tue 05-Nov-13 22:47:44

What I found really interesting was the little boy who started eating - did you see how delighted he was when the sausages arrived. So the distress he was obviously feeling before - which was probably due to fearing the unknown food or to a bad experience of food he has had - was holding him back from the pleasure he then went on to experience.
I think this is where children with autism really diverge from other children. This really strong resistance to being made to do something they don't want to do. ABA tries to break that through finding a strong motivator and repetition.

NewBlueCoat Tue 05-Nov-13 22:48:11

I do see your point re: reward systems. I don't use star charts/time out either. and I do think that the mainstream school my dc attend have a very poor grasp of how to properly use a reward system, and that worries me.

I do think, however, that humans are wired up, generally, to seek social reward. it is how we have set up our society.

the argument as to whether ABA fundamentally changes a person is an interesting one. I'm not sure that it does. it may change some external habits and behaviours (especially if they are socially unacceptable ones), but I am not sure it changes the actual person. ABA can't and won't take away my dc's autism.

I didn't really like the 'if it takes 3 hours' bit either. to me, that says that the wrong demand has been placed (one that is too stressful at that point in time - the step is too great, maybe). I can honestly say my child has never been made to sit out 3 hours or more to complete a demand. but as to the dog training aspect - in the programme Jack was very distressed initially around food. yet 6 months later he was keen to eat, outside the home and school environment, and tucked in happily. if this end was achieved via glorified dog training, does this matter? he can now face a life where he can eat normally - something we all have to do, day in, day out - without fear and anxiety. I can't see how this is a bad thing.

Rentahoose Tue 05-Nov-13 22:49:56

I agree society is built on these systems. I still don't particularly like it that my DD will do anything in school for a sticker/some sweets.

I don't really want a child who will only tidy up/ contribute to the household, be nice to her sister if there's something material in it for her.

I don't think parents used star charts in the seventies, we just did what we were told surely.

When I ask my DD why she is rude to me and wouldn't dare be rude to her teacher " You won't put me on time-out".

I don't want to have to use time-out.

googlenut Tue 05-Nov-13 22:51:36

Agree and the other school could only hope for tube feeding - I found that much more distressing than any of the melt downs during ABA.

NewBlueCoat Tue 05-Nov-13 22:52:31

the acceptance that tube feeding was inevitable chilled me.

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