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PhD dedication

(160 Posts)
appropriatelytrained Sat 18-Jun-11 10:33:08

I'm getting my PhD bound. I'd like to dedication to all of you brave folks forced to battle for our kids. You've absolutely kept me going and got me through this

I'm looking for a pithy quote or saying from someone of note to sum the whole thing up

So far, I'm considering
Truth is mighty and will prevail. There is nothing the matter with this, except that it ain't so. ~Mark Twain, Notebook, 1935

Any advances!!!

sickofsocalledexperts Sat 18-Jun-11 10:53:24

I think that one is v good.

I also like

"A nation's greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members"

Mahatma Gandhi

sickofsocalledexperts Sat 18-Jun-11 10:54:14

What is your PHd subject by the way? Well done for getting to the end of it!

appropriatelytrained Sat 18-Jun-11 10:58:21

In the human rights field! Your quote fits well with that too Ta x

EllenJaneisnotmyname Sat 18-Jun-11 10:58:24

Ooh, I prefer the Mahatma Ghandi one, myself. I've heard similar to it, probably misquoted, in lots of situations with non-inclusive societies (like LAs and schools.)

appropriatelytrained Sat 18-Jun-11 11:07:39

What about

"A nation's greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members"

To X, x1, x2, and to all the inspirational women I know whose daily battle to protect their children’s rights reminds me of how far we are from greatness.

EllenJaneisnotmyname Sat 18-Jun-11 11:22:44

Fab, would you mention Mahatma Ghandi (sp)? I've heard it attributed to Aristotle also, 'a society is measured by how it treats it's most vulnerable citizens' but it's such a great concept and truism that it's been used by many people in many situations. Dostoyevsky has a similar one about treating prisoners. You can pick whichever suits you best and whoever you admire!

appropriatelytrained Sat 18-Jun-11 11:24:37

I agree - quote can stand alone I think. I sometimes feel my life is a living breathing human rights project!!

moondog Sat 18-Jun-11 19:50:55

Oh well done!!!

One I heard in a conference recently and is now above my do.

'We are what we do, not what we believe'


appropriatelytrained Sat 18-Jun-11 20:02:37

Like it!!!

moondog Sat 18-Jun-11 20:05:43

It's my own two fingered riposte to the legions of public sector workers who are so consumed with 'meeting' and 'assessing' and 'observing' and 'reflecting' and 'supporting' and so busy believing their own doggerel about being part of the 'caring sector' that they forget that there is a bloody job to do (buried under all this claptrap).

working9while5 Sat 18-Jun-11 20:26:44

I love that it's Batman!

Tiggles Sat 18-Jun-11 20:38:58

Love the above quotes, my favourite quote however has to be "If you don't take a fishing net with you, you can't catch any fish".

(Quote by my then 3 year old! So, errrr not particularly relevant to the thesis area, or someone famous, ummm, as you were grin)

moondog Sat 18-Jun-11 20:46:45

9-5, did you get the PP presentations I sent you?

working9while5 Sun 19-Jun-11 00:02:56

Hey there, yup thanks. I started writing a reply but as is usual for me on matters like these online I couldn't keep it succinct and real life was making demands today! Very interesting reading although one was a bit harder to interpret in a "guess you had to be there" kind of way. Will get back to you some more about it in a few days. Just had a quick check in here today as I am addicted! grin Sounds amazing by the way and that you are making immense strides forward with your vision.

moondog Sun 19-Jun-11 09:15:41

I wasn't there for either of them either!
When there are over 4000 peopel presenting over 5 or 6 days it's impossible to catch them all. They weren't presentations for that conference either but Tracey sent them to me after she came to mine.

I think Sundberg's (mr VB MAPP of course, along with Partington) is easiest to digest, the main point being the results from Barbera Esch's (s/lt, behaviour analyst and academic and major contributor to VB MAPP, namlely the echoic skills section) research analysing standard s/lt tools.

Issue seems to be one of s/lts concerning themselves with the topography (form) of expressive language used but less so with its function (ie whether a mand/tact/echoic or so on.)

I would dispute this a little as I think any good s/lt would point out that what a child utters and what he means (in linguistic terms, the illocutionary force) are often two different things. It's perhaps that this is not as formalised as it is in BA.

Re s/lts being better with more advanced language, I totally agree. In terms of dealing with very yonug children and/oir kids with the highly disordered or even non existen language typical of A|SD, noone better than a BA.As language gets more advanced then it's time to call in the s/lts.

I see it as an s/lt knowing what to work on and the BA knowing how to teach it and record progress.

The biggest thing that ABA has helped me with is not so much verbal operant terminlogoy, but rather use of effective teaching/therapy, use of reinforcement and data collection.

I have never understood why therapy/teaching are considered different and have never found adequate definition which highlights meaningful difference between the two. I rather suspect the use of 'therapy' provides a handy way for peopel to avoid measuring anything. I have had many s/lts squawk in alarm and maintain their 'therapeuti' stance when i start gonig a bit analytical. hmm

Excuse the hijack ladies! smile

appropriatelytrained Sun 19-Jun-11 10:48:07

The point about therapy/data collection is very interesting Moondog . Hope you don't mind me eavesdropping.

Is it not part of a S&LT's usual routine to ensure actions are recorded so they can be measured/assessed? Is this just something people do with ABA?

Certainly the S&LT who saw my child seemed entirely nonplussed at the idea of directing schools about the recording of data (that's a matter for schools, some do it and some don't) or that she had any role in monitoring and assessing progress herself (it's for school to tell me if the target has been met and I can set the next one if it has).

Is this reflection of the state of 'consultative' working generally rather than anything particularly unique to our situation?

moondog Sun 19-Jun-11 11:02:32

Not at all.
It;s yuor thread after all!
I trained 15 years ago and apart from measurement on standardised assessments, there was no discussion on measuremnt. Standardised assessemnts and other assessments are all well and good but are not sufficiently sensitive to track change from day to day.It becomes a case of a review and people either going 'Oh bloody hell, nothing has been learnt in the last two terms' or saying 'Things seem to be gonig well.'

Neither of these are acceptable. I wouldn't accept them as a parent or a professional.

Talking to s/lts who have trained more recently, data collection seems not to be anyway near to achieving the prominence it should do (I'm not talking advanced stats., I'm referring to perhaps recording how many times a day a child has delivered a message to another class if that is a target.)

Ecucation and s/lt are meant to be SMART

The MEASURABLE is the one to get hold of like a dog and not let go of.
Is it the s/lt's job to show someone how to monitor and measure?
Yes it is, according to RCSLT and HPC guidelines.
Has she been trained how to do this?
Probably not.
Therefore we reach a systemic impasse which is unacceptable.

I wouldn't have the knowledge or confidence to design intervention which has data at its core before doing an MSc in ABA. I do now and I spent a lot of time teaching colleagues (s/lt and other professions) how to measure progress.They are keen and eagers to learn and find it fun and satisfying.Is it any wonder schoosl are not engaged in carrying out s/lt programmes when they have no way of knowing if it is working or not??!!

This is why I am such a fan of Precision Teacihng. It maps and measures learning and progress from day to day. If things doin't change within three days, then changes are made.

Three days! Isn't that fantastic?! So sensitive and so accountable. People love it.

working9while5 Sun 19-Jun-11 11:39:09

Yes, data measurement is very poor in SLT. I don't recall really being talked through it at all, and I've trained much more recently than moondog.

My background was that I spent 5 years in ABA before/while training to be an SLT and I am now six years qualified as an SLT. My ABA background makes me better at data collection and analysis than I would otherwise be, but obviously when I worked in ABA I was a paraprofessional so I have a "sort of, kind of" knowledge of the mechanics of it.

I find it tough, I'll be honest with you. I am pretty good at task analysis and on fading prompts because I have ABA experience and I am pretty rigorous in that I never take credit for anything I can't prove I did, but I seem to spend my life trying to sort out better data collection systems and failing a bit miserably at it.

At the moment, we have broken down our kids programmes into discrete steps e.g X will look at audience of 3-4 students while presenting a piece of written work to the group. Skill will be primed before presentation and one minute reminders will be given if student does not look" or "student will segment and say a 3-syllable word containing the spelling patterns able, est, ible etc having read the word no fewer than ten times. Student will independently identify syllables and segment these on a whiteboard with no adult prompting. Student will accurately produce the word without the need for an adult model of the whole word, although the adult may give indirect information about the structure of the word e.g. "that word needs an extra sound at the end." This is one of about 20 different things that the student has to do in the session, if not more, so it is all quite fast paced.

We do a lot of work around the B-squared National Curriculum targets for speaking and listening and reading and writing, which we break down into much more discrete targets with an overarching aim at progression.

All good, yes? But I am not very good at analysing across all skills each week. To be honest, rather than being able to look at the LSA's records and make a suggestion, I still have to see it in action. This is not the most effective or efficient way of updating a programme and this is why when I can, I will be pursuing data collection training.

I'm particularly keen to do PT and I really want to know how to chart and as soon as I finish this sodding MSc that is next on my agenda. Otherwise it's so much shooting in the dark. The MSc I am doing is helping me in that I think after this I will be able to do very simple statistics on pre- and post-intervention measures, but I really think that the fast-paced and responsive nature of something like PT is more suited to everyday teaching/intervention while the things I am learning to do are more suited to longer-term stuff e.g. progress over a term or a year.

working9while5 Sun 19-Jun-11 12:41:56

Appropriatelytrained, there is a tension in SLT between an idea of people having an "innate" language system and the need to actually do something about it. This really affects the design of intervention and monitoring of progress.

When I trained, all the information we were given about linguistics was based on the idea that language had an "underlying grammar" that was innate. We were told behaviourism was defunct. SLI's history, on the other hand, was pretty behavioural. Observe a behaviour, break down the problem, do something about it. At university, I was taught that this was still a valid way to approach teaching speech sounds expressively.

Essentially, everyone believed for a long time that we learned language like any other behaviour. Then Chomsky came along and "proved" that language couldn't be learned purely behaviourally and so SLTs and researchers in the area were suddenly in a bit of a bind. The research essentially was saying that the language system was innate and not really subject to operant conditioning/reinforcement and punishment.. but if you take this to its conclusion, then you really can't do anything much if that system is not working right. You don't ask people in wheelchairs to walk, so if the language system isn't working, well.... what can you do?

SLT changed to reflect the new "theory" and the emphasis came off the behavioural so in general it became more about modifying the environment e.g. giving the person a linguistic crutch/wheelchair vs changing their language. Speech sound therapy remains heavily behavioural BUT that's possibly because we understood the system better as it's a more straightforward and observable system so we kept what worked but became lost with reference to language and communication.

Things are changing now, though, as there is more research that really language is learned in many ways and the type of input that you hear around you as a child really impacts upon how you use language. There's more of an awareness now that what we are "given" at birth interacts in a complex way with what surrounds us.. so we can control and manipulate the environment and variables of therapy to make a change to that underlying language system, even if nature has dealt us a harsh hand.

Unfortunately, many SLTs in this country will have trained as I did and many will still have an underlying belief that you "can't teach language" in a traditional sense.

Add to this, there are areas where it's complicated e.g. how do you observe/measure how much a person understands of a complex multiparty conversation containing lots of extremely technical vocabulary? Think of a business meeting or science tutorial, here. How can you break down all the millions of skills needed in that situation?

I agree that a BA can absolutely get a child talking a million times faster than most if not all SLTs, but I do think that there must be things going on even in those early stages that help us get towards the more complex stuff that we just haven't isolated very well because they are not as observable or obvious. Some behaviours are really difficult to observe and analyse. How do you learn to read subtle facial expressions? To distinguish between how a person's words differ from their intention by registering discrepancies between their words and the context or their facial expressions or tone of voice? We know quite young kids can do this e.g. by about 18 months, typical children will demonstrate that they register distress in their mother by stroking their mother's face if their eyes show sadness even if the mother pretends to smile. How does this begin? What's the first behaviour that leads to this? How does this relate to the later ability to label and understand emotions or track the responses of others to what we say in a large group conversation etc?

Truthfully, I think that there are elements of speech and language proficiency that aren't behavioural e.g. that maybe relate to those mirror neurons that help us imitate, or those parts of our brain that deal with extrapolating social patterns from observing human behaviour.. but it's not enough to say these are "broken bits" of the brain, we need to strive to find out where the missing links are and establish what's important to teach about e.g. gesture, tone of voice, facial expression, eye gaze tracking etc. Then these can be taught, as moondog says, by someone who knows how to control variables, present instructions, track responses to those instructions, change prompt levels and reinforce and shape behaviours.

We just don't know enough at the moment. We see through a glass darkly. And in the absence of that knowledge, really a BA is the best person possible to do the teaching of language... but we need to move towards a shared respect of what each party can offer. And SLTs need to do a lot more research on those bits that we don't know enough about if they are to be useful.

working9while5 Sun 19-Jun-11 12:44:55

Moondog, you have to teach me how to record and measure progress. I need to know.

appropriatelytrained Sun 19-Jun-11 13:05:13

Wow that is really interesting. How does language in its 'innate' sense i.e. the child knows and understand the words differ from the use of language i.e. a child knows what he should do in a situation but doesn't do it or can't do it?

This seems to be very common with AS children who know what they should do when asked theoretical questions about a social situation but don't apply those theoretical skills in practice? If you start to teach this, how do you generalise it and how do you measure success?

For example, one of DS' targets is to learn X idioms. SENCO was very keen to sign off on this as '100%' success but nobody could say (a) what he knew to start with or (b) how to measure this target in terms of 'success'. That is, was success achieved by recognising what they mean if asked or applying them in practice (the latter seems to be a pointless suggestion for an 8 year old).

It seems to me that there is something very unique and specific about the use of language with children with AS which S&LT find very hard to tackle in terms of targets, provision and measurability. As a parent, I think the kind of 'social process' of talking, the sensory issues relating to communication, problems with processsing of information and responding to the dynamic of human interaction deprive children like my son of their language skills. This seems to me to necessitate a multi-disciplinary approach to developing skills across EPs, S&LT, parents, OTs and specialist teaching staff which is lacking for obvious reasons.

Maybe I'm talking nonsense. It just seems that the nature of the problem is not always understood so the provision and targets we throw at it are hard to measure in terms of real outcomes

working9while5 Sun 19-Jun-11 19:00:16

You are not talking nonsense at all! In fact, I'd say you've hit the nail on the head.
The innate argument comes from the idea that children use very specific linguistic structures that are rule-bound and that they learn these rules naturally with no explicit teaching (in typical development). At the time that Chomsky first published, a more behavioural account of language was common. Chomsky wrote a critique of Skinner (the verbal behaviour man) which was scathing about the idea that children hear explicit teaching of language structures. This is often called the "poverty of the stimulus" argument. Innatists are very clear in their minds that people who have an adequate language processing system or "underlying grammar" will pick up language as long as they have access to any sort of input at all, that language is "acquired" and not learned. Stephen Pinker writes a lot of popular science books about this e.g. The Language Instinct.

Of course, we know that some people don't e.g. children with language disorders for whatever reason, but often their difficulties represent very precise violations of the rules e.g. inverting question types e.g. instead of saying "why are you going to the shop?" saying "why you are going to the shop?" etc. The types of errors are seen as further evidence of this underlying grammar, with perhaps some "faulty wiring". Innatists point to genetic causes for this as proof that it is about our brain structure, not about learning (as though these were mutually exclusive!)

Unfortunately, more people read Chomsky's critique of Skinner than read Skinner's work which is really quite dense to read, so they got a very one sided view of things which amounted to the baby being thrown out with the bathwater. Yet if you take a purely behavioural approach it's sometimes easy to see why Chomsky scoffed at the idea that you could teach every possible situation that a child would encounter with reference to language and why his views held so much sway.

To give you an example, I remember as an undergrad working with a child of 7 on an ABA programme. His conversational programme consisted of a number of different things:

- brainstorm five things about a topic (e.g. the Simpsons) and then use these in a conversation
- say "uh huh" or "oh really?" when someone completed a statement e.g. "I'm going to town on Saturday." "Uh huh"
- observe a person's clothing to make a judgement about what to speak to them about e.g. initiate a conversation on the Simpsons with someone wearing a Simpson's top

This followed traditional ABA conversation work which is structured on an understanding of how conversations work behaviourally: statement-statement, statement-question, statement-question-statement etc. I could see where these targets had come from but I could also see that in a very real sense they often didn't work. I remember one example clearly. The little lad had been in class, making an easter picture (he was in Year 1 at the time having been held back a year in nursery). One of the children next to him said: "I'm sticking clouds on mine" (statement) and the boy I was working with said "I'm sticking clouds on mine too. Are you going to draw a rabbit?" (question-statement). Bingo, token material, totally hit the mark in terms of our programming. However, what happened next was that the child who had first spoken responded: "clouds are like cotton wool, cotton cotton cotton wool, like candy floss it makes me full!". A child across the table went "cotton schmotton" and another one completed "it's so rotten" and then they literally descended into speaking gibberish e.g. spaghettitititititititi is spagettitittiti!". The kids just bounced off eachother verbally but were increasingly giggly and making eyes at eachother and having fun. The child I was working with just stood there, obviously confused and eventually started to repeat: "I'm sticking clouds on mine too. Are you going to make a rabbit?" appearing distressed.

What happened between those kids was partially linguistic but was much more about joint engagement and that desire to make fun together which was just inaccessible to the boy I was working with. It is fairly likely that these typical had never encountered this exact set of circumstances before yet together they created a very particular dynamic despite not having been in that situation. The student I was working with just didn't know where to start with it, despite having much better language skills than any of those children at that table and having had explicit instruction in "conversational rules". Of course it could be (and subsequently was) behaviourally analysed in terms of teaching him to respond to rhymes in play etc and I can remember that I went off to university to research the development of conversational structure to feed back to the team. I found out about how kids mock eachother and play word games e.g. my daddy's car is bigger than yours, oh well, MY daddy's got a TRUCK that could SMASH your daddy's car... but of course, it's not that simple to create opportunities for those sorts of things even though they are so common etc and even then, they just don't follow a neat structure that reinforces particular contributions etc

As it's not easy for anyone to work out what's essential in terms of social skills, professionals from all backgrounds tend to apply an adult model to "what's needed" e.g. "uh huh" or "oh really?" as conversation maintenance targets, or idioms. I mean, idioms? Really? This is not an essential skill for a child who can't access an ongoing peer interaction, and it would be easier to teach them how to ask if they encounter words or phrases they don't know anyway. And find me an 8 year old who uses social politeness markers like "oh really?" when talking to their friends without adults present and I will be surprised!

The reality is there is much going on that we just don't fully understand and probably a lot of it is innate and no, it is probable that you will never be able to operationalise every single behaviour that makes it easy for us to understand and use language and participate actively in ongoing interaction. However, we really need to try to work hard to find the crucial skills that make things work and the only tool we have to work on these skills at present requires behavioural observation .

All of us need to work together. No one knows enough to get up on a high horse and declare they have The Answer at this point in time, because even though ABA has amazing data, it's not 100% perfect either. It can suffer from still wanting to view everything as observable and the mind as a "black box" that we can't even guess about even though we have lots of data that it's not, just as much as SLTs and others suffer from thinking that we can't view the "mysteries" of cognition in behavioural terms.

Moondog shared something with me about the need to look beyond the individual to the community which I think is pertinent. If typical kids all do something specific e.g. track eye gaze or use gesture in a specific way etc, then it's probable that this has a function that we may not understand but is
important to the process of learning and developing. A behavioural person might say: "oh we don't need to do that because it has no function" but actually do we know enough to ignore typical development? It may have a function we just can't work out as it's laying a foundation for a more complex behaviours. On the other side of the coin, SLTs need to know how social skills develop vs just having some sort of random theory about how it all works. There are people like Bonnie Brinton and Lesley Olswang who do work in this area but there is so much more to do.

StarChartEsq Sun 19-Jun-11 19:23:01

'Truthfully, I think that there are elements of speech and language proficiency that aren't behavioural e.g. that maybe relate to those mirror neurons that help us imitate, or those parts of our brain that deal with extrapolating social patterns from observing human behaviour.. but it's not enough to say these are "broken bits" of the brain, we need to strive to find out where the missing links are and establish what's important to teach about e.g. gesture, tone of voice, facial expression, eye gaze tracking etc. Then these can be taught, as moondog says, by someone who knows how to control variables, present instructions, track responses to those instructions, change prompt levels and reinforce and shape behaviours'

I find this very interesting. My own belief is that the things that you can't 'teach' children can learn themselves using what they HAVE been taught to guide them. For this to be an accepted hypothesis at least, we have to get rid of the truly disabling notion that children with ASD can't generalise. My DS CAN generalise. His generalisation skills get better and better every day, with the more experience he gets of the world and the more he learns, but it his 'learning' that doesn't happen without intervention. His generalisation does.

Someone needs to show him that when the teacher says 'Right, I need someone to come and help me with x?', she means 'who would like to?. When he has learned that, the whole world of helping the teacher with things is opened up, as well as the skill of puting himself forward.

I suspect this is all the remit of Pivital Response Training (I think it is called).

In terms of the PHD Thesis dedication. All I can offer is 'Academics do research, but parents change things' which is what Richard Hastings said to me (without knowing who he was) when I was ranting to him in a poorly decorated and smelly entrance and made me very cross indeed.

StarChartEsq Sun 19-Jun-11 19:30:22

'However, we really need to try to work hard to find the crucial skills that make things work'

Yes, I think I believe this but I also suspect that it might be an individual thing too. Crucial skills may not be generic.

My own boring strapline 'Meetings are not Outcomes' and I want to make a t-shirt in red to wear at every bloody meeting I attend with the LA.

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