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ABA and PDA?(31 Posts)
I'm not a very frequent poster but have had to namechange as I've been outed. The ed psych has prescribed ABA for DS and she did explain it to me but the meeting was so high-stress as it was about statement contents I've forgotten everything she said.
School are saying that it's not working and the ABA is setting DS off into violence. DS has a lot of autistic behaviours but he's also very manipulative, constantly trying to take charge of everyone and will do ANYTHING to get out of doing as he's asked so I'm starting to think in terms of Pathological Demand Avoidance.
Could someone tell me what ABA is and how it's done? I'd like to form some kind of opinion about whether it's the ABA that's not a good idea for DS or whether the school aren't doing it properly (fairly likely) as they're about to ask me to agree to have it removed from the statement.
I don't know that much about ABA, but I know I've always thought it wouldn't work for ds when friends have told me how good it's been for their dcs.
I think it sounds pretty prescriptive and repetitious, and ds (who fits well with pda descriptors) would blow it apart if we tried it. He responds well to a very fkexible, reactive/reflective approach.
There are different strands of ABA, if you we're doing traditional ABA, then the chances are it could be prescriptive and repetitive. Most ABA providers have moved on from 'traditional' ABA and are doing Verbal Behaviour program's. the emphasis is on Natural Environment Training 'NET'. It's not easy for untrained tutors/therapists to follow as it relies on tutors putting very subtle demands on the pupil initially while doing fun/everyday stuff, so the learning takes place naturally rather than forced upon them. I don't think it will not work with kids with PDA as we have one who displays behaviour very similar to PDA but we have persisted with it and are seeing benefits now, but we had to switch tutors a number f times until we found couple who are really good. DS1 is 3 with a dx of ASD.
The thing about ABA is that there are a hellova lot of myths and misunderstanding about it.
It isn't about bribing, it isn't about demands. I imagine the limited understanding of the average teacher/school.
It is about the tutor behaving somehow, and recording the reaction/outcome of the child, and then using that data to change the behaviour of the tutor to effect change in the behaviour of the child, and recording that too, until the tutor is behaving in a way that gets the child to behave optimally in the way desired in order to learn first the preskills and then the skills in order to learn and engage.
If the child is resorting to violence then the ABA isn't being done properly. The very small disclaimer is that sometimes when a child has begun to engage in the process they might themselves rebel and that can mean a short-term deterioration in behaviour. However, all that has to happen is the ABA tutor to remain consistent and these things are always extremely short-lived.
Who is doing the ABA? How qualified are they?
amis, - ABA is not repetitive or prescriptive -, unless that is what works best for the child of course.
Absolutely DO NOT allow ABA to be removed from the statement, - but offer them the chance to bring in a consultant to oversee their work.
However, do ask what they propose as an alternative, and how that will enable your child to learn.
Oh, thank you, the school said they have to keep repeating the same request until he does it, which isn't something I'd try with DS unless I wanted a hysterical DS, my house rearranging and some new bite marks in my arm.
The statement says 'using the principles of ABA' as they don't want to pay for someone properly trained so it's the TAs in the school who have been shown what to do by the ed psy for another child who is more classically autistic about a year ago - I doubt much time would have gone into it knowing how squeezed the ed psy is. School have said they'd like more training so it sounds as though that's what's wrong. Noting and adapting your behaviour to get an optimal response sounds ideal for DS but that doesn't sound like what they say they're doing at all!
I've agreed to suspend the requirement for ABA while we review the statement as what they're doing now sounds dangerous for all concerned, including DS. The likely outcome of the review is that he moves to a special school so if it's something we should be keeping in the statement I'll ask them when I visit what training/ experience they have with it.
I think the rewards have to be relevant. I know tokens would be too abstract for DS2, but he is motivated by a chance to build up a little collection of matching objects. When he was smaller, he loved the chance to "feed" animals on a noisy toy.
DS1, who does exhibit strong PDA tendencies, isn't so easy to reward because if he doesn't want to do something, no way will he do it. When he's a bit "meh" and hard to motivate, he responds well to a chance to win some 10p tat out of a bucket - he was thrilled to bring home a discarded freebie mouse mat, the other week, which he "won" in return for doing a task. Getting him out of nappies was the one time I've gone wholesale with the small rewards for tiny steps thing. Each week, I set new targets and each had a currency. So something easy like actually going for a wee in the loo, which he'd been able to do for years was only worth 25p, but staying dry all day on top of that was worth £1. As time moved on, we introduced pooing in the toilet, which was worth a full pound a shot. This was his sticking point and the thing we had to get him over. He still had the chance to get smaller rewards each day, eg 30p for washing his hands properly each time. Once he got good at pooing, the target changed to staying clean and dry all day. We kept the targets at a level where he could easily earn £12 in a week - and that money was earmarked for lego, which made it more motivating than just being money for money's sake.
so, if the ABA is making your DS violent, I'm wondering if they're even making tasks achievable for him. I've had no ABA training but I know enough from both of my boys to work out that if a target seems unattainable (or undesirable) to the child, they're not going to be motivated by a star chart or anything and they're going to be stressed out by being pressured to perform.
'the school said they have to keep repeating the same request until he does it'
No. That's not ABA. That's bullying.
'what they're doing now sounds dangerous for all concerned, including DS.'
Yes I'd agree with that. But what has been proven is that 'ABA principles' is inadequate for your ds (in fact detrimental to his progress), and what you need instead is proper ABA delivered by ABA professionals, not by a TA with inadeqate training.
ABA is very effective and powerful and done wrongly has the power to do a lot of damage. That is why it needs to be done ethically, in the context of supervision and regular revision/training by someone qualified to do this.
If your child will only EVER take 2 steps towards his seat because the TA has promised to get on all fours and bark like a dog, the TA needs to a)discover this and b)follow through with it, - and c)know at just the right point to increase this demand to 3 steps.
I don't think ABA suits all children with ASD or their families. I have had very good experiences with it and it has been great for dd, but I have a very explosive older ds with asd and I wouldn't attempt t with him. I think it might be possible that with a very knowledgeable consultant and professional tutors that it could work but I really don't see how you can prescribe ABA, run through the basics with TA's and expect it to work. I think the EP is being unfair to the school frankly. If ABA is to be done it needs to be done correctly and it is far from being a half hearted option.
DS is 6 he has full-time 1-2-1 but that's actually divided up between 3 TAs over the course of the day as the school has some batty idea that they don't like the kids getting too attached to one TA. I'd be surprised if all three of them have been trained. Not too worried about arguing with this school as, yes, the ed psy is good and she's suggested that he needs a special school which I couldn't really understand before, it seemed like overkill when she said it. I'm really starting to see what she means now and the statement review is almost certainly going to result in moving him, nobody but her has any suggestions about how to handle DS and the current school have said they can't manage him. I will give the possible schools a grilling on their level of expertise with ABA as it sounds as though if it were done well it could really help DS.
Are there any books on ABA I could read?
My son is diagnosed with PDA , I feel aba would make things worse for him. He doesn't respond to reward/ sanction. If I want to reward him, I have to give him the reward first and trust that he will do as I asked, he mostly does, unless very anxious! I feel ABA would add to his anxiety , as hothead said , humour , novelty and disguising demands works much better. There is not an easy way, in my opinion, however , if you can reduce the anxiety enough , sometimes it surprises me that I CAN give the odd request and he will accept this.
That gives me hope hothead! He's been great the last couple of weeks and I've been telling everyone and patting myself on the back! Well today he's really really PDA , no doubt about it. Screaming at me, punching , screwed up face, trying to poke me in the eyes and telling me he hates my ideas and doesn't like me being the boss of this house because I'm an idiot!! He looks like a little choir boy,angelic,and he's only 4, so I do admit that when he instantly turns into a little monster like that.... I do sometimes have to try not to laugh.
He's lovely again now!
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