Have you ever known someone who only learned things the hard way? Oh, don’t lie. If you have not, you are one.
Let’s begin with the basics:
Man Cub. Non-verbal, autistic, built like a linebacker.
Little V. Autistic, nine-going-on-sixteen, future comedienne.
Me. Still wondering why I have hair and do not drool.
Remember when I was talking about the little ones getting gobs of therapy? How’s that going? Let’s see if I can pull this off without expletives. (Insider tip: Do not put money on it.) Be aware: This is a rant based on personal experience with indoctrinated individuals who are being paid based on their ability to graph their own success in concert with my children’s demonstrably ongoing failure.
Between the two, the children should be getting 58 hours of therapy. Until a few weeks ago, we were nowhere near that number. In fact, it had been almost three months since the company being paid to provide the therapy has managed more than 9 hours per week per child. Beginning 01 November, the number of hours fell to 12 hours per week, six per child- at least on paper. You see, if no one appears to provide therapy, there is none.
Now, the children are getting more therapy. In fact, therapy is nearly every day. The hours are up to nearly 40 hours per week. Still not where we need to be but an ocean better than where we were.
Do you like more than 40 hours per week? Imagine being a cognitively impaired child who has that many hours of responsibility.
In my jet-set existence, my children having something to do for more than 40 hours per week is not beyond their scope. What fallout could there possibly be?
500% increase in maladaptive behavior.
What? Simply put, when a child does not have the capacity to verbalize their (frustration, lack of understanding, sense of futility), they lash out. This ranges from a random throwing a toy (at someone’s head… accurately) to lying in the floor with tears streaming over cheeks.
It would stand to reason ABA therapy would be the answer. It used to be called behavior modification, but too many people thought applying Pavlovian techniques to humans was demeaning. Silly people. When behavior is bad, it needs to change. Seems like we are on the right track, no?
See the “A” at the end of ABA? It stands for analysis. The main difference between zapping someone with an electro-convulsive 450 volts and ABA therapy is the therapists are supposed to analyze why the behavior occurs in order to orchestrate better reasoning and subsequently better behavior.
Are you scratching your brain yet? Rub some hydrocordisone on it, and I will explain the conundrum.
In order to adjust maladaptive behavior, one must see examples of maladaptive behavior. In short, one (therapist) must push the consumer (child) to the point where maladaptive behavior occurs. In a controlled environment, this is plausible. The consumer is not in a position to hurt self or others, to a large degree. Once the behavior occurs, design a reinforcement schedule to reinforce proper behavior. Sounds simple, right?
There are a number of places where this process can go awry. The most egregious one is when the therapist decides prior to therapy all maladaptive behavior is merely a symptom of autism.
In fact, autistic people have the same feelings non-autistic people have. If you check the rolls of anger management classes across the United States, you are going to encounter a majority of non-autistic people. All of them have had their bad behavior identified. They go to classes to learn there is a better way of coping with anger and frustration than smacking their neighbor. If their maladaptive behavior is not a symptom of autism, why would anyone assume (<<<warning) maladaptive behavior is simply a symptom of autism?
When executed properly, ABA programs are different based on the consumer and therapists and provide positive behavior modification which includes learning social interactions and self-care. Without the intervention of a caregiver, ABA travels a clinical path which railroads the consumer’s abilities until they can be performed on demand in a vacuum, in other words, when a complete stranger can tell the consumer to perform a task and the consumer complies with the demand without any maladaptive behavior.
Was that too passive? It teaches blind compliance. It assumes the consumer has no ability to think critically and must be taught to ape appropriate responses. Can someone please pass Pavlov’s dog a napkin?
Can someone explain who really has the maladaptive behavior? Which assumption is the most atrocious?
Thank you for bearing with me in this series on why professionals shoot themselves in the foot.
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