Friday, December 7, 2018

This is a copy of tonight's ABA Leaks letter to the American Montessori Society.

ABA Leaks
Neptune, New Jersey

[On August 12, 2020, we added the lone aversives sections below. We did not include that part in the original letter." We also made some minor edits since we mailed the original. DA]

Re: Warning, coercive Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is pushing into Montessori.

Dear Melanie,

Your office gave me your email address to contact you. I see you are involved with "school concerns," so it looks like the nice young lady who answered the phone sent me to the right Montessori person, by the sound of her voice, of course.

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is forcing its way into Montessori schools and the actually autistic community is up in arms against ABA and its coercion.

For example, Curtis Clough is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) at the Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District. His page there says, "has most recently been employed as a Behavior Analyst by the California Montessori Project for the past two years. There he has designed and monitored behavioral intervention plans for students with various diagnoses across six schools in the Sacramento area. He has provided individual and group trainings for professionals, administrators, teachers, and aides in the use of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)."

I lead ABA Leaks. We have a Facebook page with 32,000 followers. We have been investigating ABA since 2007 in our Reward and Consent blog which has had 279,000 page views.

Although we do not know the work of Mr. Clough individually, so we cannot recommend or reject his work on this basis alone, without seeing his work directly or in video, we have seen that other behavior analysts have been saying they are involved in your programs.

Your Montessori archive collection provides us with a fine history. The first paragraph says, "Teachers guide but do not control, each child progresses at his or her own pace, and the noncompetitive atmosphere of the classroom allows working for the pleasure of learning rather than from fear of punishment or anticipation of rewards."

This is the exact opposite of ABA. B. F. Skinner founded ABA. He often said their purpose was to explain and control behaviors. (Search for "explain" and "control" inside his 1971 bestseller Beyond Freedom and Dignity.) ABA is all about adding and removing rewards and punishers. This is one of their memes.

The Behavior Analyst Certification Board is the body that approves the credentials of BCBAs. Its Fourth Edition Task List requires them to master exactly ten "scientific" concepts and skills which contain the root word "to punish." There are also many ways they "reward" behaviors, as seen in the list. Skinner (1938) showed food only reinforces hungry or underweight rats, not full or satiated ones. That is why you often see ABAers try to modify what they call behavior "problems of social importance" with sugary treats, which cause obesity and diabetic eating habits. We will eat sugar on a full stomach. It's highly addictive.

I emailed an editor of the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis asked him what ethical standards they used to deem a behavior "socially important." He admitted he had no answer, but we know it's the highly-unintelligent, popular-norm-of-the-day standard by which ABA has promised the world its techniques can solve both "homosexual and autistic deviance" alike.

ABA aims to force our autistic peers to be indistinguishable from our neurotypical peers, yet we love our "autistic superpowers." WE run the computer industry. See the introduction to the former NY Times bestselling book NeuroTribes.

We proudly use identity-first language yet ABA has been calling us "deviant" for a century. We call them "boring clones" in return.

We're "autistic people," not "people with autism." So we don't HAVE autism; we ARE autistics. Person-first shames our identity. Anyone who uses it with us doesn't follow the autistic community, even though the United Nations (paragraph 7) said WE are the best experts on autism. Only WE know how great it feels to be us.

Gay Conversion Therapy comes from ABA. We equate that with Autistic Conversion Therapy.


[This is the new section on ABA aversives. August 12, 2020. DA]

It doesn't take rocket science to know that when you hurt somebody you can force them to "obey" your "demands," but any five-year-old bully can tell them how to do it with one good punch in the nose. ABA started its little inquiry in 1938 and they're still trying to figure out the "best way" to torture their "human and nonhuman organisms." They have so many journals now, they can't count them all at once. See herehereherehere, and here.

In ABA jargon, we become their "experimental subjects" so they can "control" the "relevant variables" in the "environment" of their "experimental" human "organism" subjects, that you can force them to submit. They call this "obedience." It's common sense logic that if you torture people, you can force them to submit to your demands, temporarily, of course. 

You can force a gay man to marry a woman and pretend he's straight. When he comes out of the closet, he prevents trauma.  He no longer lives a lie. The same goes for us. They can force us to appear "neurotypical." That's why ABA and PTSD trauma go together. Fortunately, however, we're unmasking our true selves, coming out all over again. We aim to bankrupt ABA, one penny at a time.  

We do peer support, instead. ABA Leaks recommends homeschooling in autistic peer groups with no ABA. They're in every special education department in the USA public schools under the guise of "Positive Behavior Supports." In theory, they don't punish, but in practice they do. Even they told parents it's a "myth" that "we will no longer punish students for inappropriate behavior."

In their ethics code, the Behavior Analyst Certification Board barely restricts the use of "aversives" by their Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs). They don't define the term, but they say any BCBAs with "increased training," can use their punishers. 

Their "aversion therapy" includes pinching, putting hot sauce in the mouth, using drugs to induce nausea." Lovaas was a madman. He said he combined "Screams, Slaps, and Love" in his UCLA lab 1965. He used Life Magazine to pitch his "new science" to there world. The fraud had begun.  He shocked the bare feet of "deviant autistic" just like Skinner shocked rat paws. Now ABA is a two billion dollar waste of taxpayer money.

Examples include:

Extreme heat or cold, bitter flavors, electric shocks, loud noises and pain. Aversives can be applied naturally (such as touching a hot stove) or in a contrived manner (such as during torture or behavior modification). Aversives can be used as punishment during applied behavior analysis with autistic children to reduce unwanted behavior such as stimming or self-injury. Aversive stimuli may also be used as negative reinforcement to increase the rate or probability of a behavior when it is removed.

In 1967, the British Journal of Psychiatry said, "Yet another technique which can throw fresh light on psychopathology is electric aversion, a method now used increasingly in the treatment of certain sexual disorders. With this method separate symptoms can be treated in turn, and their interrelations can thus be changed and studied. With careful clinical control and measurement we can examine the importance of various aspects of sexual disorders hitherto open to observation but not to detailed modification."

In 1968, the same journal liked this "faradic" shock on a "transvestite." They said, "Given a female sex therapist with whom he could practice and perfect the art of love, conveniently replayed during aversive sessions would he have bothered to cross-dress?" And on "deviant fetishists...aroused by female underclothes," which "is only abnormal if is not also roused by the female body itself."

Their brilliant leader, B. F. Skinner, supposedly opposed punishment.  He wrote Beyond Freedom and Dignity in 1971. His 1973 edition is a free download. Noam Chomsky (1971) reviewed it in the New York Review of Books. Here's his full version. He said:

Skinner (1971) assures us repeatedly that his science of behavior is advancing mightily and that there exists an effective technology of control. It is, he claims, a “fact that all control is exerted by the environment” (p. 82). Consequently, “When we seem to turn control over to a person himself, we simply shift from one mode of control to another” (p. 97). The only serious task, then, is to design less “aversive” and more effective controls, an engineering problem. “The outlines of a technology are already clear” (p. 149). “We have the physical, biological, and behavioral technologies needed ‘to save ourselves’; the problem is how to get people to use them” (p. 158).

The problem in “design of a culture” is to “make the social environment as free as possible of aversive stimuli” (p. 42), “to make life less punishing and in doing so to release for more reinforcing activities the time and energy consumed in the avoidance of punishment” (p. 81). It is an engineering problem, and we could get on with it if only we could overcome the irrational concern for freedom and dignity. What we require is the more effective use of the available technology, more and better controls. In fact, “A technology of behavior is available which would more successfully reduce the aversive consequences of behavior, proximate or deferred, and maximize the achievements of which the human organism is capable” (p. 125). But “the defenders of freedom oppose its use,” thus contributing to social malaise and human suffering. It is this irrationality that Skinner hopes to persuade us to overcome.

But Skinner and his legacy only oppose punishment for "normal" people. This is how they treat the "deviant" "abnormals." As the dominant editor in 1968, the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis punished the "autistic behaviors of an autistic child" because she climbed on their precious family furniture. They didn't put monkey bars in the yard. She could have been a gymnast. Skinner supposedly opposed punishment, was so smart, he decided to torture her, instead. After all, we have the "right to effective behavioral treatment," so we better shut up and take it, whether we like it or not.

We're ABA Leaks of Facebook. This is our blog. Our investigation exposed to the autistic blogosphere the fact that the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) officially torture. The autistic self-advocacy network (ASAN) followed our lead two days later. See the second paragraph here. Then others followed. See here, for example. They didn't give us any credit for breaking this critical story. ASAN's co-founder, Ari Ne'eman, never called us back after we asked him about it. We're still waiting for an answer. 

So we were the first team of autistic investigators to condemn ABAI for their decision to feature the Judge Rotenberg Center (JRC) at their 2015 annual convention. JRC, which uses contingent electric shock to modify the behavior of disabled students and has been condemned by the United Nation’s special rapporteur on torture, was listed as both a presenter as well as a Bronze sponsor for the ABAI annual conference from May 22nd–26th. 

As they said in their conference materials, sponsorship indicated that the “ABAI convention sponsors" had been "approved by the Organizational Review Committee as being aligned with ABAI’s mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice (p. 19).” In addition to sponsorship, JRC maintained a booth and presented three separate sessions there that year.


[The rest was in the original letter. DA]

This is how they shock:


ABA aims to squelch self-stimulation, which soothes us. They call this "stereotypy" and they promise parents they can "fix" us. Now we are doing our own version of coming out. We even stim in public. We unmask our autism and we love it.

Item FK-03 of the Task List is Determinism. This means that BCBAs must assume there's no such thing as freedom. This comes from Skinner (1974) Beyond Freedom and Dignity. While they disagreed on methods, surely neither Montessori nor her philosophical peer John Dewey claimed that freedom is an illusion. Indeed, he would say ABA is a "crime against democracy" in this respect.

Lastly, never believe what an ABAer says s/he does behind closed doors. Always watch or film it. No science always only paints a rosy picture of itself and sweeps under the rug the harm it causes, yet this is ABA, the pot calling the kettle black, as it accuses other methods of pseudoscience.

We urge you to know what ABA is doing as it pushes its way into your schools as it has done to Speech Language Pathology (SLP) and into nations all over the world.

The SLP Neurodiversity Collective courageously takes a strong stand against ABA. We urge you to follow them.

See Altier (2016). The "data" is in. Each and every Applied Behavior Analysis member completely supports or is complicit to ABA's extremely painful electric skin shock "torture." Establishing argument: Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is different from Positive Behavior Support (PBS), despite some overlap. PBS rules out ABA punitive techniques as unnecessary and therefore unethical. However, PBS does punish in practice, despite its theoretical claims that it doesn't.

In conclusion, Montessori probably used to be fine, but we cannot recommend it until your leadership makes a public statement against ABA. In the meanwhile, we have no choice but to publish the content of this letter and hopefully your response, please. To ignore us is to put us on extinction, ABA-style. We don't expert you will, however. That's what they do to us.


Dave Altier
Of the Roman Altieri Italian diaspora extended family
Master of Arts in Teaching
Georgetown University trained and published in ethics.
New Jersey state certificated Special Education teacher
Proud autistic man

Copyright and disclaimers

Reward and Consent , © is January 15, 2007 to the current date. All rights reserved (and stuff like that). E-mail me for permission to reproduce in part or in full. Please link to and cite passages quoted or paraphrased from here.

Reward and Con
sent is not responsible for links on the site. For example, I use keywords "Operant Conditioning" in the YouTube search field for the videos displayed below the archives on the left. Google selects the videos and the results change from time to time. Please email me if anything is not educational and germane to the subject and I will reevaluate the search.

I am an advocate for people with disabilities certified to teach special education with a Master of Arts in Teaching. I am not a Licensed Psychologist or a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. When in doubt, seek the advice of an MD, a PhD, or a BCBA. My ability to analyze the ethics of ABA stems from the fact that I am disabled and ABA interventions are often done to people like me, which I voluntarily accept, but only when I alone am the person granting consent, and not a parent, sibling, guardian, or institution.