Friday, January 15, 2016

Guest poet Olivia Astrid Âû: "Time for a game of quiet hands."

Time for a Game of Quiet Hands

Olivia Astrid Âû

The therapist held young Karl's hands
Until he had stopped flapping them.
The game lasted for 40 hours that week
Grabbing them harder and harder until Karl had learned to stop.
The tears that floored the room was a Reminder to the therapist that Karl had a lot More training to Do before he was "Normal."
Time for a game of table readiness.
The therapist laid Karl's favourite food on The dining table.
The game was simple, ask for your Favourite Food nicely.
Successes And Karl could eat, Fail and Karl Would be Sprayed with.
The therapist knows he cannot Talk and Therefore cannot win.
Another night Of tears for poor Karl.
Time for a game of Social skills"
The therapist placed Karl in a different room With different children.
All of them were expected to talk and make Eye-contact.
Karl Couldn't and therefore had his "privileges" Taken from him.
The therapist made an Example of Karl in Front of the other children.
They all lived in fear under her regime.
One day, Karl learnt the rules of all these Games.
They are no winners, you just obey! Submission was the only way of getting out. The makaton Symbols on the wall will Remind him to "Conform at any cost!"
Karl's parents are happy to hear about his Progress.
He can now talk, give eye contact And stop stimming.
The occasion is Celebrated by all including Pavlov, who is Laughing in his grave!
Many years have passed and Karl is now a Broken man.
He was passed for many years as a Neurotypical member of society with no help For the higher Functioning label.
The Events keep playing on repeat setting in His Head and the scars and bruises across His Body Reminding him he had no autonomy Over his mind and body.
In his mind he had no choice but to take that All important Stairway.
Now, he is in the Garden of Acceptance.
Karl Can now live out the old days before Treatment.
He can now flap his arms for as Long as He wishes and play with his toys the way He Wants to.
He will be forever happy Until the end of time.
The therapist is now on trail for unethical Practices against the children she once Treated.
She is close to retirement and with The Overwhelming evidence against her, she Will Spend the rest of her days in care of The State.
The moral to learn from playing quite Hands,
The oppressed will always find their Heaven,
 But the oppressors will always find their hell!

Guest author Olivia Astrid Âû': "Compliance and the journey in hell."

Compliance and the Journey in Hell

Olivia Astrid Âû

Trigger warning: What I am about to talk about will be triggering for many of you and I can only offer my apologies to you if this does bring back painful memories for a lot of you. I feel very strongly on this issue and I think that it’s important that parents, caregivers, professionals, and fellow autistics are made aware of this so this can happen far less than it should. The subjects I’ll will be talking about will be around early childhood compliance training, restraint and abuse. I hope my anger and pain can be used for something that is constructive rather than for something destructive hence why I’m writing this. I’ve only recently started talking about this and opening up after around 20 years of silence. This is of course, very hard for me to talk about.

I have been experiencing symptoms of PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) after a hospital visit (Which I’m not going into details about) which has forced a lot of past trauma to be at the forefront of my mind on top of the trauma from the hospital visit. Therefore, very early trauma that I have learned to suppress over the years has come back to haunt me with a vengeance. Why? I don’t know, and that’s not important.

I'm going to say three small words that carry the weight of the universe in the depths on my mind; I was abused. From a very early age I was sent to a specialist nursery and school, as I was a late developer and had “behavioral issues”. This is where I got my autism diagnosis from. I witnessed restraint that was used on students, including myself on a daily bases to enforce discipline. Reasons can include, but were not limited to, shouting, hitting, swearing, stimming and so on. To those people who would say that isn’t abuse or that “others have had it worse," understand that you were not there and therefore have no right to tell me how I should feel about it. In fact, you’re lucky that you are not the person who is writing this, so please shut your pie hole and listen. Abuse is abuse!

When I have a PTSD flashback on this nature, not only do I see myself at five years old being held down naked by two others screaming and crying with snot pouring down my nose, I become that frightened five year old child who doesn’t understand what he is doing wrong. I’ve also seen myself at the age of six being force fed food only to throw the contents back up again. Not to mention that I was locked in rooms alone and unsupervised.

Even when I wasn’t being restrained, I was often shouted at for flapping my arms, talking to myself out loud (a verbal stim that I used to do), and even in some instances, I was punished for my stims. Stimming was seen as a filthy habit and therefore I saw it as a filthy habit and it’s not been until very recently in my life time that I started to re-embrace those stims.

Throughout my childhood, I was frightened to speak up as I gaslighted into this mentality that it was normal and that every child, regardless if they were autistic or not, went through this. Unfortunately, I soon learned that this not the case. Would we tolerate this if this was done to an NT (NeuroTypical) child? No. So why do we as a society tolerate this being done toward autistics and developmentally disabled children?

The bottom line of all of this is: We need more awareness of this type of practice (if you can call it that.) Sadly, abuse toward autistics does happen often in the name of “Special Needs, Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), therapy," and so on. Sadly, we can’t turn back the clock and undo the damage, but what we can do is learn from this. Our kids deserve better and we must do better. They deserve to learn in an environment where they are free to be themselves and not be persecuted for being themselves. It’s the least they deserve.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

A smart schoolboy says Positive Behavior Support (PBS) is bad to him and his friends.

[Editorial note: This post is copied and pasted word for word from a recent social media dialogue I had with the mother of a boy who was maltreated by the school program that goes by the name Positive Behavior Support (PBS) or Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS). I made her name anonymous. In this blog I have often described PBS, in theory, as the gentle breakaway sister profession from highly unethical Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). I still like PBS theory, somewhat, as I give it a "C" and I give "pure ABA theory and practice" a bold red "F." How is PBS in practice? Well the jury is still hearing the evidence, so to speak, but the first witnesses, the Mom and her teacher-bullied son, the plaintiffs, strike a big opening blow to the PBS defense. Who do I want to hear from most over ABA and PBS? Well read this post, please. To the mom of the boy who opposes PBS: You are a loving mom, a true parent advocate who actually listens to her child. Please tell him he is also a natural leader, a true peer advocate for his bullied friends, bullied by their PBS teachers, indeed, no less! Natural leaders often develop into incredible emergent leaders later on in life!]

This blogger asked Mom (anon) to let her son speak to him about how he feels about PBS.

Mom: Good question. I asked my kid. He thinks, "It's stupid, the rewards are dumb, the practices are boring and I should skip all the practices and read instead, and those stupid tickets are annoying. They don't mean anything to me." I then asked if it helped other kids who have trouble making the better choices. His reply, "No way. Not a bit. Some kids make it a challenge to see who can earn the least tickets each semester."

Dave: Thank you so much. May I anonymously quote your son on my blog and would you want to be anonymous as his Mom providing me his quote? Umm, this sounds more like lousy, linear-only ABC ABA than the full range of linear and nonlinear behavior supports that LaVigna teaches.* In following LaVigna, for example, your son's behaviors should be viewed as communications and respected as such, from how I read the PBS co-founder's theory. We have already seen that what passes for ABA is not always pure ABA. Perhaps the same holds true for PBS, of which I admit I know much less than I know ABA.

Dave: Oh ... like a slow race at gym class. For fun, the non-athletes play: Whoever gets across the finish line last wins! Clever kids in your son's school.

Mom: Quote away, Dave Jersey! Clever kids who know they have no chance in hell of ever earning enough tickets to get to the big reward. It's their way of rebelling against stupidity.


See Lavigna and Donnellan (1986). Alternatives to Punishment, first three chapters. "ABC ABA" is the typical Antecedent Behavior Consequence linear approach used throughout ABA. Linear methods look at the obviously apparent, easily-observable, immediate environmental precursors and consequential environmental stimuli that occur in the same milieu where the responses emerge. Linear-only ABA disregards the contributions of the contemporary of behavior science founder B. F. Skinner, behavior ethicist Israel Goldiamond. Goldiamond explained how many variables impinge on a currently seen response, an entire history of variables that are not immediately apparent. So LaVigna and Donnellan (1986) followed Goldiamond with their groundbreaking PBS "Old Testament. To illustrate exactly how linear and nonlinear PBS theory is different from linear-only ABA, consider this:

Problem behavior: Homeless man's aggressive begging.

ABA linear-only solutions: Differential Reinforcement of Incompatible (DRI) behavior: Put a guitar in his hands and a money bucket in front of him. Get him a city entertainer permit to perform on the street. He can't aggressively beg while playing guitar for money. If DRI doesn't work, try other linear reinforcement approaches. If they don't work, punish the beggar. Send him to jail even or "effectively treat him," so they say, with extremely painful electric skin shock, which is common ABA at its worst, electric shock pain, remote controls, electrodes, which is heavily supported and entirely allowed in the complete ABA professional community. Do not give him what he wants immediately after he is begging, as this would (in ABA, technically) reinforce his "problem behavior of social importance" and make the begging happen more often (so they would claim, as it seems to me).

PBS theory linear and nonlinear behavior supports solutions: Do not punish. It is unnecessary and therefore unethical to punish. Do the ABA-style linear reinforcement procedures. Also, do give the man what he wants and needs a little while after he aggressively begs, but not immediately afterwards, in order to prevent the problem from reoccurring. Lead him to Alcoholics Anonymous if drinking causes him problems. Get him job skills, interview skills, etc. Get him a decent home. Provide him with other behavior intervention and supports as needed.

Reward and Consent solutions: Do PBS, but only with the consent of the man. If he wants to run his own life without PBS, then leave him alone. If he allows them to speak to him, then let him listen to the the PBS persons as they explain how they can perhaps help him. Then let him tell them exactly how they may help him. He can hire and fire them all until he finds one that he (and his peer advocates who assist him) decide will serve him. He alone is the boss. They work for him. (They also need to tell him and lead him to other non-PBS, non-ABA professional solutions, occupational therapy, music therapy, etc.)

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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.