Monday, September 26, 2016

Autistic Cassandra Oakdown, 19, reports forced behavioral modification normalization with buckets of cold water splashed in their face.

[Editorial notes: Text is as originally typed. Spaces moved around. No modifications to errors, words, or punctuation. Begun 6:38AM Monday September 26, 2016. Cassandra Oakdown of Facebook accepts interview request from Dave Jersey of Facebook, founder of ABA Leaks. See Twitter's #ABALeaks. Applied Behavior Analysis' initials are ABA.

[The blogger, interviewer, and editor are the same person. Editing being done after the interview took place. "Sic" signifies there was an error in the original text and editorial keeps the error unchanged. By David Altier(i), Reward and Consent blogger. Initials: "DA."

[December 31, 2016 update: Cassandra notified this blogger they use the pronoun "they" instead of "she." Their prefix: Mx. instead of Mr. or Ms. Title reflects update. Body of post does not.]


Dave: Hi, Cassandra.

Facebook messenger message: Cassandra Âû Oakdown accepted your request.

Cassandra: Oh, hello.

Dave: Thanks for the chat move from the group to here in private.

Cassandra: Lesbian here, but so deep in the closet I can see Narnia, so I'm having to keep most of my activism to the internet for now.

Cassandra: Mainly because my conservative christian grandparents don't know how to use the internet.

Dave: Could you give me an interview about your operant background, anonymous or not, and removing the lesbian part out, so it seems you would prefer? For my blog? If not, that's okay of course. We can still chat.

Cassandra: Um, sure. And you can leave my orientation in. As I said, my grandparents don't know how the internet works and they most certainly don't frequent the same parts of it as I do.

Cassandra: It's shiny if it's not anonymous. Partially because I want to brag to my friends about being interviewed for someone's blog. And that kind of thing sort of needs proof.

Dave: haha That's a not anonymous request, right? I get it.

Dave: Can we do it now, this text message conversation, starting at the top here?

Cassandra: I see no reason why not.

Dave: Thanks. I have done this before with Anna Kosovskaya who found me in Massachusetts Students United Against the Judge Rotenberg Center. I was asking for survivors of this Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) skin shock institution. Anyhow. As I told her, you probably know I am opposed to ABA, however. You are telling me you did not have actual ABA, but rather you were give a version of it you described as what? some kind of operant conditioning, when we talked in the group? {sic: "Give" should be "given."}  I want to ask you to tell me what you remember fondly and un-fondly. Please don't tell me what you think I might want to hear. Yes. I oppose ABA, but please be honest in how you feel about it, positive and or negative, ok? How does that sound to you, Cassandra? I'll wait.

Cassandra: My... family, though I hesitate to call them that, as it implies a feeling of loyalty and trust which is not freely given to anyone and everyone I happen to share genetic material with. They didn't know I was Autistic. They believed that I was just a difficult, abnormal child. However, that did not stop them from coming to the exact same conclusions that Lovaas did when trying to figure out how to train that abnormality out of me. That's not to say that it wasn't institutional-- it was, in some aspects, they got many of their ideas from the therapists and shrinks that they took me to, and they had my teachers (up until middle school) keep me on a token system similar to the one used in ABA.

Dave: Here's our interview, Anna's and mine: Heroic Anna Kosovskaya escapes the Judge Rotenberg Center (JRC) of ABA electroshock "treatment/torture." Anna's self-reported adventures with interviewer analysis.

{sic: DA's copying and pasting during Cassandra's interview cut off the introductory quotation to Anna's self-report of her actual escape from the ABA skin shock institution. There in those quotes the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture was concluding his JRC report. His investigation determined that their extremely painful electric skin shock coupled with their immobilizing four-point restraint board constituted "torture." The Rotenberg Center is an ABA establishment. The Ass. for Behavioral Analysis International (ABAI) officially "approved" extremely painful skin shock "torture" again, after autistic advocates demanded they stop it. Altier(i) (April 13, 2016).}

Cassandra: Thank you, I'll read it later.

Dave: Ok. I'm listening. When I type three periods, it means, please continue. I want to leave it open ended a lot. ...

Cassandra: Thank you for the clarification. Anyway, their (meaning, my gene pool, my school, the therapists, and others involved) perception of how to treat me, seemed to revolve around the assumption that I was both a perfectly normal child "deep inside," and fundamentally flawed, at the same time. I remember being told, at nine years old, that if I didn't comply I had an eight-percent chance of becoming a functional human being. Really fuckin' great for my self-esteem.

Dave: So your parents hired for you therapists and teachers who knew operant behaviorism (adding and removing appetitive and aversive stimuli soon after behavioral emissions to decelerate or accelerate behavior rates) and did it to you and told your parents to do it to you? I'm still reading. Please continue. ...

Cassandra: Well, it was more of a gradual process than that. They did their research, hired therapists and had me placed with teachers that they knew would go along with it, but it was clear that my gene donors were the ones running the show. They once fired a therapist for taking my side on something.

Dave: Were you resisting the "training" somehow and so that is why they told you if you didn't comply you wouldn't function later on probably? Yes. I know some therapists will side with children when parents are unreasonable.

Cassandra: Yeah. I've always felt that it's my natural inclination to resist systems. Not in an edgy teenage punk way, more of a "putting me in boxes makes me claustrophobic" way. And a system that attempts to "correct" my natural way of being, will be met with resistance.

Dave: So would you say it is accurate to say you "dissented from these behavioral interventions."

Cassandra: Yes. Absolutely.

Dave: I want to ask for this because I want us to be fair to your parents and these behaviorists, if there is a good reason to be fair to them. Do you have any pleasant memories of this "system" as you called it, I believe?

Cassandra: *Shudders* No. I can say with 100% confidence that I do not.

Dave: I am not surprised. Now I won't ask you that again....

Cassandra: Any pleasant memories that I have of the people I happen to share DNA with, are completely unrelated to their efforts to mold me in their image.

Dave: Did they try to "break your will"? To force you to comply to their methods?

Cassandra: Oh, yes.

Dave: How? Please be specific.

Cassandra: In addition to more scientific variants of behavior modification, they also employed more militaristic methods. Keep in mind that most of this happened to me between the ages of seven and twelve.

Dave: Aversives? Use of punishing stimuli and events? Ok. i got it

Dave: could be inaccurate recall

Dave: Your age now?

Dave: Remember. Please. Don't tell me what you think I want to hear. Just be open and honest, please.

Cassandra: I am. To the best of my ability.

Dave: I got it. Did they use aversives with you?

Cassandra: It depends, does having buckets of cold water splashed in your face count as an aversive?

{Cassandra had just said "buckets of cold water" but during the live interview's Facebook Messenger's textbox scroll down, DA misread her precise bucket-in-face point during the interview and then he focused on ABA's more typical water-spritz-in-the-face "aversion therapy" methodology. See the third paragraph below. Subsequent reports by Oakdown should delve into this more extreme, and frankly unexpected and surprising, as yet unknown to Altier(i), use of a bucketful of water splashed in a behavioral victim's face, whether by an actual behavioral practitioner or by a parent in training by a parent-coaching behaviorist. This search of ABA-bucket-of-cold-water-in-the-face turns up no conceptual identities to Oakdown's actual experience in the first page of Google Scholar results under those keywords.}

Dave: Aversives are stimuli or events for the purpose of decelerating your behavior rate, in ABA jargon.

Cassandra: Or, being forced into a plank position for hour-long intervals?

Dave: Yes. Wait a minute. I'm going to insert a link on water face spritzes for our readers, Cassandra. Please.

Dave: Google Scholar link of these keywords search ... ["Applied Behavior Analysis" water spritz to face] ... retrieved 242 results this morning for me. Monday 7:11 AM September 26, 2016. So this water spritzing to your face was "contingent" upon a specific "response" of yours? We can talk about the forced exercise next, ok?

Cassandra: Usually, meltdowns. They believed that I could "turn them on and off" and that I was only doing "it" to manipulate them.

Dave: Please describe what you did during a meltdown in behavioral terms if you can, what did they look like and sound like, for instance? Any traumatic memories too much, we can skip a topic.

Cassandra: I assume that to those I lived with, it looked like a three year old throwing a tantrum. That's what it seemed like they thought, anyway.

Dave: First I want to say: Meltdowns are provoked and NOT your fault.

Cassandra: I'm learning that. Slowly but surely, I'm starting to come to terms with the fact that who and what I am is okay.

Dave: In behavioral terms, Skinner and his followers showed that punishment has side effects... escape from and retaliation from the punishing person. But ABA has strayed far from Skinner's warnings against punishement {sic: typographical mistake with the keyboard}. PLUS. Wait please. I want to explain tantruming.

Cassandra: I've got issues with behaviorism as a whole (namely the fact that it doesn't take into account higher-level consciousness) but wow, I did not know that.

Dave: ABA does what it calls ABC assessment of tantrums and other behaviors. Wait please. This is for you and our readers.

Cassandra: Keep going.

Dave: I know Skinner inside out. And I am an ethicist, trained and published by Jesuit priests and other professors at Georgetown, from where I graduated. The current Pope Francis, who is so concerned about poverty, unlike his immediate predecessors, is the first ever Jesuit Pope.

Dave: ABA uses "by any means necessary" unethical reasoning. This is the same logic used by Hitler, George Bush II in his pre-emptive war and by Malcolm X who, I believe, did not oppose violent resistance to black oppression in the 1960s

Dave: Jesuits taught us the opposite line of reason. The ends do not justify the means.

Cassandra: That's what I've always believed.

Dave: So ABA uses cruel methods and brags about being "effective." Highly unethical. Anyhow. I am a special ed teacher in New Jersey. I wrote a paper called Democracy In the Classroom. {Altier(i), 1993} Students set the rules and liked the token system "game" auctions, etc. I set up for them.. because they CONSENTED. See? You dissented. ...

Cassandra: Exactly.

Dave: Ok. So if you don't mind, now with my disclosure of my behavioral science background, can I ask you to speak in behavior terms.. We can do cognitive, too. I do both. I can guide you hown. {sic: Typo. DA corrected the error in original text in the following sentence.} I can guide you how. Skip the idea if you don't like it, ok?

Dave: I want to add now.... In ABA jargon.... A tantrum is NOT your fault for the following reasons... They come from parents' unintentional positive reinforcement, usually negative attention, to unwanted behavior... and Unreasonable parental demands... and need to escape aversives such as coercive behavioral control.. water face spritzes, forced planks... and the normal flight or fight reaction.. retaliation against an attacker..... NONE YOUR FAUL {sic} NONE YOUR FAULT you see this?

Cassandra: I do see it.

Dave: ok please continue....

Cassandra: And in reference to your earlier request that I use behavioral terms to describe my experiences, I don't feel comfortable doing so. If that is alright with you.

Dave: what did you do during a meltdown that got punished? ok no problem

Cassandra: I was either screaming, or completely unresponsive. They didn't like either of those options very much. And I would hurt myself.

{During the interview, which took place entirely in text to text, DA did not read the part where Cassandra said she would hurt herself. Part two or later will pick up on this.}

Dave: if I ask you what did you do, are you okay just telling me about the actions appearance and sounds.. also of course, what ABA doesn't care about because it's not ABA data, the most important part is how you feel and felt about it all

Cassandra: Sure.

Dave: i see unresponsive.. screaming i get it

Dave: a scream and sitting still harms nobody and nothing

Dave: not fair to you

Dave: they could have just walked into a different room and monitored you for your own safety

Dave: please continue

Cassandra: LMAO. "For my own safety." That's hilarious. I highly doubt any of this had truly altruistic motives. They just wanted me to look right, or at least that's my bitter opinion. {LMAO = Laughing My Ass Off.}

Dave: oh and.. we can stop any time you want, of course, for any reason, even if you don't want to explain a reason. Please elaborate on "they just wanted me to look right." What did they want to you look like instead? Did they say?

Cassandra: No, but I could tell that even when I did what they wanted, they seemed disappointed. I guess they were disappointed that acting like a normal child didn't come as naturally to me.

Dave: They is your parents?

Cassandra: People I happen to share DNA with. As I said, I try to avoid using terms that, in the popular usage, imply an emotional attachment that I do not have.

Dave: I see. Who you don't want to call your "family members." I get that. You're 19 now? You said, righ? {sic} right?

Cassandra: I said I'm almost 19.

Dave: Oh ok.

Cassandra: They wanted me to be nice and quiet and look people in the eye and sit still and not let on how much I was actually feeling, and I couldn't manage that. Even when I could, it didn't look or feel natural.

Dave: Do you live with anyone? Are you emancipated from those you share your DNA with?

Cassandra: I live with my grandparents, who I am not quite as emotionally divorced from, but whose conservative Evangelical Christian ideology is pushing me to that point.

Dave: You don't have to answer any question you want us to skip, of course.

Cassandra: The reason I'm with them and not the others is because around the time I was twelve, the abuse that I was already suffering shifted to a more socially recognizable form.

{In Part Two or later of this interview, which has not yet taken place as of the date of this edit, September 26, 2016, they should hold more discussion of Cassandra's concept of the shift of abuse to her by people in her younger years into a more socially recognizable form of people abusing her later into her teen years, as she had just mentioned in her previous line.}

Dave: You said your grandparents are not internet users, so you are free to speak now without their influence over what you're saying, Cassandra?

Cassandra: Yes. They're a couple of technophobes.

Dave: Good. I only want to interview people who are free to speak about ABA or behavioral experiences with NO influence or control by any ABA person or behavioral person AND those who hired them to control behaviors of the people we can call behaviorism "survivors" such as you. So... you started to explain about normal eye contact and sitting still.

Cassandra: Yes.

Dave: Were these demanded of you by anyone?

Cassandra: The gene donors. Mainly. They considered that to be a part of being a functioning human being.

Dave: Probably they were coached into this type of demand by therapists who promised them they could make you more normal if your gene donors made those demands on you. This is typical ABA. I'll show you in a link in Google Scholar, ok?

Cassandra: Please do.

Dave: Google Scholar search: ["Applied Behavior Analysis" in-seat behavior]. 919 peer reviewed journal articles and other scholarly works. "Applied Behavior Analysis" in-seat behavior

"Applied Behavior Analysis" in-seat behavior - Google Scholar

Cassandra: Damn. That is common.

Dave: Yes. Typical coercion. I'll respond to that.

Dave: Google Scholar just now: ["Applied Behavior Analysis" "eye contact"] 7380 results.

"Applied Behavior Analysis" "eye contact" - Google Scholar

Dave: This next one is so cruel.

["Applied Behavior Analysis" autistic deviant] 2550 scholarly results.. (why we can call them a pseudoscience)

"Applied Behavior Analysis" autistic deviant - Google Scholar

Cassandra: *Shudders violently*

{Editorial opinions: See the commentary by Google's DeanM regarding why ABA is a pseudoscience in Altier(i), (November 21, 2016). In a Facebook group comment Altier(i) added, "Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is NOT a scientific system as it claims itself to be. Physics does not deny that it is largely responsible for atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki incinerating Japanese babies, children, adults, and elderly. ABA 'disseminators' try to sweep under the rug the fact that they completely support extremely painful electric skin shock, its 'aversion therapy' at its most controversial, as its most clearly wrong methodology. This wrongness is more a question of ethics than of science. This post, however, that Aaron Gullison asks us to discuss, that repetitive ABA may block the way of learning, sheds doubt on the actual scientific 'effectiveness' ABA claims of itself. Well in the coercive way of ABA, they live by the motto, 'by any means necessary,' which is the preemptive war logic of George Bush II. It is the logic of Adolph Hitler and of Malcolm X. The Jesuits at Georgetown taught us to live by its mutually exclusive ethical proscription: The ends do not justify the means; they only explain them. Well either way you look at it, ethically or scientifically, ABA covers up its cruel methods as something it pretends it does not support, which is false, AND, as in this scientific report that ABA method may not be so effective after all, ABA still proceeds to exclusively 'disseminate' information that makes it look good. That is not science! That is a CULT! How we act is at least as important as what we aim to achieve!"}

{Here in the Oakdown interview, Altier(i) presents for the first time the argument that the term "deviant," although it has a statistical derivation, as in "standard deviations from the normal curve," is so heavily value-laden with misjudgments on the part of so-called "scientists" that this behavioral nomenclature clearly demonstrates how ABA crosses the line away from pure science and grows into the pseudo-profession that most popularly exploit very young, very small autistic infantstoddlerschildren, and adults merely for financial gain. No doubt ABA depends upon panicky parents to hire them. Should they not be so worried about making them "normal," then ABA has nothing to gain. So ABA, no doubt, leads parents to believe their children are abnormal or aberrant in the circus-freak, side-show connotation of the word "deviant." ABA, in its highly predictable pattern of its claim to "effectiveness" falsely leads parents on with a hope it can make non-autistics out of autistics. So Autism Speaks calls for "autism awareness" while Autism Speaks represents parents and "therapists," especially ABA. Autism Speaks does not represent actually autistic adult spokespeople for the young children these pseudo-professionals victimize. So Autism $peaks and most Autism Parents advocate "autism awareness." Meanwhile, the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network (ASAN) and actual autistics independent from ASAN, such as Altier(i), call for "autism acceptance." ABA does not disseminate "autism acceptance" literature, as such an approach to autism would eat into ABA funding.

Dave: So get this... while ABA was calling us autistics deviants.. look at how they "treated" us glbt folks.

Cassandra: Yep. Didn't Lovaas help with the Feminine Boy Project?

{Oakdown was correct. See actually autistic researcher Michelle Dawson (2004) "The Misbehaviour of Behaviorists" for her Behavioral Ethics analysis of the Rekers/Lovaas Feminine Boy Project.}

"Applied Behavior Analysis" homosexuality - Google Scholar

Cassandra: *Vomits into a trash bin*

Dave: over 2000 scholarly results to "Applied Behavior Analysis" homosexuality

Dave: this one is how freaky they do get

Dave: ["Applied Behavior Analysis" penile tumescence measure] they measured our freaking boners in order to shock the hell out of us

{Merriam-Webster: Tumescence: the quality or state of being tumescent; especially: readiness for sexual activity marked especially by vascular congestion of the sex organs. Merriam-Webster: Tumescent: somewhat swollen.}

Dave: put cocks in a tube and showed the guys nude pics

Dave: put poisonous mercury in the tubes, expanded, set off electrical switching

Cassandra: what the fUCK

Dave: 217 studies! {Sic: DA misspoke here, or rather, probably exaggerated. There were not necessarily a grand total of 217 experimental studies returned in this search which actually involving "penile tumescence measurements," but it did occur in some of them. 217 scholarly search results came back with these keywords under Google Scholar. Some results no doubt did not contain all the keyword terms, just some of them.}

"Applied Behavior Analysis" penile tumescence measure - Google Scholar


["Applied Behavior Analysis" homosexual shock] 450 results Google Scholar

"Applied Behavior Analysis" homosexual shock - Google Scholar

Cassandra: I knew about that one.

Dave: ["Applied Behavior Analysis" autism shock] 2020 papers by these so-called intellectuals

"Applied Behavior Analysis" autism shock - Google Scholar

Dave: So. Yes. Cassandra. I guarantee you. These so called behavioral therapists were exploiting your gene sharers to see you as a "deviant" in need of their "fixing" for their financial gain. I myself would put more blame on the therapists. But you know your entire story. I do not.

Dave: Can we continue this another day, please? Do you mind if I put this on my blog in a few minutes? With your name as you said we could? Or anonymously if you changed your mind about your name.

Cassandra: You can put on your blog, of course. And you may put my name on there, but make sure you spell it right.

Dave: yes .. with the properly accentuated: Âû

Cassandra: No, that's just a Facebook tag, stands for Autistic Union. I'm referring to your two misspellings of Oakdown as "Oaktown."

Dave: Oh I did not know Âû stands for Autistic Union. So I use "Cassandra Âû Oakdown" or "Cassandra Oakdown"?

Cassandra: Cassandra Oakdown, please.


Cassandra: Thank you.

Dave: You're welcome. I would like to hear much more sooner or later when we catch each other online and when we both have a good chunk of extra time to spare.

Cassandra: I look forward to continuing this conversation when we're both able to.

Dave: If you like hugs, virtual hugs to you and your grandparents, if you feel okay with them. Bye now.

Cassandra: Don't virtual hug my grandparents. They may not be as vile as the rest, but they're not angels either.

Dave: I got it. Then only to you from me then, a virtual hug now, if you like.

Cassandra: Accepted!

Cassandra: Bye for now.

Dave: yes for now

Facebook Messenger message: Chat Conversation End

1 comment :

  1. Hard to believe people do things like that today. sound like willful ignorance on parental side. Inconvenient truths are ignored.


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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.