Saturday, January 28, 2017

Here's a review of Temple Grandin's (1984): "My experiences as an autistic child and review of selected literature."

Sources she used such as those found in the following block quote show that this paper was Grandin’s (1984, p. 149) version of the Leo Kanner's (1943) currently-debunked claim that heartless "refrigerator mothers" cause autism.
Monkeys raised in total isolation would rock and engage in stereotyped behavior, whereas monkeys kept in single cages where they could see and hear other monkeys and were allowed four hours of play daily with another monkey, had a much lower frequency of abnormal behavior (Floeter and Greenough, 1979). Thirty- three percent of kittens which were blindfolded with cloth hoods at birth developed stereotyped walking by the fourth month of life (Korda, 1978). A child raised in a barren environment developed similar behaviors. Genie, a child who was kept under extreme sensory and emotional deprivation for 131/2 years, had many autistic behaviors. "Genie is an 'appositional' thinker, visually and tactily [sic - error left intact - correct: tactilely] oriented, better at holistic than sequential analytic thinking." (Curtiss, 1977).
In the fashion of misjudgmental Applied Behavioural Analysis (Analy$i$) (ABA), she called body-rocking problematic stereotyped behavior (Grandin, 1984, pp. 149, 150, 153, 156...) She also said that autistics have "disordered behaviors" (p. 167).

Grandin (1984, p. 149) called the combination of painful shock and gentle handling "beneficial" to animals. She said, "A variety of tactual, motor and kinesthetic stimulation is beneficial to young animals. Levine (1960) found that infant rats subjected to 'both painful shocks and gentle handling enhance the development of normal stress responses in infant animals.'" Nor did she object to animal restraint. She said (1984, pp. 154-55), "This may be similar to the pressure hypnosis response described by Takagi (1956) [sic - error intact - correct: Takagi (1954)] The restraining chute must be sturdy and it must hold the animal firmly. Otherwise, the animal will fight and attempt to escape." She seemed to favor both of these aversive techniques in the context that her fellow researchers used them.


Furthermore, Grandin supports ABA interventions elsewhere. See her co-authored ABA statement in Adams et al. (2004/2012).
Today, ABA programs are widely accepted, and the American Medical Association and the US Surgeon General recommend ABA therapy for children with autism. ABA programs are most effective when started early (before age 5 years), but they can also be helpful to older children. They are especially effective in teaching non-verbal children how to talk.... Parents are encouraged to obtain training in ABA, so that they can provide it themselves and/or help supervise other providers. Board-certified behavior analysts (BCBA’s) are often available, and there are often workshops on how to provide ABA therapy.
She concluded, in a typical ABA unethical, misjudgmental, and coercive manner, that "As research progresses, the findings will probably indicate that many mental disorders which were previously thought to be due to some vague 'psychic injury' are real physiological problems which can be either cured or controlled [italics added]. Exciting research is being conducted on the brain." (Grandin, 1984, p. 169)

We autistic adults who are emancipated from ABA strongly object to the behavior control and to the autism-is-a-disease-to-cure arguments.

B. F. Skinner, the predominant founder of ABA, discovered the phenomenon he called Operant Conditioning: The presentation and removal of appetitive and aversive stimuli and events soon after "organisms emit responses" will increase or decrease the probabilities of the reoccurrence of the reinforced or punished behaviors during similar circumstances in the future. This explains why we return to sushi restaurants if we loved them the first time we tried one, and why we avoid them if the sushi had made us vomit.

In the following YouTube audio recording, Skinner accepts a lifetime achievement award from the American Psychological Association (APA) and lambasts cognitive methods in front of what had become a heavily cognitive, as opposed to a behavioral, society. This Reward and Consent blogger sometimes likens ABA to a nuclear bomb. Just because we know how to use it, that doesn't mean we should. ABA, however, is decidedly a behavior controlling way of life among its members.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) shows that Behavioural and Cognitive Psychology are not mutually exclusive. However, the two ways of knowing have frequently clashed.

Watch here:

Grandin (1984) is not a behavioural analytic paper. Nor does she demonstrate here any strong comprehension of behavioral science, ethics, or general philosophy. It is questionable whether or not she does indeed know, technically, the way ABA is supposed to work. Further investigation by this blogger is due. Perhaps she'll do an interview with him one day. Her arguments related to her book Thinking in Pictures are clearly of Cognitive Psychology in nature, a science which obviously depends upon on the reports of the actual thinkers in order to try to get a picture of their internal thinking states, which Behavioural Psychology poses as bad science.

In the following video, Grandin spoke about the autistic "mind." However, Skinner would have attacked her for "mentalism," or for using the "fictional" notion that an autonomous "mind" accounts for the cause of behavior, a notion which interferes with his explanation, that the three factors which determine our actions are 1) our genetic histories as manifested in all human and non-human behaving organism bodies, 2) our histories of lifetimes of experiences in the environments which surround us, and 3) the current situations in which we "operate" upon the environment, which in turn acts upon our propensity to behavior in a certain manner in similar circumstances in the future. See, for example, Skinner's (1950) argument against "mentalistic" psychology in "Are theories of learning necessary?"

Even though she may not know much about how ABA works, technically, Grandin did sound very much like a so-called "ABA therapist" in this presentation when she asked her audience, "Did I hear a cell phone that I'd like to step on and crush it like a roach?" But it does not take much background in ABA to behave in typical ABA fashion—full of punitive coercion.

Please note: Grandin buys ads with ABA publications, she's a researcher like them, and birds of a feather flock together, like flies to fly paper.

On the internet a company is selling her "Squeeze Machine" invention which she promotes in this paper for $4525. This Reward and Consent blog author is concerned that, although Grandin would have voluntarily consented to restraining herself in her own Squeeze Machine, that parents and so-called "therapists" would use her self-control contraption as an inescapable ABA "time out" prison on actually autistic children, for Grandin (1992) said in "Calming effects of deep touch pressure in patients with autistic disorder, college students, and animals,"
Recently I operated a cattle-restraining chute that was fitted with hydraulic controls; these provide more precise control over the amount of pressure and the speed of movement of the apparatus. Any sudden jerky movement caused animals to jump and become agitated. If pressure was applied slowly, many animals would remain passive and not resist. Squeezing in a smooth steady motion, required less pressure to keep the animal still. This chute was equipped also with a head restraint yoke, which would rise up under the animal's chin after the body was restrained. Some cattle would fight the chin yoke by keeping their heads in a crooked position, which made it impossible to restrain them fully. Sudden bumping often caused the animal to resist. By gently pressing the yoke against them, l found that wild cattle would straighten their necks and place their chin in the curved part of the yoke. When the animal moved into position, the pressure could be increased, and the head was brought up into the restrained position with very little pressure. None of these animals pulled their head out of the yoke or even tried. At all times, pressure was applied fimmly [sic - correct: firmly].
Adams and Socha (2012) also criticized Grandin in a book chapter they called “Shocking into submission: Suppressive practices and use of behavior modification on nonhuman animals, people with disabilities and the environment.”
The other justification for using shocks on people with disabilities is not just because they are equated to nonhuman animals, but because they have disabilities. It seems that for Lovaas, Israel and others who support the use of aversives, these practices are morally, ethically and scientifically acceptable because they are the last resorts in bringing the “deviant” back to something mirroring normality. But disability rights and autism self-advocates continue to ask: What is normal, and why should they be forced to comply with these standards? Why, to put it bluntly, shouldn’t neurotypicals be shocked into understanding the premise and promise of biodiversity? 
Temple Grandin (2005) [sic - correct: (2006)], an autistic person and an animal scientist, uses examples of her own manifestations of autism to explain her understanding of animal behavior. Grandin writes, “Autism is a kind of way station on the road from animals to humans, which puts autistic people like me in a perfect position to translate ‘animal talk’ into English” (p. 6). Throughout the book, Grandin makes connections between animal genius and autistic genius, as well as their respective responses to pain. Here, she address the topic of fear:
Autistic people have so much natural fear and anxiety—I’m almost comfortable saying it's universal—that when they're young they can be like little wild animals ... No one would call an autistic child feral today, but the word is a pretty accurate description of the way a lot of these children—not all, but quite a lot—appeared to normal people who never dealt with them before. (p. 192)
Grandin is further problematic from an animal rights/liberation perspective, as she uses her supposed trans-species communicative abilities to design slaughterhouses. (We say “supposed” because the validity of Grandin’s work connecting animal and autistic cognition has been questioned [Vallortigara et al. (2008)]). 
Working with the American Meat Institute and within federal guidelines, Grandin is credited with improving the way “food” animals are slaughtered, thereby peddling the paradoxical concept of “humane slaughter.” Just as she reinforces the supposition that those with autism are not complete beings, her work in the slaughterhouses does the same with nonhumans who must be incomplete if humans have the natural right to dominate and eat them. Grandin’s work is dangerous because, as an animal voice by proxy that people actually listen to, she is reinforcing the human/animal binary with the message that nonhumans don’t dislike being killed as much as they would like to have somewhat better lives before the inevitable bullet to the brain or knife to the throat. Her work is part of a trend in welfarist animal activism that makes consumers feel better about eating animals and their byproducts. However, the problem is that while Grandin is arguing that animals deserve better treatment, she is not challenging hierarchy and domination, and until those concepts are confronted, the shock and slaughter of humans and nonhumans will continue in a bid to make everyone “normal,” and this includes all of nature.

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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.