“That doesn't work.” How many times have we heard this statement in terms of therapies for autism? Is it fact or opinion, depending on who is saying it? The answer may surprise you.
In our present academic environment, and actually in a lot of areas of life, if someone isn't up on something, they're usually down on it.
That means if someone doesn't know that much about something – ie, if it's not within the area of their expertise, they're often critical of it, especially if they don't know anything about it! Ludicrous? Yes. But often true.
I attended an autism conference a couple of months ago, where I sat through a session called “Fads in Autism”.
The theme of the session was that ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis) was the only therapy that “works” in autism - that everything else was the scheme of some huckster, trying to make a quick buck, at the expense of parents hopes, dreams and pocketbooks. The projection screen listed just about every therapy for autism ever known to mankind, all deemed the work of con artists or well-meaning people who didn't know what they were doing.
And there was our expert, telling us they all didn't work. The true cons were lumped into the list with some helpful and valuable therapies and approaches. It was a terrible shame for parents that were new to the world of autism therapy.
Basically any therapy that didn't have their research completed- was on the list, which is basically just about everything but ABA. It was interesting that speech therapy and special education were notoriously absent from the list.–both non-data-taking strategies. I can only guess that was because there were special educators and speech therapists present.
So what happened? Everyone in the room seemed to agree, as evidenced by a sea of bobbing heads. Parents were mesmerized, happy and thankful that this man saved them from going into the abyss of choosing the wrong intervention for their child. I've never been so unnerved. I wondered if we'd all have to drink the pink koolaid next.
When a person presents themself as one who backs up what they say with research, everyone in the room will assume the opinion is factually based, or may not even realize it's an opinion at all. After all, a behavior analyst would never say anything that wasn't backed up with research, right?
Well, as it turns out, at least with this guy, there was no attempt to separate fact from opinion.
I remember when I was new to this whole process. When a behavior analyst said that something didn't work, I assumed that they had research and data to back it up. I believed that ABA was the only effective autism intervention and that everything else was either crap, ineffective, or certainly very secondary to the effectiveness of ABA, because that's what I was told. It wasn't until my child experienced benefits from other interventions that I knew a different truth. Read more…
Sandra Sinclair, www.autismvoice.com
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