In the same vein

February 2, 2008 at 3:53 am Leave a comment

     We have used a behavior modification method called “Applied Behavior Analysis,” otherwise known as ABA. It is a common intervention used to teach children with autism various skills. Critics say it turns our kids into perfect little robots while the faithful say it prepares them to function in our world. Frankly, at its most basic level, ABA reminds me of the way we trained our dog. Task, reward, motivate, withhold reward, perform. At the moment, our ABA provider is actually a dog trainer in her real life, and we both appreciate the irony of that.

     While I think ABA has great potential, I also think it has limitations. We use a very watered down version of it, and while I know every moment is potentially a “teachable moment,” we don’t take it that far. I heard a speaker once ask how we would feel if we had to perform for every single thing we were given. If we were asked to do a task in order to receive any little piece of fun or joy, how would that feel? That hit me hard. I think ABA has a useful application with our kids, but I also think it’s important that every once in awhile they be allowed an M&M, computer time, or a simple hug without having to earn it.

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Entry filed under: autism. Tags: , , , .

Teach and ye shall learn A word about refrigerators

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