The Misbehaviour of Behaviourists
The Misbehaviour of Behaviourists - Discussion
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David Andrews AppEdPsych 450
19 May 2004 01:17:01 -0000
I know you asked Michelle, but I have things to say about Bastard Burt.
“Question, what do you think of Cyril Burt (conducted twin/intelligence studies)?”
The guy was so convinced of the truth of his idea that he forgot how to be a scientist and let prejudice take him over. He knew what he was doing when he made those fraudulent claims about the hereditory nature of intelligence. He had to know.... even the statistics at the time, as I understand it, couldn’t give the sort of correlation coefficients he was getting for the very small number of identical twin pairs he was able to actually find... he was getting values of r that were impossibly high for the sample size.
But then, his idea on left-handedness was that the child simply chose to be a bolshy git and do thigns with their left had as opposed to their right. A friend of mine was one of the several million people whose mental health was put at terrible risk and badly affected by this example of “school/educational psychology”.
He was actually president of the British Psychological Society, and this organisation fought for control of the idea of dyslexia (basically a toss-pot turf war, nothing else) with the medics, and then - having prised it out of the hands of the medics - proceeded to do absolutely fuck all with it: no research, no ideas for helping dyslexic kids, no nothing... just sweep the problem under the carpet.
Bastard Burt and the fucking BPS, I intensely dislike both, and - while ever they remain unrepentant about these issues from the past - I can’t say I am inclined to respect or even recognise either of them as upholding the values required by the profession of psychology... in fact, it was a chartered educational psychologist on the BPS’s books who fucked me over with the dyslexia problems I was having as a kid. So much for chartered status as the public’s guarantee of quality service provision. Again, behaviour in assessments of competence overtakes importance and the real issues of where someone is a good psychologist or not (integrity as a person, conscientiousness, willingness to work hard with a client, and so on)... not a good advert for behavioural observation either.
“Should we place him on the list of dishonest researchers or not (I have heard this both ways)?”
He was a git, and should be shunned as such. His malfeasance cost many kids in many ways.
18 May 2004 23:26:58 -0000
On the Watson’s sons thing. Dang, I still find this amazing I have never heard of this but, I am sure the writers were honest. I wonder if his history was confused with Skinner’s and that’s why we see the Skinner rumors. This is so odd, my professors don’t seem to mind criticizing other behaviorists or discussing the details of there lives, they practically crucify Hernstein, although he did write a kind of anti behavioral book on intelligence, that also managed to simultaneously be rather racist (The Bell Curve).
Question, what do you think of Cyril Burt (conducted twin/intelligence studies)? Should we place him on the list of dishonest researchers or not (I have heard this both ways)?
18 May 2004 23:20:33 -0000
You said “And god forbid they show any spontaneous behaviours,
however constructive ... </sarcasm>”
In this case you said what I would like to have said.
You said “This is one of the (many) things that frustrates me most about the DTT set-up; it only seems able to frame spontaneous behaviour as an “incorrect” or non-compliant response to the teacher-delivered SD. Even though a child’s ability to communicate spontaneously may be one of the most crucial skills going.”
This is understandable. But we know that in DTT there is great difference between the different tutors style. The differences can be quite noticeable especially when a tutor has several years worth of experience and really has some well developed skills. The best tutors find ways to build and guide interests in a way that is not apparent from reading the literature. I feel very lucky to have learned under some of these folks. Sometimes it’s just the little things, that are cumulative and add up. Or maybe on re-analysis, not so little after all.
You said “What I recall stating was that positive reinforcement was an element of most good teaching (which I do believe); I didn’t say anything about its having to be extrinsic ...”
Sure, but I could swear that you did say “praise”, which is extrinsic.
You said “In my experience, if you’re going to follow a lead, you have to follow it while it’s there. Try to revisit it later, and the child’s focus may have moved on. Or you may be able to return their attention to it, but you’ll still end up with a teacher-initiated interaction, not a child-initiated one - so you lose that chance to develop spontaneous communication.”
A very good point. However I think of the other times I have used massed trial approaches with non autistic children/teens. I have definitely used it teaching reading phonics. Even in this case the non autistic children would often move on to related/non subjects (possibly a word or sound serving as eliciting stimuli). This is cool, because it shows they are exhibiting spontaneous (to borrow your term) enthusiastic behaviors. However this is a bit of a problem because it makes it difficult to meet certain objectives. I have always thought there is such a thing as guided learning. Sometimes parts of guiding mean keeping learners on the assigned topic. I had a cognitive psychology reading instructor last year. The really (only) valuable thing I learned from him was on how to redirect attention or thoughts, when asking questions based on readings. Although mostly, he and I just argued the whole semester. I actually bought an anti-mentalism t-shirt just for his especial enjoyment. I wore it whenever I had the chance. He typically ignored this (hey, that’s extinction from a cognitivist, no fair).
You said “Indeed. But you are aware that there’s research going back to 1980 at least (and published in JABA, no less) showing that massed trials produce reduced motivation and performance?”
I stand to be corrected, but did JABA ever really empirically assess motivation (non behavior)? I could believe performance though. If a relatively pure extrinsic reinforcer is the most powerful motivator for an action then the behavior will only likely occur under very specific conditions. Although, thinking of this, we could make the same criticism for relatively pure intrinsic reinforcers. The motivating operations for these are still very present. Yet another good reason to set up situations leading to a behavior trap (like Incidental Teaching/Learning, free-operant, and hybrid situations). Doesn’t mean we should not use DTT, just means we need to be aware how the specific operants work.
18 May 2004 20:00:18 -0000
John wrote, “The reason I was given on the play with the teaching stimuli thing is because the children may become more likely to interact in a non targeted way when trials are still in session.”
And god forbid they show any spontaneous behaviours, however constructive ... </sarcasm>
This is one of the (many) things that frustrates me most about the DTT set-up; it only seems able to frame spontaneous behaviour as an “incorrect” or non-compliant response to the teacher-delivered SD. Even though a child’s ability to communicate <i>spontaneously</i> may be one of the most crucial skills going.
“Also, extrinsic reinforcers are part of most good teaching programs as you yourself have previously stated.”
What I recall stating was that positive reinforcement was an element of most good teaching (which I do believe); I didn’t say anything about its having to be <i>extrinsic</i> ...
“I like the idea about following a lead (maybe on the spot or maybe revisiting the stimuli later). “
In my experience, if you’re going to follow a lead, you have to follow it while it’s there. Try to revisit it later, and the child’s focus may have moved on. Or you may be able to return their attention to it, but you’ll still end up with a teacher-initiated interaction, not a child-initiated one - so you lose that chance to develop spontaneous communication.
“if we are trying a massed trial approach for a specific lesson, then often we may need the materials back in our hand. “
Indeed. But you are aware that there’s research going back to 1980 at least (and published in JABA, no less) showing that massed trials produce reduced motivation and performance?
“ this is not a matter of extinguishing “desire”, as much as behavior in a singular context. “
Sorry, my terminology slip-up: I should more correctly have referred to extinguishing the behaviour (the child’s attempts to obtain what they desire), not the desire itself.
Michelle Dawson 446
18 May 2004 19:47:27 -0000
I should explain that the deleted message resulted from my accidentally posting the same message twice (due to getting a page unavailable message). Apologies to the subscribers who got it twice.
18 May 2004 19:46:04 -0000
Michelle wrote, “Any commments on Wittgenstein being on the spectrum? “
Do you mean in the thesis, or in general? Don’t remember if I mentioned it in the thesis.
I’m generally wary of armchair diagnosis (everyone from every diagnostic group seems to want to claim Einstein and Mozart ... <g>). But subjectively, having read Ray Monk’s excellent biography of Wittgenstein, it’s pretty hard for me to doubt that Wittgenstein was a classic Aspie, from his early language development onwards (and Monk doesn’t appear to know about AS, so he describes a whole lot of things without being aware of their particular significance).
Michelle Dawson 444
18 May 2004 19:35:05 -0000
Thanks re Potter and Whittaker. And the thesis sounds fascinating. Any commments on Wittgenstein being on the spectrum?
My turn to cough up some information I promised way back. I haven’t checked, but probably in the 200’s somewhere...
I made some statements about John Watson’s sons, which were considered dubious. My statements I mean, not the sons.
I found the source. The book is called “MIND WATCHING: Why We Behave the Way We Do” (1989 edition). You can see why I picked it up. I didn’t read it, but looked for behaviourists in the index. Hardly an academic text, but the authors (the late Hans Eysenck, and his son Michael) are hardly tabloid journalists.
The description of Watson’s sons is in Chapter 20 (p 195), which is called “How Not To Bring Up Children”. It is stated that Watson raised his sons by his own scientific principles, and one of them committed suicide, and the other (to Watson’s intense annoyance, the Eysencks report) became a psycholanalyst.
[Deleted by author.]
David Andrews AppEdPsych 442
18 May 2004 19:14:16 -0000
Hi Clare, Michelle and John.... and anyone else hovering around just now....
“With Potter and Whittaker, the relevant reference would be “Enabling Communication in Children with Autism”, Jessica Kingsley Publishers, March 2001.”
Heta has this, and she thinks it’s marvellous.....
“Their focus is on work with children who use little or no speech, and how the environment may (or may not) facilitate and support spontaneous communication.”
I like the environmental input, you see.......
“One of their suggestions is that adults should “streamline” their speech down to key elements so as not to drown children who may have auditory processing problems. Which I think is useful for some kids, but not for others. But that’s one element among many, and I’ve found some of their work very interesting.”
Which it is.... :)
“Oh, that was just the (completed) thesis from the (uncompleted) postgrad philosophy degree that I walked out of after a head-on collision with the academic system. It was on a Wittgensteinian approach to language issues in autism and schizophrenia, as I recall.”
It was a work of (despite the difficulty in defining the concept) genius, and - as far as I am concerned - should have led to Clare being Clare BA(Hons) BPhil (Oxon); I actually wanna find the tutor/supervisor responsible, and twat him. Hard!
18 May 2004 18:54:03 -0000
With Potter and Whittaker, the relevant reference would be “Enabling Communication in Children with Autism”, Jessica Kingsley Publishers, March 2001. Their focus is on work with children who use little or no speech, and how the environment may (or may not) facilitate and support spontaneous communication. One of their suggestions is that adults should “streamline” their speech down to key elements so as not to drown children who may have auditory processing problems. Which I think is useful for some kids, but not for others. But that’s one element among many, and I’ve found some of their work very interesting.
“Is it at all possible for Clare to divulge the topic, gist, and whatever else might be enlightening from her thesis?”
Oh, that was just the (completed) thesis from the (uncompleted) postgrad philosophy degree that I walked out of after a head-on collision with the academic system. It was on a Wittgensteinian approach to language issues in autism and schizophrenia, as I recall.
18 May 2004 18:39:30 -0000
The reason I was given on the play with the teaching stimuli thing is because the children may become more likely to interact in a non targeted way when trials are still in session.
You said “I think you’re still thinking in terms of extrinsic reinforcers.”
Absolutely, but even in intrinsic reinforcers there are likely some extrinsic elements as I have already said. Also, extrinsic reinforcers are part of most good teaching programs as you yourself have previously stated. The most successful tutors that I see, often use a mix of massed trial and other (often more intrinsic strategies). Ironically their children often have the happiest affect and seem very cooperative (my observations). I do very much think in terms of extrinsic reinforcers because these have something to offer in the children’s education.
You said “Personally, I’m inclined to think that if a child wants to explore the teaching materials, then you junk whatever lesson plan you had and follow their lead.”
I don’t know about junking the lesson plan, but I like the idea about following a lead (maybe on the spot or maybe revisiting the stimuli later).
You said “For example (and this is only a hypothetical example - anything you actually do has of course to be tailored to the individual’s needs, interests and personality), this could be an opportunity to model for them how to ask for the materials they want, then naturally reinforce any communicative attempt on their part by giving them the materials. Then they not only get the materials they need, they get to learn some language which is synchronized to their attentional focus, and which is directly meaningful and functional for them.”
I like this as worded here.
You said “And you don’t go snatching the materials back after a few minutes so you can go on to the next “trial”, you follow their lead, see where their focus is, and use natural opportunities (and there are always natural opportunities) to feed in language and other information that they can use and that connects to their focus - in other words, to support their learning.”
Depends on the context, if we are trying a massed trial approach for a specific lesson, then often we may need the materials back in our hand. Personally I have never had to snatch an object from a child’s hand, I simply say “Put the toy in my hand please, or give me the toy please.” They have never, not done so after a few moments. Massed trial is sometimes the most parsimonious route to learning an objective, this should not be undervalued. This does not make it the best or final choice in all situations or objectives, but in few it probably will.
You said “This is what I mean about the reinforcer that a child will go the extra mile for. If you have a child who especially wants (say) the red PlayDoh, you don’t waste energy (yours and theirs) by trying to extinguish their desire - or even by saving the red PlayDoh as a reinforcer for doing a jigsaw puzzle later on or whatever.”
This involved no EOs so this is not a matter of extinguishing “desire”, as much as behavior in a singular context. You may not want to save the Play-Doh as a reinforcer for later but there are certainly times you may set aside specific stimuli as reinforcers for specific action.
You said “use the opportunity you’ve been given, and say (for example) “oh, you want the RED playdoh?” And many children will happily learn colour words in that natural context, connected to a natural reinforcer (getting the specific colour they want), even though the same child might blank you completely if you tried to begin teaching them by sitting them down with different coloured cards and said “What colour is this? Red’”.”
I agree and have seen this. It is also a matter of effective MOs in this case.
18 May 2004 18:38:45 -0000
Hi again Michelle,
Sorry for the delay, I had to take a time-out of sorts.
There is a horror story that is told and retold to behaviorist students about a male psychologist (never named or specified if he was a behaviorist or not). Who got a little dishonest and ended up as a car salesman (or some other such occupation) in some far off land. I did not know about Rincover previously, but I assume he is the source of the story. Since honesty is a basic trust in research, I don’t see how we can accept (without a very good reason) Rincover’s other work. I delay offering nay thing until I find out more.
On preference assessment. When an idea is already formed (based on observation) as to what sorts of things may be preferred on non preferred, we may run a preference assessment and find the value of certain objects, sometimes in comparisons to other objects. Just one more tool. This seems quite logical to me.
What do you think is a genius? A 145 IQ? I remain kind of skeptical on the concept of intelligence.
You said “All you can observe in this environment is how those kids act in that environment. You can then show that you can produce better behaviours within this context. This is pretty far away from the many possibilities which should be available.”
Situations are still made of individual environments. I think part of creativity is learning the various environments. I grant that good education will plan for steadily decreasing supports (and this is compatible with behaviorism). I don’t think this is so limiting at all.
You said “I was just waiting for the resident behaviourist to notice the incompatibility of reinforcement and cognition—and you helpfully did it in message #400.”
I am certain I never said that. I see cognition as a special part/form of behavior. I do in fact think these are very interrelated, even quite causal.
You said “I’m a bit confused as to the status of instrinsic reinforcement in behaviourist theory. Can you explain?”
Sure,....... intrinsic reinforcers are on the edge of radical behaviorism (but not any other sort). The idea of natural reinforcers (one of Clare’s descriptors) fits in with the Iwata folks’ functional analytic approach quite comfortably. These reinforcers are not anti basic behavioral theory per se, but they tend to turn off a lot of behaviorists because of the terms used. Watson wouldn’t like them, nor Breland. Skinner could have choked them down and I can accept them as described here in this context (albeit with some translation). Intrinsic reinforcers are present in behavioral theory, you just have to be careful how you use the terms. For example: At least two sorts of contingencies I use as analysis tools regularly (Inferred Theoretical Contingency and the Natural Contingency) involve thinking and natural (sometimes intrinsic reinforcers). A natural contingency often involves feelings of success or effectiveness etc.. The general rule in analysis is that if you are the one doing the analysis then intrinsic reinforcers may be appropriate. If you are analyzing someone else, then probably not.
You said “Because surely cognition is involved, and that’s not allowed (maybe accounting for the uproar against Deci?). Maybe you can explain how sensory and intrinsic reinforcement officially differ.”
No, cognition is allowed, just most of us are wary of the way it is often used. The more I look at the problem, the more it seems a matter of terms. If you told me behavior arises from beliefs and expectations I would be very hesitant. If you told me that a specific behavior occurs because the child has experienced or been told about it and covertly thinks/imagines/visualizes the concept and receives some intrinsic reinforcement for that, then I could find a lot I agree with.
You said “I believe I’ve been the victim of lots of OBM theory gone rotten, this accounting for some of my legal cases.”
OBM, is more like getting factory workers to wear their safety goggles when they are on the line. It tends to be safety and internal communication stuff, not really marketing. Most of the OBM folks I know end up somewhere in the personnel departments of mid sized companies. It is actually pretty boring (to me). The big special interest group in OBM being “safety procedures” (not my favorite reading activity). But some of my friends just love it and say they don’t know why I (or anyone else) thinks the autism field is so interesting. I had to do an OBM practicum as part of my training this year, I still find it hard to enjoy. Oh well......
You said “Re the necessity of extrinsic reinforcement, I’m far from the only autistic, as Clare noted, who is frightened or hurt by attention and praise; and I’ve seen at least one video of DTT where the kid was clearly hurt by the “praise” he was getting, and was physically bracing himself. He understandably tried to escape. Having been pushed down forcefully into his seat, he then soldiered on, accurately predicting (by shrinking back and stiffening his body) when he was in for “praise”.”
Sounds like something is wrong here. I already know praise can altered to become a reinforcer and I am not so convinced this is a bad thing. In fact many, many of the children I have worked with react with smiles (at least from a few people) when they are praised, right from the day they come in. Another thing to consider is most little kids have a hard time with new people. They don’t know them, why should they like them? I think we (DTT folks) forget that sometimes. I always cringe when I hear about bad DTT, so of course I wasn’t happy to hear all this. With any assumed reinforcers, the proof is in the pudding, the reinforcer must be shown to increase the response. This is obviously a case where praise was misused.
You said “Returning to your kids interacting with your stimuli in DTT. Oh, my. What a surprise. And this isn’t allowed? You know, they could teach you things, those kids. This reminds me of the rather idiotic attempts to use robots to teach autistic kids to interact “right”. What the researchers noticed (I think this was reported in New Scientist) one and all was that the autistics tried to find out how the robots worked, and to take them apart, and had to be prevented from doing these things.”
My turn to laugh about the robot thing, I can readily see that. I am not inclined to defend this stimuli practice (because I don’t like it anyway).
18 May 2004 18:37:58 -0000
I have never heard a good definition on how sensory and intrinsic reinforcement differ. Probably there is some overlap. Admitting likely failure I will give a definition a shot.
I propose that sensory reinforcers are “A stimulus, event, or condition; affecting primarily taste, touch, sound, sight, smell, or movement, and whose presentation immediately following a response, results in an increased frequency of that response.” I add that the effectiveness is not better explained by other primary or secondary reinforcer categories e.g. (food etc.). I define intrinsic reinforcers as “A stimulus, event, or condition, affected by a Motivating Operation, whose presentation is not overtly observable, and whose function is analyzable through inferred operants.”
Michelle Dawson 437
18 May 2004 18:33:53 -0000
Someone care to summarize Potter and Whittaker? I’m not familiar with much more than their names. I’m suspicious about systematic alterations of language to encourage autistics to communicate. Often the content is the problem, not the form. Though getting rid of confusing extraneous elements might help. As has been obvious many, many times already, my weakest area (among many other “weakest” areas) is educational theory when it departs from the science I know, love, and criticize.
Is it at all possible for Clare to divulge the topic, gist, and whatever else might be enlightening from her thesis? I’m actually dying to know.
Michelle Dawson 436
18 May 2004 17:50:33 -0000
Like Clare, I didn’t respond to your original post about the Sumlin notes because I thought it did not require any messing with. I certainly couldn’t improve on the observations. And I have never had the courage to read through all those notes in one sitting, never mind make a coherent and substantial comment on them. So I was a bit in awe. That happens sometimes. I’m familiar with your thought patterns because I’ve had those thoughts also and would not pretend I could give you any advice. But I felt and still feel very privileged you chose to add your thoughts and your work to this board.
David Andrews AppEdPsych 435
18 May 2004 17:26:51 -0000
Maybe we should have a forum about the Misbehaviour of Psychiatric Pharmaceuticals.....
“Dose: by mouth, schizophrenia and other psychoses, mania, short-term adjunctive management of severe anxiety, psychomotor agitation, excitement, and violent or dangerously impulsive behaviour initially 25 mg 3 times daily (or 75 mg at night), adjusted according to response, to usual maintenance dose of 75300 mg daily (but up to 1 g daily may be required in psychoses); elderly (or debilitated) third to half adult dose; child (childhood schizophrenia and autism) 15 years 500 micrograms/kg every 46 hours (max. 40 mg daily); 612 years third to half adult dose (max. 75 mg daily) Intractable hiccup, 2550 mg 34 times daily.”
I just read that and was sickened by it.
David Andrews AppEdPsych 434
18 May 2004 16:22:54 -0000
Clare ... :)
“They’re doing interesting stuff, aren’t they?”
No shit!!!! Heta told me about it and it seemed about the right way to do language: cutting out the redundancy and keeping the communicative content....
“Although IMHO, the key thing is not necessarily minimal language, but tailoring the amount and kind of spoken language to someone’s processing and to their attentional focus. Which may in some cases mean deliberately paring language down to the minimum, crucial elements - but not necessarily in other cases.”
Absolutely. Like I say, cutting the redundancy out, really.... which most people actually find or would find useful.
18 May 2004 15:49:45 -0000
I didn't notice your message either; if there are a lot of posts inbetween the times that I'm online, this tends to happen. I'll go read it now.
Ralph Smith 432
18 May 2004 15:44:39 -0000
If you’d like that message removed, just say so and it will be deleted. Bit of a shame since you went to such trouble, but you’re free to choose.
For my part, I didn’t even see your message (and have missed several others too >*blush*<). I’m always happy to see a new name in the discussion boards, and even happier to note I’m not the only one whose posts often go unanswered. I simply smile to myself: were this a <i>figurative sculpture</i> class the tables would be turned (so to speak).
18 May 2004 14:24:06 -0000
David wrote, “thinking about Potter and Whittaker’s work on minimal communication I can see a use for language still with autistic children, but - as they say about shoe polish - used sparingly!”
They’re doing interesting stuff, aren’t they? Although IMHO, the key thing is not necessarily minimal language, but tailoring the amount and kind of spoken language to someone’s processing and to their attentional focus. Which may in some cases mean deliberately paring language down to the minimum, crucial elements - but not necessarily in other cases.
18 May 2004 14:21:16 -0000
Phillip - no, I don’t think it was wrong to post your message at all. I for one didn’t reply to it because I totally agreed with your eloquent comments on the Sumlin program - I didn’t feel like I had anything to add!
“I’m confused as to whether this is the place for an academic discussion or a group of friends talking together, or both.”
Some of us do know each other from other contexts (mostly autism-related groups), but many don’t. Originally, this board started as a space for discussion of Michelle’s article, The Misbehaviour of Behaviorists (http://www.sentex.net/~nexus23/naa_aba.html), but as you can see the discussion has expanded somewhat since then. I think it’s pretty much open to anyone who wants to join in the discussion.
David Andrews AppEdPsych 429
18 May 2004 14:16:57 -0000
Hard to avoid doing if you feel as you do, but don’t feel bad about posting that message. I probably would want to thrash the Sumlins within an inch of their lives.
But what I would say is that you may need to speak to someone with professional training about your feelings about yourself, since they are not likely to be doing you much good. I’m sorry to see one of us autistics feeling like that, and it saddens me that this is the result of so many mainstreamers’ lack of insight into and empathy for who we are.
Please, Philip, see a counsellor. If you want to know what sort might work best, go to my site and mail me and I’ll tell you what I know, okay? I can’t counsel you because I’m not where you are, but I may have some useful ideas, okay?
David Andrews AppEdPsych 428
18 May 2004 14:11:38 -0000
Sorry, on my UK visit, I missed this post.
“David, you’re the Vygotsky expert -“
Has he been talling tales again????? What’s he been saying this
time??????? *looks around, in paranoid fashion, for dead Russian
“I had this random thought: Vygotsky thinks that usually language and social interaction serve to mediate and “scaffold” a child’s exploration of objects?”
Yes. That’s what he said. The child’s hearing other people describing the process of doing something leads to the child adopting the same linguistic cues to self-regulate in that task and eventually the talk becomes thought... Vygotsky saw it as essential to building up a repertoire of protocols for doing things, basically, whilst Piaget thought the whole “ego-centric speech” thing was the kid talking bollocks and good ridance when it went away.
“Is there a case for extending this as saying that for autistic children, it may be the reverse - an object-based system can be used to mediate language and interaction learning?”
I wouldn’t say the reverse, but thinking about Potter and Whittaker’s work on minimal communication I can see a use for language still with autistic children, but - as they say about shoe polish - used sparingly!
Does that make sense?
18 May 2004 13:58:26 -0000
I know I was wrong to post my message, /m372 about my thoughts on the Sumlin notes, http://tripod.com/Sumlin.html because there has not been any comment or reaction to it. Like me, that message is worthless, useless, valueless, should not exist. But I thought my comment would be useful, and also I wrote it because I feel passionately and strongly about the Sumlin Program; both as regards the treatment of the child concerned and the appalling attitude it shows towards autistic people. I’m full of self-hate,though I’m too much of a coward to self-harm. My self worth and self-esteem are very low, fragile and precarious.
Because there was no reply to my message, I know that I should not have posted it, because other people’s messages have been replied to. It was bad of me to have posted that message, and I apologise for taking up your time in reading it, and the space on this message board. I do not believe that anything I write has any value.The lecturers and tutors who read my academic work did so because they were paid to do so.
The writings in various places by Amanda, Clare, Michelle and Oddizm have been important and significant in developing understanding of my autism, of what it means to be autistic, and of transforming my attitude to autistic people.They have helped me to realise that I am not inferior in any way, because I am autistic.They are very precious and of great value to me. I would like to post on this message board, if it is not wrong of me do so. I have very little knowledge of ABA, or psychology, or learning behaviour in children, and do not have the ability for witty repartee. I am amazed how people on this board are so informal in their messages. I’m confused as to whether this is the place for an academic discussion or a group of friends talking together, or both.
David Andrews AppEdPsych 426
18 May 2004 08:38:37 -0000
>Clare/John/Michelle/david, something has to be done about ‘implicit learning’ in autistic children.
Heh... well, my sphere of interest is autistic adults so I dunno if that PhD would be mine, but I could see John or Michelle or Clare doing it well :)
David Andrews AppEdPsych 425
18 May 2004 08:33:38 -0000
>Yes, I'm kidding. Really, I am. Out of the question.
Go on, just to piss the ASAT/FEAT lot off.....
Would be a good article though!
A M Baggs 424
17 May 2004 22:57:11 -0000
oddizm wrote “Anyway. I think Amanda would have made a good Rosetta Stone”
I reply: Probably not. I’m too uncooperative. I end up being the sort of stone that ends up unexpectedly (not literally) whacking people over the head, especially NTs who think they know what my use is. I think it’s a reflexive reaction to a few years of trained puppetry.
CAMILLE CLARK 423
17 May 2004 21:05:36 -0000
but Michelle, then you could take your large article and the
huge number of responses and responses to responses and publish
them and get a PhD, without having to write the whole thing.
that's my plan...forget the copyright issues.
QT - Michelle Dawson <qtopic+25-4NqUrcUWgSE5R@quicktopic.com>
wrote: < replied-to message removed by QT >
Michelle Dawson 422
17 May 2004 20:38:52 -0000
Re attention, I plan to write a large controversial article
about cognitive processes in autism, which among various other responses will gather a gigantic comment board which will eclipse it entirely.
Yes, I’m kidding. Really, I am. Out of the question.
17 May 2004 18:48:15 -0000
Michelle wrote, “The only place where I’m disagreeing with Clare
re attention is that the differences are more interesting
(fascinating, to me) than an apparent experienced and observable difficulty in shifting."
I.e. there’s far more to the differences than just the apparent difficulty in shifting? Yes, I’d be happy to buy that, and would like to know more about your thoughts on attentional differences (although it may be taking us somewhat off-topic).
“the claim that learning cannot happen without imitation.”
Actually, I get driven up the wall by any of the “learning cannot happen without ...” type statements. “Learning cannot happen without eye-contact, without compliance, without good sitting, without imitation, without ....” etc. etc. etc.
In fact, learning can take place quite nicely without any of these. And it seems utterly wasteful and pointless to begin teaching by picking the things which are usually (at that point, at least) least meaningful, least interesting, and least intrinsically reinforcing to a child.
Michelle Dawson 417
17 May 2004 17:37:25 -0000
So I’ve been waiting for John to show up before I spill the beans about Dr Rincover. But I’ve run out of time.
There are things I’m sure of, and some I’m not.
I’m sure he was successfully removed from his tenured university position.
Also, I’m sure he was kicked out of the American Psychological Association by decision of the Board of Directors in 1984.
I believe he falsified data. He falsified his results in order to maintain a grant. I’m fairly sure of that. I’m sure he was caught misappropriating funds, and this (falsification) I believe was the means by which he did so. I saw only one report about plagiarism and have no idea whether it’s true.
I know he left the US and came to Canada and applied to be a member of a provincial college of psychologists. He did not disclose his past. This caused a small flurry when I put my foot in it.
There are not a lot of cases of falsification/fraud in experimental psychology. The other well known case is Steven Breuning, who went to jail. There are a few others.
Dr Rincover did not, of course, go to jail. He went to Canada, where he has not caused any problems that anyone knows of.
My question for John is, do you cite his work?
17 May 2004 16:33:30 -0000
John wrote, “Fascinating, I have seen children in DTT sometimes try to play/interact with the teaching stimuli. This is supposed to be a bad practice because the stimuli are only supposed to be paired with the discriminative stimulus.”
“I have often wondered if it would be better practice to allow perhaps a period of interaction with the stimuli based on a correct response. What do you think?”
I think you’re still thinking in terms of extrinsic reinforcers.
Personally, I’m inclined to think that if a child wants to explore the teaching materials, then you junk whatever lesson plan you had and follow their lead.
For example (and this is only a hypothetical example - anything you actually do has of course to be tailored to the individual’s needs, interests and personality), this could be an opportunity to model for them how to ask for the materials they want, then naturally reinforce any communicative attempt on their part by giving them the materials. Then they not only get the materials they need, they get to learn some language which is synchronized to their attentional focus, and which is directly meaningful and functional for them.
And you don’t go snatching the materials back after a few minutes so you can go on to the next “trial”, you follow their lead, see where their focus is, and use natural opportunities (and there are always natural opportunities) to feed in language and other information that they can use and that connects to their focus - in other words, to support their learning.
This is what I mean about the reinforcer that a child will go the extra mile for. If you have a child who especially wants (say) the red PlayDoh, you <i>don’t</i> waste energy (yours and theirs) by trying to extinguish their desire - or even by saving the red PlayDoh as a reinforcer for doing a jigsaw puzzle later on or whatever.
Instead, you use the opportunity you’ve been given, and say (for example) “oh, you want the RED playdoh?” And many children will happily learn colour words in that natural context, connected to a natural reinforcer (getting the specific colour they want), even though the same child might blank you completely if you tried to begin teaching them by sitting them down with different coloured cards and said “What colour is this? Red’”.
It comes down to what alyric said about having an internal “hook” to hang the externally-offered info from.
Michelle Dawson 414
17 May 2004 16:30:51 -0000
Re Sigman and attention, I hesitate to disagree with the popular
interpretation of attention stuff in autism, and I won’t at length, since I’d be indulging in cognition, but I differ greatly in how “joint attention” is described and the importance it’s assigned. Also I’m not entirely convinced of the shifting attention problem as Clare described it.
I do agree that attention is different in autism. I’m interested in Matthew Belmonte’s EEG and fMRI findings (as opposed to his interpretations) and his one-time speculation about how non-autistics pay attention. This would be “why process a stimuli when you know it’s not important”, or words to that effect.
But how do you “know” what’s important? Autistics, on the other hand, verify. When I saw Dr Belmonte’s slides of non-autistic brains attending, I thought, those brains are bored. Those are very bored-looking brains... In contrast, the autistic brains were images of alertness. I don’t actually expect anyone to agree with this very personal/fanciful interpretation.
I know about a study in press (also presented at IMFAR) which shows a very specific difference in attention, not reducible to attention shifting.
Then there’s those very young autistic kids in a Yale study who greatly disappointed the researchers by orienting to targets much faster (with human eye cues) and more thoroughly (more trials completed with simulated eyes) than non-autistics matched for age and having a much higher developmental level. Go figure.
And don’t get me started on covert attention.
17 May 2004 15:33:32 -0000
Michelle wrote, “In the same situation, the autistic picks up one block then the other and inspects them, and tries to see if the blocks fit together, and how the shapes are formed. Meanwhile, the therapist is picking up the blocks and banging them together and putting them down and being ignored. Guess who’s “wrong”?”
And it pisses me off so much, because you <i>know</i> how much time and energy is going to be devoted to trying to “fix” that child’s “non-compliance” or “failure” to imitate.
Meanwhile, if the therapist would just try showing that they could arrange their blocks in the same interesting shape - or perhaps a different but related interesting shape - or put their blocks together with the child’s blocks to see if even more interesting shapes could be formed with 4 blocks - or any of a number of different options, each of which might be right for a different child - then I can bet you that this “unresponsive” child who has been “failing” to pay attention to the therapist will likely start being quite interested indeed. And you’ll start getting a whole lot of shared attention and engagement going on via the blocks.
(David, you’re the Vygotsky expert - I had this random thought:
Vygotsky thinks that usually language and social interaction serve to mediate and “scaffold” a child’s exploration of objects? Is there a case for extending this as saying that for autistic children, it may be the reverse - an object-based system can be used to mediate language and interaction learning?)
17 May 2004 11:52:37 -0000
Yep, the Siller & Sigman study is one I’m fond of too. And it would also link with some of the hypotheses from research on the cerebellum suggesting that we may have especial trouble shifting our attention in response to external demands. Logical solution: instead of wasting everyone’s time and energy trying to “wrench” our focus to where you think it should be, go where it already is and start there.
And that’s why I think some of the stuff like Nind & Hewett’s work, some bits of incidental teaching stuff, some of the Hanen program stuff, etc., can be very useful in teaching parents (and professionals) how to synchronize themselves.
This sort of thing shouldn’t be seen as criticizing parents (or teachers) - I’ve come across many parents and professionals who are genuinely good, caring people and love the kids in question, but just don’t know how to begin tuning in to a child who’s not sending out the standard NT cues (or who may need unusual levels of predictable responsiveness in order to master things like language). Or they react by becoming more directive and controlling in their style - with the best intentions, because they believe that otherwise the child won’t learn.
17 May 2004 11:48:57 -0000
John wrote, “Clare wrote “Extrinsic reinforcers not needed.” Of this I am less sure.”
That wasn’t intended as a general statement, simply as a description of what I experience and observe in my work on communication and interaction.
I’ve simply never found I need any reinforcers beyond intrinsic and natural ones. And way back when I started working with autistic kids, I hadn’t yet acquired all my present biases - I was all set to use extrinsic reinforcers if necessary, it just never came up (I get educated by the kids I work with, and I’m still learning ...).
Which is not necessarily to say that extrinsic reinforcers are never needed in the whole wide world, ever.
There were a good few things in my childhood, for example, that I could only persuaded to do by what my mum calls “rampant bribery” (and she thought it was pretty reasonable that, if I really had to do things I hated, I should at least get “paid” for them).
But learning was not one of them. Although occasionally “learning what other people thought I should learn instead of what I wanted and needed to learn” was. Needless to say, the stuff other people thought I should learn was usually the stuff that I promptly blotted out and never used again.
17 May 2004 09:31:00 -0000
Michelle wrote, “I forgot to ask if you know Dr Rincover’s interesting history.”
Dunno about John, but I don’t - please tell all ...
After a quick Google search, it seems that this would concern a certain little “plagiarism and falsification of data” issue, but I can’t find out any more details - now I’m <i>seriously</i> interested.
A M Baggs 409
17 May 2004 07:46:37 -0000
You describe vaguely remembering my sense of frustration in your past.
I clearly remember your state of frustration-beaten-out-of-one in my past.
You say it is "too late" because it has already been beaten out of you.
May be true. Won't say it isn't.
But may not be. So won't say it is.
If I am any evidence.
Not sure such things can be absolutely determined then stated.
Michelle Dawson 408
17 May 2004 07:05:13 -0000
Hi again John,
I forgot to ask if you know Dr Rincover’s interesting history. You’re very well versed in behaviourist history, so I’m just checking. If you do know his history, does this have an effect on how you assess his work?
Michelle Dawson 407
17 May 2004 06:50:52 -0000
For Alyric, the subject of implicit learning is in the small ABA article (The Misbehaviour of Behaviourists) back there more than 400 messages ago. I have pointed out accurately that no one has studied this in autism.
Implicit learning is still a bit dodgy in general. There is at least one study that shows explicit learning gets in the way of implicit learning; ie, that implicit learning is more accurate and efficient. But the tendency is towards minimizing its role in non-autistics. That’s fine with me; autistics operate with different perception and different processing. I’ve also pointed out (the article again) the great difficulty autistics have with explicit learning, and contrasted this with the abilities we regardless possess.
Since I’m not an educated person, I’m hoping that someone with qualifications will take this and run. Some pretty officially smart people have shown interest. I can’t, as usual, tell if I’m being humoured. The concurrent proposal of autistic intelligence has survived investigation in a substantial population, but a great deal more work is required to do this definitively.
17 May 2004 06:15:12 -0000
“I’m considered a good 3 standard deviations above the average when it comes to intelligence.”
And you say you’re not autistic?
Me, I’m merely at the one standard deviation above mark.
Michelle, I’m guess is up there in the stratosphere, but then she’s helping them figure out how to measure her intelligence as well as the intelligence of other autistics.
She held her secret measuring stick up to me and then just shook
her head and muttered something like, “so sad...we expect more
17 May 2004 06:08:19 -0000
Michelle, like its not bad enough that they make you want to hurt yourself, then they accuse you of being violent and compare you to a wild animal.
I don't know what to say about that.
sort of on topic here... I have selected two points one presented very briefly from a description of Soma's rapid prompting (canned behaviorism?)
and a long section from a longer study on how to help young children to learn by sharing their focus, not redirecting their focus.
Alyric...can I get a PhD for this? I wanna PhD! I want one Now! I don't wanna wait, and I don't wanna take out a half million in loans.... :-)
I posted this elsewhere in case it looks familiar....
I went and copied this from a .pdf file and tried to reduce it to the most important part of it for you all, since as Michelle says, very few people ever read journal articles...
I have digested it for you. (ick)
This was done by Marian Sigman and somebody else.
Marian Sigman said at IMFAR that very few studies had been done on the effects of parents on autistic kids, because our pal Bettleheim said it was caused by “refridgerator mothers” and there has been a severe backlash to the point where you may not criticize mothers...
Sigman and Siller went ahead a couple of years ago and looked at mom’s and their interactions.
The upshot is in this journal article....
Now in contrast, CAN put out this huge glossy covered newsletter it calls: “advances”, complete with Hollywood luminaries on the glossy back page at a Hollywood, did I mention Hollywood? fundraiser, where Annette Benning and even her hubby, Warren what’s his name showed up.
Inside in the dull pages is a piece about Soma’s “rapid prompting” method. There’s a picture of Dov, 11, and Soma (43?), working with a board Soma is holding in front of Dov.
here is a part of that text: “She then taps loudly on the first choice, while spelling and saying it aloud and repeats this action with the second choice. This is
followed immediately by asking the student to pick up the correct answer, using the simple command: “Pick Up!” or “Go for it!””
The Behaviors of Parents of Children with Autism Predict the Subsequent Development of Their Children's Communication Michael Siller 1,2and Marian Sigman1 Journal of Autism and Developmental
Disorders, Vol. 32, No. 2, April 2002 ((c)2002)
DISCUSSION In summary, the study reported here focused on behaviors that caregivers of children with autism show during play interactions with their children. We were particularly interested in the extent to which the caregiver's verbal and nonverbal behaviors were synchronized with the child's focus of attention as well as his or her ongoing activity. The study had two major findings. First, caregivers of
children with autism synchronized their behaviors to their children’s attention and activities as much as did caregivers of children with developmental delay and caregivers of typically developing children, matched on language capacities. Second, caregivers of children with autism who showed higher levels of synchronization during initial play interactions had children who developed superior communication skills over a period of 1, 10, and 16 years compared with children of caregivers who showed lower levels of synchronization initially.
The fact that parents of children with autism achieve an equivalent level of synchronization is remarkable given how difficult it often is to determine what the child with autism is attending to and intending to do. It is also remarkable because the developmental profile of children with autism, the distribution of weaknesses and strengths in different areas of development, is qualitatively different from that of typically developing children or children with developmental delay.
One would expect that the complexities involved would challenge the caregiver's ability to recognize and adapt to the developmental level of the child with autism. Our findings suggest that caregivers of children with autism successfully adapt their interactive behavior to the language level of their child. However, it is important to mention that children with autism, when matched with control groups on language abilities, show characteristic deficits in preverbal communication skills, especially joint attention.
Whether caregivers of children with autism also recognize and adapt to these more subtle characteristics of their children cannot be answered based on our study. Given their difficulties in sharing attention with others, optimal development of language skills in children with autism might require higher levels of synchronization from the caregiver than is true for typically developing and even developmentally delayed children, who do not show deficits in joint attention.
The predictive relation between the extent of caregiver synchronization and the children's future gain in communication skills is striking. Generally, this association was found with both parametric and nonparametric tests and was therefore not due to a few extreme cases. With regard to the child's nonverbal communication skills, it is interesting that the strongest predictor of the gain in initiating joint attention is the caregiver's own tendency to initiate joint attention herself, albeit in a synchronized way. Total caregiver indicating behavior does not predict gain in the frequency with which children initiate joint attention unless the caregiver chooses to show, point, or offer an object that is already the focus of the child's attention. This evidence suggests that children with autism are able to learn by modeling if the activity selected is part of their attentional focus.
The child's gain in language skills, however, is associated with the quality of the caregiver's verbal but not his nonverbal behavior. Although overall the quality of the caregiver's verbal behavior turned out to be a strong predictor of the child's long-term gain in language skills (over a period of 10 and 16 years), shortterm gain in language skills (over a period of 1 year) was not predicted in the same way. The lack of prediction over 1 year may have been due to the fact that there was very little change over the course of a year in language skills. The language measures used in this study may not have been sensitive enough to capture the small short-term gains, whereas the substantial long-term gains were measured more reliably.
The strongest predictor of the child's future gain in language skills in our study was caregiver utterances that are not only synchronized with the child's focus of attention but also ******undemanding in quality.******** (emphasis added)
This is somewhat surprising given that even authors who favor the idea of giving the choice over the stimulus material to the child expect the caregiver to demand activities from the child that go
beyond his or her spontaneous toy engagement (Kern, Vorndran, Hilt, Ringdahl, Adelman, & Dunlap, 1998). There are two distinct features of undemanding caregiver utterances that might explain this finding. First, undemanding utterances by definition not only match the toy to which the child is attending but also the toy-directed activity in which the child is engaged.
Demanding utterances, however, describe, suggest, or demand an activity that is different from the child's ongoing activity.
If we think of the child's focus of attention as a "focus on a certain activity with an object" rather than just a "visual focus on a certain object," the match between caregiver utterance and the child's focus of attention is better for undemanding synchronized utterances than it is for demanding synchronized utterances.
Also, it has been reported in the literature that children with autism are less compliant and demonstrate atypical gaze and affect patterns when confronted with interpersonal demands (Arbelle, Sigman, & KasaRi, 1994; Lemanek, Stone, & Fishel, 1993).
It might be easier for a child with autism to process utterances that do not involve interpersonal demands.
Another issue that needs to be addressed is the optimal level of synchronized caregiver behaviors. Our findings showed a positive correlation between the caregiver's level of synchronization and the child's outcome. However, we must be very cautious not to extrapolate our findings beyond the range of synchronization scores that were observed in our sample of 25 caregiver-child dyads. Our study does not picture perfect synchronization and a complete ban of verbal demands as a behavioral goal for caregivers. The only conclusion that our study allows is that caregivers of children with autism may have the tendency to show too little synchronization and too many demanding verbalizations rather than the other way around. .
Genetic research provides compelling evidence for the importance of biological factors in autism (Bailey, Phillips, and Rutter, 1996; Rutter et al., 1999), but it also highlights that the relation between the "autistic genotype" and its manifestation in behavioral deficits is far from being deterministic (Le Couteur, Bailey, Goode, Pickles, Gottesman, Robertson, & Rutter, 1996). Therefore, findings that the environment does play a significant role in the development of communication skills in children with autism is consistent with a line of research that has a complex view on the processes that are involved in the initiation, persistence, and desistance of behavioral deficits in childhood psychopathology and a focus on the interaction between biological and environmental factors (Rutter, 1996; Rutter & Plomin, 1997, Plomin, 1994).
In addition, the interactive style that was identified in our study as being beneficial for the development of communication skills in children with autism (being sensitive to the focus of attention of the child and trying to maintain his or her ongoing activity) is closely related to the concept of "child choice" (for a review, see Kern etal., 1998), which is central to a variety of current interventional techniques. Child choice was shown to promote the language development in children with language delay
(Yoder, Kaiser, Alpert, & Fischer, 1993; Camarata & Nelson, 1992; Koegel, O'Dell, & Koegel, 1987). In addition, a variety of recent interventions that specifically target communication skills in children with autism consider the child's motivation and the sharing of control over material and tasks as basic parameters of intervention: Pivotal Response Intervention (Koegel, Koegel, Harrower, & Carter, 1999; Koegel, Koegel, Shoshan, & McNerney, 1999), Natural Language Learning Paradigm (Koegel, O'Dell, & Koegel, 1987), Incidental Teaching Approach (McGee, Morrier, & Daly, 1999; Laski, Charlop, & Schreibman, 1988; Schreibmann, Kaneko, & Koegel, 1991), and Functional Development Approach (Greenspan & Wieder, 1999).
17 May 2004 05:58:17 -0000
I wrote this spiel last week about implicit learning and lost it in the ether somewhere - Murphy’s alive and well:) OK this is strictly amateursville. IThis is not my field at all and I’m from the wrong end of the spectrum. Actually being from the fringes of autism may make the following more powerful, because if this is true of Asperger’s then the situation may be truer in autism proper.
Truism #1. Autism implies a greater tendency towards autonomy of the person. That is, an autistic of any stripe is not influenced greatly by the desires of an outside influence. Socially wired people and I would suppose this applies to young children are greatly influenced by others because that is the way they are wired.
Therefore truism #2. What motivates a typically developing child and is taken to be the ‘preferred’ model is not the way an autistic child operates. I like to think the problem is that all the psychology books were written for the typically wired and nobody has sat down and thought that the ‘model’ they are using for autistic children may not only be wrong for them but may be counterproductive. It’s all very well to give yourself a pat on the back for some minute progress Johnny has made this week after 40 hours of behavioural intervention, but this does not say anything about how much progress Johnny could have made if the ‘intervention’ was more autistic friendly or compatible, i.e. alligned with autistic ways of being, thinking and doing. I happen to think that ABA (remember this is amateursville) is precisely the wrong thing to do with an autistic because it runs counter to everything an autistic is and here is why. My daughter and I have a hard time learning from other people and generally I’m considered a good 3 standard deviations above the average when it comes to intelligence. I also have no definable learning disabilities, though it is clear that I’m ‘learning different’. The best way for me to learn is to do it myself. Hand me the materials/manual/recipe or whatever, let me fiddle with it and I will work it out. Not only that but it will have been learnt for life. I did not have a name for this until Clare (I think)used the term ‘implicit learning’. I think this has something to do with not having an internal ‘hook’ to hang such externally offered learning on. I am not wired to do this, I am much more autonomous, which is contrary to the great majority and respond best in a learning envirnment which encourages ‘internal motivation’, where I’m going the same direction as the ‘educator’ because that’s where I want to go too. If someone tried ABA on me, which is predicated on external motivators, it would be the most inefficient tool ever devised, not to mention the fact that all that pressure would probably stop all learning. I’ve yet to see a situation where much of anything could be accomplished in a state of high anxiety. There is some good empirical evidence for this ‘no hook’ scenario.
As every spectrumite knows, autistic ‘inertia’ is a pain in the a** (edited for US sensibilities). You know you have to do something and it really ‘should’ be done, but it really is like dragging yourself up a steep hill with a 40kg knapsack trying to start doing the whatever. The problem is with the ‘should’ - prime example of an external motivator. if we could kid ourselves that this is something intellectually that we would enjoy doing and/or how great it will feel when it’s done, all would be well. But we just cannot lie to anyone including ourselves and there is no internal (I want)and therefore the job does not get done or is done with enormous effort, though once started it gets easier.
Clare/John/Michelle/david, something has to be done about ‘implicit learning’ in autistic children. Surely there’s a PhD in it somewhere.
Michelle Dawson 403
17 May 2004 05:44:52 -0000
I’ve had to explain my self-injury in many official kinds of processes. I’ve also been threatened with indefinite institutionalization because I have scars. That was not so long ago. The words that were used included “we will drag you away like a wild animal”. This is what they told me. They talked with each other a lot about what I looked like, as if I couldn’t hear unless they shouted in my face.
I’ve also read official accounts of my behaviour. A recent one, from a very official legal entity, described me as violent and dangerous. The only basis for this was that I was an autistic known to hurt herself. They now have had to apologize to me, for the second time in the same legal process.
In one case (there have been very many cases) the reason for my self-injury was casually described with great certainty by a bureaucrat as task-avoidance, that is, negative reinforcement. This had nothing to do either with my own explanation, my own actions, or the facts of the case on the record.
I don’t feel the frustration Amanda feels, though I vaguely remember it from some time in the past. It has been thoroughly battered right out of me. I am no longer able even to be frustrated. I think this inability is not a good thing.
That part of me which once considered the possibility I may be believed has been extinguished. When acceptance is not a possibility, one neither feels nor expresses the consequences of rejection. When success is not a possibility, failure is no problem. These things are some of the sources of my own strengths. When I do succeed or am accepted, in even the smallest ways, I go into a kind of happy shock, having no remaining mechanism for dealing with this possibility.
I do have a very hard time with reductive behaviourist views of self-injury not on my own account (rather too late) but because of the intolerable thought that whole other generations of autistics will be subjected to the same descructive assumptions.
Clay Adams 402
17 May 2004 05:41:42 -0000
(I forgot who said,) “Sure, but she’s not autistic, so I guess that just makes her a ... well, insensitive.”
Hmmm, are we sure about that? I’m going to float a theory that Kit and some parents like her are are SO anti-autism because they’re in denial about certain traits they have themselves. I’ll list some reasons why I think it’s possible.
1. Her kids inherited it from Someone, after all.
2. I’ve noticed that a lot aspies, including myself, have commented at great length how really bitchy their mothers were; how controlling, manipulative, domineering, paranoid, and downright disagreeable and at odds with the world in general. I submit that Kit is one such person, and it could be a different sort of manifestation of autism. (I know, it doesn’t apply to all mothers of autistics, but perhaps a significant percentage?)
3. I’ve only recently read the Aspar website, and it really made me see my own mother in a different light. I had never considered that she also had Asperger’s, but the description given there really suited her to a T.
4. One of my 3 sisters has that same personality, that of a high-powered bitch that everyone, including her husband, is afraid of, and he’s a very large man, and very successful. He would never dream of crossing her. She had 2 sons, one was dx’d ADD, and the other I suspect has a bit of AS. She steadfastly refused the possibility, with all the venom she could muster. I truly believe that if either or both of her sons were low-functioning, she would have taken exactly the same attitude as Kit and all those hysterical parents who just want a cure. When I read her response to David, I was struck with how much she sounded like that sister.
5. My own son is an aspie, but my daughter has the same type of personality as my mother and this sister. Seeing these same personality traits in 3 generations of women in my own family, I’m wondering if this is a different kind of manifestation?
Michelle Dawson 401
Re distinguished scholars fleeing from free will, I immediately
had a very detailed mental image. This made me burst out laughing. Against my will, of course.
My favourite observation about free will was made by (if I’m remembering right) Pascal, the philosopher guy, who said that even if free will does not exist, it is better to act as if it does.
The way to know what an organism will do next is to sit there and watch (some bright person said that).
Assessing preferrences in the reductive way you do it (preference for activities or objects) is not useful and cheats your kids of the possibility they’ll be observed accurately. You could have droves of geniuses streaming through your program and miss this entirely.
Yes, I’m exaggerating, or I hope I am, but what these kids know and are capable of knowing are the priorities for me, not, at that age, whether they can imitate non-autistic play with each other or with specific toys.
I’m repeating myself, but these kids perceive things you can’t and then process this information in ways you are incapable of (ergo, another intelligence, as we presented at IMFAR). If they’re stuck in an environment (confusing, arbitrary, unreliable, bereft of materials, just plain boring) where these abilities are useless or painful or wrong, you aren’t going to teach them anything except how to stop expressing their needs and their knowledge. This kind of environment is what I’ve been calling an impoverished environment.
All you can observe in this environment is how those kids act in that environment. You can then show that you can produce better behaviours within this context. This is pretty far away from the many possibilities which should be available.
I was just waiting for the resident behaviourist to notice the incompatibility of reinforcement and cognition-and you helpfully did it in message #400. I’m a bit confused as to the status of instrinsic reinforcement in behaviourist theory. Can you explain? Because surely cognition is involved, and that’s not allowed (maybe accounting for the uproar against Deci?). Maybe you can explain how sensory and intrinsic reinforcement officially differ.
I believe I’ve been the victim of lots of OBM theory gone rotten, this accounting for some of my legal cases.
Re the necessity of extrinsic reinforcement, I’m far from the
only autistic, as Clare noted, who is frightened or hurt by attention and praise; and I’ve seen at least one video of DTT where the kid was clearly hurt by the “praise” he was getting, and was physically bracing himself. He understandably tried to escape. Having been pushed down forcefully into his seat, he then soldiered on, accurately predicting (by shrinking back and stiffening his body) when he was in for “praise”.
Returning to your kids interacting with your stimuli in DTT. Oh, my. What a surprise. And this isn’t allowed? You know, they could teach you things, those kids. This reminds me of the rather idiotic attempts to use robots to teach autistic kids to interact “right”. What the researchers noticed (I think this was reported in New Scientist) one and all was that the autistics tried to find out how the robots worked, and to take them apart, and had to be prevented from doing these things.
It also reminds me of a Sally Rogers video. Her thing is imitation. These are babies, really, about 18 months. They both get these two rather interesting looking blocks. The non-autistic sees the therapist pick up the two blocks and bang them together and put them down. The non-autistic picks up the blocks and bangs them together and puts them down. In the same situation, the autistic picks up one block then the other and inspects them, and tries to see if the blocks fit together, and how the shapes are formed. Meanwhile, the therapist is picking up the blocks and banging them together and putting them down and being ignored. Guess who’s “wrong”?
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