The Misbehaviour of Behaviourists

The Misbehaviour of Behaviourists - Discussion
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John  600

05-28-2004 11:38 PM
Edited by author 05-28-2004 11:44 PM
Hi Michelle,

There is another point on the ethics of the right to effective treatment, which I missed earlier and that has been touched on by yourself. The treatment of unconsenting clients.

There is already some writing on this issue in the general field of mental health. So I will not offer a position on the general field at this time. I will address this only as it relates to the education of autistics with DTT.

I think one of the most relevant points contained in "The Misbehavior of the Behaviorists", was the concept of effective treatment and good ethics being incompatible. You referred to the ASAT's positions on this issue. And although I support the ASAT in general, I do not support them in this case. Good ethics and good treatment must be compatible.

We have already seen that effective is subjective, so a problem exists when considering that ethics are likewise subjective. What is the definition of ethical? I have never heard one. And how do we then know if we are being ethical towards others?

There are all sorts of problems that arise when deciding what is ethical. I have spent some time considering this and I offer the following considerations, which are not supposed to represent anyone's position in particular. I will write on both the behavior of professionals and autistic children in terms of ethics to create a context for understanding ethics in this field.

We cannot consider a behavior (whether of a student or of a teacher) as ethical only by considerations of it serving a function (my definition) or need (your definition).

On a related sub point we can not consider a behavior as ethical only by consideration of a biological predisposition or cause.

I refer here to criminal or aggressive behavior. I have spent some time working with typically (and non typically as well) developing students who had a criminal record. Their criminal behavior is sometimes is considered as caused by "minimal brain dysfunction", and although this is very poorly defined we actually see some evidence that the brain patterns of young criminals deviates from the statistical norm. Not many persons would wish to call their behavior ethical just because there is a biologic influence or that it may be a "need", created by an unusual learning history. These behaviors often violate the rights (I refer to legal definitions here) of others and I maintain that they are unethical.

I am very wary of offering any sort of generalization across young persons with criminal behavior. I am likewise slow to do this for autistics, however there are some autistic children who will violate the rights of others, usually in a small way which is not significantly different same age peers. This is actually likely to be part of healthy behavioral development. I also apologize for focusing only on rarer negative behaviors, but these do occur and help me illustrate the point. Such behavior may well be biologically caused or serve some sort of "need." But as they may violate the right of others they may not be ethical.

We may likewise ask what is necessary for an autistic child to learn or do. Lovaas and others worked on this quite extensively. Back in the 60s such a drastic treatment may have seemed necessary, Lovaas and Maurice offer perspectives on why they believe certain behaviors should be suppressed and others increased. Often the reason seems to be the child in question will lead a horrific life. When I think of some of the stories I have heard of institutionalized life of the 60s and 70s (and even now) this is understandable. The problem is the fact that Autism disorders existing along a very wide spectrum of abilities. We might say the same for developmental patterns of which we are still learning. For this reason the concept of a "spontaneous recovery", should be rejected. If I understand correctly there is no such thing in this case, as spontaneous (a process was still involved). There likewise no "recovery", in this case because the so called "recovery", is actually development. I intentionally do not include cases of possible "regressive autism", because of inferences that maybe these are actually not regression, (and I am not prepared to offer a position on this sub issue at this time) and also because these constitute no more than 20% of cases in Autism Disorder (DSM-IV-TR).

On the ethics of the professionals:

Defining what an autistic child will need to learn remains subjective and observational. It also usually means asserting that one sort of life is preferable to another. This is likewise the danger of teaching any skill or knowledge. Why one skill over another?

Sometimes for professionals, ethical sayings or guidelines are proposed. The APA has some loosely defined (but functional) ones. The Hippocratic oath is of some use (I promise to do no harm). But what is harm? Who defines harm? Can a strategy that is harmful for one person be non harmful to another? We can always refer to the so-called golden rule (Do onto others as you would have them to do to you). And this seems fair but it is limited in the autism field. We would not expect the exact same code of conduct for an autistic student in all situations as we would another child (I am thinking of self-stimulatory behaviors here, or let's just say humming behavior to offer a specific example). This may disturb other students especially if, lets say they were doing a class project in the library. This is being an actual behavior that I have seen. Now there are a dozen and one things we could do to work with the situation besides suppressing the behavior through aversives or just expecting the other students to accept the behavior, especially when accepting may not be the issue as much as trying to filter out the sensory aspects of it.

I have already written that I do not consider much of DTT to be treatment so much as education (regardless of trend). And since many of the children who enter DTT do not talk or have very little speech, it is impossible for them to consent to this education. Also there are times astudent will protest due a specific condition they are in (not their turn to pick a song that day, in time-out, prevented from hitting a peer by their teacher). These behaviors are not different from what would at times expect to see from same age peers. We would expect the student to protest these conditions, but the teachers are still likely to insist, and maybe, (since they would do so for a typically developing child) ethically so. This is part of the conditions of a social education.

In such children, we may see behavior that we infer is a form of protest, but we may also see behavior that is an indication of acceptance. Either way we are inferring.
I was unable to pin down a definition of ethics with precise prose.

My own position:

I support education that would teach children who have (not at that time) learned enough verbal behavior to consent (or not) as well as other skills. I will go on to say that although I have seen autistic children very angry and upset in discrete-trial, I have also seen this in their own home and in other programs. I go on to reject that autistic children will be less happy in DTT than in other programs (regardless of inferences drawn from writings and especially ones that were written before 1995). This has been inconsistent with my own experience. I do not support the suppression of most idiosyncratic behaviors through any means, although I support teaching alternative behaviors in some cases (when adding choices rather than taking them away). I also remain (as is my responsibility) very skeptical of many writing on idiosyncratic behavior both from behavior scientists and non behavior scientists. This is not rejection of any science, it is me doing what I should when considering any writing or data.

John  599

05-28-2004 11:09 PM
Edited by author 05-28-2004 11:10 PM
Hi Michelle,

You must have guessed going in that these were going to be some of the most fanatical of radical behaviorists. It is their position that autism is better simplified to a series of behaviors as opposed to a diagnoses.

 It was the young man and his commitment to doing DTT in a way that excluded aversives and even some frustrating circumstances that impressed me. This was also true of his commitment to children's welfare in general. Not only have the folks at Los Horcones met autistics, some of them are autistics who were adopted by people in the community. I maintain my earlier statement when I said I was deeply impressed.

If you disagree with the extrapolations that Dr. Malott makes then it is up to you to challenge him on them. Preferably, in a way that would allow him to learn. I likewise have disagreements with his statements but they do not seem to have the exact extent of yours.

I remembered what I wanted to say on the right to effective treatment. I will post that next.

Michelle Dawson  598
05-28-2004 02:48 PM
Edited by author 05-28-2004 02:49 PM
Hi John,

Having recovered, so to speak, from my encounter with utopia, I've a few more comments about your latest.

I have strong memories of seeing Harlow's tortured Rhesus monkeys on television when I was very young. I was also seriously told, when I was a bit older, by an aspiring-scientist kid, that I must have been neglected as a child, since I rocked all the time. Harlow was a real monster, but he had a weird sort of ethics. He never would have done his work if it weren't for John B Watson's destructive and irresponsible advice re child raising.
Harlow's job was to prove that love existed and was necessary, and he succeeded, at great cost to lots of non-human primates. Harlow once commented on his students visibly suffering when their study subjects were pushed to and beyond limits of emotional and physical cruelty.

Re Dr Malott's experience with autistics, on the one hand, I'm glad he hasn't had a chance to mess with too many of us. One the other hand, he's making a lot of noise about who we are, what we're worth, and what should be done about us. Looks like pure prejudice to me. No science anywhere. I suppose radical behaviourists can do this, and be applauded. As has been mentioned many times, the standards in behaviourism seem to be different.

The subtext of the RTEBT position paper (see at
) was the controversial nature of ABA and aversives at the time. One of the points made within this paper is that wasting time with a less restrictive treatment when a more restrictive treatment would be much more "effective" violates the "right" to effective treatment. "Restrictive" would be synonymous, or a euphemism, for most purposes with "aversive".

For a while "effective" behaviour treatment was synonymous with aversives, and sometimes still is, as you can see with the JRC skin shock URL,

This is maybe not always a fair interpretation, but sometimes it is.

How does Wolf deal with clients who can't consent? I really have to go back and read what he wrote.

As for ABA/DTT being education not treatment, the tide is going in the other direction.

Ayn Rand!!!! Oh dear.

Philip  597
05-28-2004 02:31 PM
On BBC Radio 4 on Tuesday 1st June from 09.00pm to 09.30pm British Summer Time (BST) there is a programme Case Notes Autism. More information on on the What's On page for that day. On that site's Science page there is a transcript of web chats on autism, under the heading 'check up'. The site has facilities for transcripts of programmes and listening again. The programme is repeated from 04.30pm - 05.00 pm BST on 2nd June.

oddizm  596
05-28-2004 01:58 AM
"You have to appreciate that many of the present adults, like that 38-year-old friend of mine, were 'beneficiaries" of intervention, sixties and seventies style. Not electric shock therapy, they will never get to AGUA. But about everything else; pepper spray, slaps, shouts and in general, while they have learned some drills, they are too scared to initiate. They have learned, all too well, that it is a terrible, terrible thing to be wrong."

I guess that must have been in the back of my mind because I had read that article a couple of times, but not recently. The ones who got the electric shock therapy are apparently too damaged to think about going to an AGUA meeting.

But so long as Ivar Lovaas is happy in his little role as king of the (former) child slappers, that's all that matters. Witness his happy shiny face in the photo from Las Horcones. gag.


Michelle Dawson  595
05-28-2004 01:09 AM
Edited by author 05-28-2004 01:17 AM
For John and everyone else, I've put off, due to being a wimp, a close look at Los Horcones.

So now I've looked.

I do not admire these people. I have to wonder about anyone who would. Here's a representative line:

"Of course autistic behavior is inappropriate and requires a label for its study."

Here's another one:

"Dr. Ivar Lovaas is the pioneer in the application of behavioral principles to the education of autistic children. His contribution to the understanding of autism is outstanding."


"Some members of the community have studied directly with Dr. Ivar Lovaas* at U.C.L.A. All members are strongly committed to the science behavior analysis and its philosophy radical behaviorism."

I guess that makes Dr Lovaas a radical behaviourist? There's even a family-type happy photograph with Dr Lovaas.

Here's the Los Horcones ideal:

"Imagine a social setting where all the people agree on what behaviors are necessary to teach (reinforce) the child and and which not to teach (extinguish correct). The child learns faster and happier."

John, autistics already live in this social setting. At all available official levels (legal, political, popular, scientific) everyone agrees that our behaviours, autistic behaviours, are useless and wrong and must be replaced by the right non-autistic ones. The child (above) does not have any choice (see smiling, happy children in Lovaas and Maurice for possible discrepancies between autistic experience and non-autistic reportage).

At Los Horcones, "autistic person" is considered to be a demeaning, misleading label and such a label is not allowed. This is a hint about how much they respect the worth and humanity of autistic people. Instead of autistics, at Los Horcones there are wrong autistic behaviours requiring correction and extinction. This is another variation on "no autistics allowed". We have no identity except as "normal" people marred by lousy behaviours, which thank goodness can be fixed.

I wonder if they've tried to treat any Rett's girls, or rather, children with Rett's behaviours. They do not understand that Fragile X is not autism. I guess I know a little bit about the variety of neurodevelmopmental disorders, and the disregard of the Los Horcone's gang for diagnosis is unethical and irresponsible. If you do enough diagnoses, you will find occasional anomalies, like brain lesions, among others. But these radical behaviourists find the process of diagnosis a superfluous waste of time.

I burst out laughing when these behaviourists mentioned theory of mind. This is an impressive confluence of bad science.

They use false oppositions throughout. E.g., either autism is diagnosed medically, resulting in a "sick" child who will be "ill" all her life (ie, doomed)--or we dispense with this useless diagnosis thing and treat the inappropriate autistic behaviours, regardless of who they belong to, thus getting rid of the autism altogether. And there are no other possibilities.

Here's the guilt/blame thing,

"Neither you as a parent nor other people is guilty for the autistic behavior of your child. But you, like other people, can significantly help our child to learn appropriate behaviors."

Excerpts don't properly convey the impact of the whole, which is here

Some utopia.

I am *not* "deeply impressed", except by the wilful ignorance and intolerance of these people, who I would guess have never met an autistic. I guess they can't, since for them, we don't exist.

Michelle Dawson  594
05-28-2004 12:02 AM
I thought of Jerry Newport too, because I read this,

"You have to appreciate that many of the present adults, like that 38-year-old friend of mine, were 'beneficiaries" of intervention, sixties and seventies style. Not electric shock therapy, they will never get to AGUA. But about everything else; pepper spray, slaps, shouts and in general, while they have learned some drills, they are too scared to initiate. They have learned, all too well, that it is a terrible, terrible thing to be wrong."

in his article at

There is a lot about this article I sincerely disagree with, but I was impressed with the above description.

oddizm  593
05-27-2004 10:51 PM
Maybe I need to develop some clout with the Los Angeles Times. :-)

You and I both know how charming I am and how easily I gain clout.

I yelled at my professor in class today because he was bulldozing over another autistic...well she and I both think she's on the spectrum...and she was evalutated for autism as as child, she's middle aged.

She speaks kind of hesitatingly, not a problem I have, and he interrupted her. So I yelled out, "Would you let her SPEAK?" and he did. But it's all that charm I have, you know. Bowling people over.


If these kids grew up and stayed in LA (and didn't kill themselves) maybe Jerry Newport knows who they might be. He used to live in LA, if I understand it right and was involved in a support group or two. I'll ask him.


John  592
05-27-2004 10:28 PM
Edited by author 05-27-2004 10:39 PM
Hi Michelle,

Sorry, for the delay.

Skinner was indeed a utopian, as seems to be a trend among major American philosophers. He is notable among utopians in general because his utopia (Walden Two) was not a perfected utopia (it was still represented as having problems). Several critics in particular pounced on this particular feature. In general the work was like most of Skinner's writings and had a polarizing effect on readers (whom liked it a lot or totally disliked it). Ayn Rand wrote my favorite negative review. Which is really very nice when treated as poetry but lacks something as a critique.

The novel inspired some real behavior communities including Twin Oaks (gone now) and Los Horcones which is still in business. I am not a utopian but I am fascinated by Los Horcones, who's residents are sometimes cited by insiders as doing some of the finest DTT in the world. I had a chance to meet one of the more active young men from Los Horcones this past autumn. I was deeply impressed.

I agree that Chomsky wrote a powerful and even somewhat accurate critique of "Verbal Behavior". His writings gave a lot of fuel to the cognitive paradigm.

I am usually likewise amused by reports of behaviorisms contemporary non existence. My favorite site is the Stanford definitions one. I know first hand that behaviorists are often equally guilty and naïve about other fields, but even a basic literature search should reveal behaviorisms continued existence and influence.

Harlow is a tough call. Whether he should be considered a behavior scientist or not is unclear. I am inclined to say yes (but he was a non typical behaviorist). I certainly have always found his work fascinating. It poses some difficult questions though and these are not easily answered. I would think this would be especially true when considering his work on physical contact in context to autistics and children from other cultures (Asiatic in particular).

You are right in the "fools", thing so I will desist from saying that (tempting thought it may be).

I am reasonably certain that Dr. Malott has never met a free-range autistic. His experience to my knowledge is limited to very young children and possibly comments from other professionals and his students.

As promised, here is my position on the ethics of effective of the right to effective treatment.

Only considering the statement itself "the right to effective treatment", I accept the statement as worthy, after all, who wants an ineffective treatment, this is why there are quackery sites on the net. I also know from my own studies and reviews that the number of methods for treating autism that have bothered to do repeated research across environments can be counted on one hand. And that in the developmental disabilities field in general, things are not that much better.

I do support the concept of a right to an effective treatment. But there are problems with this.

My initial problem is one touched on by yourself: The fact that someone must decide what is "effective", and even what is "necessary", "functional", and "adaptive" (I offered definitions for the latter two on this site but I doubt even all behavior scientists would accept them). One again I find myself referring to Dr. Wolf here on who gets to decide what.

My second concern is also treated on by yourself. It concerns the use of aversives. I have written on this site how some aversives are unavoidable and are often hidden in even the most seemingly aversive free environment. But there seems to be a gap between this and issuing doses of Chloral Hydrate..............Chloral Hydrate I ask you? There are very few times I am unhappy to call myself a behaviorist, hearing about this caused me to have one of them. I will not waste time justifying the unjustifiable. Physical aversives are not something I want to see...ever. There may a situation so dire when they are required but I would be a tough sell...even then. But even in these cases I would want the behaviorist rules of punishment to be obeyed. "Never in wrath, justice is God's job, yours is to make punishment as short as possible.

My third point has not been touched on by others and is related specifically to the autism ABA field. DTT is often called an "autism treatment". From my own experience we spend a great deal of time in DTT teaching things, and although other ABA elements are sometimes drawn in, I don't see how we can call DTT a treatment. I consider it a form of teaching. Colors, shapes, social behavior, games, puzzles, pictures, hand writing, ABCs, numbers, and stories are the mainstays of DTT. Certainly toilet training is often presented, as are some other special procedures, but even these are often teaching type activities. Perhaps early intervention is a better word. But since intervention is used elsewhere in the education world to imply the recipient is in crisis, I would prefer simply early teaching.

I will continue to think about this. I had another point but I seem to have forgotten it.

Michelle Dawson  591
05-27-2004 10:28 PM
The ABA article notes/sources for the FBP aren't comprehensive, but they are useful. Apart from the CRISP database (come to think, I should have given a link) the sources either have links or are referenced.

The FBP follow-ups are included in this book:
Green, R. (1987). The "sissy boy syndrome" and the development of homosexuality. New Haven: Yale University Press.

This is by Richard Green who was the third researcher (with Lovaas and Rekers) involved in the FBP at UCLA. If you read his book, you will see his position is contradictory. He's the one who extensively interviews one of the Lovaas/Rekers "successes".

Tracking down the kids who were hit and shocked in Dr Lovaas' older programs would be pretty hard. Maybe you can get a grant and do it, Camille. Or you could use your clout at the NYT to get this investigated...

oddizm  590
05-27-2004 05:43 PM
Author: Lovaas, O. Ivar (Ole Ivar), 1927-
                Bucher, Bradley D., 1932-
Title: Perspectives in behavior modification with deviant children.
                  Edited by O. Ivar Lovaas and Bradley D. Bucher
Imprint: Englewood Cliffs, N.J., Prentice-Hall [1974]
Series: Prentice-Hall series in developmental psychology
ISBN: 0136571301

I have requested this book to be inter-library loaned to me. It's hard to get hard copies of the Lovaas stuff here. And the older journals with his articles don't seem to be available online...

Michelle, you said that there was a follow up on the Feminine Boy Project...who did it? How did they do it?

Who could request, demand, a follow up on Lovaas "guinea pigs" in his autism shock therapy experiments?

Lovaas is getting an award tomorrow in Boston. Ick, ick, ick. And wisely speaking on the topic "The future of ABA" rather than "the past of ABA".


David Andrews AppEdPsych  589
05-27-2004 12:55 PM
Hi Michelle...

"That Telegraph article was also responded to (competently) by someone from the NAS. I find this interesting."

What? That the NAS responded to the article, or that they responded competently? LoL *semi-evil grin*

"In the UK, when autistics are gratuitously insulted (the Telegraph article wasn't funny or enlightening, which perhaps might have redeemed it), the NAS protests."

It does seem so, doesn't it?

"In Canada, when autistics are gratuitously insulted, chances are those doing the insulting are connected to an autism society, if not on the Board."

It does seem so, doesn't it?

And I should not have been able to make that reply to both of those two statements! The fact that the same reply fitted both statements is deeply disturbing.

"Then there's the irony of the Telegraph having "broken" the story of people with a proper diagnosis of AS who were misdiagnosed and mistreated in the mental health system and ended up locked up in secure facilities, sometimes for many years, unethically drugged out of their minds."

Ahaa.... riiiiight. I'd be interested to see that story.....

"I assume everyone knows about the Post Autistic Economics movement, where "autistic" means stupid, unrealistic, inhuman, unsustainable."

Hmmmm.... can we find something that totally disses the ASC Board?

Michelle Dawson  588
05-27-2004 11:48 AM
Edited by author 05-27-2004 11:49 AM
That Telegraph article was also responded to (competently) by someone from the NAS. I find this interesting. In the UK, when autistics are gratuitously insulted (the Telegraph article wasn't funny or enlightening, which perhaps might have redeemed it), the NAS protests. In Canada, when autistics are gratuitously insulted, chances are those doing the insulting are connected to an autism society, if not on the Board.

Then there's the irony of the Telegraph having "broken" the story of people with a proper diagnosis of AS who were misdiagnosed and mistreated in the mental health system and ended up locked up in secure facilities, sometimes for many years, unethically drugged out of their minds.

I assume everyone knows about the Post Autistic Economics movement, where "autistic" means stupid, unrealistic, inhuman, unsustainable.

David Andrews AppEdPsych  587
05-27-2004 11:09 AM
Edited by author 05-27-2004 11:26 AM
Well, there was an error in the mailing thing the Tele uses.

I shall resend immediately, to keep the topic hot.


It worked.

Oh, and I should point out a spelling error:

The war in Iraq I referred to as "... necessary (if not illegal)" - forgive my tiredness (I've been up all day after many nights without sleep!)... I intended to write "... UNnecessary (if not illegal)" (or words to that effect).

Apologies to my fellow autistics here for letting the side down on that issue.....

David Andrews AppEdPsych  586
05-27-2004 11:01 AM
My Telegraph reply:

I hope this meets with approval after the fact.... on something like this one has to act fast.

Dear Sirs,

Re: your article "America has got Asperger's Syndrome" (by Niall Ferguson, filed: 25/05/2004) has been met with no small amount of consternation and utter dismay by one sector of the audience likely to read you newspaper: adult Asperger autistic people.

I quote: "You may not yet have heard of Asperger's syndrome. But you can be sure that someone will sooner or later offer it to you as an excuse for his own bad behaviour, for it is the height of hypochondriac fashion in New York."

I am a psychologist working (on practicum just now) as a psycho-educational consultant; I am also diagnosed with Asperger syndrome; and I am one of those for who that statement quoted above gives particular offence.

Likening an Asperger diagnosee to a very irrational and seriously deluded American president is not a good way to present oneself as a compassionate human being; and - to be fair - Mr Ferguson has not stated clearly that he is attemting to be such a person, so maybe he IS attempting to offend those of us who - after many years of really rather nasty verbal, physical,and other sorts of abuse from other people (lasting from childhood through to later adulthood in some cases) - get a diagnosis of being badly misunderstood autistic people: badly misunderstood very largely because the people doing the misunderstanding have failed to show the empathy expected of us when making attributions about us and why we are as we are.

Talk of "substituting air strikes, invasions bombing, etc for tics, gestures and rocking" cannot possibly be a seriously considered comment if that is supposed to show any sort of respect to the diagnosed person.

Also, I quote: "The dispiriting possibility is, I am afraid, that America is itself suffering from Asperger's syndrome."

Firstly, even though this is an opinion piece and not a clinical or educational diagnosis, Ferguson has seen fit to be a psychologist for two minutes and suggest an entirely inappropriate conclusion to his argument.

America is suffering, yes, but not from Asperger syndrome; rather it is suffering from being led into necessary (not to mention illegal)wars by its president, who seems to think himself invincible. If ever there was an argument against becoming a Christian, George Bush is it: spouts the jargon but holds a belief system entirely incompatible with the belief system implied by the jargon he uses.

There is a difference between a person diagnosed with Asperger syndrome and a country run by a apparent megalomaniac. But your writer clearly did not appreciate this, since he had obviously not researched his topic thoroughly enough; and nor did he consider the likely effects of his actions on the very people whose diagnoses he has just been allowed to drag through the mud.

A number of Aspies with whom I have spoken are very disturbed by this article. An apology would be a good start to making peace with this sector of the population.


David Andrews BA-status, AEPiT
Psychologist/Psycho-educational Consultant

Philip  585
05-27-2004 09:28 AM
Edited by author 05-27-2004 10:32 AM
Thanks, Michelle for the information.
 No.45 in the Bibliography on skin shock on the 'effective treatment' website: Dr.Harris 'Does punishment hurt?The impact of adversives on the clinician.' I thought punishment was intended to hurt the person on whom it was inflicted, not the clinician inflicting it.
I never imagined in my worst nightmares that autistics would be given lethal doses of poison(chloral hydrate).
I thought electric shock treatment was illegal in all democratic countries.
The end of the last sentence in my previous message /m577 should read, "but I hope that this reference and information is useful."
There is nothing missing from the large space in that message.

Lucas  584
05-27-2004 06:41 AM
Another ignoramous:

Conveniently, I couldn't find any e-mail address for this fool.

David Andrews AppEdPsych  583
05-27-2004 01:11 AM

I dunno if yous have seen this already, but I bring it as evidence of something good coming from this whole set of topics:


David Andrews AppEdPsych  582
05-27-2004 12:46 AM
Edited by author 05-27-2004 12:52 AM

"I can not understand how anyone could possibly do such as things, nor the mindset that not only made it possible, but also approved of it."

These experiments were touched on during my undergraduate studies at Leeds, and I have to say that the inhumanity of them repulses me even now. They are no less horrific than that set of experiments conducted by Dr Mengele in the Second War, under the Nazi Party in Germany. At least Mengele was somewhat more honest about his horrors than Lovaas ever was! The first behaviourist experiment was that one in which the kid is traumatised into fearing an animal, and then (according to Watson and Raynor) "reconditioned" to not fear the animal... as if the kid were just a tyre to be reconditioned. Again, one has to marvel at the sheer inhumanity of a mind which believes that it can - in the name of science - "play God" in deciding the fates of others. Watson made very grand claims about behaviourist psychology and not one of them has actually been substantiated yet. Skinner himself had the decency to acknowledge, in about 1973, that his methods had been rather unfair to the "retardates" on whom they had been used. Since then, behaviourists have come and gone and tried to convince themselves that they are the only "scientific" psychologists - as in the ASAT/FEAT/etc definition of scientific (basically, one dodgy study, a few dodgy spin-offs, all not entirely independent of the first) - so as to gain credibility with the public.

Although I have used some aspects of learning theory in my practice as a teacher, I would be loathe to say I support a behaviouristic way of teaching.... nor could I say that I was being a behaviourist: task analysis is not the sole preserve of behaviourist, and - when used in a Vygotskyan framework - can produce better, more permanent results than any purely behaviourist paradigm.

Behaviourism is a pseudscientific way of doing this. It is the Aristotle to Vygotsky's and Lewin's socio-cultural and topological psychological approaches to behaviour and understanding it.

oddizm  581
05-26-2004 10:15 PM
Yes, we are eminently hateable.

And hard to kill, too, apparently. Just like so many rats.


That man needs to apologize, NOW. So does UCLA.


Michelle Dawson  580
05-26-2004 06:48 PM
I forgot to mention that in Catherine Maurice's "Let Me Hear Your Voice", an autistic girl is reported by Dr Maurice as smiling when her electric shock helmet was placed on her head.

Michelle Dawson  579
05-26-2004 06:45 PM
Hi Philip,

I've run across things in my reading that made me sit down in the middle of a university library and put my face in my hands. That's even though my own experiences, and my knowledge of the experiences of other autistics, has not led me to believe that autistics will be treated fairly and humanely.

In 1994, Dr Lovaas (in an interview with Catherine Johnson in the Advocate) explained that the bad behaviour corrected by aversives tended to return later. Then,

"We'd have to apply the aversives again, only this time we'd have to be more aversive. The aversives became like butchery...".

He notes also that before slaps and electric shock, the insitutions were using restraints and chloral hydrate. He relates that the children adapted to this also.

"They were taking doses of chloral hydrate that would kill you or me and it still wasn't working."

This article emphasizes that Dr Lovaas no longer uses aversives, without stating that it was, by that time, illegal to use aversives in behaviour therapies in California.

Electric shock is still in use on autistics in jurisdictions where aversives are legal, see . Their bibliography includes four studies with Dr Lovaas as the lead author, including the one you found. There's one by Dr Iwata in there also, though I'm not familiar with it.

oddizm  578
05-26-2004 04:35 PM
As for the florida board that sells the certificates. Maybe they have just set the price too high, since it IS optional, only a few have been willing to dish out the money for the piece of paper...

You think they'd do a little marketing and give one to Ole Ivaar and tell him he's an honorary board certified behaviorist. They could hold a dinner and honor him up good. Invite in some cameras, send out a press release. CAN could send Soma over...


Philip  577
05-26-2004 01:45 PM
In the book Infantile Autism-Proceedings of the Indiana University Colloquium, edited by
Dr.Don W.Churchill;Dr.Gerald D.Alpern;and Dr.Marian K.DeMyer
Charles C.Thomas Publisher, Springfield, Illinois 1971
Part 2, Chapter 8:-Considerations in the Development of a Behavioral Treatment Program for Psychotic Children by O. Ivan Lovaas; there is an account by Lovaas of the experiment described in the article 'Experimental Studies in Childhood Schizophrenia: Building social behavior in autistic children by use of electric shock' by O.I. Lovaas; B.Schaeffer; and J.G.Simmons,in J.Exp Res Pers 1:99-109, 1965 ( That is how the journal is referenced in the chapter notes).
The experimenters(that word is more appropriate than 'researchers')electrified the floor on which the children stood, so that they could avoid pain only by coming to the adults who were there. "The children smiled and showed considerable contentment when they successfully avoided the pain. These were the first social smiles that we had observed in these children."(p.136)
Pain was used to suppress "pathological behaviors, such as self-destruction and in some cases of persistent inattention and self-stimulation." (p.136). The pain was stopped when the child looked at the researchers.
The electrified floor was used only in the early experimental studies to make sure that the experimenters by having complete control over the presentation and removal of pain, had an objective study. Electric shock was rarely used to instill stress in the day to day care of the children, instead other methods were used such as a slap on the child's bottom.(P.137)
I can not understand how anyone could possibly do such as things, nor the mindset that not only made it possible, but also approved of it. No doubt the experimenters thought they were acting in the best interests of the children and that it was for the children's own good.
Before I read about the horrific abuse, ill-treatment and torture of autistic people, I assumed that while there may have been isolated incidents of abuse in residential institutions carried out by stressed, tired, poorly trained,perhaps even occasionally sadistic staff; I never thought that the deliberate infliction of pain was deliberate policy, and so extensive. I thought that autistic people were almost always treated with kindness, gentleness, respect and love.
I believe that the experiment I have described is fairly well-known, but I thought that this

Michelle Dawson  576
05-26-2004 11:03 AM
Sorry, John, I was just attempting in an awkward way not to say that Drs Lovaas and Mulick are not behaviour analysts or behaviourists, but to point out that the one available credential is entirely optional.

The BACB guidelines for the conduct of behaviour analysts claims guidance from the ethics codes of many other organizations, including the APA, but does not impose these ethics codes itself, from what I can tell. Those ethics codes would be imposed by those respective organizations. A psychologist (as David pointed out) would also function under state licensure, as would (I suppose) many other professionals.

This side of the border (and I know this absolutely, having successfully prosecuted a psychologist), there is an ethics code imposed by a provincial college or order of psychologists, as well as a provincial professional code regulating the behaviour of all professionals. The federal organization (Canadian Psychological Association) has influence but little power.

When I asked the APA about the problem of behaviour therapies being applied to clients who can't consent, their sole concern in this area was "conversion" therapies, for, you guessed it, "converting" homosexuals to heterosexuality.

David Andrews AppEdPsych  575
05-26-2004 10:26 AM
Hi again oddizm....

>finnish joke:

You mean there ARE some? LoL

>How can you tell an extrovert Finn from an introvert Finn?

Go on... how?

>The Extrovert looks at YOUR shoes when he is talking to you.

That is actually quite true much of the time! LoL I have met these..... weird folk they are!

>(I told this to a young man who may be on the spectrum after he told me about having Finns in the family. He said, "I don't have a sense of humor...I don't get it." Seriously. I explained it and he still didn't laugh.

OMG! Bad, innit?! ;)

>I said that I understood that Finns were the world's most boring people, and that they were proud of that. :-)

'appen ;)

David Andrews AppEdPsych  574
05-26-2004 10:14 AM
Edited by author 05-26-2004 10:22 AM
>The certifying board for behaviour analysts for the entire world is in Florida. It is the Behavior Analyst Certification Board.

Yes, and I find this quite an ambiguous thing: saying "Board Certified" gives the impression of being recognised by the state Boards (who license the various practitioners working in the respective states) but, on inspection, it was found to be that BCBA status is from this body that exists essentially as a business!

Like people have said, it's a bloody industry!

And that is the reason why I find it very suspicious.

As fo technicality issues on who is a behaviourist: if the criterion is recognition by BCBA, then Skinner, Watson, Thorndyke, and other behaviourist psychologists and many philosophers (including Ryle and possible even Hume) were not behaviourists, even though they advanced the field in their respective disciplines.

This of course opens the door to all sorts of fuckwittery: I could decide that I'm going to set up a Board to govern the activities of "cognitivists" and say that only people approved by my Board are "cognitivists", and that would be just as bleeding ridiculous as this bollocks about BCBA recogition is the only thing that qualifies for use of the title "behaviourist".

Seems that when they got rid of OUR minds in that pillockwitted organisation, they fucked their own out the frigging window too!!!!

I can't possibly recognise that sort of organisation as being a useful and reasonable body to supervise the profession they claim to oversee!



John  573
05-25-2004 11:24 PM
Sorry for the short answer and incomplete answers (I am under a time crunch at the moment). I will still answer all the other things.

The certtification board is closely attached to "The Assocaition for Behavior Analysis." ABA has recently adopted the APA's code of ethics. I assume then that the BCBA board is accountable on some level for also enforcing this.

To clear up my own status. I would not be considered a behaviorists by most persons who have advanced degrees or are practicing in the field. I might be (and have been) called a "novice behaviorist". Although this might vary depending on the individual professors. Some professors allow for a great deal of ownership and some do not. But the rest of the world would probably consider me a behaviorist. The BCBA thing is recent, but of course is a dead hint that someone is a behaviorist. I am sure most of us would be amused if I said Dr, Lovaas was not a behaviorist simply because he lacks BCBA status.

I define myself as a behaviorist because I have particpated in behavioral research and as a tutor and supervisor of DTT. And because I advocate programs/analyses that are part of the behavioral paradigm. And that I use behavioral analysis tools as my ptimery analysis method. And particularly as the "radical sub type" because I analyze inferred thoughts and feelings as well. And not forgetting that I have written an undergraduate Honors Thesis a year ago entitled "Revising Behavior Analysis and Autism." I don't know if Dr. Green or any other behaviorist would claim me at the moment though, due to my undergrad status.

Michelle Dawson  572
05-25-2004 07:51 PM
Who's a behaviourist is usually pretty obvious (I give a big list in the ABA article). And John did identify himself right off the bat as a radical behaviourist. It's this "technically" thing that's the catch.

There isn't a certifying board in Canada, and we have only one chapter of the ABA (in Ontario).

The certifying board for behaviour analysts for the entire world is in Florida. It is the Behavior Analyst Certification Board. ASAT was heavily involved in promoting the need and the development of a certification body. The guy in charge is Gerald Shook. Gina Green is heavily involved. They do have an ethics code, or guidelines, which I've read and am not impressed by. The problem of clients who can't consent isn't adequately dealt with.

This shouldn't be surprising, since the BACB was autism-inspired.

Any comments from John about the BACB and its ethics would be greatly appreciated. John, you gave notice, but you're not relieved of your duties yet...

oddizm  571
05-25-2004 07:30 PM

Not only do we have a fuzzy concept of ABA, now we have a fuzzy concept of who is really a behaviorist.

I guess that board that does the certifying in Canada must have an awfully slow job.

"How many behaviorists did we certify last year Pierre? Oh, I don't think we certified any last year, but the year before, I think there were 2."



Michelle Dawson  570
05-25-2004 03:53 PM
Just a thought. If John's not "technically" a behaviourist yet, because he doesn't have the relevant qualification, then...there's only, technically, thirteen behaviourists in Canada. That's how many (last I looked) Board Certified Behaviour Analysts and Associates we have here, total.

Mind you, if this is what John means (and I'm guessing, so I'm prepared to throw this out the window), Dr Lovaas is not technically a behaviourist. Dr Malott is, and so is Dr Green. But Dr Mulick isn't.

oddizm  569
05-24-2004 11:49 PM
Edited by author 05-24-2004 11:51 PM
Hi John,

Thank you for your kind response.

I really appreciate it.

I know I have been very blunt with you and lobbed some pretty nasty little bombs at all ABA practicers.

One of my points...don't know if I made it here...has been that the local ABA provider, or one of them, some agency with a name like "Rainbow bridge" or something, apparently treats its ABA therapist, tutor people like garbage. this I learned from 2 different sources, one a young woman who quit working for them because they made her stay in the same room with the kids she worked with and never got a break. She had to eat her lunch in the same room with the kid.

She had nothing good to say about that agency and agreed that it was very stressful on the kids.

The second person had applied to work for them and had been ill treated in the application process.

For the record, the person who sent the email to the APA is soon to be a psychology major at a university affliated with a big time Autism Research center and who may end up working with people who belong to the APA, most a research assistant or something....undergrad.

I hope that parents weren't billed for the work you did and that their money went to fatten someone else.

That would be horrible.

I hope you don't end up working with Lovaas. I'm hoping that UCLA will demote him to night janitor...but then I'm mean. Maybe you could take his place as professor if they do.

My future is more fuzzy than yours, by the way, I never know what job I might like to have that will be denied me because I wasn't able to schmooze at the cocktail party held for the job candidates...that sort of thing.

I'm just a junior and Art History major...with tact issues, as you know. :-)

I do hope you are safe in the woods. I know about the timber industry, it's dangerous.


John  568
05-24-2004 11:12 PM
I promise to get back to everyone else, but I need a little more time. I also have to give my two week notice because in two weeks I will be at my summer job in Northern Michigan in the woods and cut off from the internet entirely . (And no lumberjack references David)

John  567
05-24-2004 11:05 PM
Hi Alyric,

You brought up an interesting idea that Jim Crawford spoke on far better than could. I remember a little boy in DTT. He has surgery, on his stomach. I forget the name of the condition but it caused him have a large amount of pain whenever he used the restroom. He was in obvious physical pain and said as much to us. Conferring with his parents and doctors we found out that this would subside within two weeks (and it did) and that there was really not much we could do about it. We all would have done something if we could, but there was nothing for us to do beyond giving him time alone and some space.

No matter what technique I used, he was going to experience pain when he used the restroom. A solution to that problem may not be within the field of behaviorism. If we pretend that I was an evil warlock for a moment, I might have suppressed his pain responses, crying and the facial affect that goes with it, but that would still not resolve the physical pain. I might have talked with him on why he felt pain at these times and tried to ration with him. But that would still not take away the physical stimuli of pain. For a side note this is an actual thought exercise we were asked to do, by a behaviorist professor making a related point.

The boy had aggression responses when he was in this pain even to those persons who were unrelated to his pain. These too I might have suppressed but since we felt they were caused by the pain more than anything else (motivating operation for aggression) I decided to just keep everyone near the bathroom clear for a while and let him come to me when he was actually ready to go to the class, he would say afterwards that he wanted to sit outside with me afterwards for a few minutes. So in this case all I could do was sit outside the bathroom, keep others away, and wait for him to come out. When he was done he would come out and sit with me for a few minutes. He always looked exhausted; I had to carry him back to the class one time when he fell asleep sitting with me. I am not sure what I had to offer in this case but it seemed to be the right thing to do and still does.

John  566
05-24-2004 11:05 PM
Hey Camille,

Lot of truth in the perspective thing.

I do encourage a lot of early learning, but it doesn't have to be done in collectives or with experts (including behavior scientists). No reason at all a parent could not do just as good as a professional teacher (and maybe better in some cases).

Your points on pre-school are well taken but I might add that home schooled children may do just as well (if not better) than some of their public school peers. And we know that good teachers (no matter who they are) make a difference. We also know that early learning is critical. Pre-school may not be needed for all, but some sort of rigorous learning is for (maybe all) children.

I am no fan of teaching eye contact even though I have taught it. You are right about the boy and the eye thing.

The man may have been under the impression that eye contact is absolutely necessary. Which (if he had an experience similar to mine) would make teaching this seem very reasonable.

I do not know if the man received some sort of satisfaction for his teaching. Some of us describe feeling very strongly and others of us do not. For me it is not so much the satisfaction of seeing a child make a correct answer, so much as it is working with them in such a way that they seem (smile, laugh, etc.) to find an activity reinforcing. This is admittedly still social reinforcement.

I was originally assigned, to pre-school children. I was not given much of a choice. I thought I would dislike it due to the children's very young age. I was wrong. I was 18 at the time and clearly had some maturing to do myself. Even more annoying at the time was the fact that we were asked to put in extensive hours for our class but not paid. I have yet to be paid a dollar for the 3 years I have spent doing DTT, not to mention the many extra hours I put in, and the vacations where I spend my free time helping out. In fact since I received college credit for some of the time I spent doing DTT, and if we are talking monetarily, then I should have stopped doing DTT a while ago because I have lost a fair amount of money. I have to apply for grad school very soon (within a year) I have no professional standing until I graduate with a B.S. and as I not even eligible to take the associate (lower level) behavior analyst test, I am not technically a behaviorist yet. I likely have at least another 5-6 years of school before I receive a pay check for anything DTT related. My choices for a good grad school where I could study DTT with a competent behaviorist are fairly limited and there is an excellent chance I will end up with one of the bugbears of this site. What happens on this site is very much a discussion for hearts and minds. For me there are many ways of affecting that change beyond writing to the APA and possibly offending someone who I might one day be assigned to study under. For me the challenge will be not walking away from the problems or people I find disagreement with (whether they are behaviorists or autistics).

I misunderstood the context of your barber shop paragraph. And because of that I do apologize for stating that you were mocking them.

You should never have to worry about holding your tongue here (beyond the respect we would show to any human) because Michelle has effectively created a safe place for many ideas to be discussed. If you have a perception or observation to add, then this seems as good a place to bring them up as any. Nor should you be shy of talking with me especially if you find yourself disagreeing with what I say. I have a strong belief in actual free discussion.

Michelle Dawson  565
05-24-2004 03:57 PM
Edited by author 05-24-2004 04:02 PM
Thanks Philip for that information. I agree with your analysis of Janert's position and your comments. I'm disappointed that while rejecting the medical/deficit model she's either accepted or manufactured her own version of the incompatibility between autism and humanity. She too wants to rescue us from our fate, it looks like. She wants the heroic "recovery".

I'm not sure I've seen autism equated with slavery before.

Her interpretation of splinter skills is wrong also. I should confess at this point that I have trouble tying my shoes. I tie them once, then slip them on and off. Finding boots that work this way has been a challenge.

Something is being overlooked in the discussion of being patient about skill acquisition in autistics. While our development seems "delayed" in some areas, it is accelerated in others. Both differences, in many programs, will be considered "wrong".

Insisting on a certain necessary order and progress of development is wrong in autism. Our indifference to the way we're supposed to develop extends to the materials we need and learn from, which may at the same time include materials from widely different levels of development. This indifference, for which there's lots of evidence, should result in dismissing entirely the idea of a "window of opportunity" in autism, outside of which the autistic is now written off, since it's "too late".

For a bit more about physical problems being treated behaviourally, see /m21

Incidentally, I think it's disrespectful to assume John's in the ABA/DTT field for the money. Apart from not according with what John's actually written, it reminds me a bit too much of Dr Mulick's assumptions about my own motivations.

oddizm  564
05-24-2004 03:30 PM
Without naming isn't Michelle....someone wrote an email to the APA (American Psychology Associatio?) Ethics committee/board and included Dr. Mulick's little tirade and some citations from their code of ethics, chapter and verse, that appear to have been violated by said Dr.

Perhaps some of you with professional standing...John...ought to do the same.


David Andrews AppEdPsych  563
05-24-2004 02:56 PM
>Hi David,

Hi oddizm...

"I wrote to the president of Mulick's university and shared his comments about Michelle. I should write again and ask why she didn't respond to me."

Nah, maybe we should all write to the woman and ask her why has she suddenly developed a severe reading disorder regarding all the stuff that has been written (including your letter to her) about the article on the ethics of the ABA industry and about Michelle herself, and especially by Mulick (who - as one of the woman's subordinates at work - has over-stepped his bounderies at least somewhat), and maybve how someone who experiences such a selective form of dyslexia could possibly consider herself worthy of being the administrative head of such a supposedly prestigious university! But - by sounds of it - the subtlety behind the message would mean that its point would be completely missed.

"This quote below is somewhat off topic, but gets to my point of judging others as being less valuable humans and the issue that the ones with credibility get to say anything they want because they have "credibility", never mind that they don't always deserve it."

Not that much off topic, maybe.... since the whole ABA industry has been built up on the premise that autistic children ARE less valuable as autistics: the ABA salespeople proclaim it and the attitudes they have so far inculcated into societal mind have held us at arm's length, with regard to our integration into that society.

"When I said I hate ABA...
I guess we're back to the problem with the definition of ABA. To me it means not only breaking down a task into bite sized pieces, but also not seeking what is best for the child, rather seeking what makes the child seem more palatable in NT society."

Two totally different things, and the ABA lot have got the point of it all confused. ABA is great for teaching skills, bit by bit. As a treatment for autism, it is the biggest load of shit that anyone could possible promulgate. As forthe ethics of helping people, Skinner himself made a rather clear recantation of his belief entirely in behaviourism; I'll try to find the reference.

"Seems to me that a child could figure out eventually, anyway, that it's better to be able to tie his shoes than not, for instance, and not need m&m's as a reinforcer to pull him through the steps of learning to tie his shoes."

Oddly enough, the Vygotskyan way to do this (by use of "scaffolding", and by use of overt speech used by the kid as a self-guidance thing) suggests that structured guidance in this way might actually be better for the kid than sticking a smartie in its gob when its completed the first loop of the bow.... and in a day and age when velcro fastenings are around big time... is tying laces that important?

"If it takes until he is 6 or 8 to figure that out, so what? Why demand that he learn it at 3? Let the kids develop slowly. I don't mean let them "fester" in a dark closet."

That I agree with entirely. There is something I say about the normal curve: God may have distributed everything normally, but it was mankind that invented the standard deviation! Coming from an athiest, that's strong stuff! LoL

"It's the whole American "gotta be independent" thinking."

Yeah... isnt it AWFUL?! Independence is a bloody myth!

"My impression of all this emphasis on pre-school is that one needs to take adavantage of the formative years to form the children into little stepford children ("The Stepford Wives" reference)."


" ---I am Lovaas of Borg.
Your parents have paid me great sums of money.
Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated." -- author unknown---(Star Trek "Borg" reference)"

Would be really funny if it weren't so bloody true!


This is part of a longer article. I liked the references to grammar and art and the hallowed station of those with "credibility".

It's an interesting look at what happens at conferences, too.


Long bit and then:

"I wonder what Daniel would have thought of the scene."

If he was owt like me, he'd be absolutely appalled by it.

Philip  562
05-24-2004 02:01 PM
Edited by author 05-24-2004 02:15 PM
In the June 2004 issue of Quaker monthly there is an article entitled "Is there a Quaker approach to autism?", by Sibylle Janert. I thought people might be interested in it, so I will summarise and comment upon it.
The author argues that "based on the medical deficit model, much of what is currently offered to children on the autistic spectrum by the education system is behaviourist, mechanistic, training splinter skills, even robotic and materialistic,e.g.PECS, ABA, Lovaas, TEACCH, Makaton." She compares this to a church with its "recognised texts", clergy in the form of professionals , and a belief system in the form of "theories, e.g.'theory of mind deficit, sensory and information-processing problems, need for sameness, tantrums....that are simply accepted as true." Continuing with the analogy of an 'autism church' there must also be heretical autistics.
Janert states that "all autistic children have normal moments, have non-autistic parts in their personality , behaviour, communication, brain and mind, because they are human like you and me." But autistic people (children and adults)cannot be divided into a human non-autistic part and a non-human autistic part. Our humanity includes our autism, which is an essential part of our humanity.
She writes that "there is something human that can be reached in every child. Even those who spend a lot of time in an autistic state of mind , there are non-autistic aspects that we need to nurture like a seed in the dark." It seems to me that she is implying that autistic children are human only to the extent thst they are not autistic, and thst autism is darkness. She refers frequently to the autistic child, autistic children, but never to autistic adults.
She condemns the medical deficit model of autism but claims that there are "cases where autistic children RECOVER ( my emphasis)because of the human relationship help they received." She doesn't explain what she means by 'recover'. Does she mean becoming 'high functioning' from being 'low functioning'?
She asks "how can we liberate the autistic child from the slavery of his avoidance and withdrawal, so he can let his light shine and be a full member of our community." Contrast that with the last three lines in Jasmine Lee O'Neill's poem 'To an Autistic Child' at the beginning of her book 'Through the Eyes of Aliens-a Book about Autistic People:
"I sing songs for you little one
To tell you that you do not need
To forsake your world to be free."
(I'm quoting from memory here.)
Janert states that while there is probably not a perspective on autism which is exclusive to Quakers, "there is probably a holistic approach to autism that may need to stand up to the mechanistic and reductionist belief-systems...."
No information is provided about the author's connection, if any, with autism.
Quaker monthly is not online, but the editor , Trish Carn can be contacted by e-mail at
I will be sending a reply to this article, when I have built up my confidence in my ability to write one. Quaker monthly does not have a letters page, but the editor may publish my reply as an article.
Anyway I will keep you informed.

Lucas  561
05-24-2004 08:11 AM
I just read that link that Michelle posted. Do behaviourists ever take such things into account before they embark on possibly fruitless therapies?

oddizm  560
05-24-2004 01:03 AM
bedtime reading:

Author Lovaas, O. Ivar (Ole Ivar), 1927-
Title Perspectives in behavior modification with deviant children.

Edited by O. Ivar Lovaas and Bradley D. Bucher
Publisher Englewood Cliffs, N.J., Prentice-Hall [1974]
Series Prentice-Hall series in developmental psychology
Format Book
Title: Use of pain and punishment as treatment techniques with childhood schizophrenics
Authors: Simmons, James Q; Lovaas, O Ivar
Source: American Journal of Psychotherapy. 23(1), 1969, pp. 23-36

TI: Manipulation of self-destruction in three retarded children
AU: Lovaas, O Ivar; Simmons, James Q
SO: Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis. 2(3), 1969, pp. 143-157

(did lovaas say, "oooh, oooh, let ME do it!"?)


TI: Concerns about misinterpretation and placement of blame
AU: Lovaas, O Ivar
SO: American Psychologist. Vol 44(9), Sep 1989, pp. 1243-1244

See Ivar Lovaas whine about being criticized for needlessly shocking autistic children. See him justify his experiment's design and avoid apologizing to the subjects for needlessly harming them. See Ivar show how it's all about HIM. "However, no one knows beforehand which parts of one's training will pay off or which will fail. That is why we psychologists do research.
Thus, the lesson Schopler has inadvertently taught us is that it is to the advantage of both our clients and collegues to be more tolerant and less belittling when mistakes are made in our choice of hypotheses. Otherwise, we may inhibit the efforts that are needed to some day help unfortunate persons live more meaningful and less handicapped lives. Perhaps history has taught us this lesson that an envrironment with much pressure to avoid all mistakes,one ends up doing everything wrong."

Can someone translate for me beyond, "This is Ivaar feeling sorry for his self."

The fact that chidren were needlessly exposed to shock when all he really wanted to do was stress them (!) he says, is just a problem with a hypothesis, and no one should stifle a hypothesis...why no!


oddizm is mad again

oddizm  559
05-24-2004 12:00 AM
Alyric quoted "an idiots guide to 'creativity'.....
in a sense, culture embodies the best of both worlds; that is, each individual\s depth-first stream of thought is embedded in a highly parallel, relatively breadth-first social matrix which provides a second, outer tier of convergent pressure.^ - an idiot's guide to 'creativity'

oddizm folds arms across chest, tucks chin backward, purses lips, nods knowingly, and says

"well yes, Alyric, but that goes without fact I believe I said that very thing 40 years ago when I was 4 years old...but no one listened."

I am always reminded of the oracle at Delphi... she spoke these inpetetrable and inane things which people could interpret to mean anything.

oddizm - strives for clarity whilst waxing poetic and
never wanes scientific

Michelle Dawson  558
05-23-2004 11:38 PM
A poster of Dr Gernsbacher's study of speech and motor problems in autistics is here

alyric  557
05-23-2004 11:30 PM  John wrote:

And yet again with concerns like
enuresis, encopresis, and colic all of which have been somewhat
claimed by the medical model.

Talking about enuresis. In the typically wired child, this probably does have some psychological element. But, speaking for myself and my experience, the problem was not psychological at all. In totally unscientific terms, my body just had to grow up enough for me to be able to deal with this - at age 11.
Somewhat similarly, Morton Gernshbacher, cognitive scientist, makes a case for speech in the non-verbal autistic to be a physical problem (motor) not a social or cognitive problem and she should know.
A question from the hoi polloi to all you shrink types (or shrinks in learning types). How many physical problems are dealt with behaviourally and therefore one would not expect the problem to be solved?

alyric  556
05-23-2004 11:08 PM
Clare wrote:

"I just happen to think that the former description is more
precise, more informative, and does not involve grievous abuse
of the English language."

Oh., I do so love jargon >sarcasm<

Try this one:

] in a sense, culture embodies the best of both worlds; that is, each individual\s depth-first stream of thought is embedded in a highly parallel, relatively breadth-first social matrix which provides a second, outer tier of convergent pressure.^ - an idiot's guide to 'creativity'

oddizm  555
05-23-2004 10:33 PM
finnish joke:

How can you tell an extrovert Finn from an introvert Finn?

The Extrovert looks at YOUR shoes when he is talking to you.

(I told this to a young man who may be on the spectrum after he told me about having Finns in the family. He said, "I don't have a sense of humor...I don't get it." Seriously. I explained it and he still didn't laugh.

I said that I understood that Finns were the world's most boring people, and that they were proud of that. :-)


oddizm  554
05-23-2004 10:29 PM
Hi David,

I wrote to the president of Mulick's university and shared his comments about Michelle. I should write again and ask why she didn't respond to me.

This quote below is somewhat off topic, but gets to my point of judging others as being less valuable humans and the issue that the ones with credibility get to say anything they want because they have "credibility", never mind that they don't always deserve it.

When I said I hate ABA...
I guess we're back to the problem with the definition of ABA. To me it means not only breaking down a task into bite sized pieces, but also not seeking what is best for the child, rather seeking what makes the child seem more palatable in NT society.

Seems to me that a child could figure out eventually, anyway, that it's better to be able to tie his shoes than not, for instance, and not need m&m's as a reinforcer to pull him through the steps of learning to tie his shoes.

If it takes until he is 6 or 8 to figure that out, so what? Why demand that he learn it at 3? Let the kids develop slowly. I don't mean let them "fester" in a dark closet.

It's the whole American "gotta be independent" thinking.

My impression of all this emphasis on pre-school is that one needs to take adavantage of the formative years to form the children into little stepford children ("The Stepford Wives" reference).

 ---I am Lovaas of Borg.
Your parents have paid me great sums of money.
Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated." -- author unknown---(Star Trek "Borg" reference)


This is part of a longer article. I liked the references to grammar and art and the hallowed station of those with "credibility".

It's an interesting look at what happens at conferences, too.

I have long believed that while it is possible to write badly about good ideas (God knows I've done it), it is impossible to write well about bad ones. "Can Death Be Proud?" certainly supports this insight. It was the most inept presentation I have ever heard from a person with a Ph.D. The psychologist consistently used words he did not mean, as when he said "duress" for "distress" and claimed "a myriad of discussions ensued" in a context which clearly indicated that there were dozens of discussions, not millions.

His grammar was poor, as you can see for yourself from some of the quotes I have transcribed here. He frequently alternated between passive and active voice in the same paragraph and changed tenses within the same sentence. Most damning of all, he was unable to let go of medical and psychological jargon in what was not a technical talk. His use of jargon obstructed the message of compassion he thought he was conveying, creating a sense of clinical detachment that contradicted the oh-so-mournful tone of his voice.

I learned a lot from "Can Death Be Proud?" I learned that even the nicest professionals can fall for a glib line of shit if the person handing out the line has the right credentials. I learned that you can package anything - even death - so that it sounds like a good idea. I learned that you can use important good ideas, like "patient choice" and "personal empowerment," to sell self-destruction and medical homicide. Hey, if a psychologist could report on the suicide of a patient and make it sound like a tribute to the psychologist's skill and integrity, there are no standards and anything is possible.

One more thing: I was able to quote extensively from "Can Death Be Proud?" because I actually bought a tape of the talk, just in case I ever decided to write about it. I got some extra use out of the talk last fall when I hosted the Annual Armageddon Art Show, a show of work by artists on the theme of the end of the world.

The psychologist's sepulchral intonation and the gruesome story being told made a perfect soundtrack to an art show that consists of hundreds of patrons stumbling through a darkened gallery, by flashlight, viewing paintings on the subject of doom. I wonder what Daniel would have thought of the scene.

David Andrews AppEdPsych  553
05-23-2004 09:01 PM
actually, as a psychologist, and as an autistic person, and the parent of another and the hubby of yet another still, I am not happy about UCLA's support of Lovaas, or Ohio's support of Mulick.

These two people are, to me, the worst of the worst in behaviourism, in that their own behaviour has been out of line with reasonable and humane behaviour in a number of fronts (Lovaas in his views and actions regaring what is the right way to behave and promising parents of autistic kids yeasr of hell, effectively, if they didn't use his bullshit methodology on them; and Mulick because he feels it is right to denigrate people solely on the basis of a diagnosis, and because he feels he has the right to - without invitation - rediagnose an already diagnosed person in a derogatory manner; but of with are entirely outside of his code of ethics at the APA).

As for ABA, I don't hate it as a means of breaking down complex tasks into easier to achieve steps as a way of developing the skills needed to do things; but as a treatment for something at is - de facto - not a bloody disease needing any treatment... well, that IS the height of bad ethics.

oddizm  552
05-23-2004 06:54 PM

Forgive my laziness for not dragging out my text book to quote it exactly. The point that it was making was referring to Skinner's approach to life starting when he was a college student. He had a rigid schedule. He lived science, lived in the lab and the book makes the point that maybe successful "smart" people aren't really just smarter or luckier, but that they spend a tremendously greater amount of time on what they are could frame that as: they are workaholics or that they are obsessed with their interests or perseverating...

The book was saying if you want to succeed maybe you need to put tons more time into what you are doing, just like Skinner did.

The point is that Skinner saw his life through Skinner's eyes, not through my eyes, not through Ghandi's eyes, not through a schizophrenics eyes...

His view was rigid. Life equals A + B always. Actions can be reduced to responses to stimuli. Always.

Because that was his view of life he became the father of a system that perpetuates that view.

Had Ghandi gone into the treatment of autistics we would see something entirely different. Skinner begat skinnerite philosphy. Lovaas perpetuates his own rotten little ideas which have included naming some boys as potential homosexuals and taking it upon himself to "correct" their bad behavior. That is the Lovaas world view. He has the right to judge, he thinks, and to enforce his judgements of what is good behavior.

You framed one of your statements in such a way as to imply that children need to learn earlier in this culture, therefore they must learn in collectives, they must be sent to pre-school so as to be properly taught. Anything they may do on their own or with untrained parents is inconsequential and a waste of time. How in the world did I get so smart without preschool? It's just shocking to think how my early years were wasted at home reading and looking at magazines and digging in the dirt in the back yard... shocking. Never mind that I could write my name in cursive when I entered kindergarten because my mom taught me.

She didn't have a degree in anything, she didn't even graduate from high school.

Einstein said himself that the learned about waves by watching waves, ripples on a pond. I think he would have lost great amounts of creativity had been forced to think like others at that early stage.

We absorb and catalogue information in a different way than NTs. I believe that from the way my own mind works in such a tangential way to normals. People always are amazed at the connections I am able to draw between diverse things.

Michelles' point of "free range autistics" if I may try to state what I think it is.... is let the kid tell you what he wants to learn. Do make him learn eye contact when he doesn't need eye contact to learn how to bake a cake, sculpt, draw, do calculations, read....

One wonders how the Egyptians were able to construct pyramids given the fact that they didn't have preschool. How did the Romans figure out how to build an aqueduct without pre-school? Boggles the mind. How dare they be smart without pre-school!

My father taught science and math at the junior high school level. He basically hated his job and I'm not sure but I think he hated kids. He liked having a job with the summers off.

Eye contact is something the NTs need to feel better, not something autistics need to learn.

I saw a video of ABA in action recently. There was this horrible man talking to a child, the child wanted to go outside or something. The child looked at the floor and said, "wanna go" something like that.
The man who was sitting on a low chair so that his head was at the same height with the boy made a sign language type movement. He brought his hands up to his face and used the fingers of each hand to tap under his eyes, elicting a response from the kid. The boy looked at the man at the area under his eyes.

You'd have to see it, but the way it was done looked exactly like the exchanges I have seen between apes and people. You know Koko, et. al.

It made me ill. There was no reason for that boy to be made to look at the man's undereye area before he could go out and do what he wanted.

I'm sure the man got some satisfaction of treating the boy like a puppet. Maybe the boy's mom got some satisfaction that at least little johnny was making progress toward becoming a real boy, (pinnochio reference).

What in the world would make you think I would mock the people who sweep up hair in a barbershop? I'm not mocking it. That example came to mind because it was the job one of my friends had. He's autistic by my definition, people have told me that he's schizophrenic. Uh, no. I think he's autistic.

As far as practical real world ability, I should have a job sweeping up hair in a barbershop. That's no joke.

I'm saying that there is too much emphasis on forcing people to use 110% of what they have available to them to perform "work". If a person likes to sweep and is comfortable doing that and is given respect, that's fine. I'm saying that, for instance, my grown ASD daughter would get more respect in this culture if she had paid employment. Never mind what the whole interaction business would do to her.

We don't' want no stinkin' dead weights in this society.

I'm sorry that you are the only one representing the whole ABA ideology here, and therefore are getting the brunt of my anger. You can put it down to emotional lability and the fact that I have been discriminated against for my lack of ability to interact "normally".

You are making money at this, and I believe you are not going to give up on your livelihood anytime soon. This will blind you to seeing the other side, or so I say.

Why UCLA would want to support Lovaas is beyond me. Why Ohio wants to support Mulick is just bizarre, to me.

My aplogies to Michelle, who, no doubt, prefers to keep things less emotional in tone. Not to say she doesn't feel rage at the misdeeds of bahaviorists, maybe she does, but she is able to stay more calm in discourse than I am.

I will try to hold my tongue from here out.


Clare  551
05-23-2004 05:39 PM
Just a note to everyone: I actually have to take a break from this discussion for at least a while, as I've got a speech which I must force myself to write.

Huh, I can't even redirect my own attention without painful effort ....

(Should anyone need to contact me privately, my website's easy enough to find).

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