Being disabled doesn’t erase the need for down time. Being disabled doesn’t erase the need for play, or for connections to other people.
Anyway… some questions… […]
1) How much time does this kid spend with adults who are in “therapy mode?” How does “therapy mode” look different from how these people would typically act?
2) What skills/behaviors are being targeted? How is the child’s behavior pathologized and controlled based solely on their diagnosis?
3) Is this positive reinforcement, or is this bribery? Is this positive support, or is this holding the world hostage until some sort of compliance is achieved?
4) Is the child really “motivated” or are they being subtly coerced?
5) How does the program address abuse and trauma? How do they commit to not perpetuating it?
6) How is this child segregated or othered from neurotypical peers? Are they expected to do things that realistically, neurotypical children don’t have to do? (An random example I often see is autistic students being taught they can never climb up a slide, even though in the real world, children do this all the time)
7) How is disability accommodated, and how aware are the practitioners of autism’s numerous comorbid clusters? Do they know what faceblindness is? How to recognize absent seizures? Will it cross their mind that their client might be “engaging in maladaptive behavior” because they have a migraine or gastrointestinal pain… or will they seek out other antecedents to blame?
8) Does this child *really* need intervention? Or do they just have a diagnosis and someone willing to put up money? I am not just talking about ABA, but speech, OT, etc. I can think of a lot of autistic adults who didn’t have ABA, but hated their speech therapy sessions. And they still stutter.
9) Is punishment used?
10) Most ABA places will want to know what motivates (reinforces and punishes) the student. But… what motivates the practitioner? Remember, these people want your money, and often have Savior Syndrome to boot.
11) What does the kid think?
12) What is the professional culture and hierarchy like? For example… Can newer therapists question superiors? Are people aware of ethical/accountability reporting processes? Do the “good therapists” just ignore the bad ones?
It works because it doesn’t assume; it works because it outwardly claims no value system, other than application of scientific learning principles in naturalistic environments.
But like any valueless system of applied study, its values are many.
They are not rejected for their difference, but brought closer.
Practitioners trip over themselves to call it a “science of learning.”
Its surveillance isn’t only (hideously) remarkable for its capacity to observe, chart, and narrate individual acts […] at root it espouses ideologies and technologies of normalization.
It is in a fact a science of regulation and social control.
Not a refusal to recognize them, but an insidious desire to acquire knowledge of them.
Christine Skolnik, Melanie Yergeau