31 July, 2010

something I'd been thinking about

Before I start I guess I should remind you that I am a human and I don't always think the same thing consistently over long periods of time. For example a long time ago I remember saying that I thought ABA was really awesome. I still stand by what I was trying to say which is that behaviorism is extremely powerful, and in a pure form I think it's wonderful because it shows a person that they can have control of their world. Of course Lovaas was a piece of shit, and lots of people who do ABA have incredibly fucked up goals for their students. The reason I made those posts being so pro-ABA was because I saw some of the comments on FWD/Forward when "They hate you. Yes, you" was in the recommended reading. The comments seemed to be responding to my post as though it was an expose on how ABA is bad. That wasn't what I was trying to say at all and I was frustrated because the actual point I was making was something I thought was important, and was a realization that had made a huge difference to me. People often misunderstand me in real life because of how I pronounce words and because I leave out information, and I see writing as an area where I have time and space to explain myself. It upsets me when I work really hard on something and people still have a different reaction from what I hoped for. I mean no offense to the commenters in question, they're under no obligation to get out of things what I'm putting in, but I am just sensitive about these things and I felt upset.

The thing is, ABA does tend to be associated with abusive and ableist goals even though not everyone who does ABA has those goals. So in retrospect I feel weird about speaking about it as positively I did. I love behaviorism but I don't love ABA and most of its practitioners are the kind of people I hate most.

1 comment:

  1. These debates are still pretty weird to me. Although I’m pretty sure I know what the acronym “ABA” stands for, I’ve got only a vague notion of what it involves. When I hear “behaviorism” I think “B.F. Skinner,” then I start thinking about “behaviorism” in relation to things like Freudianism, phenomenology, cognitive neuroscience, evolutionary psychology…

    Actually I just realized I don’t think I know what the second ‘A’ stands for.

    I read about Lovaas a few weeks ago but otherwise I wouldn’t have recognized the name. The stuff about trying to condition the effeminate behaviors out of men who were alleged to suffer from that purported disorder is interesting. It’s also interesting to learn about him just sort of making shit up and putting it out as solid science.

    I also recently learned that in the autism “community” biomedicine refers to these various “treatments” out there that target autism and seem on the whole to be the snake-oily wares of charlatans. Where I come from, “biomedicine” is a synonym for what some people call western medicine, or modern medicine, or scientific medicine. In contrast, say, to the traditional Chinese system, Native American healing practices, Vodou (aka “Voo-doo,” “Voudoun,”…).

    It’s kind of weird to step into a brand-new milieu where you don’t know what’s taboo and what isn’t, whom you are supposed to hate and whom to trust.

    I still have never met anyone in the so-called “real world” who self-identifies as autistic (or having autism, asperger’s, whatever), and have never had any experience with schools that have special needs programs. I definitely don’t have any kind of clear picture in my head of who all is being referred to using these labels.

    Back to ABA specifically: I’ve increasingly come to suspect that I was lucky not to have been identified as autistic as a child, and that any “treatments” or interventions or “therapy” that might have been visited on me during childhood years would have been harmful on the whole. But of course my hunches aren’t very well informed.