To preface my questions, please allow me to provide some background information... I worked as an ABA tutor during college, doing in-home ABA sessions with a young boy diagnosed PDD-NOS, and since graduation have worked with another young boy with PDD-NOS in an in-home ABA program, and currently shadow an Aspie in a private school.
The behavioral therapy that I was trained to do in in-home sessions did not involve any aversives that I immediately tuned in to, however, the more I worked doing in-home ABA sessions, the more angry I became that the consultants did not allow for any consideration of the child's mood or state of mind... ie if the child hadn't had much sleep the night before we must press on with demand, and also the AMOUNT of demand seemed TOTALLY unreasonable for a pre-school aged child... to be barraged with three hours of ABA in which a certain number of programs were to be completed AFTER an entire morning of preschool seemed inhumane.
I have "retired" from home ABA programs for this reason. The father of one child cut off the consultant while I was still conducting sessions, leaving us to basically play for three hours, with a few old programs mixed into our play. In this transition, I saw a much happier child, and a much happier me as well. Just to add in: I am totally not a believer in prohibiting non-harmful stimming.
Along with the negatives, I did see many positives with the behavioral approach. Backward chaining seems to be an effective approach in teaching, and DTT's did seem to be a good measure of if the material was retained. Also, teaching requesting was a MAJOR gain... giving the child the tools to communicate needs and desires to replace self-injurious biting and head hits (HARD, against a wall or a floor) and behavior harmful to family members (again, biting and punching), was one of the most amazing things I've EVER experienced.
I'm still working with the Aspie under the guidance of a behavioral consultant in his (mainstream) classroom, and in the year we have worked together, has made HUGE gains socially and we are fading my presence and expect him to be independent within a month. And yes, I know that this means that he has had to learn to act in an NT appropriate manner. But he is making more and more friends, and raising his hand and offering brilliant incite that is now being considered and praised instead of speaking out and being shut down, and helping his less-intelligent NT classmates understand things in a calm manner rather than in a way that before had them disregarding what he had to say because they perceived it as frustrated yelling or interrupting. And the positive feedback he is receives truly encourages him, according to him.
I love him like I would my own child as well as consider him a good friend, and we've had many a conversation about behaviorism and he is aware of and approves of my behavioral strategies.
In addition, I carry many Aspie traits myself and wish that someone had offered me this kind of guidance in school....
So my question is this... what is your opinion on behavioral therapy? Do you think it has any place in the Spectrum world? And why or why not?
My reasons for asking are out of both pure interest and also because I would LOVE to continue working with children diagnosed with Autism/Asperger's, but I want to do it in the most constructive and respectful way possible. Do you think any behavioral intervention geared towards gaining behavior appropriate in the NT world is unethical or prejudiced?
Thanks you for reading.