Thursday, July 10, 2008

Behavioral Standards and Mysteries

Sometimes what or who I see is no more mysterious than the mysteriously based way I choose how to look at it or them.

If I need my what to be a piece of furniture like a couch or a chair I don't want it to move. When I go to sit down, I want things to be just the way I have known them to be. I don't want to take a lot of time to research all the aspects of a chair and how it can be creatively influenced. I want it to be a functional staple in my environment that I can depend on.

My particular sensory issues that contribute to my directional deficits often have me reverting back to something or somewhere that I know very well. As far as locations, I can get lost very easily even in places that are familiar to me. I can become easily distracted by subtle changes to my environment and then get lost.

When I visit the neurologist and am tested for knowing which is my right hand and which is my left, if I'm stressed I sometimes have to look. (My wife and I have matching wedding ring tattoos on our left hand so that's how I check).

While it may seem to the casual observer that I am obsessive about predictability, it's actually knowing where to find things that allows me to be creative. When I misplace my structural cues or others move them, I'm less likely to find a creative means for defining and therefore influencing my circumstances.

While I leave the critical evaluation of the specific formal use of ABA treatments to those who have studied all the facts about such programs, I am in a position to critique how autistic behaviors are generally misinterpreted and how that leads to mistreatment in formal as well as informal settings.

The ways that I have seen and experienced this in more formal settings has been worse than many of the informal settings because in formal settings behavior adjusters are given a license to abuse and even kill. The lack of formality and the license that it provides can at least provide the opportunity for such things to be seen as illegal.

My experience with this license has shown itself to not have many limitations and I have seen the extremes of its uses. It's not difficult for me to imagine the kinds of abuses that are reported about the practitioners of what is specifically called ABA therapy.

Sometimes I find the ways that people judge the methods an autistic person uses to determine or seek more structure in their environment as being manipulative, demanding, or selfish when it's not factored in why that person may need the structure they seek more than someone else that is more suited to what is typical.

If autistic people weren't individuals with individual circumstances that (like everyone) made inappropriate and unjust choices, then we wouldn't be human.

My point is that the key to working to be more inclusive of people who may choose different and sometimes even inappropriate ways to get their environmental needs met needs to start with understanding what their needs are and then finding out if there can be accommodations or exchanges made to provide for those needs. Trying to change reactions (no matter how amplified) to unnecessary stimulus is disruptive at best.

I think it's also important to remember that once someone who has different needs does have them provided for they may and often are very motivated to provide more of what they have to offer to others. Especially, when this is a very new and liberating experience for them. When motivation is judged prematurely and in overly strict ways, many possibilities for positive change are stifled.

Behavior analysts (professional or otherwise) need to look at more than someones reaction to any given set of circumstances that actually could just be illiminated. They need to look at what may be accomplished by removing the stimulus. Otherwise, they are likely to contribute to (or even set off) a reactionary cycle that they are the ones that need to be responsible for preventing.

Anyone claiming to be using one particular set of standardized tests to judge behavior must be very careful to also consider how the negative influences they have been exposed to of cultural bias can negatively influence their judgment.

If behavior is automatically seen as aberrant and defiant without further consideration, the analyzer and the analyzed are given few ways to creatively move forward.

In this case I'm saying with much power comes much responsibility. Therefore, if someone's status in life has been elevated to the position of setting standard rules for what behavior "should" be, judging peoples behavior based on those standards, and they are then given the license to influence the behavior of those they evaluate, their views and methods must be critiqued and challenged to prevent them from abusing their authority.

As society becomes more sophisticated with how weapons and the people who use them are designed, I think it becomes even more important to find the most peaceful and humane means of teaching and influencing people who will ultimately determine our future.

4 Comments:

At 3:36 PM , Blogger r.b. said...

I always used the love chapter to help in dealing with Ben's difficult behaviors. (Love is patient, love is kind...) and I know another teacher who does the same. We don't need control, we need trust and endless patience.

 
At 3:51 AM , Blogger Ed said...

r.b.
Thats the best resource I know.

"We don't need control, we need trust and endless patience." Well said.

 
At 6:57 AM , Blogger abfh said...

with much power comes much responsibility. Therefore, if someone's status in life has been elevated to the position of setting standard rules for what behavior "should" be, judging peoples behavior based on those standards, and they are then given the license to influence the behavior of those they evaluate, their views and methods must be critiqued and challenged to prevent them from abusing their authority.

Very well said, and I agree completely.

 
At 3:52 PM , Blogger Ed said...

Thanks ABFH

 

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