Frankl, Autism & Attitude

Frankl says the space* between stimulus and response is where we are free, and where growth is possible.  The whole promise of ABA as the only evidence based treatment for autism is that is a natural science, separated from the agency of the subject.  That is to say, ABA seeks to erase Frankl’s space. (Or as I’ve argued before, may disfigure the soul)

There is a place for it.  [Most toilet training depends on this, whether a child is autistic or not.]  But as a Chomskian, I’ve always been suspicious of heavily behaviorist models, particularly where my child’s principal deficit is language.

In a seminar I attended yesterday they referred to the empty boat story.  The basic idea is you may be playing chicken with a boat that has no captain, always preserving within yourself the choice of how to respond.  Well, I’m only Broader Autism Phenotype, but this sounds to me like how many people with autism approach the world.  So apparently you can go too far with that too.

So I guess there needs to be a balance, as one of my field study interviewees said last week, between changing the situation and changing your attitude toward the situation.  Most memes can only highlight one or the other.

Another way to think of it is in sports you need offensive players and defensive players.  Your offensive players are faster and more agile.  Your defensive players tend to be heavier and stronger.  Or if you’re more for chess, the end game pieces vs. the middle game pieces.  Or in music, your melody instruments and your rhythm instruments.

*“Between stimulus and response there is a space.  In that space is our power to choose our response.  In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”   -Victor Frankl


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