I’ve been very harsh on ABA, wondering if it disfigures the soul and erases Frankl’s space between stimulus and response (where we are free to choose). But in my organizational systems and leadership principles class we learned about Walter Deming and quality improvement cycles, and I guess I can see a point with ABA and how we try to prompt and scaffold learning in kids.
I’m fortunate to have a kid who moves toward co mpetencya little each day within the least restrictive environment of our regular home life (during the summer, I’m pretty sure he’s getting a whopping dose of ABA at the Autism focused charter school we were fortunate to have him at). If we wind up moving away from the school, though I probably would start doing Rethink First with him again, or hire someone to come in and do it, more like. Not necessarily an ABA therapist, just someone not mom. Because like with piano lessons, I think it’s hard for kids to have their parents as “teachers” sometimes. Or maybe just I’m not that great at it.
I don’t like using techniques with family, I guess. If I do, I like them to know that’s what we’re doing, and you can’t really get consent with ABA, is where it all comes back to.
But getting back to Deming and systems improvement, when I was learning about it I recognized that it was what I had done in what’s commonly termed as lifestyle change. And that was very exciting to me. It was a practical translation of what they try to say, that lifestyle change isn’t about a diet, it’s about you.
And I guess that’s where we come around to with ABA. It needs to be based in the child. In syntactic terms, they need to remain a “subject” and not become an object.