Time to throw out the DSM?

It might not be time to throw out the DSM just yet but that day may come. On the other hand, I'd argue that sound diagnoses would be better informed if clinicians used the ADOS or ADI to render a diagnosis. Nonetheless, the day may arrive soon when a more time efficient means of diagnosing ASDs is available.

Another autism tragedy

Some parents of children with ASDs refer to autism as having robbed them of their children.  It is understandable that a parent wants the best life possible for their child but autism does not mean that life is over.  Life may be very different than imagined but I'd be willing to bet that most parents find that what they expected of having a child is very different than what transpires after the child is born.

Requests: Verbal or not?

One important form of verbal behavior Skinner discusses is the listener repertoire.  Interaction between two persons requires reciprocity to be "interaction."  Thus, verbal interaction requires that one be a speaker AND a listener to be part of a verbal community.  This is where the person with autism, especially those severely affected, often have problems.  Listener responses are complex.  They require attending to the speaker and some of the context of the speaker's behavior will be conveyed by their facial expression, eye gaze, gestures, and other cues beyond their vocalizations.

Torture or treatment?

I do not intend to be perceived as an advocate of JRC.  I am not.  There have been many troubling stories that have come out in the media such as, a case that I believe is still under investigation, in which a former client delivered information to JRC staff that was stated to have led to the delivery of multiple skin shocks to two current clients.  It is best to allow the proper authorities to decide whether JRC's practices are appropriate.  However, I also want to clearly state that there are situations in which aversive interventions are necessary.  Banning them outright is not the solution.  Regulating them properly for the very few situations in which they are necessary is the more humane alternative.

Repetitive behavior: To redirect or not to redirect?

Prior to the treatment, he would rarely approach his teacher or engage in cooperative play.  However, when we redirected his stereotypy, he started to look towards his teacher.  He engaged in a variety of new responses with the toys he had access to, and within a short period of time, he brought the toys to his teacher, sat on her lap, and played with her.  Sometimes it is better to interrupt preferred behavior to establish other important skills.  That said, given that stereotypy is typically harmless, there should be a time and place for it because everyone should be able to eat donuts and take a nap.

CNVs: The True Cause of Autism?

 A very important paper was published this week in Nature.  In this paper it was reported that persons with an ASD diagnosis were found to "carry a higher global burden of ...CNVs..."  So what are those CNVs?  They must be some substance carried in vaccines!  Finally we found the environmental toxin that Big Pharma has used to cause the autism epidemic.

Is restraint always abuse?

 The bill would establish federal standards for the use of restraint and seclusion (R & S).  First, elementary and secondary school personnel from managing a student "by using any mechanical or chemical restraint, physical restraint or escort that restricts breathing, or aversive behavioral intervention that compromises student health and safety".  This is a pretty complicated statement.  No one should argue with banning procedures that restrict breathing or compromise health and safety.

Gluten-Free/Casein-Free Diets for ASDs are BS

There was no evidence to suggest that the GFCF diet had a positive effect. Fourteen preschool children with a valid diagnosis of and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) were given the gluten-free, casein-free (GFCF) diet for 18 weeks. Strict adherence to the GFCF diet was ensured and each child participated in comparable early intensive behavioral intervention throughout the study. Additionally, following at least 4 weeks on the diet each child was exposed to blinded challenges to the diet.  That is, each child was given food containing gluten, casein, both, and a controlled challenge.  Behavioral ratings were collected before the challenge, and at 2 and 24 hours following the challenge.

Vaccines and Autism: Not a debate, a battle

Last week, PBS Frontline aired an episode, The Vaccine War, on the vaccine-autism story.  I'm not going to call it a controversy, because it isn't.  Vaccines don't cause autism, the science is clear.  Both the MMR-causes-autism and thimerosal-in-vaccines hypotheses have been explored extensively.  Neither notion holds water.

John Odgren Guilty: Asperger's Not Guilty?

 Odgren was reported to be "obsessed" with the number 19. He killed Alenson on 1/19. Odgren was born on 9/1/90 and the number 19 played a prominent role in Stephen King's "The Dark Tower" and some other of his writings.  Odgren also had a particular interest in Stephen King's novels.  Anyone that knows ASDs knows that repetitive interests drive behavior.  Odgren acted on January 19th in a manner that seems directly related to his these interests.  How can we not assume that his Asperger's Syndrome played a significant role?

Asperger's Syndrome on Trial?

Personal or moral responsibility is a social construct and the fact that behavior is determined has very little bearing on the social judgment of personal responsibility. That said, if an act is strongly influenced by physiological predispositions or tendencies is the person responsible for their act?

FC is BS

Many well established researchers and clinicians were skeptical of the plausibility of FC from the beginning.  How could a person seemingly communicate at a high level after a few minutes with a facilitator?  Why were they able to communicate so effortlessly and often without even being oriented towards the keyboard at which their faciltators were guiding their fingers towards letters or icons?

What are the pre-requisites?

Video modeling typically involves presenting a videotaped sample of models engaged in a specific series of scripted actions and/or vocalizations. The videotaped model is shown 2 or 3 times and then the child is given an opportunity to perform the modeled response. The usefulness of this form of prompting has been well established but not all children learn through video modeling.

The Vaccines Cause Autism Hypotheses Lose in Court

Special Master Hastings expressed extreme sympathy with the situation the family faced with their daughter's condition. He also stated that the Cedillo family had been mislead by a bevy of charlatans who posed as experts when, in fact, they either had scant qualifications to testify or were basing their testimony on faulty assumptions.

Troubled Waters For Autism’s False Prophets

 There has been no sound scientific evidence establishing a link between thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism.

Is Autism an Imprinting Error?

Imprinting establishes the parent as very important, a potent reinforcer, and a significant cue.

Do all children learn with the same teaching procedures?

Having teaching procedures that are generally effective doesn't cut it. If we are interested in doing something other than leaving all children behind equally, we will need to catch those deficits in learning and remediate them.

Did Thomas Jefferson like flapping his hands?

As the child with autism ages, they learn to engage in additional forms of stereotypy and, perhaps, the motivation to engage in stereotypy increases.

The Autism-Vaccines Myth: The Impact of the Media

 Clearly, the media can serve to protect the public interest but more often than not they fail to do so.

The Radical in Radical Behaviorism

 Psychologists have a long history of ignoring (e.g., Koch, 1964), not understanding (e.g., Rogers, 1964), and/or intentionally misinterpreting (e.g., Chomsky, 1959) behavior analytic interpretations of psychology.

Dishonest, discredited, and absent: Wakefield is thoughtless at home

 Among the dozens of charges the GMC deemed proven against Wakefield are that he provided a research proposal to a lawyer seeking to sue vaccine manufacturers for causing autism.

Self-Harm or a Request For Help?

 In some cases problem behavior seemed to suggest that the person was asking for attention or access to a preferred activity or escape from some activity they found unpleasant.

Wading Through the Minefield of Autism Treatments

Professional testimonials of a treatment's effectiveness, in the absence of controlled demonstrations of the outcome of therapy, should be considered as unreliable at least partly due to the financial benefit of providing service.

Is Eliminating Casein and Gluten From a Child’s Diet a Viable TX for Autism?

 Going from such selective acceptance of food to eating other foods often takes quite a long time. The only situations in which I would recommend restricting access to food would be if the child had a documented food allergy or excessively consumed food.

Are children with ASDs more likely to have GI problems?

 In 1998 Andrew Wakefield suggested that the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine produced enterocolitis, injuring the gastrointestinal lining of children who would subsequently develop autism. One clear implication of this suggestion was that children with autism should have more gastrointestinal problems than children who are typically developing. A recent study strongly suggests that this is not true.

Isn't Behaviorism Dead?

A radical behaviorist, you may be thinking to yourself, why would they let one of those in here?  Behaviorism was thrown to the curb long ago.  What could this outdated perspective possibly add to our understanding of autism?  Well, Skinner's Radical Behaviorism is thriving and the application of behavior analysis for the treatment of autism is the main reason for this.