Positive behavior support gaining ground!

Well folks... It’s finally happening... The Positive Behavior Support practitioners are actually gaining legitimacy!!!! Propaganda at its best and brought to you by the Faculty of Special Education at a respected university...

I read with great dismay the latest article,
What to do about autism, which describes the topic of a five day teaching institute as follows:

“But research indicates there are ways of handling the behaviors of autistic children — namely Positive Behavior Support and Applied Behavior Analysis — that, over time, can improve the quality of life for both child and family...”

One of the keynote topics, in this Faculty of Special Education sponsored seminar, is: “Effective Teaching Strategies, PBS, and Ethical Behavior Interventions”. If you are new to the world of autism treatments, this may not seem out of the ordinary; however, you need to know that “Positive Behavior Support” is philosophy, not science; moreover, I would argue that PBS is actually dangerous for children with autism and personally made sure that no well-meaning, but completely ignorant “special educator” practicing PBS got closer than a mile away from my child when she was in the school system. There is a great chapter in Controversial Therapies for Developmental Disabilities where the authors go into detail about this form of pseudo-science. In addition, I also devote some time to this unfortunate metastasizing cancer of a therapy in my latest book.

Let’s boil down the issue to its rancid essence: PBS is all about changing the world, or in their jargon-speak “re-engineering the environment” to make it easier for people with special needs to be included. If they re-engineer an environment successfully, then PBS works... I’m sure that every legitimate autism researcher would love to be able to take this kind of data (on the adult’s ability to interior decorate, not the child’s ability to learn from, and adapt to, their environment)!!! Of course, this begs the question: who is the therapy for... the typically developing adults, or the special needs person? If researchers want to take data on typically developing adults, they should go ahead; but don’t call it therapy, and don’t waste our children’s time when providing them access to bona fide Applied Behavior Analytic (ABA) professionals could be changing their life trajectory in a truly meaningful way.

What motivated me to write about this today, though, is the fact that they are putting Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), and Positive Behavior Support (PBS) in the same category and, thereby, attempting to take the legitimacy of 40 years of research from ABA and “borrow” it to conflate the two approaches (which have very different outcomes)!

So..., my bottom line for new parents is
BEWARE OF POSITIVE BEHAVIOR SUPPORT. Chances are that it’s coming to a neighborhood school near you!