walkitout (walkitout) wrote,

_Behavioral Detective_, Newman et al

Subtitled: A Staff Training Exercise Book in Applied Behavior Analysis

I bought 3 Bobby Newman books from Amazon, because I spend so much time slamming Skinnerian behaviorism, and I'm stuck dealing with it in real life so I might as well try to understand what it is. Right? I picked Newman, because I didn't have any other place to start and Newman seemed like an entertaining writer and a somewhat reasonable human being.

The good news: ABA (at least according to Newman et al) is way down on aversives, basically exists to break useful-for-life tasks down into appropriate, bite size segments and then help the learner reassemble them into something they can use. Motivation and prompts are provided during the learning process, but generally success involves the skill being available and used by the learner without ongoing prompts and/or motivators.

The bad news: still with the emphasis on conformity. Gah!

The structure of this book is a series of case studies, with the "answers" at the back. This book is not primarily aimed at parents (altho parents are both participants and part of the audience) -- that's what the "staff training exercise" in the subtitle means. The case studies are anonymized but based on real instances, told by a variety of people -- including an older sibling in one case, and a parent in at least one other. Many, however, are told from the perspective of a consultant (Newman, or someone else) who was called in because a program wasn't working and someone wasn't happy about that. As often as not, it was a parent who called in the consultant, and the consultant encountered some stiff resistance from the people running the program.

It is quite daunting to contemplate some of the completely wacky things people try. It's hard to know what they were thinking. In other cases, the errors fallen into were ones I might _still_ make, after having read about them. I particularly appreciated that the authors repeatedly point out that just because someone has a pervasive developmental disorder does _not_ make them asexual.

_Behaviorspeak_ is, quite literally, a glossary for ABA. _Behaviorask_ is a FAQ. I've been mired in _speak_ for over a week. I may now make a bigger effort to get through _ask_.

I don't know why you'd need to read about ABA, but if you do, this is at least amusing.
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