Follow Us by Email Now

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Dangers of an Unregulated Field

Dear Moms, Dads and Professionals:

As a professional with formal education in principles of behaviour, psychology, philosophy and child-education I can honestly tell you that I learn something new everyday. The day I've said "I've seen it all", is the day I will retire. Until then, every day is a learning experience.

It never ceases to amaze me how many professionals are in the "behaviour and special education community" without the credentials to back-up their expertise. Parents sometimes see the specialist as the expert (at all costs), and forget to ask the important hard hitting questions; how do you know what you know? Who trained you? What formal education to you possess in your area of expertise? If the answer is none or no one you are in BIG trouble. If the answer is "I possess strong interest" you are likewise in BIG trouble.

There are two kinds of misleading professionals out there; there are those with the credentials but not the expertise (i.e. they talk to the talk but don't walk the walk) and then there are those with expertise but not credentials (they walk the walk, but they usually don't talk the talk). If you are paying for a service, you deserve to have someone who can BOTH talk the talk, and walk the walk; if your consultants gets defensive about his or her educational background, or answers the question of expertise with what he or she wishes to do ("I'm may do a Certificate in XYZ, or I'm thinking of becoming an XYZ") you should probably seek support elsewhere.

Please note: I have worked with some incredible mentors and brilliant professors...BUT....No one can know it all and know one can be masters of all fields. The good ones don't claim to be; they work within their framework of knowledge and believe it or not...make meaningful change. If someone is claiming to know it all, they are probably full of it.

Don't take my word for it; hire a non-behvaiourally trained consultant and ask them for a behaviour protocol. If it looks like a short story or an anecdotal account, you are in BIG trouble. Run away. Run far, far away AND ask for your money back. If there is no data as to frequency, if the word baseline does not appear, if the words generalization and fading are not included...SPRINT away. Bottom line is, if you are not formally trained, you need to make way for the people who are.


What fields should I know about that are unregulated and what education am I looking for?

ABA/IBI Therapists-SEEK PROFESSIONALS WITH AT LEAST POST GRADUATE TRAINING IN AUTISM OR A RELATED FIELD INCLUDING BEHAVIOR, PSYCHOLOGY OR SOCIAL WORK.

ABA/IBI Supervisor/Senior Therapist/Program Writer- SEEK PROFESSIONALS WITH AT LEAST MASTERS LEVEL DEGREE IN BEHAVIOUR, ABA, PSYCHOLOGY, EARLY INTERVENTION.

 Behavioural Therapist and Early Interventionist-SEEK PROFESSIONALS WITH AT LEAST MASTERS LEVEL DEGREE IN BEHAVIOUR, ABA, PSYCHOLOGY, EARLY INTERVENTION.

Social Skills Intervention- SEEK PROFESSIONALS WITH AT LEAST POST GRADUATE TRAINING IN AUTISM OR A RELATED FIELD INCLUDING BEHAVIOR, PSYCHOLOGY OR SOCIAL WORK. SUPERVISED BY SOMEONE AT THE MASTERS LEVEL OR BEYOND.

Summer Camp Programs SEEK PROFESSIONALS WITH AT LEAST POST GRADUATE TRAINING IN AUTISM OR A RELATED FIELD INCLUDING BEHAVIOR, PSYCHOLOGY OR SOCIAL WORK. SUPERVISED BY SOMEONE AT THE MASTERS LEVEL OR BEYOND.

Occupational therapy and Sensory Integration- SEEK PROFESSIONALS WITH FORMAL TRAINING IN OCCUPATIONAL  AND PHYSICAL THERAPY; OCCUPATIONAL THERAPISTS AND/OR OT ASSISTANTS ARE TRAINED BY RECOGNIZED COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES.

Friday, 13 April 2012

My Kid's been "Red Flagged"

It's common for parents to reach out to consultants when a professional mentions that certain "red flags" are occurring that may or may not be indicative of an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Professionals like early childhood educators, teachers or speech therapists may be the first to recognize these red flags. My kid has been red flagged; does that mean my child has Autism? No. Not necessarily.

The only person qualified to diagnose and assess are psychologists and doctors with specific training in diagnostic criteria. Not all doctors or psychologists have the same specialization; just because the credentials are there, doesn't mean the practical knowledge is.

What it DOES mean is that your child appears, based on the topography* of his behaviour, to share learning similarities with some kids on the spectrum; your child may or may not have Autism.
*topography is the way the behaviour appears; what it looks like to you as an observer,

Professionals like me, are not able to diagnose or assess accordance with DSM criteria; we work hands on with learners with with exceptionalities all day every day, and have a different kind of understand of ability and progress. I understand the term "red flag" to come from recognizing several key identifiers of ASD and it is often used interchangeably with word characteristics, and traits. Many individuals share traits and characteristics with individuals on the Autism Spectrum, and yet these individuals are neurotypical by all accounts. All humans demonstrate behaviours, so it's no wonder that at some point our behaviours share similar topographies, typical or exceptional.

If your child has been red-flagged, don't panic; proceed with caution until you find an educated professional, willing to work with your family to help you understand your child's individual needs, irrelevant of eventual diagnosis (which I do recommend if a psycho-educational assessment is feasible).
SEE HERE:

http://www.autismontario.com/client/aso/ao.nsf/Durham/Red+Flags+for+Autism

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Autism Advocacy...What a Community!

I posted a question on the Autism Ontario message board about navigating the IPRC process; I was astonished with how many people responded with thoughtful, passionate advice. Until today I did not feel the presence of the Toronto community, but here it is! If you're not part of this group, I recommend you search it in Yahoo Groups and join us.

It occurred to me that many parents are in the process of navigating the IPRC process and/or school board in general, so I here are some tools from me to you (some of which were shared with members of the Autism Ontario Yahoo group).

http://oacrs.com/en/asklindsayarchive: An archive of questions and answers from parents to advocate Lindsay Moir; it's absolutely full of information that every parent should know. His words are inspiring, and well founded.

http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/parents/speced.html Ministry of Education Information on special needs resources, rights


http://www.health.gov.on.ca/english/public/program/adp/adp_mn.html Information on getting assistance devices for communication, mobility and so on.

http://www.jfcy.org/  Justic for Children and Youth to speak with lawyers regarding issues of children's educational rights.

Thanks to everyone who responded :) I promise to PAY IT FORWARD!

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

To those who think they have seen it all...


These pictures are here because they remind me, like this article, that perspective is extremely important.


Found this post in a draft pile; I think I was hesitant to publish it because there were a lot of emotions attached to it. Now, with some perspective, I am happy to share.



To those who think they have seen it all:

You know who I mean, the teaching professionals that have been in the game "forever" and always know just what is "best". Now I realize I sound like a rebellious teenager ranting about his parents but bear with me, because I am going somewhere noble with this.

A brilliant professor once said "just because you can talk the talk, does not mean you can walk the walk".

I can't help but think that when they (the people who know it all) talk, they are speaking the right language, but the words are all mixed up. They use words like reinforcement, negative and positive behaviors and re-direction and they think they have a grasp on a very complex field of study; they make judgments based on what will and won't work without acknowledging functions of behavior, or environmental variables to say the least. Worse yet, they Google "Autism" to find suitable courses of action....as if suddenly by a stroke of genius, the answer should appear on a pop-up ad...when that doesn't happen, then what?

Now believe me I know, behaviorism as a field is fairly new; too new for it to be a topic of study when these so-called "seen it all" degrees were sought, but don't you think you owe it to your profession to get up to date? A successful professional is constantly seeking self-development; the day that a professional says "I have seen it all" is the day that professional should retire (that kind of attitude is totally out of date).

I know that behaviourism, or it's application of ABA, is a fairly new and eclectic teaching style, and I expected to face this kind of attitude...it is an uphill climb to widespread acceptance. Resisting the ABA methodology because it is new and the effects are often long-term rather than immediate, is something I can begrudgingly accept, but resisting the inclusion of a child because he can't possibly be getting anything from the way he interacts with the world, is outrageous. It is not that this child's needs cannot be met, it is that you are not capable of assessing his abilities, needs or progress. Be wise enough to admit when something it out of your range of professional expertise, no matter how much you "know" you can't "know it all".

The hardest for me is when professionals ask questions like, why won't he interact with others? Why won't she join the group or sing along? Why won't she take part in play? It is almost like they cannot fathom how they could support a child unconditionally, given his differences. There is no way to convey my teaching philosophies in one blog, but if there was, it would start with the words UNCONDITIONAL ACCEPTANCE (upon which there can be no stipulations or fine print).