Sunday, May 27, 2007

Clinic Notes: The "Brat Syndrome" and Autism

When I was first starting out in ABA 30 + years ago I recall reading an article titled "The Brat Syndrome." The thesis of the article was that noncompliant behavior and tantrums or "brat behavior" in a child does not by itself constitute any psychiatric disorder or neuropsychological disorder. At the time ADHD was being over diagnosed and often children would receive an ADHD diagnosis just because they were noncompliant and had frequent tantrums (brat like). Now I see the same thing happening with autism. Noncompliant children are coming to my clinic with an autism diagnosis, usually conferred by a Special Ed teacher rather than a psychologist, pediatric neurologist, or psychiatrist. Many of my colleagues and associates do not like me to tell a parent that their child has the "Brat Syndrome." And I certainly do not tell a lot of parents that even when it is true. But a lot of parents are relieved when they hear that their child has the "Brat Syndrome" rather than autism.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Clinic Notes: It's the Season for the IEP's

If you are a parent of a child with behavior problems you have probably had to battle the school system in an IEP to get needed services. Often parents do not know what to ask for in an IEP meeting nor do they know their rights. (Unfortunately, school systems are equally in doubt about the law or play like they are.) For help go to a great website
for help.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Clinic Notes: ABA Workshops: The Good, Bad, and the Ugly

At least several times a week I am invited someplace to give an ABA workshop. The workshop audience that I am invited to speak to may be parents or other caregivers and that's good, but often the workshop is for professionals--therapists, teachers, classroom aides, etc. Nowadays my clinic is so over run with children with autism and my waiting list is so long that I politely decline, but even if I weren't busy I would decline most invitations. The problem is that with the popularity of ABA as a treatment for autism everybody wants to get into the ABA business. Most of the invitations come from organizations that want me to train their staff in ABA. In one day. Then the newly trained staff can go out and do their own ABA. And bill. Families and school systems do not know that the "ABA therapists" they are contracting with only have one day training and know just enough to be dangerous.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Clinic Notes: Asperger's and Bullying

Whenever I get young children in my clinic who have been diagnosed with high functioning autism or Asperger's I think about how they are going to fare in school. Of course, I know that if they are not compliant and verbal and have age appropriate skills they are not going to do well so these are the ABA programs that I run first. ABA programs to develop social skills are not run for a while and if they are then they are run with a lesser intensity. I want these kids to do well socially from the beginning but if I cannot get to the programs I know that social problems such as bullying don't usually start until middle school. I may have to rethink my ABA programming. According to a recent Schafer report Five elementary school student is Oregon are going to be charged with assault after they beat a classmate with autism with sticks.