Alfie Kohn on Autism and Learning
Alfie Kohn thinks a lot about parenting and teaching kids. He’s a well known leader and expert in education – if you’re a teacher, you’ve probably read something written by him.
Recently he turned his attention to the research – and differences between – autism therapies. In the following article, he starts by reviewing the ethical concerns about ABA, and then reviews two large-scale reviews of ABA research.
It’s important to ask, “Whenever a strategy (in any domain) is said to “work” or be “effective,” it’s always worth asking how those words are being used. ” ABA works. The important question is what you want it to do.
Also notable in this article is the recognition that there IS research supporting approaches other than ABA. “One with a particularly strong theoretical base and clinical track record is DIR/Floortime, developed by the late child psychiatrist Stanley Greenspan, whose priority was “to avoid focusing only on changing the behavior.” The DIR model emphasizes emotional development, individual differences, and trusting relationships. “
As parents and teachers, it’s our job to match our approach to the ways we hope our child will grow. When I was choosing a therapy for my children, I tried to ask what criteria I should use for making a choice. That’s what this article offers. If you’re looking for information to help you choose an autism therapy, check out this article. And if it interests you, links are provided to the two research reviews.