I seldom see a newspaper article about a child learning to read through the use of phonics. I guess that’s not surprising. Most people know that phonics is an effective method to teach someone to read. There’s nothing that makes it especially interesting enough to make the news. As Autism Awareness month ends, I noticed that I seldom saw newspaper articles about children with autism learning new skills through behavioral treatment. Most articles or TV coverage I saw focused on the latest medication, diet, or novel intervention that has made a big difference in one child’s life. Again, I guess that’s not surprising.
Behavioral treatment did receive some attention in the late 80’s and early 90’s. It’s been around for a while though, and a novel intervention that leads to spectacular results with one particular child makes for a better news story. Don’t get me wrong. It’s worth following up on those anecdotes with solid research; what works with one child may work with others. But news can be misleading, because what makes good news does not always make for good research.
Ironically, behavioral treatment suffers from the fact that it has worked so well. It is the “same old story.” In literally hundreds of research studies in peer reviewed journals, behavioral treatment has worked over and over again to help individuals with autism learn new skills. Unfortunately, many families and educators have still never heard of ABA as an effective treatment for autism. Please share your story with us here so that we can spread the news.
By Vince LaMarca, M.A., BCBA, Editor
Lovaas Institute - Indianapolis