Tag Archive for 'Parents'

Gerald R. Patterson, 1926-2016

Gerald R. Patterson

Gerald Roy Patterson, internationally renowned scientist and psychologist, died 22 August 2016 in Eugene, Oregon (US). Born in Lakota, North Dakota (US), on 26 July 1926, Patterson was considered by many to be among the founders of contemporary family psychology, particularly for his contributions to the scientific understanding of parent-child and marital relations. In addition, however, those who knew “Jerry” knew that he also embraced life closely, engaging in many outdoors activities, enjoying fine dining, and gathering with friends.

After serving in the Army in the Pacific theater in World War II, Patterson returned home and began post-secondary studies at Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin, and then Gustavus Adolphus in St. Peters, Minnesota. Ultimately, he earned a bachelors degree and then a masters degree in psychology from the University of Oregon. He then matriculated at the University of Minnesota, from which he earned a Ph.D. in 1956, defending a dissertation entitled “A Tentative Approach to the Classification of Children’s Behavior Problems.”

Over 50 years later, the University of Minnesota recognized Patterson’s contributions by awarding him its Outstanding Achievement Award. The Minnesota award is one among many Patterson received during his lifetime. The American Psychological Association (APA) and groups within it recognized him repeatedly. He received the Distinguished Scientific Award for the Applications of Psychology from the APA, itself; the G. Stanley Hall Award and the Urie Bronfenbrenner Award for Lifetime Contribution to Developmental Psychology in the Service of Science and Society from the APA’s Developmental Psychology, Division 7; the Distinguished Scientist Award from from the APA’s Section III, Division 12; the Distinguished Professional Contribution Award from the APA’s Section I, Division 12. Other awards include the James McKeen Cattell Fellow Award from the American Psychological Society; the Trailblazer Award from the American Association of Behavior Therapists’ Parenting and Families Special Interest Group; Presidential Award from the Society for Prevention Research; the Award for Distinguished Scientific Contributions to Developmental Psychology from the Society for Research in Child Development; the Cumulative Contribution to Research in Family Therapy Award from the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy; and the Distinguished Contributions to Family Therapy award from the American Family Therapy Association.

The reasons for Patterson receiving such substantial recognition are many, but they reduce to just a few major themes. He and his colleagues considered it sensible to study social aggression (or conduct problems) in children by closely examining the interactions between children and others—particularly their parents—in their environments; using intensive observations of these interactions, they were able to identify basic psychological mechanisms (especially negative reinforcement) the led to the development of coercive family processes (Patterson, 1982). Using this understanding, Patterson and his colleagues were able to develop and refine a successful method for teaching parents how to manage the behavior of their socially-aggressive children by, essentially, learning to manage their own parenting behavior. Having a stable way to examine coercive family processes and a powerful program for changing them allowed the group then to examine systematically other contributors (e.g., maternal depression, child abuse, stress) to difficulty in family processes.

Patterson and his colleagues insisted on employing strong scientific methods throughout their work. He was, he said, as much concerned with the methods employed to study phenomena as he was concerned with what he learned from the studies; if he couldn’t trust the methods, then he couldn’t trust the findings. Although he was a capable designer of studies and data analyst, Patterson collaborated with measurement experts and other methodologists, as well. He regularly engaged in detailed discussions about not just the theoretical aspects of scientific problems but also how different analyses might lead to different conclusions. His attention to such matters enhanced the strength of his contributions.

Patterson documented his work in 100s of articles, chapters, and books, often collaborating with the late John B. Reid, Thomas Dishion, and his long-time companion, Marion Forgatch. Many of the books (e.g., Antisocial Boys) were resources for scholars, but other books (e.g., Living with Children) were widely distributed because they clearly explained important principles to general audiences.

According to his own Web site and the published obituary, Jerry grew up in the northern woods and lakes and had a great love of the outdoors. He joked about catching fish from a canoe, cutting them open to examine the contents of their stomachs, conducting a quick analysis of variance, and then choosing which flies to use for his next casts accordingly. When I first got to know him in the mid-1970s, he and Marion were preparing to hike part of the north slope of Alaska—starting from inside the Arctic Circle and crossing the Brooks Range—before the area was going to be opened for oil drilling and the “arctic pipeline.” They returned with magnificent pictures of wilderness accompanied by superb stories of wearing bells on their packs and “tussocking” across the tundra.

A gentle man and a scholar graced our time and left us gifts. I’ll cherish them.

Patterson, G. R. (1982). Coercive family process. Eugene, OR: Castalia.

Patterson, G. R., & Gullion, M. E. (1968). Living with children: New methods for parents and teachers. Champaign, IL: Research Press.

Patterson, G. R., Reid, J. B., & Dishion, T. J. (1992). A social learning approach: IV. Antisocial boys. Eugene, OR: Castalia.

A parent’s perspective on autism

Katherine Osnos Sanford, who blogs at KatherineSanford.com, published an article in the Washington Post 26 April 2016 under the headline, “Want to know what it’s really like to have a child with autism?” that provides an insightful glimpse into some of the thoughts of parents of young children with autism. In just over 1100 words, Ms. Sanford captures a lot. There’s Saturday morning errands, education issues, considerations about the future, and family visits with neighbors.

There’re also challenges. Dressing an eight-year old who uses diapers. Contending with a meltdown in a public place.

My husband and I are at our local garden store, running errands on a typical Saturday, when Mae, our 8-year-old, becomes agitated. She quickly goes from bunny-hopping down the Azalea aisle — smile on her face, dimples on display — to growing fidgety and vaguely cranky to screaming and hitting herself. The sound is horrifying. Heads turn toward us.

Mae is wearing a bathing suit under her leggings, not because we have plans to go to the pool but because she still wears diapers and recently developed a habit of removing them — spandex and complicated straps slow her down. In this moment, she’s got rock-star hair: What’s usually a neat black pageboy is sticking up four inches, thanks to the way she compulsively rotates her head back and forth in bed as she falls asleep. Her beautiful long eyelashes now are plastered together with inconsolable tears — trying to intervene only ever makes it worse.

I don’t want to foist this on other people, and I want to protect my daughter. So I scoop her up — for now, at 48 pounds, she’s still light enough to carry — and take her back to the car, where I can strap her into her car seat, keep her from hurting herself and limit the sensory assault on her brain.

It occurs to me that it’s Autism Awareness month, and we’ve just hosted our own autism awareness event at the store.

Go read the entire article.

Children with Autism in public businesses: A mother’s wishes.

Lauren Swick Jordan blogs at “Lauren-I Don’t Have a Job” about her stay-at-home life (job?) raising two sons, one of whom has Autism. Drawing on news about an airline flight being diverted to remove a family with a child with who has Autism, Ms. Jordan reworked one of her posts into an article that appeared in the Washington (DC, US) Post:

There has been a big story in the news recently about a family being kicked off of a United Airlines plane due to a fear that the daughter with autism mom would disrupt the flight. According to reports, the non-verbal daughter was in the early stages of feeling hungry, and her mom knew she needed to eat to avoid a meltdown. But the only warm food on the plane was for the first class passengers. The mom pleaded with the flight attendant, explained her daughter had special needs, and offered to pay extra for the food. Finally the flight attendant accommodated the family only after the mother explained that if she didn’t eat, “she’ll be crying and trying to scratch in frustration. I don’t want her to get to that point.” The family received the food and the mom and daughter settled in for their flight. All was well.

Here is where that story should have ended.

Instead, the flight attendant told the plane captain, who decided to make an emergency landing and have police escort the family, complete with a calm daughter, off of the plane.

Please read Ms. Jordan’s full story, Here’s the right way to treat a kid with autism (United Airlines, take note) from the Post. See her original post here.

Autism encounters with law enforcement

Have you ever fretted about what would happen if someone who has not learned to comply with commands encounters someone who expects immediate compliance? Suppose further that the person who relies on immediate compliance might escalate his or her demands for compliance when the other person, say a child who has behavior problems, does not immediately comply.

In a family or a classroom we might call this a “power struggle.” In the language of Patterson and his colleagues (Patterson, 1982; Patterson & Reid, 1970; Patterson, Reid, & Dishon, 1992), it’s the reciprocal escalation that forms the coercion cycle. When it occurs between an officer of the law and a child with Autism, I’d call it a recipe for disaster, even a nightmare scenario. It’s one about which I’ve written previously, more than once.

Here’s an example of that nightmare come true, as reported by Susan Ferriss of the Center for Public Integrity:

Diagnosed as autistic, the sixth-grader was being scolded for misbehavior one day and kicked a trash can at Linkhorne Middle School in Lynchburg, Virginia, in the Blue Ridge Mountains. A police officer assigned to the school witnessed the tantrum, and filed a disorderly conduct charge against the sixth grader in juvenile court.

Just weeks later, in November, Kayleb, who is African-American, disobeyed a new rule — this one just for him — that he wait while other kids left class. The principal sent the same school officer to get him.

“He grabbed me and tried to take me to the office,” said Kayleb, a small, bespectacled boy who enjoys science. “I started pushing him away. He slammed me down, and then he handcuffed me.”

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Plait on Kouric’s mea culpa

In Katie Couric Apologizes for Anti-Vax Episode, but It’s Not Enough, Phil Plait (DBA “Bad Astronomer”) explains why Ms. Couric’s mea culpa for her giving excessive credibility to the incredible, post-hoc-ergo-propter-hoc stories of parents claiming vaccinations caused problems for their children. Mr. Plait, who branches out beyond astronomy to cover scientific matters in general from time to time, comes to essentially the same conclusion as Michael Hiltzik: No matter how strong her disclaimer, and Ms. Couric’s falls a bit short of being an abject retraction, she can’t take back the effect of having provided the highly visible stage for the anti-vaccination advocates.

It’s coverage like this, the embrace of facilitated communication, and even the pervasive endorsement of learning styles that makes it hard for reason and evidence to make headway in providing services for individuals with disabilities. Those of us who champion evidence-based approaches sometimes feel like were swimming upstream in sewer.

Analyzing K. Couric’s mea culpa

In “Katie Couric backs off from her anti-vaccine show–but not enough,” Michael Hiltzik provided a sensible and nuanced analysis of Ms. Couric’s recant of her recent mistaken grant of airtime to anti-vaccination advocates. Mr. Hiltzik gives Ms. Couric credit for “fessing up” to many of the mistakes in the show but he very simply noted, “You should read [her entire Huffington Post article]. But you should know that Couric didn’t go far enough.”

After cataloging the many appropriate retractions in Ms. Couric’s mea culpa, Mr. Hiltzik explains the basic problem: People are going to remember the heart-wrenching scenes from the original broadcast, not the cool, rational explanation of the print retraction. I recommend readers review his well-reasoned and -written column.

Little Keswick to feature talk by Ross Greene

The Little Keswick Foundation for Special Education, a philanthropic group associated with the Little Keswick School in central Virginia, announced that Ross Greene, author of The Explosive Child and Lost at School, will speak at its 16th Annual Education Symposium scheduled for 10 October 2013 from 7:00 to 9:00 PM at Piedmont Virginia Community College’s V. Earl Dickinson Center. The session, entitled “Collaborative & Proactive Solutions: Understanding and Helping Behaviorally Challenging Kids (and their Caregivers),” is open to the public and there is no admission fee.

A child psychologist, Ross Greene has taught courses for the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and the Department of Psychology at Virginia Tech. He is founder of Lives in the Balance, a non-profit devoted to explaining and supporting his theraputic approach, called “Collaborative Problem Solving.” In addition to his books, Professor Greene has published research articles in well-respected journals such as Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, American Journal of Psychiatry, and Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders.
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Bad Astronomy on bad TV programming

Phil Plait, who is known for his “Bad Astronomy” Web presence (and let’s not confuse that with astrology, which is bad, forsooth!), hit the Internet with a critique of Jennifer “Jenny” McCarthy’s appointment to host a television show. Over on his Slate blog, Mr. Plait (he has a Ph.D. from the university where I teach, so I could say “Dr.” but we refer to each other as “Ms.” or “Mr.” in this neighborhood) provides what I might describe as something close to a blistering indictment of the appointment:

I was hoping I wouldn’t have to write this post, but here we are: The daytime talk show The View has indeed hired Jenny McCarthy as a co-host. I wrote about this last week, alerting people to the possibility, and now it’s now been confirmed. She’ll find her spot on the program this fall.

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