Tag Archive for 'Research'

Yikes! A presidential commission on vaccines?

In 10 January 2017’s Washington (DC, US) Post, Abby Phillip, Lena H. Sun, and Lenny Bernstein reported that US President-elect Donald J. Trump is apparently considering creating a commission on autism. The sensational headline is “Vaccine skeptic Robert Kennedy Jr. says Trump asked him to lead commission on ‘vaccine safety’.”

There are multiple other versions of this item,

  1. Dan Merica of CNN (with video): “Trump team denies skeptic Robert F. Kennedy Jr. was asked to head vaccine commission“;
  2. CBS News: “ Robert Kennedy Jr. says he will chair “vaccination safety” committee for Trump“; and
  3. Domenico Montenaro of NPR with “Despite The Facts, Trump Once Again Embraces Vaccine Skeptics.”

And, for an opinion piece on the “news” event, see Brandy Zadrozny’s take from The Daily Beast, “Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Compared Vaccines to a Holocaust—and Now Trump Wants Him to Investigate Their ‘Safety’Notorious anti-vaxxer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. thinks pediatricians are like Nazi concentration camp guards—and Trump just gave him the power to promote the disproven vaccine-autism link.”

Gerald R. Patterson, 1926-2016


Gerald R. Patterson
1926-2016

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.

Matt Brodhead on halting the spread of FC

While we’re on the topic of facilitated communication (FC or “supported typing” or “rapid prompting”), readers might want to watch a TEDx presentation by Professor Matt Brodhead. As though familiar with TED talks know, this is brief presentation and in it Professor Brodhead focuses squarely on a clear presentation about FC: “We must stop this now.”

National Academies EBP guidelines

The US National Academies Press published a a booklet recommending a framework for promoting evidence-based practices in the areas of mental health and substance abuse. The focus is not expressly on children and youths or on education, which are key concerns for EBD Blog, but the emphases on evidence-based practices (EBP) in mental health and substance abuse certainly overlap sufficiently to make this report of potential interest to readers.

Because the guidelines come from the National Academies, they will carry substantial weight. For the purposes of many who work with students who have EBD, there is similar useful guidance about EBP from a work group composed of leaders from the Division for Research—Bryan Cook (chair), Viriginia Buysse, the late Janette Klingner, Tim Landrum, Robin McWilliam, Melody Tankersley, and Dave Test— of the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC). In January of 2014, the CEC group presented guidance to help consumers determine whether a practice should be considered as (a) evidence-based, (b) potentially evidence-based, (c) having mixed evidence, (d) having insufficient evidence, or (e) having negative evidence. Readers can download their own copy of the standards from the CEC Website and read the CEC press release about the standards.

Continue reading ‘National Academies EBP guidelines’

Editors helping each other?

Journal editors come and go, but the changes rarely make the news. This is not the case with the change in editorship at Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders (RASD) and Research in Developmental Disabilities (RIDD), which drew coverage in Times Higher Education (THE). It’s not exactly the change in the editorship that is the news, but some the activities of the editor that have resulted in headlines. First, let’s do the news and get that out of the way. Then we can delve into the details.

On 26 February 2015 in THE, Paul Jump reported that Johnny Matson, former editor of RASD and RIDD denied doing anything wrong:

A senior psychology professor has strongly denied any wrongdoing after a blog highlighted what it claimed was his high self-citation rate in papers published in journals he edited.

Johnny Matson, a professor at Louisiana State University and an expert in autism, was the founding editor in chief of the Elsevier journals Research in Developmental Disabilities (RIDD) and Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders (RASD).
Continue reading ‘Editors helping each other?’

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.

US report: Up to 1 in 5 children experience a mental disorder

In a report released 16 May 2013, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC; 2013) indicated that as many as 13-20% of US children experience a mental disorder annually. The CDC based it’s estimate on the familiar report of the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine (2009) as well as other data gathered more recently. These are broad-scope data that incorporate a wide array of mental disorders, but they help to capture the range of issues that confront mental health services.

According to the CDC estimates,

Data collected from a variety of data sources between the years 2005-2011 show:
Children aged 3-17 years currently had:

  • ADHD (6.8%)
  • Behavioral or conduct problems (3.5%)
  • Anxiety (3.0%)
  • Depression (2.1%)
  • Autism spectrum disorders (1.1%)
  • Tourette syndrome (0.2%) (among children aged 6–17 years)

Adolescents aged 12–17 years had:

  • Illicit drug use disorder in the past year (4.7%)
  • Alcohol use disorder in the past year (4.2%)
  • Cigarette dependence in the past month (2.8%)

There is much that can be done to help. It can’t be done without the help of concerned adults who lobby, vote, and work hard otherwise on behalf of our children.

References

National Research Council and Institute of Medicine. Preventing mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders among young people: Progress and possibilities. Washington, DC: The National Academic Press; 2009.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2013). Mental health surveillance among children – United States, 2005—2011. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 62(Suppl; May 16, 2013), 1-35.

ASAT newsletter #1 for 2013

The first newsletter of 2013 from the Association for Science in Autism Treatment is available. Download the latest issue of the ASAT newsletter for free and get your own subscription for free, too. Do I think this is a good deal? Yep!