Tag Archive for 'Treatment'

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.”

Students with EBD Hit Hardest by Texas Cap in Special Ed Enrollment

According to reports Brian M. Rosenthal published in the Houston (TX, US) Chronicle, since the early 2000s when the Texas Education Agency (TEA) essentially limited enrollment in special education to 8.5% of the school population, the category of students with disabilities that saw the largest decline in enrollment was emotional disturbance.

Mr. Rosenthal published a series of articles reporting his investigation of systematic denial of services to students with disabilities in Texas beginning in September 2016. The TEA created a system for rating local education agencies’ special education programs that included a benchmark for how many students should be be enrolled. In an installment published 19 November 2016 and entitled “Mentally ill lose out as special ed declines,” he begins the report with the story of Alston Jeffus, an adolescent who is on his way home after spending months in a state hospital. Here are a few paragraphs from Mr. Rosenthal’s article:

The Texas Education Agency’s decision to set an 8.5 percent target for special education enrollment has led schools to cut services for children with all types of disabilities, but mentally ill students like Alston have been disproportionately affected, the Houston Chronicle has found.

Federal law requires schools to provide counseling, therapy, protection from discipline and other support to children with “emotional disturbances,” including severe anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. Today, however, Texas schools serve 42 percent fewer of those students, relative to overall enrollment, than when the TEA set the benchmark in 2004.

It is a bigger drop than has occurred in almost any other disability category.

In all, an estimated 500,000 school-age children in Texas have a serious mental illness that interferes with their functioning in family, school or community activities, according to the state Health and Human Services Commission.

Only 30,034 receive special education services.

There is a lot more to this story (subscription may be required). I recommend it to readers. Also, I encourage readers haven’t been following Mr. Rosenthal’s excellent reporting on this matter to catch up; the Chronicle published a guide to the series.

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.

More Syracuse U. and FC

In “Syracuse, Apple, and Autism Pseudoscience” (Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, 28 April 2016), Stuart Vyse (a) updated the long-standing concerns about facilitated communication (FC) with notes about events at Syracuse (the student newspaper questioned the recommended recognizing the support for FC as an error in judgment and more), (b) provided a history of the rapid prompting method (RPM) and explains how it compares to FC, and (c) expressed concern that Apple’s iPad is closely connected with RPM via an advertisement celebrating a young man who uses RPM and with an organization (Autistic Self Advocacy Network) that expressly touts FC.

Professor Vyse noted that the paucity of research about whether individuals using RPM are communicating independently is concerning. He’s exactly right about this. I shall not tell all his conclusions here. Readers should read his essay themselves. It’s worth it.

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.

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.”

Georgia students with EBD unnecessarily segregated and denied equal services

On 15 July 2015, The Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice declared that the U.S. state of Georgia had been illegally segregating students with behavior disorders from their peers and failing to provide them with appropriate educational services. The case arises because of a public system in Georgia called the Georgia Network for Educational and Therapeutic Support (GNETS) Program, a statewide system of services designed for students with emotional or behavioral health needs that began in the 1970s and today serves approximately 5000 students.

According to a letter sent to Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal and Attorney Gen. Sam Olens, Georgia

in its operation and administration of the GNETS Program, violates Title II of the ADA by unnecessarily segregating students with disabilities from their peers. In addition, the GNETS Program provides opportunities to its students that are unequal to those provided to students throughout the State who are not in the GNETS Program.

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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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