Thursday, January 9, 2014


Reading the article Voice of “silent prison” published in the LA Times on Sunday December 22, 2013, I feel Ido Kedar is talking on behalf of most of my students. He wrote “Ido in Autismland” to tell educators and experts that they had it all wrong.   

For starters, Ido, a non-verbal teenager who communicates through his IPad, calls autism “the silent prison.” And he states that autism and mental deficiency are not synonymous.  
“Autism”, Ido says, “is like being on LSD, it can be at times terrifying and overwhelming.”

Repetitive behaviors such as arm-flapping, string-twirling, finger-dancing, enhance Ido’s sensations and have a narcotic effect for him. Interesting, considering that parents, educators and therapists often tend to stop these behaviors. In a recent blog we published in November 2013, I state As “experts” on behavior management, our larger repertoire of strategies should be teaching appropriate, functional equivalent (serving the same purpose as the challenging behaviors) behavior repertoires. We should be behavior teachers.

Behaviors have a communicative function. The individual is conveying needs and wants. For example, when the student engages in self-stimulatory behaviors (tapping, self-talking, flapping hands, jumping, body rocking, etc.), he is telling us that he needs sensory stimulation. Thus, the recommended treatment  is (a) Provide Access to Alternative Sources of Stimulation; (b) Teach replacement behaviors: acceptable methods for gaining the same type of stimulation; and (c) Reward the replacement behaviors: use rewards that provide preferred sensations. Telling "stop", "quiet hands", "quiet mouth", etc. is not enough and should not be the only intervention.” Read more at .
Ido says that some of his worst teachers taught him what not to do. “They have to let go of their love for power,” he states. “I think they should all be kept mute one day and sit in an autism class as students, listening to baby talk and the weather.”

What a good idea! I say teachers, parents and “experts” in the field should spend more time putting themselves in the shoes of special needs kids, seeing the world through their eyes, and feeling through their skins, rather than asking (demanding, forcing, fighting?) them to adjust to the “normal” reality. When you hear cargo planes instead of vacuums, shotguns rather than dogs barking, and fire alarms instead of babies crying, following “the rules”, sitting quietly with your hands on the desk, standing in line or listening to the teacher is not the priority. As Ido put it “sensory minutiae that other people filter and organize, collide indiscriminately in your brain. Feelings of anger, sadness and even silliness can escalate, making it very difficult to calm down.” And yet, parents take the kids to a restaurant or the grocery store during rush hours and expect them to “behave.” Teachers sit the kids for long periods of time listening to boring and meaningless lessons or school assemblies and expect them to “behave.” And when the kids do not behave as expected, more often than not adults get angry and react out of frustration.

Special needs students have IEPs, Individualized Education Plans and yet, classroom curriculums, educational materials, physical settings, rules and instructional routines are often the same for the whole class. If parents, teachers and aides are not motivated and trained, and special accommodations and services are not provided consistently across people and settings, then precious time is wasted and special needs children are left in a state of recurrent punishment.
Let’s rescue them.

Daniel Adatto, BCBA

To read more about Ido go to,0,7978256.story#axzz2peAXCbA4


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