Over the next weeks and months I will be talking a lot about how my company No Limits Behavioral Solutions is changing things on a very real and deep level. Since I returned to practice after Kreed’s death, I have been frustrated as a human and clinician. Everyone doing the same thing, the same way and with cookie cutter plans and programs. I was frustrated at ABA and what it had become. I had been in a Kreed cocoon, doing ABA as a parent and with pretty severe behaviors from our child, I was not paying attention to the way my field had been going and what people had been doing. I have always been different in my approaches, mainly due to Kreed and using my common sense and humanity as well as my science as a guide. And if people wonder how in the heck did I get Kreed to do so many new things, I will tell you a lot of it was based in a mutual trust Kreed and I had developed. He trusted that I would have him try new things but with correct support and that it might be a positive thing and that he would receive a lot of positive support and praise for doing it- and lots of love! And I trusted that he would give it a fair shot! More often then not Kreed saw it was a great thing I was trying to show him. And often eventually excelled like at water tubing lol. He learned to read because it got him good things! He learned some basic math because then I cooked more of his favorite foods. He learned to be independent because then he could do it himself and not have to ask me. Mutual trust and respect.
Later, his severe behavior morphed into something else- the pain of dying. I just didn’t know it. There was nothing I would have ever been able to do to stop that kind of pain in his body- hence the helmet and other devices so he wouldn’t split his head open. And the more panic in me as his behaviors morphed into literally trying to bite his fingers and toes off and if you’ve ever experienced nerve pain, imagine a nerve dying. Or taking a breath but not being able to breathe or feel like you took a breath because your body couldn’t handle the balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide and every breath was suffocating you as well. The most I could do was teach him language- the language of pain so I could understand and try to convince doctors. Or teach him to ask for medicine before things got too bad etc and teach him to wear a bipap to breath or oxygen and the language of all of it. Then Kreed died, and I wanted to better in this world for him.
And I’ve been frustrated for so long now. Of course I feel like I have made a difference- kids are talking that didn’t before or using a device and reading when everyone assumed they couldn’t, kids are communicating more and putting holes in walls less. There is a lot of good that has been done. But it’s not enough. There is so much more that can be done and better. And when you know better, you need to do better.
So, we are in the process of doing better! I’m going to continue to talk about functional behavior assessments and functional analysis, the differences and what you need to be asking your ABA teams. I’m talking about this for parents but also professionals who may follow and have not delved so deeply into these things. But we have this social media platform to educate, just as we have always done with AAC devices and severe autism and severe medical issues, we can do it now with behavior in general. It’s time we do better and that time starts now.
I am including a quote from Dr. Greg Hanley, whose model I’m following and the things he says speak right to my brain.
“[F]rom a clinician perspective, it does not matter whether or not we can characterize the function of a behavior; just so long as we can identify the topography of the behavior and use our identified synthesized contingencies to turn the behavior on and off. If we can do that, then we can help the child or young adult. We get too bound up as BCBA and ABA therapists on characterizing the behavior that we forget that our goal is to help the child overcome problematic or dangerous behaviors. We get too bound up in positive and negative reinforcements and other definitions that we lose sight of our mission.”
– Dr. Greg Hanley
We have a new mission now. Deeper than ever. Thank you all for letting me take you on the journey of Kreed and now the journey of the second part of our life, grief and my work.