Behavior is NOT a Way of Functionally Communicating (Face Palm)

Captain Jean-Luc Picard facepalming
I face palm to this crap!

If the child exhibits behaviors that interfere with learning, such as an inability to sit still for short periods of time, a lack of focus, or tantrums, then it is advisable to bring these behaviors under control before attempting to teach communication skills.

(location 280, Teaching Communication Skills to Children with Autism)

So, this quote pretty much says that autistic children who have behaviors during the communication lessons are not trying to communicate anything.  So, behaviors don’t communicate a thing?  Even the jerks (Good, god! I would like to use a stronger name for them, but I won’t) who use Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) agree that behaviors communicate something.

Think about it, if language is difficult for you (possibly what is called aphasia where you struggle with manipulating all of the muscles in the mouth that are required to say something), so difficult that you try to communicate through behavior to say that this is too difficult and nobody listens to you, what would you do?  I’m fairly certain I, at least, would throw the biggest, baddest, most insane tantrum imaginable.  The tantrum is a way of regulating the frustration I feel.  But tantrums don’t mean anything according to this quote.  Their just a problem behavior not meant to communicate anything.

Not only that (I feel like I am going to use this phrase a lot in the next bunch of posts), but if you remove all behaviors such as short attention span, tantrums, and lack of focus, you are removing possibly their only way or most effective way of communicating.

So, here we come upon almost a beautifully disgusting (beautiful because it is able to hide under this quote until you begin to tear the quote apart piece by piece, layer by layer) idea that to teach (please read force) children how to communicate verbally, we must rid them of other ways of communicating that are effective, but non-verbal.  We must break their ways of communicating before we can teach them to communicate in our way.


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