Behaviorists Claim Rebirthing and Crisis-Debriefing Interventions Linked to PTSD and Deaths

Scott Lilienfeld is a professor of psychology at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. He is also  best known to advocate for behavior modification interventions for autistic children. Lilienfeld promotes Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and collaborates with behaviorists to insist that anything other than ABA is pseudoscience.

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) published a position statement urging speech therapists to avoid promoting RPM or FC, because it would violate the ethical standards of forcing a child to use speech, rather than encouraging them to communicate using augmentative devices. Their position is supported by Lilienfeld’s campaign to eradicate access to non-speaking autistic’s communication style. What is most concerning is the promotion of ABA while knowing from current research that Autistics who are exposed to ABA are 86% more likely to meet the PTSD criteria than autistics who were not exposed to ABA. Any autistic person who is systematically silenced when communication supports are withheld, and then forced into a behavior modification program, will suffer untold trauma to their identity as a human being.

Stop listening to Lilienfeld and his colleagues, because they unearth medieval research about therapies linked to the refrigerator mother theory, and hysteria, to illustrate what pseudoscience looks like. A behaviorists who cries foul to these statistics, and uses his argument to fuel misinformation to unsuspecting parents, is a psychologist who is rendered incapable of measuring the impact of his own professional behavior onto autistic people as a whole.

Rebirthing is a technique based on really questionable psychological claims, that a lot of current psychological problems stem from the early trauma of birth, and have to be, in essence, repeated by recapitulating that trauma. This is a technique that has actually led to the deaths of several children who have been smothered to death during rebirthing sessions.

Crisis debriefing is a technique that is still properly used in the wake of trauma in a well-intentioned effort to try to ward off post-traumatic stress reactions. Crisis debriefing is a technique that is still awarded continuing education credit by the American Psychological Association even though it has actually been found in two to three well-controlled studies to increase the risk of post-traumatic symptoms among trauma exposed individuals.

Lilienfeld, S. (Academic). (2008). Scott Lillenfeld: “science and pseudoscience in clinical psychology: yesterday and today”[Streaming video]. Retrieved from SAGE Video.

Rapid Prompting Method (RPM) and AACs for nonspeaking autistics

RPM is a method for teaching academics to non verbal and autistic students, which may lead to independent typing.  Many of my piano students use RPM during the lesson and to support their schooling. HALO is a non-profit organization providing RPM, which is academic instruction leading towards communication for persons with autism. Soma Mukhopadhyay developed Rapid Prompting Method to teach her own son Tito who is a published writer despite his autism. HALO’s clinic in Austin, Texas is where she conducts 1:1 Soma® RPM education and training. 

Resources

Watch the movie from my https://hennyk.com/resources/ page: 

Then, see the videos on Soma’s page http://www.halo-soma.org 

Online Support

“The Right to an Education”, Article Typed by Non-Verbal Autistic Piano Student with Dyspraxia

NICOLAS JONCOUR

NICOLAS JONCOUR

Article typed by Nicolas Joncour, Piano Student

[First appeared in ZOOM Autism Through Many Lenses magazine, Issue 9, p. 20]

A decent life in France is practically impossible for an autistic student, especially if you are nonverbal like me. In special schools there is no real education, and the psychiatric hospital remains the norm. As my mother encounters more and more difficulties to enroll me in a normal school, the only solution to an equal opportunity is maybe to leave France. I want to go to university to study the Holocaust as people with disabilities are still destined to horrific fates.

My hope is to study history and the Holocaust, a subject that has intrigued me for almost six years. Specifically, Operation T4, which is the eradication of the people with disabilities by the Nazis. Perhaps the Holocaust interests me because I feel the discrimination in relation to my disability. The eyes of others are like deportation camps without return for me.

Without my mother I would likely be in a psychiatric hospital. The right to education definitely remains the domain of utopia. The more I grow, the more I realize I do not have my place in society. I have to fight to deserve to dream. My disability, autism and dyspraxia, makes me look like a mentally-challenged person. People talk to me as if I am a small child, and they watch my gestures as if I am a monster.

The reality is that all their looks are like the slam of a cattle wagon door. My connections towards the victims of Operation T4 are very strong, and my reality joins their fatal destiny. I have faith that helps me, and God gives me so much love that I do not feel alone. I think I have the right to denounce my condition and my social discrimination as long as I would suffer of it. The right to a dignified life is my fight, and I recently joined the ENIL Youth Network to create change. Nonverbal autistic people demand recognition of their right to a real education.

My life would be rather simple if people would consider me as a person rather than a thing to eradicate. I want my intelligence to be recognized without having to meet the low expectations of people who doubt me. The peculiarity of my disability is that I understand very well what kind of people I have to deal with. The inability to defend myself makes me vulnerable to all attacks. Not being able to express oneself orally is a very hard way to live.

People do not consider my written prose without doubt. Not even my relatives who do not understand autism. To be recognized, mentalities must change, and the way we move, having no eye contact and no speech, shouldn’t exclude us from living a fulfilled life. For this to happen, we need the right to education, an education which mustn’t be negotiable and should be accessible to all.


Nicolas Joncour is a 16-year-old nonverbal autis­tic student who types. He lives in France and is homeschooled and in mainstream school for a few hours per week.

Follow him on Facebook and visit his blog.