Knitted socks dating to the 4th-5th centuries CE, from Egypt. These were apparently made to work well with thonged sandals.  Now in the Victoria and Albert Museum in England.

So fun fact, these aren’t knitted- they’re made using an art called nalbinding. Which is kinda like knitting’s stoner dad.

Knitting and nalbinding produce a very visually similar result despite being very different processes- hence the often mistaken citation that these are knitted socks.

Latest news on TS – tic suppression in the classroom



Though, tbf, there has also been a swing toward use of behavior therapy to suppress tics in kids 😱

“oh, the thing you’re noticing where your kid comes home from school and tics a lot, that’s just because home and school are different environment”

uh, yeah… it’s because school is an environment where they have to suppress, and home isn’t. If it was static environmental things at home, you wouldn’t see the cluster of tics when a kid gets home.

Latest news on TS – tic suppression in the classroom







I’m reaching out because I feel at a stand-still.

I’m currently enrolled in an ABA graduate program, and I have learned a lot so far. My issue with the program is their stance on stereotypy.

We have a student who emits a lot of stereotypy–nothing self-injurious, but definitely present. He jumps up, shakes his hands/legs, and scrunches up his face. He does this while playing, eating, etc.

My problem is that I am instructed to tell him to have “quiet hands,” and to only give him attention/praise when he doesn’t engage in these behaviors. I reallllly hate this because it is a method of self-soothing, and he isn’t hurting himself or others.

Does anyone have any literature–or personal experiences–on the benefits of emitting stereotypy? I really don’t want to suppress his stimming because I feel that it goes beyond the realm of helping them socialize (such as teaching sharing and communicating with peers), and crosses over into the “making them seem neurotypical” side.

oh, hey, figured out how to make my browser show reblog buttons

Long story short: I know lots of adult autistics, and this crap is why they mostly regard ABA as horrifying abuse.

What are the benefits of adjusting to a comfortable position? Blowing your nose when it’s stuffed? Scratching at itches? They make you more comfortable and reduce stress and make you happier and more effective at basically everything. And consider the phrase “talk with your hands”, as applied to, say, different cultural norms, like people who guesture expansively while talking. (I’ve seen this in ads for Italian restaurants as a way they express the kind of atmosphere they aim for.) A lot of these are things non-autistics also sometimes do!

So basically, your instincts are right, your teachers are horrifying torturers, and I have no good ideas on how to suggest improving this situation. But also, be aware that in general, ABA’s entire model is based on… well, you know the myth that autistics have no “theory of mind”? ABA is based on having no “theory of other mind not identical to my own”. If a person isn’t just like us, they must not be aware or intelligent. It’s nonsense. The people I know who have had good results trying to help kids learn to blend in when it’s socially necessary do so by explaining the thing. “There’s a convention that people expect you to behave this way because if you don’t you seem different and they don’t like things that are different. So sometimes it’s useful to be able to stop those behaviors for a bit so people feel more comfortable.”

It’s a budgeting thing. I can totally act neurotypical-ish for quite a while, but it burns spoons and makes me less productive. I do it when it’s useful enough to justify the costs.

I broadly agree with this, but my understanding is that describing ABA — at least in the strict Lovaasian sense — is premised not so much on “no theory of mind not identical to my own” as “no theory of mind, period, except as a black box taking stimuli and contexts for those stimuli as inputs and generating behaviors as outputs.” Or, to put it another way, “no theory of phenomenal consciousness,” or “no theory of qualia.”

Because behaviors are observable by the practitioner and qualia are not, which makes attempting to produce joy or about causing suffering unscientific.

Statements the subject makes about their experiences of joy or suffering are observable, of course, but those are themselves behaviors, and can be targeted for modification just like any other behaviors. Trying to make a child be happy is unscientific; trying to make a child smile, assert that they are happy, and/or tell their parents how grateful they are for the therapy they have received and how greatly it has improved their lives, on the other hand? Those are all perfectly valid goals, as success in achieving them can be assessed in an objective fashion.

It’s not that autistic kids (and gender non-conforming kids — Lovaas was also a pioneer in scientific conversion therapy) specifically are p-zombies. It’s just that anyone could be a p-zombie, and so there’s no reason to treat them as anything else.

So why modify a kid’s hand-flapping or feminine mannerisms instead of their parents’ attitudes toward those traits? Well, because the behavior that the practitioner wants out of the parents is for them to give the practitioner money and praise for their successful correction of the child’s deviance.

I’m not sure if this is really more or less horrifying than the version you describe, but it’s certainly different.

Of course, there’s the further complication that since “ABA” is considered to be an evidence-based treatment for autism, many insurance companies will cover “ABA” and not anything else. Which creates an incentive for people who are doing anything that could reasonably be described as analysing behavior and applying the results of that analysis to call what they’re doing “ABA,” even if their attitudes toward phenomenal consciousness are vastly different from Lovaas’s.

Which then muddies the waters further in trying to discuss how fucked up ABA in the strict sense is, since there are people out there who can honestly say “I received ABA, and it was nothing like what you were describing.”

OP, since you asked for references, here’s a few I dug up:

  • This recommendation sheet from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Center for Autism Research
  • This more casual but well-cited article on the benefits of stimming for autistic people
  • This well-argued opinion piece, “A Cognitive Defense of Stimming”, by an autistic woman.
  • The other thing I’d add is that you’ve likely been lied to about the evidence base for ABA. Other people I’ve talked to who were trained in ABA were taught that ABA is the only evidence based treatment for autism, than ABA has been shown to be better than other things, and that ABA has a good body of high-quality evidence supporting it.

    These, by the standards of any other disorder, are lies. 

    Here’s a paper from 2003 pointing out that there’s no good evidence that aba is better than other things

    There’s a lack of RCTs in ABA literature. This means that when you have a group of kids, who have improved over the years they’ve been given ABA, you can’t determine causation. The RCTs which have been done are typically very small, and don’t show the huge benefits that low quality “studies” do. Standards for acceptable treatment are apparently lower for us than other people.

    Here, from michelle dawson, you can find a discussion of a high quality autism intervention study . ABA does not yet have this level of evidential support. Ask yourself why you haven’t been told this.

    Also ask yourself, why, for an intervention that’s been occuring for over 20 years, no one has done an RCT followup – to show that ABA has benfits long term. If a treatment doesn’t have a benefit 5 years down the line, is it worth it?

    Ask yourself why this method of treatment is acceptable for autistic children, but neither widespread or acceptable for other groups? What about us makes it ok to treat us like this?

    You can show with ABA that it’s usually possible to dog train a child out of a particular behaviour. But you haven’t shown that it’s beneficial to the child. That’s an assumption in the “socially significant behaviour” thing, not a fact.

    Also, our movements are atypical in lots of ways. For some of us, happy flapping is equivalent to smiling. Imagine someone trying to dog train you out of smiling. And – this is what you’re describing. You’re defining a child “scrunching up his face” as stereotypy?? That sounds like a slightly odd facial expression, which is what you’d expect for a child with a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects motor things. Because autism is not a behavioural disorder.

    Imagine an adult has the power to decide which of your facial expressions they don’t like, and then spend hours every day bribing and punishing you until you don’t make it anymore. Would you look back on this fondly?

    All the other good commentary aside, the face scrunching in particular also made me wonder about the possibility of tics. Which are rather common among autistic people, and too often get treated as something even non-autistic kids should be able to control.

    (From one study: “Among individuals with ASDs, 22 percent presented tic disorders: 11 percent with Tourette disorder (TD), and 11 percent with chronic motor tics.”)

    How well are these getting distinguished from “stereotypies” to be trained out? I’ve had to wonder this before.

    (As someone who had enough trouble over tics which were treated as purposely disruptive, yes.)


    GoFundMe for the 1st Navajo-English Children’s Educational Show!

    My local news covered this and I have yet to see it get any sort of larger attention, but this exactly what the media landscape for kids needs.

    A show for children that features Navajo characters and teaches the language at the same time, it was developed by two Navajo women, Dr. Shawna Begay and Charmaine Jackson, and was originated “by a team of Navajo filmmakers, writers, producers and artists”.

    They’re seeking funding to make more episodes and develop new characters, and we can help them out!

    Here is their GoFundMe

    Click here to support Funeral and Support Expenses for the White Family




    So, for those of you who don’t know, my mom died on Saturday (11/11/17). The general rundown of our situation is:

    • I have to vacate the apartment within the next few weeks.
    • Leaving the apartment means I have nowhere to go.
    • We have zero money saved up for this because it was completely out of left field.
    • The funeral and cremation will cost somewhere around $2,500.

    Needless to say, we’re in need of some major help. If you could spare a dollar or two, that’d be great. If not, a reblog is much appreciated.

    So, the update posted three times, which is supremely annoying. Anyway, it basically says thank you to everyone who shared, donated, or offered kind words. Your support helps more than you know. We did get the funeral paid for, but I will have to move. Moving expenses are gonna be pretty high, so I still need help with that. Once again, thank you for all your help.

    So I have a definite date on when I need to be out. The apartment has to be cleared out by December 4th. That means on December 4th I will officially have no home.

    Getting all this stuff out and into storage and getting me and the kids up to the new city will take time and money that I don’t have. I know things are tight around this time of year for everyone, but if you can spare a few dollars that would help us so much.

    Click here to support Funeral and Support Expenses for the White Family