Okay, so maybe not *everything*….and I don’t want it to sound like all the presenters there were horrible, but when I spend more time taking notes about the presenter than I do listening to the advice being given or taking notes on things being said, then I know that there is a problem.
The session I went to that was so bad was the second one of the day. If I hadn’t been looking forward to the afternoon, I may have just taken a long lunch break and gone home. But it had been a long drive, and I was hopeful I’d learn some things that could help. (Admittedly, much of what I learned was really geared to kids more functional than my son, but I’m still considering adaptations, and it’s always worth it to find people to talk to…)
But back to the fun session.
First, I hate to denigrate someone based on their appearance. We can’t help what we look like. But it wasn’t this woman’s appearance that got me as much as her attitude. And then her appearance became part of the joke. So many, many years ago, MTV had an excellent cartoon called “Daria.” (You can still watch all the episodes on Amazon Prime for free!) Anyway, this woman was Brittany. I was waiting for her to look in a mirror and say, “Perky…but not too perky!” (Points to anyone who knows that episode!) I’m good with people who are happy and, ahem, perky, so I wouldn’t hold that against her. Except for everything that went with it.
Second, I don’t mind denigrating someone because they’re an idiot. Seriously, when you begin your talk by saying, “I always go to training to try to learn something, and then I find out that they don’t know as much as I know,” then you may be a bit too obnoxious to learn anything. Especially when you then struggle with trying to explain the breakdown of the item under the umbrella of “stuff” you’re talking about. (I’m purposely not naming names of anything because I don’t want to identify this woman…)
So it’s not enough for her to brighter than everyone else, because then she had to go and prove she wasn’t.
She tells her audience (all five or six of us) that another woman out there, who didn’t complete her training but that worked with her, is calling herself a behaviorist, and that’s just wrong because it will fool people because they may mistake it as being a BCBA or a BCaBA. Uh-huh. Cause we’re all stupid and wouldn’t know to look for and at qualifications. And, let me tell you, having that certification obviously doesn’t mean much…because then this woman goes on to tell us that she “doesn’t like working with challenging or difficult children.”
Wait, wait, wait, wait…you’re at a conference and resource fair for parents with children who have disabilities, but you don’t like those “difficult” children. So that would be, ummmm, all the children of the parents who are there? Because, let’s be honest, if your child is easy to deal with, you’re not really going to spend your entire Saturday trying to learn how to work with and for your child.
Next up: she discusses how, as part of her methodology in helping children learn to talk, she teaches them to play with toys appropriately. But why do that? I don’t want to be picky, but I kind of have to be now. If my son wants to always play with a car the wrong way, you can still teach him how to speak. You just have to change your approach. Why spend the extra time teaching him to do it “right”? Why force them to fit your mold? No real answer to that one…
But okay, let’s move on. She then picks apart a study where she says that if a teacher was to offer her class stickers for raising their hands, and then hand-raising didn’t increase the next day, then it proved that stickers weren’t a motivator. Which is also wrong. All it proved was that they were not motivating in that case, and perhaps it didn’t prove that. For example, what if on the first day of the experiment, they were offered for math questions, but the next day, it was during geography, and the students found geography less interesting or more difficult? Or what if it was at a different time of the day? Students are notoriously less interested after lunch if they’re gotten sleepy, or perhaps first thing if it’s a Monday morning and they’re tired from the weekend. And what if…well, you get the idea. There can be a million other reasons. Simply saying, “one day didn’t work” is not exactly a large enough sample.
Maybe I’m being too picky. Until she explains how she does what she does. And I realize that, perhaps this is, indeed, the perfect job for her. Because the steps she explains seem to be so simplified and so “this then that” that I begin to wonder if this is the autism treatment equivalent of making sandwiches. (Anyone else remember the famous line from “Grounded for Life” when Eddie points out that “somebody’s gotta make the sandwiches”?) I mean, quite seriously, she has it broken down. You do a, then b, then c, and then d. And then you have a child who speaks! Ta-da! All I could think was pick a bread, pick a meat, pick a cheese, put on veggies, and then you have a sandwich! (Is it any wonder I had Subway for lunch?)
And I won’t go on about the person she had assisting her who was a real-life Hulga – and if you don’t recognize the reference to the short story by Flannery O’Connor, you better get to reading!
Anyway, so I’ve run out of time and space to talk about the good things, but there were enough to balance the bad, so I’ll be back next year. But I think I’ll avoid this presentation, if she’s “smart” enough to come back…