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Complex choices for parents of autistic students

For those who read the recent New York Times magazine article about Floortime, an educational method for students with autism, here’s one New York City parent’s explanation of why she prefers it over Applied Behavior Analysis for her son:

Yes, we wanted our son to be able to do a 4-piece puzzle, but we wanted him to do it because he enjoyed it, not for the cookie. Those in the ABA camp say the technique is simply a door into the parts of the brain that need to be switched “on.” Once the door opens, advocates say, the kids do start to enjoy the ‘games’ of therapy, as much as any typically developing child. I have to say, I’ve seen ABA work in exactly that way, but I’m still uncomfortable with the overall approach. At its core, it still seems to me a mechanical and lifeless teaching method, and one that would not address one of our top priorities: to instill in our son a love of learning; to show him that it can be interesting and fun and exciting.

As it turns out, my son’s ABA therapists have been some of his best, and he’s made multi-faceted gains as a result of their efforts. But I’m still a huge Floortime fan. It’s complicated, like everything else about autism.

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