Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


36th Annual Convention; San Antonio, TX; 2010

Event Details

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Paper Session #11
Conceptual Analyses of Controversial Autism Treatments
Saturday, May 29, 2010
1:00 PM–1:50 PM
207AB (CC)
Area: AUT
Chair: James T. Todd (Eastern Michigan University)
The "Erroneous Baseline Design" and Other Methodological Misadventures of Facilitated Communication Advocacy
Domain: Applied Behavior Analysis
JAMES T. TODD (Eastern Michigan University)
Abstract: While still relying primarily on testimonials in the popular media to promote their discredited intervention, the advocates of facilitated communication (FC) now routinely claim that FC is an empirically supported method. However, of the dozen or so studies commonly cited by FC advocates as providing empirical support, few qualify as genuine controlled analyses. Not one provides methodologically sound evidence that even one person has communicated reliably through FC. The methodological errors made in these studies are astonishingly basic, ranging from the intentional exclusion of necessary controls to providing ongoing feedback about response accuracy to subjects in “blind” conditions. In addition to raising questions about the quality of peer-review in some journals, the existence and ready acceptance of such poorly executed studies suggests a fundamental obliviousness to, or repudiation of, basic standards of empirical proof among many developmental disabilities academics.
Rapid Prompting, Facilitated Communication, and the Dangers of the Reverse Eureka Error
Domain: Applied Behavior Analysis
JAMES T. TODD (Eastern Michigan University)
Abstract: The Rapid Prompting Method (RPM), sometimes called "Informative Pointing," has been promoted through the media and workshops as a "revolutionary" new intervention for establishing pointing- and writing-based communication in people who are otherwise non-verbal. Superficially resembling discrete-trial training, RPM actually seems to be an alternative form of facilitated communication (FC) in which the putative communicator is taught to respond directly to subtle non-physical prompts and matching cues provided by the facilitator rather than being manually guided. As in FC, authorship validation, ongoing data collection, and other controls are vigorously avoided and discouraged. But, because the students' responses are typically made without physical contact with the facilitator, they appear to be more genuinely independent than the manually guided responses of FC. Because of the enhanced apparent independence, and claims of RPM promoters that RPM is not FC, false accusations mediated by RPM are potentially more dangerous than those made through FC. Some behavior analysts seem to be taking an interest in RPM as an adjunct to behavioral methods or an effective intervention in its own right, ignoring its methodological shortcomings, introductory textbook-level conceptual foundations, and complete lack of empirical support.



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