Book review: Educate Toward Recovery: Turning the Tables on Autism (Schramm, 2006).
Some of the strengths of this book include its emphasis on teaching (versus treating) children with autism, warnings against captive learning and over-repetitive teaching, the inclusion of a detailed manding schema, a sensible approach to data collection, and the concept of using mini-consequences as a reflexive motivation to reduce non-compliant behavior.
The introduction to the book offers a refreshingly different way of describing autism. However, I personally wonder if the discussion of recovery as the ultimate goal of teaching is not overly optimistic for the majority of children who will benefit from ABA with an emphasis on verbal behavior instruction.
The book is filled with well-written chapters that address the important aspects of developing a quality ABA program. The best of these chapters discuss understanding behavior, earning instructional control, discrete trial teaching, using motivation to teach, Skinner's behavioral classification of language, errorless learning, toilet training, VB teaching procedures and the ethics of ABA.
Three concerns surfaced for me as an ABA professional reading this book. However, each one is a non-issue when one considers the audience for whom this book is intended. For example, BCBA professionals may find the content of this book too simplified and non-technical. I particularly had some difficulty accepting the simplified definitions as listed "in plain English." However, this book is intended for beginning consumers of behavior analysis (e.g., families of individuals with autism, beginning therapists) and not for BCBA professionals. From that perspective, the information is pitched at a very appropriate level, and references are provided for those who wish to learn about ABA in greater depth. A second point to note is that the author invites application of learning goals from several sources, including commercial approaches such as RDI. However, he encourages parents to be appropriately critical of any unsubstantiated claims and to teach to these goals within the context of a good ABA/VB program. Finally, I felt that the inclusion of an additional chapter about teaching to the "control child" was not necessary to the discussion of earning instructional control. However, I can see that this is a useful way of explaining these important concepts to individuals who are new to ABA.
Overall, I enjoyed reading this book very much and think that it will be an extremely useful addition to the canon. In a complex field such as this, there are always differences of emphasis and approach. In Schramm's book I found these differences to be minor relative to mainstream ABA, and I would definitely recommend this book to others, particularly to parents and beginning therapists.
Author Contact Information:
Tony Balazs, MSc, BCBA
Consulting Behaviour Analyst
1 Rothwell Street
London NW1 8YH
Phone: 44 (0) 207 916 7746
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|Publication:||The Journal of Speech-Language Pathology and Applied Behavior Analysis|
|Article Type:||Book review|
|Date:||Sep 22, 2006|
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