For existing ABA therapists first take Movement Method 1 and 2 which teach the neuroscience of both movement and intrinsic motivation as well as the neurotrophic effect of joy, as well as the cell danger response and how to avoid it. These components are vital for implementing CBA. In addition you learn Self-Compassion and how to set yourself and the child up for success. After that you will take a CBA module that adds behavioral techniques without the downside of the cell danger response.
Movement Method has been developed over more than a decade under the mentorship of adult autists such as Dr. Temple Grandin.
Starting with the question - how does a severely autistic child become successful - i.e. able to make a career in the neuro-typical world? – Movement Method follows three central tenets originally given to autism Dad Rupert Isaacson when he asked Dr. Grandin - the world famous autistic university professor and author - what he should do to ensure his son Rowan’s success: basically asking “How does my son become you?”.
Dr. Grandin said the following:
- Follow your child
- Do as much as possible outside
- Let him move, move, move
Rupert asked: "Can you go into a bit more detail please?"
Temple replied: Follow the child is three things. First, follow your child physically. Mark him like soccer players mark each other. This way you will see what catches his interest and what he wants to do, because he will physically go towards these things and interact with them. Interfere with this and you will lose the opportunity to see what your son is interested in and is intrinsically motivated by.
The second part of follow the child is follow them emotionally. You will notice that certain triggers create positive or negative emotions and you closer inspection you will notice that these triggers are almost always sensory.
Observe what negative sensory triggers spark meltdowns - for instance fluorescent lights, industrial noise, industrial smells, echo, and so on - and which sensory triggers spark pleasure.
Eliminate as much as possible the bad sensory triggers from your home and teaching/therapy environment. You will also observe that most of the sensory triggers that give pleasure are natural in origin. Negative sensory triggers block learning, positive sensory triggers help learning.
The third part of follow the child is follow him intellectually. This means becoming interested even in his stimming. Rather than saying - as most behavioral therapists do - "This is a non-appropriate social behavior" and then trying to stop the child from doing that, ask instead; is there a pattern to the stimming? Is the pattern regularly repeated or more exploratory and randomized? The former might mean a math/science brain. The latter might mean more of an arts/storytelling brain. From there look to the child's obsessions: if they are lining up toys - what toys are the lining up? If it's trains, let's do everything through trains. You can learn about the whole world through trains. If it's animals the same thing applies.
The bottom line here is that autistic people are not motivated to communicate like neuro-typical people are. For them it's a big effort. So if you don't notice, on a and operate through the ways in which they are communicating, then you will never get to a good place. So these three ways of following the child enable that.
Rupert then asked: why do as much outside and why let him move?
Templed answered: because in nature there are very few bad sensory triggers and the whole point with autism is to encourage the child to interact with the exterior world and most people with neuro-psychiatric conditions are primarily kinetic learning.
Rupert thanked Temple for her good advice and went home to Texas, where he noticed immediately, that the ABA therapists who were working with his son were not doing the things, that Temple had advised. In fact they were doing the opposite and they were getting no positive result. Moreover, they were causing Rupert's son great distress, and stress prevents learning.
Rupert relayed the advise of Dr. Temple Grandin to the therapists. The therapists not only were not interested, they even reacted with aggression. So Rupert fired them, followed Dr. Grandin's advise and found that he not only gained communication this way - including expressive speech, but also reading, and numeracy. Rupert began homeschooling along these lines and realized that the national curriculum could be adapted to Temple Grandin's directives. Moreover, he and his growing team began working with numerous children and observing the same success for results.
All the while, Dr. Temple Grandin remained an adviser and Rupert and his team then began reaching out to neuro-scientists from the Marie Currie Institute, and the the University of California to gain insight into why Dr. Grandin's directives worked so well.
In the course of this, Rupert began meeting ABA practitioners and BCBAs who were becoming frustrated with the limitations of Discrete Trial ABA. The coercive, stress producing, traditional approach was not only frustrating practitioners but increasing numbers of adult autists who had gone through this began reporting how much this approach had made them suffer as children.
Accordingly, in consultation with BCBAs, neuro-scientists, educational psychologists, autists and parents New Trails Learning System was born.
Key concepts were identified that needed to change within classic behaviorism. These included: replacing compliance with cooperation; replacing time-outs with 'time-ins' (where the child is supported and loved through meltdowns rather than isolated and punished); and replacing 'quiet rooms' (which most autists describe as incredible traumatic to be put into) with access to outside areas and nature where nervous energy can be run off.
Compassionate Behavioral Approach is now recognized by BCBAs, RBTs and insurance companies as an innovative, kindness-based approach, that does not trigger the cell danger response in the brain (which shuts down learning) and has been welcomed as the next generation in Behavioral Therapies.
We have RBTs trained in CBA in numerous locations and can also train existing RBTs in the approach so that if parents would like to stay with an existing therapist but would like to add this more neuro-science-oriented approach then they can.
Because the involvement of parents is always strongly encouraged - they are the expert's on their child - we suggest you have a look at Movement Method 1 & 2 course no matter if you are a therapist or a parent.
Take the course here.
Then follow the basic Movement Method courses with our Behavioral Modules.