Q&A with Faye Farhrenheit

“They used food deprivation in my program and they made us pair up and do it to each other. I feel incredible guilt over this.

Every morning I’d cut up a peanut butter and jelly sandwich into as many pieces as possible. Each piece was like a little bigger than an M&M.

Then I’d be told to force this non-verbal Autistic boy to do behaviors for each piece of the sandwich. He’d cry, hit his head in frustration, and say “hungry” which was one of like four words he could use.

I have no words to describe how bad I feel about being forced to do this as a child. If he didn’t “behave” he’d get no food and he’d go hungry.

He and the rest of us were expected to perform like trained circus animals for basic rights, like the ability to go to the bathroom.”

A British, Autistic SLT’s Pro-Neurodiversity Paradigm Shift

I am a U.K. based Speech and Language therapist (SLT) who is a Newly Qualified Practitioner (NQP). I work with autistic children. I am also Autistic.  Just a few months into my career, two things happened: 1) I found out I was Autistic, and 2) I discovered the pro-neurodiversity movement. My journey to realising that […]

An Autistic SLP’s Experiences with Social Communication

An Autistic SLP’s Experiences with Social Communication According to the DSM-5 diagnostic criteria, one of the characteristics of autism is persistent “deficits” in social communication. As a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP), I thought I understood what this meant, though my idea of social communication difficulty was incredibly narrow and stereotypical (think Sheldon Cooper from the Big […]

On Writing Masking Goals for Autistic Middle School Girls – Stop It!

Our autistic female students are constantly mimicking and copying behaviors of peers so they can hide their autism. We, as clinicians, teach them to do this because we were taught that autism must be hidden and masked through the therapy we provide. We are licensed, credentialed ableists, “therapizing: our autistic students to learn to be in a constant state of making in order to be acceptable, to be worthy, to be liked.

AAC: The Big Myth

It is so important that we start with the presumption that the person is a learner! Learning takes time and sometimes a good amount of patience. Always presume they are on their way to developing competence in learning this new language.

On Being an Ethnically Jewish, Latina, and Autistic Speech-Language Pathologist

“This blog post is not intended to be interpreted as attempting to solve and disentangle white privilege and the systematic oppression of People of Color and disabilities. It is a vulnerable personal narrative of my experiences and should be taken as that”. – Rachel Dorsey, MS, CCC-SLP, Guest Author My mom is Puerto Rican and was […]

Avoiding the “Good Job!” Habit

By Diane Cullinane, M.D. “Good job!” is a phrase used frequently during treatment sessions with autistic children. What message does a child receive from hearing, “Good Job!”? We hope they hear our interest, encouragement and approval.  However, when “Good Job!” becomes a habit, is it still successful in conveying this meaning?  Or, does it simply […]

Letter to the ASHA Leader Editor

This letter to the ASHA Leader Editor is being circulated for signatures from speech-language pathologists who share the expressed concerns regarding the article “Building Working Relationships With Applied Behavior Analysts” that appeared in the April 2020 issue of the ASHA Leader. The letter is sponsored by the Speech-Language Pathology Neurodiversity Collective (SLPNDC) and authored by Therapy Chair Amy Lustig, PhD, CCC-SLP.

First, Do No Harm: An Open Letter to the Minnesota Department of Human Services and Education

Not only does ABA pose ethical issues that must be considered, but its efficacy is also questionable. The US government conducted outcome measures under the new T2017 TRICARE contracts and found that “76% of TRICARE beneficiaries in the ACD (Autism Care Demonstration) had little to no change in symptom presentation over the course of 12 months of applied behavior analysis services, with an additional 9% demonstrating worsening symptoms” (James N. Stewart, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, 10/25/2019).

TBI in Service Members – Real-life effects & the need for Empathetic, Compassionate & Trauma-informed Care:

Beginning in around the year 2000, the field of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) has included Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) among their ever-increasing scope of practice, claiming that ABA is “one of the most effective treatments for managing mood, behavioral and other mental disorders associated with brain damage”.3 ABA, in its simplest form, treats the behavior associated with TBI, rather than treating the underlying neurological reasons for that behavior.

ABA: Modern-Day Brainwashing

Terrifyingly, ABA has infiltrated our healthcare system, schools, military, hospitals, and nursing homes. But you wonder, how can you even tell if someone is brainwashed? Here are common symptoms that you or someone you love has been brainwashed:

Why Perspective-Taking and Neurodiversity Acceptance? (Part 2 of “Training” Social Skills is Dehumanizing: The One with the Therapy Goals)

Wasted years upon years of endlessly drilling autistic children and adolescents to memorize and parrot “appropriate” rote phrases for specific social situations will not lead to their peers perceiving them as more likable. Social skills training is not a “cure” for autism despite what the ABA industry would like for us all to believe. All “social skills training’ does is to teach autistic people how to mask their autism. And the potential harms of masking (exhaustion, anxiety, depression, frustration, decreased self-esteem suicidal ideation) are significant.

Neuro Rehab on The Mandalorian, by Julie Fechter, MS, CCC-SLP

Now let’s talk about one of the recent episodes, “The Reckoning.” There’s a loving montage of a character Kuiil rehabbing a droid, named IG-11, who’d been killed. Kuiil rebuilt the droid from scratch after “Its neural network was almost completely gone.” He had to piece IG-11 together, which may be a little beyond our day-to-day job, but the recovery process is certainly something many of us speech-language pathologists have participated in.

The Problem with PECS®

PECS® uses Operant Conditioning, which is a behavior technique that can be used to target and increase a behavior by pairing performance of the target behavior with a positive or rewarding outcome.[2] Per Andy Bondy, inventor of PECS, “Skinner’s analysis of Verbal Behavior forms the basis for teaching particular skills at specific points in the training sequence and also provides guidelines for how best to design the teaching strategies.[3]” PECS uses picture-based prompting and reinforcement tied to error correction in order to teach language skills. The method allows the trainer to artificially cause frustration through the withholding of highly desired objects or food until the targeted behavior is achieved, even if the communicator becomes upset or angry. It is not a natural or nice way to teach language.

“Training” Social Skills is Dehumanizing (Part 1)

Dictating how a neurodivergent person is expected to communicate in specific social situations takes away their self-determination. Training people as one trains animals is appalling. SLP Neurodiversity Collective believes in respecting the authentic social communication of all people, rather than compelling compliance for neurotypical expectations through a system of rewards and punishments.

A Letter from an SLP to a Parent, Immediately After an Autism Diagnosis for a 5-Year-Old

“Please remember what we talked about regarding eye contact, echolalia, sensory needs, picky eating and especially how to choose therapies that will respect his dignity and autonomy, and that won’t crush the joyous and precious little person that he is. I will advocate for him; but because you will need to learn how to become be his biggest champion, I have sent you links to resources for you to begin to educate yourself about Autism. I understand that you were very upset yesterday when they told you the diagnosis. My hope is that you begin to view this diagnosis differently.”

An ASHA Certified SLP’s Personal Perspective on Collaboration, Interprofessional Practice and ABA:

ASHA has guidelines in our ethics code for “collaboration” and “interpersonal professional practice” (IPP), which are two terms ABA practitioners often use in order to attempt to intimidate or gaslight both CCC-SLPs and ASHA into believing that speech-language pathologists are being unethical if we dare to voice negative opinions against the use of ABA practices and/or BCBA and RBT incompetency (as they dangerously or inadequately provide speech therapy services for which BCBAs and RBTs are not educated or trained).