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March 01, 2010


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The re-naming of ABA as PBS is not surprising to me. It's actually pretty common for oppressors to change their names when they come under fire. After World War II (and Hitler's deeds had been exposed), the eugenics movement went underground and resurfaced as "genetic studies," discrediting the old eugenics movement.


It appears that "The Association for Persons with Severe Handicaps (TASH)", has somehow lost track of the "Persons" they claim to represent. Why has no one pointed this out before? ;-)

I'm not surprised that the ASA refused to sign, when I got in touch with them after being Dxd, all I got from them was a pamphlet and a request for a donation.

If this comment seems ambiguous, that's only because it is. ;-)


That's really interesting. I knew the movement continued but I didn't know they had discredited the original movement.


Yeah, I think they have lost track of the persons they claim to represent. Political groups may say they make comprises for those they claim to serve but the compromises are often a redirection of who that is.

Club 166

ED, SBWG, and Clay,

I have the utmost respect for all three of you, but after reading this, I have to conclude that the implementation of "positive behavior supports" in my son's school shares only the name PBS with what happened to Wayward's child.

Because in my son's case, we have used the language specified in the article

"The regular education teacher of the child, as a member of the IEP team, shall, to the extent appropriate, participate in the development of the IEP of the child, including the determination of appropriate positive behavioral interventions and strategies, and the determination of supplementary aids and services, program modifications, and support for school personnel..."

to force them to not treat my son's behavior as disruptive and deserving of discipline or segregation, but rather to observe him in the environment and context that that behavior occurred, and to actively search for ways to modify the environment and curriculum in order to minimize his negative reactions. Because of this, in our case I have seen that language as a very positive thing. There may be some big PBS organization out there that is ABA based, but I don't see it in what we have in his school. Instead I see people forced to pay attention to him, the environment they put him in, and to mainly look for ways that the school and staff can change their own behavior to better accommodate my son.

All ideologies and systems can be abused, and our situation is not perfect, but I would hate for whatever problem people had with whoever is behind organized PBS to negatively influence support for the proposed US bill limiting the use of restraints and seclusion in schools.

HR 4247 is not perfect (no law is). It does not outlaw all restraint and seclusion. But it severely limits it, makes all episodes reportable to the federal govt. and parents, and puts people on notice that such practices are not to be used for everyday discipline.

In our same school district my wife observed staff members carrying a student to a seclusion room because she was being disruptive, and staff acted as if this always occurred. I think HR 4247 is a good first step to get the issue out of the shadows and into the open.



Within the confines of my State, County & School District, we virtually have in place what is being lobbyied for in HR4247. Ed explained our family's situation under this dynamic in the terms of what happens when or if this law. In turn, this could well happen to any other autistic student when or if this bill goes into effect nationally. The school where the incidents took place is a nationally recognizes 'gold-standard' school. The bill would be most welcome by me and my family if it were a bill to end ALL school abuse against autistic students, but it is no such bill (please take the time to read the entire bill if you have not). I do not think it's too much to ask of George Miller, TASH and others to put forth a bill outlawing abuse outright without making the foundation of the bill be about putting forth a specific, branded 'treatment' program in place.

@Club166 Within the framework of this bill, as it stands, your wife would very likely still see that same student carried to the seclusion room. They just go by other names within the PBS framework.

@Ed. Thank you bucket loads for this blog post. It's been a hard last few years. Thank you for standing by me.

My kid, after he told me what had occured and refused to go back to school (while charged with truancy) told me the most important thing he wanted out of all this was to get the school shut down, "so that no other kids would be hurt".
I will do what I can to help him achieve that goal.

(forgive errors; typed my iPhone )



The only thing written here about what happened to Wayward's child is that the child was abused so to draw any conclusions from that would require a lot of presumption.

The very reasoning being given for this legislation is that individual states are not acting responsibly with regard to their use of restraints and seclusion and they are proposing a more centralized authority which is the federal government. For the federal government to effectively issue a particular set of rules, guidelines, and laws, they must (based on traditional beliefs) narrow the understanding of them so that they can convict the people who aren't obedient.

PBS, as it has been well established from traditional ABA discipline, is the perfect resource for the accomplishment of establishing federal law.

Some examples of the ways this will be abused is:

1) the history of the agency Protection and Advocacy and it's insistence on justice being only for those able and willing to endure the litigation process or the few they find they can use politically

2) the No-child-Left-Behind method of exclusion

3)the attitude behind the people in positions of working with disabled people that is ignored when so-called improvements are proposed.

By every indication of when and how abusive situations increase for disabled people, there will be a big increase of such problems in the US in the near future.

Putting faith in this legislation is a vote of confidence in the status quo and the claim that the we are moving forward with the way these issues have been traditionally dealt with. I have very good reason to have NO confidence in that at all.

The number of people who have any knowledge of how to interpret laws is minute. Most people whom this law will affect will have no agency at all to protect them self in that way (even worse than it is now).

If this narrow standard can be used to control the majority of people (which has traditionally been the case) this dominate and centralized, political and commercial force will be able to amend the rules without requiring much permission at all from the public. It will also not take long for them to have no independent investigations into how they operate (no complaint will be valid unless they choose it) in a similar deceitful way that the Protection and Advocacy agency operates now.


The insidious nature of abuse includes the aspect that a large segment of the population thinks it cannot happen to them or their loved ones: Hence, they distance themselves from the prospect of it ever occuring in their lives and may tag the abused within the concept of 'the other'. I was ever vigiliant, owing to a strong foundation in the understanding of abuse and its dynamics. I was fairly certain I would be well " on to it" before it could occur in such a place as a school environment with IEPs and 1:1s in place. I was wrong. Please be very careful before you presume you know our school situation (as Ed pointed out above; many thanks) vs. you and/or your child's school situation---the truth may well startle.

Club 166

My apologies. I did not (and don't) presume to know what type of abuse it was. Sorry if it seemed otherwise. I'll try to be more careful in the future.

I share your basic distrust of big government bureaucracies, and how unresponsive they can become. But the present situation in my state (which is similar to many other states) is that such things as restraint and seclusion are totally left up to the local school board and schools. There is a state bill pending, but amendments have made it weaker than the federal bill at this point.

I've gone back and re-read the bill. And I can see how it seems to favor certain types of interventions, such as the definition of positive behavior supports:

The term
‘‘positive behavior supports’’ means a systematic approach
to embed evidence-based practices and data
driven decision-making to improve school climate
and culture, including a range of systemic and indi-
vidualized strategies to reinforce desired behaviors
and diminish reoccurrence of problem behaviors, in
order to achieve improved academic and social out
comes and increase learning for all students, includ-
ing those with the most complex and intensive be-
havioral needs.

But I also see other things in the bill, such as:

Behavioral interventions for children must
promote the right of all children to be treated with
dignity. All children have the right to be free from
physical or mental abuse, aversive behavioral inter-
ventions that compromise health and safety, and any
physical restraint or seclusion imposed solely for
purposes of discipline or convenience.

If someone institutes interventions that are either physically or mentally abusive, this law should give you a leg to stand on in fighting such interventions.

As you say, a large segment of the population thinks it cannot happen to them or their loved ones. I see the required reporting in this bill (both to the govt. as well as the parents) as a step in the right direction to counter this.

I agree that any law (good or otherwise) will not prevent abuse. Only a general and sustained change in societal attitude will accomplish that. But laws can assist in setting some minimum standards to hold people to, such as not putting choke holds on people, not sitting on them whenever you want to, and not locking them in solitary isolation day after day. Would I like something better? You bet. But I believe that this law goes a bit more than half way, so I'd take it.

Thanks for your responses.



@Club 166: There is more to preventing abuse than changing societal attitudes or making laws such as that you quoted for us. The problem with that, however, is that with laws like that, clarity is needed on what must be prevented. Theodore Roosevelt was known as the "trustbuster" because of the laws made during his presidency directed towards lessening the control of trusts, or big businesses, over customers. Roosevelt wasn't totally anti-trust however, believing ardently that there were good trusts that served the public and bad trusts that were just out to make money. The trouble with the laws, though, was that because it wasn't clearly stipulated when a trust was going out of bounds, it was hard to bust any trusts. As with the case of the trusts, if exactly what is meant to be prevented such as physical and mental abuse is not clearly stated, then no matter how well-intentioned the law is, it won't be effective. You see what I mean?



I don't have a basic mistrust, I have a very targeted mistrust. It's not the the big government bureaucracy I'm concerned with, it's this particular system that I have to contend with on a regular basis (as I've always had to). They aren't unresponsive, they are intensely reactionary.The system is designed and faithful to the perceived important public. It's never been for the reciever of the services EVER.

Again, it's not half way there because it's going in the wrong direction. This will not provide what you are seeking.

It will ultimately stand on it's weakest link which is how it provides opportunity for abuse to be legitimatized for the majority of people. This is designed to deal with abusive students, clients, patients, inmates, etc. It's sold as prevention of abuse OF those people now but that isn't what it was designed for and that isn't how it will be implemented.

Reports to who from who to whom? The system doesn't work that way.

This is not new and it won't liberate anyone. It makes most people beholden to system that isn't designed to serve them.

positive behavior support is Positive Behavior Support PBS, it's a brand name.

"Evidence based"?? ask Michelle Dawson about that.
I explained in the post how TASH helped build the reputation for PBS with misleading advertisement.

Club 166

Got it. But the law does seem to state that its purpose is to prevent physical and mental abuse (I cut and pasted from the law). How would you word it differently?

OK, sorry I misunderstood. But I'm not sure that I understand what would constitute a good solution. Are there bureaucracies that can be trusted? And what law or system would you propose that would start to protect people from being killed while in school? I'd like to know. Because I'm really angry and frustrated every time I read another report of someone dying at the hands of their teacher or caretaker.



No problem Joe, I'm sorry I started preaching from my soapbox there. :)

All I know is to hold each politician and every legislation accountable which I know you already do.

There are lots of red flags about this particular legislation that to me make it especially suspect.

The first is the claim that target is to hold bureaucrats responsible. It's always been a system to protect the public FROM people who receive services from the system . The school system isn't that separate from the rest of it in that regard. Especially when they judge how big to build the prisons based on how many kids score poorly on standardised reading test.

Until they show that they will have independent investigations of all public services for disabled people, most any idea they come claim that is supposed to reduce abuse is likely to be reinforcing the current system that is opposed to that.

The first step in that direction I think is to show a way that every person (child or adult) has somewhere they can go to report abuse where they will be taken seriously. People with parents or advocates (INCLUDING in most schools) make up a very small part of the population.

The people who are going to be trained for the classroom to deal with behavior issues are going to be trained to deal with ALL students seen with behavior issues. If most of the kids have no advocate and they are in a habit of seeing the majority that way, their attitude for treating the kids with interested parents or advocates is likely to eventually be pretty much the same.


What has been clear to me, esp. in the past 2-3 years, is there are many parents and self-advocates(who escaped ABA themselves) who, along with claiming to embrace those who are neurodivergent...also very much advocate for ABA remedies --- as ABA or in the form of PBS. This is their right, but I don't want it to be dictated to me that I or my kid need this treatment in order to get a public education. THAT is what this bill is doing. It's already long-since happened in my district, so I know a little something about it.

In terms of allegedly preventing abuse, those laws are already on the books in my state where corporal punishment is outlawed--- it's actually some ABA wording that keys it back it AND this same wording is in the current bill; wording still allowing them to use aversives, restraints and seclusion. So, for the States that have outlawed this (via banning corporal punishment): Be warned; it allows it back in. HOWEvER, many large districts in many of the large cities already have PBS programs in place so they know this. PBS began entering the districts back a few years ago under the guise of safety, protection and discipline.

I'd be interested in knowing how many of abuse cases have happened in PBS based environments. I've tried to get those stats. I know that 3-4 groups tracking school abuse stats would not add my kids case into thei stats.

@ Club166. Thanks for your words back to me; much appreciated. And thanks for exlpaining your p.o.v.

Also, don't forget: This bill provides no rights that don't already exist. Abuse is abuse and is charged so in the jurisdiction in which it occurs--not federally. Battery is battery...and, as an example, would be one such charge in terms of 'abuse'.

Club 166

Thanks, all, for your comments. I'm still not sure whats the proper course to take, to stop schools from having carte blanche in their littel fiefdoms to do whatever they want.

Much to think about.



@Club 166: I understand how it stipulates a no-tolerance policy towards physical and mental abuse. However, it is very easy for someone to convince people that actions that would be considered abusive on "normal" kids is actually beneficial for kids with neurological disabilities. You wrote a post making this point excellently called Just Claim They Were Autistic. The man who got in legal trouble fitted his children with collars meant for dog training, and yet the JRC is still going strong with their business of shocking children with devices so powerful that the "students" have to carry around 10-pound backpacks. To quote said post, "dog collars are subject to legal regulations, which state (amongst other things) that they can be applied for no more than 12 hours in any 24 hour period, and they can't put out more than 15 milliamps root mean square. The JRC uses devices that put out an average (not maximum) of 15 milliamps RMS, and a maximum of 45 milliamps RMS (fully three times as powerful as the maximum allowed for a dog collar)." This is the kind of thing I'm referring to, Joe.

Club 166

Use my own words against me, huh??? Oh, the ignominy. :)

I truly understand how people will say "Up is Down" when it comes to dealing with those who they perceive as "different" and "less deserving of basic respect." But I think you agree that we can't just throw up our hands and do nothing. I believe that the clearer things are spelled out in the law (you can't shock a person, you can't lock them up in solitary, you are required to tell someone when you do so in an "emergency") the more likely that enough information will get out that can be responded to. Clear laws, coupled with aggressive enforcement of basic civil rights, are what I see as a way to put up a barrier to continued abuse. Once that occurs, then a slow process of education of the public at large can occur.

Do I expect people to still say "Up is Down"? Sure. But if it's spelled out that they have to report it, then others who see more clearly can hold their feet to the fire (or so I at least hope). I'm not sure what other tack to take. If all shocks were outlawed, I don't think the JRC would still be doing it. Unfortunately, I don't think any legislature can be convinced at present to outlaw all shocks (or other aversives). If shocks were outlawed except in emergencies, and they had to report every time they shocked someone, I believe the JRC would indeed try to still do it, pretending that each instance was an "emergency". But it would be easier to get the information out about what they were doing and how often, and easier to rally public opinion against them.

I'm open to pursuing this in another way, but I have yet to appreciate a better way of getting positive substantive change.


Club 166


Just noticed I typed SDWG, instead of SBWG. Sorry.



Hi Joe:

You mentioned the required reporting. I just want to briefly mention our case was reported to the State. The State then permitted the School to conduct their own investigation into the matter to make a determination as to outcome. I believe they were granted this, in part, because the school staff had the ' proper training' as required by our state law (the same, exact PBS training now written into this bill).


Hi again, Joe:

Re: Substantive change/pursuing another avenue

The two main facets of the bill should be uncoupled. There could be a Federal bill protecting students and other citizens from abuse in school and other institutional environments. Spelling out all manner of abuse out clearly - and not equivocating. Let there be a second bill for those advocates of the branded, treatment program and the manner in which the funds are garnered and disbursement occurs.

Coupled together, this bill - in places - promotes/excuses/minimizes the things it claims to be against/opposed.

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