Dr. Tippy Gives His Opinion about “Common Ground” Between ABA and DIR

20 Jun

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Last night, I was lucky enough to be invited by Harris Huberman of the Department of Pediatrics, to give a talk at Downstate Medical Center. Amy Conforti-Kelly, BCBA of Theracare gave the ABA perspective, and I spoke about DIR. As you all probably know, I really see very little common ground between ABA and DIR, as I believe they come from two entirely different perspectives. Amy saidGil Tippy that she could describe virtually anything I presented in ABA jargon, and she did. I said that I thought that the basic difference is that an ABA therapist believes that they can think up what another person should learn, and then make up an elaborately broken down way to train that person, but that a DIR therapist believes that the other person is complete and whole, and that his or her thoughts are as valid as any thought the therapist could have, and that the therapist would help the other person to bloom into his or her own personhood. That difference says everything to me.

I did not say that I did not believe ABA was an effective intervention, or that its science is flawed, or that it is not respectful. I didn’t feel I needed to in this context.

I did say to Amy that it sounded to me like she actually wanted to do DIR, and that we would welcome her with open arms. We are, after all, the relationship camp. It seems to me that converting would be easier for her than trying to explain that she actually does DIR but calls it ABA. I particularly liked it when she said that what we are doing is what she would call “conditioning herself as a reinforcer for the child.” It seems so much easier to call it a relationship!

Dr. Huberman was very kind, and the people in the crowd were great, so I really enjoyed myself. I think they are editing together a condensed version of the evening (it was 3 hours!), and that version will be available soon. Until then, if you fill out the form below, I will send you a PDF of my powerpoint presentation from the evening.

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