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My First Protester

Three days ago I gave a lecture along with a board certified behavior analyst and an attorney titled "Applied Behavior Analysis, Public Health Implications and the Law" I discussed the evidence and risks of medication, research on aversives and my brothers' treatments. I discussed Matthew's success with his seven positive behavior contracts, functional communication tokens and supplementary aversive shock, now off medications 29 years and holding a job at school and how his identical twin ended up on twenty medications. When I was done speaking, a protester yelled out twice "Torture!" I replied, "Not one anti-aversive activists would try my brother's 20 medications for one day and see what it feels like."

Regarding medications, our health care and education system for many individuals does not provide other avenues to address behavior. The standard 15-20 minute med check does not provide opportunities to explore other treatment options that may be safer and more effective while effective psychosocial interventions are often unavailable. In the clinic model, individuals with special needs sometimes have long waiting periods to be seen. While in the waiting room, there are noisy crowds and boredom with a lack of activity, a breeding ground for the problem behaviors we are supposed to be treating. At Judge Rotenberg Center, the primary care physician, psychiatrist and dentist are all located in the school building. Individuals can remain with their structure until it is time to be seen.

What we really need to protest is drugs which may have toxic side effects replacing a good school. We need to protest the medical business model which emphasizes quantity over quality and how some individuals have no access to care at all. Finally, we need to stop heartlessly judging others when we have not lived their lives.

Antidepressants and Antibiotic Resistance

While it is well known that excessive use and misuse of antibiotics can lead to resistance, by forming the creation of deadly "superbugs" a recent study links Prozac (fluoxetine) to antibiotic resistance, (Min Jin, Ji Lu, Zhaoyu Chen, Son Hoang Nguyen, Likai Mao, Junwen Li, Zhirguo Yuan et al., "Antidepressant fluoxetine Induces Multiple Antibiotics Resistance in Escherichia Coli via ROS-mediated Mutagenesis," Environment International 120(2018): 421-430, doi:10.1016/j.envint.2018.07.046). Bacteria that were exposed to Prozac developed mutations resulting in resistance to the antibiotics, tetracycline, amoxicillin, chloramphenicol and others. Higher doses of Prozac increased antibiotic resistance.

Prozac was introduced in 1987. In just the first five years, 4.5 million Americans consumed it. After over 30 years since development, a new side effect just emerged. While most individuals with severe behaviors have no access to applied behavior analysis, they do have easy access to medications with mystery side effects. While there are significant efforts to ban a two second skin shock, the same "advocates" have made no effort to stop substituting medications, which can have dangerous and even deadly side effects, for applied behavior analysis, which has no side effects. While some of these "advocates" are against applied behavior analysis, they are silent when medications are replacing education.

Mindfulness with Parent Tutoring in ABA: Helping Parents Help Their Children

Yesterday, I was reading how parents may have difficulty controlling their own behaviors when confronted with a child who engaged in a severe problem behavior. Mindfulness encourages people to pay attention to their own thoughts and how their body feels and even their breathing in the present moment, to not criticize them and to use words to describe how they are feeling. This can produce a calming effect to help the parent follow through consistently on the behavior plan.

My mother once told me that one day she found my brother Matthew spreading feces around the house on everything. In that angry moment, my mother opened the front door, sent Matty on the porch and closed it behind him. Only moments later she realized what a mistake she had done, how Matty can run and knew nothing about traffic. She opened the door to let him back in, but he was gone.

It turned out Matty went a few blocks, luckily did not get hit by a car, and joined my father at the synagogue who was wondering what must have happened.

A study with 432 families shows how integrating mindfulness with parent training can "improve multiple dimensions of parenting, including interpersonal mindfulness in parenting, parent-youth relationship quality, youth behavior management, and parent well-being" (J. Douglas Coatsworth, Larissa G. Duncan, Robert L. Nix, Mark T. Greenberg, Jochebed G. Gayles, Katharine T. Bamberger, Elaine Berrena, et. al., Integrating Mindfulness with Parent Training: Effects of Mindfulness-enhanced Strengthening Families Program," Developmental Psychology 51, no. 1 (January 2015): 26-35, doi:10.1037/a0038212). The intervention was especially helpful to fathers.

Let's give parents the supports they need to prevent harm and to help the whole family.

Physical and Chemical Cages for Migrant Children

Fortunately, a judge ruled that the federal government can no longer give psychotropic medictions to children without consent, according to a recent article in the Washington Post, "Trump administration must stop giving psychotropic drugs to migrant children without consent, judge rules."

This shows how vulnerable children or individuals with special needs are when there is no one around to advocate for them.

I remember when I was a child my grandparents had a parrot, Columbus, and they let the bird fly all over the apartment. One day I asked my grandmother, "Why you don't put the bird in a cage?" She replied, "Would you like it if somebody put you in a cage?" So not only were these children put in a physical cage, apparently they were also locked in a chemical cage.