Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Autism Stories Scheduled for National Public Radio Aug. 15 and 16

National Public Radio is scheduled to broadcast two pieces on autism on its Morning Edition program on August 15 and 16. Leaders of an autism advocacy group in South Carolina, who were among those interviewed, said we should listen for a segment focusing on Massachusetts schools on August 15, and a second piece the following day that takes a look at the issue of insurance for autism services.

South Carolina was the location for a major victory for advocates of autism services and insurance coverage earlier this year.

Assuming the pieces air as scheduled, they will be available for listening on the web. If you don't want to navigate NPR's website to find the clips, you can look back here for links to the segments.

UPDATE: Find the story focusing on Massachusetts schools' struggling to deal with a rising population of autistic children, aired Aug. 15, at NPR by clicking here. Reporter Larry Abramson spends time with public school teachers going through an ABA training session at the private May Institute, a school for children with autism. He also talks to educators, parents and kids.

While the story doesn't use the term applied behavior analysis explicitly, it describes ABA in concept. Glen Dunlap, the lecturer leading a teacher training session explains "teachers need to take a scientific approach to the problem" of getting autistic kids to learn. Teachers "must team up with their colleagues and take copious notes on the child's behavior. When does he act out? What seems to cause the most disturbing behavior? After months of work, the child's teachers succeeded in reining in his behavior."

"It takes a lot of work, but many public schools are managing to work with autistic children in mainstream classrooms, because they have to," Abramson reports.

UPDATE NO. 2: Find the link to South Carolina advocate Lisa Rollins' interview with NPR's John Ydstie by clicking here. In a key excerpt, Rollins describes the arguments she and other advocates made in favor of covering autism services like ABA for young children:

Rollins says the parents who backed the bill argued that autism is similar to a stroke or to Alzheimer's disease, neurological conditions that are covered by insurance.

"We also pointed out to legislators that it was the economically smart thing to do, because these early interventions can make the difference between a child going to a residential care-type of institution, nursing home facility, for the rest of their lives or being able to be a typical kid and be therefore a contributing member of society."

Bonus link: On its web page, NPR linked to Autism Bulletin's map of state insurance laws.

Also see:

South Carolina Legislature Overrides Veto to Pass Autism Insurance Law


A Behavior Analyst said...

Glen Dunlap's comment, "teachers need to take a scientific approach to the problem" captures beautifully what ABA is. It is not a dogmatic, rigid set of prescribed interventions but rather the use of objective measures and direct observation to develop and evaluate the effectiveness of different learning strategies. Thanks for being fair to behavioral practitioners, Michael.

Michael Goldberg said...

Thank you Andrew for leaving that comment. There's a big need to get ABA training to public school teachers, so I believe this NPR story, while it was just one piece, was an important note in the long-running effort to make both educators and the public at large more aware of this style of teaching kids with autism.