Today I’m going to be talking about advice on the internet and why it’s pretty dangerous to take it in the autism world.
You might know I fell into the autism world in 1999 when my firstborn son Lucas was diagnosed with autism just one day before he turned three. At the time I knew almost nothing about autism, and the rate of autism was 1 in 500. The internet, for me, was just beginning. I think I may have had my first AOL account. I didn’t even know how to do a Google search until right before Lucas was diagnosed. The internet has exploded at the same time that the rate of autism has climbed from 1 in 500 to at least 1 in 68.
The internet explosion has actually helped me spread my message and my step-by-step strategies in my book which was published a decade ago. Shortly after my book was published, I created my website, marybarbera.com and I started a public Facebook page. The internet has really helped me in so many ways.
I now run some Facebook Ads and I provide online courses. For me, the internet has really helped us form a community and get good programming out to the world. People from over 50 countries have purchased one of my online courses, and we have a few closed Facebook groups where we can talk and give advice when things from the course are not working.
But there’s the whole other side of the internet that is filled with what I would consider very bad advice, mostly on groups where parents congregate. When I go on those groups and I see parents posting that they’re really struggling with their child, oftentimes struggling with problem behaviors. My child’s biting. My child was thrown out of preschool. I can’t figure out how to potty train, just all kinds of struggles that many people have.
What happens there is that other very well-meaning parents chime in and say, “Try a weighted blanket.” There’s just all kinds of crazy advice being said. I, as a behavior analyst, can’t ethically comment on those threads. I can’t comment and say, “Try this or try that,” because I don’t know the child. I’m not on the child’s case. I’ve never assessed the child. Even if it was ethically and legally appropriate for me to comment, I would run out of time in a day because there are so many people struggling.
One of the best things I can tell you as a behavior analyst is that we want to prevent problem behaviors. We want to spend 95% of our time preventing problem behaviors. That’s one thing. The other thing is we need to be a lot more positive, so a lot less reactive to problem behaviors and a lot more positive throughout the day. Glenn Latham says we need to provide eight positives to every negative, and that’s always a good idea. You do need to learn about applied behavior analysis to help you solve any struggles with children on the autism spectrum, as ABA is the most proven treatment for children with autism.
In an effort to help parents and professionals who are struggling to help toddlers through teens with autism, I created a three-step guide we can you can download right now to help you turn autism around with three steps you can start today. I hope that if you like this video blog, you’ll leave me a comment or give me a thumbs up, and I hope that you’ll join me on my journey to turn things around for two million kids with autism by 2020 by downloading the link and downloading your free 3-step guide. Thanks a lot. I will see you next week.