ABA technical concepts covered in this podcast: Operant conditioning; Learning histories; Inter-behavioural conditioning; intergenerational conditioned behaviours; behavioural cusp; habilitation
Presenters - Bobbi Hoadley, Cathy Knights.
As always, Bobbi and Cathy chat about a new take on an old adage – this one is full of hope and optimism, as they smash rules written in stone.
The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. The influences of learning on behaviour. What are all those influences that create this perfectly individual human being that's not like any other human being? Identical twins are not the same people. So many studies use twin studies because it's such a good control of the variables, and still individual development makes distinct individuals. The tree may be a whole lot more complex than we understand. We often see the tree as the family system or parent – that may be the trunk of the tree, but there's also the branch, the roots, the leaves, etc. and the environment that supports the tree being alive. It's a great adage, but to just say a person becomes who they are because of their genetics, or what their parents did, or their IQ - it's too simplistic to say that because we know an individual has been created by all those things.
So we talk about inter-behavioural learning – all the things on the tree and more. It's a mistake for us to do an analysis simplistically. Adults are more complex than children. We have inter-behavioural generational conditioning, e.g. if you had a great grandfather who died from a snake bite, you'll probably have a greater incidence of phobias of snakes in your family even if they are unaware of Grandpa's death. You have the demeanour your mother had, or your movements are very reminiscent of someone in your family – all intergenerational conditioned behaviours.
Study of epigenetics, genes aren't hardwired, they are more like switches- they change over our life-spans. We'll have a predisposed gene that we can switch off. Plants or animals where genes can change in a matter of hours. It's still important for us to know what is in your history. The whole nature-nurture argument closed off to us the idea that change was possible if it was in your genes, e.g. if you mother had schizophrenia, it could happen to me. But it's more hopeful to see us as organisms who are responding to our environments with what we know.
Critical incidences in a person's life – sometimes something will happen during a key developing milestone and that incident can be huge.
Disordered personality in adults, the medical model was more focussed on expertise than human treatment, patient became an object. At least 10% of the analyses I do, will have had a prolonged illness in childhood where they were hospitalized for a long period of time with very little nurturing. It can be traumatic. We don't do that to children anymore.
Let's not limit the accidents of fate. Fate teaches resilience, don't try to protect children, and on the other hand facilitate to support them to the next stage of development.
We become a part of our environment and that's where our soul is. It tends to be that understanding that we are part of a whole, something greater than ourselves.
IQ testing can be wildly unreliable if we don't accommodate where the apple fell from, or the internal state of the person being tested. IQ is not a good understanding of human cognition. All those people with cognitive disabilities who are hypervigilant of caregivers, it's highly intelligent to read the internal state of another person. I've had people tell me, this person can't learn. Any person who adapts to their environment, is learning. Maybe I can't learn new phone numbers, does that mean my IQ might suffer from that or that I'm not intelligent?
A diagnosis gives you some more clues, how to best interact with someone, but don't pathologize them. When we say that these things are predetermined, then we absolutely dead-end an individual. I worry about the lack of understanding around these issues. Some of it is marketed around psychotropic drugs. Even psychiatry currently says there's no science to support a chemical imbalance in the brain.
We need treatments that take into consideration a broader understanding that each person needs to develop into who they are. We need to climb their tree, take a nap under it, and eat their apple. We need to understand there's no other apple like them. That apple has the ability to do a good job at becoming itself.