Saturday, April 12, 2014

A Behaviorists' Bookshelf (Ongoing)

     I have decided to keep an ongoing list of books related to education, behavior analysis, and other randomness that I think are useful or want to buy. I will add brief recommendations & reservations as time permits. Not to say that These lists are in no particular order. And, obviously, not APA citations (Author/Editor - Title - Edition if applicable). While I value all of my purchases, and would return a title if it were outright awful, books with a + after denote highly recommend, books with a - after means the title is owned but with "reservations," and  books with nothing after mean they're good enough to warrant a purchase but are in my opinion a low priority.

     This list is obviously not exhaustive, and will be an ongoing project to update.

     Feel free to post any recommendations at the bottom! I'd love to know what reader's are finding useful!

(Updated 04.12.2014)


Behavior Analysis/Behaviorism/Positive Behavior Supports:
  • B.F. Skinner - The Behavior of Organisms +
  • B.F. Skinner - Walden Two
  • B.F. Skinner - Science and Human Behavior +
  • B.F. Skinner - Schedules of Reinforcement
  • B.F. Skinner - Verbal Behavior
  • B.F. Skinner - About Behaviorism +
  • B.F. Skinner - Beyond Freedom & Dignity
  • B.F. Skinner - Upon Further Reflection
  • B.F. Skinner - Cumulative Record
  • John O. Cooper, Timothy E. Heron, & William L. Heward - Applied Behavior Analysis (2nd Ed.) +
  • Mary Lynch Barbera - The Verbal Behavior Approach +
  • Susan M. Schneider - The Science of Consequences +
  • Michael M. Mueller & Ajamu Nkosi - Behavior Analytic Consultation to Schools
  • Heward et. al. (Eds.) - Focus on Behavior Analysis in Education: Achievements, Challenges, and Opportunities
  •  John Bailey & Mary Burch - 25 Essential Skills & Strategies for the Professional Behavior Analyst
  • John Bailey & Mary Burch - How To Think Like a Behavior Analyst +
  • Mark L. Sundberg - Verbal Behavior Milestones Assessment and Placement Program (Assessment & Guide) +
  • Mark L. Sundberg & James W. Partington - Teaching Language to Children with Autism or Other Developmental Disabilities +
  • Richard M. Foxx - Increasing Behaviors of Severely Retarded and Autistic Persons
  • Richard M. Foxx - Decreasing Behaviors of Persons With Severe Retardation and Autism
  • Murray Sidman - Tactics of Scientific Research
  • Derek D. Reed, Florence D. DiGennaro Reed, & James K. Luiselli (Eds.) - Handbook of Crisis Intervention and Developmental Disabilities
  • Mark R. Dixon - PEAK: Relational Training System - Direct Training Module 
  • Catherine Maurice, Gina Green, & Stephen C. Luce (Eds.) - Behavioral Intervention for Young Children With Autism: A Manual for Parents and Professionals +
  • James M. Johnston - Radical Behaviorism for ABA Practitioners +
  • Susan M. Sheridan & Thomas R. Krawochwill - Conjoint Behavioral Consultation
  • Robert L. Koegel & Lynn R. Koegel - Pivotal Response Treatments for Autism
  • Glen Dunlap, Rose Iovannone, Donald Kincaid, Kelly Wilson, Kathy Christiansen, Phillip Strain, & Carie English - Prevent-Teach-Reinforce +
Education (General, Teaching, and Teacher Preparation):
  • Carl E. Kaestle - Pillars of the Republic: Common Schools and American Society, 1780-1860
  • Ron Ritchhart - Intellectual Character- What It Is, Why It Matters, and How To Get It
  • Howard Gardner - 5 Minds For The Future 
  • Natalie Ravthon - Effective School Interventions +
  • Edward S. Shapiro - Academic Skills Problems
  • Jay McTighe & Grant Woods - Understanding By Design: Professional Development Workbook
  • David L. Westling & Lise Fox - Teaching Students with Severe Disabilities (4th Ed.)
  • Daniel P. Hallahan, James M. Kauffman, & Paige C. Pullen - Exceptional Learners: An Introduction to Special Education (12th Ed.)
  • Daniel P. Hallahan & James M. Kauffman - Cases for Reflection and Analysis for Exceptional Learners: Introduction to Special Education (Supplement to Exceptional Learners above)
  • James M. Kauffman & Daniel P. Hallahan - Special Education: What It Is and Why We Need It
  • Victor Nolet & Margaret J. McLaughlin - Accessing the General Curriculum (2nd Ed.) -
  • Gordon S. Gibb & Tina Taylor Dyches - Guide to Writing Quality Individualized Education Programs +
  • James S. Cangelosi - Classroom Management Strategies: Gaining and Maintaining Student's' Cooperation (6th Ed.) 
  • Spencer J. Saland - Creating Inclusive Classrooms: Effective and Reflective Practices (7th Ed.)
  • Gail E. Tompkins - Literacy for the 21st Century: A Balanced Approach (5th Ed.) +
  • John Settlage & Sherry A. Southerland - Teaching Science to Every Child: Using Culture as a Starting Point
Other Disability/Good Reads/Useful/Of Interest:
  •  Catherine Maurice - Let Me Hear Your Voice: A Family's Triumph Over Autism +
  • Murray Sidman - Coercion and Its Fallout +
  • John W. Norlin - What Do I Do When - The Answer Book on Special Education Law (5th ed.)
  • Ken Siri & Tony Lyons (Eds.) - Cutting Edge Therapies for Autism, 2010-2011-
  • Daniel Tammet - Born on a Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant +
  • Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.) +
  • Temple Grandin - Animals in Translation
  • Julie Holland - Weekends at Bellevue+
  • Bernard Wood - Human Evolution: A Very Short Introduction
  • Michael O'Shea - The Brain: A Very Short Introduction
  • Eleanor W. Lynch & Marci J. Hanson - Developing Cross-Cultural Competence: A Guide for Working With Children and Their Families (4th Ed.) +
  •  Edward H. Levi - An Introduction to Legal Reasoning
  • Thomas J. Bernard - The Cycle of Juvenile Justice
  • Earl Babbie - The Practice of Social Research
  • George Orwell - 1984 +
  • Friedrich Nietzsche - Beyond Good and Evil +
  • Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis (Society for the Experimental Analysis of Behavior)
  • Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior (Society for the Experimental Analysis of Behavior)
  • The Behavior Analyst (Association for Behavior Analysis International)
  •  The Analysis of Verbal Behavior (Association for Behavior Analysis International)
  • Behavior Analysis in Practice (Association for Behavior Analysis International)
  • APBA Reporter (Association for Professional Behavior Analysis)
  • Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions (Association for Positive Behavior Support)
  • Exceptional Children (Council for Exceptional Children)
  • What Work's Clearing House (Institute for Educational Science)
  • Best Practice in Brief (Michigan State University)
  • Harvard Education Letter (Harvard Education Publishing Group)
  • Special Ed Advocate (Wrightslaw Special Education Law and Advocacy)
  • Spotlight on Disability Newsletter (American Psychological Association)
  • Research Alert: Autism (American Psychological Association)
  •  The Educator (American Psychological Association)
  • Association for Behavior Analysis International

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

How we get our personalities

     There is nothing novel in this post on how personalities develop, but I wanted to provide a brief overview of how our personalities are defined, and some factors that influence our personality.

     A personality is shaped by the environment. Specifically, sets of contingencies that are in place via naturally occurring contingencies and our verbal community. For example, if I were to spend all day running a ton of errands, someone may say "He is quite the mover!" I may then begin to identify as someone who is motivated to get things accomplished, and this may transfer into other realms of life such as my job or school. Once I contact others who observe this as well, the more they use their observations to define me, the more that becomes how I am viewed, and therefore I may begin to define myself in the same way.  Furthermore, if our word to describe someone who is productive were "lazy" instead of productive, then my verbal community would label me as lazy by observing me getting things done since that is the word that describes a trait that is attributed to a set of observable behaviors. Our personalities, according to Skinner (1974), are what we "say and do" (pp. 164).

     Rule-governance and contingency-shaped behavior are related in that we learn from the consequences of each. We learn much faster by rule-governed than contingency-shaped behavior, and the better defined the rule is, the more likely we will be able to follow it to produce reinforcement and avoid a potentially aversive consequence. Additionally, we are primed as a species to follow rules, especially at a young age (think of that, a child's mind is a sponge analogy). For example, the child who grows up along the Nile needs to heed the rule of their parents and elders to stay away from the water's edge or they may get eaten by a crocodile. If the child does not follow the rule and gets eaten, that child obviously does not get to learn from the contingency....

     Both rule-governed and contingency-shaped behavior relate to learning. The more we follow a rule and contact reinforcement or avoid an aversive situation, the more we will follow it in the future. Similarly, the more reinforcing the contingency, the more likely we will behave in similar ways under similar circumstance.

     Additionally, the rules of our cultures play a lot into how our personalities will be defined through our actions. The same is true of contingency shaped behavior. For the prior, if our society says it is impolite to burp at the table, we try not to burp to avoid social approval (if we buy into or care about the social norm, of course). Similarly for the latter, if we burp at the table anyway, and our dinner is removed, dessert is withheld, and we are made to do the dishes, we will think twice about burping again at the table, and therein follow the rule more strictly. Lastly, if we burp at the table, our verbal community may label us as rude or unpleasant. If we refrain from burping and engage in other polite, social dinner-table behaviors, our verbal community may label us as civil or well-mannered.

Skinner, B. F. (1974). About behaviorism. New York, NY: Vintage Books.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Living as a Radical Behaviorist

Living as a Radical Behaviorist (RB) is very rewarding, but can also be very difficult. I'm not going to get into the history and what radical behaviorism is in painstaking details here. But I will discuss some difficulties, some benefits, and some personal views.

To start, very few people you'll interact with (unless you're a professional, and even some of their "radical behaviorist views'" can be questionable) are not RBs. Many people are unfamiliar with Skinner, let alone his RB. And trying to convince them of an alternate world-view that isn't filled with mental constructs and free will is hard for them -- some will even get mad if you try. It is additionally difficult in the school system, as teacher preparation barely gets into Skinner and behavior analysis, let alone Skinner's RB. Now, remember, a lot of these people are professionals, but to have them flip a pedagogical switch is hard and you may come off as arrogant. I once had a supervisor at a school tell me to "stop drinking the ABA Kool-Aide." I bit my tongue, but I would have liked to tell her that RB is a philosophy of a science that explores how the world works -- and it's always at work. For me, I felt like she was telling me not to breath. Now, of course, I didn't want to be rude, and I am becoming more impermeable to these sorts of statements by people whose minds I won't change in a single, passing discussion, but it is hard.

It is equally frustrating working with educators, special or general, because you sometimes will want to shake them and saying, "You're providing education services to children who will become people, why don't you know about these things." These things referring to principles of reinforcement and punishment and functions of behavior. They seem to think behavior is only what's bad, and as we know, that supposition is wrong. They talk about "expectations," "thoughts," and "experiences" in a way that they think is enlightening to what's going on in their classrooms, but it doesn't tell me much. What tells me a lot, because of my world-view, is observing their rooms and teaching strategies. And now, I get it, you don't need to know everything about RB or ABA to be an effective teacher, but wouldn't they want to know "why" their instruction is effective? Even for those teachers using evidence-based procedures and making data based decisions, a theoretical and conceptual framework behind the why and how strategies work should be understood (and quite well!).

There are, of course, joys to being a RB. I appreciate being able to distill the world into manageable units of behavior. I like understanding that if someone is being impolite to me to get a rise out of me, I should ignore them on every occasion, or if their being rude because it makes them feel better, there's little I can do about that. I like looking at my own learning history, and that if others if I am privy, to see why I and they behave in certain ways -- it's a fun, intellectually stimulating activity. Of course, being an RB makes me a better ABA clinician, but it also allows me to be less emotional about some of the smaller circumstances that arise in life -- my strong emotions are reserved for serious issues. Incidentally, I was reviewed today by two people. One gave me a stellar, almost perfect review, the other gave me a lesser scored one. For the latter, I knew that her comments came as a result of feeling threatened by my presence and in anger at that. So, those criticisms, if not constructive, bounce off.

I also enjoy being deterministic. It means that I can manipulate the world in a certain way to maximize on the benefits, and try and fade out the drawbacks. For example, I can weed out that rude person by punishing their behavior so they'll stay away and be rude to someone else, while I can reinforce the people who meet my automatic and social needs to stay around me.

Really, in a simple phrasing, being a radical behaviorist is liberating. It allows me to remain objective about instances that others see as subjective. It allows me to see that people are doing what works best for them, whether it is optimal or sub-optimal. It allows me to strive for significant, socially meaningful outcomes across many aspects of my life, both personal and professional. In all, living as a radical behaviorist enriches my life in many ways.

Many thanks to B.F. Skinner and all of the giants who have helped to develop radical behaviorism and the related science. Without them, I'd be sitting here trying to figure it all out with useless mechanisms of philosophy and illogical reasoning.

Friday, October 4, 2013

GASP "Do you think it's Autism?"

I have to admit that nothing really gets under my professional skin more than another professional hypothesizing a diagnosis of autism when a child is behaving in maladaptive or aberrant ways. And there are a couple of reasons for this...

First, even if it is autism, are you going to change the CONTENT of what you're teaching? We don't have autism academic curricula. What we do have are efficacious and potentially effective, evidence based interventions and ways of teaching. That is to say, you may have to change your teaching methods.

Second, autism presents as a set of symptoms related to neurobiology. What do I mean by that? I mean that there are certain aspects of brain wiring and chemistry that are different -- the same is true of AD/HD and other neurobiological conditions. Some of their behaviors may be automatically maintained. That is, it feels good, like if you squeeze your hands when overly stressed and feel more relaxed afterward. So the function of that behavior may serve one function, but then you run over and scream "STOP FLAPPING!" and now flapping not only feels good, but it's a way to gain adult attention. This is especially problematic because of the communication deficits which typically present with a diagnosis. However, always remember that the brain is a muscle. It can be exercised like any other muscle can, just in different ways. Through repeated practice, inductively teaching skills, and making sure those skills generalize and remain mastered. Think of that practice as a sports practice. You don't just go out onto the court and start hitting 3 point shots -- you practice, practice, practice, and then on game day, you're better suited to make those shots.

Third, operant behavior is learned through contingencies of reinforcement or punishment. And all behavior serves a function. A response class is shaped up through contacting consequences and then evoked under certain environmental conditions with that learning history at play.

Lastly, it shouldn't matter. Especially at the 0-3 years and K, 1, 2 grades. All children learn skills to access the curriculum and be successful. If a child does not engage in, let's say, a set of behaviors that signal they're paying attention, then those skills/prerequisite behaviors need to be explicitly, and inductively taught. If you keep telling a child -- any child -- to "show me your paying attention," and they're not, then saying it over and over again is not going to help build the behavioral repertoire required for the learner to "show you" they are ready. If you call a learner's name, and they don't respond, saying it 5 more times probably won't help. And if it does, a learner should still respond to their name upon hearing it the first time. After your vocal, if they don't respond, get in there and prompt! Just be sure you can effectively fade your prompts over time.

All in all, I find it distressing when people immediately jump to thinking a child may have autism. "They're not following directions, I think it's autism!" Well, what if they're hard of hearing? Why does that not enter into your "hypothesis?" This bandwagon of educators proposing autism left and right is unprofessional and has got to stop not only because it's just bad practice, but because it continues to perpetuate the stigmas (and not the positives) associated with autism as being the diagnosis for poorly behaved children -- it's tautological and unhelpful.

Please, always remember that you are the adult -- the educator -- and that the children in your care deserve your time, patience, differentiation, and playing to their differences to provide them with skills that will allow them to be successful students, adults, and members of the community.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A Quick Ethics Reminder

Hopefully, all educators have had a lesson in ethics -- there are certainly ethics guidelines that you should be following.

As such, I thought it would be helpful to give a succinct brief in ethical practice.

Have you seen all those mugshots over the last two years on Facebook or in your favorite news blog? Have you then read, or made, a comment or two? Well, here's my bottom line...

If you are practicing, in the public- or private-sector, what would the reactions be to your practice if they were posted on YouTube? What if some conniving co-worker took a video, within legal means, of your interactions with a learner and went public? What if a parent, within legal means, were standing outside of your child's classroom or treatment room and listening in? Would they think you were being ethical?

My point not being that you're doing anything wrong, with malfeasance, or out of boredom, but if someone were watching, would you practice the same. And boy, how would your life be if you were the YouTube educator who got caught in a moment of irrational attachment, took it personal, and did something news worthy?

Keep yourself in check. Ethics always come before outcomes.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

#DearPrivateEvents -- #Aspirations

#DearPrivateEvents -- What if I were J.A. Hyfler, Psy.D, M.Ed, BCBA-D, OTR/L, SLP, RN, MD, Esq. Whoa. #Aspirations