But you are so anti-treatment!

1 May

Before I started blogging here, I had started a website. The site is now being promoted as my secret life as a curbie. I’ve tried to find the archive of the site and the backup of the blog. Then it struck me, you can see snapshots of how the site looked with the wayback machine. At some point after I started blogging here at LeftBrain/RightBrain, I added a blog to my website. Sort of a spin-off that didn’t really take. You can find that on the archive as well.

The main website gathered a lot of criticism from people I respect so I took it down with the intent or rewriting it at some point. As you can see, that never happened. I invite you to go look for yourself.

Past criticism included:

1) promotion of ABA in general
2) lack of a good description of the fact that early autism diagnoses may not be stable, so studies claiming benefit based on changes in diagnosis are suspect
3) since many studies use changes in diagnoses, they promote a “cure is better” model
4) There isn’t a strong enough statement against using ABA (and like therapies) for trying to extinguish autistic traits and “normalize” autistics
4) links to other sites that are considered offensive to some (e.g. FEAT, ASAT)

There was more. Let me know your criticism.

If your criticism is, “but you are so anti treatment now!”, take a moment first. That is such a strawman. There is a big difference between being (a) treatments which are untested for efficacy or safety (or have known serious side effects) and (b) treatments which have some sound basis for how they work, have some efficacy data and have safety data.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of the former and very few of the latter.

This isn’t new, nor something hidden. I’ve written here on LeftBrain/RightBrain about clinical trials, for example. Our family has even participated in a clinical trial. We were able to look at the proposed mechanism (which wasn’t particularly strong, I admit), and the previous studies and, most importantly, the safety data. And it was a study–our participation would be used to gather data which could help out the greater community by stating whether the treatment was beneficial or not. We weren’t trying to gather anecdotes for advertisements.

One problem with keeping to a pseudonym and keeping private is that it allows for strawmen to be built. There is a big strawman that I (and others) are against any and all forms of treatment. I doubt the strawmen will go away anytime soon. They are so much easier to fight than facts.

35 Responses to “But you are so anti-treatment!”

  1. Sniffer May 1, 2011 at 21:00 #


    Nobody outside lbrb believes you.
    You cant change what you posted and the style that you wrote in chalk and cheese since said, arrival at lbrb.

    Good luck with the Patsy roll everbody need`s one at least.

    Thorsen could do with one right now!!or was that his roll?



  2. Mike Stanton May 1, 2011 at 21:35 #

    I would not worry too much. My first web page had links to Paul Shattock’s Autism Research Institute, Bernie Rimland and Stephen Edelson of ARI/DAN. When you first start out it is hard to know who to believe. We read, we listen, we learn, we change our minds.

  3. Mike Stanton May 1, 2011 at 21:37 #

    We read, we listen, we learn, we still make mistakes. I meant to say Paul Shattock’s Autism Research Unit, not Institute.

  4. Mo1 May 1, 2011 at 23:30 #

    if you will excuse me coming in here. I read many a post of yours Before Sullivan (B.S.)it is almost like two different people writing.

    Sullivan destroys, HBOT,Chelation,and other treatments when you were looking for cures at the same time on your old blog of a similar nature.

    Sullivan is friendly to women bloggers (woman to woman writing) you were hostile to a lot of women on your blog at the same time.

    I am glad you are trying to clear the air time never stands still and we can only take you at your word.

    Thank you


  5. McD May 2, 2011 at 06:35 #

    I was not familiar with your writing ‘Before Sullivan’. You seem like a level-headed, experienced autism parent to me.

    It would not be a surprise to experience change. Who has all the answers when their kid get diagnosed? It is a learning experience for everyone. I saw from Handley’s post that you have a science background – so change in some critical areas is expected in light of new (valid) information.

    I am glad that there are parents with your experience who are willing to take the time to translate the science for the rest of us and counter some of the nonsense spread by lawyers, their ‘expert witnesses’, and so-called CAM practitioners who feed off selling false hope to desperate parents.

  6. sharon May 2, 2011 at 09:07 #

    Agreed McD.

  7. KWombles May 2, 2011 at 12:13 #

    It doesn’t matter if you’re using a pseudonym or not, strawman arguments are a fact of life.

  8. Phil Schwarz May 2, 2011 at 14:30 #

    The false dichotomy that one must be either 100% “pro cure” or of the opinion that nothing at all should be done in response to autism remains one of the most pernicious wastes of time and energy in the history and politics of autism.

    What does it take to get people to realize that there is a fundamental *duality* to autism, that it is both disability and difference?

    And that each side of that duality requires a specific response: we must learn to focus on mitigating and accommodating the disabilities, and also on respecting and protecting the differences.

    *That* is what autistic self-advocates and their allies seek, not the total absence of response to disability concomitant with autism.

    And conversely, it has been my experience, over 17 years in the autism community since my son’s diagnosis, that most parents who *think* they want a “cure” for autism think so not because they really want to eradicate every atypical feature of their autistic children, but because the only model they see in the media and in the public discourse they are exposed to, regarding other disabilities as well as those concomitant with autism, is “cure”.

    But cystic fibrosis or breast cancer or muscular dystrophy (or name your favorite “cure” cause, other than autism) are not like autism: they are generally degenerative and/or fatal, and they do not have the fundamental duality about them of disability plus non-harmful difference. Curing those conditions — eradicating them entirely — makes sense. Nobody’s identity is wrapped up in differences of individuality that are part and parcel of cystic fibrosis or breast cancer or muscular dystrophy.

    With a bit of gentle, compassionate Socratic questioning, most parents who think they want a “cure” for autism will see that what they really want is mitigation of the *disabilities* concomitant with autism. Insight about that distinction can then enable them to begin to understand, and implement, a response to the non-harmful *differences* concomitant with autism built around respect and protection.

    So — as I have been saying for 16 years now, there is a huge middle ground upon which to work together, if only people would take off their blinders.

    I work for the day when all autistic children — and adults — have a proficient and extensible means of expressive communication, whether via speech, assistive/augmentative communication (AAC) technology, or a combination thereof.
    I also work for the day when it will have become as socially unacceptable to disrespect (or expect to “normalize”) a person’s preference for sameness and consistency, or harmless and noninvasive unusual behavior, or divergent patterns of socializing, as it is to disrespect (or expect to “normalize”) a person’s handedness, religious practice, ethnicity, physical features, gender expression, or sexual orientation.

  9. Jorge Campo May 2, 2011 at 14:45 #

    Points 1 and 5 (it is a repeated “4”) seem quite similar since FEAT and ASAT are backed up by ABA proponents.

    I am interested in knowing what is your current opinion on ABA*.

    *Although my web page is ABA related I do not follow ABA as a religion and therefore I am always open to well constructed criticisms.

    As always: My congratulations for your excellent blog and opinions.

    • Sullivan May 3, 2011 at 02:13 #

      Jorge Campo,

      It is a very complicated question, with lots of strawmen.

      My views are generally the same now as then–I see ABA as a tool in the toolbox. I see ABA as multiple things–ABA, with a basis in DTT, and what I think of as aba (small letters) which is more how it is often put into practice with 1:1. It’s a tool. Like any tool it may be helpful sometimes, not helpful other times, or even misused. Someone I highly respect has a motto: If a person doesn’t learn with a given method, change the method and find methods that do work.

      One of the strawmen is: ABA, that’s all about cure. (you can already see that popping up here). Unfortunately, that’s the way it is promoted. And, sure, that’s how some parents see it. But it isn’t the reality that I’ve seen, or what I believe (now or then).

      Another strawman: If you support aba, you support aversives. There is that history to aba, but it is not logically linked that one supports aversives.

      There are many more.

      One paper I’ve been meaning to discuss is a paper in Pediatrics recently discussing aba. It points out that the science behind it is weak, with many of the studies from the past 10 years being considered low quality. It’s time for good research on all the methodologies being considered.

      As to the links: my original intention was to build up a big collection of links. I was always impressed by the links available at Neurdiversity.com. There are links to just about everything (including FEAT, as well as TACA and many others). The idea as I saw it: here are the links, go make up your own mind. They aren’t meant as an endorsement. That isn’t how it was taken when I did it. But I am no Kathleen Seidel. Not by a long shot.

      One of the experiences I had was that people were telling me over and over (and over and over) what I though. “You think….” I’ve noted on this blog before: whenever someone tries to tell me what I think, I can almost guarantee that what they say is wrong. This is why I rarely claim to know what people think. For example, I don’t use the term “anti-vaccine” much at all. Why? Because people will say, “I think vaccines should be safe”, and discount what is said. Better to focus on actions.

      On thing I have seen that really bothers me is people working against mental health parity in insurance, based on ABA. Mental health parity (1) isn’t just about autism and (2) isn’t just about ABA. So, people with other conditions don’t get insurance coverage, or autistics don’t get speech or OT covered. Not good. I fought for and won mental health parity in insurance for my company. I already consider the JB Handley concession to be a near non-event in my life. Getting mental health parity in my company, that’s something I remember.

  10. Mo1 May 2, 2011 at 16:37 #


    I have posted on here before one liners .

    I look on here a lot,over a year and see the dicussion no harm with this I hope.

  11. Prometheus May 2, 2011 at 19:23 #

    I’ve long been puzzled at the way some people see allowing new information to change one’s mind as “inconsistency” or “vacillation” – like it was a bad thing to modify your position in the face of new data.

    What is far worse (and, sad to say, more common) are those people who fail to change their mind when presented with sufficient data. When I hear someone say that nothing could convince them that their beliefs are wrong, I know that I’m dealing with a closed (or petrified) mind.

    So what if you were more “pro-treatment” a few years ago? So what if you’ve changed your views of autism, “biomed” and the rest? I suspect that a few decades ago you thought that an obese housebreaker in a red suit brought children gifts in December – is it a “bad thing” that you see things differently now?

    Part of growing up is realising that we can be wrong even when we’re sure that we’re right. Part of being a “grown-up” is having the willingness to admit when we’re wrong (at least to ourselves), make the necessary changes and move forward.

    Those who can’t do that are forever stuck in the twilight of adolescence.


  12. laurentius Rex May 2, 2011 at 22:11 #

    I have also uncovered my supervisors secret former life as a curebie, including publications, and connections with Paul Shattock abounding. Theres a lot of it about. Thing is should we not rejoice for every ex curebie who has now seen the light?

  13. sharon May 2, 2011 at 23:18 #

    @Phil, that was beautifully put.

  14. Jorge Campo May 3, 2011 at 08:22 #

    Good post Sullivan.

    It is sad that ABA is viewed as a tool and not at what it is supposed to be: A way of understanding and analyzing behavior and its function.

    I have to admit that a big part of ABA clinicians use it as a tool for a mental diagnostic called “autism”.

    People tend to ask us for ABA as a recipe, something to read and apply, and it is quite hard to convince them that there is no such recipe.

    A few of us have a hard time talking in terms of “children with autism”. In fact, from a functional view we deal with behaviors (interactions) not illneses.

    I do not blame at all those who see ABA as a tool, since it is how really it is used by a vast majority.

    I only hope people are able to understand just a bit why some of us see “autism” as a label and nothing else and why it is important to adopt functional analysis.


    Certainly I do completely agree with Prometheus. As B. F. Skinner stated:
    “Regard no practice as immutable. Change and be ready to change again. Accept no eternal verity. Experiment.”

    • Sullivan May 3, 2011 at 13:36 #

      “It is sad that ABA is viewed as a tool and not at what it is supposed to be: A way of understanding and analyzing behavior and its function.”

      The two statements are not mutually exclusive.

  15. Jorge Campo May 3, 2011 at 15:18 #

    Well, yes Sullivan.

    What I really meant is that ABA has tools or techniques but they must be always used only because there was a Functional Analysis of the behavior on the first time.

    Unfortunately too often the situation is viewed as this: for a mental pathology called autism use DTT, chaining, pivotal responses, etc.

    ABA works with parents, peers, etc,(rather that only with the child) since the behavior of the child is viewed as an interaction with his world.

    Behavior is not really a problem, we make a problem of it and worse than that, we make or create illneses based on behaviors.

    We also tend to forget that ABA applies to human behavior, not only autism.

    It is in this sense of “tool-applied-to-pathology” that I refuse to accept certained ABA.

  16. rose May 4, 2011 at 15:22 #

    Village idiot here….

    In regards to curebies; I used to be one. Why doesn’t anyone care about that? (I’m just shittin’ ya.)

    Tool Applied To Pathology: ABA is also a way to make the parent/teacher/caretaker predictable to the autist. The pathology is sometimes the way kids with autism are treated. ABA at least asks the therapist to consider their own behavior in the mix. Or at least it should. It also gives you something meaningless to do with kids to fill up the time and keep them busy, as far as I could see. I was very poor at it, I tended to think that kids could take more responsibility for their behavior, which ABA doesn’t really do. Guilt is not a word in ABA, animals don’t have guilt. It’s all about controlling behavior.

    On that vein, I just read that we think animal trainers control the lion in the circus ring. Not true…the animal is fed and drugged and unlikely to be agressive. What it is, is that a lion has a space around him that makes him feel threatened when it is crossed…he roars, and the trainer steps back out of that space. Perhaps we could learn something. (Umberto Eco is a delightful writer. He tells so many secrets, and goes into such depth. Must be a qualifying autist.)

    Of severely autistic kids, I see that space, too. THEY decide when it is crossed, and they are not aggressive if it is respected, or if they become immune to non-threatening advances. This space can be crossed in words or touch, actions or demands.

    We need to look at our behavior, too. And our expectations.

  17. McD May 7, 2011 at 02:15 #


    Of course they use ‘negative reinforcement’ in the wrong sense (as ‘punishment’), but the rest is spot on.

  18. David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E. May 18, 2011 at 00:49 #

    McD: “Of course they use ‘negative reinforcement’ in the wrong sense (as ‘punishment’), but the rest is spot on.”

    Um… gonna pull rank here. You’re wrong.

    The use of mild electric shock, as referenced in the clip, is from the Lovaasian days of applying a noxious stimulus before a desired behaviour was going to be manded. Engagement in the desired behaviour was reinforced by the removal of the noxious stimulus, ergo that is in fact negative reinforcement.

    You’re probably getting the idea confused with what Matthew Israel set up in the JREC in Canton, MA, where worse-than-mild electic shocks are applied after a non-desired behaviour has been engaged in. In that setting, the shock is a positive punishment.

    The noxious stimulus is the same one in either setting but in the Lovaasian days, it was applied before a desired behaviour and removed on engagement in it; and, in the JREC setting, it is applied upon engagement in a non-desired behaviour.

    Here’s how it goes, for anyone who wants to know what punishment and reinforcement really are:

    In order to increase the frequency of engagement in desired behaviour:

    Application of a pleasant stimulus is positive reinforcement (R+)
    Removal of a noxious stimulus is negative reinforcment (R-)

    In order to reduce engagement in non-desired behaviour:

    Application of a noxious stimulus is positive punishment (P+)
    Removal of a pleasant stimulus is negative punishment (P-)

    I hope that clears it up.

  19. McD May 19, 2011 at 09:22 #

    My response to DNA has disappeared in the move I think. If it turns up, please delete this.

    Short answer – without arguing over details, the context in which they raised ‘negative reinforcement’ is a standard ‘punishment’ context used in training animals – using a sprayer to spritz water in their face in order to reduce the behavior which occasioned the spritzing. Given that this usually results in a reduction of the the preceding behavior, this is punishment. Not negative reinforcement.

    They were not specific enough to exclude any number of other situations in which any number of arrangements could be imagined. Including applying an aversive, the removal of which is contingent on display of the desired behavior, which would be negative reinforcement. But they did not describe this situation. So there is room for us to disagree.

    The example immediately preceding the reference to negative reinforcement was of punishment (the spritzing), but I will allow that it is possible that an educated person could infer that they really did intend a reference to actual negative reinforcement. We would actually be arguing over what the average American viewer would understand by the term.

    Given that you thought I needed a refresher on the definitions of ‘negative reinforcement’ and ‘punishment’, it would appear that you are not that convinced that the average viewer would, given an example of ‘punishment’, assume that the term immediately following – ‘negative reinforcement’, was referring to the technical term and not a folk-term for punishment.

    Seriously – I do not defend Lovaas early work. I don’t think even Lovaas would claim that his earlier work remains valid in light of subsequent research. I have no idea how you derived Lovaas’ very rarely applied, not adopted by any subsequent researchers, and rapidly abandoned use of electric shock as a model of negative reinforcement for modern purposes.

    Lovaas made some important contributions to how we approach teaching autistic children. But, he was 30-40 years ago. He didn’t make any contributions to basic behavior theory that I am aware of, and the mind-set that he was fighting – that autistic children were unteachable – has been overturned long ago. In effect, he is a victim of his own success. Are you seriously suggesting that anyone, with a modern education, would propose subjecting a child to electric shock until they emit the desired behavior? Not even Matthew Israel proposes this sort of ‘therapy’.

    My children both expertly use negative reinforcement on both parents on a daily basis. They pwn Lovaas.

  20. David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E. May 21, 2011 at 20:52 #

    “Short answer – without arguing over details, the context in which they raised ‘negative reinforcement’ is a standard ‘punishment’ context used in training animals – using a sprayer to spritz water in their face in order to reduce the behavior which occasioned the spritzing. Given that this usually results in a reduction of the the preceding behavior, this is punishment. Not negative reinforcement.”

    I saw nothing connecting the water bottle issue to the issue of negative reinforcment.

    (So now I’m watching it again).



    Here we go. Leanard was the one using the ‘squirting her in the face with water’ issue, as an objection to using negative reinforcement. Sheldon uses the thing of very mild electric shocks.

    Here we go again. Leonard is the wone misundersanding what R- is; the example given by Sheldon is the very form of R- used by Lovaas.

    I can’t see how I can make it any clearer. Certainly, Sheldon is not confusing punishment with negative reinforcement.

    “Are you seriously suggesting that anyone, with a modern education, would propose subjecting a child to electric shock until they emit the desired behavior? Not even Matthew Israel proposes this sort of ‘therapy’.”

    Lovaas was using it. Rarety of use makes no difference: he was using it. As a negative reinforcer.

    Israel uses electric shocks as punishments.

    Neither of those is any better than the other.

  21. McD May 26, 2011 at 16:08 #

    Your interpretation of the script requires us to mind-read the guy. I am going to take a poll of some more behavior analysts over the next few days. Since I am at ABAI here in Denver, that should not be a problem.

    I didn’t say Lovaas didn’t use it as negative reinforcement, just that it was a really really bad idea, and no one has done it since. Even Israel does not use it like that.

    I should say even Israel DIDN’T use it like that. Here’s hoping the JRC get themselves some ethics, acquaint themselves with the wider literature on punishment, and move away from a punishment based program.

  22. McD May 26, 2011 at 21:13 #

    I spoke too soon. Israel does, or at least did, use shock like that. “automatic negative reinforcement”

    I feel ill now.

    JRC were using negative reinforcement in an avoidance context. A series of shocks began on a regular basis when a desired behavior ceased, and stopped when the desired behavior was resumed. So still a long way from the early Lovaas research method, but still nasty.

  23. The nonHELP Group May 27, 2011 at 05:25 #

    Briefly: It’s not so rare (negative reinforcement). It’s used in certain Los Angeles schools.
    For starters, see the original ME Book by Lovaas & his doctoral
    students at the time (this is the origin of ‘single slap’ or thereabouts, iir). Those doctoral
    students went on & started schools and/or programs at universities in So Cal.
    Moreover, in the scheme of things 30-40 yrs ago was not that long ago. PRT & PBS both come from Lovaas

  24. The nonHELP Group May 27, 2011 at 05:33 #

    Also: Lovaas was still working in the early 2000s: Training young Behaviorists. So that was hardly 30-40 years ago.

  25. The nonHELP Group May 27, 2011 at 05:58 #

    And last I heard, JRC was in good-standing with ABAI.

  26. McD May 27, 2011 at 17:40 #

    We are talking about electric shock used as negative reinforcement. Not negative reinforcement as a method.

    Lovaas’ methods changed in line with both research and modern ethics.

    JRC are in ‘good-standing’ with quite a lot of agencies starting with the APA and ranging through various educational ones as well. What’s your point?

  27. The nonHELP Group May 27, 2011 at 20:45 #

    No — the electric shock was replaced with a slap or a smack. This practice still continues today.

  28. McD May 28, 2011 at 01:34 #

    One slap or smack?
    I think you need to go up several posts and read DNA’s post about the difference between negative reinforcement and punishment.

    If you are talking about getting slapped as punishment for autistic behaviors, I know right where you are coming from. I used to get slapped with a ruler across my leg by one teacher, and humiliated, yelled at, or smacked by others, mostly for getting bored and rocking or daydreaming (or usually both). Other kids got similar treatment for other more neurotypical misdeeds.

    That’s what happened in schools back then. I don’t hold it against today’s teachers, who would never dream of smacking my kids at school.

  29. McD May 28, 2011 at 01:37 #

    Having said that, I can’t speak for US schools, for all I know, you may still have corporal punishment in some schools.

  30. The nonHELP Group May 28, 2011 at 02:03 #

    NO , I meant what I wrote. I also completely understand what
    Andrews wrote. I also cited a source earlier. Lovaas used electric shock, then slap or smack. Later, he is
    on record as saying he would have used physical affection instead — had he to do it all over again. All in terms of reinforcement, nothing to do with punishment.

  31. McD May 28, 2011 at 06:47 #

    I think I get where you are coming from. DNA and I were just quibbling over the difference between negative reinforcement and punishment. Which can get really pointy-headed.

    For example (real life situation), if my son starts nagging ‘want to go to MacDonald’s’ over and over, and I eventually give in and take him to MacDonald’s, I have positively reinforced my son for nagging (he is more likely to nag in future), and he has used negative reinforcement on me – I have to increase my ‘going to MacDonald’s’ behavior in order to stop the nagging.

    In similar fashion, whether a given situation is ‘negative reinforcement’, or ‘punishment’ can also depend on which behaviors you are measuring at the time (or from which point of view you are taking).

    So what I was saying before, was I can’t really see any situation where a single slap would be used as negative reinforcement. By definition, the negative reinforcement must increase some behavior. This usually involves some longer-term annoying stimulus that is stopped by the desired behavior.

    The so-called “short, sharp, shocks”, like slaps, are usually used as punishers. The best research indicates that they suppress a behavior, over the short term, in the presence of the punisher – hopefully an unwanted behavior. But they do not teach useful behavior, and they have a host of adverse side effects – in addition to being unethical if positive methods are available.

    Negative reinforcement can pose a greater problem than punishment because it usually involves applying an aversive over a prolonged period until the desired behavior is emitted. This is seriously unethical in situations where the target behavior is outside of the natural range of responses the learner might emit.

    That is why I think your ‘single slap’ example is actually a punishment. I have not read the original ME book, It was last revised over 30 years ago, and the author has gone on record updating his recommendations in line with current research findings – aversives are not as effective as positive behavior programs.

    I don’t have access to the original book, unless I buy it, so if Lovaas came up with some method of turning a single slap into negative reinforcement, I would be interested in hearing the details.

  32. The nonHELP Group May 28, 2011 at 07:40 #

    Eg. To increase reading. Just as was done with the elec shocks. In one session, one could
    receive a series of ‘single’ slaps.

  33. David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E. May 28, 2011 at 14:42 #

    “That is why I think your ‘single slap’ example is actually a punishment.”

    If I’m honest, I have difficulty seeing a single slap as being anything like a negative reinforcer. I can’t see what good a slap prior to expected engagement in a desired behavour could do. Even if the slap were to be avoidable by engaging in that behaviour, I can’t see that being an effective ‘teaching’ strategy. As I understood it when we were dealing with this Lovaasian application of this stuff, the electric shocks were applied immediately prior to engagement in a desired behaviour being expected to happen, and the shock would be terminated immediately upon engagement in it. This would constitute negative reinforcement (removal of an unpleasant stimulus contingent upon engagement in an expected behaviour). But a shock is something that can be presented as an extended stimulus: a slap is a single instantaneous event, and cannot be given as an extended stimulus. It could be given as a repeated stimulus, I’m sure. But that would be battery, wouldn’t it? Certainly a cause for concern.

    “I have not read the original ME book, It was last revised over 30 years ago, and the author has gone on record updating his recommendations in line with current research findings – aversives are not as effective as positive behavior programs.”

    If we’re talking about Lovaas as the author, he would have been made well aware before writing it – and before having set about using aversives in the beginning – since that was what Skinner was telling at the time that Ferster was working with Lovaas in Skinner’s lab. Strictly speaking, he should have known already, and worked accordingly.

    “Negative reinforcement can pose a greater problem than punishment because it usually involves applying an aversive over a prolonged period until the desired behavior is emitted.”

    Yes. This is why I’m having problems seeing a single slap as being some sort of negative reinforcement thing.

    “This is seriously unethical in situations where the target behavior is outside of the natural range of responses the learner might emit.”

    I agree with this. I’m not even sure it would be ethical in situations where the desired behaviour had been modelled and the learner was aware of there being something unpleasant in the offing if the behaviour has not been engaged in.

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