Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Ivar Lovaas RIP

This story is bound to generate some additional media coverage in the next few days. It is probably still too new as a news item to have gotten much coverage yet. I was intrigued when I was checking the stats of this blog and some persons had entered "ivar lovaas obituary or "ivar lovaas died" as search words and were lead to this blog. I checked it out myself intermittenly and thought it was just an idol rumor, then finally came up with the previously linked to story.

Of course ABA will likely still live on as a treatment of choice for many years or even decades after Dr. Lovaas is buried and/or cremated. I wonder if any of the obituaries or news items will mention the controversies over the aversives that Lovaas used in the past and how dependent his 1987 study was on the use of aversives. I have been involved in autism-related matters long enough to remember the controversy over the shocks, spankings and food deprivation that most of the current generation of autism afficianados has forgotten that are linked to Dr. Lovaas.

Though I have had my differences with Michelle Dawson in the past, she was certainly spot on in her "The Misbehavior of Behaviorists" essay when she talked about how the science behind ABA was falsely advertised as doable without aversives in California and other jurisdictions where they have been outlawed.

As a person on the spectrum I realize I have to watch my social skills and remember it is in poor taste to speak ill about the deceased, so I guess I won't comment further. I still wonder if any of the multitude of obituary pieces that are bound to come out in a day or two will mention the past controversies.

14 comments:

JediKnight2 said...

Jonathan,

I just received your email about Dr. Lovaas. Although I was never a client of a speech therapist specializing in ABA, my prayers go out to him. He truly has made a difference for the autism community, including autistic children. If it wasn't for Dr. Lovaas, I may not have received some of the treatment I had in the mid 80's to early 90's assuming some of his techniques and theories were evolutionized and used by the type of speech therapist I had as a child and who I currently have for social pragmatics.

Autism Reality NB said...

Jonathan, I will leave you and Michelle Dawson to support the anti-ABA cause.

Dr. O. Ivar Lovaas was a true friend of autistic children and their families.

http://autisminnb.blogspot.com/2010/08/dr-o-ivar-lovaas-true-friend-of.html

Beyond all the inane arguments, the silly posturing and the ideological nonsense, including that of Michelle Dawson, Dr. Lovaas actually helped autistic children. In that regard he was one of the very, very few to have helped.

Thank you Dr. Lovaas for all you did for my son and other autistic children.

farmwifetwo said...

IMO Dr Lovaas', "Pavlov's training" won't be missed in our house. Anyone who thinks it isn't cruel to force a child to sit for 6 to 8 hrs/day in a room with a closed door should do it to themselves. Ours had changed to where they were in my living room and the child sat at a small chair where I could see him. 2yrs before when they came to tell me about it for the elder - and I refused at that time - I had to find a room where they could lock him in and I could watch videos afterwards. Video's, that they then kept.

This time, there was no video's, I refused. They also claimed to be different, more parent friendly, more flexible in their programming... and since I was desperate to go through the wall (he was "there") and we'd been trying since 18mths... they weren't.

I saw one of the T's at the mall a couple of weeks ago and we talked about my son... "when did you teach him to read" she asked... Me, "the day after you were removed from my house." 4yrs later - June 2010 - and I still have the shakes trying to go into the building at the hospital where their offices are... 4yrs later it upset me when the Psychiatrist in charge has one if her students call to discuss the program (june 2010)... it was a follow up and actually their "pre admit clinic" so it was the eldest not the little one.

Token systems, teaching things a step at a time, social stories and behaviour programming, are all "ABA" but none are "cruel" when used appropriately. The "Lovaas" version, is not child friendly.

Here in Canada they want ABA funded.. which version?? There are as many version of ABA as there are practitioners. There is no standard "ABA", there is no research to prove that "this ABA" is the one to use. Ontario uses Ont PPM 140 in school's. My eldest son's social and behavioural program fell under this program... it is tailored to his needs, and it was easy for child and teacher to use... social stories, token system, better communication btwn child and teacher... Whereas when little boy's psychometrist (age 3.5yrs) 8mths into the ABA program wrote "child cannot transfer learning out of ABA setting" in the paperwork.. it was their testing, their tester... ABA's comment "we don't have a program for that"... WT????????

Which is why I wrote a 27pg "epic" against the bill last spring to pay for ABA.

(if it sends it twice, delete this one)

Lynette said...

Lovaas was in uncharted territory. Don't forget, parents were giving their children up to hopeless lives in institutions. ABA changed that and has continued to evolve. I hope the legacy of Lovaas will focus on the good he brought about and not the things he himself probably would have preferred not to have done.

Kent Adams said...

Lovaas was a terrible human being responsible for a lot of psycho trauma I'm sure. For lower functioning kids, his treatment was useless but nonetheless, his institute continues to promote it along with its very high bills. I wonder how many families were bankrupted by Lovaas?

Anonymous said...

Just an FYI, Dr. Lovaas' research has been replicated twice, the Salos study did not use aversives and the results were higher for recovery following treatment -- Salos' numbers were somewhere around 48% higher than Lovaas' original 47%. My son is recovered because of the work of this incredible man and I believe his life has been saved because Lovaas refused to accept people with asd were hopeless due to their behaviors. The research speaks for itself.

jonathan said...

Actually I think you are referring to the Sallows (not Salos) study and this was not in fact a lovaas replication, but rather where the control group did as well or better than the experimental group and they had to lump the two groups together to get the results of their study.

Kent Adams said...

Part 1

Just an FYI, Dr. Lovaas' research has been replicated twice, the Salos study did not use aversives and the results were higher for recovery following treatment -- Salos' numbers were somewhere around 48% higher than Lovaas' original 47%.

You mean Sallow, a "student" of Lovaas'. Lovaas Young Autism Project has never been replicated outside of his former students, never. No one independent of Lovaas has ever been able to replicate his study, no one without a financial interest of promoting Lovaas has ever been able to replicate his results. Lovaas wouldn't even report the adult outcomes of his 1987 subjects, despite the fact he was paid by the NIH to do so in 1994. The studies that have been published outside of his inner circle report that they were unable to replicate his "success". The entire field of ABA hasn't been able to replicate his results, except of course his former students. Sallows by the way promoted Jenny McCarthy and her views of autism. Sallows employs more than 800 people. All of which make a living off of the 1987 study.

It seems that Sallows promised Lovaas at some point that he would replicate the 1987 study. Here, from Sallows own website the following: "And in 2005 Sallows kept his promise to Lovaas when he and his wife published a paper replicating his findings."

Sallows is a businessman. He understands that his method is competing with other methods. See what he wrote on his own website:

"Today WEAP operates the original Madison clinic as well as offices in Milwaukee, Eau Claire and Green Bay.


“The thing that’s really important about our study, we’re really the first ones in the world to actually replicate with a similar population,” Sallows said. “Actually, our population was somewhat lower functioning than his. His average IQ for kids beginning treatment was 60 and ours was 51. Lovaas got 47% of his kids to reach best outcome; we got 48%. You couldn’t replicate it much closer than that.”

Continue to Part 2

Kent Adams said...

Part 2 cont.

Sallows said the WEAP study put an end to doubts about ABA, at least among serious researchers in the field.

“Cathy Lord, who is very famous in autism – she’s the main author of the two most famous diagnostic tools, ADIR (Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised ) and ADOS (Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule) – before our study came out, she was saying, ‘OK, we agree that Lovaas’ method works. But we don’t know why. It was a fluke.’ Then our study came out and that really put a stop to all that talk. Geraldine Dawson at Washington State in Seattle has published a couple of really big studies. She’s into brain imaging. She wanted a copy of our paper and quoted it. We’re one of only a couple of autism programs across the country she put in her reference list. Everybody now kind of agrees this treatment does work.”

Still, Sallows knows ABA treatment is competing with a host of other treatments.

“There are things on the internet that I don’t think are supported by research. We pretty much stick to what’s been researched by us or by somebody else,” he said. “So many parents are trying gluten- and casein-free diets and supplements. There are more and more doctors that follow the DAN protocol (Defeat Autism Now!, a project of the Autism Research Institute), but there’s no data to support that. For the most part, I feel it’s kind of harmless. But chelation (a method to remove heavy metals from the body) is not harmless. There’s only been one death and most parents don’t believe it will happen to their child. But, again, there’s no data. The problem I have sometimes if a kid is on a bunch of supplements or on chelation and he gets upset, I tell the parents, I don’t know what I’m seeing now. I’ve given up trying to argue them out of using biomedical stuff. It’s all over. Everybody’s talking about it, but it does very little. It might do a little bit, but it’s certainly not the cure for autism.”

If parents want to research treatments online, Sallows suggests they stick with proven data.

“We have a research study online,” he said. “Read other people’s estimates of what’s effective. ABA is the one treatment that has the most data behind it. People know more about it now.”

Kent Adams said...

Part 2 cont.

Sallows said the WEAP study put an end to doubts about ABA, at least among serious researchers in the field.

“Cathy Lord, who is very famous in autism – she’s the main author of the two most famous diagnostic tools, ADIR (Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised ) and ADOS (Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule) – before our study came out, she was saying, ‘OK, we agree that Lovaas’ method works. But we don’t know why. It was a fluke.’ Then our study came out and that really put a stop to all that talk. Geraldine Dawson at Washington State in Seattle has published a couple of really big studies. She’s into brain imaging. She wanted a copy of our paper and quoted it. We’re one of only a couple of autism programs across the country she put in her reference list. Everybody now kind of agrees this treatment does work.”

Still, Sallows knows ABA treatment is competing with a host of other treatments.

Continue with Part 3

Kent Adams said...

Part 3

“There are things on the internet that I don’t think are supported by research. We pretty much stick to what’s been researched by us or by somebody else,” he said. “So many parents are trying gluten- and casein-free diets and supplements. There are more and more doctors that follow the DAN protocol (Defeat Autism Now!, a project of the Autism Research Institute), but there’s no data to support that. For the most part, I feel it’s kind of harmless. But chelation (a method to remove heavy metals from the body) is not harmless. There’s only been one death and most parents don’t believe it will happen to their child. But, again, there’s no data. The problem I have sometimes if a kid is on a bunch of supplements or on chelation and he gets upset, I tell the parents, I don’t know what I’m seeing now. I’ve given up trying to argue them out of using biomedical stuff. It’s all over. Everybody’s talking about it, but it does very little. It might do a little bit, but it’s certainly not the cure for autism.”

If parents want to research treatments online, Sallows suggests they stick with proven data.

“We have a research study online,” he said. “Read other people’s estimates of what’s effective. ABA is the one treatment that has the most data behind it. People know more about it now.”

Kent Adams said...

Jonathan, I want to commend you. 48 hours after Lovaas' death, and no one from ND or the Autism Hub has written about it. Why? Perhaps because many there don't attack the torture if its presented all Sciencey and stuff. They are more interested in covering vaccines and the various other crap that passes off as helping autistics. I predict shortly after you post this message, they will start writing about it because they take their cue from you and others.

ND is dead. They never really fucking cared. Its all social media to them.

Anonymous said...

"Lovaas was a terrible human being responsible for a lot of psycho trauma I'm sure."

"ND is dead. They never really fucking cared."


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P9VXjFzWIgE

Kristy Young said...

ABA was a HORRIBLE tactic. I've been through ABA and now I have PTSD and dissociation.