"Does anyone have a social story for [insert challenging situation here]?"
Chances are if you're like me, you've seen this question on the various ABA Facebook groups. Very often, the responses to questions like these generate some controversy, or at the very least, arguing over the empirical support for the use of Social Stories and other story-based narrative interventions.
One of these types of Facebook threads popped up a month or two ago, and in response to it, I saw a post from Dr. Justin Leaf from the Autism Partnership Foundation. In it, he described his own research in this area, which casts doubt on the utility of these types of interventions.
To be up front with my own biases, I've often been skeptical of Social Story based interventions as well, and thought it would be interesting to discuss this further with Justin.
We recorded this podcast episode a while back at the height of the quarantine, so you'll likely hear various background noises from both of our households, though I don't think they detract from the overall sound quality.
Our conversation will no doubt generate some controversy, so please feel free to add your thoughts or commentary at Facebook.com/behavioralobservations or right in the comments section of the show notes.
Here are the links to the resources we discussed:
This session of Behavioral Observations is brought to you by:
Russ Harris and I recorded this episode about three or four weeks ago, when the world's troubles centered around the challenges with Covid-19 related stay-at-home measures. It's amazing how fast things have changed since then! In light of the social upheaval as people in the United States and beyond come to grips with tragic examples of racism and injustice, getting irritated by one's family members pales in comparison in terms of personal suffering. I had briefly thought to shelve this episode in light of this contrast, but the more I thought about it, I believe that the suggestions and thoughts that Russ shared on this episode will be helpful nonetheless. Please check out behavioralobservations.com for this episode's shownotes!
Since the killing of George Floyd, I’ve had colleagues approach me with suggestions on how to address the issue of police brutality and racism on Behavioral Observations. To be honest, none of the suggestions were entirely satisfying.
As a white guy living in one of the whitest states in America - someone who has not had any mistreatment based on his skin color - other than condemn the actions of those police officers, sharing my thoughts on this event (as well as the broader topic of racism and police brutality) would not only ring hollow, but not be appropriate for the moment. In other words, I realized that I lacked personal perspective with this issue, and while I may have some thoughts on the matter, those thoughts are more or less academic in nature.
So after wracking my brain for a few days on what I could do to leverage the BOP platform for good, I came upon the idea for this show: For Session 120, I want to take myself out of the podcast altogether, and turn it over to a panel of African American men who are also our colleagues in Behavior Analysis. The goal of the show would be for both me and the BOP audience to simply listen rather than talk.
I reached out to Dr. Antonio Harrison to see if he would be interested in facilitating this discussion, and thankfully he agreed. We then recruited Shawn Capell, Pierre Louis, Larry West III, and Kirk Kirby to participate in the panel. From there, I stepped out of the rest of the production process. As of this writing, I haven't even listened to the final product yet because I want to experience this conversation as an audience member would.
As such, I'm ready to learn more about the experience of African American men in our country and I hope you are too. If you find value in this episode, please share it with as many friends and colleagues as possible. I'm hoping this episode is also disseminated beyond the field of Behavior Analysis as well. Lastly, if you have the means to do so, please consider donating to the group, Black Applied Behavior Analysts, (in case you're wondering, I have and will continue to put my money where my mouth is).
Thanks for listening!