Controversial Therapies for Developmental Disabilities

Fad, Fashion, and Science in Professional Practice

Purchasing Options:
Paperback: 9780805841923
pub: 2004-11-30
US Dollars$90.95
Hardback: 9780805841916
pub: 2004-12-07
US Dollars$165.00

Comp Exam Copy

About the Book

One of the largest and most complex human services systems in Western nations has evolved to address the needs of people with developmental disabilities. In the U.S., for example, school budgets are stretched thin by legally mandated special education, and billions of Medicaid dollars annually are consumed by residential and professional services to this population.

The temptation of a quick fix is strong. Many parents desperately seek the latest ideas and place pressure on program administrators, who often are not trained to think critically about the evidence base for intervention efforts. The problems of people with developmental disabilities have historically been targeted by a wide range of professionals who rely on clinical experience and intuition and do not submit their claims to the tests of scientific research. Professional entrepreneurs have energetically promoted their treatments to a public perhaps too trustful of those with credentials.

Thus, families and their children are buffeted by reforms founded on belief and ideologically driven management. Services fluctuate with the currents of social movements and rapidly shifting philosophies of care as policymakers and providers strive for increased responsiveness and individualization. These forces affect not only where and how, but how well people are served. Too often, services are less effective than they could be, or worse, damaging to personal growth and quality of life. Many treatments are based on poorly understood or even disproven approaches.

What approaches to early intervention, education, therapy, and remediation really help those with mental retardation and developmental disabilities improve their functioning and adaptation? And what approaches represent wastes of time, effort, and resources?

This book brings together leading behavioral scientists and practitioners to focus light on the major controversies surrounding these questions. The authors review the origins, perpetuation, and resistance to scrutiny of questionable practices, and offer a clear rationale for appraising the quality of services.

In an era of increasing accountability, no one with a professional stake in services to individuals with mental retardation and developmental disabilities can afford not to read this book.


" The critical analysis in this volume is astute, accessible, and valuable. Recommended."


"In this important new book, Drs. Jacobson, Foxx, and Mulick have provided a valuable resource for parents and professionals seeking to understand what constitutes effective intervention for various developmental disabilities, including autism. Chapter selections are characterized by consistently high standards of research and scholarship--yet, unlike many other academic treatises, most of the contributions here are written in a clear, accessible style. This collection offers both the professional and the lay reader a wealth of information about current fads and controversies in developmental disabilities. More importantly, the work offers insights into the genesis of such fads, and an intensive education in how to make science-based treatment decisions in the face of competing claims."

Catherine Maurice, Ph.D.

Author, Let Me Hear Your Voice, a Family's Triumph over Autism (1993 Knopf)

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface. Introduction. Part I: General Issues. S. Vyse, Where Do Fads Come From? J.E. Favell, Sifting Sound Practice From Snake Oil. C. Newsom, C.A. Hovanitz, The Nature and Value of Empirically Validated Interventions. T. Smith, The Appeal of Unvalidated Interventions. Part II: Historical, Cultural, and Psychological Influences. J.W. Jacobson, J.A. Mulick, R.M. Foxx, Historical Approaches to Developmental Disabilities. S. Vig, Classification Versus Labelling. R.M. Foxx, C.E. Roland, The Self-Esteem Fallacy. D.R. Mock, J.M. Kauffman, The Delusion of Full Inclusion. S. Greenspan, Credulity and Gullibility in Service Providers. J.W. Jacobson, J.A. Mulick, Developmental Disabilities and the Paranormal. Part III: Field-Specific Issues. M.A. Kozloff, Fads in [General?] Education [in General?]. T. Zane, Fads in Special Education: An Overview. W.L. Heward, S.M. Silvestri, Fads in Special Education: Toward More Effective Practice. M. Koenig, C. Gunter, Fads in Speech-Language Pathology. Part IV: Disorder- and Symptom-Specific Issues. B. Metz, J.A. Mulick, E.M. Butter, Autism: A Late Twentieth Century Fad Magnet. S. Kay, S. Vyse, Helping Parents Separate the Wheat From the Chaff: Putting Autism Treatments to the Test. S. Holburn, Severe Aggressive [and Self-?] Destructive Behavior: Mentalistic Attribution. R.M. Foxx, Severe Aggressive [and Self-?] Destructive Behavior: The Myth of Nonaversive Treatment. Part V: Intervention-Specific Issues. J.G. Osborne, Person-Centered Planning. T. Smith, D.W. Mruzek, D. Mozingo, Sensory Integrative Therapy. O.C. Mudford, C. Cullen, Auditory Integration Training. J.W. Jacobson, R.M. Foxx, J.A. Mulick, Facilitated Communication. J.A. Mulick, E.M. Butter, Positive Behavior Support. C. Newsom, K.A. Kroeger, Nonaversive Treatment. C. Cullen, O.C. Mudford, Gentle Teaching. Part VI: Ethical and Legal Concerns. P. Sturmey, Ethical Dilemmas and the Most Effective Treatments. E. Tiryak, Judicial [Legal?] Remedies for Fad and Fraudulent Treatment Practices. J.M. Johnston, Afterword. R.M. Foxx, Appendix: The National Institute of Health Consensus Development Conference on the Treatment of Destructive Behaviors.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
EDUCATION / Special Education / Learning Disabilities
PSYCHOLOGY / Research & Methodology
PSYCHOLOGY / Movements / Behaviorism