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Can I mix methodologies like Floortime and ABA?

- from a listserve:

When my son was younger, we had a speech therapist who followed Stanley Greenspan's Play Therapy. We also were doing ABA (Lovaas style) at the time. Now we are doing VB.

As I understand these methods there is one major difference...in any ABA program, it is very important that the therapist have instructional control...that doesn't mean tying the kid to a chair, but it does mean that the therapist is in control of what is being taught and is also in control of the child behaviorally.

On the other hand, Greenspan's play therapy is CHILD LED....that's the term he uses. In this therapy, you let the CHILD determine what happens...for instance...if he picks up a ball, you start talking about the ball, if he picks up a shoe, maybe you start talking about the shoe - or playing with it, etc. If he had behaviors, the therapist would try to talk to him, saying, "I know you're mad", "Tell me why you're mad", "say, I'm mad because you took my ball"...lots of stress on "affect" and following the child's lead.

For us, this caused a HUGE conflict. During Play Therapy my kid had the "run of his therapy session" so to speak (during which time I might add, there was NO measurable progress - on anything, despite the diligent efforts of a well-meaning therapist) and during ABA, he had no choice but to be compliant and attentive. Can you see where the problem is - from a behavioral standpoint?? Now try to mix meaningful learning in with that conflict...doesn't work. The only saving grace for us was that the therapist doing Play Therapy was never the same person doing ABA. AND we never did the two therapies in the same part of the house...eventually, we stopped the Play Therapy.

I think it poses a bit of a conflict UNLESS...you use the Greenspan stuff (and I am honestly not an advocate of Greenspan at all, but if you're trying to supplement an already effective ABA/VB program...knock yourself out - ha!) to work on specific skills, like play dates, where you are teaching a child to interact, use affect, or play with toys appropriately...in my mind...more advanced socialization skills...(keep in mind - Greenspan has NO controlled data)

Now that we are using strictly a VB approach, I see no need for Greenspan at all...the VB approach to me is much more natural and lends itself easier to generalization than the strict Lovaas style method. It works well for my child...IMHO.

I would not rely on Greenspan to teach language, appropriate behavior, ATTENTION, or academic skills....Based on my experience, it was alot of money spent with no measurable results. I actually spent more time debating the merits of ABA with my very well-meaning Greenspan therapist than anything else. She was a good person, but I found little value in her methods for my son.

I find it curious that any provider of ABA/VB would want to bring Greenspan's methods into the mix (or vice versa - knowing the Greenspan people like I do). The two therapies are, for lack of a better term, so diametrically opposed in their underlying philosophies - especially regarding how behaviors are handled...I'd check the credentials of this provider...especially when it comes to their VB training and experience. Sad to say, but some providers think they can go to one VB seminar for an hour and then say they are trained. It takes alot more than a conference to be a good VB therapist.