Tuesday, October 21, 2014

the cost of non-compliance is unreasonable

In January, I wrote a post about the cost of compliance training.  The unforgivable price that our children pay when forced to be compliant.
It turns out, that the cost of non-compliance is also unreasonable– unconscionable.  Well, it was for Issy Stapleton.  Her mother, Kelli, attempted to kill her last week.
I’ve been reading Kelli’s blog.  Listening to an interview.  And reading comments left by those who allegedly worked in the Stapleton home as service providers to Issy.
If you’re reading this.  You’ve seen the videos.  The first one was little more than Kelli running around hysterically crying–I’m not going to comment on that.  But about this video, I have much to say.  Especially after watching it in context on her blog.  Particularly this part
Carly, Issy’s behaviorist, was there to make sure I said and did the right things. Basically, I just had to give her tokens for having ‘quite hands and feet’ and redirect her when she started perseverating(you know, getting stuck) on certain topics.                  
We walked into the classroom.  Issy was so happy to see me (and I her!).  I told her I was there to be her worker.  I sat down next to her and started to work on a coloring page.  Issy started perseverating, I redirected.  She got physical…
I found it very striking that the video started with Issy’s physical reaction.  We see from Kelli’s words that a few things happened.  Mainly Issy was non-compliant.  Was she reacting to being told that her own mother was her “worker”?  Being coerced into having “quiet hands and feet”?  What does it look like when Kelli says, “I redirected.”
Autistic adults routinely rail against the inhumanity of being told to have quiet hands and feet.  Being forced to be still when their bodies need to move.  Many suffer PTSD–partially from “quiet hands and feet.”
I’m morbidly curious about the perseverating and subsequent redirection.  It is suspicious that this part of the video was edited out.  I suspect that it was a physical violation of Issy’s bodily autonomy or the threat of such violation.
The video, itself, does not lead me to believe that this is an inherently violent child.  I see a child who is outnumbered by adults and has no escape route.  I see her cornered and lashing out.  After I see adults overpowering her and restraining her, I see her physical reactions escalate.
I believe, at the very core of my being, that Issy had been subjected to abusive and aversive interventions for years.  Therapies which violated her person and punished her for non-compliance.  By Kelli’s own admission in this interview, she suspected that Issy’s physical reactions were related to ABA therapy.  This is in response to the interviewers question about who the violence was directed towards.
It was always directed toward me.  Her um anger and aggression.  Always toward me.  I wondered if that was a consequence of doing a Lovaas replication program.  Because I’ve been in her face since before she was two years old.  It was always touch your nose.  Touch the apple.  Do this.  Do that.  And you know, um, maybe this is sort of a natural consequence to that.  I’m not really sure.  But I’m sure at this point it is some sort of shaped behavior.  Because sometimes even making eye contact with her will trigger a response.
Anyone who is familiar with the Lovaas ABA model, knows that Lovaas relied heavily upon aversives and punitive corrections to undesired behaviors–including failure to make eye contact and stimming.  A mere mention of Lovaas will trigger many of my Autistic friends.  We are talking strict, by the book, old school ABA.  I have many problems with ABA as it is commonly practiced, but the Lovaas model is truly reprehensible.  It is unquestionably abusive.
Issy was subjected to this for ten–ish(?) years at the time of this video according to her mother.  I have no doubt, that Kelli was right.  That this was one of the things at the root of Issi’s physical reactions.  Especially since the reactions were mainly directed at her mother until about a year prior to this interview (according to Kelli).  Since Kelli, was Issi’s “worker”, this makes sense.
Further, there have been multiple allegations of Kelli’s abuse towards her children, levied by individuals who apparently worked in the Stapleton home.  Normally, I wouldn’t put a lot of store in internet comments.  But these feel markedly credible when those commenting are providing contact info for coming forward with information.
To those care givers who would help be Issy’s voice and get justice for what was done to her please contact D/SGT House with the State police post (231) 775-6040. Several past caregivers have stepped forward and already given statements on Issy’s behalf. We need everyone to step up and help Issy.
On an earlier post I posted a number for ex-caregivers who wanted to help issy. I typed the number wrong it D/SGT Travis House (231)779-6040 he would like to speak to any caregivers. Some of us care givers have already given statements on Issy’s behalf.
Kelli regularly used hateful and abusive language on her blog to describe her daughter to the world.  If this is what she puts out to the world, I can only imagine what she kept hidden.  And according to many of the comments on this news piece, she attempted to keep much hidden.
I’m sure that we will never know exactly what went down in the Stapleton household.  But nothing that I’ve read, heard, or seen leads me to the conclusion that Issy is inherently violent.  Nothing.  I believe that Issy has always been the only victim.
We’ve seen the writing.  We know she was subjected to Lovaas style ABA which is widely criticized for being punitive and for employing aversives.  This is abusive.  We’ve seen some heavy allegations of abuse which are, apparently, being investigated.
We’ve hear the story of a child, who easily overpowered her mother.  Yet, somehow, Kelli was able to contain Issy in their family van while she attempted to exterminate her daughter with carbon monoxide poisoning.  Am I the only person with whom this does not jive?
I don’t believe that Issy was violent.  I believe that she had physical reactions to the abuse she suffered for being non-compliant.  I believe that Issy almost paid the ultimate price for her non-compliance when her mother tried to kill her.
The cost of compliance is unreasonable.  The cost of non-compliance can be even more unreasonable.
(This post can also be found on the Love Explosions blog here.)

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