Hank Schlinger, Ph.D., BCBA-D – Lessons from Clever Hans for Claims of Communicative Abilities in Nonverbal Individuals with Autism
1.0 Type II CE Credits
This presentation was recorded at the 2015 CCBS West Coast Conference on Autism
About the presenter:
Henry D. (Hank) Schlinger Jr. received his Ph.D. in psychology (applied behavior analysis) from Western Michigan University. He then completed a two-year National Institutes of Health-funded post-doctoral fellowship in behavioral pharmacology. He was a full tenured professor of psychology at Western New England University in Springfield, MA, before moving to Los Angeles in 1998. He is now an associate professor of psychology and director of the M.S. Program in Applied Behavior Analysis in the Department of Psychology at California State University, Los Angeles and a part-time associate professor in the Applied Behavior Analysis program at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Dr. Schlinger has more than 60 publications in more than 20 different journals. He also has authored or co-authored three books, Psychology: A Behavioral Overview (1990), A Behavior-Analytic View of Child Development (1995) (which was translated into Japanese), and Introduction to Scientific Psychology (1998). He is a past editor of The Analysis of Verbal BehaviorThe Behavior Analyst, and on the editorial boards of several other journals. He also serves on the Board of Trustees of the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies.
About the presentation:
Ever since Facilitated Communication (FC) crashed onto the shores of the U.S. in the early 1990s, remarkable claims of sophisticated communicative abilities in otherwise nonverbal people with autism have proliferated. FC itself has morphed into other forms, including the so-called Rapid Prompting method. However, regardless of the name, all of these techniques have one thing in common: They claim to show that previously nonverbal people with autism are in fact highly verbal and expressive so much so that the diagnosis of autism is sometimes questioned. This is not the first time in history in which remarkable claims of communication have been made about nonverbal individuals. Perhaps the most famous case was that of a horse in Germany around the turn of the 20th century, named Clever Hans. In this talk, Dr. Schlinger describes the story of Clever Hans, including the experiments carried out by the German psychologist, Oskar Pfungst, which revealed the nature of Hans’ cleverness, and its lessons for recent claims of remarkable communicativeness in people with autism. Dr. Schlinger urges the same level of scientific scrutiny regarding these claims as with Clever Hans, and suggest that all stakeholders in autism should approach remarkable claims skeptically and scientifically.