Friday, August 11, 2006

Hurling Rant

In the recent NYS rulings about aversive/abusive behavioral interventions one of the activities that is prohibited, but may be allowed for some children is "hurling." Yes, you read that correctly, hurling.

Taken together the list of aversive behavioral therapy options sounds overwhelmingly evil. Considered singly the very idea of any of these methods as 'therapy' under any circumstance or for any child seems ludicrous.

When I first read about about hurling I thought they were referring to the ice sport where they slide the big tea kettle toward a big target on ice while people energetically sweep it's path. We were all subjected to hours of this during the Olympics. It wasn't my idea of entertainment, but didn't seem particularly abusive to me--it had a rather soothing (nearly anesthetic) effect...

But no, that sport is curling. Hurling refers to throwing a person--in this case, to teach them a lesson. So here are some of the questions I would have to ask about hurling:
  • Who writes the plan that would include hurling? Who is the "hurling expert"? What is their certification?
  • Is this done primarily by larger people to smaller people? Or is there some sort of hurling catapult on the market?
  • What circumstances make hurling appropriate? What are the parameters of this plan? Where are people hurled? How far? How often?
  • What does the research show about the effectiveness of hurling therapy? Who did this research? Who funded it?
  • What liability is a therapist, school district, organization, or state that endorses this taking on? Is there special protective clothing for children we expect to hurl?
  • How is it decided which children would benefit from a hurling plan? What benefits are expected? Are there other groups of children, beyond those with disabilities, that we feel would benefit from hurling strategies?

The questions are endless and make it clear to me that hurling can never be acceptable. Each of the prohibited activities on this list stand up to examination as badly as hurling does pointing me to the same conclusion about them--they are wrong. There can be no exceptions to the prohibition against aversive behavioral therapies. These activities should be prosecuted, never prescribed.

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