Wherein we dive into the @YaleCSC research paper that’s all about inducing fear in… toddlers. And yes, #YaleTraumatizesToddlers

WTAF Yale?! After this, nobody in your camp can bitch about #autistic people not having empathy.

Oh, how ironic it is. It’s 2020, and “we’ve come a long way, baby” in terms of how people talk about and conceptualize autism. Well, some of us, anyway. People are catching on to Dr. Damien Milton’s “double empathy” concept, and people are actually starting to talk about autistic folks as, well, autistic folks – not the helpless victims trapped (Trapped, I tell you!) in a body wracked by Demon Autism Spectrum Disorder. Hey – that’s catchy! Maybe we should start calling it DASD… but I digress.

And yet, research keeps getting done that not only perpetuates stereotypes, but also feeds on them. I’m referring to the infamous (for those of us on Twitter) paper Attend Less, Fear More: Elevated Distress to Social Threat in Toddlers With Autism Spectrum Disorder. put out by the Yale Child Study Center. It’s been getting quite the thrashing, lately. So much, that the Yale CSC put out a response to the hullabaloo Statement Regarding Recent Peer-reviewed Study Published in the Journal Autism Research

I’ll get to that later. There’s a lot to unpack.

The Disection

Now to the first order of the day. I got myself a copy of the paper, and when it comes to stereotypes and severely limited concepts about autism, it does not disappoint. There’s a plethora of them – starting from the very first sentence! Behold (problems are in bold):

Differential emotional reactivity to social and nonsocial stimuli has been hypothesized but rarely examined empirically in ASD despite its potential importance for development of social motivation, cognition, and comorbid psychopathology.

Hm. First, okay, clearly they’re studying a disorder, versus neurodivergent children. If they were studying the children, they’d say “examined empirically in autistic children” or “in children on the autism spectrum”. But they don’t.

Further, they reference “comorbid psychopathology”, which clearly places autism (or ASD, in their case) in a “morbid” (i.e., sickness) category. You can’t have a “comorbidity” unless you have first a “morbidity” to “co” it with. It would also seem that they’re labeling autism a “psychopathology”, but I’m going to be generous here and let them off the hook for that, since that other morbidity may be a psychopathology, but autism would necessarily need to be one, for that sentence to work.

And that’s just the first sentence. You’d think they’d never talked to a real live autistic adult…

But it gets better.

Sentence #2:

This study examined emotional reactivity, regulation, and attention to social and nonsocial threat in toddlers

Please tell me they didn’t decide to threaten toddlers in the name of science, just to see what would happen… Toddlers. Helpless, vulnerable toddlers. Not just autistic toddlers, but “typically developing” toddlers, as well. Did they not check with anyone before deciding this was a good idea?! Honestly.

And here, let me go off on a useful tangent about what makes this so painfully ironic. In his 2011 book The Science of Evil: On Empathy and the Origins of Cruelty, Simon Baron-Cohen explicitly talks about how autistic people lack empathy. Yeah – that thing that makes us uniquely human, we don’t have, according to the book. The good news is, we can’t be psychopaths, because psychopaths actually know that they’re hurting someone, whereas autistic people… well, we just have no clue. Hm. Okay, I suppose that’s magnanimous of him?

passage from the book explaining how autistic people aren't psychopaths because they lack empathy
From page 125 in The Science of Evil: On Empathy and the Origins of Cruelty

Anyway, the irony is that the real empathy deficit seems to lie with researchers who thought that frightening toddlers would make an interesting topic of study. And with the review board who said, “Oh, yeah! That sounds intriguing, go for it!” And with everyone who was involved in that. Because if you can genuinely empathize with someone, to the point that many, many autistic people actually can, are you going to spend – literally – hours inducing fear in 42 autistic kids and 22 non-autistic kids under the age of 2?

Are you?

Well, they did. And “did” rhymes with “livid”, which is what I’ve been about this particular study, pretty much all day. (Still am.)

Let’s continue.

In response to social threat, toddlers with ASD exhibited elevated iDistress [intensity of distress] (P < 0.038) but lower Attention (P < 0.002) and a wider variety of ER strategies (P < 0.040) compared to TD controls, though their ER strategies were less likely to be social.

So, autistic kids were more intensely distressed. They had to actually terrify them to find that out? Any autistic adult can – and will – tell you about the intensity of our distress. But no. They had to put some numbers to it.

And what’s with the “lower Attention”? How would they know? I’ve lost track of the times that people have accused me of not paying attention, when I was picking up every single thing that was going on around me – and then some. Actually, I was picking up more than they were. But they didn’t realize it. So they thought I was zoned out, or something like that. Augh!

There’s more to unpack just in the abstract, but let me just put the “Lay Summary” here:

Compared to typically developing toddlers, toddlers with ASD show diminished attention yet enhanced distress in response to social threat. Poor attention to potential social threat may limit opportunities to assess its threat value and thus contribute to often observed negative emotional responses to novel social situations. Identifying the precursors of atypical emotional reactivity in infancy and its links with later psychopathology will inform about novel treatment targets and mechanisms of change in the early stages of ASD.

“Poor attention to social threat” misstates what’s going on, I believe. As I mentioned above, it can be more about us attending to everything, not just people. But it’s not just about “observed negative emotional responses to novel social situations”. Rather, it also ties into failed assessments of actual threat that lead to assault (of all kinds) and other genuinely dangerous situations.

Warning, Will Robinson! Danger! on that last line. If they don’t understand the nature of our attention and our distress, they’d better damn’ well not be coming up with “novel treatment targets and mechanisms of change”. Especially for “early stages of ASD” – which would be when? Prior generations that pass along the autism? Yeah…

Getting into the paper proper… Good lord. I can’t even. I’ll spare you my rant on the first paragraph. Let’s just say, “Whole lotta pathologizin’ goin’ on”.

2nd paragraph gives me a glimmer of rare hope, for a perhaps unexpected reason:

Despite the potential importance of emotional reactivity to understanding the complex phenotypes and clinical needs of children with ASD, to date, very few studies have focused directly on this topic. Even fewer have assessed whether trigger characteristics (social vs. nonsocial threat) differentially affect children with a social disability.

It sounds to me like prior researchers were like, “Hey! Let’s experiment on toddlers!” Then they thought about it and decided, “Yeah… let’s not do that.” And that’s good. The thing is, this paper is talking about the “clinical needs of children with ASD”, as though the ASD is the problem and it’s separate and apart from the kids themselves. This kind of perspective makes it possible to “love the sinner, but hate the sin”, somewhat akin to “saving” medieval “witches”by dropping them in water. If they sank and drowned, woo hoo! That proved they were not in fact possessed by The Devil. Of course, if the floated to the surface, they were burned at the stake, so they were screwed anyway. In a less extreme corolary, let’s talk about my evangelical fundamentalist Christian family who took me to church where people said (and I quote), “If my son were gay, I’d rather that he die of AIDS, than keep living his life in sin.”

Strains of the idea that an autistic person is somehow victimized or oppressed or possessed by Demon Autism show up in the concept of “clinical needs of children with ASD”, making it easier to see how they could disconnect themselves so completely from any empathetic (or even sympathetic) impulse while terrifying the toddlers.

But alas, after the initial regret about the dearth of data on terrified toddlers, the authors go on to list a bunch of researchers who did indeed experiment on developmentally delayed kids and autistic children. So (sarcasm) there’s hope yet for the data.

Let’s continue…

One of the hallmarks of ASD is limited selective attention to people observed in the contexts of virtual or reallife interactions

They cite a prior (2012) paper by two of the authors in this, so I dunno if that counts as confirmation bias, or what, but again with the lack of understanding about attention. If we are literally (and autistically) picking up on every available stimulus in the room, somehow selective attention to people would only provide part of the information we need to interact with our surroundings. Right? This is not pathology. This is how we are in the world. That doesn’t make us disordered. It makes us very, very busy trying to figure shit out. The authors seem to have a real problem with this.

While toddlers with ASD do not avoid looking at social stimuli (e.g. faces), under certain conditions they fail to increase their attention to faces in a manner observed in typically developing (TD) and developmentally delayed toddlers

Yet, clearly, according to the paper, our differences make us disordered:

These findings indicate that the intrinsic value of social stimuli for guiding behavioral responses (or salience) … differs fundamentally between those with and without social disability

Okay, I’m going to stop with this, because it’s an odious rathole. Let’s get down to their methods and whatnot…

The present study addresses several key gaps in the evidence identified above. It investigates the effects of group (ASD, TD) and threat type (social, nonsocial, ambiguous) on intensity of emotional distress, visual attention, and the ER strategies used. The stimuli aimed to elicit fear were adapted from the Lab-TAB – Locomotor Version

I don’t think I need to go into all of this in great detail, dear reader, because you get the point.

The whole reason for this study was to threaten small children in order to elicit intensely emotional distress. Stimuli were deliberately aimed to elicit fear. Think about that. Just think. The fact that’ there’s an actual formal test that they adapted it from… well, that makes me wonder. A lot.

The sample was ascertained at the earliest time when autism can be first reliably diagnosed, and the emotional expression of the toddlers was not likely to be shaped by the acquisition of display rules or the effects of early intervention.

The sample. As in, the children. They wanted toddlers whose raw emotional reactions wouldn’t be tainted – sorry, shaped – by adaptations they might go through as they matured. Hm.

Next paragraph… oh my….

Based on prior work [Macari et al., 2018], in the nonsocial condition, we expected that toddlers with ASD will exhibit attenuated intensity of distress compared to TD controls.

Wait – what? Based on what prior work? Let’s take a look at that. Oh, look – there’s a paper by one of this paper’s authors – Emotional expressivity in toddlers with autism spectrum disorder. What did they do? And I quote from the abstract: “Method: Toddlers (aged 21.2 months) with ASD (n = 43), developmental delay (DD, n = 16), and typical development (TD, n = 40) underwent standardized probes designed to induce anger, joy, and fear.”

So, she’s done this before. This is just another go-round. That, in itself is horrifying. Come to think of it, maybe that’s one of the reasons this study got past the ethics folks. Precedence. They did it before, they’ll do it again (as the Pep Boys radio jingle from the 1970s rings in my ears).

Onward… I could literally pick apart nearly every single sentence in this paper, but for the sake of time, let me call out the mention “…intensity of distress in ASD is expected to be higher than in the TD group”. So, intense distress was part and parcel of what they were looking to explore. Deliberately. Intentionally. And they expected it to be higher in the autistic kids, so (sarcasm) won’t it be interesting to see how our hypothesis plays out?

…we hypothesized that toddlers with ASD will display lower attention to social but not to nonsocial threat, compared to the TD group. Further, we investigated whether the groups differ in the range of emotional regulation (ER) strategies employed during the probes, and whether this effect was modulated by probe type as well as whether the groups differ in the proportion of ER strategies that are social in nature.

So, so many problems here.

First, their whole conception of what constitutes autistic “attention” is way off. They literally seem to have no awareness, understanding, or appreciation of what constitutes attention for autistic toddlers. Just looking at someone or something isn’t the full extent of attention. I personally attend to every conceivable stimulus, including sounds, feelings, smells, tastes, and the reactions of my own internal experience (yes, feels) to what’s going on. Looking at someone or something actually hijacks the full range of my information processing – which is apparently what so many autism researchers just do . not . get. That old trope about visual attention indicating awareness or engagement is so limited and limiting, I don’t even know where to start. But that’s what’s at the core of what countless researchers (as in really countless, not the “countless stakeholders” Yale invoked when they jumped to the defense of this pretty much indefensible paper) and behavior modification folks and parents and doctors and consultants and educators think makes autistic people disabled.

Please.

Don’t get me started.

But alas, my diatribe about that wouldn’t be properly understood by those folks, just as an arrangement of red flowers amid a splash of greens is not going to have much appeal to someone who can’t see those color ranges.

Let us return to the paper, my friends…

Secondly, the mention of “emotional regulation”. Ugh. Spare me. I don’t think the researchers had the rigor, the understanding, or the proper measuring tools to know what the heck they were actually seeing. Here’s the thing (I haven’t gotten to the methods yet, but I’ll give you a sneak preview) – emotional intensity (or salience, which they mention several times) is a physiological phenomenon which, in autistic people, doesn’t always register the same way that it does with NT people. But did they do any biometric measurements? Skin conductivity? Heart rate? Blood pressure? Respiratory rate? Anything like that? Nope. They were set up with:

Two video cameras mounted on perpendicular walls afforded ample views of the scene. A parent, seated within reach of the child in the testing room during the probes, was instructed to keep a neutral demeanor and refrain from interacting with the child unless in response to the child’s distress. All children received the identical set of probes in the same order: spider, stranger, masks, and dinosaur.

Then

… Lab-TAB sessions were video-recorded and subsequently coded for peak intensity of distress (iDistress) response across facial and vocal channels, for visual attention to the threatening stimuli, and for emotion regulation strategies.

Augh! Omg, this is such awful science! You’re going to video tape people whose facial expressions you don’t understand, to begin with — or, perhaps more likely, are NOT going to react promptly the way you expect them to because, hello, processing delays… not to mention the sensory overload of trying to figure out WTH is going on around you, with all the unfamiliar stimuli, and no indication of what the correct response would be, to guide you. (I always looked for that as a kid, yes, even as a toddler, and yes, I actually have memories from when I was younger than 2 years old.) And then, you have strangers “code” those videos for what they think is peak intensity of distress?! What?! Why?!

This just fails, on ever conceivable level. And in the midst of this woefully lacking methodology, you have literally hours of footage of toddlers being intentionally frightened over and over and over again in a situation where they are literally trapped and cannot escape (or be offered any kind of indirect comfort from their parents during the experiments. When I was a kid, I was constantly scanning my environment for clues about how to handle things. The fact that parents were not permitted by the researchers to provide their kids with any indirect feedback or signals just makes it that much worse – and that much more stress-inducing.

Again, no biometrics were recorded. I can’t imagine that many of the kids would have kept them on their skin, anyway, considering how tactile defensiveness can increase under situations of stress. But even still. They were depending on the judgment of ostensibly non-autistic researchers to “code” the video footage for signs of “intensity of distress” – sorry “iDistress”.

In sum, they were looking for signs of emotional regulation (ER) without actually having a clue about what was really going on with those kids, emotionally speaking. How can you know what’s being regulated, and to what extent, if you’re only looking at outward expressions which are by definition a sort of black box to you, anyway? The logic there just… fails. Why were they not looking at actual metrics like heart rate variability, skin conductance, blood pressure, etc – all clearly established measurements of stress and anxiety? That’s perhaps the most pure measure you could possibly get about what’s really going on with those kids – wiht the caveat that autistic folks’ biometrics are going to be skewed because — hello — delayed processing, as well as differences in sensory perception. It’s just so problematic, but to not even make an attempt… I just don’t know. And to fall back on visual assessments of video tapes… Yeah… it’s appropriate to despair, right about now.

A word about the biometrics of fear. Just a quick search for “fear stress skin conductance” on Google Scholar returns 31,000 results. People have actually studied the biology of fear – why not reference those studies when coming up with ways to measure effectively? I mean, the data they got forms the foundation of their study, so wouldn’t they want the most ironclad data possible? Why not do real science, like what’s been done on real people? Then again, these are just autistic kids, so… maybe extant science about “normal people” doesn’t actually apply to us? Maybe autism researchers (well some, anyway) are convinced that they’re blazing a new and uncharted trail into the jungles of psychopathology, and all rules are off, aside from the ones they come up with, themselves.

Now, back to the paper. The Methods and Materials section of the paper starts out with the statement, “The study was approved by the Human Investigation Committee of the Yale School of Medicine and informed written consent was obtained from all parents prior to testing.” That’s even more despair-invoking. How? Why? Maybe the precedence of the other study by Macari in 2018 paved the way for this? Maybe the parents were “pitched” on the chance to solve the great “puzzle” of autism, even if it meant causing their children distress? Who knows? Apparently they ran advertisements to get participants. As for the makeup of kids, “Females constituted 26% of the ASD sample as compared to 41% in the TD group”. So, right there… I mean… they don’t understand that there can be significant differences between autistic males and females? And if there’s that big of a difference between the makeup, it’s gonna be skewed… right? Am I irrational to think so? Don’t think so.

When we get to the Procedures section, I just cringe.

All toddlers underwent an assessment of emotional reactivity to fear-inducing probes. The induction probes were adapted with minor adjustments from the Lab-TAB – Locomotor Version. The probes were designed to elicit fear through encounters with novel and potentially threatening stimuli

Imagine coming up with “probes” like that… fear-inducing probes, no less. It’s probably just the nomenclature that’s unfamiliar to me, but somehow trying to elicit “emotional reactivity to fear-inducing probes”… in toddlers, no less… sounds just so creepy. And what is this celebrated Lab-TAB – Locomotor Version test? I’ll have to look that up, after I compose myself. But yeah… The probes were designed to elicit fear through encounters with novel and potentially threatening stimuli. Nuff said.

The did one trial of having a stranger approach the child and lean towards them for 3 seconds. Then they had a large mechanical spider crawl towards the child in three different trials. They also had a mechanical dinosaur with red light-up eyes approach the child in three separate trials. Then they had someone wear three different “grotesque” masks (vampire and Star Wars character – not sure what the 3rd one was) enter the room and approach the child 3 different times. So, 1 trial of the stranger, 3 trials of the spider, 3 trials of the dinosaur, and 3 trials with masks.

Sidenote: I find it darkly humorous / ironic / macabre that they thought dinosaurs and mechanical spiders and Star Wars characters were threatening, when if there’s anything that I’ve noticed is that my autistic friends are pretty fond of dinosaurs and mechanical anythings and spiders and Star Wars characters. On the other hand, what gives them the right to take these vaunted elements of autistic enthusiasm and weaponize them against us? Just doesn’t seem right to me.

Anyway, that’s 9 “probes”.

Each probe lasted approximately 60 s with the effective exposure to threat time of approximately 30 s. Breaks were instituted between each probe, with a minimum of 30 s and an average of 75 s (SD = 36 s) needed to ensure that the child’s affect returned to neutral before proceeding to the next probe.

So, 9 minutes of probes, 4.5 minutes of exposure. They seem to think that 30-75 seconds is ample time for a child’s affect to return to normal. Maybe it is, but I would again suggest that they can’t possibly be certain that affect equates to internal state, and 30-75 seconds may be adequate for, say, a rabbit in the wild to return to homeostasis. But not for a human being. It’s why we develop PTSD, for heaven’s sake. We don’t return to a calm state after a fight-flight incident. And if the type of incident recurs, your body gets accustomed to it, and it “kindles” the fight-flight response habitually, eventually locking in a sort of panic-anxiety subtext in your life. I don’t have time to come up with all the references here, but there’s plenty of research about it. Just check with PTSD researchers.

But the bigger issue is that they scheduled their pacing around the child’s affect returning to “normal”. How would they know? How could they know? Affect and internal state don’t always correlate. Anything short of biometric confirmation that their system had indeed settled down is just, well, lax and irresponsible.

Even if they did that, though, the fact would still remain that they were deliberately frightening toddlers. They designed a study to do it. They spent three years (2015-2018) looking for parents who would agree to letting them do it. I just can’t conceive…

Well, enough outrage. Onward.

Distress intensity.

Each video-recorded trial was coded offline for peak intensity of facial and vocal distress. … Vocal expression codes were adapted from the Lab-TAB-Locomotor Version. Each trial was coded for peak intensity of facial distress (fear, sadness) on a scale of 0–3 and vocal distress (fussing, crying, and other negative vocalizations) on a scale of 0–5. Intensity of distress (iDistress) was computed by averaging scores on intensity of facial and vocal distress across trials within each condition.

I’ll let this speak for itself. I have to wonder what it was like “coding” the videos for peak intensity of facial and vocal distress. What must that have been like? I shudder to think. They were computing intensity of distress. Like… wow. On toddlers.

I’ve already ranted about “Attention to Threat” and “Emotional Regulation”, so I’ll spare you the details. Let’s just say that, as I’ve mentioned before, this study is suspect based on the data collection alone. And the interpretation sends it even deeper into dumpster fire territory.

But they got their data! Woo hoo! Oh… except that some parents were “noncompliant” – that is, they interfered with “probe administration”. Bummer, that some of them may have felt compelled to protect or soothe their child. Now, to be fair, they don’t say how the parents were noncompliant, so it could have been anything, but I’d wager the need to protect or soothe a vulnerable 22-month-old trapped in a room with a frightening figure might have had something to do with it.

They do a whole lot of discussion about the results they got, but I honestly can’t dignify that with more discussion. Their data collection methods were … lacking. Their interpretive framework was very 19th Century – er… scientifically bereft. And the premise upon which they based the whole thing – that it’s fine to frighten toddlers to “fix what’s wrong with them” – just defies any moral sense.

And yet, success! In the Discussion, they say,

To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study examining whether in the early stages of ASD, the affected children exhibit atypical responses to social vs. nonsocial threat on emotional, attentional, and regulatory levels. The study suggests that social threat elicits less visual attention, more intense distress, and triggers deployment of a wider variety of regulatory behaviors in toddlers with ASD compared to TD controls. In contrast, nonsocial threat elicits a dampened distress response in the ASD group compared to TD toddlers, but comparable attention and ER strategy use. Even though toddlers with ASD employ a comparable or higher average number of ER strategies as TD controls, the strategies are less likely to be social. Intensity of distress to social threat does not track with either attention to threat or severity of autism symptoms.

First, there is no early stage of ASD. We’re autistic at birth. Get used to it.

Second, no kidding, we exhibit “atypical responses”. That’s what makes us so special, remember?

Third, pretty much any autistic adult can tell you why “social threat elicits less visual attention, more intense distress, and triggers deployment of a wider variety of regulatory behaviors”. It’s not rocket science. We can describe in intimate detail the inner workings and outward presentation of such phenomena. Stop traumatizing kids. Ask the #ActuallyAutistic adults.

Fourth, they literally have no way of knowing that “nonsocial threat elicits a dampened distress response in the ASD group”. They have no idea what the distress response really, truly was, because they only coded based on visuals, not on biometrics. Or just asking us.

Fifth, no kidding our ER strategies are less likely to be social. Because we have access to a wider array of stimuli and sensory inputs, and we’re so busy parsing them that who the hell has time to figure out how to interact with another (often needy, frequently clueless) person?

Sixth, like hell “Intensity of distress to social threat does not track with … attention to threat”. The fact that we’re looking away is frequently an indicator that we are terrified and we are trying with all our might to figure out how to deal with what’s terrifying us.

Based on the lacking data and the even more lacking analysis, it’s not worth our time, dear readers, to take apart the rest of the paper. In any case, the whole point of digging into it was to point out that the researchers at Yale Child Study Center were in fact performing something that’s textbook traumatizing, and which is a great study in how to produce PTSD in an individual.

Traumatic Probes and PTSD

Of course they would call their little tests “probes”. It fits with the overstepping of boundaries.

There are a number of factors which make an event traumatic. I’ll draw from Belleruth Naparstek’s book Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal as a valuable reference. Some of the factors are:

  1. Proximity – how close you are to the traumatic event. The kids were right there. They were at the center of it.

  2. Duration – the longer the duration or the greater number of exposures within a certain period of time (the “dose”). These kids were threatened 10 times in fairly rapid succession.

  3. Extent of Brutality – it probably didn’t seem like a big deal to the researchers, but none of us will ever know the extent for those kids. Because stress levels weren’t measured objectively.

  4. Betrayal – imagine sitting in a room with a threat and not having your parent come to your rescue…

  5. Threat of Dying – as above in #3, none of us will ever know if that’s something the kids experienced.

  6. Perpetrating Violence – those who do the violence can be traumatized too. I wonder if the researchers were.

  7. Societal Context – if a traumatic event is part of a meaningful experience (like fighting for your country), that may in fact mitigate the impact. Did those kids have that kind of context? How could they?

  8. Unpredictability – this stressor makes things worse. Distressing events that can be predicted are less traumatizing. But not knowing… well, how could the kids know?

  9. Injury – perhaps not applicable here.

  10. Loss – they didn’t lose a family member or close friend, though their trust in their parents may have taken a hit.

  11. Being Trapped – yes, they were. No agency, no control, no obvious freedom to leave. Trapped.

So, there you go, their experience meets at minimum 4 of the 11 criteria, possibly 9 or 10 of them, worst case. Bottom line, the way that experiment was set up for each kid – all of them, not just the autistic kids – was traumatizing. And that’s wrong.

You know? These folks could definitely use some education on the nature of trauma – especially for young kids (autistic or not).

Here’s a map to the Metrowest Behavioral Health Center (MBHC)  in Acton MA, where some clinicians are practicing who used to be at the (now-closed) Trauma Center at JRI, where Bessel van der Kolk did so much great trauma research and education. It’s a 2.5 hour car ride. Not hard to get to. Here are the directions for them to get there: https://www.google.com/maps/dir/Yale+Child+Study+Center,+South+Frontage+Road,+New+Haven,+CT/360+Massachusetts+Ave,+Acton,+MA+01720/

They should start driving now. Book a session and get educated. Before more kids get hurt.

 

I mean, I just do NOT get how anyone interested in child health and wellbeaing could come up with an “experiment” like this. And certainly cannot fathom how a governing body would sign off on it. Again, there’s precedence with the 2018 paper, which details the results of a study when “Toddlers (aged 21.2 months) with ASD (n = 43), developmental delay (DD, n = 16), and typical development (TD, n = 40) underwent standardized probes designed to induce anger, joy, and fear.” If they did it before, why not do it again? They can build on their research! Woo hoo!

But at what cost?

Seriously. What cost? I’m sure the kids in this most recent study (and possibly the earlier one) have long since been reduced to numbers in the minds of the researchers. I can only hope that the people who watched the videos of the “probes” and then coded the screams and cries are feeling at least a little impacted (maybe some remorse) at having not only participated in that, but opened the door to yet more “research” later that A) builds on the flawed data and analysis of this poor excuse for science, and B) invokes this precedent to further continue this particular line of “study”. On toddlers. Trapped in a room. Frightened on purpose.

I’ll deal with the Yale response to our outcry later.

I need a nap.

One thought on “Wherein we dive into the @YaleCSC research paper that’s all about inducing fear in… toddlers. And yes, #YaleTraumatizesToddlers

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