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Autism: Challenging Behaviour

Tue Nov 5, 9-10pm, BBC4

Intriguing from the synopsis, this documentary promises to provide an in-depth look at controversial ‘Applied Behaviour Analysis’ as an effective treatment for autistic children.

While the original techniques of this treatment were reputed to be violent, the modern equivalents are much less controversial: engagement with an instruction leads to a reward, bad behaviour is treated with indifference rather than punishment. The most contentious aspect, it seems, is the price.

This documentary initially hints at the inhumane (footage of this technique cut with images of caged pigeons pecking buttons for treats), but the carers are more nursery teacher than hardened psychologist. Rather, we are faced with a question: can this treatment cure autism – or even should it? And are those that object right in saying that the mind is not something we should attempt to change?

A measured analysis of a difficult subject – and well worth catching if you have even a passing curiosity.