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Autism: Challenging Behaviour

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Even the deputy head teacher of a school that uses Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) admits it looks like “dog training”. Children with autism at Treetops school in Essex work intensively, one to one, with their teachers who reward good behaviour. We see one little boy being given raisins and sweets when he does something right. But, inevitably, it’s a highly controversial method of teaching autistic children. Some experts feel ABA is too rigid and tries to remove autism completely, rather than give autistic children the skills to cope with their own condition. Julie, mother of three- year-old Jack, is desperate and hopes Treetops can help her boy resolve his food issues. But it’s a hard road and it’s difficult to watch Jack’s distress.


The work being carried out at Treetops School in Essex, the UK's only state school using applied behavioural analysis, a controversial and intensive intervention to treat the condition. Though the parents of three youngsters just starting at the school are hopeful that the approach will prove fruitful, critics argue that efforts to eliminate autistic behaviour are both dehumanising and counter-productive.

Cast & Crew

Director Fran Robertson
Executive Producer Christopher Hird
Executive Producer Kevin Macdonald
Producer Fran Robertson


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