The Shiny New Toy

The Shiny New Toy

…and why behavior science practice requires more

I recently took my daughter out on a coveted target trip…while an errand for me, it was a big deal for her.  She was searching for a new doll.  And being a toy aficionado, I know that the best dolls, may not be found at Target.  But this five year old was determined.  She expected her $10.00 to cover whatever her heart desired.  We enter the toy section and she did not see a doll, but a doll accessory that her ‘babies’ would enjoy.  We purchase this toy and she eagerly unpacks it at home.  I hear tears.  Silence. And more tears.  This shiny toy did not match the vision at all.  What did she do?  She refused to play with it.  It did not suit nor meet her needs and served no purpose.

I’d like to think that adults maintain that all or nothing perspective.

For myself, I am inconsistent.  When it comes to desserts or snacks, I waste no calories.  This is my all or nothing.

Clinically, I consistently engage in this all or nothing.  If it doesn’t work, I abandon ship immediately.  Why?  Because of harm…true or perceived.  There are two perspectives I have on harm in the clinical realm.

  1. Client harm (actual or predicted)
  2. Professional – Industry harm

Both of these result in organizational harm.  Between that is the harm when we don’t tell the truth with clear information.  The mind Jedi trick of delivering feedback and supporting people at the same time, can often result in misinformation and misperception of truth.  Especially when those repertoires are underdeveloped and we ignore the reality that some people are not geared towards giving feedback nor receiving.

When there is the presentation of the new shiny clinical toy mixed with the lexicon that people like to hear these days, the core of behavior science is becomes gray.  And this is not the Sherwin Williams gray palette selection, this is the cloudy – take cover- downpour overhead type of gray. 

The ability to be innovative is needed.  Shifting in perspective and expansion of what we do and how we do it is needed.  But if the core of analysis and behavior science is not foundationally supported, we can no longer be upset with parents who use clay baths as autism treatment. 


Why so harsh?  I’ll tell you, kid business is serious.  We are exacting change in behavior.  We are channeling the best of our brains and intentions so that people and their families lead more fulfilling lives. 

This requires the behavior analyst, speech scientist, behavior scientist as thought leaders and innovators.  Not some of us, all  of us.  The ability to look at a shiny toy, see the goodness, reshape it, implement experimental design, shape it again, and provide a good instructional design is what we do.  We just don’t do it nearly enough and this is harmful.

The harm can be found when we

  • Look at the toy or tool, take it off the shelf, and make it fit… even when it doesn’t. 
  • Take the tool and not customize to the client need. 
  • Use the tool and decide that, regardless of scope of competence or practice, we are going to implement.
  • And when we have no data at baseline, implementation, or any other phases that examines the utility of the tool.
  • When we like the tool and can’t explain why.

Behavior science has long said where’s the evidence? And today… the response effort towards these answers seem to be too…much?  Or take too long?

If there was a time to mand for more…this would be it.

More Analysis (in all the professions)

More Creativity from Journal Articles.

More us of Assessments and Evaluations .

More Clinical Decision Making .

More Teaching Clinicians How and Why.

More Listening.

More Learning.

Until next time, let’s Lift and We Climb.


%d bloggers like this: