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144 . comunidad los horcones mosillo. However, trips to Hermosillo are not much in demand at Los Horcones . Most members have no desire to drive into town more often than necessary.All of the “salespeople” are reportedly relieved to be able to return to Los Horcones at the end of the day. 15 Education the serious behaviorist intent of Los Horcones is clearly recognizable in its educational practices. At Los Horcones, education is regarded as a process that goes on throughout one’s life.Techniques of behavior modification —helping members to master communitarian behavior and academic study—are frequently employed at Los Horcones. Since all people are capable of behavioral and academic self-improvement, members of Los Horcones are expected to use this potential.As a sign at the entrance points out: “Social change is achieved when each individual makes a personal change.” In the opinion of Los Horcones,this is the only way to achieve social change. Following this line of thought, the community has always given foremost importance to education. In this they are in perfect agreement with Skinner . The educational practices of Los Horcones fall into two categories. First, the community as a whole continues to operate a school for autistic children. Second, the community places great emphasis on the education of its own children.In their treatment of autistic children,the members of Los Horcones concentrate on modifying the children’s behavior. They do not try to uncover the reasons for the children’s unusual behavior patterns, instead providing an environment that is as simple, predictable, and unthreatening as possible while at the same time giving the autistic child assignments of a very basic nature. Once the assignment is fulfilled, the child is reinforced by praise, hugs, sweets, or whatever other reinforcers are available. If the child does not fulfill the assignment, he or she is not punished. The undesirable behavior is simply ignored. In addition to this learning-by-reinforcement atmosphere, an autistic child living at Los Horcones must not fear being laughed at or treated disrespectfully. All this is designed to help the child gain confidence in dealing with his or her environment and learn socially 04.133-162_Kuhl.indd 144 3/29/05 4:02:35 PM acceptable behavior. The treatment somewhat resembles the “ethical training ” of children in Walden Two. The handful of autistic children living at Los Horcones are educated in a school building especially designed for this purpose.The children come from families living in northern Mexico and go home either on weekends or for vacations. During the week, they eat together with the other members in the communal dining room and spend a good part of the day fully integrated into communal life. They are cared for in a one-to-one teacher/student setting . Since teaching autistic children requires special skills, only a few of the members are engaged in this work, including some of its young secondgeneration members. The teachers usually develop a personal relationship with their charges, characterized by gentleness, patience, and respect. Seven community children, four boys and three girls, have been raised at Los Horcones from birth.They are the children of the two founding couples. All of the children and both sets of parents still live at Los Horcones. The oldest girl has already given birth to two children. Other children have come and gone with their parents,but none of them really grew up at Los Horcones. The founders’ children are at the center of the community’s attention. By now, the second-generation children are fully integrated into the community as adult members. They have their own rooms, do their share of work, take part in the decision making, and enrich the community’s social life. While they were growing up, they all lived together in the children’s house (the first building the communards put up themselves) and were cared for by metas. As at Twin Oaks, Los Horcones has chosen the kibbutz term for their child-care workers. The behavior and education of the children was coordinated by a child manager. The members of Los Horcones did not try to dissolve the concept of the family; instead, they extended it by supporting the concept of an open family . Their fairly small size allowed them to do this with amazing success. The children regard all the adult members who raised them as their parents, and the adults do not recognizably bestow special favors on their biological offspring...


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