October 10, 2014

Autism and ABA

I get a lot of questions related to ABA and why I don't support it.

For starters, I have never personally experienced ABA therapy. I've never experienced any autism-related therapy actually, though I would like to go to OT. I do get regular massages for my SPD.

My son has also not experienced ABA. While it was of course recommended when he first got his diagnosis, and it would be freely provided by my province's government, I just didn't feel right about it. I figured he will not end up worse than me as an adult. I also did not like the very "business" feeling I got when I called for services. The amount of hours they suggested just didn't jibe with me and how I wanted him to have a mostly "normal" childhood, not one filled with hours upon hours of therapy.

He had weekly speech therapy (still does) and before he started daycare, we spent our days playing and exploring the world. That was therapy enough for us, in my opinion.

I get my arguments against ABA from autistic adults (and teens) who have experienced it and felt abused by it. I am very uneasy about a lot of the techniques and the dialogue ABA professionals use. Things like "putting that behaviour on extinction" and ignoring the child until the child complies in a neurotypical/stereotypical way.

I also was very close to my ex-boyfriend's autistic brother. He was forever questioning how he felt or how he should behave. Everything was formulaic for him and he did not feel like he could think for himself. I feel that ABA makes people into robots. Socially acceptable robots.

I want my child to be able to think for himself. I don't want him to do things out of motivation for a candy. I don't want him to ignore his own needs in order to satisfy someone else. What happens when someone offers him a candy to touch his genitals? What happens when someone wants to pressure him to take drugs or commit a crime? A robot would comply. This is a major fear of mine.

ABA purports that autism is a behaviour disorder. It's not. Autism is a developmental disability.
The behaviours may not be neurotypical and may not be socially accepted, but that doesn't make them automatically wrong or a problem that needs to be fixed.

Also, the goal of ABA is to make the child "indistinguishable from typical peers" and attend regular school "without any supports." I do not share this goal or desire for my child.

If you can, please take the time to read autistic people's firsthand experiences with ABA. I am thankful to these people who have taken the time to inform us about what they went through so that others won't have to. I think you can appreciate their bravery, despite many wanting to silence them and the pain it must have caused them to relive these moments.





A whole series devoted to ABA on Emma's Hope Book.


The creator of ABA, Dr. Lovaas, advocated slapping and shocking the children into compliance: http://neurodiversity.com/library_screams_1965.html

NOTE 1: If you are a parent and you currently have your child in ABA and you no longer agree with it, it's not too late to stop now and change course. When we know better, we do better. Don't feel guilty about that, just move on and continue to do your best with what you know.

NOTE 2: If you are a professional who wants to stand up FOR ABA, your comments are not welcome here and will be deleted if you even bother. This is not up for debate.

NOTE 3: If you know of any other posts similar to those above, feel free to comment and I will add them.

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