ABA is abuse… yes all ABA.

ABA is abuse… yes all ABA.

Because:

The ultimate objective of ABA is to make the Autistic child indistinguishable from their peers. This holds NeuroDivergent People to NeuroTypical standards, which is cruel and sets us up for failure.

We are not and will never be NeuroTypical – ignoring this fact helps nobody.

ABA’s messaging suggests that natural Autistic ways of doing things are wrong and you are broken, and therefore must be corrected – that the Autistic Person is broken and must be molded to be more palatable to non-Autistic people.

This harms Autistic people’s sense of pride and identity.

ABA forces, autistic people to communicate, socialize, regulate, and move in ways that are unnatural and sometimes even uncomfortable in order to ease the lives of people around them or make them more attractive to their peers.

ABA teaches Autistic People that their own needs are less important than pleasing and making people around them comfortable. Making us overly compliant, leaving us more vulnerable to manipulation and abuse.ABA teaches children by rewarding them for “acceptable behaviors” – regardless of if these behaviors are natural or even comfortable for the autistic child.

For example, let’s take eye contact. As an Autistic person, eye contact can feel like a very intimate experience (an experience that I wouldn’t feel comfortable sharing with someone I did not know very well). Forcing me to make eye contact with a stranger can make me feel very uncomfortable almost as if they’re looking at me in my underwear. We wouldn’t and ask a child to let an adult touch them in a way that made them uncomfortable.

ABA teaches Autistic people that it’s okay if you are uncomfortable, as long as you are pleasing other people.The goal for autistic people should be to help them express and get their needs met, not to teach them that their needs are less valid than the needs of people around them.

Even the sales pitch, ABA uses as manipulative, ABA uses fear mongering tactics to scare parents into unnecessary early interventions for Autistic children.

They scare parents by telling them all the things their kid may never do because they are Autistic and set up ABA as the only solution to the “problems” of having an Autistic child.

They guilt trip parents. They claim that you need to start ABA as soon as possible to give Autistic children the best chance at life and if you don’t do ABA, they’re going to make you out to be a bad parent, because you “must not want the best for your child.”

ABA is expensive. I poked around online for just a few minutes and I found a bunch of different prices that range from $15,000 a year to $50,000 a year.

Services can cost from $100 to $120 an hour. And so if a family is even paying for 10 hours a week, that’s easily $1000 a week, times 50 if we give the kids a couple of weeks off in the year, that’s $50,000 right there for just 10 hours a week of ABA.

Some kids are in ABA for 40 hours a week or more on top of school or during school. These poor kids have no childhood. They are constantly under this behavior modification framework and the costs for Autistic Conversion Therapy can be astronomical over an Autistic Person’s lifetime, when there are better things parents could spend their money on that would actually help their child, instead of this horrible abusive manipulative “therapy”.

Autistic people do not need therapy just for being Autistic. If you want to help your Autistic child and you are being pressured into ABA therapy, please remember the following:There is no way to know what your child will be capable of as an adult.

Don’t let anyone pressure you into something you’re not comfortable with and may regret in the future.

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11 thoughts on “ABA is abuse… yes all ABA.

  1. I didn’t enroll my child in ABA, but I will always wonder if it would have helped her with social communication with peers. Making eye contact was not important to us as her parents, but learning social engagement is important. She also flaps, and although adults understand, peers her own age do not. She does not have typically developing friends. Only 2 friends that are also Autistic. She is in high school and kids are mean. I fear that doing only speech therapy and OT therapy up to 1st grade was not enough. She did not have therapy after that has she never had any challenging behavior and we thought we would focus our limited funds for her elsewhere. I wonder how she will do at a job interview. Flapping when she is nervous. Will an employer ever see past that, who knows.

    1. I encourage you to focus on other things instead of worrying about what she can’t or won’t do. First of all, certainly some employers will be able to look past nervous flapping, or she’ll learn how to prepare until she’s not nervous, but past that, maybe she’ll start a business and be her own boss. Maybe she’ll turn her attention to parenting. Maybe her spouse will also be autistic or otherwise neuroatypical and that will be okay, because they’ll be able to figure out what works for them! If kids weren’t being mean about signs of her autism, I PROMISE they would be mean about something else, the autism is not causing this.

      If she’s happy and basically functional, having a lot of friends or having a great time in high school is not important. High school sucks for everyone. She has college to find and make her real friends, where no one has the time to play Mean Girls.

    2. Hi….please understand that I’m not trying to say anything against you. I definitely get worrying about socialization, and I understand that what you said was out of love and concern.

      A couple things you said made me think that perhaps you haven’t heard or don’t know some things that might really be helpful to be aware of…

      There is research data and studies now, that *seem* to be showing that regardless of how well an autistic person learns to manually mask, or “socially pass” or however you want to word it, allistic people have a subconscious uncanny valley-esque reaction to us. There is a greater than 89% unemployment rate for autistic people, and it is entirely unrelated to our ability to perform allistic behaviors well enough.

      One set of data showed autistics and allistics listening to others read a passage, and rating how likely they were to be good friends with the other person in their regular life. Autistics rated both autistics and allistics about the same, all the allistics rated the autistic readers as significantly less likely to be their close friends.

      There is something called the double empathy problem, where because we’re just different in enough in our processing and communication, allistics and autistics almost universally misinterpret or entirely miss in the first place, the others’ communication attempts, intent, intentions, effort, etc.

      ABA has been shown to cause severe trauma and PTSD. It is *literally* conversion therapy for autistics. Nothing useful or helpful comes from it.

      Also, prolonged masking can cause very serious health problems, including burnout, stress related health conditions, and a severe neurological event that occurs from prolonged masking under high stress that can cause a sometimes permanent extreme loss of skills: I lose all ability to communicate with oral or written words, pictures, or gestures, and can basically only cry and bolt to say no for up to weeks, can’t do any executive functioning for up to months, and I recover about 70% after about 3 years, with each one being cumulative. If I have another, I’m not sure I’ll regain oral speech.

      And if it is in any way reassuring, I’m 29, married, with a seven month old, and I don’t irl interact or orally speak to anyone who isn’t autistic AND queer AND LostKid Jongleur/traveler-busker who isn’t being paid to interact with me as part of their job. My life is SO much better without the kind of horror shit show that happens when allistics try to figure out what I mean or why I’m doing a thing. I have a wonderful life and it doesn’t require close intimate friendships with allistic people, and I flap anywhere and anytime I need to in order to be regulated enough to do the things I need to do.

  2. I am a father of an autistic child. We focus on the physiological aspects of our child’s development. Out of all the interventions we have done to improve my son’s life, by far the most effective has been on his diet and his biological make up. For me, this is the foundation. Biomedical intervention, which focuses on natural supplements, minerals, vitamins, in tandem, has been extremely effective. I empathize with parents who want their child to fit in, however, the power is in being different. Finding those individuals who have a clue about diversity, acceptance of differences, and are curious about others. You won’t find this in schools.

  3. ABA is a tool that can provide a great deal of positive support for autistic people and families by identifying behaviour and the meaning behind it, and establishing helpful routines to reduce behaviour that can cause harm to a person with autism. The problem is that ABA has been greatly misused in the past and still the present, forcing children to silence their previously good and healthy ways to navigate the world around them. It is being used incorrectly if it demands children to be forced to maintain eye contract, forced not to allow them to flap hands and fidget, and should never, ever be used as fear mongering. No child should be in ABA for 40 hours a week either. That’s ridiculous.

    I am not based in America. ABA has a very different face in other countries. Believe it or not, but in countries such as China where knowledge about autism is very little and met with a great deal of fear, ABA has been very helpful in bringing families together, and helping families understand their child’s way of navigating stimuli and communicating. It should not be cruel or unkind as it appears to be in America, but it should be to go alongside the child and at their own pace. ABA is a tool that should be used alongside other tools and it needs to have parent and school cooperation to be the most affective. It should detect certain triggers a child might have and it should guide schools and families to adapt for the child, not the other way round. It distresses me that ABA has not been applied correctly in America, and I fear that this stigma will cause damage to other countries and for autistic people and families seeking help in other countries.

    What should ABA look like?
    * Aspects of ABA should encourage family members to demonstrate behaviour. For example, a parent might deliberately spill drink over themselves and then clear it up to help demonstrate the routine of what to do if that situation happens.
    * ABA uses ABC to guide children, families and therapists to examine behaviour.
    A = What happened before the behaviour?
    B = What was the behaviour?
    C = What happened after the behaviour?
    This can help look for certain triggers that can be reduced in an autistic person’s environment, while guiding an autistic person how to detect these triggers for themselves and choose their own healthy ways to help them through it. (such as the flashing siren of an ambulance and other traffic) it can also ensure that young people can examine how their behaviour helped them, as well as parents to change their own behaviour to be more appropriate in certain situations. (Instead of shouting, asking the child if they would like some quiet time. Instead of self harming, crunching up paper, jump up and down, breathing techniques, etc)
    * Examines behaviour and guides families and schools on why certain behaviours might occur (to calm down). This is important to help parents understand why some children might flap their hands, or rock to the side. It should not be preventing such behaviours, only reducing harm, such as if a child is hitting their head too hard on a wall or kissing friends on the lips, a therapist may work towards guiding a child towards beating the ground, towards a pillow or a punch bag, and trying to communicate for permission to kiss first, and kissing a forehead or a cheek, or asking for a hug.
    * Roleplays, picture cards and charts to help someone with autism consider different scenarios in advance and choose their preferred ways of handling them. They may wish to practice conversation skills such as buying an item in a shop, telling a teacher that they need a break, talking to their friends about a problem.
    * There should be play involved for younger people, such as turn taking games, and the parents should be taught how to play some of these games with their child.

    ** While one to one appointments with ABA therapists are likely to occur, if the ABA program does not involve for the family and the child’s school is not being used correctly. **

    Autism is still greatly misunderstood around the world, but there are many tools to help people with autism, families, and society to better adapt to our neurodivergent community. ABA can be used safely alongside other therapies and tools if in the right hands. I appreciate that there are many voices in America and in other places that have had terrible experiences – and it is vital that these voices are public and that they are heard. The malpractice and ugly culture surrounding ABA must be addressed and dealt with. But I also hope that ABA will become less misunderstood in the future, will be changed and used much more appropriately and will not be rejected in communities outside of America where it can be very helpful.

    1. Please read the article you commented on. ABA is abuse which causes PTSD in autistics. End of.

  4. Retired special education teacher here. I do not nor have I ever felt comfortable teaching ABA. I always felt it was abusive and degrading. I was just diagnosed as being high on the spectrum and I’m 61 years old. It has now answered my question as to how I’ve been able to communicate and modify unacceptable behaviors for those on the spectrum when none of my co-workers have and any success. I am now building a virtual business on transition training on the spectrum. I work one on one with young teens and I love seeing how we connect.

  5. This is exactly what I just witnessed with starting and now ending AbA services for my son. They took over our lives with parent shaming and blamed regression on attendance..it was a constant push for more hours for there paychecks. Even after I watched an rbt push and pull on my son the bcba came back with some bullshit backed with statistics and parent shame . I ended services immediately .sadly the progress my son first made is now not seen but I believe its just being withheld with fear . My son has regressed to no school refusal and now will not leave the home and all’s anyone is pushing for is making him go to school which may be important later but I’m asking all involved to try and help determine the reason he is refusing as opposed to the fact he’s refusing. I bring up sensory overload or the fact that maybe he’s scared to get sick being the unmasked one. All school faculty and outside intervention are pointing the finger at me his mom stating he’s working me . I don’t believe this to be true entirely because I have seen him willingly go and than it changed. The problem is not him it’s what has caused him to refuse .

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