ABA? Shmaybe NOT!- Another Opinion on ABA Therapy

I would start by making a simple, but important correction to the declarations of the other parents. There is no such this as a cure for autism. Autism IS your child, your child IS autism, it is as much a part of them as your DNA is that created them (In fact, it is mostly likely in that DNA that autism has it’s original roots). These claims of treatments and cures of autism are merely methods to ‘normalize’ your child, to force them to act normal.

Your decision, as a parent, comes down to a simple decision of doing what’s best for you, and doing what’s best for you child, the first of which I am going to blatantly state is an extremely selfish choice demonstrating a lack of love for your own child. Choosing to follow ABA therapies is a means of bombarding your child and forcing them to accommodate to primitive stimulus-response behavior patterns, training them that they have no control except in compliance. While the therapies claim not to use aversives (punishments), withholding attention, forcing submission, and using normal comforts, such as food or a favorite toy, as conditional rewards teaches your child that they are helpless to seek comfort when forced to perform tasks they don’t understand that cause them anxiety and panic. ABA equates children to animals like the dogs used in Pavlov’s experiments where conditioning (behavioral learning) was initially demonstrated, viewing them as things to be trained, focusing on the behavioral responses regardless of the effects on underlying mental processes. When an autistic child learns that they are unable to seek help, as it is when their ‘tantrums’ from being in a strange room with strange people are ignored , they begin to learn that they have been abandoned by the people they have put their trust in, you (their parents). Use of food and hugs or kisses as rewards for compliance instill unwanted meanings for those actions representing gestures of surrender instead of ones of love. Suzanne Shaw, an autistic author, refers to these behavioral therapies as a “forceful persuasion to conform”, which I believe is still a rather dainty description for the assault on a child that is ABA.  A parent, Virgynia King, mother of an autistic boy, declares that her son’s ABA therapy debases, “the value and worth of every child’s attempts to make sense of his or her world. Behaviorism does not respect the right of a child to express creative solutions to his world, despite the fact that this is the basis of his future ability to cope with novel situations and to carry that basic sense of security and self-confidence that is required of us all to become self-sufficient.”

With these extreme consequences in mind, do not, yourself, feel helpless in being able to support your child. I am in no way advocating that the child should be left to explore the world alone, but instead that efforts be taken to work WITH the child strengthening their own capabilities. Give them the education they need to be self-sufficient in the world. Explain to them the reasons for social behaviors and expectations, and educate them as to what society expects of them. DO NOT coerce them into hiding their true self for the sake of societal pressures. Be an advocate, be a teacher, be a warrior for your child. Not knocking down the ‘walls of autism’, but instead, the expectations of others. Open yourself up to learn about your child and open up their future to the vast realm of possibilities. There are other types of therapies available to help educate you as a parent and your child such as play based,  parent-interaction based, and speech therapies that have also demonstrated significant improvements in socially reciprocity due to increased awareness on the parent’s part of their child’s needs.

With this said, one of my favorite quotes from autistic author Jim Sinclair that should serve as a stepping block in advocating for your child, “Approach respectfully, without preconceptions, and with openness to learning new things, and you’ll find a world you could never have imagined”

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