Tackling That Troublesome Issue of ABA and Ethics

One of the best arguments against ABA is Michelle Dawson’s article, The Misbehaviour of Behaviourists: Ethical Challenges to the Autism-ABA industry.  If you google Applied Behavioral Analysis you will see glowing reports of its efficacy for more than 30 pages.  I actually stopped at the 30th page only because I didn’t have time to continue.  The first book I read on the subject of Autism was Catherine Maurice’s Let Me Hear Your Voice which details how ABA saved two of her children’s lives from Autism.  (I use this language as it is the language employed by the author.)  Catherine Maurice also likens Autism to cancer and ABA as the necessary chemotherapy.  The whole acceptance model obviously is not employed when thinking in these terms, how could it be?  And perhaps this is the single greatest problem when discussing ABA.   Ethics is not a word one associates with chemotherapy.  Why would it be?  The person considering chemotherapy is doing so because to not do so is to face the very real possibility of death.  When the language around autism becomes synonymous with cancer, one is saying to be Autistic is to have a death sentence.  And while that may seem like hyperbole to many parents and Autistics, it is not so far from the truth when we were informed of our daughter’s autism.

When Emma, then two years old, was given her diagnosis we were told, if we employed 40 hours of ABA a week she would undoubtedly be mainstreamed by Kindergarten.  This was what we were told.  This is what we hoped for.  This is what we chose to believe.  We were also told that a bio-medical approach when coupled with ABA was ideal and so we did that too.  We fought and received 40 hours of ABA a week, took Emma to a homeopath, who through more than a dozen tinctures, did a homeopathic version of chelation (i.e. removed heavy metals from her system).  I also took Emma to a cranial sacral doctor as well as had her on a gluten-free casein free diet.  Despite all of this, when she did not show the sort of monumental leaps promised, the ABA therapists said it was because we were at fault.  Never once did any of the therapists, supervisor or agency waver in their firm belief that ABA was a solid, “scientifically” backed methodology.  It was spoken of as fact.  We were the only variable.  We then did what they advised, we put Emma in an ABA based preschool, continued our own ABA training so we could continue doing it at home, hired an ABA trained therapist to help us implement ABA in the evenings and weekends and again were reassured that she would be mainstreamed by the time she was in Kindergarten.   We didn’t have any alternatives as far as preschools went, so I ignored my gut, my maternal instincts, warning me that this was NOT a method I would ever allow used on my neurotypical son and yet, was allowing to have implemented for my autistic daughter.

After a year, not only had Emma not progressed as the school had hoped, but she was actually regressing and was, what the principal informed us, a “red flag”.  The teacher, obviously aggravated with Emma’s lack of progress even suggested that this was Emma’s fault, that she was “refusing” to comply and expressed her irritation with us.  Emma, at the time was just FOUR years old.  Looking back on those first few years is surreal.  A four year old was being blamed and words like “manipulative” and “misbehaving” were used.  I’m going to interrupt this story to acknowledge, this is one story.  One family’s experience and is an anecdotal tale.  In no way do I believe for a moment that because ABA did not produce the results so many believed it would that our story is somehow scientific fact.  What I will say though is that ABA is, in my opinion, a flawed, at best, methodology and one that we do not, would not ever consider using with our NT son.  Therefore an important question must be asked – Why is that?

Why do we not use ABA for the neurotypical population?  This is where the ethical question must be considered.  This is where the “science” behind the use of ABA begins to fray.  If we really believe Autistic people (and children) deserve the same respect, are truly considered equal as those in the neurotypical population, ABA presents some real problems.   ABA can only really work if we view autism as a deficit and something that must be removed.  Autism is a complex neurological difference that cannot be removed.  I do not believe for a moment that there will ever be a “cure” for Autism.  It was explained to me by a neurologist that Autism is a web of neural pathways branching off and fusing producing new neural pathways, so random, so complex making it impossible to single out any one pathway allowing for a simple removal to produce a non autistic person.

I don’t believe anyone would argue against helping an Autistic person cope with the challenges they face, but the larger question is how do we do that?  Restraining someone who needs to concentrate by flapping is not the answer.  Insisting children sit quietly so they can “attend” and be “table ready” when flapping or twirling a piece of string actually helps them listen and concentrate does not make any logical sense.  Insisting that the non autistic way of communicating is the ONLY way to communicate is limiting and unhelpful to those who cannot express themselves by speaking.  Viewing Autism as a list of deficits that can be corrected through a series of discrete trials will not make an autistic person any less autistic.  Teaching Autistic people how to ‘pass’ so they can blend in better with non autistics is similar to the belief that a closeted gay person will live a happier and more fulfilled life by being closeted than someone who is “out”.

I don’t agree with the basic tenets of ABA because it is a methodology based in looking at those it treats as deficient and inferior.  This is not a model I believe will help Autistics or any of us in the long run.  We, who are not autistic are in a position of power, we are the majority, we are the ones making the rules.  That does not mean the rules we make are correct or even right.  We must be willing to examine what our objective is in using ABA.  Is the objective to make someone blend in better and if so we must ask ourselves why?  Before ABA is considered, ask yourself, is this a treatment you would employ for your neurotypical child?  What message are we sending our Autistic children?  What will this message do to their self-image?  What message will be internalized, a message they will carry with them well into adulthood?  Will this message serve them, make them feel good about themselves, help them lead happy, fulfilled lives.  After all isn’t that what ALL parents want for our children?

*I urge any who are reading this to read what autistic people are saying about ABA.  Ido Kedar, a non speaking Autistic teenager has written a book, Ido in Autismland where he criticizes ABA and describes why.  Any of you who are ABA therapists, it is incumbent upon you to read his book.  He is one of a number of Autistic people who are speaking out about ABA.

Other posts dealing with ABA:

Non-Speaking With A Lot to Say
Trauma & Autism

Emma as mermaid!

211 responses to “Tackling That Troublesome Issue of ABA and Ethics

  1. Thank you for writing this article. My son just got diagnosed last May 2015 and with the diagnosis came 25 hours of ABA therapy and 5 days in a special needs preschool. He would have ABA from 8-11 then school from 11-4 and then ABA in the afternoon from 4-7. I didn’t know anyone with an autistic child so I thought this was normal. I watched my son go through this rigorous schedule and even after a week I knew it wasn’t right. Everyone kept telling me he needs it, but I just didn’t see how a three year old needed to be trained like that unable to spend time with us as a family. We stopped ABA. He became withdrawn. He’s already non verbal and he communicates with me through grunts and squeals and jargon that only I can understand. When he had ABA he would just look at me blankly like he didn’t know how to communicate cause the therapists wouldn’t let him do his squeals to ask for things. Speech therapy has helped him more than ABA. I love my son as he is. If he never mainstreams with neurotypical kids then so be it. I can’t watch him get trained like all his stims are something that’s a problem when they calm him from his meltdowns…

    • My 3 y/o son is scheduled to start ABA next week 4 days a week from 12-2:30 after having school 8:30-11:30. I have a bad feeling about it, but I keep hearing people say how great it is. And you said the exact reason why I don’t want to do it. It’s to much. And I love my son the way he is, I don’t want him “normal”!

    • I was very pleased to read the article. I have been a Board Certified Behavior Analyst for over 10 years; mainly because my son is on the spectrum. Prior to my training, I was able to shape-up toileting (based on my undergraduate “Skinner” psych courses) because my son was on the verge of “fecal smearing”. There was no ABA available when my son was diagnosed in 1991 so he ended up on a cocktail of a stimulant, an anti-depressant and anti-psychotic medications, which is what they did in those days. Although disapproved of by today’s standards, I also provided my son with auditory integration and visual therapy which improved his ability to relate and interact with me. Eventually, I found a healthcare professional trained in nutrition who prescribed a variety of tests which showed that my son was low in Amino acids, Omega 3, Magnesium, Zinc, B-Complex, and needed some Candida Killers and to avoid wheat. I also took him off of artificial colors, nitrates, etc. Needless, to say I took my son off of the medications and achieved a better result with the supplements. ABA-derived therapies such as Pivotal Response Teaching is a much better way to go, if one is contemplating ABA. However, I would spend some time on You-Tube and search for “Son-Rise”, “The Miller Method” and RDI “Relationship Development Intervention”. These methods all emphasize respect for the child. I’ve seen too much in the way of regression if ABA is done too aggressively.

  2. Thank you so much for this article. I am in ABA , I have been for years, and I do believe it can work, but I don’t believe it is about “fixing” – there is nothing wrong with someone with autism or any other sort of of different skills. I think the job of a good ABA company and therapist is to help a person accomplish what they want to accomplish. Now, I work with adults and so that is my primary goal. I will say that ABA can mean different things different places, so parents should definitely look into a company before starting their kids there. I also don’t think 40 hours a week is the answer. It is the quality, not the quantity that matters. A good ABA therapist and company should focus on the goals of the individual and the family, and not be about reaching an idea of “normality”.

  3. I know of a little boy who when he was ten was expelled from school his mother was told that he would have to go to residential school three hours away her only hope was aba home therapy. At the time he spent all day naked and self harming over a thousand times a day three years later he is a changed child. Aba is not for every one but if you get the chance you can see this little boys journey on Face book page Skybound therapies

  4. I am a BCBA and am sad to read your post. Many of things you are saying about your experience with ABA are NOT typical of ABA and do not sound like good behavior analytic practice. I am sorry for the added difficulty you faced and wish you and your family all the best!

  5. My daughter has been doing ABA therapy for 2 1/2 years and I have never seen any of the therapists where she goes do, or attempt any of the things you said, they have all been extremely loving and wonderful with my daughter and neurotypical son. Those therapists your daughter were involved with sound atrocious and I am terribly sorry for what happened. What they did does not sound typical of ABA.
    We only go 3 days a week for 2 hours at a time and have seen phenomenal progress. I agree with an earlier comment that quality is more important than quantity. That is why it is so important to look in to the values and goals of anyone working with your child. They should want to work on the goals of the individual and family.
    I am friends with other mothers of Autistic children and they didn’t see the same type of results in their children from ABA that I have in my daughter. However, they are helping their children with other methods. Everyone has a different road to travel. What works for one child, won’t work for another.

  6. I am the owner/ director of a govt funded, large therapist and child client based organisation and I am saddened to hear you have obviously had a very bad experience. What you have raised, is far from typical of what it is we do. I hope you might consider as well as others who read this article, that one bad experience meted out in this way can undo the amazing work that this methodology offers to millions of people around the globe. Please look at the science and yes, be pro-active in looking for the professionals that have the skills and abilities to provide the best services and outcomes for your child, but please do not take one criticism or one bad experience and apply it to the entire treatment process. Do your research and your child will reap the rewards.

  7. Hi there all, here every person is sharing these kinds of experience, so it’s nice to read this website,
    and I used to visit this blog everyday.

  8. Gives me the creeps the whole idea of it. If you subjected ABA to a NT child for some intrinsic issue, such as Tourettes or a tic and forcing the kid to STOP doing the behaviours that annoy people you would be hearing about it on the news. It is allowed on autistic kids because they are viewed as problems in society. They are made to stop acting like they are disabled by getting them to stop flapping, have quiet hands, or whatever the hell they are doing or saying/odd noises BECAUSE everybody else is uncomfortable with THEM. The ludicriuos thing about all this is that the autistic child/person couldnt care less about their behaviour. Other than teaching them how to bathe, dress and feed themselves, badic schooling and non aggressive behaviours at home and in public leave these poor kids alone and tolerate them the way they are.

    • I 100% agree, though as a person with Tourettes, which actually makes me neuroatypical (for other reasons as well) I want to say that in some instances CBIT therapy, which is in essence therapy used can tinge on having these sorts of really harmful philosophies included within it. CBIT therapy is heralded as being this miracle cure, but in reality it’s so profoundly difficult if not impossible to implement, painful when you do implement it, and at least in my experience made me less able to do things than working around my tics, no matter how bad they were, did. IT just didn’t feel like it was for my benefit in most cases.

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  10. I think it depends on the child. I was worried about Aba, but my son after 4 months has gained many new skills ( like simply drinking from a cup, or drinking water ). I sit in for every second of the therapy. I actively participate and when I think he’s spent, we go and do something fun like blow bubbles or burst water balloons. Taking a naturalistic approach is important and backing off is important too. I was skeptical but now I love Aba! It’s not perfect but none of the other therapies are perfect ( it dumbs the child down a bit and programs them to answer or respond even when they might not want to). But the small loss of some of his autonomy is worth the new skills he us gained. That’s what you have to weigh as a parent the trade off and so for for me it’s been great but I’m waiting for the moment when it no longer is helpful.. That’s when I too will pull the plug. Our Aba team simply followed my son around and tried to create opportunities to engage him. He love his team and I don’t think I would allow it to continue if he didn’t. You know your kid and if they aren’t happy it’s not worth it! I stand by you decision because as a parent that’s all we want is for our children to be happy.
    Lots of love,

  11. I am a homecare aide. I work with an autistic boy that get ABA. I am not a fan. It’s basically a reward and punishment program. I see him getting bribed and forced to do things that he doesn’t want to do such as finishing his lunch. I would not use ABA for my own kids if they were on spectrum.

  12. Emma is beautiful, you are beautiful! Thank you so so much for this article. I have my Natalia and I have been so against ABA therapy! I was against all of it! I wanted to be a mom of HFA child who struggles but not alone! She has me! I only fight the school system to give her support that she as autistic child in USA deserves. I don’t need charity or anything. Just school academic support. Natalia is 12 and only now in middle school started to feel ok. Just because I encouraged her to be just the way she is!!! I have non autistic child younger than her and I do little different with both. I believe my daughter with autism be better off without ABA therapy.

  13. Hi there, I am a student studying an ABA Master’s Degree (at the moment) and have come across this blog while researching for an Ethics assignment. Your points illustrate so clearly why I have been having real trouble in class. My textbook points to the ‘fact’ that ABA is used to treat behaviours of social significance – this immediately rankled as I wondered to myself, “who gets to decide which behaviours are socially significant?” I still haven’t been able to locate an answer that I consider to be sufficient. Helping somebody with any difficulty to achieve more is not something I have a problem with, increasingly, the more I read about ABA, the more I feel that it sits uncomfortably on my moral compass. I’m not suggesting that it hasn’t made a difference to many people (note that I use the term ‘made a difference’ rather than helped as I believe they are not necessarily always the same thing). I’m at the point of leaving, simply because I don’t feel in my heart that I could be an ABA practitioner. Feeling very troubled and unsure right now!

    • I’m Emma’s mom and wrote this piece several years ago before Emma started writing and ultimately took over this blog as her own. I could not be more proud of her.
      I applaud you for listening to your instincts. I wish I had done so when we were first introduced to ABA. Instead I listened to all those claiming to be experts in the field who told us if we didn’t do ABA we would be hurting our daughter and would come to regret it. Sadly the opposite is true. Even now, so many years later, people insist that ABA is a wonderful thing and point to “behaviors” as their justification, yet spend no time considering what those so called “behaviors” are. So often behaviors are the only response to being treated as incompetent. An inability to communicate using spoken language is seen as indicative of a lack of complex thinking. This too is inaccurate and a dangerous assumption to make, but then there are so many inaccuracies and incorrect assumptions made about Autistic people, so glad you are questioning them.

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  17. Toney James Biegalski

    As the parent of an autistic son I can relate to what you went through. However, I don’t think the practitioners you speak about were truly using ABA correctly. Our behaviorist has PhD in behavioral analysis and is on a formal state board. Furthermore she is one of many reputable individuals pushing for licensure in our state. And she works with our university. With her guidance we have instituted an in home ABA based program for our autistic son. While it is difficult and relentless strict, there is nothing cruel about it. And we do plan to use a similar program on our 1 year old when he turns 2.

    When we sought out an ABA program for our son we got our behaviorist involved. One place we rejected because of her input and the second place we toured together we turned down as well. We are currently involved in a program at our university (The University ofor Houston) that teaches us ABA and has weekly sessions with our son. We will also be soon starting 8 hour daily therapy at a place which our behaviorist recommended and which we were very impressed with when we toured.

    One thing we learned at our ABA training sessions is that ABA is simply a tool for changing behavior and is only so closely linked with Autism because it has been effective. I suppose someone could introduce measures into an ABA routine that may seem cruel, and I know that negative reinforcements were used historically. However the current teachings of mainstream ABA do not espouse them. The cruelest thing done that we have been taught is to ignore tantrums.

    I am sorry for the experience you have had, but ABA is working for our son. His behavior is now manageable and I have no doubt he will turn out to be an independent and functionin member of society. I think that perhaps your experience was tainted by those labeling themselves as ABA but not actually following its teachings. Of course all children are different and there are some for whom the treatment may not work. But from your description it doesn’t sound at all like what we have experienced.

    You do have a beautiful daughter and I do wish you the best of luck.

  18. As an autistic person, nothing about ABA sits well with me. It’s essentially dog training – training the external behaviours deemed offensive and uncomfortable to non autistic people. It does nothing for the internal world of an autistic except reinforce that they are broken. Who is researching the autistic people who have grown into ‘NT friendly’ products of ABA later in life to see what the long term effects are? And who is listening to autistic opinions when it comes to ABA? All I see are ‘experts’ who ignore autistic people consistently. ABA is abuse. End of. If you want your child to behave NT, tough! They are autistic. If you want to stop harmful behaviour, learn to understand them, understand their inner world and most of all APPRECIATE them!! Forcing them to be like you solves nothing. Helps nothing. (And if you’re an ABA ‘specialist’ as far as I’m concerned, your defence is purely designed to make you more money – until you find other ways of working with autistic people, as far as I am concerned, you are ignoring autistics and have virtually no understanding at all) .

    • Thank you Nix for your comment. Please know that there are many of us (non-autistics) who are listening. I am, but, one of many.

      • Thankyou! I agonised over this comment for a while after posting it wondering if it was too strongly worded. I know people are listening. But the professionals and some parents aren’t. And normally when an autistic person tries to be heard in this debate, the professionals and warrior moms descend like carrions to pick them apart. Not on this page though. I should have ended with ‘Thankyou for this blog – well written and supportive to anti-ABA’.

        • I owe everything to those of you who are autistic and were courageous enough to write and comment. It is because of all of you that I found other ways to communicate with my daughter. It is because of people just like you that I learned a different way, a better way to live while honoring my beautiful daughter and not underestimating her. She took over this blog several years ago and though she doesn’t have time to blog much, it is hers, just as it should be. I could not be more proud of her.

          Please never stop commenting!

          • Perry Scott Gibson

            Hello Ma’am, I am literally just a random autistic out here in internetland, but I just wanted to say that everytime a parent decides to not choose ABA, there is one less autistic out there who has to recover from their childhood. ABA will not be destroyed tomorrow, it will be destroyed by one parent after another deciding to listen to adult autistics and make different choices. I honor and thank you.

    • Thank you for this. I am an SLP in the school system and I am having a very difficult time with this love affair the district seems to have with ABA. I have always felt it was like “training a dog.” It’s like they forget these children are human beings. There is little functional communication associated with ABA. There are plenty of other research based methods for eliciting language and communication in nonverbal and limited-verbal individuals with autism. I feel like I’m fighting a losing battle when my schooling and expertise is overlooked for the this cruel method of “communicating.” I am trying so hard to educate these people on the value of augmentative communication, total communication, and patience and understanding. Thank you for sharing your experience. I think we need to value the thoughts of people who truly understand what it is like to experience this “therapy” and listen!!

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  20. Hi, thank you for this article. I am also in ABA and I can tell you right now, what was employed for you was not ABA. As you know in every field there are good people and bad people, doctors, nurses, lawyers, police, teachers. I could go on and on. First any person in ABA that would not inform you of the harmful effect of chelation is not doing his/her job. Secondly, any ABA company that is truly using ABA never blames the client. In fact, we have a saying that if the child is not learning WE are doing something wrong. We do not believe in cookie cutter programs and individualize therapy to each individual. Also, ABA is used with NT children everyday. It is used with every organism every. single. day. When a child gets something correct and a teacher praises him in front of the whole class, that is ABA. When a child runs in the street and we stop them and explain that it isn’t safe, that is ABA. You go to work and you get paid, that is ABA. In fact, there is a section of ABA strictly devoted to the work place, to make the workplace better, safer, more productive and more positive. So ABA is used everyday, it just isn’t highlighted as ABA. People don’t say I am praising you child and using principles for ABA so you know that I am proud of you for doing something right. We are also not trying to change or remove the autism from any individual, and any clinician that says that should not be used. We are trying to teach the children how to learn in their own way and how to be able to use their strengths to explore the world. Unfortunately, teachers do not have the time or resources to spend one on one time with each student. So if we can help the student learn, how he/she learns best, that is what we do. I am so very sorry for your experience as it does sound horrible and it was not ABA. Unfortunately, I have seen the individuals who are unable to talk and voice their concerns, wants, needs etc. So they turn to aggressive behavior, which whether we like it or not will end up with them being put in a residential setting (I have seen it). It is unfortunately very sad as I watch their mothers cry because they can’t take care of them. Is it the individual with autism’s fault? NO!! Is it the mother’s? NO! They have no way to communicate what they need. I have worked with numerous individuals through ABA and have taught them to speak. They went from no words, no ability to talk, to asking for items or pointing to what they want. Those individuals who akin ABA to dog training, do not have much experience with it and if they do it is bad experience. ABA is literally used with every single person. Do you tell your son no, when he touches the stove? That is ABA. If your son does chores to get an allowance or even a good job, that is ABA. When your child rides a bike and you jump up and down cheering, that is ABA. When a toddler says “airplane” and you go YES! airplane, that is ABA. Like I said there are always bad companies in every field. So I just ask that before you go anti-ABA, you look into more than just one company or one experience or just by going off of what you read on the internet, because I have helped numerous children through this field. Were they all mainstreamed? No, that wasn’t the goal. The goal was to allow them to be able to advocate for themselves, be safe, and have the skills to live the best quality of life according to what they want.

    • Naughty Autie

      @ Mary: I find your comment very disingenuous, not least because of all your false comparisons, which I will deal with in the following response:

      When a child gets something correct and a teacher praises them in front of the whole class, that is not ABA. It is giving a child the appropriate reward for doing their best.
      When a child runs in the street and we stop them and explain that it isn’t safe, that is not ABA. It is a life lesson designed to help the child stay safe.
      When you go to work and you get paid, that is not ABA. It is you giving up your time and effort to your employer and receiving a contractual level of financial compensation in return for doing so.
      Do you tell your son “No” when he touches the stove? That is not ABA. It is a life lesson given to prevent serious injury.
      If your son does chores to get an allowance or even a good job, that is not ABA. It is helping him to prepare for his future in the job market.
      When your child rides a bike and you jump up and down cheering, that is not ABA. It is celebrating your child’s achievement.
      When a toddler says “Airplane,” and you go “YES! Airplane,” that is not ABA. It is encouraging your child in their acquisition of speech.

      To illuminate the sharp differences between your examples and actual ABA, I’ve collated some examples of my own:

      When your child is told, “Look at me,” over and over, and their obvious distress at the forced eye contact is ignored, that is ABA.
      When the acquisition of speech is pursued to the exclusion of all the forms of communication available to a non-speaking person, that is ABA.
      When an individual is taught that ‘quiet hands’, ‘whole body listening’, and being ‘table-ready’ have a higher priority than learning and real listening, that is ABA.
      When a child is taught to smile no matter their true emotions, and/or their emotions are ignored or punished if they are anything but ‘happiness’, that is ABA.
      When a child is restrained in consequence of a meltdown having been triggered by this dubious ‘therapy’, that is ABA.
      When a person is ‘rewarded’ with a sticker for every thing they get ‘right’ and a quarter of a cookie for every five stickers they consequently ‘earn’, that is ABA.
      When a child is made to eat foods that cause sensory distress, including an adult holding a hand over their mouth to prevent them spitting out the offending item, that is ABA.
      When a person is unable to communicate effectively via whatever method due to the lessons in forced compliance they’ve received getting in the way of free expression, that is ABA.
      When an adolescent or adult is praised as though they are a toddler for doing something as simple as touching their nose, that is ABA.
      When a child has to listen to the same simplistic lesson over and over and/or they have to name something they want according to the desire of the ‘therapist’ before they are given it, that is ABA.
      Finally, when an individual develops PTSD in adolescence or adulthood as a result of the ‘therapy’ they endured during childhood, that is ABA.

      So please, for everyone’s sake, stop comparing everyday life events with ABA, and before you next comment on a blogpost or article discussing this form of child abuse (which I call it since it’s inflicted mostly on children), grow some f###ing empathy and make sure to check your goddamn privilege at the door.

  21. I have left a comment on a blog… ever. With that in mind, I’m working on a graduate project critiquing ABA and ran across this blog. I have a 5-year old daughter who has high functioning autism. We tried ABA about 2 times and my wife said, “never again” and pulled her out in the middle of therapy as she was crying because they were doing something she didn’t like and would not stop. Rewards-based therapies do not impact the heart. You will NEVER create meaningful, lasting change by giving rewards for good behaviors and consequences for bad behaviors. Our vision/goal is to have our daughter recover from autism. We desire heart/life transformation for her, not behavioral modification. ABA is behavioral modification to the core. For those harping on “do your research,” I have one Masters degree already and am currently working on my 2nd Masters degree. I know how to do research. We came across the Son-Rise Program through the Autism Treatment Center of America and it has changed our daughter’s life, and countless lives of individuals with autism. It is a researched-based model that is COMPLETELY child-centered and seeks to work with your child, not against them. Google “Son-Rise Program” and you’ll find it. Read “Autism Breakthrough” by Raun Kaufman. He had extremely low-functioning autism and is completely recovered (as in Ivy-league degree, emotionally stable, neurotypical… recovered). It’s not the gospel for autism… There’s only one Gospel. However, it is an amazing intervention strategy/lifestyle that provides hope for those struggling with autism and it is centered around the love of parents, family, and friends, not a “professional” they meet with for therapy/therapies x-number of hours/week. We’ve tried ABA and Son-Rise… and we actually have hope our daughter will one day recover… because the Son-Rise program is that effective. (FYI- we have also done a ton of biomedical/nutritional intervention as well.) Blessings to those with autistic children and family members. The struggle is real… but those precious lives are more than worth every minute of your love, attention, and affection!

    • Naughty Autie

      “Our vision/goal is to have our daughter recover from autism.”
      Okay, then remove her brain, since that’s the only actual way to make someone no longer autistic. You ^do^ know what the term ‘lifelong condition’ means, right?

      “We desire heart/life transformation for her, not behavioral modification.”
      So basically, you want to fundamentally change your daughter from who she is into an idealised version that doesn’t exist. Here’s betting you don’t have the same goals for your allistic offspring, and ^we’re^ the ones deemed to be lacking in empathy.

      “We came across the Son-Rise Program through the Autism Treatment Center of America and it has changed our daughter’s life, and countless lives of individuals with autism [sic]. It is a research-based model that is COMPLETELY child-centered and seeks to work with your child, not against them.”
      Said research being carried out only with the original subject, who wasn’t actually autistic, but had been misdiagnosed by his non-diagnostician father in light of his autism-like behaviours that were the result of an acquired brain injury resulting from recurrent ear infections.

      “Read Autism Breakthrough by Raun Kaufman. He had extremely low-functioning [sic] autism and is completely recovered (as in Ivy-league degree, emotionally stable, neurotypical… recovered).”
      As I have already stated, Raun Kaufman recovered from an acquired brain injury, not autism, from which you can’t ‘recover’ because it’s not an illness. And he’s not neurotypical either, BTW, because a brain injury, once acquired, is like any other neurological atypicality — it lasts for the rest of the individual’s life even if the effects don’t. Also, please don’t use functioning language on the blog of autistic young woman who has already made it clear that she hates it. How would you like to have your abilities ignored on the basis that you are ‘low functioning’ or for your needs to go unmet because you are deemed too ‘high functioning’ to even have any?

      “[…] the Son-Rise program is that effective. (FYI, we have also done a ton of biomedical/nutritional intervention as well.)”
      Rather than throwing good money down the crapper of unproven ‘biomedical/nutritional interventions’, why not just invest it in improving the lives of all your family by setting up the US equivalent of ISAs or spending on tech everyone in your family can enjoy?

  22. Pingback: Whose voice on ABA? – Bungy Heart's Bloggy Place

  23. Pingback: Autism and Applied Behavioral Analysis

  24. Really useful to read… my home page is: http://www.wennlawson.com I would welcome your feedback,

  25. Pingback: Behavioralism as erasure, adaptability as assimilation, masking as the closet | Metonymical

  26. Pingback: Alternatives to ABA and behavioralism | Metonymical

  27. When majorities (neurotypicals) speak louder than the voices of the minorities themselves (autistic people), no decision’s ever made for the minorities’ benefit. NTs may find that ABA is miraculous, but that’s only because they’re louder than the actually autistic people who tell them it’s wrong.

  28. Pingback: The Great Big ABA Opposition Resource List – Stop ABA, Support Autistics

  29. Pingback: Autistics Against ABA – Cerebration of Kat

  30. Pingback: Autistics Against ABA | Autistic UK CIC

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