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True ABA is NOT Abuse: A Response

Note: I may earn money or products from the companies, products, or links mentioned in this post.

I am a mom to two special needs kids and both of them are currently in ABA therapy. Both children started ABA therapy at age two. My son has been in ABA therapy for just about five years now and my daughter has been in ABA therapy for one year.

ABA therapy has drastically changed our lives for the better. Even now, as I look back and read the original paperwork that outlined my son’s diagnosis, I am blown away at how far he’s come.

That’s why when I came across the article, “I Abused Children for a Living,” I was shocked at what was written and during Autism Awareness Month no less!

Having had plenty of experience with different ABA companies and having two children receiving ABA therapy, I wanted to write a response to the article. I’ve lived in multiple states, hired multiple ABA companies, and gone through ABA therapy with my children first-hand. I have seen the good and the bad of ABA therapy and I wanted to write a response to that article.

ABA Not Abuse

My Response to: “I Abused Children for a Living”

At the very beginning of the article, the author states:

“I was an ABA therapist. My official title was ‘Behavior Technician’ which in itself is really telling. I was hired off the street with no background in child development, no knowledge of autism or ABA, and no experience working with children, let alone autistic children. I. Literally. Did. Not. Know. What. Autism. Is. And I wouldn’t find out what autism is in the years that I worked there either.”

I am not sure when this person was an ABA therapist, but nowadays, there is A LOT of training that goes into being both a BCBA and a “Behavioral Technician” or what is now just called, “therapist.” If you are a part of a company that hires your therapist off the street, with no experience whatsoever, RUN. This is not a company you want to be with and the company is probably not up-to-date on what the legal requirements are for this job.

Qualifications of an ABA Therapist

The ABA company that we use hires therapists that have, at a minimum, a bachelor’s degree in Applied Behavior Analysis, Psychology, Child Development, Education, or another related field. Also, every single one of those therapists is currently doing graduate work to become BCBAs.

Next, the author says,

“To ABA, an autistic person is nothing more than the unruly embodiment of behaviors to be reinforced, shaped, or extinguished, a list of  ‘excesses’ and ‘deficits’ to be tallied and managed. A defiant child to be made compliant. Basically, I was a glorified dog trainer.”

This is absolutely false of true ABA. Yes, there is training that goes into the therapy for a child with autism, but every parent trains their child as they grow up. We potty train our children, we train our children not to touch things that could burn them or hurt them, we train them to pick up their toys, and hopefully, we train them to be well-mannered and respectful.

Essentially that is our job as parents: to love and train our children. We are supposed to train our children because they don’t know any better. It is our job to help them learn about the world around them and it is no different for the child with autism.

The author continues…

“We learned things like ‘planned ignoring’- how to ignore a distressed child until they comply with your demands, how to ‘properly’ restrain a 2-6 year old child, how to not show empathy when a child has a meltdown…”

This part of ABA therapy has been extremely taken out of proportion. In ABA therapy there is ignoring of attention-seeking behaviors but never ignoring of the child himself. There is a very big difference here.

So what is this “planned ignoring?” It looks just a bit like this:

You’re at the store with your child who has autism. You’re finishing up and your child is having a hard time. The lights are too bright, there are too many people, and the noises are overwhelming. Your child starts to have a meltdown. People are staring, your child is on the floor hitting himself and you don’t know what to do.

The ABA therapist now comes in with their “planned ignoring” technique. This means they are going to ignore the meltdown itself, and then prioritize protecting the child from hurting himself or others.

During this time the ABA therapist does not show emotion – this doesn’t mean they don’t empathize, but in order to not enforce the behavior of the meltdown, they must remain neutral. Once the above has taken place the therapist would either gently remove the child from the situation (taking them out to the car) or they would help show the child how to cope right where they are.

The therapist might sit on the floor with them and give them deep sensory input or show them how to cover their ears if the noises are bothering them. They may even do breathing techniques with the child. All of these strategies are called calm-down techniques and what is done with each child will depend on the personality and needs of each child.

The author continues listing other things she supposedly learned…

“…how to ‘desensitize’ a child to painful or uncomfortable sensory experiences (hint; they aren’t actually desensitized, just forced to endure it until they successfully and consistently don’t react), how to change the environment- not to make it more accessible, but to make it more conducive to compliance.”

If your child is having a painful or uncomfortable sensory experience wouldn’t you want to help them? If your clothes itch or your back needs to be scratched, do you let yourself scratch it? I’m assuming you do. It is the same thing when helping a child with autism with their sensory needs.

Here is a personal example of this:

My son use to be extremely sensitive to noise. Even noises that seemed soft to me, were like a freight train to him. One of the things that bothered him was our washer and dryer. The noise from them running bothered him so much he would cry and scream.

Sometimes he was afraid to even go near the room they were in even if they were not running. Because I wanted my son to grow up and learn to be self-sufficient, I must teach him ways he can learn to cope in spite of the noises associated with it.

When learning from our ABA therapist about how to help my son in this area, I realized it would take time. We showed him videos about how washing machines and dryers worked and what they did. We showed him the washer and dryer when it was not on and let him touch it, look inside, and really see how it worked so he could see that it was not scary or harmful to him.

We worked on strategies such as covering your ears when you hear a loud noise or wearing noise-reducing headphones if he wanted to come in the room when they were running. These things were never forced on him, they were shown to him so he could continue to learn important life skills.

Now? My son knows how to start a load of laundry and put it in the dryer. He loves being able to help out!

The author continues to write…

“Sensory overload? Executive function or sensory-motor difficulties? Exhausted from 40 hours of child labor? Different style of communication work better for you? Upset about being treated like a circus animal? Not my problem, kiddo. I’m here to lure you with candy and manipulate you into doing my bidding, no questions asked.”

What the author states in the paragraph above is an example of bad ABA techniques and training. True ABA is child-based and works toward sensible and age-appropriate goals so the child can accomplish and do what is asked. Play is incorporated into all sessions and goals. If the child gets overwhelmed or needs a break, they are taught how to verbally ask or sign for it (if non-verbal).

When done correctly, ABA therapy is done in brief spurts within the child’s natural environment. Your child wants to have a dance party? Great! Questions or “work” will be incorporated into it naturally or during five minutes pauses or breaks.

As far as what the author says about stimming…

“Need to stim? Don’t worry, do enough tricks for me and you can earn the privilege to move YOUR body the way YOU want to…just 4 more tokens to go! Until then, quiet hands!”

My children have never been forced to stop stimming or even told to. Instead, they were shown an environment where they could safely stim and where they could get the input that they so desperately needed without hurting themselves or others.

For example, letting the child hit their head on a firm pillow versus letting them slam their head into a wall. See the difference? It’s about teaching them ways to regulate their bodies that are safe, not forcing them to stop altogether.

The author briefly states that she was asked about the tracking of data that ABA therapists must do. The tracking is not done for the child or the parent’s benefit. The tracking is absolutely and 100% for insurance purposes.

Yes, it helps the therapists and parents see where the child is, but insurance companies require extremely detailed data and proof that the child needs and will continue to need ABA therapy so they will cover it.

Several paragraphs down, the author talks about shock therapy and ABA, the history behind it and how ABA companies still use it today. I have never in my life heard of any ABA company using shock therapy for treatment.

I have lived in different states and used multiple ABA companies and not once was this mentioned. Are there companies out there that use it? I don’t know, but I do know that if they do, they are not doing true ABA therapy.

The next statement from the author is perhaps the most harmful:

“The ultimate objective of ABA is to make the child “indistinguishable from peers.” This in itself is abuse because you are teaching the child that the only way that they will be tolerated is if they pretend to be like everyone else. They must sacrifice 40 hours a week instead of playing because there is something “wrong” with them which they have to spend all day everyday trying to fix. This not only gives the child internalized ableism, but also forces the child to move, communicate, play, and socialize in ways that are unnatural, uncomfortable, and often painful in the hopes that they will possibly not be treated poorly by their so-called peers. It is an act that often results in autistic burn-out later in life.”

The ultimate objective of ABA is NOT to make the child “indistinguishable from peers,” it is not about pretending they are normal or making the child be normal. True ABA is NONE of that. A person with autism isn’t taught to make themselves “tolerated” instead they are shown different ways to do things and given choices as to these things.

My son would go to a friend’s house and immediately go over and knock over all their toys. We didn’t tell him to stop it because it wasn’t normal, no, instead we showed him ways and choices he could play with toys. Instead of knocking over the blocks we showed him how to build blocks.

It’s not about making them normal or indistinguishable, it’s about showing them and giving them choices so that they can develop into the person they are going to be.

One of the things that shock people is the length of hours per week ABA therapy is used. When you hear 20 or more hours per week this is not therapy where you sit at a table 20 hours a week and look at flashcards. This is a therapy that interlocks with your family’s day-to-day life.

Need to run errands? The ABA therapist goes with you and the child.

Want to take your child to the park, but you’re worried about your child’s social skills? No worries, the ABA therapist will go with you and show the child how they can interact with their peers.

It’s not about telling them what to do so they can be robotic and be like everyone else, it’s about showing them the choices they have.

For example, my son would only talk about superheroes when he was around other kids. He didn’t understand how to ask questions or how to relate to his peers in any way. The therapist would go to the park with him and would help prompt him to ask questions about the other child.

Does the other child have a favorite toy? Does the other child like superheroes? He was given choices and then shown how he could take those choices and use them to make friends.

Toward the end of the article, the author talks about compliance. Yes, compliance is a scary word, but it just means obedience or listening to and doing what someone asks. The author says,

“Compliance. This is possibly the most abusive part of ABA. The child might not even realize he’s being abused because he’s distracted by candy, or balloons. But there is a power imbalance. And little Timmy’s brain is picking up on all of this and filing it away.

Some of the things getting filed…

  1. People with more power than me can force me to do whatever they want.
  2. Nobody, not even my parents will come to my defense.
  3. Other people are in charge of my body and it’s OK for people to physically move me if I’m not doing what they want me to do.
  4. I’m not allowed to say no, or protest.
  5. If I am having a hard time, adults will ignore me instead of helping me; they don’t care.
  6. My parents must hate me too because they won’t even give me a break (a big deal is made in ABA about ‘consistency’ and making the parents and everyone the child is around use ABA on them in the off hours too).
  7. I am the sum of my behaviors, I have no inherent value.”

1. “People with more power than me can force me to do whatever they want.”
This is absolutely not true. No on is going to make the child do anything with the exception of making sure they don’t hurt themselves or others. Does ABA work on teaching the child that it is important to obey? Yes. Does ABA make sure that the child follows through with a tax and doesn’t get out of it if needed? Yes.

An example of this is if my daughter has a meltdown about picking up her toys. She might run and hide or run to play with a different toy. If we set expectations for her, we need to follow through.

We tell her she can take a break, but she still has to pick up her toys when done. We sit there with her and calm her or give her the sensory input she needs, but in the end, she still has to pick up her toys and she does not get away with not doing it.

2. “Nobody, not even my parents will come to my defense.”
This one hurts me a lot. I can’t imagine a therapist not letting us be there during therapy or letting me help my child if needed. I am the parent to my children, not the therapist.

In the end, I still have the final say about the therapy techniques and if I don’t want the therapist to do something. You as a parent are your child’s advocate so yes, if you feel like something is not right, don’t sit there. Say something, come to your child’s defense!

I have spoken up several times in the past about the treatment of my child during ABA therapy. At one company, we told them that a particular therapist was not allowed to work with my son because we did not like her attitude and the way she was treating him. We never saw her again, and the therapist that was sent instead was a great fit!

3. “Other people are in charge of my body.”
Again, this is not true. The only time a therapist has moved my child’s body is in the case of the “hand-over-hand” technique and even that is only used as a last result. The hand-over-hand technique is just what it sounds like.

The therapist will take the child’s hands in theirs and show them how to do what was asked. So if my daughter needed to pick up her toys, a therapist might (as a last resort) use her hands to take the child’s hand to pick up the toy and put it away. It is a visual technique to help the child understand what they need to be doing.

Obedience, Autism, and the Hand-Over-Hand Technique

4. “I’m not allowed to say no, or protest.”
Our therapists have never once told my child that they couldn’t say no or protest. My son has been told that it’s okay to be angry, it’s okay to not want to work on chores, but you still have to do it. My son is allowed to be angry, but he’s not allowed to use that anger to hurt others or himself. Do you see the difference?

5. “If I am having a hard time, adults will ignore me instead of helping me; they don’t care.”
I talked about this above. The ignoring is not of the child himself, but of the behavior. Our ABA therapists care about our children very much, they are not just another number in the crowd.

6. “My parents must hate me too because they won’t even give me a break (a big deal is made in ABA about ‘consistency’ and making the parents and everyone else around the child do ABA on them in the off hours).”
Yes, consistency is key. But that doesn’t mean I am forcing ABA techniques on my child 24/7, no, I am teaching my child that I will still follow through with what I say – that essentially I mean what I say. If bedtime is 7 pm when the ABA therapist is there, the child’s bedtime will still be 7 pm when they aren’t there even if the child doesn’t like it.

I am consistent in what routines I set for my child. Again, this is and should be the same whether you’re parenting a child with autism or not.

7. “I am the sum of my behaviors, I have no inherent value.”
I am not sure where the author gets this one. There is a lot of praise and celebrating in ABA therapy. It’s a big deal when a child reaches a goal or is able to do something they weren’t able to do before. Every child has value and you as the parent have the job of showing them that.

In conclusion, I believe that the author of this article was simply not taught the “how” and “why” of ABA therapy and its techniques. Are there different types of ABA therapy out there? Are there bad ABA companies using some of the techniques the author talks about? Absolutely, yes. But it is our job as parents to protect and advocate for our children.

Research in-home ABA versus center-based. Learn the difference between NET ABA – Natural Environment Training and DTT  ABA– Discrete Trial Training.

If you do your research and find the right ABA techniques, your child is going to thrive because true ABA is not abuse. I’ll leave you with the words of my son who at age two and three was still non-verbal and now has learned speech beyond anything I thought possible:

What is ABA Therapy

Does your child attend ABA therapy? Why or why not? What do you think of this article compared to the original? Who do you agree with?

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  1. If your experience were at all close to the norm, I would say ABA sounds excellent. Alas, most isn’t like that at all. Our first therapist was exactly like the first article’s author describes and our second was like yours for the most part. We also learned through the process that the overwhelming majority of “therapists” are just like the first one. High school diplomas are the legal minimum for being a behavior technician and the stated goal of ABA really is to render children “indistinguishable from their peers.” That’s directly from Lovaas own research (see his 1993 writings on the subject).

    As to the role of parents in therapy, I absolutely agree with you that parents should be present for sessions and very involved. Unfortunately, most agencies in Colorado Springs have their own curriculum which supersedes the families’ own goals. Further, sessions are often (even usually) moved into their centers so that parents won’t be around to observe what is being done to the children and can’t intervene. This moves the parent out of the team leader role. For me, the final straw came when I learned that in addition to documenting child progress the ABA providers also document and report on parental compliance, and if parents won’t comply with what the ABA providers say they have to do, the ABA providers report that to insurance companies, jeopardizing the child’s access to therapy.

    1. Yes, a lot of ABA companies are not like what I’ve described, but the good ones are out there which is why it is up to parents to advocate and research. The center-based ABA therapy I am totally against and it’s sad that there are so many here that do that. I believe in the natural environment ABA which should always be in-home. As far as the reports to insurance, every therapist company has to do that. Physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, etc. It’s part of the reporting they as a company has to give insurance. ABA is no different.

    2. Emily, I am sorry that your experience in Colorado Springs is as you report. As a BCBA candidate, it pains me to see how ABA across the country has little regulation in the expectations of companies and their services provided. I would like to address some of your concerns from an insider’s perspective.

      Lovaas’s research is not relevant anymore in the fact that ABA tries to make children “indistinguishable” from their peers. Lovaas’s 40 per week DTT training method is on the out in most curriculums because it has been shown to be less effective than a comprehensive program in which DTT, NET, and other skills training methods are used. I’ve never once been with a company where strict DTT approaches are used. Sure, some companies use more or less DTT versus NET, but it is explicitly stated in each and every course of ABA that you won’t see skills generalize to other settings unless you train for it. Lovaas’s methods don’t do this and are therefore not used.

      As far as the issue about parental input, yes, there are instances in which parents are expected to comply with the suggestions BCBA’s make. BCBA’s don’t make those suggestions because it makes our jobs easier. They make them for the benefit of the child. They make suggestions that will benefit the child in the environment when we’re not able to be around. We literally design programs in which parents are a necessary part. I’m currently designing a parent-training program so that a family I work with can begin to manage their child’s behaviors, such as self-injurious behaviors, screaming, hateful comments (i.e. “I hate you” when they’re asked to put away a toy), etc. This program requires the parents to comply with my suggestions. If they don’t, I will have to revise my program and ask the parents why they haven’t complied. If they tell me they don’t have the ability to, that can be worked around. If they tell me they don’t like it, I can work with them to find a solution. Parental input is important to me because I rely on the parents to carry out the instructions when I’m not able to be in the home. I have also worked with a family in which the parent dictated the activities they wanted done. I can respect that, and at the same time, I might also have to tell the parent no because I need to run a specific activity. If I’m supervising therapy staff, I may need to see them run a specific program because they’ve requested more training on that program, or I might want to make some changes to it and I need to see exactly what I want to change in order for progress to happen more smoothly. In those instances, I have to let the family know that I hear and understand their wishes, but I am ultimately there for the child and my staff, so I need to be able to have some say in what happens while I’m present.

      With parental goals: We, as therapists want you and your family to be happy with us and we want to see you see your child grow and prosper. It gives me nothing but joy when I see a family happy because their child finally learned to use silverware instead of their hands, or their child is able to tell then how they feel instead of screaming and hitting themselves. I have also worked with families that had excellent goals for their children and those goals were entirely possible, but I’ve had to let the family know that in order to make those goals, there were goals that needed to be made first. I worked with a family that wanted to see their child reading and doing math, which I loved and respected and wanted too. First, though, before we could start reading and doing math, we needed to get the child to be able to sit at a table for more than 5 minutes and be able to sustain attention to whatever was happening. We never dropped the goal of reading and doing math, we just had to break that goal down into smaller goals, first.

  2. Sounds like you bought into the cult. Meltdowns aren’t tantrums. Tantrums are attention-seeking. Meltdowns are when the autistic brain shuts down because it cannot handle processing any further sensory input. It needs to reboot. Not dissimilar to a computer being overloaded and freezing. To ignore a meltdown and not remove your child from that situation causing the overload? Abusive.

    I know it’s difficult to admit you don’t know everything and I know it’s frustrating not understanding how your kid’s brain is processing information… but that doesn’t mean you need to drill them into passing as not autistic.

    You should look into the history of ABA and what REAL ABA actually is, rather than spouting rhetoric you’ve been spoonfed by people wanting to part you from your money for short term returns.

    1. How dare you imply this woman is abusive! You’re not an expert either, so how dare you educate her or HER child. I cannot even right now.

      1. Hi Emily.

        I have a Criminology degree, a Psychology degree and a Teaching degree. I’m currently doing my PhD in Autism and Neurodivergence. I’ve got 30 years of Autistic lived experience and have been teaching and raising Autistics for 7 years.

        This is abusive.
        Have a nice day.

  3. The other article highlights one thing we need to do as parents– VET THE THERAPISTS! Under our insurance the person in the original article would not be covered! If she were my therapist, she would have been fired.

  4. It’s great that your children are having a positive ABA experieince, but I encourage you to read what actually autistic people say about their ABA experiences. Many, many of them write about as abusive or at least insufferable. And these are the adults our autistic children will become. I wonder what our children would tell us about the hours of compliance training we subjected them to as children? Reading about the history of ABA’s roots as well– there’s an enlightening narrative in Steve Silberman’s NEUROTRIBES– also might lend context to some of the objections to ABA.

    Here are a few links that offer autistic perspectives– indeed the most important ones– on this question:




    The book Ido in Autismland also has some compelling insights into ABA.

    Reading these– and seeing my son’s increasing boredom, frustration, and lack of organic learning after years of ABA really was a game changer for us. I would welcome a conversation about these autistic perspectives on ABA. Thanks!

  5. I want to thank you for publishing this article. I work as an ABA therapist, and I love my job and the profound impact I get from working with these kids! After reading the original article, I could not put into words how frustrated I felt, a sentiment shared with my co workers and fellow therapists. I can tell you that every person I work with has a deep love for what they do, and are not “high school graduates hired in off the street.” We are constantly being trained and refreshed on ethics and new therapy techniques that benefit our clients. I feel that the biggest misconception seems to stem from “ABA wants to make my child like everyone else/neurotypical” and that could not be farther from the truth. An ethical BCBA does not seek to change behaviors unless they are interfering with the clients safety. Also, people seem to disagree about the structure of ABA. Just because a person is autistic does not mean they can just be “free birds” and have no sense of rules or structure. If anything, they need it more so Many kids benefit from visual schedules and token economys because they provide a sense of structure so they know what’s coming next. These kids are so very smart, as any parent/therapist/caregiver knows. And these cute kids grow into adults who need as much independence as possible once they are phased out of their school and therapy systems and into jobs/homes/living arrangements.

  6. If you can’t listen to autistic people about basic stuff like meltdowns why work with them? At least the other author knows most autistic people hate people first language. It is clunky and implies you need such awkward phrasing to remember autistic people are people. Which is deeply warped. ABA is a flawed system and really needs to be replaced with some autistic people have input into.

    1. Autistic people do have input in ABA. They’re the ones receiving it. It’s not a “system”. Any good BCBA would tailor their therapy sessions to the uniqueness of the child.

      1. Are there any autistic people in leadership positions of ABA proffessional orgnizations or even on the board of directors of these organizations? Are there any autistics making decisions about what is reasearched, what behavoires are deemed in need in bieng corrected, how to apply the research?.

  7. Maybe you should read articles written by Autistic adults. The CONSENSUS among autistic people is that ABA is abusive and harmful.

    1. These adults were children in the 80’s, possibly early 90’s, when ABA was in it’s infiancy, so yea, there were some kinks to work out. The early stages of psychology weren’t great, same thing with Speech therapy. Any type of therapy in it’s beginning stages isn’t going to be a picnic. That’s why we have researchers so we can figure out what’s effective and what’s not.

      And this woman knows her child. He’s happy to go to therapy, which is a good sign that’s well thought of when he’s at ABA.

  8. Kathryn, I am not sure if I am asking for too much but I was wondering if you could get your post translated into Spanish? There are many Spanish speakers who would benefit from having access to multiple perspectives about ABA. I appreciate your post and the way that you have mediated conversations in a respectful and informative way.

  9. WOW! What a heartbreaking debate.

    WE decided early on that ABA was not our choice for our son, and I myself am also on the spectrum and I get how many autistic people feel about ABA.

    At the same time, we need to respect that other people are making the best choices for themselves and their families. While ABA often does have the problems the author you quote and others above talk about, it seems like you and your family and ABA therapists have found a wonderful way to enhance your child’s life and ensure safety. Accordingly, you wrote about it from your positive perspective – fair enough!

    Let’s all give each other the benefit of the doubt!

  10. I saw that article because my “self-diagnosed” autistic roommate posted it. Ignoring the fact that self-diagnosis can be harmful, she’s never had any therapy and relies solely on information she gets on pieces like those.

    I was an ABA therapist for six years. The child I worked with was never forced to do anything unless it was harmful (he got ahold of large kitchen knives once out of curiosity, so I did make him, you know, put them down.)

    I have a bachelor’s degree now, but when I worked as a therapist I didn’t have one. However we had intensive training and were required to take child development classes, first aid, CPR and specific courses to learn how to deescalate situations.

    Any time a child is denied food, water, going to the bathroom, privacy, etc. THAT IS ABUSE. If a parent sees that, they should fire their therapist immediately! Although therapists are there, you are ultimately your child’s advocate and you do not have to put your child in a therapy that makes you feel uneasy.

    I noticed that a lot of the people who are against ABA are “self-diagnosed” autistic adults who have never had an ounce of therapy. They want the world to adjust to them, not the other way around. My thought is…can’t we just meet in the middle? That’s what I understand ABA therapy is. You give the child tools to succeed in the world. It is not a cure. At all. You cannot push the autism out of a child.

    I think autism has many positive effects! Maybe a child is interested in space and wants to be an engineer, but is also bangs his head against the wall. ABA therapy removes the second behavior, but not the passion, interests and quirks of that child.

    I’m really glad you wrote this counter piece. It’s very refreshing!

    1. Implying the critisism of ABA by the “self diagnosed” is invalid because the critics are not really autistic or have not recieved ABA. How ironic.

      I do agree with the author about one thing, the harm done by insurence companies. Assessments for autistic adults are usually not covered and often not available. I was one of the privilaged ones lucky to get diagnosed in my mid 50’s by a professional with over 30 years of ASD experienceand experience with adults. The flaws of self diagnosis are obvoius and there are autism wannabees out there doing it because it seems trendy or a way to excuse bieng an asshole but most of the many “self diagnosed” I have interacted with are middle age people who researched the subject for months after recieving misdiagnosis after misdiagnosis because how autism presents in adults is often misunderstood even by Autism proffessionals because the insurence money goes mostly to studying chilhood and teen autism.

  11. I’m currently an ABA tech, and the article about abuse disturbed me so much. Who hires someone off the street? Like, seriously, what was that? I was not “hired off the street”. I have a bachelor’s degree. My fellow line-tech co-workers also have bachelor’s degrees, or are in pursuit of a bachelor’s. Everything the woman described is the exact opposite of what I do at my job, and it breaks my heart that even after the countless research backing ABA, there’s still people that want to denounce it.

  12. ABA is NOTHING but abuse! For you to say completely otherwise is FALSE. YOU’RE not the one subjected to it.

  13. What a chasm between viewpointviewpoints from the two original posts. I can’t help but wonder about all criticism from adults who have undergone the ABA as children and found it to abusive.

    For me that is the distinction between the intended results and actual results of using ABA.

    1. I believe that the ABA therapy of today is completely different than what adults with autism went through. Are there still bad companies that use that type? Yes, but there has been a lot more research and education since then and ABA is much better than it used to be.

  14. It’s abuse. PERIOD. You need to stop listening to parents of autistic kids and start listening to actually autistic adults. They come away from those therapies with trauma and PTSD. The guy who founded was also involved in founding gay conversion therapy, which has rightly been banned in many places. One of his most well-known quotes is “You see, you start pretty much from scratch with an autistic child. You have a person in the physical sense–they have hair, a nose and a mouth–but they are not people in the psychological sense.” The man didn’t even view autistic individuals as people, and founded a practice that’s glorified dog training for children. It’s abuse. I can’t imagine being okay with subjecting my children to a practice founded by someone who didn’t even consider them people. It’s vile.

    I’d opened up a bunch of your other pages to read, but now I’m just going to close them. I can’t trust anything else you have to say if you can justify this. Not having ever heard about how it’s abusive is one thing, but doubling down and justifying it once you do, rather than pulling your kids out of it, is inexcusable. The goal should be to help them cope with a world that’s been designed to the benefit of neurotypical people at the expense of everyone else, not train them to comply with neurotypical behavior like a puppy. They aren’t the problem. The society that expects them to be like everyone else is.

  15. I find it interesting that an unqualified, untrained and neurotypical parent seems to think that they are the authority on ABA and how it isn’t abusive. Am I to be the only autistic voice on this thread? Would it matter to any of you if I was, because it certainly doesn’t seem like you give any weight whatsoever to the actually autistic voices.

    ABA is abuse. Plain and simple. Yes including the “new” ABA. Also, I would like to know how the author of this article is distinguishing harmful ABA from the “true” ABA she is referencing.

  16. A few questions from an autistic adult:

    1) Did you notice, or care, that the original blogger replied to this post?
    2) Why do you consistently refer to people as “having autism”? At best, it shows that you’re ignorant to our community. We do not “have autism”, we *are autistic* because you cannot take the autism away and leave us the same people we currently are. Just like I don’t “have gayness”, I don’t “have autism”.
    3) Are you actually aware that there *is* such a thing as the autistic community? Have you ever communicated with autistic acceptance advocates? Asked them what it was like to be an autistic child?

  17. Wait until your child grows up and is able to articulate what they *actually* experienced from ABA therapy. I don’t care if ABA “therapists” are giving out stickers instead of smacks, this is abuse.

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