Monday, January 27, 2014

True Answers About ABA (Part 1)

Hi Ibby! 

I am a Parent to a 3 year old Autistic girl. She is receiving OT, Speech, Music therapy and ABA. I have felt it was the ABA where the progress we've seen has been made. However, as someone who is a staunch advocate for my daughter and her Autistic peers, I want to always be doing what is best and least stressful for her.

I have seen quite a bit of controversy in the Autism community by receivers of ABA, that express having PTSD from the experience and are now staunch opponents of ABA. But what they describe going through and what many of our kids do, seem vastly different. Is there any way to clarify this issue, about just what ABA is and isn't and how, in layman's terms a Parent can avoid and identify it?

This is a topic that causes a great deal of angst, distrust and Parents feeling they are being labeled as abusers if they are using ABA...which I guess, may really not be? Any help at resolving this would be great!

Thank you!


Dear Sandy,

Thank you so much for asking.

This question is so very important, and as you say, the things people say and do about it can be very confusing, and from where I stand, I have been able to collect more than the usual amount of information about why they have to do and say the confusing things that conflict with each other, and was wondering if I would be able to help.

I hope I can help.

I will try to keep this a little bit shorter than a big giant book by linking to other related things I wrote before, and breaking it down into parts so you can look at the pieces of the question you are interested in at any given time.

Here are the topics I will touch on:

Why are so many Autistic people who have been through ABA against it, and/or experiencing PTSD?

In that case, why would anyone defend it? What is going on there?

What do you mean by the notion that a type of treatment can be morally wrong?

But I have seen it work well, and you just gave what looked to me a whole lot like an example. Can you explain what is going on here, when it works well?

Why would that still be called ABA then? Why don’t they call it something totally else?

Can you see a solution to this thorny issue? What would it be like?

Meanwhile, before that solution happens, what are practical actions I, as a parent, can take in real life? I want to do what is right for my kids, and I also want to be a good person in the world.

I’m writing back now because I have had your letter for a longish time, I think, and I wanted you to know this is what I’m working on, and I think it’s really important, and I want to get it right. Please write back if my outline above doesn’t hit on all cylinders, but so far I have answers in my head for all the things above that I just need to translate into readable words, so that’s what I’m going for.