A neurodiversity-affirming parent’s anonymous post to Therapist Neurodiversity Collective requested information that might help them advocate for their special education student in the IEP meeting. From the information contained in the post, it appeared that the school, although possibly unintentionally, was not aware of IDEA and Supreme Court decisions, and therefore violated parental rights to meaningfully participate in and contribute to the IEP meeting. Additionally, it is clear that our public school system is lagging in knowledge and application of contemporary research evidence about autism, and as a result, the kids are paying the consequences with poor mental health outcomes.
“The kids in my class aren’t allowed to say I can’t.” I’m in an IEP meeting for young neurodivergent student who’s struggling in class. The committee is talking about all the reasons why this student should not be struggling because their standardized cognitive and language scores show they have the ability to learn and do the work.
1/24/2022, by Nicole Lobsey, Certified Practicing Speech Pathologist Like most health and education fields, Speech Pathology is a heavily ableist field. Speech Pathology practices are based on: Assessment against neurotypical […]
And let’s talk about considerable ethical and financial conflicts of interest with this paper and its authors, shall we?
Reader, every single author of this paper is trained in ABA, (three of them are actually BCBAs), so clearly each author has a vested financial interest in duping people into believing that ABA is “Neurodiversity Approved”.
(It’s always about the $$$.)
Performative Neurodiversity – the appropriation and watering down of a Human Rights Movement for profit
What are some signs that you’ve wasted your money on a neurodiversity-lite product, book, or class?
Through the guise of play, I often contrived stressful and frustrating situations and placed consistent demands on very small children. For instance, one of my kid’s goals was something like this: The client will engage in 3 turn taking exchanges by relinquishing to their play partner, waiting while their play partner takes a turn, and then requesting a turn with ___ # of prompts.
“Hi, I was wondering if I could speak with someone on how to deal with being court-ordered by the family court system to enroll a child in intensive ABA therapy?”
“… scores on the CAT-Q indicate she engages in a significantly higher level of camouflaging than neurotypical people and elevated camouflaging even when compared to other autistic individuals. It is highly likely that she has camouflaged so much and for so long that she fails to see some of her autistic traits even though they may appear obvious to others.”
“Disregard for the human rights of autistic children, and the belief that they are so fundamentally different from other children that they don’t have the same rights, have become cultural norms within many professional and educational spaces. Often, teachers, therapists, and other professionals working with autistic students don’t even realize the ways in which their treatment of their students is dehumanizing because it is what they have seen from the individuals around them and those who trained them.”
I am used to my stuttering and I wish everyone else would get used to it too. My reactions and my feelings about stuttering are relative to how you, the listener, react. I am only uncomfortable because you are uncomfortable. I am uncomfortable FOR you.
But, training the autism out of an autistic person is neither ethical nor accepting of neurodiversity. Deficit-driven clinicians continue to attribute any Autistic social difference as “deficient” but flat out ignore the fact that social communication reciprocity is a two-way street. Nothing about Social Skills Training is neurodivergence-affirming therapy. Absolutely nothing.
I was called “unethical” by a professional colleague today.
The reason may surprise you—I said “ABA is abuse”. My peer was naturally taken aback because they are an SLP-BCBA and “would never dream of abusing a child.” I always find this rebuttal interesting because we usually don’t hear about people walking around admitting to abusing people; even overt predators somehow convince themselves that they are helping their victim. The sanctimonious SLP-BCBA told me that it was the “old ABA” and not “new ABA” that was harmful, and then only a small fraction of the time. She accused me of “throwing the baby out with the bathwater” (I still don’t really understand how this idiomatic expression applies here) and she further went on to insist that there is “no way ABA could cause PTSD in people with Autism.” (She really meant “Autistic people,” I am sure.)
With 3,794 participants, this is the largest study ever conducted of ABA effectiveness. The 31-page report entitled, “The Department of Defense Comprehensive Autism Care Demonstration Annual Report 2020” concluded that “ABA services are not working.”
Our autistic female students are constantly mimicking and copying behaviors of peers so they can hide their autism. We, as clinicians, teach them to do this because we were taught that autism must be hidden and masked through the therapy we provide. We are licensed, credentialed ableists, “therapizing: our autistic students to learn to be in a constant state of making in order to be acceptable, to be worthy, to be liked.
It is so important that we start with the presumption that the person is a learner! Learning takes time and sometimes a good amount of patience. Always presume they are on their way to developing competence in learning this new language.
Not only does ABA pose ethical issues that must be considered, but its efficacy is also questionable. The US government conducted outcome measures under the new T2017 TRICARE contracts and found that “76% of TRICARE beneficiaries in the ACD (Autism Care Demonstration) had little to no change in symptom presentation over the course of 12 months of applied behavior analysis services, with an additional 9% demonstrating worsening symptoms” (James N. Stewart, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, 10/25/2019).
TBI in Service Members – Real-life effects & the need for Empathetic, Compassionate & Trauma-informed Care:
Beginning in around the year 2000, the field of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) has included Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) among their ever-increasing scope of practice, claiming that ABA is “one of the most effective treatments for managing mood, behavioral and other mental disorders associated with brain damage”.3 ABA, in its simplest form, treats the behavior associated with TBI, rather than treating the underlying neurological reasons for that behavior.
Terrifyingly, ABA has infiltrated our healthcare system, schools, military, hospitals, and nursing homes. But you wonder, how can you even tell if someone is brainwashed? Here are common symptoms that you or someone you love has been brainwashed:
Why Perspective-Taking and Neurodiversity Acceptance? (Part 2 of “Training” Social Skills is Dehumanizing: The One with the Therapy Goals)
Wasted years upon years of endlessly drilling autistic children and adolescents to memorize and parrot “appropriate” rote phrases for specific social situations will not lead to their peers perceiving them as more likable. Social skills training is not a “cure” for autism despite what the ABA industry would like for us all to believe. All “social skills training’ does is to teach autistic people how to mask their autism. And the potential harms of masking (exhaustion, anxiety, depression, frustration, decreased self-esteem suicidal ideation) are significant.
Dictating how an autistic person is expected to communicate in specific social situations takes away their self-determination. Training people as one trains animals is appalling. Therapist Neurodiversity Collective believes in respecting the authentic social communication of all people, which includes all Autistic people, rather than compelling compliance for neurotypical expectations through a system of rewards and punishments.