Neurodiversity-affirming therapy: Dozens of neurodiversity-affirming therapy goals and best practice resources for ally SLPs and OTs.
ABA providers will tell you to break your child, to reward your child for eating food, to re-present food your child has spit out or vomited, to restrain your child in a chair and do not let them leave the chair. There are better ways.
When children have trouble eating, it can be incredibly stressful for parents. But you’re not alone! There are qualified professionals waiting to help you and your child.
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 $$$.)
Did you know that there is a Congressional Autism Caucus? This 141-member caucus includes members from both parties in the U.S. House of Representatives and in the U.S.
Now is the time to voice your opposition to ABA!
Contact your State Congressional Members of the Congressional Autism Caucus https://doyle.house.gov/issues/autism-caucus/autism-caucus-membership
Through the pairing procedure, children begin to learn that doing things that feel good to them (e.g. autistic play, stimming, etc.) are less valuable than the things that make the therapist feel good (i.e. neurotypical play, compliance). They learn to ignore their feelings of distress when confronted with a task they find aversive and mask their distress to please their caregivers. They become motivated by the praise they receive when they “do the thing” and become reliant on external reinforcement rather than intrinsic motivation, regardless of how much they are suffering.
“First Do No Harm”: How SLPs Who Ignore Coregulation Reduce Children’s Access to Authentic Communication
Many speech-language pathologists do not think of sensory, emotional, or cognitive regulation as a part of their area of practice. In actuality, though, all communication originates from the need for regulation, and it is impossible to support a child’s communication skills or language development without understanding and supporting their regulation needs.
“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?”
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.)
Today in a virtual Zoom therapy session, the parent asked me why I don’t use PECS® in speech therapy (with non-speaking or minimally speaking Autistic children). After watching her child laugh, dance, and have fun during therapy, after watching them imitate action verbs, and spontaneously communicate a desire, spontaneously point to my assistant and me on the screen, and smile at us all, it became clear to this parent that there are different kinds of therapy sessions. This kind isn’t all about compliance.
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.
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.
“Please remember what we talked about regarding eye contact, echolalia, sensory needs, picky eating and especially how to choose therapies that will respect his dignity and autonomy, and that won’t crush the joyous and precious little person that he is. I will advocate for him; but because you will need to learn how to become be his biggest champion, I have sent you links to resources for you to begin to educate yourself about Autism. I understand that you were very upset yesterday when they told you the diagnosis. My hope is that you begin to view this diagnosis differently.”