Pro-neurodiversity therapy is not an advertising gimmick to Therapist Neurodiversity Collective. The Neurodiversity Movement is a Human Rights Campaign.
Trauma-informed therapists who serve neurodivergent populations must employ a strategic approach when using developmental or relationship-based therapy frameworks within evidence-based practices. That’s because even these types of therapy models may be used in combination with ABA (applied behavioral analysis), and/or target goals for “normalization” based on curative, neurotypical clinical outcomes.
Applying ABA in therapeutic practice is entirely unacceptable to us. Therapist Neurodiversity Collective does things differently:
- Zero ABA, including positive reinforcement
- Zero desensitization, tolerance, or extinction targets or approaches
- Zero neuronormative goals (masking of sensory systems, monotropic interests systems, anxiety)
- Zero training neurotypical social skills
We are trauma-informed and respectful of sensory systems, diversity in social intelligence, autistic learning styles, including monotropic interest systems.
Autistic and other neurodivergent people do not require therapy just because they have been identified with autism or other-neurodivergence. Therapies are based on individual needs, not on a “diagnosis”.
The Therapist Neurodiversity Collective does not endorse any specific therapy methodologies because we have yet to find a “program” out there that will take a definitive stand against ABA, meaning that they will not allow BCBAs and other practitioners to pair it in conjunction with their relationship-based program. Additionally, many relationship-based programs still have neuronormative goals for Autistic people to conform to a clinical standard based on neurotypical communicative behaviors. Research and lived experiences, two-thirds of the evidence-based practice triad, do not support this type of therapy.
Evidence-Based Practice (EBP) is the integration of:
- clinical expertise/expert opinion;
- external scientific evidence; and
- client/patient/caregiver perspectives.”
Therapist Neurodiversity Collective on Evidence-Based Practices: We take the research framework from developmental and relationship-based therapy models, use our knowledge of client and caregiver perspectives (no goals for masking, eye contact, whole body listening, appearing neurotypical, etc.), and apply our clinical background to implement therapy practices which are respectful, culturally competent, trauma-sensitive and empathetic.
We presume competence. We believe that AAC has no prerequisites. We respect sensory differences. We respect body autonomy.
Most importantly, we continually learn from our neurodivergent mentors as to what therapy approaches and methodologies are respectful and uphold human rights and self-determination.
ABA-based, Behavioral Based Intervention/Therapy Approaches and Social Skills Programs the Therapist Neurodiversity Collective does not Use or Recommend:
- ABA – all forms; including “new and improved” ABA
- Play-based ABA
- ABA + relationship-based therapy (Meaning that ABA is used in conjunction with DIRFloortime, SCERTS, Hanen or similar.)
- Verbal Behavior (VB)
- The Lovaas Approach
- Pivot Response Treatment (PRT)
- Natural Language Paradigm (NLP)
- Early Start Denver Model (ESDM)
- Discrete Trial Training (DTT)
- Incidental Teaching
- Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention (EIBI)
- Intensive Behavioral Intervention (IBI)
- ABA Derived Errorless Learning Therapy Models
- Intensive Behavioral Intervention (IBI)
- Positive Behavior Support (PBS)
- Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS)
- Relationship Development Intervention (RDI)
- Social Thinking®
- The PEERS® Program
- Social Skills video modeling with the intent for the Autistic person to mimic Neurotypical Social Skills, and mask Autistic characteristics
- Any neurotypical Social Skills training program that teaches Autistic masking or has goals for Neurotypical Social Skills outcomes
Therapy frameworks/models: Notes and Discussion
Evidence-Based Relationship-based and Developmental Therapy Models
Therapist Neurodiversity Collective has some reservations about this therapy program:
Notes: The website does not use identity-first language. Many aspects of Hanen are focused on neurotypical (normalization) clinical outcomes, such as eye contact. And some of their techniques and approaches are ABA-based (applied behavior analysis methodologies), as indicated in this article.
Therapist Neurodiversity Collective recommends that families seeking Hanen® providers ask very specific questions to determine whether or not their therapeutic approach includes aspects of applied behavioral analysis.
On October 23, 2020, DIRFloortime (ICDL) announced an agreement for a partnership with Profectum, a therapy company that embraces ABA, to teach BCBAs (ABA providers) and other therapists with at least a bachelor’s degree, how “to use both ABA and DIR model, sometimes simultaneously“.
ABA in partnership with a DIRFloortime approach is a harmful framework that Therapist Neurodiversity Collective cannot condone.
This announcement seemingly contradicts the ABA position on the DIRFloortime® website:
“Because ICDL advocates for parent choice, we typically do not advocate against access to ABA. Nevertheless, we are open about our concerns with ABA and the ABA industry. Many people ask us if we support “blended” models that integrate behavioral and developmental approaches. There is no simple answer to this because there are countless variations out there. Some much better and some much worse than others. We believe that a DIR program with Floortime as a core intervention in the context of a comprehensive DIR program is very effective. But, in regards to blended models, we have found that models that are DIR-based, or in other words based in a developmental relationship-based perspective, that integrate in behavioral techniques are generally much better than behavioral approaches that attempt to integrate in developmental relationship-based techniques.” “ICDL supports all beneficial autism-related services and advocates for parent and client choice. Our intent is not to debunk ABA, but we also recognize the limitations of behavioral approaches and know that there is much more we can do.”
Therapist Neurodiversity Collective recommends that families seeking DIRFloortime® providers ask very specific questions to determine whether or not their therapeutic approach includes aspects of applied behavioral analysis.
SCERTS® – Therapist Neurodiversity Collective supports some aspects of this therapy model without any use of applied behavior analysis methodologies.
Notes: The website does not use identity-first language. Until 2021, the SCERTS® website stated: “One of the most unique qualities of SCERTS is that it can incorporate practices from other approaches including contemporary ABA (e.g., Pivotal Response Treatment, LEAP), TEACCH, Floortime, RDI, Hanen, and Social Stories®.”
As of March 2021, the above statement has been removed from the website, but a quick Google search demonstrates that SCERTS® is used in conjunction with “contemporary ABA” in various settings. For instance, this article (May 2, 2020) describes “naturalistic” forms of ABA” within the SCERTS® framework.
Therapist Neurodiversity Collective recommends that families seeking SCERTS® providers ask very specific questions to determine whether or not their therapeutic approach includes aspects of applied behavioral analysis.