ABA Yay or Nay – AGE OF AUTISM
Safeminds has featured a story from The Autism Society on the topic of Applied Behavior Analysis. ABA is controversial in many ways. Some families call it a godsend, others a nightmare. What has your experience been with ABA? For my family, I can say that since getting out of the school system where data collection was the holy grail and rote, dead end tasks were considered learning goals, my daughters have THRIVED. I sought out a non-ABA based program for my youngest daughter’s transition program. There’s a team member who used to be at Bella’s high school. She did not recognize the happy, smiling, social young woman she knew from the frustrated young woman who had not 1 but 2 paras following her around data clicking 3 years ago. ABA did not extinguish a single behavior in my daughters. Not one. They outgrew them with organic social instruction, and maturation. Behaviors were communication phases. Behaviors were self-soothing coping skills – that I had no desire to trample. I had a private hire PhD behaviorist sit in many of my IEP meetings telling the high school team that ABA should be phased OUT through the school years because – and this is 100% true – the “real” world is not prompt based. Prompt dependent adults with autism have to unlearn and relearn how to manage skills that they have – but that are not readily accessible without prompting. Share your thoughts. Be kind. Be respectful. Be truthful.
Autism Society to Issue a Position Paper on the Topic
Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) has long been considered the “gold standard” of autism treatment. It is typically the first therapy recommended following a childhood diagnosis of autism. This is due to the large body of research to support its efficacy. Since 2019, all 50 states require insurance plans to cover autism therapy, specifically including ABA coverage. Many parents and ABA therapists view the therapy as a vehicle for reducing challenging behaviors, which could ultimately improve the quality of life for ABA participants. However, the therapy has increasingly faced growing opposition from people who participated in an ABA program during childhood. Consequently, while many view ABA as a godsend, others view it as an unethical and harmful therapy meant to normalize people with autism by hiding their identity and personality in order to conform to a neurotypical standard. Advocates for ABA feel that some of this current controversy stems from outdated practices such as the use of restraints or withholding food, which are no longer used and are now considered unethical. These advocates point out that newer ABA methods focus more on promoting a child’s self-direction and choice. The division over the way to view ABA is coming to a head this month as the Autism Society hosts three virtual town hall meetings to discuss the matter in preparation for a position paper on the treatment, which will be released later this year. The Autism Society’s town halls are designed for people in the autism community to share their experiences with ABA in a thoughtful and respectful way. But, in the meantime, the debate on ABA is likely to continue. READ MORE AT SAFEMINDS