I keep reading how abusive ABA is but from what I have read about it, it’s done with rewards and it lasts like right hours a day. But to most people on the autism spectrum they see it as abusive even if they have never gotten it before. First time I heard about ABA was when I was 21 and it was written by an eight year old boy with Asperger’s living in Ireland. He often talked about ABA and how it helped him and he seemed enthusiastic about it. It was a lot like therapy what I went through. I had a speech therapist who handed out speech bucks, I had another therapist that handed out poker chips.
My experience in therapy has been if I say a sound when learning to talk, I got an M&M my mother told me.
I remember in preschool, I had to rub my chest and say “May I please have (insert what they were serving for snack)” before they put it on my plate but if we didn’t comply, they skipped us and we got nothing to eat. This was a special school ran by the school district for kids with developmental delays so they were teaching us manners and social skills. The way we had snack time was done in a British way because we would pick a hostess and none of us were allowed to eat until they took their first bite and we all had to wait for the teachers to say when we could eat. This was a school thing in my perspective. It was very possible to lose snack privilege if you didn’t follow the rules.
In speech therapy I would be given speech bucks for participation and using the rules I was taught there, turn taking, staying on topic, no interrupting, no making noise, sitting still. You also would lose a speech buck for not following these rules. One time I lost a speech buck for tapping my feet because I was bored. Another time I lost a speech buck for poor hygiene with nail biting, one time I lost a speech buck for not stuffing all the Etch and Sketch markers in the slots because I was being too rigid for which marker goes where. Someone had marked each spot with a color for where the marker goes and my speech therapist said someone did that thinking it mattered what marker goes where but it didn’t matter. There I was putting each marker away in it’s “correct” spot and she told me she would give me a speech buck if I shove all the markers in there without mattering which marker goes where, I refused because in my mind it felt “wrong” so I lost a speech buck. If I was in a bad mood, I had to be happy so I could earn speech bucks, not lose it.
In group therapy we earned poker chips by participation.
All this gave me a learning attitude. I was not traumatized or felt even abused. I didn’t know any different. They just had these rules in their class and I had to follow them. I loved earning fake money for rewards. I truly hated speech therapy when there was no reward system and I hated group therapy when it was a different teacher we had and there was no reward system.
Now Roger Meyers told me what I got wasn’t ABA and then everyone at the table and him said it might have been different therapy I had gotten. But from what I read about it, there is the reward system and you earn the rewards for doing good things they want you to do and you lose rewards or fake money for not complying. That sounded similar to what I got in therapy. They inserted ABA for everyone. Could I have been the exception? I know not all autistic kids get traumatized and resent ABA. Some of them love it and wished they had it or remember having it and how they liked it like that eight year old boy did in his book. I wished I remembered the name of it or else I would have mentioned it as a source.
But here is the source I have for how wrong ABA is and how abusive it is and it includes other sources in it:
I finally get now that perhaps not all kids want to change and not everyone has a learning attitude. I get that not everyone likes rewards for doing the right thing in therapy. The thing was I actually liked it and enjoyed it because it had rewards. I wanted to go back, I hated when therapy would end. I was not putting on a show for the adults. Like I say, I didn’t know any different because everything was about rules and how they wanted everyone to be, there was no who I am. I could be anything I wanted to be. I didn’t know behaviors was a wired thing so I never felt any different if I had to change a behavior. Sometimes it would feel weird like being forced to sit up straight, being forced to hold scissors correctly or holding the pencil right. This all felt awkward and uncomfortable and I got used to it. I still sit with a hunch and I am sure I still stand wrong. But I only sat up straight only for voice lessons when we would use the piano. I only held scissors and pencils correctly in school to avoid kids teasing me about how I held scissors and also because the teachers would bother me if I held the pencil wrong. Then it was reinforced at home by my mother so I did it with her around only and eventually I started to do it when I was by myself because I got used to it. To me having me do all this was like making me eat with my elbow off the table and have my legs in front of me which also felt awkward.
But I was never ever given therapy eight hours a day. But even when I was a kid, I hated when my therapy sessions would end that involved rewards so I thought that boy in the book was lucky to have therapy at home 24/7. He got rewards like tokens he could trade in for prizes. That made me think I was not aspie enough to even get it at home so I only needed it in therapy sessions once a week.
But what I had learned about ABA is that ABA is also like a spectrum, every therapist is different about it. I was never beaten or sprayed in the face.In Boy Alone, Noah would get beaten for his treatment because he was not complying. It was part of his therapy. My mom wouldn’t have let any abuse have happen to me and I know she would have stopped that therapy and find someone else. But the problem is I will see it being painted with the same brush and that is like painting all public schools or day cares with the same brush just because abuse has happened in them also. Even kids have been abused by nannies so what if they all got painted with the same brush by saying how having nannies is bad for your children and they shouldn’t be used. Yes there are people on the spectrum who pretended to be happy and enthusiastic when they were little so they assume the kid is pretending that too about ABA. I was happy in therapy and always looked forward to it so I am assuming the same thing about the child. So my opinion about ABA is I am neutral about it. I don’t view it right or wrong because of two sides of the story and I am not going to be all negative about it because of bad therapists. That is like being negative about teachers and public schools and babysitters and nannies and day cares because of some abuse that has happened or because of bullying in public schools.