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Did ABA therapy help you or not?
Yes 40%  40%  [ 2 ]
No 60%  60%  [ 3 ]
Total votes : 5

DirkGently69
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29 Dec 2023, 6:56 pm

Having only just being diagnosed with ASD this year, I didn’t really learn about autism until recently. In my reading I heard about Applied behavioral analysis therapy, and it’s prevalence as a tool in ‘helping’ autistic children act more normally. To me that seems to go against the idea that autistic people shouldn’t be forced to fit into a neurotypical environment.

I’m just interested in hearing from people who were sent to ABA therapy, and whether they think it helped or hindered them in the long run.



autisticelders
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30 Dec 2023, 7:21 am

I was too early for ABA, but my parents applied "compliance training" and controlled everything all my life, with physical punishment for the slightest infraction. Even before I could speak I was getting spanked and having my hands whacked. I did not understand until around age 8 or 9 why I was being punished. My processing is too slow!
I learned nothing but how to be wary, hyper vigilant, and to please others at all costs to myself, no matter who asked or what they asked of me.
It did not end well. I got therapy at age 30 after years of suicidal thoughts and finally acting upon those. I have spent my life time recovering from that early abuse.

Focus only on pleasing others to avoid pain or pressure to perform does not shape a child's sense of confidence, competence, or ability to make independent decisions. Teaching a child to obey no matter what, is not healthy. Results are suicidality, anxiety, depression, learned helplessness and CPTSD. And likely others as well.


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MatchboxVagabond
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30 Dec 2023, 7:57 am

DirkGently69 wrote:
Having only just being diagnosed with ASD this year, I didn’t really learn about autism until recently. In my reading I heard about Applied behavioral analysis therapy, and it’s prevalence as a tool in ‘helping’ autistic children act more normally. To me that seems to go against the idea that autistic people shouldn’t be forced to fit into a neurotypical environment.

I’m just interested in hearing from people who were sent to ABA therapy, and whether they think it helped or hindered them in the long run.

I wish it were this simple. It depends a lot on what you're needing and what's offered. Speaking as somebody who hasn't had it but does have a masters in education studies, ABA types of interventions really only make sense for people who are needing help at a pretty basic level and lack the ability to communicate. So, if you're talking about somebody that's nonverbal, ABA to develop a channel of communication is likely one of the only options, but beyond that, it rapidly becomes an inappropriate avenue of treatment. There are a few other times where it makes sense, but it's been vastly overused and that doesn't take into consideration that some of the treatments are rightfully considered abuse.

For folks that do have adequate communication, it makes far more sense to engage in other forms of therapy and accommodation. Just teaching us how to adjust the environment around us when possible makes a significant difference as does learning how to cope with the stuff that we can't change. ABA is a blunt instrument that dosn't really help much in terms of self help or adaptability anyways.



skibum
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30 Dec 2023, 1:02 pm

I wasn't diagnosed until I was 47 but I have young Autistic cousins and some of them have had ABA therapy. From what I hear from their parents, it was horrible. And for people who will say that ABA has changed, my youngest cousin who went through it is currently seven years old so it was not long ago that she had ABA. It did more damage than good. I have also researched a lot about ABA and from the research I have done, I am really thankful that I did not have to go through that.

On the flip side, I have an adult Autistic friend who chose to do ABA therapy as an adult. She is also fully independent and competent and can make her own choices about her medical health and everything else in her life. She said it really helped her and she was glad she did it. I think that if you do it by choice as an Autistic adult where you are in control of the therapy and therapist that you get, it can be a good thing. But I do not think that forcing children into it is the best way to go.


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DirkGently69
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30 Dec 2023, 8:09 pm

Thank you for the replies. They have been very informative, and also back my view of what ABA therapy is like. I found Skibum’s revelation that his adult friend chose to engage in ABA therapy interesting. I also think that being able to choose to go, choose your therapist would make a huge difference in the experience. Forcing a child to do it make me think of Pavlov and his experiments with his dog.



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31 Dec 2023, 8:28 am

I don't know much about ABA therapy. Except that they are supposed to punish the kids for not behave in the right way. Like spraying vinegar in their eyes if they do hand flapping or don't give them a cookie unless they look them in the eye or let them hug them. How do you apply that kind of therapy to a consenting adult? If they tried that on me it would only piss me off.


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ASPartOfMe
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01 Jan 2024, 11:51 am

It is mainly used on Autistic children, especially in the United States where it has become a monopoly as far as Autistic therapies are concerned.

It started mostly using aversives including corporal punishments and electric shocks to eliminate undesired behaviors. Nowadays it is mostly positive reinforcements.

Because there are a lot of insurance payments involved many places label themselves as ABA but they really are not.

Opinion=mine
It is recommended that children receive 25 to 40 hours of ABA therapy per week. Forcing children to do that much of anything is no good, let kids be kids. ABA is part of a larger societal problem of overly micromanaging children's lives. Kids mature at different rates.

ABA proponents justify all those hours because studies say clients lose the desired behaviors quickly. Putting aside “desired behaviors” that says to me your product is flawed. That says to me the kids are not learning what is being taught but are just doing the “right things” to please the adult therapist.

There is no financial incentive to prove less time consuming therapies are more effective

Financial incentives plus micromanaging leads to over-diagnosis of Autism is young children. This is bad for children for obvious reasons but also for Autistic adults who have not been diagnosed because their “milder” autism was not recognized when they were growing up. The perception of over diagnosis leads to clinicians with a bias against diagnosing the non obvious or mild cases. The perception of over diagnosis also dissuades adults from seeking a diagnosis because convince themselves they are attention seekers or that they weak people who just have to learn to tough out like other adults do with normal life challenges, but autism is often more then that.

The desired behaviors are what neurotypical therapists and their parent clients judge they are. The result is often suppression of natural autistic behaviors leading to all sorts of mental illnesses because the child even with positive reinforcement is being constantly taught their natural behaviors are bad. It must be noted that some natural behaviors are a danger to themselves and others and need to be altered. Whether ABA is the best way to do that is questionable.

So many hours of ABA teaches children to become overly reliant on others leading to being taken advantage of when they are older.

ABA therapists often use language such as “extinguishing tantruming”. Tantrums are willful behaviors designed to get something. Autistic meltdowns which often look like tantrums are an uncontrolled reaction to overstimulation, frustration etc. That these therapists so often do not understand the difference makes me suspicious of the whole enterprise.

That all said with ABA as in life in general there is no one size fits all. It will help some people but overall it is a bad thing.


I can not answer the poll because there was no ABA when I was growing up we were mostly what we call today “free range children” given a lot more independence under the assumption that the best way to learn things is through trial and painful error. While there was plenty of pain that could have been avoided and left scars that way of growing up did help me understand what works and what does not work for me. I think if I grew up under an ABA regime I would have been driven insane and would not be posting here because I would be dead or too mentally ill.


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01 Jan 2024, 10:25 pm

They didn't have ABA in the 80s when I was first diagnosed and I feel that I've lucked out. I would have hated going through the same number of hours of therapy that I'd have to spend at school. If I went through all that, I wouldn't be alive today.


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Benjamin the Donkey
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02 Jan 2024, 1:14 am

autisticelders wrote:
I was too early for ABA, but my parents applied "compliance training" and controlled everything all my life, with physical punishment for the slightest infraction. Even before I could speak I was getting spanked and having my hands whacked. I did not understand until around age 8 or 9 why I was being punished. My processing is too slow!
I learned nothing but how to be wary, hyper vigilant, and to please others at all costs to myself, no matter who asked or what they asked of me.
It did not end well. I got therapy at age 30 after years of suicidal thoughts and finally acting upon those. I have spent my life time recovering from that early abuse.

Focus only on pleasing others to avoid pain or pressure to perform does not shape a child's sense of confidence, competence, or ability to make independent decisions. Teaching a child to obey no matter what, is not healthy. Results are suicidality, anxiety, depression, learned helplessness and CPTSD. And likely others as well.

Most autistic people above a certain age got regular and intensive "amateur ABA," otherwise known as bullying, from parents, teachers, and peers.


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ASPartOfMe
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02 Jan 2024, 6:29 am

Benjamin the Donkey wrote:
autisticelders wrote:
I was too early for ABA, but my parents applied "compliance training" and controlled everything all my life, with physical punishment for the slightest infraction. Even before I could speak I was getting spanked and having my hands whacked. I did not understand until around age 8 or 9 why I was being punished. My processing is too slow!
I learned nothing but how to be wary, hyper vigilant, and to please others at all costs to myself, no matter who asked or what they asked of me.
It did not end well. I got therapy at age 30 after years of suicidal thoughts and finally acting upon those. I have spent my life time recovering from that early abuse.

Focus only on pleasing others to avoid pain or pressure to perform does not shape a child's sense of confidence, competence, or ability to make independent decisions. Teaching a child to obey no matter what, is not healthy. Results are suicidality, anxiety, depression, learned helplessness and CPTSD. And likely others as well.

Most autistic people above a certain age got regular and intensive "amateur ABA," otherwise known as bullying, from parents, teachers, and peers.

There has always been attempts at manipulating behavior both with good intent and for sadistic and ego boosting reasons. With the latter manipulating behavior is a tool not the main goal.

Applied Behavioral Analysis is the scientific study of how behavior works. Applied Behavioral Analysis therapies are therapies based on Applied Behavioral Analysis. “ABA” when used informally on Wrong Planet and elsewhere usually refers the therapies. I am going to use “ABA” to refer to the therapies.

I think it is more accurate to say that ABA is a subcategory of behavior manipulation than every other type behavior manipulation being amateur ABA.

A common earlier form of well intended harmful behavior manipulation was corporal punishment based on the then conventional wisdom that if you “spare the rod, you spoil the child”.

“Bully” is a pejorative because it is associated with malevolent intent. Whether bad intent or “just” repeated aggressive behavior is bullying depends on who is defining the term.

ABA critics contend ABA is an updated form of bullying. ABA defenders use the fact that a lot of organizations call themselves ABA but really are not to say “it’s them, not us”.


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Last edited by ASPartOfMe on 02 Jan 2024, 10:05 am, edited 1 time in total.

JamesW
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02 Jan 2024, 9:05 am

When any kind of treatment or therapy for children markets itself primarily as helping the parents, it is a very, very big red flag.



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02 Jan 2024, 4:44 pm

I have no personal experience with ABA.

I am good friends with the founder and retired executive director of one of the two largest autism services organizations in my city; i was on the board of the organization and still am on the state-mandated special review committee. She is appalled by ABA, and it is never ever been used in her organization. She believes autistic children should be permitted to be autistic, and they must be taught to socialize within the confines of their autism. The other large shop in town is run by ABA true believers and psychologists who have provided the "research" for ABA.

My gut is to support my friend.



BillyTree
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03 Jan 2024, 11:30 am

Benjamin the Donkey wrote:
Most autistic people above a certain age got regular and intensive "amateur ABA," otherwise known as bullying, from parents, teachers, and peers.


There are a lot of "amateur ABA therapists" still out there working their asses off.


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Chiliwailer
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04 Jan 2024, 4:10 pm

This is sad, linking ABA to PTSD symptoms in some people - https://d1wqtxts1xzle7.cloudfront.net/5 ... GGSLRBV4ZA



skibum
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04 Jan 2024, 8:03 pm

BillyTree wrote:
I don't know much about ABA therapy. Except that they are supposed to punish the kids for not behave in the right way. Like spraying vinegar in their eyes if they do hand flapping or don't give them a cookie unless they look them in the eye or let them hug them. How do you apply that kind of therapy to a consenting adult? If they tried that on me it would only piss me off.
I imagine it's done very differently with a consenting adult.


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skibum
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04 Jan 2024, 8:05 pm

Benjamin the Donkey wrote:
autisticelders wrote:
I was too early for ABA, but my parents applied "compliance training" and controlled everything all my life, with physical punishment for the slightest infraction. Even before I could speak I was getting spanked and having my hands whacked. I did not understand until around age 8 or 9 why I was being punished. My processing is too slow!
I learned nothing but how to be wary, hyper vigilant, and to please others at all costs to myself, no matter who asked or what they asked of me.
It did not end well. I got therapy at age 30 after years of suicidal thoughts and finally acting upon those. I have spent my life time recovering from that early abuse.

Focus only on pleasing others to avoid pain or pressure to perform does not shape a child's sense of confidence, competence, or ability to make independent decisions. Teaching a child to obey no matter what, is not healthy. Results are suicidality, anxiety, depression, learned helplessness and CPTSD. And likely others as well.

Most autistic people above a certain age got regular and intensive "amateur ABA," otherwise known as bullying, from parents, teachers, and peers.
You make an excellent point!!


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