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Autie_Dragon
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20 Feb 2018, 9:02 pm

So a colleague that does not know that I am Autistic also works as an ABA therapist-aide. We have disagreed on the use of ABA on multiple occasions, so they know where I stand. But they have now gently challenged me (in that it wasn't a direct challenge but I'm taking it as one) to volunteer there. They have assured me that I will not have ANY problems with the staff or the therapy, and that the only problem that I may have is with the "clients" (in that many of the people they work with are self-injurious, play with their feces, or become violent when stressed). I am very upset, but I find myself wondering if I should do it? If only to get a better sense of it. A lot of information about therapies and "treatments" for autistic people is based around the US, and I don't know how it differs in Canada. I also have never been through any ABA myself, so I feel an almost masochistic/morbid urge to see it in person? Is that bad?

I don't know, I need some advice. Any opinions?



B19
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20 Feb 2018, 11:26 pm

How many hours of training did this aid have before being allowed to work at this establishment? 40 or less? Most get into this as "licensed" by a 40 hour course. So you have the most vulnerable children supervised by very poorly qualified people with no training in wider perspectives or disciplines. It's a recipe for risk to the children they have power over. Their academic knowledge of paediatrics, psychology and nuerology generally is nil, and yet they wear this veneer of professionalism.

I think you would learn something, but at what cost to your own well being?

PS Please bear in mind when they tell you that ABA is "evidence based" that anything can be evidence based if you set the standard low enough. I would not work in such a situation, ever, as I find it morally repugnant, but there you go. You may not.



Autie_Dragon
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21 Feb 2018, 7:29 am

It IS morally repugnant: It's compliance training, it's conversion therapy, it holds so much potential for abuse that it's sickening. I've argued this position. I've defended this position. I lose. The problem is that because I work in early education, I'm going to keep encountering ABA, ABA aides, and ABA proponents. I really don't want to volunteer there, I guess I just thought that maybe having actual experience with it would give more strength to my arguments somehow. I mean, I know logically that I'm not going to argue people into stopping ABA, but I can't help but be frustrated by the persistent belief in it. And also how MANY people believe in it.

PS, I'm sorry, was it not clear that I found ABA repugnant in my original post? I hope I didn't make anyone uncomfortable.



Last edited by Autie_Dragon on 21 Feb 2018, 7:34 am, edited 1 time in total.

AspieSingleDad
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21 Feb 2018, 7:33 am

I share B19's assessment on this as well. I don't think it's *wrong* to participate in order to see what it's like, but you might end up learning more than you bargained for. You might find it depressing to see how much parents of autistics are relying on people who are so completely inept and inexperienced. You already got a description from your coworker of how he views autistics: feces-flinging, violent, self-injurious patients.



Autie_Dragon
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21 Feb 2018, 7:37 am

I know! This coworker's views are disgusting. I just don't know how to deal with the fact that because I work with children, that this type of person is common place.



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21 Feb 2018, 7:45 am

I'm with you. That person is coming from a position of ignorance. There's a possibility that your real underlying motive might be to try to protect these children. One way or the other, I really can't blame you for considering doing this. I'm just thinking about it right now and it bothers me. I'm totally thinking like you are. What's going on at these facilities exactly? Frankly, it makes the imagination boggle.

Again, I don't think it's wrong for you to do, but the more I think about it, I'd counsel you to really not do it. It's not like you can fix things. You'd probably witness things you don't agree with and that may not even resemble being the right way to handle these children, and yet be unable to do anything about it. If I was put in that position, I'd become extremely anxious and depressed.



sunshinescj
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21 Feb 2018, 9:07 am

Question for you folks. I'm by no means a proponent of stim suppression, compliance training, and forcing NT behavior but therapy for autistics should be evidence based and an analysis of our behavior after all we are by and large all across the spectrum, logical people. If ABA didn't do the bad things but taught skills would it be bad? Can one have ABA without these things?



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21 Feb 2018, 1:29 pm

As they say the decision is up to you. Having more autistics involved in ABA would make it less bad. But understand for the first few years you are going to have to do what they are paying you to do. After you prove yourself to them they MIGHT listen to your opinions.

If you really to doing it just to learn you are going to have to work at several facilities, hang out with them after work, join forums for ABA workers. That is not something I would be able to handle.

There is ABA where they do not repress stims etc. IMHO they can sugercoat it, reform it, use all sorts politically correct positive wording it can not change the core of what it is.

Just the fact that your friend has not picked up you are autistic speaks volumes. It is fairly typical of the lack of knowlege of autism I have seen from ABA defenders. An example is I see them often use the word “tantrum” or “tantruming”. A tantrum is a willfull behavoir to manipulate others, an autistic meltdown is the result of frustration or overload.


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B19
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21 Feb 2018, 3:33 pm

^Agreed.

AD, 35 years ago, I saw - in person - the ardent behaviourist Lovaas beat up a 12 year old autistic boy in front of a professional audience, and I am still traumatised by the memory. I wish I had flung poo at him.