Diagnosed in 2020 - ABA Commentary + Looking to Help Others

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What is a helpful approach to ASD treatment/therapy?
ABA 0%  0%  [ 0 ]
RDI 33%  33%  [ 1 ]
DIR/Floorplay 0%  0%  [ 0 ]
Other 67%  67%  [ 2 ]
Total votes : 3

Emu Egg
Emu Egg

Joined: 2 Oct 2023
Age: 22
Gender: Male
Posts: 1
Location: Charlotte, NC

02 Oct 2023, 9:03 am

Hey everyone!

I am brand new here. So let me start with a little bit about myself. I'm Sky, a 21 year old male from the middle east living in the United States. I was diagnosed with ASD in 2020, after a tumultuous upbringing that had until that point been explained away by a mixture of several mental health disorders. I was evaluated for ASD after seeing a new psychiatrist for about six months. Essentially, I had been told until that point that I likely had Borderline Personality Disorder, Sensory Processing Disorder, Schizoaffective Disorder, PTSD, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. After being evaluated by a third professional, it turned out that I am on the spectrum.

Around the same time, I had begun work in healthcare (2020 was not quite the time to get into that profession) as an Emergency Room Technician. When the virus hit, everyone in my unit under the age of 25 was pulled to the COVID ICU. It was also around this time I began dating a person who would later diagnose themselves with autism (my personal feelings on self-diagnosis aren't one's I'll get into too much detail here, but it is generally not favorable). This person would go on to become a Registered Behavioral Technician later in the relationship, and to my knowledge is now studying for their masters degree to become a BCBA.

Having taken an interest in their line of work, and being a clinical professional of a different sort, I decided that maybe being an RBT would be an avenue I could explore for meaningful work while I worked on my bachelor's degree (which is not in a healthcare field). I already have an Associate's Degree in Nursing which ended up not being a field I saw myself in long term.

Here's the thing... I am week three of training, have completed the "classroom" portion of RBT education required by the BACB, and am doing research about ABA at large. Having been diagnosed late in life, and with a low level ASD diagnosis, I was never subjected to ABA. Working for the clinic I do, I didn't really see any harm in ABA. After all, we're not shocking or spanking kids, so we aren't hurting them, right? Then, I realized something: These kids changed, and drastically after just a few weeks with my clinic. Some of the kids I absolutely adored working with when they first arrived seemed much more muted and monotonous just a few weeks later. It was sort of unnerving, as they seem like shells of their former selves motivated only to do what either gets them to their next break, or some sort of reward.

ABA, even from the clinician's point of view (though as a diagnosed person my perspective is different), doesn't really help anyone. It just seems to train them to fit into a box that is palatable for the world. It relies on Pavlovian techniques akin to training animals to reduce or promote behaviors based on what society thinks is acceptable, or what is easier for the parent.

I want to work with kids who need the help I did as a child, at least until I start my longer term career. No other means of supporting myself in the short term feels meaningful enough to keep me engaged. I do know now that ABA isn't the way I want to go about that, because it's just promoting the erasure of the identity of persons with autism. I've been reading about things liike RDI and DIR/Floorplay, and both seem compelling as alternatives.

The reason for this post is to a) confirm that my perception of ABA is correct. Is it as bad as I think it is? I know it used to be much worse, but even its modern application seems far from ideal. b) What else is there that I can study and employ to help people? I think it is incredibly important that persons with autism old enough to help their younger counterparts do so, and I want to put my own action behind that sentiment. Are RDI/DIR viable alternatives? Should I be looking for something else?

Any and all thoughts are welcome.

Double Retired

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Joined: 31 Jul 2020
Age: 69
Gender: Male
Posts: 5,045
Location: U.S.A.         (Mid-Atlantic)

02 Oct 2023, 9:43 am

I was born in 1954 and had Asperger's Syndrome...but the DSM didn't have it until 1994 so I was just a "weird" kid. I went through life feeling "different" but not knowing what the difference was (though I thought my well-above-average IQ could've been a factor).

It was not until 2019 that I got an Adult Autism Assessment...out of curiosity. I wasn't seeking treatment or special accommodations, I just wanted to know. My diagnosis was Autism Spectrum Disorder, Level 1 (Mild).

My Dad was still alive then so I was able to get some insight into how Autism affected my early childhood. Dad told me that Mom and he saw that I was doing "weird" things but they decided I wasn't being bad, I was just like that, so they decided not to punish me. That is, in effect, my parents practiced what I think today would be called "Autism Acceptance."

Overall, it worked. I've been in the military, I've been to college, and I've done well enough that I was able to retire comfortably at age 56. My social life was less than stellar but I found friends in Mensa. And though it took me a long time, I eventually found a gal to marry in 2000...and we are still happily married.

So, if possible, I'd say Autism Acceptance is worth trying. The kid might need some nudging and assistance every once in a while...but don't all kids?

When diagnosed I bought champagne!
I finally knew why people were strange.


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Joined: 17 Jan 2019
Age: 35
Gender: Male
Posts: 1,707
Location: PNW USA

02 Oct 2023, 9:46 am

ABA is nothing more that glorified Dog Training and nothing short of abusive. As for other treatments? it really depends on the individual and what the goal of "treatment" is.


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Joined: 25 Aug 2013
Age: 66
Gender: Male
Posts: 33,936
Location: Long Island, New York

05 Oct 2023, 9:24 am

Welcome to Wrong Planet.

ABA is a contentious and complicated subject in the greater Autism community. In my 10 years of following Autism subjects most Autistics I have read have a highly negative view of it for the reasons stated above. The U.S. military has rejected it for their families.

In America unlike most of the rest of the world ABA holds a monopoly on Autism treatments. This means ABA is considered the “gold standard” treatment. This means most of the jobs, funding, and insurance mandates are geared towards ABA.

As for you, you have to approach these other treatments as you did with ABA, research them, do some work in field etc. Exploring career options at age 21 is typical and expected.

Professionally Identified and joined WP August 26, 2013
DSM 5: Autism Spectrum Disorder, DSM IV: Aspergers Moderate Severity

“My autism is not a superpower. It also isn’t some kind of god-forsaken, endless fountain of suffering inflicted on my family. It’s just part of who I am as a person”. - Sara Luterman


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Joined: 21 Sep 2019
Gender: Female
Posts: 9,996
Location: Outter Quadrant

05 Oct 2023, 9:50 am

Can easily agree with the opinions here on ABA ......rather digusted with all the information, I have seen on this topic
over the years .. It does concern me for the future of Autistic children here in this country .. :(

Diagnosed hfa
Loves velcro,
where ever you go ,there you are