ABA Therapy is not abusive nor is it ablesit

ABA therapy is not abusive. It’s not ableist, nor is it conversion therapy, either.

Our autistic children don’t do ABA therapy from some misplaced parental desire to make them “normal”, and nor is it to eliminate their autism. They’re in therapy because they need to learn the essential skills to keep them safe, happy, and independent, and to not make an earnest attempt at this would be wrong.

Our children are in therapy to learn that running in front of cars is dangerous. So they can learn to communicate, through their own voice or through the speakers on a tablet. So they can get dressed by themselves. To tolerate eating the foods they need to be healthy. And to use the bathroom in a sanitary and dignified way of which everyone is worthy.

Autism is a broad spectrum, so while many higher-functioning autistics can navigate society without much help, there are many others, like my son, who need substantial support for the most basic everyday functions. In addition to lovingly helping them, to — in the name of neurodiversity — not help them learn to help themselves would be nothing short of negligent and cruel. 

I’m not ready to accept that almost all of Charlie’s thoughts and feelings may forever be trapped lonely in his mind, frustrating him and isolating him from the world. A translation could exist — therapy for Charlie means professionals working full-time to access it. 

I’m not ready to accept that he’ll never have a sense of danger, that every moment of his life outside the home will require holding hands. 

And I am not ready to accept that Charlie may never be independent enough to use the bathroom with the dignity befitting any and all humans. 

So, until there’s not an ounce of hope left in me — until forever — our family will work with Charlie to work *for* Charlie, whether that’s ABA therapy or whichever type of help will help. 

If in your eyes, that makes me an abusive mother, I don’t need to know what a good mom is.

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  • Reply
    2020-07-17 at 8:23 PM

    Hey, Eileen!

    I found your blog after browsing through Google. I love what you’re posting, especially this article on ABA therapy not being abusive.

    I actually created a resource for your text “aba therapy”, which is a link to a free aba resource and progamme which might be interesting for your readers if they’re looking for further information on this topic.

    Would you want for me to send it over?

    I hope you have a great day,

    Thank you,

  • Reply
    2020-09-21 at 2:31 AM

    LMAO, You clearly have never actually listened to autistic people about why ABA is bad. The things you say you want for your son can all be achieved just fine through therapy that ISN’T ABA, and won’t leave your child struggling with trauma when he’s older.

  • Reply
    Meghan Mengel
    2020-12-05 at 2:26 AM

    I found your site because I have picked apart this issue for years and I have had such a hard time articulating myself the way you have. We have worked so hard to support our son’s learning style, and interests, to love him as he is and meet him where he is and its because of these things that we reached for ABA–Because we want to teach him how to keep himself safe, and how to care for himself. The first thing our therapist taught him was “No” which he was able to communicate non verbally prior to working with her. Now he can back his “No” with an emphatic verbal command for those who may not fully understand him the way we do. I can talk all day long but as a trauma survivor I struggled with not having a voice in this life–along came my son and the last thing I was going to do was have him feel unheard–regardless of language. Its my job to protect him and equip him for life. Thank you for your article it really resonated in my heart.

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