Not a fan of ABA!

Mariah - posted on 01/02/2012 ( 39 moms have responded )

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I know this may cause controversy but I am very deeply opposed to ABA and cringe every time I hear about it. I know there may be many people who like it and feel that it has helped their child, but I am troubled that it is even still in use. I despise the idea of training a child like an animal, to discourage certain symptoms and behaviors associated with ASD, without any real attempt to understand them. I am also very bothered by the use of food items as "motivators." Why would we want to create a food centered reward system? Again, these are people, not puppies. The very philosophy behind ABA is that Autism is not ok, and that Autistic behaviors are to be eradicated. For someone with Autism to be told the very behaviors they use to comfort, soothe, calm and center themselves are intolerable and therefore bad, is a tragic message. Wouldn't it be wonderful to tell our children that it's ok to be Autistic? Although there have been cases where people come out of Autism completely, most people will never be symptom free. Do we want their entire life to become a message of you are who you are and it's not ok? So sad. I have worked with autistic children, and if I found out my child was autistic I would never use ABA! I would treat them like an individual capable of anything, not just able to tie a shoe or use a spoon when forced to sit in a chair and earn a cookie! I welcome all opinions, except hate mail lol.

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Maria - posted on 01/16/2012

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I am not at all surprised that you dislike the idea of ABA most people who had learned concept based education find it distasteful.



You have been taught to believe that teaching a concept first allows the child to then apply and generalize and even better apply the experience to their schema (their own experience in their own life).



However, you need to stop thinking like an educated educator and start thinking like a child with autism. Fragment the information coming in to your brain. Find it hard to find anything to grab unto. Then get frustrated and angry because you don't understand and people keep wanting something from you but you don't understand what. You want to please them soooo much but what do they want?



Now let me tell you about my twin sons' experience with ABA: Tony with Autism in ABA for 3 years, the other Bobby Aspergers' in ABA for 1 year.



Tony started ABA at 4 years old in preschool. He was in preschool at 3 years old but had speech and OT starting at ~20 months. Tony started speaking at 2 and reading at 2.5 years. In the classroom at 3 he was taking all the special ed teacher's time and he was not understanding how a classroom worked by the other kids modeling the behavior or the additional time they tried to give him every day.



Once he got his diagnosis he began ABA. The high level of repetition got his attention. They asked about a favorite food and used it only at first. The likeness to training dogs may seem distasteful to you, but you are modifying behavior by first capturing their attention while they learn how to learn. That is appropriate for at 1-2 year old which is where he was behaviorally -- learning to learn. And just like dogs they stop needing the food reinforcement after they transfer to the joy of pleasing the grown up. Again just like kids who have learned how to make Mom and Dad clap by doing something great like rolling over or walking. We don't even know how much we are reinforcing just by celebrating every success.



Now back to Tony's story: he quickly passed the need for food reinforcement, and the high repetition helped him learn. From his perspective the repetition gives him a chance to learn what to listen for: is that the part they want me to pay attention to? He is given the question and the answer and learns what an appropriate response is to that question. When he hears that question he now knows what the answer is -- he now has encouragement guaranteed when he gives the response they want. Celebration! Success! That feels great, they understand me! New question and answer, hey, I know now what the process is -- that is the answer.



Through repetition they learn to generalize -- and I know that sounds backwards to you. But they are learning how to learn. Much more basic than we are used to starting, but a basic block that is needed to build on.



ABA is not to be used for a lifetime, just until the process of learning is understood. Tony moved on to the modules that taught him how to be a student, how to interact with other kids. I still remember when Tony started asking me or his brother to play with him. He had practiced it over and over at school so he had generalized it to his home life.



He was mainstreamed after a 2-year ABA Kindergarten program. He still has an aid, but he understood how to be a student.



Bobby was in the ABA classroom for one year after he had been unsuccessfully mainstreamed in Kindergarten. In that one year he learned how to be a student and how to interact with other kids. He was mainstreamed to 1st grade with an aid. They are now both in 3rd grade at 9 years old and are success stories for ABA.



It is totally backward to use repetition to learn how to generalize, and it is uncomfortable to use food to get kid's attention, but it does work. Autistic kids will use that rolodex of learned responses for the rest of their lives, but they have to learn to BUILD that rolodex or list of responses first. Both my sons have learned how to come up with their own responses, but like it or not, that list gives them security that they will be able to come up with something.



I strongly disagree that it eradicates all things that are autistic, I believe it helps them learn how to take advantage of the way their brain works. As to stopping the things that soothe them. I think you are misinterpreting what you've seen. My Tony was given a peanut ball to sit on so he could continue his vestibular movements. They are taught to self regulate, and that they don't need to self-soothe all the time. Just like a baby learns that they don't need a pacifier all the time, they learn not to rely on their soothing motion so much. Again, they are learning early basic blocks that most kids learn earlier.



Now, as to your comment that they are being told it isn't okay to be autistic? Again I disagree strongly. We are not changing who they are. We are helping them learn basic building blocks of communication, interaction and how to be a human in our society. Just like we teach babies and toddlers -- are we telling toddlers it's not okay to be toddlers when we teach them to use a toilet?



We teach all children how to please us. We teach them how questions and answers work. Elementary school is meant to teach them how to be a student. ABA starts much further back then we are used to for even preschool. And that doesn't mean that the parents didn't do their job. Our kids need more time to learn those basics, and we as parents don't inherently know how to help our kids whose minds work so differently from ours.



My boys are success stories, and I KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt that ABA was immensely responsible for laying the ground work for their current success.



I hope I have given you some things to think about.

Maria :P

Ruth - posted on 01/16/2012

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I was an instructor therapist for almost two years. I have worked with children who have Autism who were age 6 to 15. Some of them were helped with the use of IBI/ABA, and some were not.



The principles of IBI/ABA focus on the function of a particular behaviour and try to address that. I know that to some it may seem like "training an animal", as in Pavlov's experimenting with dogs, but the truth is that all of us are motivated by different things, and get Reinforcement from the things we do that encourage us to do those things again in the future.



That being said, I know that ABA/IBI is very exhausting to keep up and can promote rigidity in a child's behaviour and speech. I feel that as in any "treatment" or intervention, there are good things and bad things about it.

Janet - posted on 01/05/2012

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Wow. That's some full on hate there. LOL. Sorry that just struck me as.. wow.

Alright, I'm gonna step out on a limb here and say that I'm a big fan of ABA - BUT I also am a big fan of other therapies and I use the philosophy "Take what you need and leave the rest". I also use a combination of therapies that have worked with my children - and for each child its different.

I DO NOT talk to my child as if they were a puppy, I rarely use food motivators, but its HUMAN nature to need to be motivated to do something - otherwise those motivational speakers out there making a mint wouldn't really have any employment would they?

In regards to making them learn like every other kid, why would you do that when they're NOT like every other kid? If they learn differently then teach them differently - and keep trying something different until you find what one works for them!

As for my thoughts on the terms under the ASD/"Autistic" moniker, I've tried to sum that up (Yesterday in fact) and I've probably failed, but have a look: http://nbmomma.blogspot.com/2012/01/of-s...

*Coughs* Jenny McCarthy's "cure" was actually that her child had Landua-Keffler Syndrome which is not under the Autism Spectrum Umbrella, but is similar - changes in diet and firm parenting (which is sometimes what ABA can be) helped him.

ABA is not really about surpressing their natural urges - but helping them learn to make the choices on APPROPRIATE behavior. Just because you're 13 year old boy wants to masturbate all the time, doens't mean its appropriate for him to do so. If he wants to do that, you tell him to do it in his own room, by himself. If my 6 year old daughter feels the compulsion to hop up and down, a trampoline is the PERFECT place for her to do that - her bed at midnight is not. Just like grandma said, there's a time and a place for everything and these must be taught.

I hope you have better luck in the future with how you choose to help your children. God bless :)

Janet - posted on 01/06/2012

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Quoted from Mariah - "The example given of masturbation is not entirely applicable to this. Any child should be told the appropriate limits of this behavior. A better example would be a child who rocks or flaps their hands being trained not to do that. Many Autistic people have expressed an inability to feel their bodies, especially in relation to space. This can leave them feeling like a mind floating in space, totally detached. The rocking and flapping allows them to feel their bodies and their relation to the world around them. Who cares if it brings stares at the mall? Who cares if it's not typical behavior? Another example could be making loud noises. One Autistic individual explained that she creates "output" by making noise, to block some of the overwhelming sensory "input." Again, who cares if most people don't make noise? Who cares if people stare or want to be uncomfortable? If people stared at your child who couldn't walk would you spend hours and hours trying to train them to walk when they can't? Of course individuals with Autism can have limits set, can have boundaries to behaviors, they are still children. But, let the limits be appropriate to the individual and their needs, not curtailed to a closed minded and uneducated public"



I'm going to respond directly to this little chunk of posting here. Both of my daughters are about "mid range" autistic - They can speak, but are not always understood. The example of masturbation is an extreme - but the one that followed, which you didn't mention, was of someone hopping. Both of my children do various things when they are upset, overwhelmed or excited. One of them is hopping - others include toe walking, making noises, spinning, echolalia etc etc.. My point is not that I make them STOP doing the behavoir that gives them comfort, but I recognize firstly, what it means when they begin to do that, for them - and secondly, to show that that its OKAY for them to do that at certain times, or to show them a socially acceptable and SIMILAR activity that would serve the same purpose for them - that will help THEM.



I'll tell you a little story - My daughter is 6 years old and in grade one. Getting close to Christmas this year, she was getting very very very excited. It was as though she couldn't contain herself - and she has to try hard at school, because she WANTS to fit in. One morning, she woke up and said "Momma, I'm sick." I checked her all over, and she didn't seem sick, but she did seem upset. So I asked her, because sometimes with my daughter, if she's too upset to express herself, if you ASK her she is able to answer yes or no (which is LEAPS AND BOUNDS from the year before even when she couldn't do that).



She said "Yes. I'm upset. And I'll make noises." Through various very small sentences, it came to the point that I figured out and said to her "You don't want to go to school because you're upset and that means you will make noises?" "Yes." she said.

"Okay, can you not make the noises?"

"No. And they will laugh.".

"Who will laugh?"

"The kids."



She stayed home that day. I would never put her in a situation that SHE knows SHE can't handle.



I think to paint people with the "bad" brush because they choose to use ABA (along with communication tools, PECS, social stories etc etc) is quite unfair. I have never, nor has anyone on the team we use to work with our children, been "cruel, cold and devestating" to my children.



Quite the opposite - We try to take into account what they need with what will help them cope in the world outside their own. I also try to work on society's view on "acceptable". Its very easy for us to stand back and judge another person - we have no idea really what their life is like. I encourage everyone - my friends, family and strangers - to be accepting and understanding to things that, although they may *think* they do, they probably know very little about.



I will not always be around for my kids - its up to me to help prepare them, and the world, for when I can't be there as a mediator.

Kristina - posted on 08/20/2013

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I think you have the wrong idea about what ABA is. I have gone through two different companies for ABA services, the first company was all about getting information from me on my childs behavior, the second is all about helping my son become more self sufficient. We do not work on his stimming, we work on communication because my son is non-verbal both at home and in public. We work on sesonary problems so that he can tolerate things like haircuts nails be cut, teeth brushed, taking a shower. It is all about helping him do things for himself, about being non destructive. Yes we sometimes use food but we also use other rewards as well. As parents we teach our childern how to behave, what is acceptable, how to be selve ssufficient. When a child has Autism we need some help doing that.

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Kant - posted on 08/14/2013

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You sound like you have no experience with ABA. I use ABA with my typical children . It works. It isn't what you say it is. We all learn these things as children it doesn't ruin us or hurt us when our parents Teach us how to communicate tie our shoes ect. Aba just breaks those skills down and increases the social reinforcement and fades out as a skill is mastered. Positive reinforcement is effective at shaping everyone's behavior. Why do we go to work? Why do we say hello? Ask how people are doing? Ect. You might want to actually see aba not just assume. I worked in a special Ed class for five years when I started working in ABA I was amazed at the progress and told myself I would never return to a school again. Too depressing!

Jane - posted on 01/22/2013

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Depending on the severity of a child's autism, it may not be "ok". My own child's autism caused him great distress, agitation, aggression. Aba changed his life. Taught him to communicate and replaced maladaptive behavior (aggression) with coping skills. Although still severely autistic, he is now a happy, engaged child. Aba is a lot more than teaching discreet skills if done correctly! We tried many other interventions. Nothing else worked. Aba is a godsend to us.

Meri - posted on 01/04/2013

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I want to thank you for posting your opinion and encouraging others to share theirs on this topic. I have felt much the same way that you did. My son will be 17 this month with Asperger's and significant executive functioning limitations. I stayed away from anything that seemed anything at all like ABA. I appreciate the stories from parents who have had positive experiences. I feel less critical since reading some of them. My son also has significant social challenges, enough so that he has a 1:1 paraeducator in High School. He can't stand having an adult shadowing him all day long but his behavior is deliberately provoking or annoying. I sometimes wonder if ABA therapy might have helped him be a happier, more accepted teenager.

Amy - posted on 01/04/2013

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ABA is the ONLY intervention scientifically proven to help autistic people. That is why we chose it for our son, long before Jenny McCarthy's son was helped by it. I don't give a rat's behind what Jenny McCarthy thinks...my son's developmental pediatrician told me at the time of his dx that the only thing that "might" help him was a 40-hour-per-week ABA program, so that's what we did. If it hadn't helped him, we would have quit, but it did help him, and is still helping him now, 9 years since we started. My son has always really enjoyed it, and has always gotten very excited when the therapists come to work with him, because the lessons are fun, and he is a child that loves learning (he also loves to go to school). Because of ABA therapy, my son can speak, bathe himself, brush his teeth, make his bed, do his own laundry, ride a bike, swim, eat in restaurants, walk safely near streets without needing to hold hands, play with our pets gently, respond to affection, read above grade level, do math at nearly grade level, cope with changes in his routine. Because of ABA, my son is no longer a child that is constantly struggling to function outside of his own home...he is able to go anywhere that any other child his age goes. People compliment us all the time on his good manners and happy, joyful disposition. Teachers love to have him in their class, and say that he is funny, bright, and a joy. We do not do ABA because we believe in training our child "like a puppy"; we do ABA because it has improved the quality of his life exponentially. Our goal has never been to "cure autism", it has been to help our child live the highest quality of life that is possible for him to live, just like any other parent wants for their kid. My son will always have autism, and that is just fine, that is who he is and we love him so much we can't really imagine him any other way. We accept him, cherish him, and are very very proud of him, AND we are still doing ABA. We do it because we love him, not because we want to "change who he is".

Renee - posted on 12/27/2012

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I used to be a Behavior Interventionist and did ABA for about 5 years.I am also a special needs assistant for the school district.I have two young children with Autism.I started with ABA but my own version with my son.The trick is to be a big part of it and not let your children be put in isolation with Therapists and then go back to your own routine when they leave.It's so important to incorporate it into your way of life.It needs to work for your WHOLE FAMILY.Studies have shown that the more parents are involved the better the child does.I quite BA after one year.I didn't like many aspects of it but some i found helpful and use some of the principles but also use RDI,Floortime, Dir etc...I feel like its my job to be the lead therapist and insure my children are getting their needs met.After all, It is MY job. There is some good in everything you just have to tweak it and customize it to fit with your child and your family :)

Autumn - posted on 08/01/2012

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As I was looking up why not to reinforce kids with autism with food I saw your posting. I am sorry your experiance with ABA has not been a good one. A good behaviorist using ABA will disagree with food reinforcers. They are a quick fix which build a bigger problem and is a hard reinforcer to fade. I work for a school for autistic children and we use ABA however we are against using food as a reinforcer. As far as I know ABA is trying to move away from food reinforcers. I agree a person will do anything when they get a tangible item. It is important to help these children learn self control and self soothing when their behaviors get hard to handle instead of giving them a treat to be good. The problem with food reinforcers are eventually they will run out then what dose the person do to handle the child. When the child learns to self control and is reniforced with social praise ( as a typical functioning child) they learn self control intead of how to earn a treat. Yes there is no cure for autism however they can learn self control.

Leanna - posted on 02/08/2012

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Autistic people are the people of the future. More kids are being diagnosed with autism now than ever before.This is not a disability but evolution of the human race. Using food as a reward can also promote obesity. ABA is a very inhumane practice.

Mariah - posted on 02/03/2012

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: ) To those addressing me directly in a condescending and patronizing manner, we can all claim to be experts on any given subject due to our own direct experiences. Explaining how your one experience with your one or two children went doesn't make you any more "right" than me. You also do not know my level of experience or education, so please don't direct comments at me about what you believe I have or have not been exposed to. The argument that someone who disagrees with you must just be uninformed, uneducated, inexperienced, or plain stupid doesn't fly. I did not intend for anyone to agree, I merely feel passionately about something and wanted to share, knowing that this is exactly the kind of interesting conversation it would create. For those that seem angry that I spoke my mind, it was inspiring enough to get you to share your point of view, and we can all listen and learn. One person said I should not have posted about something that I dislike because this should be only about support and positivity. I shared what was on my mind that I feel strongly about after reading many other posts on the subject. On Circle of Moms and on this particular community any given post can stir up debate. How many of us have read the comment threads in response to a question a mom asked? How many varied and often divergent opinions have we heard? How many open debates and dialogues have been started? It is just as important to share our frustrations and differences as it is to bond over common beliefs. Both activities help us shape our beliefs further. I have enjoyed reading others passionate beliefs. I understand that expressing my dislike for something others support may have ruffled some feathers, but it was a personal attack on no one. Debate away, but please, let's stick to talking about what we like and dislike, and why, without attacking each other personally.

Heather - posted on 01/22/2012

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ABA is highly misunderstood for a variety of reasons. I highly encourage you to take a look at my blog (abamom.blogspot.com). It is not about training a child like an animal. What you refer to is discrete trial training and is only a very small part of what ABA is really about. Also, food motivators are only a first step. Motivators can be a variety of things, including age-appropriate, socially acceptable activities. However, some children have to learn to like these things, learn to try these things and one way to do that is to pair these secondary motivators with primary ones, like food. Another point, ABA is not about discouraging behaviors without attempting to understand them. If this has been your experience, I'm very sorry, you've experienced a very poor ABA professional! ABA is ALL ABOUT understanding the behavior. You cannot reduce the behavior without understanding it's purpose. Behavior communicates something, it has a purpose. ABA is designed to figure out what that something. A good ABA professional will try to reduce that behavior while providing an appropriate, alternative behavior that will serve the same purpose for the individual. It makes me cringe that you have formed these opinions likely due to contact with a poor professional in my field! I hope you'll review my blog and see how useful ABA can be and what it is really about. Maybe I'll change your opinion!

Lisa - posted on 01/17/2012

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I must say, despite the unfortunate fact that there are people out there who just love stirring up controversy, I just love the way this has turned around to be a thread full of help, hope & encouragement. A special thanks to the last 2 moms that posted. And, to the original poster, it just doesn't always work out the way you hope. Sorry about that.

Julie - posted on 01/17/2012

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This is the most helpful contribution I've read and I thank you, Maria Pellegrino. I agree fully that it is all about teaching our children the steps that others not on the spectrum learn naturally over time. It's like they are standing on the bank of a stream with stepping stones in front of them, but they don't automatically know how to get from one to the next, nor how to get to the other side of the stream, which is the main objective of the exercise. So we have to help them learn how to take each step, and this does have to be repeated over and over again because they also don't memorise things as quickly as others either. It is an ongoing process and it applies to every aspect of their lives. I know this from working with my own son to help him. He even now (age 10) needs to be told the steps when he needs to tidy his toys away or tidy his bedroom, and he still needs lots of help and lots of positive reinforcement in the form of "well done, that's brilliant" and also wording such as "you see, you can do it". Positive feedback makes a huge difference with any child (or adult for that matter as it is a two-way street). Through working in this way with my son I have seen so many positive changes, and he is happier for having a slightly better understanding of some aspects of the world around him and how he fits into it, and I will continue to work with him to help him become who he wants to be. If this is ABA, then I've clearly been doing it for three years now without even realising it! As a parent, I have never questioned the way in which my son learns (eg why does my son aged 8 need to be told every step in getting dressed and my nephew the same age doesn't), I have only questioned myself in terms of how can I help him more? And that's what it's all about, helping them. Through positive reinforcement my son will, over time and as he matures emotionally, learn better ways of expressing his feelings. He is already much, much better at explaining verbally when something is troubling him or doesn't feel right for what ever reason, which he couldn't do a year ago, and this is because I've taken him into situations which I know are a challenge for him and encouraged him to explain how it feels, what's going on in his head, and in this way we've worked through so many challenging situations and he is now much more able to cope in those situations because he has learnt to stop, look, and assess a situation in a calm, rational way, rather than panicking because it's crowded and noisy for example. He is now able to find his way across a crowded restaurant without help or panic, whereas a few months ago he couldn't do this at all. Again, we have helped him see something in a different way that makes sense to him. I could go on and on but I'm not going to. I've said enough. All I know is I have helped my son learn to see some things differently and he is a much happier person than three years ago, but there is still a long way to go and I'm there for him all the way.

Morgan - posted on 01/16/2012

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I heavily disagree..I would refer to it as positive reinforcement..it does not nessesarily include food as a reward but also a special toy or use of a laptop if that is what motivates your child...IBI or ABA is the only known therapy that helps these children..thats too bad that you feel they are being taught like animals..i believe you havent done enough research...or what it looks like is poor teaching..very controvershal subject..Sorry I completely disagree with you :s but at the same time respect your opinion :)

Janet - posted on 01/16/2012

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Funny that you think its insulting to think someone needs to be explained as to why they choose a particular therapy, yet it seems to be okay to tell another parent that "I believe you treat your child like a dog if you choose ABA" which is some of the sentiment that was voiced above.



I, for one, would like to hear some more reasoning behind choosing a different therapy, the pros for them, instead of the false negatives about ABA.

Julie - posted on 01/16/2012

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Touched a nerve there I think. How insulting to believe that others need to be "educated" on a person's point of view. I've read all the posts on this particular thread and there is definitely an argument going on between certain members because their opinions and ideas don't gel. These threads are not for people to air their arguments with eachother, but to offer help, suggestions and advice to others. I don't think continuous arguing of a point helps anyone and I for one have not found any of those particular contributions helpful at all.

Janet - posted on 01/16/2012

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I don't think anyone intended any particular post as "a personal attack", but simply attempting to educate people on WHY they feel a certain way on the stance they've taken with regards to ABA. Everyone does have their own opinion, and the right to express those opinions.



It is also VERY important to note that some therapies that work for one, may not work for another and generally people use a mix of a few to be effective.

Julie - posted on 01/16/2012

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Gosh, there's a lot of very heated debating going on here from what I've been reading! Some people seem to be getting very worked up about making a point and arguing that they're right and someone else is wrong. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and to voice that opinion. Everyone can choose whether to take that opinion as a personal attack if it doesn't correspond with their own opinion, or whether to just accept that it is simply another person's opinion. Different things work for different people. Personally, I help my son to live with his autism as best he can, which means helping him to learn to be tolerant of others, which takes more work in his case because he sees things differently, to be more patient with himself as he gives himself such a tough time over things, and just talking things through when he is struggling either with an emotion or an environmental situation, or a weird thought in his head that won't go away, etc. He calls us names all the time and can be physically aggressive to an extreme (he's 10 but nearly sends me my length if he shoves me as he's a big boy), so we're trying to help him realise that if he approaches things another way he is more likely to achieve a satisfactory outcome.(We understand that his name called and hitting out is purely out of frustration about things because he is too young yet to be able to express these emotions any other way.) I don't think this is any different from what you try to help any child to learn, autistic or not. He needs to learn these things so that he doesn't end up beating the crap out of someone when he's older just because they've annoyed him about something and therefore end up in jail or a young offenders institute! This, I believe, is essential. As for the rest of it, I don't care two hoots what others think to various behaviours, sounds, movements, which he uses to help calm himself. My son is who he is and if others can't accept him as he is then that's their problem, not his.

Lisa - posted on 01/16/2012

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I tell my son all the time that it's okay to be autistic & that I wouldn't want him any other way. It's what makes him HIM & I love him just the way he is! I also find stimming very helpful for him, so encourage it when I see it's needed. I choose to see that autism is part of who my son is & not something he is afflicted with.

Vivienne - posted on 01/10/2012

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ABA saved my kid. He is 14 now. He is not "cured." I also don't believe that he has to be "fixed": he is still very low functioning. But neither one of us are miserable. You do have to admit that his/their brains function in a different way and as far as my son was concered the repetition and order in ABA was like magic in helping him understand a world that terrified him. We didn't rule out other therapies and we didn't treat him like a puppy. It is just another method of teaching, and a highly effective one at that. In our case we started out with food as a reinforcer because that was all he really cared about on this planet. Essentially he picked his own "reward."
We never metaphorically tried to "train him to walk" because people stared. We tried to "train him to walk" so he could walk.

Janet - posted on 01/06/2012

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I'm going to address this part too " One Autistic individual explained that she creates "output" by making noise, to block some of the overwhelming sensory "input." Again, who cares if most people don't make noise? Who cares if people stare or want to be uncomfortable? If people stared at your child who couldn't walk would you spend hours and hours trying to train them to walk when they can't?"



My daughter also uses this method to block out the many noises when she's overwhelmed. However, now instead of just making a noise (this is after the school incident btw) - we've taught her to hum a song - and to try to hum a song everyone knows (for Christmas it was Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer) when she's feeling upset, and to try her best to let someone know before she does this what she is doing.



She also uses a headset and an android phone to play videos or music, the headset covers her ears and she can play it as loud as she needs to, so that she can block out the noise around her and just... chill out and calm her oversensitized body.



Its not about telling them their wrong... its about helping them cope with the world we've created.



On a seemingly unrelated note, my brother was classified as a C4 Paraplegic, just like Christopher Reeves - Not only does he walk now, he can drive a car. The only thing he can't do is run or do the "Toodaloo" wave with his fingers. If he never tried, he never would. But doctors do not always have the last say.



If a doctor told you your child would never walk - they certainly never will if you don't do something to help.

Ashlie - posted on 01/06/2012

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Sorry but I am going to have to disagree. Getting your child the services they need is NOT telling them that they aren't accepted the way they are. However it IS helping them to reach their FULL potential in society so that they can function, not get picked on, one day live on their own and so on. I knoew a mom who started getting ABA services for her NONVERBAL AUTISTIC son who was 5. After 2 months he was able to hold a conversation, write his name, count currency and so on. If she would have just let him be who knows if he would ever speak. It's a matter of helping your child to reach their full potential. My sons eyes light up when he learns something new! To many parents will get an Autism diagnosis and then sit their kid in front of the TV and do nothing for them. Do you know that it can cost the government up to 2 BILLION dollars to support an Autistic child all their life? Where do you think that money comes from. I am actually benefiting YOUR pocket in the long run by getting my children the help they need NOW so they don't need assistance for the rest of their life. I hope that doesn't sound rude.

Michelle - posted on 01/06/2012

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It seems to me you're looking at the extremes of ABA and not looking at the fuller picture.
Last year her school speech therapist (a new one) saw her language deficiencies as "quirks" and her as totally well grounded. She tried to pull her off of speech therapy because it wasn't needed. This was especially hysterical as the year before we had a psychiatrist who tried to label her as completely out of touch with reality and unable to function in society!

Both of these people took an aspect of her personality and took it to the extreme. And it seems that is what you're doing when saying all ABA is bad. It is akin to saying people who don't have their kids on "the diet" are abusing them.
As Janet notes, the primary is to get kids to function well in society. There are many things I wish I didn't have to do that I need to if I want to fit into society. And I have a child who is higher function and WANTS to fit in. She has made friends but it is hard for her to keep them and she doesn't always understand why. Therapy helps. Social stories help. Language modelling helps. It is all to help her have a better life that SHE wants.

Mariah - posted on 01/06/2012

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I would like to follow up by saying that I do believe there are cases of people coming out of Autism. I worked with the Son Rise Program years ago and do believe the stories of their family and those of others who feel their child has been "cured." More compelling are the stories of those able to communicate their own feeling of having emerged from Autism. When someone can tell me, I know I was Autistic and now I'm not, who am I to not believe? Although I do not take Son Rise as gospel, I do think their attitude towards helping people with Autism and any other special need is just what so many of you said: helping where help is wanted with complete acceptance of Autism and Autistic behaviors. My greatest qualm with ABA is that many of the children it is used with are non verbal or verbally limited. This means that their is likely no chance for that child to explain their behaviors. I recently read a little article titled something like "The 10 things your Child Wants you to Know." Number 1 was that their behaviors are usually nothing to do with what you think they are. I have learned this lesson with the Autistic girl I have worked with for 10 years. She is now able to type, and all of my guesses about what might be triggering a behavior are usually wrong, even after knowing her so well for so many years. With her help I am getting better, but I still rely on her to let me know what's going on and never assume. To try to "train" a child into socially acceptable behavior patterns when the reason for the behavior deemed inappropriate is not understood is cruel, cold, and devastating. The example given of masturbation is not entirely applicable to this. Any child should be told the appropriate limits of this behavior. A better example would be a child who rocks or flaps their hands being trained not to do that. Many Autistic people have expressed an inability to feel their bodies, especially in relation to space. This can leave them feeling like a mind floating in space, totally detached. The rocking and flapping allows them to feel their bodies and their relation to the world around them. Who cares if it brings stares at the mall? Who cares if it's not typical behavior? Another example could be making loud noises. One Autistic individual explained that she creates "output" by making noise, to block some of the overwhelming sensory "input." Again, who cares if most people don't make noise? Who cares if people stare or want to be uncomfortable? If people stared at your child who couldn't walk would you spend hours and hours trying to train them to walk when they can't? Of course individuals with Autism can have limits set, can have boundaries to behaviors, they are still children. But, let the limits be appropriate to the individual and their needs, not curtailed to a closed minded and uneducated public. Glad we got this conversation going, hearing other who feel the same way gives me hope!

Erin - posted on 01/05/2012

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I agree with Janet. My son has had great luck with aba. . I look at it as redirecting his behavior. I reward him for good behavior but a lot of parents do whose children aren't on the spectrum. It's not trying to make them "normal" (whatever that is). It's helping them be able to function in society. I don't believe in "curing" autism it's not a disease. I believe in working with and teaching my son how to cope with the world around him.

Julie - posted on 01/05/2012

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To Mindy Utz
I love you! I totally agree with everything you've said. My son was diagnosed with "Asperger's" and I only use it when people totally fail to understand the word "autistic"! When I'm with intelligent people (lol) I use the word "autistic" or "autism" when discussing my son. Happily I do have one family member who totally gets it. The rest are not far short of hopeless and quite frankly unwilling to try to understand and accept my son for who he is. He is a wonderful individual with so much to offer the World. Thank God me, my husband and my sister and her family, all see this and celebrate it at every opportunity. We don't see autism as a problem and never have. We embrace all that our son is and do you know what, I love the way he speaks as he finds and is totally honest about things that most other people would skirt around or avoid altogether. Love him, love him, love him, and wouldn't have him any other way!

Julie - posted on 01/05/2012

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I might sound a bit thick here, but what is ABA? Is it an American thing? I'm in the UK and can't work out what the initials mean! I'd be grateful for some enlightenment. Thank you!

Cindy - posted on 01/04/2012

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I totally agree! The whole Jenny Mcarthy movement really bothers me. I have many friends with autistic children who are devote followers of her books and ABA mostly because she is a celebrity and they feel they can cure their children like she did her child. And they spend thousands of dollars going to "doctors" getting "treatments" for their children to achieve this, yet I see no improvement. How in the world can a "doctor" diagnose someone with a condition using a strand of hair? Seems very suspect to me. What bothers me most of all is that they don't respect my decision to parent my autistic child my way. They tend to be very intense about their way being the only way and question the decisions I make concerning my son. He is 17 and we have been dealing with this for a long time, my husband is a special ed teacher and I am studying to be a autism specialist. I always find it funny when someone comes up and demands that we have our child retested or that we need to take him to an another doctor because we must not be doing enough for him, just because he happens to be having a bad day. Everyone needs to be respectful of the choices that other parents make, even when we don't agree with them.

Mindy - posted on 01/04/2012

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Mother of 19 yo autistic son. ALSO never been an ABA fan. People fail to see that their autistic child gets way more than enough hours needed in their daily living simply by being taught daily living skills THE PROPER WAY. There is no need to treat them different than our other children when teaching them how to make toast, do laundry, wash their hair, etc. - just a little extra patience. That's not the childs issue - that's the parents. Maybe the parent is the one who needs a special class? I think ABA blows. My aon is almost 20 and he is just as far along as most two year olds now will be in 18 years whose parents are spending insane amounts of money on these dumb programs promising them the moon. How do I know? I was there. I heard it all 20 years ago. I'm not trying to be a Debbie Downer...just being a Ruby Realistic!! Anyone, claiming to have a "cured" autistic child...either is a very wishful thinker and my heart goes out to them or their child was never autistic to begin with.
Another thing that really really annoys me is people who are sooo heck bent to differentiate ASPERGERS from AUTISM. How many times over the last several years do you see ASPERGERS groups or hear "My child has Aspergers". NO...YOUR CHILD IS AUTISTIC. SAY IT THE WAY IT IS. ARE YOU ASHAMED TO SAY THE WORD AUTISTIC? DOES THE WORD ASPERGERS PUT YOUR CHILD IN THE COUNTRY CLUB ELITE CATEGORY OF THE SPECTRUM? DOES THE TITLE MAKE YOUR CHILD BETTER THAN OTHERS? I HATE TO BE THE ONE TO GET YOUR L's & V's ON YOUR PANTIES IN A BUNCH BUT DO YOUR RESEARCH, THE TERM "ASPERGERS" IS SOON GOING TO BECOME OBSOLETE AND ALL FORMS OF AUTISM WILL BE KNOWN AS...drum roll please...AUTISM!! *gasp*. I know. This is going to send so many mothers into therapy. They will have to admit that their babies aren't "Einsteins"...well, they will be...just not the way they had once seen them. Total maternal meltdown!!!

Katherine - posted on 01/03/2012

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I did it for 5 years and it IS based on the Lovaas method which is a bit archaic. There is something called RDI which may better suit you.

Cherish - posted on 01/03/2012

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Hi,
It drives me crazy when people ask me if we can cure my son.Yes my son is in therapy aug com(because he can not speak) OT(for sensory) Behavior,hippo...etc but it is to help him manage his world,it is not to "fix" or "cure him! I made this video a few years ago when I was fed up w/ the whole Jenny Mcarthy thing
My son is 9 now but the video is from when he was like 2

Mariah - posted on 01/03/2012

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Wonderful video! Thank you for sharing! The insecurities and struggles to define self and worth that children go through are bad enough without adding to it the message that the condition/diagnoses/symptoms/special needs they have are tragic, crippling, and intolerable. How terrible to tell people with things they can't control that those things are not ok, that they are bad. Your son is so blessed and it touches my heart to hear that even one child with ASD is surrounded by love and has a Mom who knows he is capable of anything! Every person I talk to who gets it makes me feel even more compelled to keep these conversations going, to spread the word and the beliefs behind acceptance and true support to those who still believe that disabled or special needs people need to be fixed.

Cherish - posted on 01/02/2012

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I feel the same way.Part of the "problem" people w/autism have is adjusting to change,they want everything to be static,but life is dynamic,it is always changing! My son was dx'd w/ "classic autism" when he was 2.I have ALWAYS hated when people talk about "curing" him,it is OK to be different,and who are we to say who is and who is not "normal" anyhow? I LOVE this video...I think it shows how most of the world views not only autism but people w/ special needs in general

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