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what do autistic people think of ABA therapy?

Short answer: They almost universally hate it.

Photo by W A T A R I on Unsplash

These stories were all obtained anonymously via google forms survey. Some of these are quoted from parents or loved ones and others are quoted from autistics.

“The focus on eye contact and eliminating comforting stims is frustrating and gross. I bite my nails when I’m interested in something, and if made to stop, I spend all of my energy focused on not biting my nails, rather than whatever I need to be doing.”

“ABA is literally based on gay conversion therapy techniques and animal clicker training. It’s barbaric to treat a human being like this in 2019. If you don’t want to possibly raise a person with autism (or any learning/developmental disability) you shouldn’t have kids.”

“I wished more parents with autistic children understood the harm they are causing thier children and leaving them having to overcome PTSD in the future.”

“ABA is harmful and abusive. I don’t want my child to be taught to conform or obey blindly. She needs to be respected and able to grow as she is.”

“ABA sucks ass.”

“I have read some horrific accounts of ABA and the effect it has on autistic people. My hope is that we can find a way to make our society more inclusive and safer for neurodiverse people such that neurotypicals do not resort to harmful practices ever again.”

“It’s manipulative and disrespectful of the person’s dignity.”

 “Ban it pls.” (pls stands for please)

“I would never subject anyone to ABA.”

“Comparing it to dog training is unfair because even dog training acknowledges that everyone has basic emotional and cognitive needs and that these should never be used for behaviourist purposes.”

“Again, I do not think it was in the best interest of the autistic people and I noticed a lot of ‘conditioning’ to remove behaviors deemed inappropriate. I was never the target, luckily, because I hid my behavior, which not everyone can.”

“ABA should be outlawed.”

 “I am not a dog to be trained. I am left flinchy at harsh voices and unable to completely relax without weed and avoiding my parents who got me into this state.”

“Its is abusive and makes autistics second guess everything they do.”

“I’d rather shit in my hands and clap.” (I’m not joking, this was actually submitted!)

“It’s an awful thing that should not be used.”

“It’s horrible and should be outlawed in all cases. It’s abuse. It’s torture. It’s hell.”

“Its abuse.”

 “ABA is abusive and should be illegal.”Edit or delete this

 “I put no on dog training because when training my dog I listen to what he tells me, I don’t make him stop being a dog.”

 “It’s disgusting, it should be binned.”

“I despise it.”

“Its abusive and does more harm than good.”

“ABA is Abuse.”

“ABA has the goal of making someone ‘appear neurotypical’ rather than helping them navigate the world in their own way.”

“ABA in all its forms is harmful. Changing a few techniques or making it child led or play based will not change that.”

“It is so simple to teach coping mechanisms and meet a child’s support needs. ABA is not needed and is cruel.”

“It’s undercover child abuse.”

So there you have it; 28 individual anonymous responses from actual people who feel that ABA is harmful, abusive, and cruel.


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