What Happens When An ABA Survivor Finds Out These Tactics Are Used On Their Own Children

It is common knowledge I had a very horrific experience with ABA as a child in the 1980’s. It left me with horrible PTSD and other mental health issues. I vowed to never subject my children to such abuse. They do not need to be trained to conform and forced to mask.  The way the educational and therapy systems function, sometimes it sneaks in without parental knowledge. There are two incidents that happened over the past few months with two of my children.

Incident 1

N is my 10 year old son. He has been in a typical school setting since kindergarten. He is autistic and we knew he did not belong. His first school dropped the ball on the right evaluations to get him the services that he needs. The way Florida is, his neurologist had to LIE and say he has ADHD to get him a 504 plan. Already hoops to jump through just to get him basic accommodations such as extended time, movement breaks, etc.

He transferred to this school 2 years ago. He did really well the first year. His teacher is special ed trained so no extra accommodations were needed. She just supported him and it was a great year. The next year the teacher tried but she was not equipped to handle him. This triggered evaluations for “ASD eligibility.” That’s what the district calls it. It makes it so autism is the first classification on his IEP and he can get services at the school two of his brothers go to.

The evaluations took nearly one year but they were done. The other day we had the eligibility meeting. There was a representative from the public school who has an autism program there. It gave me a clue he would get eligibility. We have had 3 other meetings like this with other children.

It came time for the psychologist to speak. She said she prompted for eye contact. I LOST IT. I told her I did not consent for any ABA techniques and I never would. I told her that eye contact can be very painful for autistic people and forced eye contact causes autistics to be overwhelmed. “But I did not force him.” If an adult in an authority position tells a child to make eye contact, it is forced via coercion. I do not appreciate being gas lit by professionals who are supposed to help my son. In having other children evaluated, this has NEVER happened in the past. There was no reason for it. I had to walk away. My husband who was in the meeting too took over. I came back after I had to see a dog for work. I finished the meeting but I was livid. I was definitely triggered by my own experience and I was so sorry for my child for having to experience that.

Incident 2

Today A had a telemedicine speech therapy session. His therapist has not been showing up but we at least tried to do so. I was really tired from the baby being up all night. I also stopped at home to do laundry and went back to work. (Who really does this besides me?) I also had two cancellations today. I was home when I normally am not.
The therapist showed up. A was sitting in an office chair stimming and moving around. When they got started she said “you need to sit still.” Why do people want to ABA my children when I am so admittedly against it?
I got up from bed since he was in my bedroom, and said “Excuse me! We do not stim suppress here! If he needs to self regulate, he needs to self regulate. He is not here to accommodate you, it’s the other way around. ABA causes PTSD. I am autistic and went through it and not about to give him the issues I have from it!” She stopped and they did their therapy in a way that supports him.
Apparently, she did the same in front of my husband and he told her the same but not as blunt. She blew him off so he said “Wait until you do this in front of mom.”
LIVID does not begin to describe how I feel. The first thing I say to every new therapist, “If you don’t ABA my children, we will get along great.”
Going through these incidents with my children can be very challenging. I have to work through being triggered while advocating for my children at the same time. Some of my children have gotten to the point of saying “If you ABA me, I will tell my mom.” Not all of them are at that point yet but I am working on it. I want them to recognize the danger of it while working through my own trauma. When you have a parent who has been through ABA themselves, doing this is extremely challenging. I am resting for the rest of the day, my husband has the baby to give me time to rest.

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