[Content Warning – ABA – ECT]

Today I came across a post online of another Âûtistic blogger known as Autistic Hoya, giving evidence before a court in regard to the Judge Rotenburg Centre. You can read about them on their website, which I am utterly convinced is a somewhat sanitised version of what the reality of the things that happen there. Here is a link to their website. If you head over there you will see that they promote the fact that they use ABA therapy as a treatment plan.

They advertise also they reject no one on the basis of extreme behaviour. This in itself would seem to be an admirable thing, however when one scratches the surface of what the so called treatment plans of ABA consist of and the way in which it is implemented, you will most likely be horrified.

This short video from Fox News is something of an eye opener.

This gives a little bit of information, not much but enough to spark outrage at what this centre believes is reasonable treatment and therapy to be inflicted on children and young people. It is just absolutely terrible and disgusting.

Here is the video  of Autistic Hoya giving her evidence…

A young person here has been subjected to Electric Shock Therapy (ECT) against their will, whilst restrained, whilst screaming for relief, for several hours. Whilst staff laugh.

This is despicable. This is terrible. Disgusting. Abuse. Nothing other than abuse.

How does this happen?

We are here at this stage because of the elevation of ABA as a so-called evidence based therapy for Autism. In fact even it is claimed the only evidence based therapy. The big issue here is that the so-called evidence is all based, it all comes from within the ABA industry. There is no real peer reviewed independent evidence that corroborates these claims. We are left to accept what the industry says about itself. This is not acceptable and should not be allowed to be the case.

ABA itself is a behaviour based therapy that is rooted deeply in the work of Pavlov (yes the one with the dogs), B.F. Skinner and Lovaas. It is purely behavioural. It is not holistic, it does not take into account the internal life and motivations, feelings and experiences of the person exhibiting the behaviour in question.

Frank in therapyABA at it’s heart says that by training we will change the behaviour you exhibit because in our view it is undesirable. Essentially the goal then is to change behaviour that is undesirable. What that means in terms of Âûtistic people is behaviours like stimming should be eliminated, repetitive should be avoided, rigidity should be killed off. Social skills must be adhered to, communication with mouthparts is the only desirable form of communication.

Inherent within ABA is compliance training and aversion therapies. These things are on the books of the ABA governing bodies as acceptable components of an ABA therapy regime. Forget for a moment whether it is right to try to change an Autistic persons behaviour or not and simply ask the question of yourself, would I want my Neurotypical child exposed to these aversion therapies, or this compliance training. I would suggest you would answer no?

What does this have to do with the Judge Rotenberg Centre, well this horrible ECT treatment is an approved ABA aversion therapy.

One thing that will happen in communicating with many parents of Autistic children is that they will say their child loves their ABA, they love their therapist. This may be true, but does this make it right? It is not hard to see that a child that is trained in a behavioural therapy to enjoy themselves will in fact look like they enjoy themselves. It just stands to reason.

Another response is well that’s old ABA my ABA is not like that ABA. Of course one would hope that was true, but in reality ABA is ABA. Unfortunately the waters are muddied because as ABA is so-called evidence based it is the therapy that is often the only one that funded under insurance situations, therefore, what we have is a whole bunch of things that are not ABA called ABA so that they are funded under insurance plans. Crazy but true.

The most unfortunate thing about all of this is that even though there are many cases of recipients of ABA developing PTSD and many many autistic adults speak out about ABA the attraction of it in Autism parents seems to be relentless. It is again a factor of the relentless negative narrative that autism is given in media and by peak bodies. In order to change this the narrative must change.

After all that, all I can say is that ABA must be stopped, until it is horrendous practices like those at the Judge Rotenberg Centre will continue unabated. Until ABA is exposed for the damaging dog training it is these horrendous practices will continue. And perhaps most importantly, until the negative view of autism is changed to a narrative of difference and neurodiversity these horrendous practices will continue.

We must accept as a society as a whole that autism is difference not disease, difference not disorder. Yes we are #DifferentNotLess and #WeDontNeedACure.