Not for Sale

So a short time ago I was approached (private message) on Instagram by a page called Autism Connect saying they loved what I was doing and saying.

“Hey, we really liked what you’ve done with your profile, and we’re happy to see that you’re equally enthusiastic about spreading Autism Awareness & encouraging acceptance, as we are. Ours is a parent & professional run community of over 10,000 followers across our Social Media, and our sole mission is to create a more inclusive world for autistic children through these channels.

How do you feel about contributing to our Blogs as an Autism parent? We’d love to share with our community, what you dish out through your contributions, and hope you do the same for our posts, by sharing them on your social media!

Do get back to us to know more. Meanwhile, you can also go through our Blog Section.”

I was obviously very flattered, as it’s not often this happens, so I decided to check out their website. Autism Connect Homepage

It was only then that I started to notice warning signs, such as some of the therapy and treatments they recommend, including ABA therapy. For those of you who don’t know what Applied Behavioural Analysis, is allow me to explain.

In the early 1900’s, B.F. Skinner was working on the technology of conditioning. He wrote a landmark book called The Behavior of Organisms, describing the paramaters for the field of Behaviour Analysis. His studies on rats and pigeons changed how we view learning in animals today. But it was two of his graduate students, Keller and Marian Breland, who applied that research to widespread practical use. In 1947, they started a hugely successful business called Animal Behavior Enterprises, with the goal of demonstrating that there’s a better, scientific, technological way of training animals through rewarding correct behaviours.

Fast forward to 1961, and psychologist Ivar Lovaas began work at UCLA on the treatment of autism. He developed Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Therapy in the 1970s. His original approach was developed from a technique called Discrete Trial Training (DTT).  The idea behind this is based on the original animal training through positive reinforcement.

It consists of three components:

1) the teacher’s instruction,

2) the child’s response (or lack of response) to the instruction,

3) the consequence, which is the teacher’s reaction in the form of positive reinforcement, “Yes, great!” when the response is correct, or a gentle “no” if it is incorrect.

ABA Therapy and DTT are both based on the finding that when behaviour is rewarded, it is more likely to be repeated.

So when I learnt that this potential partnership was with a site that agreed with and promoted ABA, I decided to look further. Some well-meaning sites have ABA links on them, but are not aware of the damage this therapy has on children. So I chatted with someone from the site live chat. We’ll call her Polly. I claimed to be a parent looking at therapy for a child, and low and behold, I was told about ABA. When I asked if it was safe and effective, Polly said “our therapists have found it both safe and effective.”

This was enough for me to realise that this is not a website I want to have links with, due to my views on this controversial form of therapy. On some sites it is claimed to “cure children of the symptoms of ASD”.

So, I have declined the offer explaining my views as an autistic adult. Thank you but no thank you, I may want to team up with partners like I have with Mental Movement, to raise awareness and my profile within the autism community. I just won’t sell out on my principles to do so.

Stay Safe X

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