Yesterday I handed in my final assignment for the Autism and Behavioural Science Post-Graduate Certificate. Or as I like to call it, the Ableism Certification. If you want to learn about autism from a deficit-based point of view, where your teachers and your resources are people that advocate for things like elimination of autistic traits, completely ignoring the history and present harms of Applied Behaviour Analysis, and encouraging divide between the autistic community and the autism parent/professional/caregiver communities…. look no further.
Best of all, this is disguised as an approach to help autistic people, to help them live fuller, enriching lives where you, the student, can feel like an abled savior specializing in the be all and end all of ethical, effective “treatment” for the poor people with autism that are trapped in a world of misery, lacking in skills and ability.
Praised are the wonderful individuals engaging in ABA, and condemned are the autistic individuals who dare challenge the narrative of the “good autistic” that wants nothing more than to become neurotypical. Where displays of frustration, anger, and sadness are viewed as nothing more than escape or gain tactics, where we are all boiled down to nothing more than a checkmark, a token, a “behaviour”.
ABA is very good at pretending they have changed. No mention of electric shock devices that are being used in 2021, no mention of the triggered meltdowns that happen because of what is called “extinction plans” – namely, pushing an autistic person to their breaking point in the name of “behaviour reduction”.
The “ethics” code of Behaviour Analysts is very clear – behaviour analysis is the most important, scientifically backed, and right. And anyone that says otherwise is pushing an anti-science agenda.
Applied Behaviour Analysis and behavioural science wants to infiltrate other areas – prisons, addiction treatments, mental health (psychosis and PTSD). Please do not let it. Do not let more marginalized communities become victims to an approach that (at least currently) laughs in the face of harm reduction and trauma informed practices. Do not let this industry convince you that your loved one acts the way they do because of (lack of) rewards and punishments.