8. There are lots of therapies that don’t involve systematic reward/punishment that teach autistic people these same skills. Also the article largely focuses on children/non-verbal people who cannot express their desire to learn. — Great, then use those therapies. Put more kids on medication. Do whatever else works for you. But ABA is a research based practice that can work. There is a Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, and plenty of subsequent research that would not exist if it wasn’t a science. Instead of attacking ABA as a whole practice, maybe it would be more effective to talk about the risks
9. “ A behaviorist is not a mind reader, they can’t see into the channels of my mind to identify why I’m crying. However, they can simply see that tears are falling from my eyes at a wedding or when I said good-bye to students two days before I quit my previous job”
Exactly. Imagine being punished for crying at a wedding, or when saying goodbye. Many autistic behaviours are interpreted as negative when they are positive and are systematically eradicated. Our emotions and reactions to things are different from yours — you don’t get to decide what behaviours we need and how we express our emotions.
And we don’t punish children for crying. Instead we’d analyze what variables in the environment might be causing someone to cry only if it’s really a problem. Maybe as a society we don’t understand mental health enough to just accept emotions for what they are, and I agree with you that is a problem but it’s not related to ABA.
10. Why not get colleges to accommodate autistic students’ needs rather than training them to tolerate stressful and alien environments? ABA teaches autistic people to mask their autism and masking is associated with increased depression and suicide risk. —
This is incorrect, ABA does not teach individuals to mask autism. A person is a person, a person should not be judged by their autism. However, that doesn’t stop people from unfortunately doing that, especially at a job interview or workplace. We even have a few complicated problems we’re constantly mitigating at the college level, which is a different story. So the article you cite has many misconceptions too, and I’d much rather like to see more empirically based research journals out there. And we do actually change many things in college environments before actually training a student to tolerate a stressful environment. We have sensory rooms, encourage students to take their test in different environments, as long as allowed by ADA, and other various accommodations. And honestly, if a student doesn’t want to make changes, that’s okay. They know they will unfortunately receive the same consequences a neurotypical person may receive for the same behavior.
11. “ We accept children for who they are, but what harm is there in teaching behaviors that will help a child in an often judgement and sometimes close-minded society?”There is A LOT of harm. A LOT. Were ANY of your teachers autistic? Have you spent time speaking to autistic adults who went through ABA as children and asked them how it felt?
Actually, I did during my doctoral studies. ABA was not a concern to the population I interviewed.
Do you, when teaching your students, express understanding and appreciation of how challenging and soul-destroying it is to systematically learn to hide who you are and act like someone else? — Honestly, yes. There are many facets about myself I hide from society, and I understand the soul crushing nature of doing so. I constantly conduct a benefit / cost risk analysis to determine the trade-off of dying my hair neon green, for instance, verses being able to work the job I want, or have the life I want to live. Right now, being employed is more important to me, so I’ll save dying my hair neon green for retirement someday. I really wish the world accepted green hair, polyamory, and alternative lifestyles more than it sadly does.
And yes, things need to change. Individuals with autism I’m a behavior analyst that advocates for society-wise changes with how neurotypicals interact with individuals with autism. But the unfortunate part of change, means it is going to take some time to adjust attitudes about social expectations and rule governed behavior. But in the meantime, is it evil to teach autistic individuals how to survive in our shitty society in the meantime, you know?
Our behaviours have social significance too. Autistic behaviours communicate things to other autistic people. But ABA focuses on decreasing those and training behaviours of NT social significance instead. — Great, then don’t change. ABA is not forcing you to change your behaviors unless you want to. And maybe there are individuals out there that want to change, it is an option for them to try. If it doesn’t work, move on to something else.
For more information about the differences between ABA and cognitive therapy, consult the following link: https://www.appliedbehavioranalysisprograms.com/faq/what-is-the-difference-between-cognitive-therapy-and-applied-behavior-analysis/