ABA Therapy also known as Applied Behavioral Analysis is a very controversial topic. People are very divided on supporting it or being against it. I can say I completely understand how and why people feel the way they do, regardless of which side they fall on. On the negative side, some people consider it to be abusive. I personally do not feel that way but I have had good therapists and bad one’s as well and I can totally see how a bad therapist could push the boundaries and cross some lines.
I do believe that the key to success in ABA, comes down to the relationship between the child, BCBA, RBT and parents. All of them need to work together as a cohesive unit to put the child in a position to succeed in a way that the parents can support. I believe that when done properly ABA can be a tremendous tool to teach anyone anything! Yes, I did say anyone, and anything, because I have found that since learning about ABA, Alex has been using the strategies on me to mold my behavior. So it does work extremely well for most people.
Like I mentioned earlier I can understand why people can think of it as being abusive in a way, because molding someones behavior and rewarding some actions while withholding desired things due to other behaviors and actions can sometimes seem cruel. In the early days it was hard on both Alex and I, but particularly on Alex when Greyson would cry for help during therapy and we couldn’t help him. Many times it felt like we were ignoring his needs and not protecting our child.
However, that time lasted for a short time period while Greyson was overcoming some of his behavior challenges and getting used to ABA Therapy and learning the basic principles. It is easy to understand how he would be frustrated early on when he wasn’t sure what the therapist’s were really asking him. Eventually, after a few months he turned a corner, really understood and was comfortable with the methods and started to excel. Not nearly as many challenging behaviors and he was just learning new skills at an incredible rate.
So I understand that ABA is not for everyone, and I completely respect everyone’s views on it because we have all had different experiences. For us and for Greyson it has been incredible and it has really made a dramatic impact in Greyson’s life, and our families. So, if you’re unsure about ABA, go with your gut feeling about it, or just give it a try and see what you think. you can always stop. One thing I can tell you for sure though, is do not judge ABA after have an experience with one BCBA, RBT or Provider, good or bad. Because I know from experience that there are many good BCBA’s, RBT’s and provider’s as well as many bad one’s!