Friday, April 02, 2021

ABA Practitioners: Put Your Words Into Action

 If you're an ABA practitioner who responds to criticism of ABA by saying that the ABA being criticized is "bad ABA" and you practice "good ABA", then I challenge you to put your words into action.

There are a lot of former ABA recipients and their families speaking out against ABA. Including families of children who have received ABA recently - not just people who had ABA in the "bad old days" when Ivar Lovaas was spanking children to make them stop stimming.

Which means, if all of those are examples of "bad ABA", there's an epidemic of bad ABA. And if you really want children to be able to reap the benefits of "good ABA", you need to do something about it.

As it is, given how common "bad ABA" must be, a parent considering ABA treatment for their child is essentially playing Russian roulette with their child's mental health. Maybe they'll luck out and get a good ABA practitioner, or maybe they'll get one of the bad ones, and their child will have PTSD. They have to weigh whether they want to take that risk.

In other fields, you can often look for accreditation or credentials to help rule out the bad ones, and if a bad one slips through, you can report them to make them lose their credentials. For example, if my mother, who is a lawyer, scams or abuses a client, she could get reported to the Canadian Bar Association and lose her license to practice law.

Ideally, the BACB certification process should serve that purpose, but it doesn't. There are BCBAs who work in the Judge Rotenberg Center, which is still running as of 2021 despite repeated efforts to shut down the center due to human rights abuses. The Judge Rotenberg Center uses aversives, mostly notably a wearable electric shock system known as the GED. 

If you claim that "good ABA" doesn't use aversives, then clearly, a BCBA who accepts employment in the JRC and cooperates with crafting behaviour plans involving the GED should lose their certification. The fact that they don't should be something you are outraged about and lobbying to stop.

Similarly, if a parent says "my child's BCBA ordered the therapists to hold them down while they sobbed for hours", this should prompt you to encourage them to report that behavior to authorities who will get that person to lose their certification. Or, knowing that such a report would not be effective - let's face it, you know it wouldn't - you should be joining those parents in lobbying the BACB to stop certifying child abusers to practice in your field.

The fact that you criticize "bad ABA" only when people are saying that no child should be in ABA treatment, and only to defend the existence of "good ABA", makes it clear that you're not trying to help autistic children. You're not trying to make sure that parents don't have to play Russian roulette with their child's future.

You're like the Catholic Church, when parents made allegations against sexually abusive priests - you're covering up the problem, and covering your own asses, at the cost of the children you're supposed to be helping.


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