Thoughts on ABA therapy?

I really need some advice from moms in similar situations. My daughter was diagnosed with mild autism last week. She will be 3 in May. She has small “tics,” as my pediatrician referred to it such as jumping and hand flapping. She also is completely nonverbal and has sensory issues like intensive chewing. However, she has excelled in every other aspect. She knows a lot and is almost ready for school based on what she does know. My pediatrician has referred me to 5 different therapies for us to attend, one of which includes ABA therapy. I don’t have knowledge or experience here, but there is so much controversy that I see about these therapies, mainly ABA, about it being abusive. I love my daughter just the way she is, and I don’t believe she needs such intense therapy. I don’t want to change who she is or make her feel different in any way. On the other hand, I don’t want to inhibit her growth. What are some opinions about ABA? Did it help your child? Are there ways for me to take this into my own hands? I am a SAHM. Also, how did other moms cope with being told this information? I know every child is different, but we are trying to find our way through this. Thank you, everyone for your time and input.


My son started aba at 3-5 and it magnified his issues times ten!! Especially after they left. And in two years I’ve made more progress then they ever did.

ABA is not usually the best option.


Sometimes it helps.
They told me to put my son in ABA but on top of speech and other things he was in. I didn’t want his life to be full of changing him to what society wants him to be.

I worked on the things that would truly helped him (things to help his anxiety or anything in that nature) and allowed him to blossom into who he’s meant to be.

I do ABA therapy and it works. It’s not abusive, all I do is teach and help with behavior. It’s really fun.


AAA, if you’d like feedback on ABA from adults who were put through it join an Autistic Adult support group. This is the best place to get help and hear what your daughter sees, feels etc.


Actual autistic adult here: ABA is abusive and I know people that have PTSD from it. Its basically teaching your child that being themself is wrong and is meant to teach them to act in a way that society expects them to act. Masking is hard and exhausting, so a therapy that essentially teaches your child that they have to mask to get things they want is wrong.


Richelle Taitano & @ Sarah Tachine

My son didn’t do ABA as we were in Germany. He started preschool early and had therapy at school. He’s high functioning.

It 100% depends on the aba therapist. Some are not great others are fantastic. The purpose is to figure out the meaning of behaviors and teach other skills instead. For example: understanding we do homework and then we play without a temper tantrum.


We do ABA. Zero abuse. She still stims freely and isn’t forced or bribed to do anything. In the 2 months we’ve been doing it we’ve went from zero communication and nonverbal to 20+ words and she is amazing with PECS which is her chosen form of communication. We would most likely be sitting at no communication still had we not went with ABA as she’d been in speech for 6 months with minimal improvement. Ours is essentially a 1 on 1 preschool setting. She plays all day and they take a no-fail approach to learning using hand over hand or the therapists showing her with each other. She’s truly blossomed and become a sassy pants independent little girl that is able to tell us exactly what she wants.


I’ve seen ABA in the school setting and it’s worked wonders. It :100: depends on the therapist. It takes a lot of observation to really hone in on what’s needed. Observe your child, pick up what may trigger them, when they stim the most, what their strengths and weaknesses are. The ABA will come up with goals to work on- you can try out or ask around and find the best ABA in your area. Just remember, it’s not an end all be all and it takes time and lots of work and follow through.


ABA can be great. It has helped my daughter to communicate so much. When she started at age 3 she would engage in self-injurious behaviors daily. She is still non-verbal, but she is so much more communicative after 1.5 years of ABA, and her self-injurious behaviors have greatly decreased. It’s not about “curing” anything- it’s about helping children thrive.


My best friend is an ABA therapist. It’s not about conforming them to society’s expectations of them. It’s about working on the child and helping them. My bestie has working for some pretty shady places but is now with an amazing company who really cares about making sure the kids are comfortable with the therapist.


Everyone is different, that means their therapy will differ also. ABA may not work for some but may for others. If you feel at any time it’s not the right therapy, you have every right to stop and try something else.

Mary Kay Fisher doesn’t jax go to ABA?

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Sorry but if your child is nonverbal than you should probably invest in speech therapy and it before they go to school as school to us need to be able to communicate and it would be way to overwhelming

Actually autistic. It’s conversion therapy for Autistic kids. ABA is abuse, full stop. There is no good ABA, it’s compliance based and puts your child at risk for manipulation and abusive relationships


I love my daughters ABA therapist! We did speech therapy and ABA and I feel ABA has helped so much! The tantrums really lessened they really show them how to communicate and I don’t believe it’s any way abusive. Kids have their days when they want to cooperate with programs. They never force her and if for whatever reason she’s not having it that day we call it a day. Def recommend trying it especially if you see behavior issues that can be addressed


I use to do ABA therapy and it depends on the therapist. If you get the wrong one, of course it isn’t going to work. There are many aspects to take into consideration such as the relationship between the child and therapist. If the child never builds trust or a relationship with the therapist, it will not work. Also, the parents also has to put in the work. For example, if I was in there teaching a child to feed themselves but the parent is feeding them when I am not there then the therapy will not work. There is no abuse involved and there is no "masking behaviors ". Appropriate behavior is used to replace the negative behavior. If they throw things when they are mad, a more appropriate behavior is taught to them to replace the negative behavior. And honestly, a parent can do ABA therapy themselves. In VA, you are only required to have a high school diploma to do ABA therapy

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My son is autistic and he does 20 hours of aba therapy at 3 years old. I dont think its abusive but he has a fantastic therapist. I do believe if depends on the child and the person doing it. But the way they created aba is to basically teach them new stuff and they shouldn’t induce meltdowns etc. The goal is to get them to be able to do things without having a meltdown and find different ways for them to be able to do the therapy without having the issues not to induce the meltdowns.

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We havent had either of our kids in ABA. They don’t actually qualify. Oldest has autism but is super high functioning. Youngest has adhd and spd and insurance wont pay for ABA for him.

However I use MANY ABA tactics with them. Many.
Some people view it as abusive because unlike ot, pt, and st it’s not just play based. The child has to “work” and it’s hard. Its largely about learning to cope with things, about gaining more independence, and developing skills (like social skills).

Some people looked at it like an autistic child/person being themselves isnt ok and that’s what that therapy is about. Forcing them to conform and it is up to a point.
Like for example…my oldest sons first reaction when angry was to hit/kick or to get in the persons face.
Using aba tactics we taught him other ways to cope with his feelings.

We used aba tactics to help my youngest overcome his issues of letting doctors look in his mouth. We use some aba tactics to wash and comb the youngest hair.

All things that truly needed worked on, not just to “make them normal” but to help them help themselves.

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My suggestion is to sit and watch some of this family.

My son did ABA from 2-3yo when he aged out of Early Intervention & started pre-k. I loved our ABA Therapist. I will say this. I am a soft soul, I don’t like to see my kids upset or pushed or sad. So there were definitely sessions that were more difficult for me. I loved our ABA because she read my body language and would back off a bit. :woman_shrugging:t2: I am a first time mom, so I am learning with him.

My son went to aba for 2 weeks and he absolutely hated it, had the worst meltdowns! I pulled him out and hes doing ot and speech, so much better.

My son is 4 and does about 40 hours of ABA weekly, it’s been a year into it and the changes we have seen are amazing. My son happens to be level 3, non-verbal, 2yr+ global delays, feeding difficulties, aggressive behaviors etc. we have seen a huge cut in self harm! Increase in words (we are still working on usable language), a small cut in aggression towards others. Now he makes eye contact, plays with peers, sits next to me, hugs me!!! Just so many positives :heart: now when we searched out a therapy we specifically looked for a place who worked through play/ rewards system etc. our center is owned and run by a ASD parent who didn’t like how ABA was done with his own son so he created a center that is not run with outdated old ABA tactics.

Also remember your allowed to ask them questions, drill them! Ask to see how they run things, how they handle behaviors etc! Ours is run like a preschool with an extremely small class (4) each child has a therapist on them (sometimes 2 depending on behaviors) so they can do group time and separate learning. It’s your right to investigate before committing to a center and you can always change centers if your not happy with your experience :blush:

I’m a teacher and I’ve worked in special education classrooms. I also have a friend that does ABA therapy. I have never heard it called abusive. Just like in any profession there will be good therapist and bad. If you feel uncomfortable with anything you can always stop. I would also look into getting her help with Speech.