Thursday, November 3, 2016

Modern ABA

People claim it's not that type of ABA, it's modern, it's kinder, and gentler, it's not abuse. They try to remove our words claiming that what we're talking about isn't what they know, or what they do.

But we do know.

It's not kind to have a child hear hundreds of times a day how they're wrong. It's been a minute, you're wrong. It's been another minute, you're wrong. Why? Because you're autistic, you're wrong. You flapped a hand, you're wrong. You aren't currently writing an answer because you're thinking, you're wrong.

That's part of the program of multiple children I know, at multiple different schools.

It's not gentle to a child to grab and restrain them because they're sobbing. Grab them, pull them out of the room, throw them elsewhere. Crying isn't allowed for autistic children. Being upset about change isn't allowed, it's showing that you're autistic.

That's part of the program of another child I know. Restraint and seclusion for crying or yelling. Too disruptive. Time for another restraint. Maybe this time the point will get through that you're only allowed to do exactly what you're told to, not do things like show emotion.

These are places that are considered "kind" and "gentle", modern ABA.

They don't do the same things as they did in the 80s, but still, they restrict all activities that are used to regulate a child's sensory system, and they must be "earned", one minute at a time.

They're still places which write a child's bathroom usage into their ABA program.

They're still places which say if you haven't finished your work by lunch time, you're not allowed to eat anything until you've finished all your work. You need to stay here, and keep working while all your friends eat lunch and go to recess, no matter how hungry you are. You didn't do your work. Even if you worked non-stop. Food is for efficient workers.

They're still places which say swearing is enough reason to remove a child's favorite part of a day. That they hadn't been needing to earn in the first place.

They're still places which every one, three, five minutes a child is told everything they're doing wrong.

They're still places which use restraint and seclusion. Not to mention restraint and seclusion for things like being upset about change.

This is modern ABA. Every one of these things is something I've seen written into an ABA program in the last 5 years.

And none of this list gets across the pain.

None of it can explain the amounts of self-injury I see because of what is being done to them while adults are telling a child over and over how much they're a horrible person, which gets followed up by immediate restraint because of people being called a danger to themselves and others.

Or the amounts of teachers getting away with making children repeating work while watching classmates play because they felt like it and the reason being given just being "I felt like it".

Stimming becoming hated. Scripting becoming hated. Autism becoming hated. Because all adults say how autism is bad. And yet, everyone knows they're autistic. Children acting "less autistic", but doing so because of learning to hate everything about themselves. I cry every summer, not knowing if my students who I care about will still be there when I return.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Today I am silent

Today I am silent.

That is it's own form of communication. Choosing to not engage in the unspoken rituals expected of us. It's own form of saying, no, I'm doing my thing, what is right for me.

I make that choice. Limiting my speech to that which I choose, that which I deem worth the cost; that which I deem necessary; that which I deem worth enough to deal with the downsides. Otherwise, I can choose to be silent.

Smalltalk around me. I don't need to reply.

I can choose my self-care as more important than making others more comfortable with this uncanny valley person that is me. I can choose to say no.

I'm asked dehumanizing questions, the emotional labor expected of a token autistic in an unfriendly environment.

But I don't need to honor them. I can take care of myself.

It's my choice. My decision. My desires which matter. It's my needs which I value, as I say, I don't need to speak.

And that's why today I'm silent.

Because today, I rest.