ABA is not the Only Option for Behavior Therapy

ABA is not the only option for behavior therapy



Eight years ago when we got the diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder for our son, all the medical professionals told us to get Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) therapy. Lists were all years long, there were not enough services, and it was expensive. Instead we went for an alternate direction for behavior therapy which was more holistic, inclusive, and focused on the main issues at hand- emotional regulation and social skills.

Our son thrived with this therapy and we ended up coming back to Washington and opening a clinic based on this therapy. There are certainly some ABA aspects in our therapy, but it is more grounded in the overall idea of a counseling approach rather than driven solely by data.


ABA has some great aspects and has proven in many studies to be highly effective. There is currently a lot of controversy around ABA Therapy, one of the issues being it tends to make many kids more rigid in their flexible behaviors.

I purpose this idea: get the therapy you feel like is best for your child and your family. For us, this was clearly not ABA. We want our son to be less rigid in his thinking, more flexible with thinking and experiencing life in general, working on social skills, but especially working on the emotional regulation piece that is so vital for individuals with ASD. I want a therapy that is going to be inclusive and tailored to his individual needs, not a cookie cutter approach like some other therapies are. I want my son’s clinician to be focused on the therapy itself and supporting my son, not focused so much on data gathering that the true essence of why he is there is no longer the priority. It is wise to get data at times, it is wise to analyze the cause of the behavior issues to a point, but it is far more productive to be working on the coping skills and tools that he will be needing his entire life in therapy, home, school, work, etc.

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It is important to look at all options, not only the recommendations that the doctor put on the psychological evaluation report. And it is important to remember that what direction one family chooses to go for therapy may not be the right direction for your family and may not be the direction that you even agree with.

Nate jamica


Jen Edwards, LMHC

Beautiful Autism



When to Tell Your Child He/She has Autism

When to Tell Your Child He/She has Autism


We all have times in our lives when we face the decision of when to tell our children important or challenging things. We dread those discussions at times. The stress of it can eat at us and drain our energy. As parents we might argue about when to talk to our children about these things, causing stress on our marriage. These conversations range from talking to your child about sex to talking to your child about a diagnosis he/she has.

Our son was three years old when he was diagnosed with Autism, so obviously we were not in a huge hurry to explain to him about the diagnosis of Autism that he had. However as the years crept on, we realized at some point we were going to need to explain this to him, especially once he began realizing things about himself he did not perceive as normal. My husband and I began having conversations around when and how to tell him, as well as how do we explain it to him in a way that he can explain it to his peers to help them understand him. At first when we began discussing it the conversations did not seem that difficult, but as we got more into the details of it, the conversations got more intense and stressful.


Eventually we got to the point where we thought our son was ready and we began to slowly introduce to him Autism. We did not tell him right away he had Autism, we wanted to see if he could begin to connect the dots himself. In time he began to, and though he is still figuring out what exactly Autism is, as well as ADHD, he is beginning to understand himself, how he interacts with others, how he is perceived by others, and he needs to function to work in the world.


Here are some thoughts to consider when thinking about this:

  • Is my child mature enough to begin to understand the concepts of the diagnosis?
  • In what ways will this help and hinder my child?
  • Will this be able to help others in our family or others that interact with my child?
  • Who will tell my child about the diagnosis?
  • How will we tell my child about the diagnosis?
  • Am I putting my child’s needs first when thinking about this decision? Or am I allowing my own thoughts to come first?

I hear a lot of people come up with some reasonable arguments for not telling their child about the diagnosis. Some people are scared about what their child might say or how they might react. Some are afraid it will put a label on their child and others are afraid their child will use it as an excuse for poor behavior.


Keep in mind eventually your child will likely find out about their diagnosis from someone, someway. When we want our kids to always be open and honest with us, we have to also consider that we need to demonstrate how to do this. True we need to take into a lot of considerations, just as the questions above can be used as a guideline for this, but children want the same courtesy given to them as we want from them.

When getting ready to talk to your child about the diagnosis, be sure both parents are on the same page and timing for the talk. Also, begin with just having simple conversations about what Autism is; do not begin with the bomb of, “You have Autism.” Allow your child to try and realize, through your help, they have Autism.

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Remember, these decisions take time and lots of thought. Find others that support you to help you through it. This might be your parents, therapists, doctors, or close friends. Until that time does come, enjoy your child for who he/she is and blessings come with that. Love your child, treasure the memories, enjoy the moments.

Jen Edwards