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.
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.
Jen Edwards, LMHC