I equate ABA to a substantial earthquake. It’s massive enough to destroy everything but probably won’t kill you. It creates chaos by breaking down old habits and barriers. It leaves you desperately wading in the rubble, only to rebuild something more beautiful than you ever thought possible.
We just started with a new ABA provider, so right now, we are in the demolition phase. There is constant screaming and protests. I would love to give up and just give in, but I know it’s not best for Charlie. I have been here before, and I have reaped the benefits of the amazing rebuild. The end results of ABA have astounded me and blown away any and all expectations I ever had, but it is so hard to experience!
Essentially, we are inviting “strangers” into our home to piss off our child by challenging every behavior that comes naturally to him, like spinning in circles or laying on the floor while watching the wheels spin on his cars. This intensive in home therapy also invades any and all privacy and personal space.
We live with a revolving door of therapists, supervisors, and doctors continually inspecting our home and how we implement their therapeutic strategies. We have been critiqued and “scolded” for our missteps in therapy. We have also had therapists comment, good and bad, on our parenting skills in regards to ALL our kids not just Charlie.
There is NO privacy…EVER! Often, my husband and I will be talking about a non-therapy subject to notice the therapist eavesdropping and sometimes even commenting on our private conversations. We can’t all dog pile on the couch and cuddle under blankets while watching movies, because there is ALWAYS someone in our house.
I dream of Charlie having an afternoon free of demands and obligations. I’d like for him to be unrestricted and relax, but that’s not in the play book right now. He needs ABA as much as I need a better attitude towards it, but some of the therapists make it even harder with their prying eyes and comments.
Supervisors and doctors have come in, from our old provider, and stated that our home is too chaotic for any sort of therapy to occur. We have too many toys. There is too much action. I even had a supervisor recently tell me that we needed to “sterilize the environment”. She simply meant that the toys needed to be picked up and put away, but what these people are forgetting is that this is our home!
My husband and I build this home together. It is not just an environment needing to be sterilized for therapy. It is our home! We built this house on God, love, hard work, joy, and lots of laughter. This isn’t a place that needs to be “sterilized”, and we don’t need “strangers” coming in critiquing our parenting skills. We need a loving person to embrace and help Charlie cope in his natural home environment, chaotic or not.
ABA, Applied Behavior Analysis, is very intense therapy for children on the spectrum.