We hear so much in the media about the “cost” of autism. Thanks to fear mongering by groups such as Autism Speaks, we know that therapies like applied behavior analysis - considered the “gold standard” of autism treatment - can cost in excess of millions and even billions of dollars over the autistic person’s life span. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have millions of dollars lying around to fix my kid!
Fortunately, I have found an alternative that will COST YOU NOTHING, is easy to implement, and won’t cause that darn PTSD so many autistic people develop from compliance-based therapies.
As the parent to an autistic kid, we want to do everything we can to make sure they have the best chance at a happy, successful life. Thanks to my revolutionary new autism treatment, your children CAN have all those things!
While most autism treatment programs focus on pathologizing every goddamn last thing your child does, the NBAA™ method allows your child to relax and enjoy their childhood. Yes! That is a thing… autistic children being allowed to just be kids once in a while! And with NBAA™, this is not only allowed, but encouraged. By shifting your perspective from being your kid’s therapist (who must create “teachable moments” in every situation) to one of a parent who is able to just enjoy their relationship with their child, you can create a loving bond which may look different than what you expected but is every bit as beautiful and real.
This program will allow you to:
- establish a warm and mutually loving relationship with your child
- give your child the tools to avoid developing PTSD
- instill healthy self esteem in your child and the ability to form loving & trusting relationships based on mutual respect with others
- not be your child’s 24-hour-a-day therapist and to refocus your energies on just enjoying your relationship with your kid
- confront ableism, instead of trying to constantly battle your autistic child like some creepy-ass WarriorParent™
- teach your child that their bodily autonomy is non-negotiable, thus making them more confident and better able to recognize and avoid abuse
- recognize that autism is an inseparable part of who your child is and that is okay.
- find supports and accommodations which will actually enrich your child’s life instead of worrying about “fixing” a person who is not broken.
- have realistic expectations for your child which are consistent with what we know about child development
- redefine what constitutes normal, success, and other arbitrary concepts which have nothing to do with happiness
- understand enforcing compliance is not compatible with presuming competence
- recognize that stimming is pretty awesome and "quiet hands" is bullshit
- discover communication comes in many forms, each as valid as the next
- become your child’s biggest ally
- save a ton of money by not being pressured to buy the NBAA™ book, or put your kid in 40 hours a week of paid therapy, or take an expensive NBAA™ training course
…and so much more!
Just listen to these parent testimonials:
“…have never used ABA on my daughter and I believe that's a large part of why we have such a deep connection. She knows she can trust me because I don't try to manipulate her or punish her. She has a lot of confidence because we have always embraced her for exactly who she is without trying to change her, and work with her to find supports that work for her as opposed to controlling behaviors. I also feel that keeping her out of ABA will help her to be safer because she knows that she is allowed to say no, even to adults and her autonomy is respected as much as possible.”
“The benefits that I have seen in my kids are that both of them have learned to self-direct and teach themselves things that interest them. And they enjoy learning. For example, I showed my son how to get to YouTube videos of fans (which he loves). I showed him several times. Then I let him figure it out. So he learned basics about how the computer worked and how to find something online. He learned how to keyboard and spell the things he liked. And I never had to break it down and teach him in tiny pieces and reward him with a potato chip or anything like that. I just did it with him and made it fun and respectful.”
“We tried seeing a therapist who wanted me to use ABA type strategies. It was pretty clear very quickly that they were outdated, ineffective and dehumanizing. Ditching all those ideas was the best move we made. I realized her anxiety was real and needed treatment with medication (with her permission and full choice) and wasn't just a manipulation (as was suggested to me 😡). We also chose a school that was not authoritarian and allows her to grow at her own pace. She is thriving with zero pressure to be anything other than herself. I've also found that a lot of "behaviors" these therapists are so worried about are natural stages for neurodiverse kids. For example I had a therapist tell me I needed to force hairwashing more or she would never have good hygiene. With time and patience and frankly doing nothing but offer her the choices she prefers she happily takes a shower and washes her hair every two weeks which is perfectly fine. It sounds cheesy but there is no better therapy than just knowing your child and helping to accommodate their needs. Seems pretty simple!”
“Trust. Camille's only done trapeze and art classes as therapy. We choose her teachers carefully making sure they will respect her neurology. The trust really came out when Camille
started trapeze, and saw me not only advocating her but supporting her own advocating. We tried ABA like stuff when she was young and destroyed our relationship so seeing her once again trusting me was amazing. Now she's an incredible confident, strong, kid who has zero issues with her neurology. She has made all the big choices in her life with incredible maturity and insight.”
“I have never noticed a time when my daughter has not been 100% comfortable in her own skin, so to speak. She bounces or steps from side to side when she is happy or excited, and moves/flaps her hands when talking. If someone asks her why she does it, she simply says that she wants to. End of story. She has never been shy about asking me a difficult question or talking to me about unpleasant experiences, which tells me that she trusts me and knows I will listen and help her. I believe she knows that she is loved unconditionally and free to be herself. She is confident and proud of who she is, at just 7 years old - which is pretty great to watch.”
“ I have not used any therapy. I just trust my gut in parenting my son. He is 17. We are close. He does, chores, errands, virtually everything with my husband and I. We role model. I would describe our relationship as honest.”
“My son was never in ABA--the closest he came to compliance training was in pre-k with a short lived stint with a 'feeding therapy' type deal and in K with a ridiculous behavior mod program that lasted about 2 months. Both were mild compared to formal ABA...but both sucked the life out of him and caused long-term damage.
So--I write that part because it took time to rebuild trust. Changing schools, changing my mindset and going with my gut and simply trusting that I didn't need to push him or let people tell me I needed to make him do things he wasn't ready or able to do.
Benefits: he has learned to trust that I won't try to force him into something and that he is always allowed to say no. I've seen him grow to be confident and self aware while also seeking help and comfort easily when he needs that. He knows that I won't minimize his anxiety or his troubles even if I don't readily understand the "why" behind them. He knows how to self soothe and he knows that whatever he needs to do is ok.
He has learned countless things on his own time and of his own accord because he is given the freedom to do so.
I think that he truly knows that I will always have his back and that I am a safe place for him--and that I would never allow him to be treated with anything less than respect.
He knows he is in charge of his body and his mind. We are connected in a way that absolutely would not be possible had I put him in ABA and used any compliance training with him.”
“I'm going to be really, really honest... when we received Curlytop's dx, our psychologist told us we needed ABA, and I was destroyed when I learned it wasn't available in our area for kids over 5 years old.
So, I started a wild search for a provider, and in doing so, learned more about ABA and realized it was NOT what we wanted for our daughter.
I was "young," as far as being the parent of an autistic child. That is, I was a newb. I thought if the professionals were recommending it, it must be the right thing, but when I actually learned what it was, it didn't mesh with my parental ideals, or the goals I envisioned for my daughter.
So, we sought out speech and occupational therapies with providers that were willing to work with our standards. And the result was that my daughter has grown on HER OWN TERMS, and is more comfortable with who she is, because we've allowed her to have input into her therapies.
When ABA-esque goals come up in IEP proposals, we soundly reject them, and we say why. "No, she doesn't need to learn extended eye contact. It's painful for her. No, she doesn't need to learn to control her squawking. It releases stress for her."
The result? She's been allowed to decide what level of eye contact is safe and comfortable for her, and she uses it more with people she trusts -- even though it was not a "goal." Her vocal stimming is reserved for times of high anxiety, and not an everyday occurrence -- even though it was never a "goal" on paper to reduce it.
She feels safer, and more comfortable, because there is no pressure to conform to a model that is not meant for her.”
“ *We are SO happy. My child is sooooo stress free and relaxed most of the time. Sure, he has support needs.... But we do what we do and life is really super joyful for us. My child trusts us, which is something I do not think we would have if we did ABA. I think that trust is huge. It's the basis for everything. (I never had that, so yeahhhh.) The only time he struggles is when we have fallen short on support (we don't always get it right) or when when life stuff is beyond our control and creates stress. And we are all learning to work through that stuff together. We are doing pretty damned ok most of the time.”
But what is NBAA™? NBAA™ stands for “Not Being an Ableist Asshole” to your kid. It might sound complicated, but it’s actually pretty simple. Not Being an Ableist Asshole will cost you nothing, but the rewards you and your child will receive are priceless.
How can you practice NBAA™? The secret is recognizing your child is a human being with thoughts, feelings, and a will of their own. You must learn to accept and love them for who they are, not for how they compare to the child you expected to have. (This actually also applies whether your child is autistic, otherwise disabled, gay, trans, or any other marginalized identity which is 100% valid and valuable, even if you do not understand it.)
When we refocus our energies, from trying to change children or make them indistinguishable, to helping them learn to love themselves for exactly who they are, teaching self advocacy skills, and helping them find the right supports and accommodations, the results will speak for themselves. At the end of the day, you will not have a non-autistic child, but you will have a child who knows they are loved and valued. You will have a relationship with your child that is based on unconditional love and acceptance. Change your thinking, change your world, but don’t change your child.
* I did not actually invent Not Being an Ableist Asshole™
** A sampling of places and parenting blogs for parents who would like to try NBAA™ which are 100% free and 100% respectful to your child’s beautiful brain:
Parenting Autistic Children With Love & Acceptance
We Are Like Your Child
30 Days of Autism: Leah Kelley
Michelle Sutton Writes
Diary of a Mom
Down Syndrome Uprising
Mama Be Good