The ABA Train(wreck)

From the first minutes of my son’s life as officially autistic, we were told he should have ABA. I looked into it immediately after being referred for an autism evaluation because a doctor suggested it would help my son more quickly than any other therapy out there.

Later I found out Autism Speaks had pushed for laws requiring insurance to cover ABA, and that many autistics were opposed to both Autism Speaks and ABA. Needless to say, that gave me great pause. 

My son is in a special needs preschool right now. They’ve heard my worries about ABA, and sent me an article from a reputable source discussing ABA. Essentially, the article argues that ABA may be one therapy that can help, but it is not the only therapy that can help. It said traditional ABA is hooey, but that current ABA is better than the DTT-centered, autocratic, unreplicatable-results, cure-baiting garbage of years past.

I recently have been looking for therapists for my son in a variety of categories, and literally can’t find more than two options for speech therapy in our area. Out of curiosity, I checked for ABA therapists and there were so many, my insurance provider had to limit the results displayed to 100. Not a typo. One hundred available near our house. Two speech therapists and 100+ ABA therapists.

To be clear, there are more than two speech therapists in our area, but they don’t take our insurance. My son needs help with communicating. He is frustrated because he can’t tell us what he wants, Yet, in between everything else we have to do, waging a battle against our insurance company for more speech therapists doesn’t seem to be a good use of time. Unfortunately, that really doesn’t leave us many options for helping my son if ABA is off the table.

I could bore you with internal wrangling I experienced but long story short, I did a ton of research to see if any ABA would be acceptable to me. I found one approach that might work. 

It’s ABA, but without DTT. , It emphasizes helping the kids communicate (not just speak), incidental learning, and parental involvement. It is anti-punishment, or errorless. That said, when discussing the subject, I explained to my husband that I might end our first appointment ten minutes in if I didn’t like the way it was going down. Apparently he is used to this behavior because he didn’t bat an eye. 

No first appointment has been made. Rumor has it many ABA groups have long waiting lists, which means I may finally be ready to set a first appointment but there won’t be any appointments to be had. We will see how it goes. 

I saw a video a few weeks ago where an autism parent vlogger’s video of his day with his family, included an ABA session. It certainly seemed like his daughter enjoyed the therapy, and she is nonverbal. I understand this therapy can help kids communicate so I will give it a shot, but with reservations. 

I’m several months in to this new phase of our lives and still so frustrated with the difficulty in getting basic guidance about therapy that is best for autistic children.


  1. My son went to a Special Ed Preschool with the County and I never did pursue ABA. They never recommended me to, but I hear about it all the time. It seems to go hand in hand with autism as it appears to be THE treatment for autism. I have also heard a lot of negative feedback about ABA – mostly from parents that are trying to justify their reasons for not putting their child through the “torment.” I don’t know – there must be some good to the therapy for it to be so prevalent (and oh my gosh, only 2 speech therapists! Crazy!) Keep us posted!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes to all. Some of the other parents at the preschool have their kids in ABA and have good things to say about it. But my husband tried to call a program that several kids were all in and they don’t service our area. Too bad.


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