Its the year 2020. Many of us have been some sort of locked down since March. In our home it was March 13, a Friday, the last day my daughter attended traditional school.
My daughter is amazing. She’s fun. She’s beautiful. She’s creative. She has taught me more in 7 years than anyone else in my entire life.
She also has autism. Its part of her and it impacts her to the point that sometimes she’s unable to function, sometimes she’s unsafe and she’s in need of support. Always.
Within the first few weeks of our “lockdown” here in New Jersey, although she had two parents and four siblings around, always, she managed to shave her head and break her collar bone. She also had episodes so painful, with behaviors towards others, I can’t begin to put them into words.
My daughter needs school. She thrives with structure, with knowing what happens next and feels safe on her daily schedule which typically includes school, ABA, OT and Speech. My daughter is one of the hardest working people I know.
On March 13, however all that she knew, anticipated and expected changed. Her behaviors were communication. She was frustrated and scared. She didn’t know how to tell us how she felt so she showed it in her actions.
After the shaved head and broke collar bone, I knew I needed help. Help with teaching her, supporting her, keeping her safe and so once again, I looked to ABA Therapy.
It is no secret if you know me I have had good experiences with ABA and we’ve also had experiences that would make someone shy away from ABA altogether so when I received an email from someone I do hold in high regard, someone whom is #actuallyautistic (their words not mine), I took their view to heart and wanted to share our why. I don’t feel I need to explain myself to them or or other people with autism or to try to tell them they are wrong but to educate them on why ABA can be right and why it is right for my daughter.
As a parent, you always are looking for ways to support them. For my other kids I do that through sports, extra curricular activities, friendships but with Seraphina, her support looks different. The support she thrives with is ABA. Done well, ABA will open doors for many children. For us, its not only taught her academics but safety. ABA has taught her to trust adults and to accept correction. ABA has helped her to learn how to have reciprocal conversation, to identify who her parents and siblings are and even know where she lives, all key factors in helping her to survive and one day thrive.
I understand that many of those who live life daily with autism, feel this is abuse. They have said it. I hear you and acknowledge your feelings and no one can tell you a feeling is wrong. However, I do not see ABA as many have said they see it as parents looking to train animals or we as parents who choose ABA are simply not loving our children where they are. To those people, I am loving my child so much I want to teach her how to be safe, how to learn, how to live and survive in our society. Mostly I am teaching her what she needs so she can be happy.
My daughter LOVES her ABA therapist. When she isn’t here, she is concerned. She misses her. When I look at them, they aren’t therapist and child, they are like family. They love each other.
To those who are #actuallyautistic, I am not negating how you feel or what you believe but asking you to consider what is right for you may not be right for others. Life is a journey. Its messy. Living a life as a neurotypical person or one who is neurodiverse is unique. We all have our own journey and will need support in unique ways. For us, for Seraphina, its ABA and if someday it isn’t, we will make that change because like your parents did, we love our daughter and want to see her be as successful as she can.