Carbone Clinic and ABA

Scotland is an uncomfortable place to come to promote the coercive cruelty, personal oppression, called Applied Behaviour Analysis.

On Mar 5, Carbone Clinic, a promoter of ABA, held a day workshop on it for kids, for around 30 folks, at Dalmahoy Country Club Hotel west of Edinburgh. But responsibility to the wellbeing of spectrumite kids made an impact on the host venue, who had made the booking unaware of the issue, and it allowed the protest action called by Autistic Inclusive Meets to take place at the hotel doorway in the arrivals period and inside the building later. That was impressively unfought exercise of in fact its due responsibility to child safety.

Autistic adults, who know from their and the collective experience what is wrong with forcing treatments that conflict with the treated person’s nature, stayed throughout the day and showed the participants that our message of ethical opposition is there.


Some of the facts shared in the protesters’ handout

Evidence for ABA programmes is overwhelmingly poor and considered low/very low (May 2018 Cochrane EIBI research review). No one has quality evidence to show that after thousands of hours and £100K’s those subjected to ABA have a better long term outcome (#ABAResearch on Twitter).

Issues with ABA have been blamed on bad therapusts, a “tricky” child, number of hours. But issues with ABA relate to coercion (lack of real choice), compliance, unnecessary overload, invalidation, rewarding masking (check out #TakeTheMaskOff campaign). Accounts of harm can no longer be ignored. Psychological wellbeing is out of the ABA equation. It breaches disability rights.

The Youtube video “Isabella 22 knock down drag out battle” was shared among UK ABAers as a good example, but looks like being abused.

Further info can be found: on the Madasbirds blog Apr 2017, Autistic UK website, Labour Party Neurodiversity Manifesto Appendix, Autistic Allies.

ABA teaches that children do right when rewarded, regardless of how meaningful, natural, or comfortzble to do so. They learn to ignore their own feelings, intuition, and to please people in positions of authority, so increasing vulnerability.

ABA is about changing observable measurable behaviour by trial and error until compliance is gained and the data shows the desired behaviour. ABA therapists use Functional Behavioural Analysis thinking this helps understand behaviour, but this just shows what the behaviour is seen to achieve (avoidance, access to something, attention, or internal reinforcement). This is very different to the “why” or root cause of the behaviour, usually due to anxiety, sensory, cognitive or other, e.g. due to EEG brain abnormalities.) In fact FBAs are pretty useless in practice.

The best way to understand autistic behaviour is to speak with autistic adults and read literature from autistic people all over the spectrum and autistic-led organisations. You will not spot ABAers doing this. Board Certified Behaviour Analysts (BCBAs) even think going to chicken training camps is useful to learn how to better train autistic children (search BCBA Mary Barbera chicken training). Other ABAers think it is fine to talk about training animals and autistic people in the same breath (just google Tag Teach ABA Clicker training).

ABA is nothing to do with understanding autism or the internal autistic experience, and these are not needed for ABA certification or practice. ABA success is very narrowly defined.

No ABA is not regulated or standardised. There is NO UK regulation, NO recognised UK supervisory hody, NO complaints procedure, NO recognised UK ABA profession. In the USA the ABA Certifucation Board Code of Ethics is a free-for-all. An example of low standards used by BCBAs can be seen in Gudberg and Parson’s Dec 2017 scientific review that disctedited a NI government funded 3 year, 5 volume report by BCBA Dillenburger that recommended intensive ABA.

Simply search the #ActuallyAutistic hashtag to feel the weight of feeling against ABA in the autistic community. Our 2017 abacontroversyautism.wordpress article provides evidence that tens of thousands in the wider autistic community do not support ABA, nor did 98% of over 5K autistic respondents in a 2018 survey by Chris Bonello (Autistic not Weird).