Harmful Therapies

We do not support the need to address autism in therapy for therapist to fix or change their client's identity. It is something that an individual may have a hard time accepting, and that should be discussed instead. How the therapist approaches their client is also key. Autism often times is misunderstood as a mental disorder, or even a disease by some individuals. Harmful therapies oftentimes are expected or even demanded by the parent for their child. Sometimes they are even court-mandated (otherwise known as court-ordered). Yet, oftentimes we see patterns of systemic oppression in therapy that attempts to eradicate or fix autism. Therapy, like education, was founded upon ableism. It is not the job of the therapist to fix their client; rather, it is the job of the therapist to work with a client on goals that the client requests. It also must be understood that autistic people, especially autistic people of color and autistic LGBTQ+ people, are dehumanized due to history and people such as Ivar Lovaas, Bernard Rimland, and Leo Kanner. Which means that autistic people's behaviors are to be accepted, not minimized, manipulated, conditioned, etc. Working on goals around comorbid mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, OCD, etc. are more important. Neurodiversity states that neurological disabilities are natural variations in the brain (this excludes disorders and conditions like Traumatic Brain Injuries, Alzheimer's, Dementia, etc.) such as learning disabilities, intellectual disabilities, and developmental disabilities. Mental disorders are seen as part of Neurodiversity, but they can be managed as long as the autistic individual's environment is being accommodated for. The following harmful therapies are harmful Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA), Relationship Development Interaction (RDI), Positive Behavioral Supports (PBS), and Behavior Modification (BM). Individual methods and techniques create the abuse. Notably, DTT, TEACCH, ESDM (Early Start Denver Model), and other methods do not work. This is because early intervention is also rigorously harmful and not evidence-based. More reasons can be found in studies, blog posts, articles, etc. These autistic voices matter and are to not be trampled on. We also see other unethical treatments, such as electroconvulsive shock therapy, ECT, Conversion Therapy (the US has only banned it in a total of 20 states), and any type of autism therapy that enforces behavior techniques intended to fix autism. Not all Autistics need therapy and we need to start accepting autism. 

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