Excerpt for I Want to Be and Love My Autistic Self by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

I Want to Be and Love My Autistic Self

Travis Breeding

Published by Travis Breeding at Smashwords

Copyright 2018 Travis Breeding

All Rights Reserved


I Want to Be and Love My Autistic Self

About the Author

I Want to Be and Love My Autistic Self

Having autism one thing that I long for more so than anything is to be accepted for who I am. This wasn’t an easy realization to get to. I didn’t always feel like I would ever have the opportunity to be accepted for who I am and have often thought the only way I would ever make good friends or get a girlfriend was to change who I was.

Furthermore, a system that was supposed to help me be successful and find happiness in my life with my disability didn’t always want to address the same needs that I felt I had, and they certainly didn’t have the same goals for my life that I have for my life.

When I think of being autistic, I think of being different and not less. I feel like sometimes other people automatically just assume that I should want less for myself just because I am disabled or autistic and while I used to fall into the trap of believing what some people would say I no longer accept less for myself.

This also means that I have a lot of great expectations for myself. One of the biggest expectations I have for myself now is in saying no and not engaging in things that I do not want to engage in just to make other people happy.

For the longest time I have had support services that wanted me to do things that I didn’t feel comfortable doing. I had a behavior plan and there was a point and time in which I thought having a behavior plan would be great because it would help me learn social skills to get a girlfriend.

Unfortunately, what I have learned about applied behavior analysis is that it really isn’t a person-centered treatment. It seems to be more of a behavior centered treatment plan or more, so a behavior analyst centered treatment plan. When I say it is more of a behavior analyst centered treatment plan, I just mean that the behavior plan is written by the behavior therapists without even getting any input from me or asking what some of my goals our in life.

To this day, I don’t know that I have ever even received a copy of my own behavior plan. This means there are goals in there that may or may not be goals that I have for myself. From my experience in working with my staff and my team when it comes to autism help, I can tell you that they are entirely different goals than what I have for myself.

When I think of person-centered treatment for autism, I think of someone sitting down and talking with me taking into consideration what some of my wants, desires, and needs are. I just do not feel like that has ever happened.

There was a point and time where I had a board-certified behavior analyst sit down and talk to me about social skills.

We had some great discussions about women and how to talk to women. We really hit it off and I learned some things about women from him and thought this was applied behavior analysis. Later, in life when other people told me that what I had experienced with this BCBA was not real applied behavior analysis I was shocked. This person had graciously volunteered their time to try and help me and wasn’t billing insurance, so they were able to help in ways that allowed them to try and help me or, so I thought.

Over the years I have heard so many tragic stories from adults who had ABA therapy as a child. Many adults are left feeling traumatized after their horrific experiences with ABA where therapists try and eliminate behavior without worry of the cause or that it might be a part of who the autistic person is.

Never having applied behavior analysis as a kid, I didn’t understand this and my only perception of ABA before I got on the state of Indiana’s autism waiver was through the volunteer experience, I had with a BCBA. We spent a lot of time talking about social skills and really working on talking to girls but come to think of it he never tried to mold or change any of my behaviors.

Maybe this was because I really didn’t have any real behavior issues that he felt needed to be changed.

I ended up on the state of Indiana’s autism waiver with my persistent nagging and begging. You might say I ended up on the autism waiver by accident as even the executive director of the Autism Society of Indiana told me that I was too high functioning to be on the state’s autism waiver.

Being on the waiver has been an experience within itself but it has given me great insight into what some of autistic adults talk about when it comes to the trauma of applied behavior analysis.

While what I get is technically not termed ABA therapy, I do work with a behavior consultant who is supposed to help me learn skills and work on behaviors.

I feel very frustrated by my waiver services and behavior services from the waiver because they only want to focus on what they deem is appropriate to focus on. No one from the waiver has ever been interested in any of my goals that I have for my life because I guess they feel like because I am autistic, I don’t know what is best for me or what I would enjoy most.

Instead of embracing who I am as a human being the waiver and my behavior services through the waiver have done nothing but try to force me into their way of thinking and relating to them in their world with little to no thought or care of my emotions. This has left me feeling very depressed and traumatized.

While I am quite certain the trauma that I have experienced from my autism waiver is nothing in comparison to the trauma that many autistic folks describe in their stories about ABA therapy and how they were treated as children growing up it does give me an appreciation for what they have gone through.

I have previously endorsed ABA therapy and have even authored books on how I thought it was helpful. However, I know that I was falsely blinded by my experience with a BCBA that wasn’t factual in what true ABA therapy is.

Like many other things with being autistic what I thought was ABA therapy became a special interest to me and I studied it obsessively for years thinking that it was the only way that I would ever get a girlfriend.

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