Four events are coming up in late August and September, the International Day of Protest Against ABA, the International Day of the Stim, and two Neurodivergent Hangouts! Learn more about how to join and get involved below.
[Image description: red text on white background that says "International Day of Protest Against ABA #ProtestABADay #SayNoToABA @Protest ABA". White text in a red circle that says "Aug 31"]
The fourth annual International Day of Protest Against ABA is happening on August 31st, 2021.
Join us online to protest ABA and other abusive "interventions" often used on autistic children and adults.
RSVP and share our Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1518611075170759
As in previous years, this event will take place online, primarily through social media. We invite autistic people and allies to share or retweet writings, videos, and art by ABA survivors, neurotypical and autistic parents of autistic children, and former ABA therapists.
Want to submit a piece of writing, art, or other media about ABA to be shared on our @ProtestABA Facebook page? Send it to us at email@example.com by Aug. 31!
Previously written/created work is accepted. Please include image descriptions and captions in your submissions, or reach out to us if you need help with them.
As disabled communities renew calls to #StopTheShock at the Judge Rotenberg Center in Massachusetts, United States, following the FDA ban being overturned by a federal appeals court last month, we join global efforts to end sanctioned torture against disabled children and adults in the name of behavioural "treatment".
To learn more about the JRC and what you can do: https://www.autisticsunitedca.org/blog/stoptheshock
Autistics United Canada will again be hosting two Neurodivergent Hangout events in August and September.
These are casual, online events where we come together as neurodivergent people (eg: autistics, ADHDers, people with intellectual/development disability, people with mental health challenges, etc.) to chat and play online board games.
Our August event takes place on August 29, 2021 at 3-5 pm PST / 6-8 pm EST. Click here to find your time zone conversion.
Register here for the August Zoom link:
Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/890459878171441/
Starting September, our neurodivergent hangouts will be at a different time. The new time will be at 1-3 pm PST / 4-6 pm EST. Find your time zone conversion for the September event here.
Register here for the September Zoom link: https://forms.gle/s7g8GzjhufuS642F8
Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/271203177796248
[Image description: Black and white photo of fidgets and stim toys in different compartments in a drawer. Text in pink and green on top reads: "International Day of the Stim. #StimFest September 17, 2021"]
International Day of the Stim is on September 17, 2021! This day is a worldwide celebration of stimming, originally started by Autistics for Autistics Ontario.
Members of Autistics United Canada, Autistics for Autistics Ontario, and the wider autistic community will be collaborating for this event.
You can find out more on the International Day of the Stim Facebook page.
We hope to see you at this upcoming events! As always, if you have any questions or are in need of any support, please feel free reach out to us at info@AutistiscUnitedCA.org.
For this year's Autistic Acceptance Month, Autistics United Fort McMurray chapter organizer Christopher Whelan has written a series of short essays on autistic rights. We have selected a few of our favourites to share!
[Image description, a black button with white words “quiet hands”, with the “quiet” crossed out to say “loud” in multiple colours]
All ABA Hurts Autistics
Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA) therapy is the practice of converting autistic behaviour into neurotypical behaviours through the documentation and evaluation of behaviour and then re-directing it to more acceptable expressions. It has had a traumatizing effect on autistic people, and the communal trauma of this still-prescribed therapy reverberates throughout the autistic community. As well as being linked to post-traumatic stress disorder in adults, ABA does not produce results in shaping behaviour except for facilitating shame, despair, and self-harm.
ABA, as its founder Ivar Lovaas had envisioned and practiced it, utilizes torture implements against people who exhibit autistic behaviour, open-hand violence, and denying subjects food and sleep until they stop exhibiting autistic behaviours. Lovaas-styled ABA is still practiced today around the world, closer to home than anyone would like to believe. While the use of aversive-based therapies are a clear example of anti-autistic violence, we must also challenge the idea that the new “Gentle ABA”, which is gaining traction in the West as a referred therapy for autistic people, is a reformed and gentle version of its original namesake.
Instead of using torture and aversives to convert autistic behaviour into neurotypical behaviour, it is instead achieved through incentivizing neurotypical behaviour. Subjects are given candy, playtime, and other rewards for exhibiting acceptable learned neurotypical behaviours instead of the expressions that come most naturally to them. Instead of being punished for appearing autistic, they are rewarded for appearing neurotypical. That is why “Gentle ABA” does not produce results. It does not re-direct behaviour. It encourages us to appear a certain way, temporarily.
Neurodivergent circles use the term “Masking” to describe incidences where we must appear to be neurotypical in order to meet our basic needs, be safe from harassment and bullying, and be treated as an equal in society. Quietly sitting in place when we want to run around a room screaming, and keeping quiet when we want to say our favourite words and talk about our special interests, are examples of Masking. Masking is inherently both harmful and necessary in our world. Gentle ABA incentivizes autistic people to wear their Mask more tightly and more often, even in their own homes when nobody would think less of them for exhibiting autistic behaviour.
But the longer you Mask, the more susceptible you are to low self-esteem and mental unwellness. By internalizing that what you naturally are is sinful, bothersome, and a burden to the people around you, you wish harm on yourself. Autistics who naturalize their own Mask, and wear it too often, are more prone to developing addiction, self-harm behaviours, suicidal thoughts, and to attempt suicide. People who did not know that they were autistic also report that having naturalized their Mask lead to these harmful experiences.
Autism Acceptance means normalizing autistic behaviour in society. It means a guarantee that autistic people will not be considered lesser than a neurotypical person or lesser than an autistic who exhibits atypical behaviours less frequently. It means working towards a society where we will not need to mask to keep ourselves safe, and disenfranchising therapy programs that incentivize masking.
Other select essays:
Christopher Whelan is an autistic social worker living and working in his home community of Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada. Christopher is a founder of Neurodiversity YMM and Autistics United Fort McMurray – Cree, Dene, Dane-zaa, & Métis Territory. After months of consultation with autistic self-advocates, Christopher published The 95 Theses of Neurodiversity in April 2020. You can read more of his work on his blog, AutisticRights.net.