My name is Philip Lerner. I was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum disorder at the age of 18 months old. When my parents found out the news, they went into panic mode for a brief time. I was given a 50% chance to be verbal and told I would only be able to say a few words or simple sentences. But my family never gave up on me. They put me on the wait list for government-funded therapy, which at that time was called Intensive Behavioural Intervention (IBI).
However, they found out about ABA while I was on the waitlist and got me that therapy much sooner. This was very costly, roughly $50 000 to $75 000 for two years. I was able to start when I was 2 years old. I was required to complete 15 hours of ABA a week, essentially 3 hours each weekday. I enjoyed it thoroughly. Once I got used to the schedule, I was sitting at the little desk used for my sessions with my arms folded up waiting to be taught something new. Everything Kelly (my ABA therapist) threw at me, I excelled at. My nanny, Rosemarie, even continued my ABA training after Kelly left, helping me review what I learned.
I never felt as if the program was hurting me or making me upset. By the time a year and a half ended, Kelly said to my parents, “I have nothing left to teach him, he learned it all”. This was around the same time I wanted to stay in daycare with my friends. All in all, I think my parents would agree that the money was well worth it.
Overall, ABA was a huge success. It is a huge contributor to my success in elementary school, where I was part of a pilot project community class for Autism/Aspergers students. This success continued as I transitioned into a completely integrated high school environment and then university. I doubt that without ABA, I would be studying mathematics at the University of Waterloo. It has taught me how to analyze how others not on the spectrum are socializing (leaving out the bad stuff) and integrate that into my own social skills. My family is still in touch with Kelly as she was such an integral part of my growth. I can stand here today and say that ABA has greatly benefited my life.
To all those who have suffered through ABA and found it abusive, I mourn for you. However, my experience has been completely positive and would recommend it to any parents of autistic children.