Therapy Red Flags: what to look for
How do you know whether a therapy or practitioner is not respectful of Autistic people?
Many of the practices parents are referred to are non-affirming approaches, approaches that may cause harm, or approaches designed to enforce typical social and behavioural norms. Any practice that does these things is not therapeutic, but likely to cause life long harm.
Therapy is only one small part of a child’s life. They need time to play which is the real work of childhood.
Here are some elements to consider about any practice you have been referred to.
First, consider the number of hours a child is committed to, especially if they do more than one at any time. A practice intended as therapy isn’t an extra curricula activity a child does for fun. It is work! It needs to be balanced with down time, which should be prioritized above everything else.
More warning signs of to watch for.
Observation not allowed
Indefinite or ongoing attendance
No clear discussion of goals
Emphasis on compliance
Use of terms such as inappropriate, non functional, or dysfunctional
Not presuming competence
Lack of rapport with child
Ignoring the concept of consent
Not making basic accommodations
Focus on changing behavior instead of teaching functional skills
Ignoring the child's emotional state
Expecting the child to perform without regard to the child’s emotional state
Insistence on verbal speech
No stimming allowed - "quiet hands"
Eye contact demanded
Whole body listening taught
The reliance on reward/token systems to urge compliance
Not breaking tasks down to small steps
The skill's taught do not transfer to daily life
Ignoring the child's boundaries
Noticeable increase in meltdowns/shutdowns aftwr sessions
PUNISHMENT OF ANY KIND
If uncertain ask; would this be acceptable with a neurotypical child?