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ABA Therapy for FASD and Autism: One Year In, Is It Working?

ABA Therapy for FASD: Is it Effective?

ABA Therapy for FASD and Autism: One Year In, Is It Working?

Puzzles are a fun part of our large family Thanksgiving tradition.

In January we hit our one one year mark of ABA* therapy for our son with FASD and autism. Last night we had a team meeting. I meet with our team (psychologist, and behavior technicians) once a month. We go over his current “program”, what’s been working, what hasn’t been and agree on any future changes. Last night was the first team meeting Chuck has been able to attend. At the very end, I asked The Burning Question…according to to the data (ABA is all about the data), had we made any progress in the past year?

*ABA therapy is Applied Behavioral Analytics. According to Autism Speaks, “ABA is considered an evidence-based best practice treatment by the US Surgeon General and by the American Psychological Association…More than 20 studies have established that intensive and long-term therapy using ABA principles improves outcomes for many but not all children with autism. “

ABA Therapy for FASD: Is it Effective?

The psychologist and one who oversees his therapy didn’t even hesitate in her answer.


A Year of ABA Therapy

A year of therapists in our house five days a week. Family dinners that have gone from, sitting at the table together as a family, to hasty meals after the therapists left, to inviting them to stay for dinner because they have become so intertwined in our life and family.

My kids consider one a friend and another a big brother. We love them, we have fun with them, we look forward to the coming over. But from an ABA perspective, we have gotten nowhere.

I can’t say I was surprised by her answer. But I also can’t say I’m okay with it. Often times there seems to be so little hope for his future. I need to cling on to any shred I find.

Last night, after the meeting, it was dinner, and bedtime, and reading all the things that come along with carrying for a large family. I didn’t have a lot of time to reflect on the meeting.

It’s this morning that has really hit me. Committing to ABA has changed the dynamic of our entire family. We’ve adjusted dinner time and activities, to accommodate the therapy. And it has made no difference at all.

After a Year of ABA Therapy: What Now?

To be clear, we don’t plan on quitting ABA. ABA isn’t a quick fix after all. In reflecting on the past year, the biggest difference ABA has made is we now feel like we have a team that is supporting our family. When my son has been hospitalized we have had a team advocating for us and helping us navigate the complicated system of mental health.

That has been good. So good. If that is all that comes of the past year it is worthwhile.

But the question is, what next?

What will happen this year, and next year and all the years to come after my son reaches adulthood?



  1. Thinkything

    Have you looked at inpatient or boarding school options (?)

    I’m personally not a fan of ABA, because it doesn’t seem to address the child’s individuality and that stimming behavior and repetitive behavior might be something the child needs and I am very sceptical of some of the programs I have seen… because here they use not trained personal and they make promises that are often not completely true… And some children/ juveniles describe it as brain washing… I understand parents who try it, because good state funded programs for Asperger/ autism are far and in-between here..But they do exist. I don’t know anything about State of Washingtons resources and the school system, but have you looked into residential programs..??. I heard that some foster kids are getting into private boarding schools if parents really push ,lawyer up or just say the other option would be disruption..And some agencies seem to place children in private facilities…. You would probably not kick him out, but with agency’s you need strong language..I found just googling:

    Critique on ABA

    Ethical Issues in Rural Programs for Behavior … – SAGE Journals › doi › pdf ( could be something or nothing, I don’t know)


    I do not know much about them and I would not judge them without seeing what they really do… Some might be ABA based…

    Not sure if it is good or a bad rural program ( only until 17)

  2. Samantha Shirley

    Hi, Thanks for posting. My kid just hot diagnosed with pFAS and autism. ABA is recommended. I’m just not sure ABA will work as she doesn’t learn from consequences. I’ve tried behvior based approaches, but it hasn’t worked and I don’t see how kids w FASD benefit from behvior modification programs such as the use of operant conditioning, when consequences have no appreciable affect. Not a lot of info on autsimand FAS, so thanks for putting your experience out there.

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