Thursday, December 24, 2015

Mind Control for Autistics

This may shock a few of you but Aspie me actually worked in autism special ed rooms as a substitute teacher. The children would be drawn to me but I became horrified by the "programs" these rooms had in place and actually started avoided substitute teaching in those settings and just taking mainstream assignments.

I once got in trouble because an aide put one of the autistic students in a bodily restraint, and I told them they were going overboard, the child was not doing anything "dangerous" or hurting anyone else. She got me written up for interfering and "ruining discipline". The whole mess was traumatizing. I saw three classroom settings where they literally LOCKED up the kids. No, I am not kidding. Remember in my case, I was locked in my room over and over as a child for hours. So to say this was triggering to me, is probably an understatement of the century.

One looked like a large giant cage for dogs with a desk in it. This was over 20 years ago, but I remember this one being "too small" for the child to stand in but hope that is my memory playing tricks on me because the other thought is kind of horrific. One was a school where they seemed to mix sociopaths and Aspies willy-nilly, I had one of my hardest days as a substitute teacher there ever. One fat and Aspie girl was preyed on by at least two classmates with severe personality disorders and history of violence. I was used to tough kids, but those two raised the hair on the back of my neck.

Their solution at that school for behaviors there, was to lock up the kids in a wooden closet with holes in it. I would have been screaming and misbehaving too. I never locked up any kids or ordered it while running the classrooms. Even though I had worked in a juvenile home setting where the kids were literally locked up, one day at this place was enough and I never returned.

We were forced to use some mind control program at the residential home I worked at. It was a behaviorism program. Our clients were not locked up in any "seclusion rooms" or areas there, but they were awarded points and privileges in a system that seemed designed to encourage teaching teens to manipulate. They couldn't even go to the bathroom without permission.  I was supposed to give positive points for them eating a meal and not throwing the food or tearing the dining room apart. It combined control freak mandates with lowered expectations.  It brought out the worse in the personality disordered. My entire day was spent threatening to take off points or add them on for the smallest behaviors. I hated this system and even our interactions with the clients were scripted, leading to a sense of unrealness and inability to form a "real" relationship with them.

 I felt the program got in the way of teaching the teens a true sense of morality or self development. I learned something about myself at this job, that I am not a good enforcer of rules I find "stupid", and I was often deemed a trouble maker. I refused to do any physical take-downs or physical restraints unless a teen was trying to hurt themselves or hurt others, and I was constant berated for this and told this is why I had "no control". Some of my co-workers were insane future wannabe TSA workers, and one strong-arm woman, would knock one of the girls to the ground and put her in a lock-hold simply for mouthing off, or refusing to wash the dishes fast enough.

I knew this mother of an autistic who was into the "token" programs and the rest for her severely autistic daughter. She was a high school classmate and we had Facebook contact. She would put pictures up of the constant behavior programs and rest and her daughter who was verbal and could read some, would have to earn every privilege in the world. Her daughter was having more and more physical outbursts and it seemed to me these programs were causing a lot of the problems.  Thinking about programs for autistic kids where they call for "Quiet hands and quiet feet", I would flunk and be punished. Stimming calls down autistics, so I always find that one weird. I can understand asking a child to sit at a desk to try and be quiet to that point but telling them they must be still like a statue seems insane. Even as an adult, I learned to sit far away from people so my moving around would not bother them.

I was a high functioning Aspie with a high IQ and could "cloak". "Cloaking" got harder for me as I got older.  I had to pretend to be an NT, to keep employed. This wasn't perfect but it meant following a lot of social scripts I had memorized. Teaching for subjects I was truly enthused and enjoyment of many of the students came naturally but I always had a degree of extreme social and other anxieties.  I got very worn out and it helped to ruin my health having to second guess so many social and other interactions. The hardest was with co-workers. Even at this age, I am learning social rules that never occurred to me, of course some of these overlap with learning self protective boundaries and other matters, coming up from being no contact and finally escaping my abusers.

I freely stim in front of my husband and best friends, but can keep it together to "act normal" while out in public. While at times I wonder how life could have gone with help for my Aspergers, maybe there were advantages to sliding through the cracks because of the higher IQ and good grades and quiet meek demeanor I had when young. I avoided the crazy behaviorism programs they seem to be instilling on autistics like crazy. I lived under a strict and crazy narc induced "program" at home but at least school was more normal.

 I've referred to the school to prison pipeline before but let's just say they aren't just applying the growing American focus on CONTROL of young to the juvenile delinquent set but the autistics, developmentally disabled and other "troubled" teens. The book "Jesus Land" talks about these teens sent for normal teen behaviors to schools that seek to control them, with mind control and extreme rules.

It seems everything in this culture has become about enforcing power and compliance. I suppose in police state America, the focus now is to keep the autistics in line at any cost too. Sure teaching a severely or even more mildly autistic child not to hurt others, and to keep from self harming behaviors and how to bathroom and eat and other life skills is not wrong, but these programs just are evil.

"I’m sorry, but that’s not earning your token…"

I have been working with the autistic demographic for the better part of the last decade. When I first started in this field, I was a “behavioral tutor” at a popular treatment center. Their programs were based in Applied Behavior Analysis, or ABA.

 ABA is regarded as THE autism intervention. It is often the only thing covered by insurance, state-man...dated therapy programs, and other service providers. But what does it consist of?
The drawing above is what my work looked like for several years. Children were supposed to sit for thirty minute sessions, up to six a day, and work on a specific program, such as color identification or event sequencing. Children were rewarded when they worked… with tokens, tickles, stickers, candy, etc. Kids on “higher levels” had to wait longer for this “positive reinforcement.” Children were given a “discrete trial” and were expected to not only perform the task in a timely manner, but “sit with hands and feet down and a quiet voice” for three seconds. Children who failed to perform to these precise standards did not earn reinforcement… no exceptions. When children consistently failed to perform or acted out, they were often punished. Punishments, or “aversive consequences” as they are called in the industry, could get creative. At this treatment center, we screamed “NO!” at children, sprayed water in their face, made them stand up and sit down repeatedly, put them in time outs, and used what are euphemistically called “taste aversions.”

A taste aversion is what is pictured here. Vinegar was the most common, though we also used wasabi, cayenne pepper, and whatever else was found to be effective.

 I was told this was the only evidence based intervention available, and without it children would suffer more. I was told the brutality was necessary. Not until finding the adult autistic community did I learn this was not true.

 Sometimes when I talk to others in the field about this, I’m told it’s “not real ABA" or "that's not how it's done anymore." That is a bold pack of outrageous lies. Don’t believe people who tell you this. It’s real. I participated in it. People have trauma because of it. Please stand up against these types of compliance-based interventions.

 Learn more about applied behavior analysis here…



  1. I've seen these programs as a child and an adult. I think this article is a wake up call for special education teachers, educational psychologists, and "experts" on autism and Aperger's Spectrum. I hope your article will get more readers because you are writing from a perspective as an aspie and a person who was diagnosed as having autism. I took special education courses in the early 2000s and could tell you that they taught us to use reward system for student to exhibit desirable behavior but they told us to try to avoid using restraints on students with emotional behavior disorder or autism. These are the terms they used in the early 2000s. What they did not tell us it that some parents of students with autism are narcs. I did a project for the Applied Behavior Analysis class on a student with autism and his mother was involved. She sounded like a very nice woman. My project was to reward a young man with autism after he answered the phone 1 to 2 times in a set time and he responded. He ended up answering phone calls. His mother gave him his rewards he wanted such as more time with his computer or some goodies or delicious food. He could name his reward and it was given to him. The projected ended successfully and the student told my professor that he was happy I helped him and his mother. There was no restraint stuff and narc shits.

    I remember seeing horrors of other children being locked up and I was locked up in a closet once when I was a small child. It was in my loving foster parent's house when I was locked up. My foster mother had a narc sister and brother-in-law who locked me up because they had some negative attitude that my foster parent spoiled me. Well, by the time I reunited with my foster parent, these narcs had type 2 diabetes and the narc brother-in-law lost his legs. The narc sister was hostile toward me because she blamed me when her husband lost his leg (it was one leg).

    I think restraint program was created by narcs because they could not stand or handle children who did not cooperate with their image. In the 2000s, special education teachers had to do reward system and praising students. It was years before we learned that we created narc young adults rather than adults who would behave. I think people are more concerned about violent kids but children with autism are not always violent. They just don't meet narc teachers' or narc parents' supplies and "behave."

    I'm sorry your job as a special education substitute teacher teacher was triggering. It sounds like you worked for a school district who was ignorant about autism and aspies. They probably taught students to do restraints in the 1990s and started curtailing on restraints in the 2000s. The only program I am aware that are doing restraints and electric shock treatments is Judge Rotenberg Center in Canton, MA. This center has been controversial for over 10 years now.

    I will pray that your article will get attention it needs so special education teacher and workers who deal with people with autism will avoid using restraints and finding ways to educate students without producing narcs.

  2. One problem autistics face is some have NT parents who want to fix them at all costs. If you know the story about the lady who tried to kill her autistic daughter where she tried to commit suicide, I feel like false promises of a "cure" and the insistence on "fixing" the girl actually led to the worsened behaviors and problems. I felt for her because of the PTSD and she was getting knocked out by her daughter, the father seemed to be one of the most clueless human beings on earth leaving his wife home alone with an autistic teen who outweighed her by 50lbs but I felt there was massive damage done just from the fact all these groups and groups were telling her that her daughter could be "fixed" and turned more NT. I read she used massive token programs and the rest constantly and seemed to play like "Super-Mom" to the rescue in saving the daughter from "autism".

    I can understand wanting a child with severe autism to have a higher functioning level but there is a problem with high functioning autistics and even with the severe autistic children, in the fact the parents do not accept WHO the child is. One reason I think Temple Grandin managed to do so well, is her mother and those early teachers in her special school focused on her utilizing the strengths she did have. Many of the parents seemed focused on turning their autistic child into an NT.

    To be honest there is nothing more frightening for an autistic child to be restrained, autistics even have a hard time with ANY bodily contact the more severe the autism. Even for a mild Aspie while we can have physical affection with those close to us, like hugs for friends and kisses and romance etc for lovers, having someone not in those categories touch us at all is a nightmare. One thing I had to learn to "cloak" is shock and dismay at a stranger or acquaintance grabbing my shoulder etc. I am not so good with the startle response though.

    It is good I was not in any of those programs. I probably would have gotten locked in the closet day and night. I was high enough functioning to be quiet in a classroom so I was left in peace and in the mainstream.


    1. One horrible thing with this is the EVIDENCE based junk. The insurers and the rest want to treat PEOPLE like math projects, so they put behavior on scales. Its like teaching to the test behavior style. That creeps me out. I have seen graphs on websites, Sally did not comply 56 times this week, last week it was a 102. Such things drove me crazy reading them and gave me the creeps. There all natural and spontaneous learning is out the door and the focus becomes the behavior instead of the person. [I hate outcome based education in general but that is another topic]

      It sounds like the boy you worked with was being taught in a proper way. I am glad someone had sense. There is better therapies, like play therapy etc. Yes I fear for autistic children with narc parents who may seek narc supply via their disabilities or abuse them in other ways.

      I am glad your special education programs were better in the 2000s. When I saw the closets and cages in schools this was the very early 90s so hopefully things have changed. I was in ONE good special ed school that seemed to have a loving principal and some sense, and I did continue to sub there but that was mostly with other developmental disabilities rather then autism or what the state called "emotionally impaired" in other classrooms.

      I have seen the autism websites and there is even one autism group I want nothing to do with because they are known for pushing "cures" and support for things like ABA.

      While I think positive reinforcement has a place, I think taken to an extreme where it becomes bribery, they are almost forming personality disorders or worsening them. One thing some of the "high tier" girls learned in the group home I worked in, was keep their mouths shut and appear to follow the rules at all costs. These are things narc care most about and here even with the autistic kids, the narcs are caring more about graphs and compliance.

      So sorry you got locked in a closet, I hope this was only once, I know how scary that is. I think the narcs and wicked love these programs where they want to break the spirits of young people who are disabled. They are bean-counters who love the numbers. Some with severely autistic children may be simply desperate because the disorder can be overwhelming, but they are being led down a wrong road IMO. I am against the schools and Christian and wilderness camps that use compliance training on non-disabled children. A lot of the "behave" stuff is about appearances too. I did not mind an art classroom with a little bit of action and talking, which drove some administrators nuts, they wanted the children all quiet and acting like pods in seats. I kept thinking how much education was about CONTROL rather then learning even early on. Here I think about the autistic students too, if everything is about control and compliance, what harm will this do. They will even have the joyful things in life suppressed.

  3. Hi, Peep. Just discovered your blog last month, and I cannot thank you enough for your honesty and insight, for putting so clearly into words many troubling matters that I can often sense but cannot quite verbalize on my own.

    I am an aspie ACON scapegoat with a MNM and a covert narc dad who joined forces with MNM to destroy me in any way they could for being something they did not like, nor want. My weight was also a factor in the abuse. I have since escaped their home, which I have not set foot in for over 7 years now, and have been LC for the past 4 years. With time and distance has come understanding, and even some healing, as I am finding my view of family dynamics becoming more clear the further I draw from enmeshment in those patterns. I am just so glad there are people like you who have the courage to tell things as they are.

    As for the above post, once again, you are spot on.

    I have an education degree and have worked in the local public school system and can attest to your account of how autistic and other special needs children have been treated in the classroom. As a SPED sub, I was required to forcibly restrain autistic children as young as 5 (even though I had signed a document forbidding me from touching the students...)

    These kids were prescribed full day K as a remedy for their perceived social/emotional deficits. Understandably, many of them acted out due to the stress of having to cope with so many strangers for so long away from home every day, and rather than realize they were being overloaded, I was asked to hold them down forcibly in their seats and keep them there whenever they had meltdowns. It made me so uncomfortable (along with all the other forms of institutionalized child abuse) that I left public education and, rather than earn my credential, I went back to school in an entirely different field.

    While my days in the SPED classrooms happened 10 years ago, I have since done some more teaching at the elementary level and can say the abusive tactics are still there. Even the mainstream classrooms are structured more from a standpoint of military control than concern for the child's welfare and needs. The teacher I worked for, who was put on a pedestal for her supposed excellence, even earning teacher of the year awards and serving in high stakes political positions, was a malignant narc when nobody was watching. Her mistake with me was to unmask to try and bully me into doing more work for her (I was just a science specialist who was supposed to *help* with an afternoon lesson, and she would abandon me in the classroom for a week at a time while failing to make any of her own lesson plans).

    After 6 months of sustained illness from the stress combined with escalating verbal/emotional abuse behind the scenes, I finally quit, and managed to get this teacher kicked out of the NSF program I was a part of so that I would be the last unsuspecting graduate student to become her prey. But the price I paid for that was high. She pulled out all the stops, launching a smear campaign with my supervisors at the university. Of course, having known this woman for years as the model citizen that she was in the community, my supervisors believed her version of my character and events over my own truth, but that was fine. I succeeded in barring her from the program in the future.

    Afterward, I met up with someone who knew several other students who had interned with this teacher and... same story. They too were so harassed and overworked that they either quit, or made it through the school year but nearly lost their sanity and health.

    The public school system is simply a haven for grandstanding narcs who thrive on power and control and an image of perfection. These are not the people who should be teaching our children, especially those on the spectrum, yet they end up in the classroom because they are so sure of their knowledge and ability to do things *right*. The result is lifelong trauma for those who are most vulnerable.


    1. Hi Lisa, welcome to my blog, thanks for your kind comments too.

      I am sorry you had to deal with being an ACON too with a NM and covert narc Dad. Yes mine wanted to destroy me too for not being what they want. Wish they had given me up instead of putting me through the hell they did. Yes that is a very tough set up for Aspies and sorry weight was included. That is a triple whammy isn't it?
      I am glad you have been able to distance yourself and see through the fog and realize the patterns. Yes telling it like it is, is not easy, remember I think my NM discovered the blog.

      Thanks for sharing your experiences in the classroom too. I am glad to have someone back me up because I remember thinking how crazy it is. The schools put on this appearance of being kind and loving to the special ed students especially and I remember being in horror, when I was in my 20s with my art ed degree doing sub work.

      Restraints can be traumatizing for those forced to do them and yes they put you in a legally vulnerable position. In the classroom, I was not supposed to touch the students either, the aides would do restraints or call on one to do it, but I never ordered any while I conducted the classrooms. Actually I had less discipline problems in those classrooms. But yes it was scary and a lot of the "restraints" were over control issues not safety. Kind of like "I am stronger then you and you will do what I say" which is not what they were supposed to be used for. One aide held a child down on the ground for far too long. I had to do some restraints at the group home, these were safety issues but they were abused there too. The gung ho woman, who restrained at the drop of a hat got a client stronger then her, who knocked her out and put her in the hospital with brain injuries, I found this out after having left from a coworker.

      Yes full day kindergarten probably was more for parental demands then what the children really needed. Yes they had far more stress being with strangers and a full room, for that long instead of a slower introduction to school. It's horrible you were told to hold them down during a meltdown instead of giving the needed space. I saw some of that crazy stuff too. A lot seemed intent on stupid rules and rigid attitudes as well. The autism rooms were odd for me, I sometimes could tell the students connected with me and this made the aides angry because they were calmer and quiet around me. This was not true for all classrooms of course, LOL. I had a friendship end because she was angry at how I connected with her autistic son and could communicate with him. I saw plenty an aide, actually aggravating the students too.


    2. I had one traumatic moment at one special ed school this was when I was in a gym so I was seeing another class, where an aide got in a literal throw down with a boy with Down's Syndrome.

      I protested a lot of the rules and actions at the group home too. I understand you being uncomfortable and leaving public education. I read John Taylor Gatto and believe a lot of public education is about "control", training for the police state and indoctrination more then actual learning. So I would not return to education. In fact before I was disabled I was trying to leave the entire field. I was burned out working with troubled youth. I saw things were getting worse and worse and I had lost belief in the system offering any real help. Of course my health problems were making job prospects very limited.

      The teacher who abandoned you in her room, sounds like my student teacher supervisor. She took on student teachers to do all her work in one huge rotation. I saw the narcs too never wanting for employment ruling class rooms with back-stabbing with coworkers and verbal abuse with the students. I am glad you were able to bar her from the program even if a heavy price came with it. I have seen insanity in the schools, the student teacher supervisor at one school, would verbally abuse students, one thing scared me at that PUBLIC school. Most of the teachers all attended the same church. This was my pre-Christian days but I considered their church a cult back then and still would. Something seemed wrong with that. She seemed to rule the roost too. So I have seen the power plays and other insanities too. I believe the family teacher at my last group home job was a full blown sociopath looking back. She was lauded for always having "control" even as she ripped off the place blind, and broke all the rules like taking the clients to parties with her personal family and friends. She slept with supervisors and was allowed to come to work 2 hours late even, if she wanted while I was written up if the bus left me 10 minutes late.

      I feel for all the graduate students that woman would have overworked and harassed, I think universities definitely need more oversight as to who is chosen for student teacher supervisors. I have seen people's educations and job prospects permanently derailed by narcs.

      Yes there's way too many narcs in the public school system. They lie, cheat and put on false masks of caring, and abuse many of the children and teens behind the scenes. They are the last ones who should be teaching autistic children. It's interesting how there are no screening methods, sure they will screen the lawbreakers and molesters out, but the system sure doesn't seem to care about sociopaths and malignant narcs getting their hands on children.

  4. I am an Aspie female. I used to get sent to the "thought chair" in my 6th grade classroom quite frequently for having crying spells at school. How awful is that?!

    1. "Thought chair" that sounds like the book 1984. I guess in that chair you were supposed to STOP thinking and crying. Yes that is awful.

  5. I wonder how I got through school. I wasn't able to "cloak". Not ever. I was able to take in a lot of information, at once, and I can see now this is where a lot of professors had failed at giving the students what they needed. Perhaps, it wasn't even the professors fault even. You see, there is a talk of the learning curve, and in engineering, what applies here goes with this, etc., almost has to be taught all at once. Or the information doesn't work. My mind can do this. This what has to be done, and this is what I call my "abstract thought". I hope that makes sense.

    You know, I loved it. It totally absorbed me, and I forgot about my tormented mind and this was good.

    I see my autistic granddaughter, and she was making towers with her Cheerios at the age of two, and her mind just never stops. She won't have a conversation, she can't but she is so busy, it is hard to make out what she is doing. If she was punished for not "fitting" well, it would just feel wrong. I would like to see her just go where she needs to and see what happens. She is happy, as long as she has things to occupy her, and I am like that. She is a lot like me.

    1. Yes engineering is like math, where knowledge has to be built upon. I have a hard time visualizing things I don't understand so engineering, math etc did not come easily to me. I think that "abstract though" definitely can give people an edge. It's like getting lost in though, I can do that, though for me it's non scientific areas. Sorry you could not cloak, I do not think I was good at it. LOL

      I am glad your autistic granddaughter is happy making her towers too, and she is happy when occupied. I keep busy too well around the health, I know what you mean, I think the aspie mind is always humming.... I see a lot of the NTs focusing on externals, actually destroying those autistic/aspie processes.