ASHA Member Protest against the proposed ABA/SLP SIG
ASHA Member Protest against the proposed ABA/SLP SIG
TO: The Board of Special Interest Group Coordinators & ASHA Board of Directors
It has been brought to our attention that there is a small group (202 individuals) that have signed a petition to request the creation of an Applied Behavior Analysis in Speech-Language Pathology Special Interest Group (SIG) through ASHA.
We are a Collective of SLPs and SLPAs that are members of ASHA. We respectfully request that the request for the ABA/SLP SIG be denied. We are unapologetically opposed to ABA usage with the populations we serve. Research continues to grow within the scientific community that ABA is, in fact, harmful to neurodivergent clients/patients/students. A recent preliminary review of ABA service outcomes conducted by the US Department of Defense on behalf of Tricare deemed ABA ineffective. The United Nations has also deemed ABA to be a violation of autonomy and self-determination and therefore is considered a human rights violation. In order to practice in an evidence-based manner, we mustn’t ignore the client’s right to be accepted for who they are rather than attempting to invalidate their natural-born neurology and train them to mask their true identity. Neurodivergence is a part of our identity and therefore should be respected and honored, just as other cultural differences are.
We see clearly that the proposed ABA/SLP SIG would not be in line with ASHA’s envisioned future as published:
Below are the specific portions this proposed SIG does not support:
ASHA: "It is 2025, and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)—the professional, scientific, and credentialing association for audiologists, speech-language pathologists, and speech, language, and hearing scientists, audiology and speech-language pathology support personnel, and students—leads advocacy efforts for people with communication and related disorders."
Advocacy efforts include respecting and honoring neurodivergent minds as natural variations – as a difference, not a disorder. Advocacy in this context should include fighting for equitable treatment of marginalized groups (e.g., neurodivergent individuals).
ASHA: "The relationship among the professions within the discipline is apparent in the programs, products, and services developed to serve member needs. The Association's long-standing commitment to the integral relationship between the professions of audiology and speech-language pathology is the cornerstone of its organizational efforts."
There is a sea change within the field of Speech-Language Pathology to accommodate principles of the Neurodiversity Model of Practice based on neurodivergent perspectives. This means we must modify the traditional Medical Model, including the use of the traditional Behavioral Model. As more and more clinicians become educated, they recognize that the “old” methods we were taught were damaging, non-affirming, toxic, and ableist. The Neurodiversity Model is the future.
ASHA: "ASHA's standards for certification and accreditation are reflected in all state licensure/registration and credentialing programs and in all communication sciences and disorders academic programs."
Please consider that many state organizations are currently fighting the encroachment of the ABA field into our scope of practice. Several state organizations have brought their concerns to ASHA in recent years.
ASHA: "Professional practice informs and is informed by research, clinical expertise, and the values and preferences of the individuals served as well as their families."
Autists continually speak out against ABA. Emerging research has causally linked ABA with PTSD. Autistic SLP colleagues and otherwise neurodivergent individuals teach us, through their lived experiences, just how harmful ableism is, and how deeply rooted it is within our profession. We MUST stop looking to Allistic individuals to educate us on Autism. We must elevate neurodivergent members and honor their experiences.
ASHA: "Members and affiliates recognize the importance of evidence-based practice and actively seek evidence that serves as the basis for clinical decision making. Adhering to the principles of evidence-based practice, advances in relevant health care disciplines, prevention, education, habilitation, rehabilitation, and accompanying research and technology has improved functioning, participation and health, education, and vocational and recreational outcomes across the life span of persons with communication disorders.
ASHA tells us that Evidence-Based Practices are three-fold: Clinical expertise/expert opinion, Evidence (external and internal), and Client/patient/caregiver perspectives. The traditional medical model of "cure" does not take into account both client perspective, as well as increasing published evidence that ABA has harmed previous recipients. Elevating the field of ABA ignores both client perspective and human rights.
ASHA: "Professional practice is more effectively aligned with reimbursement systems that reflect a more comprehensive, person- and family-centered, and collaborative practice model that increases access to such services."
Person-centered care provision cannot be accomplished through any behaviorally-oriented framework. The traditional medical/behavioral model is innately unsupportive of neurological differences and fails to account for individual preferences and experiences. While some claim that the ABA field in their “new” variation can align with the Neurodiversity Model, this is simply a marketing ploy. ABA is inherently antithetical to the Neurodiversity Model.
ASHA: "The Association's contributions to enriching the professions and commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), resources, advocacy, and collaboration with related professional entities are well known and respected.
The Association opposes and addresses systemic racism and discrimination in the professions and their impact on communication, health, and education. Under-represented populations are actively recruited and successfully retained; students and professionals are heard, respected, and safe, and are thriving in the professions of audiology, speech-language pathology, and speech, language, and hearing sciences.
Equitable and inclusive policies are in place within the Association, and throughout the discipline, and are routinely practiced by ASHA members.
ASHA’s membership comprises individuals from different demographic backgrounds and identities; the Association benefits from the collective strength of members’ experiences, values, and skills, which are universally sought as critical contributions to the advancement of science and practice of the professions in communication sciences and disorders.
Members and affiliates continually strive to maintain the highest level of knowledge and skills necessary to provide services effectively in their preferred area(s) of practice in communication sciences and disorders, and to seek specialization when desired.
…Members use their expertise in a culturally competent and responsive manner…"
Neurodivergence encompasses a neurodivergent person's identity. For example, a Black Autistic Queer person’s identity is inclusive of these three identifiers and they should all be equally respected and honored.
Please sign this petition with your Name and ASHA # to display that you are a member AND that you oppose the creation of an ABA/SLP SIG. (Put ASHA # in the comment - "I am signing this because...")