No, It’s Not Your Autism. It’s ABA…

Christina Bishop
13 min readMay 23, 2024


Soon it will be the month of June when Memorial Day is over and June is pride month when LGBTQA+ people celebrate who they are and the hurdles they had to cross. June is also when the sequel to Pixar’s Inside Out will premiere on the 14th. The original film is about a girl Riley and her core emotions are Joy, Anger, Fear, Sadness, and Disgust, and how they learn that Sadness is just as important as all of them. Yet the meaning of the film’s original message falls flat on a group of people who think they are everyday heroes when they’re not. I’m talking about the people who twist the film’s message into their dreaded system called Zones of Regulation.

Here the emotions are not treated like the characters and natural things they are, but treated like traffic lights which is not how emotions work regardless. You always want to have a green day because a green day is more rewarding for you and your parents who don’t respect your true emotions and the behavior that comes from them. In the Autistic community, this process of hiding negative emotions and behaviors is called masking. How many Autistic people had parents who told them over and over that they loved them just not your emotions or behavior? Ignoring behaviors is a common practice that is taught in ABA classes to parents and in the end, it results in the child feeling mistrust and betrayal from people who are supposed to love them unconditionally without judgment. Yet what if the child is told that whatever their parents are doing must be good for them because they love them without question? Then you get Autistic Ableists like Temple Grandin and Kaylee from Love on the Spectrum who hate the Puzzle Piece and Rainbow Infinity Symbol, but would haply love Charles Galton’s fingerprints as a symbol for Autistic people. You do know Kaylee, that Charles Galton founded Eugenics?

I hate the myth of the non-Ableist Autistic person because it disregards that we can be manipulated to believe in ideologies like Eugenics, Libertarianism, Christian Fundamentalism, and even Fascism. That manipulation always starts when a child is first diagnosed and a parent feels despair, guilt, and desperation to do anything to fix a problem that needs no fixing but acceptance and understanding. This is where Temple Grandin found her bread and butter, not helping cows, but helping desperate parents willing to put their child in Lucy Van Pelts ABA Therapy for more than 50 cents, please…

The Fountainhead of ABA

In Ayan Rand's The Fountainhead, we are introduced to an architect named Mr. Roark who is no different than the bully who smashes another child’s toy block-building in a kindergarten and walks away without consequences or accountability. Yet in the author’s mind, Roark is an ideal man. He fights the people who hold him accountable and destroys the projects of others out of revenge because he wants to be a rich man. Yet she wants you to see him more like Charlie Brown and less like Eric Cartman, which can have dangerous consequences like in the famous video game Bioshock. In the game, there is an undersea utopia gone rotten and rusted and its name is Rapture. Andrew Ryan built the city to escape all accountability and regulation of any kind which had its citizens experimented on and turned against each other into power-hungry zombies.

All Owned by Roark Capital…

For people like myself Thinking in Pictures is not just an autobiography by Temple Grandin, but paints a picture of what ABA therapists expect an ideal Autistic person to someday be just like how Ayan Rand expects all men to be like Mr. Roark who is an egoist monster. However not all of us are Temple Grandin, that’s why the Infinity Symbol is a rainbow because no Autistic person is the same and an Infinity Symbol means we have always existed. Right now you might be asking how Temple Grandin is an ideal Autistic. The answer is simple, none of us are perfect or normal but we are all special nonetheless. Although some advocates hate the word special it’s important in disabled and neurodiverse accuracy because of Mister Rodgers and his advocacy for special needs people to be visible, respected, and represented in all media for kids. For PDA Autistic kids the one emotion that never gets respect is anger.

If Charlie Brown is the sadness that Autistic people experience, then one character that expresses the anger and pain PDA Autistic people feel is Struwwelpeter. If you carefully look at his eyebrows he is not sad, but Furious, Angry, Verruckt! As he would say about how we are all treated! Yet if he trimmed his hair or nails, then he would not be Struwwelpeter but someone else no one could recognize. Constantly special ed kids are taught rules that make sense to adults but to kids don’t make any sense at all. One poster that gets lampooned in our community is the Quiet Listening posters that were in every classroom up until the acceptance of the Autistic and Neurodiversity movements and awareness of mental health.

“Eyes are watching Spike Jones, Ears are Listening to Spike Jones, Lips make various noises, Hands play on eberting, and Feet are Tapping the Bass Drum”- Zappel Phillip from Struwwelkinder

One day a child asked Mister Rodgers if he ever got angry which inspired a song that now makes me cry called, “What Do You Do with The Mad That You Feel?”. Although it would make a good punk rock cover by a girl band, the song has a message for both parents and children about crying and tantrums that is important.

I can stop when I want to
Can stop when I wish
I can stop, stop, stop any time.
And what a good feeling to feel like this
And know that the feeling is really mine.
Know that there’s something deep inside
That helps us become what we can.
For a girl can be someday a woman
And a boy can be someday a man.

This quote is even mentioned in Heather Shumaker's book It’s OK NOT to Share to make a point that regardless of development, it’s the emotions that matter and how they have to flow out and communicate rather than hide as we see with Sadness at the beginning of Inside Out. Yet ABA practitioners want kids to hide who they truly are because ABA has dark roots in LGBTQA+ conversion therapy which is frowned upon in every journal of pediatrics yet is deemed perfectly normal for Autistic and Neurodiverse people. Listen, ABA’s founding father was inspired by dystopia called Waldon 2 written by B.F. Skinner also worked with the founders of a hate group called Focus on The Family.

After the Club Q shooting, activists vandalized the headquarters of Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs, CO.

As a homeschooled kid, I felt lonely until I met a friend who lived across from my neighbors and we had a good time. I did not know what Focus on the Family did to people, but my friend grew up in a Fundie Disney Loving family and we would watch Veggie Tales laughing at all the Silly Songs with Larry. Then I discovered their true colors but did not know it yet, how you may ask? Adventures in Odyssey tapes which is Praire Home Companion for kids, but way worse. You see I’m a Zoomer, and while you whippersnappers today listen to a podcast on an iPod which I do too, back then you had to put a cassette into a radio and listen to stuff! And No, Adventures in Odyssey has nothing to do with a bunch of Greek Gods trying to bang up a priestess named Circe so they can win a stupid war and other Greek God shenanigans like messing with one guy who just wants to get home!

Odyssey is a fictional Midwest Town much like Lake Wobegon is a utopia for Garrison Keillor. However, the dark secret about the Odyssey is that it was seen as an Evangelist alternate to Saturday Morning Toons, unlike Veggie Tales whose message is God Thinks You’re Special and He Loves You Very Much, Odyssey’s message is way worse for kids. You are only good if you need help from God and other Good People. It’s the whole there is no love like Christian Love crap that The Duggars fell for that harms families rather than focus on them and how diverse families can be. For many Autistic people, family is not enough to give you the help you need or to fulfill your dreams and desires. Good therapy can help people fill the gaps, especially cognitive and emotional-focused therapy which is neuro-affirming. Bad Therapy is practicing toxic positivity and gratitude which is not good and creates an environment where everything around you is nothing more than Inspiration Porn and Misrepresentation of who we are as a diverse community. Do we call it out for what it truly is? No, because if you do you are a snob and a downer who wants to ruin people’s fun until…it’s not funny anymore to do so.

We all know what happened next…

Did I Ever Tell You How Special You Are?

Before a book was published called Bullshit Jobs, Dr. Seuss wrote a book about a bunch of poor people who have this situation called in 1973 called Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are? The story begins with a boy listening to a man sitting on top of a cactus who says he should be lucky that he does not have a terrible job wherever he goes in the world. Like the workers on the Bumble Bay Bridge with its zany and odd broken pieces, a merchant dealing with traffic on Highway Zyate, a bad Airbnb with a bedroom up on one floor and a bathroom up in another room, a poor kid Herby Hart who can’t put his machine back together all by himself, but worst is a monk who has trouble getting a bee to make honey on a flower. What is the solution?… To get more monks to watch the monk who is watching a bee instead of planting more flowers for the bees.

Although ABA encourages us that we should be independent individuals with jobs, many of them are terrible for our well-being and are not very fulfilling. More than often our dreams and desires get put aside for realistic goals and living which is why people have tons of bullshit jobs for us disabled and neurodiverse people to do rather than make our hopes and dreams a reality. Every story of that one kid who got into marching band despite being disabled is another hidden story of a band director’s abuse and inflated ego. This is what I call the Token to Victim pipeline, say nothing and you get a shiny token, say something, and stand up for yourself and you become a victim. Is this not ABA in a nutshell? We are rewarded for being silent and golden, yet punished if we speak out that we feel hurt, pain, or abused by a person we are made to trust. When I started r/FlyingCircusOrchestra on Reddit there was an independent charity called United Sound that got bought up by one of the largest monopolies in music education BOA (Bands of America). With prior knowledge of how BOA and DCI work and their culture of toxic competition and gatekeeping, I wrote an e-mail to Julie Duty the founder of United Sound, what I got was not what I expected out of a special ed charity.

Hi Christina,

Thank you so much for your message and for taking the time to reach out. We value our partnership with Music for All immensely and can draw a very direct line between their support and our ability to reach lots of people. We haven’t been “bought,” and in fact we reached out to them for support, not the other way around. As a very small nonprofit (there are only two of us who work here), it would be impossible to create the momentum and enthusiasm needed to inspire teachers to make a change all alone. To that end, we have several partners who help us with marketing through events like the National Festival. It costs MFA both time and money to make space for 106 extra students at an already over-full festival, but they do it to support our mission, their mission, and because they are simply good people.

As a musician, I know you have felt the thrill of performing and being a part of something that is bigger than yourself. Our New Musicians never had the opportunity to participate in band before United Sound, and so much of United Sound’s success and mobility is due to the financial, marketing, and organizational support we have received from Music for All. Consider this: through United Sound, 765 students with disabilities have joined band or orchestra in the last four years. Can you imagine that? It’s enough people to fill a small high school! You are already in band and know how good it feels to exist inside of your band family. But 765 kids did not…and now they do. It’s not about the big performances at all. It’s about the 60,000 hours our students have spent making music together. The BIG things, like National Festival, are how we get the door open to new ideas.

There will always be issues of access for schools and ensembles from lower-income areas but Music for All is working especially hard at lending a hand, both programmatically and financially, to those schools. They don’t shout about it from the rooftops because that would be disingenuous. “Hey look, we’re helping!” No, they just go quietly about their business doing as much good in the world as they can. The “profit” that is made from competitions and events is poured directly back into creating high-quality programming and equity of access for as many students and teachers as possible.

I’ll say again that I really do appreciate your email. As with any large or small organization, there is always room for growth and change and I will be sure to share your words with my own Board of Directors and the leadership at Music for All. Every voice is important and we all want to react to your opinion in the best way that we can. Your email today just might spur a small change that will in time make a big difference.

Keep playing the tuba and always speaking your mind!

She had drunk the BOA Koolaide, which is no surprise because BOA owns Music for All and various other music programs in the marching and performing arts. Her ableism and utter disregard for the exploitation of disabled and neurodiverse people are apparent and blatant, yet any neurotypical person would see this as her trying to be helpful when she is anything but helping herself while others stay silent. ABA is a very toxic Koolaide every Autistic Parent is told to drink in moderation, and drink too much you end up with Koolaide Bars like Autism Speaks and The Judge Rotenberg Center which have exploited parents and harmed Autistic people. ABA practitioners exist because they gave parents and teachers a false promise that will never be and they took it without knowing the consequences but only seeing the shining blue rappers of an ideal Autistic like Temple Grandin without ever knowing their child first. The most dangerous people I know are the Autism Moms who claim they know their children and post all the blogs and videos they want yet will never know that their children need a childhood and embrace their child boundaries.

One episode of Love on the Spectrum that made me furious as an asexual adult is when Abby and her significant other David are asked by a cameraman what they will do in bed.

Abby and David have every right to leave Abby’s parents behind because of the controlling and boundary invasion that is the show itself and how parents are the most dominant roll in Autism Media rather than Autistic People being their authentic selves. Yet the show has given Abby’s Mom a leg up and unquestioned fame on social media and whines and cries like a child over changing and evolving language in the Autism community like ditching high and low-functioning labels, being inclusive to all special needs people, and ABA altogether by one sentence. “YOU DON’T KNOW MY CHILD!!!”. I agree with my Mom on many progressive things and policies but eliminating ABA which is recommended in every journal of neuroses and pediatrics is not one of them because of the Good Witch or Bad Witch argument that comes with it. I have heard from many in my community that there is no good ABA because of the toll it has taken on many parent and child relationships.

Many therapists left ABA practices to find better neuro-affirming alternatives, which is a good thing. I live in Michigan, a place where not following an IEP is illegal and acknowledges neuro-affirming and gender-affirming care. Our Autism Society ditched the puzzle piece in favor of a bridge which is an icon of Michigan itself. Yet still many ABA practices are popping up without regulation from psychology and therapy workers. If people are now able to trust female gynecologic doctors when it comes to policy on Abortion, then now is the time to turn to real psychologists and therapists who do the hard work of helping us fight ABA.

Autism does not and should never be viewed as a crippling disability because it makes things worse for the people who do have it. Instead, we should create a community and embrace Autistic talent rather than making us take up jobs that will make us unhappy and unfulfilled. So many programs focus too much on job training instead of taking our interest and turning it into the workforce. We need more Autistic people as future writers, directors, artists, puppeteers, and animators with their leadership in mind. When neurotypical writers don’t engage with us there is nothing that speaks to us. If Dan Ackroyd played Rainman he would be the first Autistic Actor to win an Oscar, yet Hollywood has always been an institution of ableism and elitism from its union-busting beginnings. Steven Spielberg even admitted that he does not believe racism or ableism exists in Hollywood or at The Academy of Motion Pictures. Yet how can you support diversity and equality if you pretend bad actors don’t exist?

Autistic people face barriers when it comes to unionization or even activity-changing society. We are like the Ants in A Bugs Life who have their needs, dreams, and desires taken by the Grasshoppers until they realize we are strong and have always existed like the Rainbow Infinity Symbol.

Ants don’t serve Grasshoppers.



Christina Bishop

Tuba player, creator of Struwwelkinder and The Flying Circus Orchestra