It is not possible to fix that which is not broken. Autism is an inherent neurophysiological way of functioning that cannot be altered.
Therapies for autism are aimed at socializing the child. It cannot be done. It is no more possible to socialize an autistic person than it would be to intellectualize a neurotypical person. The autistic brain works in a precise way that cannot be changed. No one can be talked out of inherent hyperfocus.
Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is the most common therapy that is forced upon autistic children. It is an intensive one-on-one program that aims to improve social skills by increasing desirable behaviors and decreasing problem behaviors. There is a vocal community of adults with autism (many of whom had ABA as children) who say that ABA is harmful because it is based on the cruel premise of trying to make people with autism “normal”.
ABA’s message is that autistic ways of doing things are wrong and need to be corrected, and that the autistic child is broken and must be molded to be more palatable to non-autistic people. This mistaken belief is destructive of the child’s identity and self-worth.
ABA teaches autistic people that their needs are less important than pleasing other people. This makes autistic children overly compliant, leaving them vulnerable to manipulation and abuse. These children need to be taught how to express and get their needs met, not to be taught that their needs are less valid than the needs of people around them.