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If you’ve been around my corner of the interwebs for a while, you know that I’m loudly against ABA therapy for Autistic children.

I’ve written about the problem with ABA here. And why even “new ABA” is bad here.

So recently when I saw this question about Calm the Chaos and ABA pop up over and over again, I knew I had to address it.

If you don’t know, Calm the Chaos is a parenting program for kids that don’t fit the mold that I run with my friend Dayna Abraham.

She’s the founder, and I help her create the content and coach our students that join the program.

(Yeah, my “day job” is pretty sweet!)

But because the program addresses behavior, we’ve been asked a ton of times exactly how Calm the Chaos relates to ABA.

So let me be very clear: it doesn’t.

And let me be very clear about one more thing: These are my opinions, as a human who knows Calm the Chaos inside and out, not as an official spokesperson for CTC.

Okay, disclaimers out of the way… Let’s dive into four specific ways that Calm the Chaos is different from ABA therapy.

Angry child yelling. Text reads: 4 Specific Things That Make Calm the Chaos Different From ABA

4 Ways Calm the Chaos is Different From ABA

Quick side note: The doors to Calm the Chaos are only open a few more days, and I’m offering some pretty incredible bonuses when you join.

  • 3 Small Group Coaching Calls With Me
  • (So that you can get clarity on your specific questions and never stay stuck)
  • A 1:1 Plan Review With Me
  • (A private coaching call to troubleshoot one of the plans you create in the program)
  • Calm the Chaos & Autism
  • (My mini-course that walks you through exactly how to use the framework for your Autistic child)

Click here to get all the program details and claim your bonuses!

#1: Calm the Chaos Starts With YOU (Not Fixing Your Child)

When you start ABA, the focus is put on “fixing” your child and their behaviors.

Calm the Chaos believes that your child isn’t broken and doesn’t need to be fixed.

(And spoiler alert, you aren’t either)

We teach you how to start with your mindset, your beliefs, your thoughts, your background.

Because all of those things play a massive role in how you approach your child and their behaviors.

We also talk about how you can stay calm in the moment with our Stop, Breathe, Anchor System.

That way you aren’t blowing up and escalating situations (even if your child’s autism pokes your autism right in the eye and pushes you into your own meltdown).

#2: Calm the Chaos is About True Connection (Not Tokens & Rewards)

In ABA, there’s a lot of emphasis on rewarding behaviors, and often this is done through fake systems of connection.

A child’s favorite toy or their ipad may be kept from them until they do their “undesired behavior” first.

Or a child is offered connection and praise only when they “ask for it appropriately” and is ignored at all other times.

At Calm the Chaos, we focus on building true connection with our kids.

We meet our kids where they’re at and join them in their world without the goal of eventually bringing them out.

We teach you how to build connection points by sending your child signals of safety that actually make them feel safe.

And trust me, true connection isn’t just about playing games all day.

For our Autistic children often it’s just about being there for them through a struggle or giving them space when they need it.

(Check out the Calm the Chaos Program here)

Angry child yelling

#3: Calm the Chaos Understands the True Reason for Behavior (Not the Behavior’s “Function”)

In ABA, they use something called the “Functions of Behavior” to explain why behaviors happen.

They look at what happens right before and right after a behavior, and they make assumptions like:

  • They do it because they desire ipad time.
  • They do it to avoid schoolwork.
  • They do it to manipulate and get their way.
  • They do it to get out of an undesired activity.

And when you look at behavior with that lense, it’s easy to see why not giving in and focusing on getting your child to stop the behavior is the primary goal.

At Calm the Chaos, we know that all behavior is communication, and that you often have to dig more under the surface to find the true cause.

We often find that the cause ends up being one of three areas:

  • A basic need is not being met
  • A need for connection is not being met
  • A sensory need is not being met

There are some behaviors that are even further below the surface (we get into those more in the full program) but the majority are covered with those three.

And when you look at those causes for behavior, the goal shifts to solving the problem that’s causing the behavior.

#4: Calm the Chaos Empowers Your Child (Without Manipulating Them Into Compliance)

ABA often claims to empower children by building their skills and helping them gain independence.

But manipulating an Autistic child into complying (even when their needs aren’t being met) because they want the reward is the opposite of empowering.

In Calm the Chaos, our empowerment looks different.

It’s not about offering two choices (that you want) and ignoring your child’s voice.

It’s not about handing your child a first/then chart and saying “first brush your teeth, then ipad time!”

It’s about truly hearing your child’s voice and helping them to advocate for themselves in a way that others understand.

And that starts with them advocating to us, their parents.

Because, honestly, if we don’t accept our children advocating for themselves with us, how can we expect to advocate for themselves to the world?

We all want strong and independent children who stand up for what they believe in, but when they stand up to us we consider it “talking back”.

So empowerment in Calm the Chaos looks like taking your child’s voice into account and making plans that work for both of you.

That way your child doesn’t feel like you’re controlling everything, and you don’t feel like you’re being walked all over.

So there you have it, friends. Four specific ways that Calm the Chaos is different from ABA.

  • Calm the Chaos Starts With YOU (Not Fixing Your Child)
  • Calm the Chaos is About True Connection (Not Tokens & Rewards)
  • Calm the Chaos Understands the True Reason for Behavior (Not the Behavior’s “Function”)
  • Calm the Chaos Empowers Your Child (Without Manipulating Them Into Compliance)

If you’re ready to dive into the Calm the Chaos Framework, and you want to do it with me walking you through step by step, click here to join us in our next 90-day program.