i didn't go through ABA, but i spent most of my life until 6 years ago an undiagnosed child who had "tantrums" parented with a punitive parenting style. ABA functions off of negative reinforcement, & the consequences of the latter i'm more than qualified to speak on. A THREAD
trigger warning for emotional abuse and ableism. please respect your own boundaries. #ActuallyAutistic #ABA @autisticats i made a long thread if you're interested in spreading it!
i was not taught in depth, step by step, how to effectively clean a room, dishes, or other similar chores, even as a young child when such instruction would be appropriate.

instead, i was taught, trial by fire style, how NOT to clean things.
i never did learn how to do chores -

i just learned how to please the adults around me so they would stop raising their voices, putting me in time out if i protested, or using stern tones of voice that scared young autistic me.
i have object permanence & cognitive processing issues. this means sometimes i *genuinely* cannot see mess that would be obvious to an outsider. if im focused or its not directly in my way, it fades into the background.
this means that all the minute details of tidying are actually more complex than they might be for someone else.

weak object permanence and poor short term memory? i put the broom down, & now i no longer know where it is. i don't notice the piles of laundry cos im used to them.
poor cognition?

i can't prioritize tasks when tidying a room. it's hard enough not always noticing mess. when i cant effectively organize tasks from most important to least, i'll spend an hour reorganizing my bookshelf and forget the laundry on the floor or to strip the bed.
ive also always been quite forgetful from a young age, but trauma has worsened it. it means i remember things in fragments; ordinary days arent filed right. if you asked me to recall this week, it would be a blur. i wouldn't be able to tell you if nothing special happened.
add in loss of memory and inability to notice time passing to the list of issues and cleaning is a lot more complicated than you might at first assume.
and being undiagnosed and raised by parents with trauma meant that all these issues i now know i have? they were never accommodated.

instead, there was an attempted to make them go away through negative reinforcement. this did not work.
from the outside, it may look like the reinforcement was effective. but i did not learn how to be organized. i did not learn anything but how to appease those around me & mask my issues.
my memory problems have never gone away - i simply learned to hide them. i didn't learn how to wash dishes. i learned how to avoid using multiple dishes. i learned to lie about having finished tasks when i had never done them. i learned to stop standing up for my own boundaries.
i didn't learn to lie the way other kids did, where they said their dad worked for nintendo or they had magic powers.

i learned to lie defensively. to put a straight face on within seconds and flatten my voice to sound honest. to say i cleaned up, i did my homework, got an A.
when i was very little, i had a tell when i made small fibs.

i would laugh while saying them. or id smile, or my tone would be off. i would try to fib about having brushed my teeth, and start to giggle.
i didn't get rid of the tell. i bit the inside of my cheek to surpress it instead.

i still have a scar on the inside of my right cheek. it is a notch, half a centimeter deep, which perfectly fits my canine tooth on that side of my mouth.

i started that habit 9 years ago. 9.
i compulsively hide dishes and garbage and clothes, almost like a hoard. i used to hide dishes in the broken dishwasher to avoid them being seen, & dirty laundry under my bed & in the back of my closet. it's a compulsion i will struggle to kick once i have safely moved out.
i cannot wash dishes. it has actually become a trauma trigger by now. i can dry them if my partner washes, but if it's with someone i don't trust or know well, i involuntarily shake for the entire time.
here's how i "learned" to wash dishes:

*swirls the water to rinse* "STOP PLAYING WITH THE WATER!"

*wipe cloth on dish* "SCRUB HARDER! ARE YOU EVEN TRYING?"

*use faucet to help clean* "STOP WASTING WATER!"

*cry from stress* "STOP TRYING TO GET OUT OF DOING IT!
there was never a right way to do household tasks. i never was taught that one.

but i know the "wrong" way to do so all too well.

i am still unable to make mistakes, even small ones, w/o having a panic attack.

i can't be told, even gently, that i made a mistake w/o panicking
i have a hair trigger startle reflex. saying "boo!" from behind can make me start sobbing and hyperventilating.

i have great hearing. the wrong kind. the kind that knows how many seconds you have to pretend you were tidying instead of sitting down, that can tell footsteps apart.
i can lie instantly about someone's appearance, whether ive done a task, how i am, what my progress is. i fight the urge to do so in front of my friends, who would never be angry about my honesty or disorganization. it is reflexive.
i am an adult, but my mind never grew beyond a small, scared kid, cornered, cowering and thinking

"please don't hurt me, please don't yell, please don't take my phone, please don't take my teddy, please don't be angry, please"

and it's on loop, forever.
i can manage my mental health so the thoughts and memories are quieter, so the internal begging is less intense.

but it's the voice, the mental symptoms of my PTSD. for which there is no cure.

that fear will never go away. i can only mitigate it but it is here for life.
i could have been a very healthy disabled child. i could have learned self compassion and respect.
but instead, i am a terrified adult who puts others' needs before my own without question, even when it hurts me immensely, and i have 6 total mental health diagnoses and am a suicide survivor.

please, be kind to your kids. they deserve better than what i got.

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More from @trashmasc

2 May
parents will say they *have* to use negative reinforcement and punishments on their children or their children won't behave properly or change their behaviour. cw weapon allegory
i think if someone pointed a gun at you and told you to do something, you'd do it.

tell me, though, is that effective? would you be able to do it without the threat? what if no one has ever taught you to do it, only ordered you to do the task?
when you threaten to take a kids phone (think - their link to the world outside their home, & only way to call for outside help)

or threaten to take away comfort objects, enjoyable activities- things that bring them joy & help self regulation & control -

is that truly a choice?
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