Mother of 18 Year Old With Autism Attributes Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Therapy to His Success
When Arun Schoonderwoerd-Sirah, a native of Bristol, England, was diagnosed with severe autism at age 2, doctors told his parents it was unlikely he would ever read, write, or even speak. Thankfully Arun, now 18, has defied the odds, and is able to use full sentences, make simple requests, and is even a student in college. According to a report by BristolPost.uk, Arun’s success has entailed major sacrifices from his mother and primary caretaker, Harshinder Sirah, who gave up her career as a designer of bridal and evening wear, divorced her husband, and lost many friends.
Despite this loss, Sirah believes the struggle has been worth it, and that Arun has benefited significantly from applied behavioral analysis (ABA) therapy programs that she herself pushed Bristol City Council to implement. For the unfamiliar, ABA is a system of autism treatment based on theories that desired behaviors can be taught through a system of rewards and consequences. After receiving the grim diagnosis of Arun’s future, Sirah and her ex-husband began researching the best care to provide for him, and eventually settled on ABA. In the Bristol Post report, Sirah acknowledged that ABA therapy is expensive to the point of being unaffordable for many parents. "It's been an arduous journey to keep this in place as local authorities make it so difficult as they do not know enough about ABA, and how this supports, encourages, and actually teaches children, rather than child minding them,” Sirah was quoted as saying.
"It’s actually cheaper than placing children in homes where costs can be as high as £365.000 per year!”
Sirah’s Facebook page, A Spoonful of Autism, has garnered over 400 followers. Sirah said that, while she doesn’t have much time to socialize, people have reached out to her saying the page has offered much-needed support and hope, and that people have approached her with questions as well.
According to Bristol Post’s report, Sirah currently paints from her studio, and donates 10% of her profits to the charity organization Face, which supports children and young adults on the autism spectrum.