Mailbag: Please don’t label ‘atypical’ behaviors associated with autism as ‘bad’

CHOC Children’s Thompson Autism Center,
CHOC’s Thompson Autism Center is set to open soon.
(File photo)

As the grandmother of a 4-year-old child with Autism Spectrum Disorder, I was delighted to read that CHOC will soon be opening the much-needed Thompson Autism Center.

That said, I was extremely disappointed to read that the author has interpreted Applied Behavioral Analysis therapy as a “mainstay for the treatment of bad behavior in autistic individuals.”

ABA therapy is indeed the gold standard for the treatment of individuals with ASD.

However, what it is intended for is teaching appropriate, functional behaviors to neuroatypical individuals who are challenged by their attempt to integrate into a neurotypical world.


Use of the word “bad” in describing individual behaviors does a great disservice to the individuals, both young and old, who do the daily hard work of trying to adapt to, and fit into, their environment.

Educating our community about what Autism Spectrum Disorder actually is, is a challenge at best.

Referring to atypical behaviors in this way makes it even harder.

Leslie Furman


Newport Beach

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