My name is Thomas. It is not my real name. I am using this name as I don’t want my abusers to find me.

I am 59 years old. My mother abandoned me as a young child and I was put in a foster home and an institution.  Both places abused me.

I was diagnosed autistic aged 4. Autism then was seen as a rare form of  schizophrenia and was a mental illness and they tried all they could to normalise me.

My foster parents abused me telling me my mother should have aborted me. I stimmed, tippy toed and screamed. They hated that. I couldn’t tolerate being touched, or noise. I was sexually abused from aged 4.
I was then insitutionalised where physical abuse continued.

I was forced to go onto strong meds and it did terrible things to my sensitive digestion.   Psychiatrists treated  me as mentally ill.


They told me I would never be independant and treated me like a small child. Like many autistics in some ways I can be quite childlike, but I am  cognitively intelligent.

Like many autistics I often related better to objects than people. Again I was ridiculed, especially by psychiatrists.  All my life I have had a close attachment to one particular object , and they tried all they could to remove that from me.  That object is my Thomas The Tank Engine Ornament.

They inflicted Lovaas ABA therapy on me.


They forced me to stop stimming and hit me when I did.

I love drawing, but if I drew the same picture twice in a week they yelled at me and forced me into more therapy.

They hated my special interests.  They tried to destroy all of them. Many were forced out of me and I still struggle to focus on them again.

I was punished for lining things up.

I was severly punished for not giving eye contact. I was kicked, hit and slapped on the face for not doing it. Eye contact was hell for me, and still is

I did not speak until I was 11. I was punished for not speaking. I was never given other options of communication, as verbal was the only thing they cared about.


When it ended I was offered therapy. The therapist sexually assulted me.

Even though the abuse eventually got less, living in assisted care was still very problematic for me. Hearing people in other rooms, fire alarms going off, noises I couldn’t control. My meltdowns were very frequent due to sensory overload and I was scared I would hurt someone, or end up in prison.


With a lot help from friends we decided I needed to live outside the city and on my own and with nature. Humans scared me, I have difficulty processing facial expressions and so can find it hard to understand what people mean.  Animals however, I have a natural liking to. I was exhausted with the therapies and tired of having to adjust life to suit everyone else.

At last, I found a wonderful therapist who taught me life skills.   She let me be me, and listened to my needs.  We worked with my special interests to enhance my life skills and worked on my strengths, so I could have the life I wanted and needed.


I have now been living on my own for 17 years. In the countryside where its quiet. I now take no medication, I stim all I need, I don’t force myself to keep eye contact with people.  I am managing my sensory issues with body brushing so I can hug my friends too.

I have 4 cats who I love dearly.


I have sensory issues with my hearing, therefore I use industrial strength head phones, that have soft cushions. Strong lights hurts my eyes, so I have dark sunblocking shades. To keep the wind from me outside, I wear a big hat.

Routine is my life and it stops me getting too distracted. I thrive with routine, and can cope better with needed changes when I stick to these schedules.  As long as the change is gradually added to my planner, over time,  I can adjust.

I only go out when I can avoid crowds, perfumes overwhelm me so I avoid any places like this.

I can enjoy my special interests to my hearts content. I love to do artwork.




Occassionally memories of repression can make me feel guilty about having special interests. I love my main object, like a person would love another. My love is so deep. No one can judge me for that now. They tried so hard to humiliate me for it, but they failed.  My Thomas the Tank Engine ornament always sits on my chest of drawers.


I believe strongly that autistic people should be allowed to be themselves. Adjustments and accommodations need to be made. I try to help many families online with this. What is normal anyway? Normal is a setting on the dryer, and my normal is Autism.



It was a huge honour to have the privilige to interview Thomas . He is an amazing person as you have read.

No one can deny that what Thomas went through was pure abuse. The hitting, slapping and ridiculing was unforgiveable.  He is left with depression, anxiety and many has many trust issues.


Not being allowed to be yourself is very problematic.   Yet ABA is still used to this day.  Reducing stimming, forcing eye contact, reducing special interests, only valuing speech as communication, instead of exploring other options such as AAC or sign language is ever present..  Not fully valuing sensory issues.  Trying to ‘normalise’ the child is still common practice. The methods may be gentler, but the principles and objectives often remain the same.

Follow this facebook page for discussion as to why ABA is still bad and can still be harmful for Autistics.

ABA UK Autism Discussion


7 thoughts on “Thomas’s story

  1. So very brave of you to share you’re personal story it broke my heart to hear what you went through as a child. I have a 6 year old on the spectrum he has special interests to which I encourage and will encourage even more after reading you’re story. He stims also I think it’s important for him to do this it’s his way to calm something else I won’t stop him from doing (unless he’s in danger)
    I did look into ABA but after reading about it was horrified by it and I will never put my child through that
    Sending best wishes to you 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You would love my house we have Thomas here in every form you can think of from wooden to HO tracks. Guessing $25,000+ in Thomas I think every video published also.
    Our story is gained custody of our grandson at age 4 1/2. Non verbal, no sounds at all from him even in play, in diapers, on bottle, ate only rice Chex and pizza Pringles, stemmed as we called flying, when playing he lined everything up in every direction he could. With our love and attention he flourished. We accepted him as he was. he has now grown out of some things. First thing was the bottle went away and the milk. He is dairy sensitive. He has every test done from allergy to fragile X ask is normal man results. At 6 no more diapers. He now is verbal and stims very seldom. When he does we ask where you flying to and he laughs and say “I don’t know”. He still eats Chex and pringles but has added different flavored and also eats 8-10 Burger King burgers a day. A variety of crackers and cookies and will taste other foods. He is in Main Stream classes in school 8 th grade and does simple reading and math, tells time, and knows some money pricing. He advances continually. We have let him be himself and he will always be accepted as he is. He has brought so much enjoyment into our lives. What helped him learn to do expressions was Thomas and his friends. He would watch the videos over and over and delete the words. Also stand in front of a mirror and practice their facial expressions. You could say do Percy or Thomas and he could make his expressions the same. I gave him my camera and have many pictures of his growth thru his eyes such as 1st time at zoo all the pictures were of the cages with fuzzy animals in the background or pictures of vents and other such objects with people fuzzy by them. He now takes beautiful pictures of people and animals. The zoo pictures are so nice you don’t even see the cages just the animals. To teach him everyday objects I talked my way thru life for many years. Example let’s make dinner Daiden, first we get a pot from the cabinet and go to the sink and turn on the faucet and fill it with water then turn the water off. Take it to the stove and get out the spaghetti and turn the stove on at heat the water. Etc etc etc. he now can heat his own burgers in the microwave and get what he wants to eat himself. We installed an unground pool that is salt generated ( helps to detox) because we have learned toxins build up easier in him and can delay his progress. And also epsom salt baths. I have been in research mode for the last 10 years. Daiden is now 14 years old, wears men’s clothing going into large size because he is 6 foot tall and wears size 12 shoe. He is not overweight because we let him eat when he is hungry and do not force food on him. At first he would have meltdowns in stores because of over stimulation and I would just sit down on the floor with him till he was ok the we would go on and shop. He loves to go to shop now. Well I have babbled on long enough and hope to be able to post more advancements in the future. So glad you have found your happy place in life everybody deserves that. Bye for now.


  3. Dear Thomas, your story is so hard to read, but it is an important one to share. Thank you for braving difficult memories to let people know about your struggles. My guy is only 13, but I hope to find better ways to work and connect with him every day. It never feels like enough, but I can hope he finds comfort in our routines and my occasional attempts at changing up what is normal! May you find the same contentment on finding your own kind of peace. I’m sorry it took so long to find you!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. My comments aren’t allowed? Because I share new information that disagrees with your beliefs? Because ABA is changing? And rather than acknowledge that, you’d rather stick to reporting your beliefs even if they aren’t based on current practices?


    1. Your comment are not relevant while the ABA “regulator”, the Behaviour Analysts Certification Board and ABA International etc condone practices of electric shock aversives (Google ABA electric shocks and JRC) ; while accounts of harm from ABA methodologies, with it flawed measures of success, continue today (eg ; while research today still seeks to stop harmless and useful autistic behaviours (ref #ABAResearch on Twitter); while the whole field does not know for who, when or why the practice of ABA harms and does not care to find out (


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