Yes, I cringed when I saw the 'new miracle that heals autism' on TV. As you say ABA is not new, some of the principles i.e. reinforcement and positive behaviour support have been around a very long time and are already being used successfully in many special education settings.
To be honest, I have also seen the kind of nasty rhetoric you talked about in ABA circles i.e. you're bad parent if you don't do ABA 40hrs/week or your child will be unhappy for the rest of their life. It really disappoints me as I feel it's untrue and there's absolutely no need for it. Also the idea that parents should do anything and everything to do ABA with their child is ridiculous. Parents do what they can do - some do ABA, some do speech therapy, some do biomedical, some do expensive private schools, some home school - I think it's extremely harmful to judge parents on what they do or don't do. Most of us are doing our best but parents tend to feel guilty about whether we're doing enough for our kids - autism or not.
However, the idea that parents do ABA so their children will become non-autistic is just as abhorrent to me. For us and many who take part it is to learn critical communication and life skills - not to take away autism. There is no control, that is true but I can categorically say that he would not be communicating the way he does now without intensive teaching. Yes it's expensive and there's a tendency on the part of parents for confirmation bias - that the money they've spent has been worth it. However the expense is mainly due to the effective one on one teaching, which we just could not manage and is not provided in our so-called inclusive education system.
I wish we were able to teach our son the skills that he needs to get by and have a decent life. It's gut wrenching to admit that actually, our love and support is not enough to do that. ABA has become part of our circle of support and has given us hope that he will be more independent and be able to tell us when something is upsetting or hurting him. I realise that ABA is not for everyone and many cannot afford it, that is why I support the lobbying of Govt for some state funded therapy. So everyone that needs it, can access it. Breaks my heart to see a lady I know, english as a second language, little family support, struggle, to toilet train her severely autistic child and a toddler at the same time. She has been trying for well over a year! I know some evidence-based teaching, at home and school, would really help but there's really nothing available for her. The IHC ASD Communication & behaviour service looks like a step in the right direction but I hear waiting lists are enormous.
Oh for the caring state! and non-judgemental support of parents!