Effectiveness of Applied Behavior Analysis

There has been some debate regarding the benefits and drawbacks of Applied Behavior Analysis. In this section we will discuss the studies done with autistic individuals using this program.

1. Lovaas’ (1987) study of children diagnosed with autism at the Young Autistic Project led him to conclude that these children can learn most effectively using the ABA technique. He found that children that were receiving approximately forty hours per week of ABA demonstrated the greatest improvements in behavior.

2. Francis (2005) in a study noted that the intensity of the behavioral intervention was the most significant factor in predicting the treatment outcome. The length of treatment was also critical in achieving successful outcomes; it was found that long-term treatment achieved better results than shorter-term treatment. The children with autism who received intensive ABA treatment made larger improvements in most skill areas than children who participated in the other interventions. Parents whose children received intensive ABA reported less stress than parents whose children received other treatments. In addition, the social behaviors of approximately one-half of the group became indistinguishable from the social behaviors of neuro-typical peers in a first grade class.

3. A study by Dillenburger, Keenan, Gallagher, & McElhinney (2004) examined parents’ responses to the use of applied behavior analysis with their children. Their findings confirmed a high level of perceived effectiveness of applied behavior analysis. The parents felt that applied behavior analysis was effective in terms of attaining behavioral goals, creating strong intervention strategies, and improving the overall quality of life for their children.  Applied Behavior Analysis is an accepted approach to help improve social skills in autistic individuals.

4. Barbera (2007) found that the Verbal Behavior Milestone Assessment approach reduces tantrums and other problem behaviors because it begins by assessing the child’s likes and interests. It then uses those likes and interests (reinforcers) to motivate the child so that he or she can start to learn. After the reinforcers have been identified, the child will immediately start receiving objects of reinforcement, and then will ask for objects either verbally or through sign language.

5. In a study by Evan Jaffe (2010) it was founded that ABA was effective in increasing spontaneous greetings in the subject (student) with autism and has improved his socialization. This happened by targeting specific behaviors which impacted his ability to interact with others. During the ten-week program, the student demonstrated improvement in his ability to make a spontaneous social greeting and exhibited appropriate behaviors while interacting with others (i.e., making eye contact, demonstrating appropriate proximity between him and another person). Also, the student learned and implemented the skills needed to interact successfully with others across various settings (home and school), which denotes generalization of skills.

6. In 2017, Hilton and Seal conducted a case study on twin boys. One of the twins did extensive ABA therapy while the other twin did another autism technique called DIR. The boys were two years old and both exhibited severe speech-language delays and were diagnosed with autism. After the completion of therapy, the results showed that the child that received ABA went from a standard score of 7 to 8, and the child that received DIR dropped from a score of 12 to 10. The twin that received ABA showed three areas of improvement. He improved in gestural, vocal communicative means and social affect signaling. The twin that received DIR only showed improvement in one area that was symbolic behaviors. Overall, the twin who participated in ABA therapy showed a higher increase in behaviors and educational purposes than the twin who received DIR interventions.

7. There are many case studies which show that starting an intervention at a younger age will help the recovery rate of children with autism. A case study with respect to the aforementioned was completed by Aslan (2011). It was about a boy who was 28 months, at a high risk of having autism. The child started ABA therapy for two hours a week and then transitioned into four hours a week After therapy was conducted it was seen that the child showed improvement in the targeted skills he needed more help with. He showed improvement in non-verbal expression skills.

8.  A longitudinal study conducted by Eikeseth et. Al, 2014 shows that ABA is effective at a young age. The study was conducted on children around the age of 4 and then once the study was finished the children were around the age of 7. The study was conducted over 3 years to make sure that the results were accurate and consistent. The study was set in public elementary schools for typically developing children. Each child that was participating in this study received a minimum of two therapists. During the time of the treatment, the child worked alone with the therapist in a private room. Once the first year was up the therapists were asked to report the number of hours a week that the child was receiving ABA therapy and also had to report the treatment goals they had for each child. Results showed that after getting ABA treatment, social and aggressive behaviors decreased. It also showed that the children’s IQ score went up 34 points. Since these children started at a younger age and were able to continue with extensive ABA therapy. This allowed them to improve on all skills including adaptive, social, maladaptive, and behavioral skills. The study also shows that children who range from 4-7 and have autism may benefit considerably from intensive ABA therapy.

9.In a study conducted by Mcphilemy, Dillenburger (2013), fifteen families volunteered to participate in a study where their children were involved in ABA therapy. Half of the families used one agency while the other families used another agency. Once intervention had started all of the parents stated that ABA interventions had a positive impact on their children. They all emphasized that it reduced frustration and problem behaviors due to improved communication between the parents and the child. For example, one parent stated that since starting ABA therapy their son has improved eye contact and is now able to communicate through picture exchange communication systems (PECS). Another parent stated that their son could now ask questions, where before they started intervention he was non-verbal. Parents stated that they are now seeing changes in behavior as well. One parent said that their child has a longer attention span, where another parent said their child is now more aware of the consequences of their actions. Many others stated that their children are becoming more independent.

Parents also reported that their overall stress levels have been lowered and the families reported a better quality of life. Families stated that ABA services have brought their family closer together. Families also have a different perspective on autism after receiving services.

By |2018-05-26T01:30:20+00:00April 25th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments