Misconceptions About ABA
Applied Behavior Analysis has seen enormous growth over the past 15 years due to its successes in the areas of autism and developmental disabilities. ABA is unique in that it’s analytical goals are the prediction and influence of behavior.
Despite the acceptance of the scientific community, Applied Behavior Analysis is still entangled in misconceptions. This article will discuss some of these myths and provide the truths that expose these misconceptions.
Myth: ABA is not a scientifically proven form of therapy for autism.
Over 550 peer-reviewed studies have been published which demonstrated the effectiveness of ABA with individuals suffering from autism. ABA is the most established treatment of autism which is backed by insurance providers. It is endorsed by the U.S. Surgeon General, The National Standards Project, and The National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders.
Myth: ABA is a technique used to train animals like monkeys and dolphins.
It is true that ABA is also used to train animals like dolphins and monkeys. But the program used with humans is totally different. In ABA animals don’t learn how to eat food properly. They don’t get training to be social and wear clothes. They don’t learn to read, write, color and sing. Each ABA program is different.
Myth: All ABA programs are the same.
Before an ABA treatment program is implemented, Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAS) collect baseline data of children’s needs, interests, preferences, strengths, and family situation. Applied Behavior Analysis is a data-driven treatment and because no two datasets of individuals on the autism spectrum reveal the same symptoms at the same levels, each ABA treatment program is unique and every Behavior Support Plan is customized to each individual’s unique life situation.
Myth: ABA is composed of solely table work/sitting.
Discrete Trial Training (DTT), a teaching methodology used in an ABA program does involve one-on-one instruction, commonly at a desk or table, but it is not the defining feature. It is one of the many teaching methods and strategies used throughout a competent ABA treatment program.
The program also includes natural environment training (NET), activity schedules, modeling, reinforcement systems, PRT, self-management, and incidental teaching.
Myth: ABA therapy is only for children with autism.
ABA is a highly effective tool used in the fields of socially significant behavior including communication, social skills, academics, reading and adaptive living skills such as gross and fine motor skills, toileting, dressing, eating, personal self-care, domestic skills, and work skills.”
Myth: ABA therapy promotes robotic language/behavior.
In the beginning of a program, responses might seem overly simplified and therefore “robotic”, but after working on that behavior those skills are eventually built up and transferred to naturalistic settings in a functional manner.