Article Categories Home-and-Family Special-Education


Autism And Applied Behavioral Analysis - Breaking The Stigmas


By: Paul Napier, Ma, Bcba


The Applied Behavioral Analysis model, or (ABA) as it is commonly referred to, has been in practice for many years, touching the lives of many people of all ages, backgrounds, and degrees of the Autism spectrum. As with anything, there is a considerable amount of misinformation projecting a negative view of ABA. These views have questioned the protocol, application, and necessity of the ABA. The following is some information and facts to hopefully make clear what ABA not only does, but what it stands for as a therapy that will continue to help those in need.

One of the first things to be addressed is the very validity and effectiveness of the ABA. It is and remains one of the most peer-reviewed scientific research compiled practices in existence. It relies on evidence-based practice in the field of treating autism, as featured in an excellent article from The Association For Science in Autism Treatment (ASAT). The fact that the unfortunate practice of physical punishment took place when education about autism was limited in the 1950s has continued to shed a negative shadow on the ABA. Today's models rely on praise for advancements and setbacks are approached with attention and care. The word "no" and at times removing preferred objects is the most extreme punishment handed out, and only when absolutely necessary. Abuse of any kind is never acceptable and should be reported immediately. Utilizing reinforcement rather than punishment is methodology taken right from the Code of Ethics of the Behavior Analysis Certification Board or the (BACB).

Another misconception about the ABA is that it means hours of drills while sitting knee-to-knee at a table. The teaching model being described is referred to as Discrete Trial Teaching. That, as well as Incidental Teaching, are among the many different teaching methodologies applied today that has been proven effective and useful for any number of situations, environments, and ages. It has been suggested that ABA is strictly for younger autism clients. People of all ages and severity in the autism spectrum are learning from the principles on which the ABA relies. However, most of the ground-breaking studies of today are focused on children. These studies mainly focus on instilling primary life skills. Tasks that can seem simple to the average person can be very challenging to a child with autism. Introducing this type of instruction early in an autism child has proven to help decrease disruptive episodes as they enter adulthood. Continued learning takes place our entire lives and is no different in the autism spectrum, as suggested by Dr. Bobby Newman. These effective strategies have been proven to be helpful on all levels of life skill application.

Rewarding techniques based on social and tangible reinforcement compliment the daily values of an ABA program. These practices are not bribes of food and toys, but rather encouragement and support. In accordance with the Code of Ethics of the (BACB), rewards of a harmful nature in the long term are never in the best interests of a participant. Significant results in addressing problematic aggression have been documented by the application of the ABA model and positive reinforcement. Therapists have helped make advancements in behavior, academics, and more advanced life skill sets. The ABA's approach must be as wide as the autism spectrum to fit everyone in it and grow together. Experienced ABA professionals work together to bring customized treatment to every participant involved. Learning is constant for the entirety of everyone's lives. Living a quality life takes some practice, and the more practice, the better the results become.

Friends and family of those with autism are suggested to stay close to their ABA principles and apply the teachings to classrooms and homes for a more consistent environment.

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