What is Applied Behavior Analysis?

  • Why does ABA therapy work?
    • Focused ABA interventions for problem behavior are designed for each individual based on an understanding of what antecedents may “trigger” problem behavior and what consequences may reinforce (reward) it. Functional behavioral assessment can be performed using a range of procedures, including interviews, questionnaires, direct observation in the individual’s natural setting, and / or systematically presenting situations that can function as potential triggers or rewards and observing and recording how behavior changes with these events. This latter type of procedure, called a functional analysis, is the most rigorous type of functional behavioral assessment. In most cases, the results can reveal why problem behavior occurs and persists – and thus provides a foundation for focused interventions targeting these behaviors.

  • Who benefits from ABA therapy?
    •  ABA is widely recognized as the most effective treatment for children with autism spectrum disorder and the only treatment shown to lead to substantial, lasting improvements in the lives of individuals with autism. ABA-based treatment strategies maximize the learning potential of persons with ASD, and are flexible, individualized and dynamic. Individuals with other disabilities or learning disorders can also benefit from aba therapy.

  • Who invented ABA therapy?
    • Much of the beginnings of ABA can be traced to a group of faculty and researchers at the University of Washington including Don Baer, Sidney Bijou, Bill Hopkins, Jay Birnbrauer, Ivar Lovaas, Todd Risley, James Sherman, and Montrose Wolf. Ole Ivar Løvaas is considered a grandfather of ABA and developed standardized teaching interventions based on those behavioral principals. Lovaas devoted nearly a half a century to groundbreaking research and practice aimed at improving the lives of children with autism and their families. In 1965, Lovaas published a series of articles that therapeutic approaches to autism. The first two articles presented his system for coding behaviors during direct observations and a pioneering investigation of superimposed antecedents and consequences that maintained a problem behavior.[27] The subsequent articles built upon these methods and reported the first demonstration of an effective way to teach nonverbal children to speak, a study on establishing social (secondary) reinforcers, a procedure for teaching children to imitate, and several studies on interventions to reduce life-threatening self-injury and aggression. (source: wikipedia.com)

  • When to use ABA therapy
    • ABA therapy is used to help individuals acquire specific skills. It’s most well-known for teaching important skills to individuals on the autism spectrum. Behavior Analysis is used around the world to help all kinds of people overcome all kinds of social and behavioral problems such as quitting smoking, addressing personality disorders, relationship counseling, obsessive compulsive disorders, and many other common issues. Behavioral principles only began being used for children with autism in the late 1960’s and 1970’s. Studies are available that support the use of ABA programming with children affected by any number of different disabilities including Downs Syndrome, CP, Emotional Disorders, General Developmental Delay, etc.

  • What is ABA therapy training?
    • Autism Speaks states that “ABA is widely recognized as a safe and effective treatment for autism”; and “Behavior analysis is a scientifically validated approach to understanding behavior and how it is affected by the environment.” The American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (formerly the American Association on Mental Retardation), the oldest and largest interdisciplinary organization of professionals concerned with intellectual disability and related disabilities, designated ABA-based procedures for the treatment of behavioral problems with individuals with intellectual disability and related disorders as “highly recommended” (Rush & Frances, 2000).American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry concluded: “ABA techniques have been repeatedly shown to have efficacy for specific problem behaviors, and ABA has been found to be effective as applied to academic tasks, adaptive living skills, communication, social skills, and vocational skills” (Volkmar et al., 2014). Organization For Autism Research (“The Best of the OARacle”; see page 10) stated that “…[ABA] is distinguished from other interventions because it has been proven effective in promoting skill development in persons with autism.”National Autism Center’s National Standards Report (2009) noted that behavioral interventions based on ABA were found to have an established level of evidence to support their use. Examples include behavioral packages, antecedent packages, comprehensive behavioral treatment for young children, modeling, schedules, pivotal response training, and self-management packages.

  • Is ABA therapy only for autism?
    • Behavior Analysis is used around the world to help all kinds of people overcome all kinds of social and behavioral problems such as quitting smoking, addressing personality disorders, relationship counseling, obsessive compulsive disorders, and many other common issues. Behavioral principles only began being used for children with autism in the late 1960’s and 1970’s. Studies are available that support the use of ABA programming with children affected by any number of different disabilities including Downs Syndrome, CP, Emotional Disorders, General Developmental Delay, etc.

  • How much ABA therapy is needed?
    • Much of the research on ABA therapy suggests that treatment is most effective as an intensive intervention of 30-40 hours per week if the child is under 5 years old. Often times ABA therapy is recommended based on the consumers additional services such as their school schedule.

  • How ABA therapy works
    • ABA therapy is highly intensive and requires the therapist to be knowledgeable, consistent, patient and empathetic. In addition, the therapist must be capable of objectively observing and analyzing the behaviors, design appropriate ABC steps and implement them effectively. A Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) designs an ABA program and monitors its application by parents and therapist. The behavior of the ABA therapist should also be observed regularly. Initially to train the therapist and then less frequently and as needed to ensure that ABC procedures are being applied correctly and safely. Recording the behaviours of both the child and the therapist is an imperative component of ABA. Based on the recorded behaviors, there must be empirical observed evidence that the program is working.

  • What does ABA therapy look like?
    • ABA therapy can look very different depending on the individual receiving the therapy. For example, for a young child, ABA therapy may look like playtime, in which the therapist is playing with the child and using natural opportunities to teach language, social skills or play skills. For an older child, aba therapy could occur in the form of creating behavior contracts on what their expectations are during a school day. In short, depending on the individual’s needs, ABA therapy will look vastly different.

  • Does ABA therapy work for Asperger’s?
    • The diagnosis of Asperger’s was eliminated in the 2013 fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) and replaced by a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder on a severity scale. ABA Therapy has been documented to work on all levels of severity on the autism spectrum.

  • What does ABA therapy stand for?
    • ABA Therapy stands for Applied Behavior Analysis.

  • How much ABA?
    • “Treatment should be based on the clinical needs of the individual and not constrained by age. Consistent ABA treatment should be provided as soon as possible after diagnosis, and in some cases services are warranted prior to diagnosis. There is evidence that the earlier treatment begins, the greater the likelihood of positive long-term outcomes. Additionally, ABA is effective across the life span. Research has not established an age limit beyond which ABA is ineffective.” (source: www.BACB.com)

  • Does ABA therapy help autism?
    • ABA therapy is one of the only research-based treatments for autism. It has been known to help in reducing challenging behaviors and teaching socially significant skills to individuals on the autism spectrum.

  • Does ABA therapy work for Asperger’s too?
    • The diagnosis of Asperger’s was eliminated in the 2013 fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) and replaced by a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder on a severity scale. ABA Therapy has been documented to work on all levels of severity on the autism spectrum.

  • What’s the definition of ABA therapy?
    • ABA Therapy stands for Applied Behavior Analysis. Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is defined as “the process of systematically applying interventions based upon the principles of learning theory to improve socially significant behaviors to a meaningful degree, and to demonstrate that the interventions employed are responsible for the improvement in behavior.”

  • Is ABA therapy effective?
    • Yes, there are a number of studies that support the effectiveness of ABA therapy.

  • How does ABA therapy work?
    • ABA therapy is usually conducted by a trained therapist. Usually the therapist spends 20-30 hours per week working one-to-one with the child. Typically a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) will create a comprehenisve program that is tailored to that child’s need. The therapist will implement the program, and the BCBA will supervise the program as needed (ideally 10-20% of the direct therapy hours). Typically, ABA therapy takes time to see results, but your Supervisor should provide data to help you see your child’s growth and progress over time.

  • What is ABA therapy used for?
    • ABA therapy is used to help individuals acquire specific skills.
      It’s most well-known for teaching important skills to individuals on the autism spectrum.

  • What does ABA mean?
    • ABA Therapy is an acronym for Applied Behavior Analysis.

  • Does ABA therapy work?
    • Yes. There is a number of research studies that support the effectiveness of ABA therapy in treating almost anything related to behavior. ABA principles exist that can be used to either increase or decrease that behavior. As a discipline, ABA typically is most popular in the improvement of socially significant behaviors such as self-stimulatory behaviors, aggression, non-compliance, food selectivity, and more.

  • What is ABA therapy?
    • Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is the application of the principles of learning and motivation from the science of Behavior Analysis, and the procedures and technology derived from those principles. ABA is used to provide solutions to problems of social significance. Many decades of research have validated treatments based on ABA.

Funding for Applied Behavior Analysis

  • Who pays for ABA therapy?
    • Often times ABA therapy can be funded in 4 ways: 1)Through a school district 2) through an insurance company 3) through a government funded program 4) out-of-pocket by a parent or caregiver. 

  • Which states mandate ABA therapy?
    • The following 24 states have specific autism mandates which require certain insurers to provide coverage for autism spectrum disorder. (Certain insurance plans are exempt from state mandates. Please contact your plan administrator to see if your plan includes state mandated autism spectrum disorder benefits.): Alabama
      Alaska
      Arizona
      Arkansas
      California
      Colorado
      Connecticut
      Delaware
      District of Columbia
      Florida
      Georgia
      Illinois
      Indiana
      Iowa
      Kansas
      Kentucky
      Louisiana
      Maine
      Maryland
      Massachusetts
      Michigan
      Minnesota
      Mississippi
      Missouri
      Montana
      Nebraska
      Nevada
      New Hampshire
      New Jersey
      New Mexico
      New York
      Oregon
      Pennsylvania
      Rhode Island
      South Carolina
      South Dakota
      Texas
      Utah
      Vermont
      Virginia
      West Viriginia
      Wisconsin

  • Why is ABA therapy so expensive?
    • ABA therapy is expensive due to high demand of services (as the autism rate increases drastically) and low supply of service providers (as individuals who hold a BCBA certification increase but at a slower rate than needed).

  • Is ABA therapy tax deductible?
    • Autism and learning disabilities are considered medical conditions, and are therefore eligible for tax deductions that exceed the standard 7.5% of Adjusted Gross Income. Also, deductions may be submitted retroactively for up to three years. (source: http://www.basicsabatherapy.com/) 

  • How to afford ABA therapy
    • In many states, ABA therapy is covered by a government agency. Very few families elect to pay for ABA therapy out of pocket. Some families are, howevere, required to pay a co-pay for every session of treatment. A co-pay can range from $10-$50 per session and can sometimes be waived.

  • Is ABA therapy covered by Medicaid?
    • Beginning in 2014 Medicaid eligibility will be expanded to anyone with an income less than 133 percent of the FPL, or $31, 322 (family of four).  Children in families with income less than 133 percent of the FPL who are enrolled in CHIP will switch to Medicaid coverage. As of July 2014, ABA therapy is now a required benefit for children with autism on Medicaid. Not all states have implemented this benefit yet, but they are required to do so and soon!  

  • How to get ABA therapy covered
    • To cover ABA therapy, you should speak to your Assistant Principal at your child’s school to see if they cover ABA therapy. You should also inquire in your health insurance plan to see if they cover ABA therapy with a prescription from a medical professional.

  • What does ABA therapy cost?
    • An hour of autism therapy can cost about $40. Depending upon the severity of the disorder and the number of hours a patient needs for therapy, the cost can range from $10,000 to $70,000 a year. However, if the individual has medical insurance, these costs can be absorbed by their healthcare provider.

  • Do insurance companies cover ABA therapy?
    • In many states, insurance is mandated to cover ABA therapy as a medical treatment. The number of states are constantly changing. To learn more about whether your state is a mandated state, you can check here: http://www.autismhealthinsurance.org/health-plan/affordable-care-act

  • Is ABA therapy covered by insurance?
    • 24 states currently require that all plans sold provide autism therapies. These states further mandate that ABA one of those covered benefits.

  • Does BCBS cover ABA therapy?
    • Yes. However, because applied behavior analysis can be intensive and long-lasting, you’ll need to follow certain steps to make sure the service is covered. If you live out-of-state, call the behavioral health number on the back of your ID card for information on how to get applied behavior analysis treatment. Getting applied behavior analysis begins with an accurate diagnosis for autism spectrum disorder.

  • Does Obamacare cover ABA therapy?
    • The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, went into effect across the nation on January 1, 2014. ACAA is presently in an open enrollment period that ends Feb. 15, 2015. If you have an insurance plan (through an employer or elsewhere) that does not provide the benefits your child needs, now is the time to purchase a plan on the ACA exchange. If your employer does not pay for your dependent’s insurance, or pays less than 50% of the cost, or does not provide adequate coverage of ABA and other autism therapies, you may consider shopping on a state or federal health care exchange/marketplace for a more affordable option, especially if you live in one of the 24 states plus Washington D.C., that has agreed to offer ABA and other autism therapies as one of its ten essential benefits. You may keep insurance for yourself through your employer and purchase a separate policy for your child through the exchange, if that makes the most sense in your situation.(source: www.autismhealthinsurance.org) 

  • Does Kaiser cover ABA therapy?
    • Kaiser Permanente is now officially covering Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy as a treatment for autism and related neurodevelopmental disorders in Oregon and Washington. Kaiser has defined ABA as a form of mental health service “under the Mental Health benefit.” This is legally and medically correct; under group plans, this generally means that there can’t be any contractual limits on age, number of visits, or monetary cost. Kaiser can legally limit care to services that are medically necessary, and would be within its’ rights to assert that a particular patient would not benefit from ABA therapy. Any such denial would be subject to the administrative appeals process including a binding External Review by an Independent Review Organization appointed by the Oregon Insurance Division.

  • Does Tricare cover ABA therapy?
    • The TRICARE Comprehensive Autism Care Demonstration (Autism Care Demo) covers applied behavior analysis (ABA) for all TRICARE beneficiaries diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The demonstration started on July 25, 2014. It will end on December 31, 2018. Is your sponsor on active duty? You must enroll in the Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) and register in the Extended Care Health Option (ECHO) to qualify for the Autism Care Demo.

  • Does Cigna cover ABA therapy?
    • Some states have passed laws designed to ensure that covered participants who are diagnosed with an autism diagnosis or a diagnosis on the Pervasive Developmental Disorder spectrum receive specific benefits or coverage. Each plan is quite different and requires you to call the number on the back of your Cigna card and ask for someone with an autism specialty to determine if you are eligible. 

  • Does MassHealth cover ABA therapy?
    • MassHealth is working with its managed care plans to add ABA coverage and anticipates that this will be in place by October 2015. In the meantime, they are making ABA services available now to children under age 21 through a special process of MassHealth prior authorization.

  • What companies cover ABA therapy?
    • This is a partial list of companies that are self-insured and cover ABA treatment for their employees who have family members diagnosed with autism. If your employer is not listed but is self-insured, check with your company’s Human Resources Department. Note that some employers also provide “autism treatment coverage” as an additional benefit to their employees: MIcrosoft, Home Depot, Intel, Arnold & Porter, Eli Lilly, Deloitte, Progressive Group, Time Warner, Oracle, Adobe Systems, Inc., Yahoo, Inc., Cisco, Aspect Software.

  • What insurance covers ABA therapy?
    • Twenty-four states plus Washington, D.C., will require insurance carriers that sell policies on their insurance exchanges to cover behavioral health treatments that include autism treatments such as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). The states are Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Texas, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Washington, D.C. Colorado will have coverage, but insurers can limit the number of visits. Minnesota will require ABA in its Marketplace plans, but not until 2016.

  • Does Medicaid cover ABA therapy?
    • Twenty-four states plus Washington, D.C., will require insurance carriers that sell policies on their insurance exchanges to cover behavioral health treatments that include autism treatments such as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). If you make less than 400% of the Federal Poverty Level, you are elgible for a premium tax credit to offset the cost of your health insurance. If you make less than 240% of the Federal Poverty Level, you are also eligible for cost-sharing subsidies. If you earn less than 133% of the Federal Poverty Level, you are eligible for Medicaid.

Implementation of Applied Behavior Analysis

  • What ABA therapists do
    • The Registered Behavior TechnicianTM (RBT) is a paraprofessional who practices under the close, ongoing supervision of a BCBA, BCaBA, or FL-CBA. The RBT is primarily responsible for the direct implementation of behavior-analytic services. The RBT does not design intervention or assessment plans. It is the responsibility of the RBT supervisor to determine which tasks an RBT may perform as a function of his or her training, experience, and competence. The BACB certificant supervising the RBT is responsible for the work performed by the RBT on the cases they are overseeing. (source: www.bacb.com)

  • How much ABA therapy?
    • Much of the research on ABA therapy suggests that treatment is most effective as an intensive intervention of 30-40 hours per week for early intervention (under 5 years old). This does not mean that an individual over the age of 5 cannot benefit from ABA. 

  • Where to get ABA therapy
    • ABA therapy can be provided by any Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), Board Certified Assistance Behavior Analyst (BCaBA) or Registered Behavior Technician (RBT). They can be found by searching on www.lovemyprovider.com for an ABA provider.

  • When to start ABA therapy
    • Research suggests that the sooner a child is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder or a learning disability, the sooner they can begin receiving services to bridge the gap between their developmental age and their chronological age. The sooner services begin the closer this gap apperas and the easier it may be to bridge this gap.

  • How to start ABA therapy
    • To start ABA therapy, often times a child must have a diagnosis for a condition that requires this type of therapy. To do so, it is recommended that you visit a developmental pediatrician to obtain a diagnosis that requires ABA therapy. After receiving a diagnosis, ABA therapy may be prescribed by your pediatrician and will be easier to obtain through your insurance or school district.

  • Who can do ABA therapy
  • How to do ABA therapy yourself
    • There are a number of books available on ABA therapy. The best way to learn about doing ABA therapy would be to enroll in a class that will teach you about Applied Behavior Analysis. ABA Therapy is a medical intervention that requires training and supervision. There are many online classes and e-Learnings available. You can find them by searching the www.bacb.com website. Another option would be to become a Registered Behavioral Technician which requires 40 hours of training in Applied Behavior Analysis.

  • How to do ABA therapy
    • There are a number of books available on ABA therapy. This is the best place to start when trying to do ABA therapy. A great way to learn to do ABA therapy is to hire an in-home ABA provider to do parent-training. Most ABA therapy programs integrate a training component that can help you learn the skills you need to run certain programs in the absence of your therapist. It is highly recommended you consult a professional before trying to do ABA therapy at home.

  • How to do ABA therapy at home
    • ABA therapy is often times best done in a child’s natural environment, which is often their home. To do ABA Therapy at home it’s best to find a Board Certified Behavior Analyst or Registered Behavior Technician who can come to your home to provide these services. There are some parents that prefer to read about ABA and provide the therapy themselves. Although this is a popular route, it is always recommended to consult a professional and receive formal training before trying these techniques at home.

  • When to stop ABA therapy
    • Behavior analysts are held to an ethical standard to not abandon clients. Behavior analysts may terminate a professional relationship when it becomes reasonably clear that the client no longer needs the service, is not benefiting, or is being harmed by continued service.(source: BACB Guidelines for Responsible Conduct)

  • What do ABA therapists do?
    • The Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) is a paraprofessional who practices under the close, ongoing supervision of a BCBA, BCaBA, or FL-CBA. The RBT is primarily responsible for the direct implementation of behavior-analytic services. The RBT does not design intervention or assessment plans. It is the responsibility of the RBT supervisor to determine which tasks an RBT may perform as a function of his or her training, experience, and competence. The BACB certificant supervising the RBT is responsible for the work performed by the RBT on the cases they are overseeing. (source: www.bacb.com)

  • How to give ABA therapy at home
    • ABA therapy is often times best done in a child’s natural environment, which is often their home. To do ABA Therapy at home it’s best to find a Board Certified Behavior Analyst or Registered Behavior Technician who can come to your home to provide these services. There are some parents that prefer to read about ABA and provide the therapy themselves. Although this is a popular route, it is always recommended to consult a professional and receive formal training before trying these techniques at home.

  • How to get ABA therapy
    • To receive ABA therapy, most individuals require a diagnosis of autism or learning disability to receive services from an ABA therapist. To obtain a diagnosis, visit a developmental pediatrician.

  • How to implement ABA therapy
    • ABA therapy requires a therapist who is knowledgeable, consistent, patient and empathetic. In addition, the therapist must be capable of objectively observing and analyzing the behaviors, design appropriate ABC steps and implement them effectively. A Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) designs an ABA program and monitors its application by parents and therapist. The behavior of the ABA therapist should also be observed regularly. Initially to train the therapist and then less frequently and as needed to ensure that ABC procedures are being applied correctly and safely. Recording the behaviours of both the child and the therapist is an imperative component of ABA. Based on the recorded behaviors, there must be empirical observed evidence that the program is working.

  • How to teach ABA therapy
    • Many of the principles used in applied behavior analysis is used when teaching ABA to future clinicians. An instructor who is teaching someone the principles of ABA should take into account concepts such as reinforcement, generalization and prompting.

  • How to use ABA therapy
    • Behavior Analysis is used around the world to help all kinds of people overcome all kinds of social and behavioral problems such as quitting smoking, addressing personality disorders, relationship counseling, obsessive compulsive disorders, and many other common issues. Behavioral principles only began being used for children with autism in the late 1960’s and 1970’s. Studies are available that support the use of ABA programming with children affected by any number of different disabilities including Downs Syndrome, CP, Emotional Disorders, General Developmental Delay, etc.

  • How to learn ABA therapy
    • To learn ABA therapy, there are a number of online learning tools available for parents and professionals such as www.ibehaiovraltraining.com or www.autismtrainingsolutions.com. If an individual is interested in obtaining a more formal education, they can attend a University that offers a BACB-approved course sequence

  • How long does ABA therapy last?
    • The length of ABA therapy is re-evaluated constantly to determine the needs of the patient. Sometimes length of ABA therapy can be determined by a funding source, however it is recommended that a cliniican provide an independent opinion of the proper length and duration of treatment independent of funding restrictions. 

  • Who does ABA therapy?
    • ABA therapy is provided by an interventionist trained in the practice of behavior analysis. Some therapists have gone through a 40-hour training to become a Registered Behavior Technician.

  • How do you do ABA therapy?
    • To learn to provide ABA therapy, an individual must receive extensive training in the theory and practice of Behavior Analysis. The individual must also take courses related to behavior analysis, receive 1,000-1,500 hours of Supervision by a qualified supervisor, and pass an examination. More information can be found at www.bacb.com.

  • What are the qualifications for someone to do ABA Therapy?
    • There are three levels of qualifications to provide ABA therapy: 1) Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) 2) Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA) and 3) Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). The RBT requires 40 hours of training and direct supervision while providing therapy. The BCaBA credential requires a Bachelor’s degree, 180 classroom hours of instruction in content areas related to applied behavior analysis, 1,000 hours of Supervision by a BCBA and applicants must take and pass the BCaBA examination. The BCBA credential requires a MA Degree or PhD, 270 classroom hours of instruction in content areas related to applied behavior analysis, 1,500 hours of Supervision by a BCBA and applicants must take and pass the BCaBA examination.

  • Can parents do ABA therapy?
    • Parents can do ABA therapy and are an imperative process of ABA treatment. It is recommended that parents be readily involved in their child’s ABA therapy in order to learn the necessary skills to use these srategies outside of their therapy sessions.

  • Can anyone do ABA therapy?
    • Anyone can do ABA Therapy with the proper background and training. There are a number of trainings available online such as http://www.ibehavioraltraining.com/ and http://www.autismtrainingsolutions.com/

  • Can I do ABA therapy myself?
    • There are a number of books available on ABA therapy. The learn about doing ABA therapy would be to enroll in a class on Applied Behavior Analysis. There are many online classes and e-Learnings available. Another option would be to become a Registered Behavioral Technician which requires 40 hours of training in Applied Behavior Analysis.

  • How can I do or learn ABA therapy?
    • There are a number of books available on ABA therapy. This is the best place to start when trying to do ABA therapy. A great way to learn to do ABA therapy is to hire an in-home ABA provider to do parent-training. Most ABA therapy programs integrate a training component that can help you learn the skills you need to run certain programs in the absence of your therapist. It is highly recommended you consult a professional before trying to do ABA therapy at home.

  • Can I have ABA therapy at home?
    • ABA therapy is often times best done in a child’s natural environment, which is often their home. To do ABA Therapy at home it’s best to find a Board Certified Behavior Analyst or Registered Behavior Technician who can come to your home to provide these services. There are some parents that prefer to read about ABA and provide the therapy themselves. Although this is a popular route, it is always recommended to consult a professional and receive formal training before trying these techniques at home.

What are some common Misconceptions about Applied Behavior Analysis?

  • Can ABA therapy cure autism?
    • This is a controversial topic in the autism community. The term “cure” or “recovery” is often frowned upon by clinical professionals and likened to a disorder that an individual can never be cured from, but rather their symptoms may not be visible. 

  • When ABA therapy doesn’t work
    • There is little research that can explain why some children respond to treatment and others make little progress, even after thousands of hours. Some research has discussed treatment compliance as a factor for lack of progress. When the child’s environment does not embrace the strategies that are suggested by the behavior service provider, progress maybe slowed. In addition, if ABA is used in conjunction with another type of therapy such as Floortime (DIR), ABA therapy can be proven as ineffective. It is recommended that ABA therapy be provided in the absence of alternative therapies that may interfere with progress. 

  • Is ABA therapy cruel?
    • No, ABA therapy is not cruel. There a number of individuals and organizations who take a position on ABA based on the empirical evidence and have concluded that ABA-based procedures represent best practices for individuals with autism and intellectual disability. For example, Autism Speaks states that “ABA is widely recognized as a safe and effective treatment for autism”; and “Behavior analysis is a scientifically validated approach to understanding behavior and how it is affected by the environment.” The American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (formerly the American Association on Mental Retardation), the oldest and largest interdisciplinary organization of professionals concerned with intellectual disability and related disabilities, designated ABA-based procedures for the treatment of behavioral problems with individuals with intellectual disability and related disorders as “”highly recommended”” (Rush & Frances, 2000). (adapted from www.KennedyKrieger.org)”

  • Is ABA therapy harmful?
    • No, ABA therapy is not harmful. To date, there are no accounts of death as a result of ABA therapy. This is not the case for other fad interventions such as Chelation, Hyperbaric Oxygen Chambers or Holding Therapy, to name a few. 

      A number of scientific, professional and governmental organizations take a position on ABA as the best practices for individuals with autism and intellectual disability. For example, Autism Speaks states that “ABA is widely recognized as a safe and effective treatment for autism”; and “Behavior analysis is a scientifically validated approach to understanding behavior and how it is affected by the environment.” The American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (formerly the American Association on Mental Retardation), the oldest and largest interdisciplinary organization of professionals concerned with intellectual disability and related disabilities, designated ABA-based procedures for the treatment of behavioral problems with individuals with intellectual disability and related disorders as “”highly recommended”” (Rush & Frances, 2000). (adapted from www.KennedyKrieger.org)”

       

  • Is ABA therapy abusive?
    • No, ABA therapy is not abusive.

      To date, there are no accounts of death as a result of ABA therapy. This is not the case for other fad interventions such as Chelation, Hyperbaric Oxygen Chambers or Holding Therapy, to name a few. In addition, ABA considers the client’s dignity as foremost in administering therapy. “The behavior analyst must ensure the dignity of the client by ensuring that the client makes choices, has privacy, has a therapeutic environment, and has the right to refuse treatment. Throughout treatment, the behavior analyst must be on guard against conflicts of interest.” (source: Cooper, Heward & Heron, 2007). If a client does not wish to continue with therapy, they are at no obligation to continue.

      Many scientific, government, and professional agencies and organizations have concluded that ABA-based procedures represent best practices for individuals with autism and intellectual disability. For example, Autism Speaks states that “ABA is widely recognized as a safe and effective treatment for autism”; and “Behavior analysis is a scientifically validated approach to understanding behavior and how it is affected by the environment.” The American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (formerly the American Association on Mental Retardation), the oldest and largest interdisciplinary organization of professionals concerned with intellectual disability and related disabilities, designated ABA-based procedures for the treatment of behavioral problems with individuals with intellectual disability and related disorders as “highly recommended” (Rush & Frances, 2000). (adapted from www.KennedyKrieger.org)

  • Is ABA therapy bad?
    • ABA therapy has a large amount of research supporting its effectiveness in helping individuals with autism spectrum disorder develop skills that can help them become more independent. In the past, there has been some discourse between neurotypical individuals and those on the spectrum. Some individuals on the autism spectrum have expressed that ABA therapy makes individuals have less autistic-like behaviors, which they considered a type of neurodiversity discrimination. However, this is a relatively small group of individuals. Most individuals on the spectrum, such as the widely popular Alex Plank, are thankful to Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy for providing them with meaningful skills to help them become independent members of society. 

  • Is ABA therapy effective for autism?
    • Yes. There is a number of research studies that support the effectiveness of ABA therapy in treating almost anything related to behavior. ABA principles exist that can be used to either increase or decrease that behavior. As a discipline, ABA typically is most popular in the improvement of socially significant behaviors such as self-stimulatory behaviors, aggression, non-compliance, food selectivity, and more. Over the past 40 years, an extensive body of literature has documented the successful use of ABA-based procedures to reduce problem behavior and increase appropriate skills for individuals with intellectual disabilities (ID), autism, and related disorders. The literature consists of numerous controlled studies employing single-case experimental designs, consecutive controlled case-series studies, controlled group studies, and some randomized controlled trials.

  • How successful is ABA therapy?
    • ABA is very successful in breaking down seemingly simple tasks such as brushing teeth and teaching these tasks in small steps to help a child find success where they might not otherwise. Just like any form of teaching, a high quality ABA program needs to be designed to teach to all the needs of the individual. This includes concepts such as complex language, social interaction, problem solving, flexible thinking, and theory of mind (such as understanding things from other people’s perspectives). The amount of progress your child will make depends on two things: their ability to learn, and the quality of his instructional program. ABA therapy is generally successful if the quality fo the ABA program meets the needs of their learning abilities.

  • Is ABA therapy a cure for autism?
    • This is a controversial topic in the autism community. The term “cure” or “recovery” is often frowned upon by clinical professionals and likened to a disorder that an individual can never be cured from, but rather their symptoms may not be visible.

  • Can ABA therapy be harmful?
    • ABA therapy, when done correctly, is not harmful.

  • Does ABA therapy work for autism?
    • Yes. There are at least a dozen professional journals that are dedicated to the science of ABA, Autism intervention and mental retardation that have published thousands of individual research findings and large group studies. ABA is currently the only autism therapy recommended for long-term benefit by the United States Surgeon General. As a treatment for autism, Chapter Three of the Surgeon General’s report on Mental Health, 1999, states, “Thirty years of research demonstrated the efficacy of applied behavioral methods in reducing inappropriate behavior and in increasing communication, learning, and appropriate social behavior.”