Applied Behavior Analysis

If you’ve never heard of ABA therapy or Applied Behavior Analysis, it is often times the go to treatment for children with autism but doesn’t necessarily mean it is only for children with autism. ABA therapy is a type of therapy that is based upon the principles of applied behavior analysis. It is meant to help increase independence in individual’s lives. It can be used with typical and atypical developing children. However, there is an ongoing debate in my field.

There’s no need to beat around the bush about ABA therapy. There’s a huge disagreement between people who are for ABA and those who are against ABA. As a Behavior Analyst, I use the principles of ABA within my practice. I treat my clients individually and try to implement the best treatment possible to make effective changes, all while remembering they are only children. Our field isn’t supposed to be “subjective” however, everyone is human and with being a human comes a ton of thoughts and emotions, whether we want to acknowledge them or not, they are there.

On the flip side, some people who have gone through ABA have had terrible experiences with it, and they will tell you that it is abusive and to stay away. I do not argue with them because they are not wrong either. The therapy that they may have went through could have been abusive as researchers learned how to promote effective change. Back in the early start of the field, people did some shit that wasn’t right. Some of those clients are now adults and they are very outspoken against the treatment they received. They rightfully should be angry. I am not here to argue about whether or not ABA works or is good for anybody. That is not my job.

My job is to implement strategies that make effective change based on data and observations. I implement treatment that isn’t harmful, meeting the child where they are and the family where they are as well. ABA therapy is not always effective with just in clinic treatment. Although it can be very successful, it is best practice that caregivers also learn to interact with their child. It is our job as practitioners to ensure that caregivers feel confident in working with their child. I have seen the most success when all caregivers are involved on the case and outside collaboration is made, such as collaborating with any outside therapies or school to ensure everyone is on the same page.

To learn more about ABA, visit autism speaks.org

You can also download a free powerpoint that reviews the basic procedures of ABA therapy.