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ABA: The Gold Standard

June 30, 2019

As many of you may know, there have been several misconceptions when it comes to the topic of ABA therapy. ABA therapy has been labelled 'rigid', 'inflexible', 'robotic', and even 'cruel'! Although these are complete misconceptions today, they are not baseless. When ABA was newly introduced as a treatment for autism, there were methods and practices that left much to be desired in terms of ethics and naturalistic teaching.

 

For example, the use of restraint tools for aggressive behaviour, the robotic manner in which feedback or reinforcement was delivered after a correct or incorrect response during teaching, the overly-structured setting where teaching occurred, and sometimes even the disregard for a client's emotions and feelings! 

 

However, ABA therapy as a field and practice has grown leaps and bounds since it was first introduced in the 1950s. Methods have been thoroughly revised and regulations have been put into place to ensure not only effective outcomes, but overall positive, client-centred experiences as well.

 

Here is an article outlining some common myths of ABA therapy - 

https://bsci21.org/10-myths-of-applied-behavior-analysis-html/

 

So still, why choose ABA therapy over other therapies??  

 

ABA therapy now places a lot of emphasis on naturalistic teaching methods. Our therapists are trained to be fun and engaging, to teach in different settings utilising a variety of teaching material, to be flexible in teaching and always in tune with the needs of the client. Therapists are also trained to maintain neutral and to not react negatively in the presence of problem behaviour displayed by clients. This is to most effectively carry out the procedures in place to reduce the challenging behaviour, while remaining respectful and ethical towards the clients. 

 

Other treatments commonly selected for autism include speech therapy, occupational therapy, and more biological treatments such as special diets and pharmacological treatment as well. Although there may be some basis to each, we need to consider what has been scientifically shown to improve outcomes of this disorder. ABA therapy has jumped through various (scientific) hoops and successfully come out strong on the other side! 

 

Here is one study (of very, very many!) that shows the effectiveness of ABA- 

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Karola_Dillenburger/publication/259544869_Parents%27_experiences_of_applied_behaviour_analysis_ABAbased_interventions_for_children_diagnosed_with_autistic_spectrum_disorder/links/5b218f82a6fdcc69745e3368/Parents-experiences-of-applied-behaviour-analysis-ABA-based-interventions-for-children-diagnosed-with-autistic-spectrum-disorder.pdf

 

Speech and occupational therapy definitely place emphasis on important and necessary skills required for optimal functioning. We often receive this common question from parents-

 

"Can you guys do what speech and occupational therapy does?"

 

Absolutely! All skills that need to be taught will be included in the child's Individualised Education Plan (IEP). In fact, ABA therapy goes multiple steps further in terms of skill acquisition and lasting behaviour change. 

 

If you are or know of a parent considering therapy for a child with autism, rest assured ABA is by far the best option! Still need convincing? Check out these stories told by actual clients of ABA therapy! Enjoy! -

 

https://medium.com/@pmlerner2000/how-aba-saved-my-life-b468bff23a7b

 

https://medium.com/@craigrigden78/im-autistic-this-is-why-i-chose-applied-behavioural-analysis-for-my-2-children-with-asd-fb3698afbd98

 

 

 

 

 

 

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