Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA Therapy) is a science-backed practice that has been shown to be beneficial for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions about ABA that could prevent parents from getting help for their child. These misunderstandings can be damaging to a child’s growth, so we want to address and correct some of the more common myths about ABA therapy.
1. Myth: ABA uses food and toys as bribes to manipulate the behavior of children.
Fact: ABA uses positive reinforcement to reinforce children for the behavior we want to see again.
In the simplest terms, positive reinforcement is an explicit and purposeful signal that your child is doing a great job. Positive reinforcement is now widely used in various settings; many people utilize the components of the intervention and do not even realize it. Parents use it with their children to encourage them to do chores; teachers use it with their students to increase time-on-task; employers use it with their employees to encourage them to be at work on time or to increase productivity, and clinicians use it with their patients/clients to increase desired target behaviors. Those who work in the field of ABA are very familiar with positive reinforcement and successful outcomes.
2. Myth: Some people believe a child will improve with two or three hours of ABA therapy each week to achieve results.
Fact: Each child is evaluated, and a custom plan built to address specific concerns.
The number of hours a child receives ABA is not one-size-fits-all. In certain cases, our specialist may recommend up to 40 hours of therapy per week, although the factors of the child’s age, current skill levels, and interest should be considered. However, many children only require three to four hours per week of ABA Therapy. The number of hours can be lessened over time as the child progresses and builds new skills.
3. Myth: ABA is not a scientifically proven form of therapy.
Fact: ABA is an evidence-based discipline, developed through years of research.
ABA is widely viewed as the “gold standard” of treatments for autism. It is backed by considerable evidence and is endorsed by the U.S. Surgeon General, The National Standards Project, The National Professional Development Center on Autism and Spectrum Disorders, insurance companies, the American Psychological Association, and the American Psychiatric Association. As such, ABA has become almost synonymous with autism treatment.
4. Myth: ABA therapy is a new treatment for autism.
Fact: ABA therapy is a time-tested treatment that has been around for about 50 years.
Many people are unsure if Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is an effective therapy due to its relatively recent introduction. However, ABA has been in use for almost 50 years, and its effectiveness has been demonstrated by its core principle of positive reinforcement. ABA has since been expanded to include Pivotal Response Training (PRT), Functional Analysis, Sensory Strategies, and Advanced Play Skills. This evolution of ABA began in 1987, when Psychologist Ivar Lovaas found that ABA improved IQ scores and functional learning in children. After continued research, ABA is now the standard of care for those with cognitive and developmental disabilities.
5. Myth: Anyone can provide ABA Therapy.
Fact: Analysts need to be professionally certified by an independent board prior to providing treatment.
It’s false to think that any person off the street can provide successful ABA therapy. The team at Solstice Behavioral Health and Consulting are Board-Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBA) certified by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board, Inc. (BACB).
Dr. Solandy Forte holds a Ph.D. in Applied Behavior Analysis and is a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst. Alongside the BCBA, the Solstice BHC team includes Registered Behavior Technicians (RBTs) who are trained and supervised by the BCBA. These technicians are responsible for practicing skills and working towards the individual goals determined and written by the BCBA. Everyone involved in the ABA program must have a substantial amount of education and training.
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is an effective, proven program that offers impressive results. Studies have shown that children who receive ABA therapy are better able to focus during school and express more interest in their surroundings. Children will show fewer tantrums and outbursts, know how to ask for what they want, and communicate more effectively with others. Parents should not be swayed by myths but rather should consult a knowledgeable professional to decide if ABA is the right choice for their child. If you would like to learn more about ABA therapy at Solstice Behavioral Health and Consulting, visit our Resources page, or call (203) 900-4720.