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  • Kerry Maisels

ABA Myths Vs. Facts

1. Myth: ABA providers do not allow clients of their services to make choices

Fact: Behavioural professionals are responsible for incorporating the preferences of ABA clients into all therapeutic programs when developing treatment goals. Opportunities for choice-making are also integrated into therapeutic programs whenever possible. In fact, choice-making during therapy can result in better program outcomes!

Resources:

- https://www.bacb.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Ethics-Code-for-Behavior-Analysts-210902.pdf

- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3004679/

- https://www.sbsaba.com/utilizing-preferences-to-stem-problem-behavior-encourage-productivity/


2. Myth: ABA requires children to comply with arbitrary social standards

Fact: Any therapy targets incorporated into a client’s programming must first and foremost be socially valid for them. In other words, when considering behaviours to target for intervention, behavioural professionals must consider how important this change would be in improving the day-to-day lives of the client.

Resources:

- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1311293/ (Wolf, 1978)

- https://medium.com/@carlylecenter/7-dimensions-of-applied-behavior-analysis-5eb85128cf0a

- https://www.iidc.indiana.edu/irca/articles/focus-on-outcomes.html


3. Myth: Past ABA providers have engaged in questionable practices

Fact: Like other science-based health care professions, the field of ABA is constantly evolving. The last few decades have seen the establishment of quality control measures that keep ABA providers accountable and create a high standard of care. These include ethical codes of conduct, training curricula, supervised practice, and certification.

Resources:

- https://www.bacb.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Ethics-Code-for-Behavior-Analysts-210902.pdf

- https://childmind.org/article/controversy-around-applied-behavior-analysis/


4. Myth: ABA providers do not consider why a behaviour might be happening

Fact: Assessing and identifying the function of any behaviour is central to any intervention. Behaviour is communication, therefore we must understand the motivation and cause of any behaviour prior to teaching a new, more appropriate and effective replacement skill. There are several evidence-based methods that ABA professionals use to help identify the cause, or function, of behaviours.

Resources: https://www.kidsability.ca/uploads/Autism%20Services/AutismServices_FunctionsOfBehaviourHandout2.pdf

- https://www.appliedbehavioranalysisedu.org/what-is-a-functional-behavior-assessment/

- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3546636/


5. Myth: ABA is only for children with autism

Fact: Research has shown that ABA is an effective way to teach new skills to typically developing children and adults, as well as children diagnosed with autism and other developmental disabilities.

- There are also sub-disciplines of ABA, including Organizational Behaviour Management, that use principles of behaviour to improve employee performance and workplace culture in organizational settings. (list more)

Resources:

- https://www.bacb.com/about-behavior-analysis/

- https://www.purdueglobal.edu/blog/psychology/beyond-autism-diversification-aba-interventions/

- https://www.abainsidetrack.com/home/2020/2/17/episode-157-tbi

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