Home » The Controversy Around ABA Therapy (Applied Behavior Analysis)

The Controversy Around ABA Therapy (Applied Behavior Analysis)

by eiga

It’s been a long time coming, but we’ve finally made it to the release of my research and look into one of the most controversial therapies commonly recommended for autistic people in the United States: Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA).

Please note that this is not even everything that could be mentioned and there is a wealth of information and personal accounts regarding different aspects floating around on the internet for your consumption. During editing, there were some points that I didn’t directly state but I believe are possible to infer from the information provided.

The full (minorly edited) interviews from the ABA group, “ABA-based” group, and former RBT will be released in the following weeks. If you have the time, I highly encourage you to take a look at them as it will provide the full context for statements and also bring up things I couldn’t or didn’t cover in the video.

Full interview with ABA group: https://youtu.be/O-0JXXNgw0s
Full interview with “ABA-based” group: https://youtu.be/sSdTSNbxh8M
Full interview with former RBT: https://youtu.be/v8SyZD5K1Ok

References and sources used in this video can be found here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1uwyzJaUQ_u085LV-WbzD-LoF6Ol1VcO8n6X6TW888g0/edit?usp=sharing

I found this information and these criticisms immensely important to share to help inform. However, I want to repeat the request for respect for those included in the video. I sincerely believe people are only acting in what they think is the best interest of their children or clients.

I would also like to acknowledge that there are more extremes out there. The people I spoke with were all from very moderate groups, perhaps what people aim for when they say that ABA isn’t “bad” anymore. Despite what may be shown in positive lights, there are plenty of places that have, from parent testimony, openly and casually made a direct correlation between an autistic child and training dogs.

However, I didn’t want this video to be skewed deeply in one direction or another, though I do take a clear stance regarding my personal views and where research led me. I want this video to be more informational than any sort of attack or fear mongering.

I also want to make it clear that I am NOT accusing ANYONE of anything and do not intend to infer that the professionals interviewed are bad people or doing bad things. A lot of statements used were to indicate the thought patterns and philosophy behind ABA and behaviorism, and how those could potentially lead to negative effects, not to attempt to say or imply that anyone included in this video that I had contact with are causing negative effects.

I encourage you to look at the information presented and make up your own mind. I also highly encourage you to proceed with caution if you are considering ABA for your child or family member or to become a practitioner, as it is shown, there is a wide range of how people implement ABA in any given space.

There are other evidence-based options for autistic individuals who need extra support. Not having ABA does not mean not helping autistic children.

If you find this video helpful, informative, eye-opening, interesting, or anything of that sort, I would appreciate you sharing it. Even if you disagree with some of my thoughts or how I presented things, I’d love for there to be an open conversation.

00:00 – Introduction
01:45 – What is ABA?
04:13 – ABA’s Psychological Influences
07:37 – Psychology’s Failure & Ivar Lovaas
12:06 – The First ABA Programs or The Lovaas Method (EIBI)
18:02 – What ABA Programs Look Like Today
38:50 – Defining ABA
44:47 – ABA Practitioners
01:01:10 – Compliance, Expectations, & Bodily Autonomy
01:08:26 – Adhering to Data Over Actual Needs
01:10:53 – Compliance in Sensitive Situations
01:16:14 – Preferred Items & Misunderstanding Autism
01:22:37 – Trying to “Fix” Autistic Children
01:34:28 – Generalizing Skills & Working Against How Autistic People Learn
01:37:48 – “Appropriate Play”
01:41:56 – Emphasis on External Motivation
01:43:10 – “Everyone Uses ABA”
01:44:32 – Self-Injurious Behaviors
01:47:33 – “ABA Has Changed”
01:53:23 – Cornerstone Study for ABA & “Evidence-Based”
01:58:42 – Recent Report Shows ABA Ineffective
01:59:32 – Psychological Impact on Autistic People
02:03:42 – If Not ABA, Then What?
02:07:44 – Conclusion

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