ABA Therapy: Can It Really Help?

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy, first mentioned in the 1960th, is considered to be a cornerstone in the treatment of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) by some specialists. However not all psychologists and neurologists share this opinion. In this article the team of our experts explores the effectiveness, methodology, and ongoing debates surrounding ABA therapy, so that to provide insights for parents and educators.

What is ABA Therapy?

ABA is a scientifically validated approach based on the principles of behaviorism. It involves understanding and modifying behavior through a comprehensive system of positive reinforcement. The therapy aimed to improve vital life skills, such as socializing and communication, hygiene skills and punctuality. However, it can be also very helpful in terms of improving learning skills, such as reading and analyzing. 

How ABA Therapy Works

ABA practitioners use a variety of techniques in their work, so that to encourage desirable behavior and to minimize the unwanted one. These techniques include: 

• Discrete Trial Training (DTT): Breaking down skills into small, manageable steps.

• Pivotal Response Training (PRT): Focusing on pivotal areas like motivation and response to multiple cues, thereby producing broad improvements in behavior.

• Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention (EIBI): Aimed at young children, usually under the age of five.

• Verbal Behavior Intervention (VBI): Focusing on teaching verbal skills.

Effectiveness of ABA Therapy

During its almost 60 years history, ABA therapy has proved to be effective. The research on the effectiveness of ABA has shown that the best results are achieved in the areas of social relationship, play, self-care abilities and readiness for school. Intensive intervention and pivotal response trainings show the most improvements when used on children of pre-school age. 

Controversies and Criticisms

Despite its widespread use, ABA therapy is not without controversy. Critics blame this therapy for being quite tough, focusing on obedience and neglecting the child’s emotional and mental well-being. Opponents have real concerns about the intensity of treatment, which can span several hours a day. And finally, the ethical considerations can not be omitted, experts argue about the frames and limits of ‘the norm’, which the patients should achieve, using the ABA therapy. 

Individualization is Key

Individual approach is the crucial factor in the success of ABA therapy. If targeted to meet the individual’s specific needs, taking into consideration the individual’s specific characters, ABA therapy is quite successful. But the treatment should be consistent and complex, involving other family members in this process. 

ABA therapy, when correctly applied and individualized, can show sufficient results in improving behavior, socializing and other skills. However, it can not be treated as a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution, suitable for every individual. While trying it, it is a good idea to control the ethical application, the daily duration of treatment, as everything here is quite individual.

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