Understanding autism
Understanding autism

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

5.2 Evaluations and views of ABA

ABA has been difficult to formally evaluate for two reasons. Firstly, like TEACCH, it is a highly individualised approach, with outcomes that are tailored to the behaviour of an individual child. Secondly, ABA is no longer a single unified approach, but rather a set of varying procedures, some of which have also been incorporated into other types of intervention.

Attitudes to ABA among families and professionals are sharply divided. Proponents of the approach argue that it is one of the few really effective treatments, which can make dramatic improvements including the potential to develop language skills in non-verbal children. An early intervention based on ABA principles, known as Early Intensive Behavioural Intervention (EIBI), has been evaluated as particularly effective (Peters-Scheffer et al., 2011). One criticism of ABA claims that it is a simplistic tool, which changes ‘surface’ behaviour rather than underlying thought processes. The fact that parents and therapists decide what behaviour should be shaped has led to the further criticism that ABA is ‘adult-directed’, taking away the child’s autonomy, choice and dignity (Devita-Raeburn, 2016). ABA also requires a level of dedication and expense that makes it inaccessible to some families.

Bear these contrasting viewpoints in mind while watching this clip illustrating how a young boy called Joe is helped with his communication skills by therapists using Applied Behavioural Analysis. Watch this clip now.

Download this video clip.Video player: aut_1_wk05_applied-behavioural-analysis.mp4
Copy this transcript to the clipboard
Print this transcript
Show transcript|Hide transcript
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371