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Understanding autism
Understanding autism

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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
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