Myths About Applied Behavior Analysis

As the prevalence of Autism rises, more and more research is being done on effective treatments and therapies. Not too long ago, there was much more mystery that came with a diagnosis of autism and autism treatment. Unfortunately, many of these mysteries have created myths that are still present today, and may be a barrier for children or individuals who are seeking autism treatment. There are also many misconceptions about autism treatment that prevent parents from seeking out critical treatment for their loved ones. This article will hopefully clear up some of these misconceptions.

Myth 1- ABA is new

This is a common misconception because the field of Applied Behavior analysis is growing quickly but the foundations of ABA have been around for more than a century. B.F. Skinner founded applied behavior analysis and published a book on operant conditioning in 1938 called: “ The Behavior of Organisms” in which he presented his views on behavior analysis. In the 1960’s, Applied Behavior Analysis was commonly used to teach different skills to individuals such as social, academic, play and communication skills, and to reduce problem behaviors in individuals with autism.

Myth 2- ABA is only for ASD

ABA can be applied to children and adults with or without autism. Anywhere there are observable behaviors that need to be increased or reduced, ABA can be used! In addition to being an autism treatment, ABA has been used in the following situations:

  • Academics (with students with or without learning disabilities) Social skills
  • Self-care skills
  • Rehabilitation after stroke
  • Helping people quit smoking
  • Health and exercise goals
  • Employee performance in the workplace

Myth 3- ABA is “drilling” exercises and not naturalistic

Many different teaching methods are used in Applied Behavior Analysis. The “drilling” that people often mistake when they think of ABA is Discrete Trial Training (DTT) or rote-memorization. Skills or tasks that are more complex are broken down into smaller tasks that are more manageable for an individual. These tasks are repeated for a certain number of trials (usually around 10 or less) so they can practice the skill. Each time the individual performs the skill they are rewarded and praised for their hard work. Some other teaching methods that are used in ABA are: Naturalistic Environment teaching (NET), Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention (EIBI), Pivotal Response Training (PRT) to increase a child’s motivation to learn, self-monitor behavior and initiate communications with others, and Verbal Behavior Intervention (VBI) that focuses on verbal skills.

Myth 4- All ABA programs are “one size fits all”

Not all ABA programs are the same! Before programming begins, a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) conducts a thorough assessment to determine what skills need to be focused on and what behaviors need to be increased or reduced. The BCBA will also determine what types of teaching methods would work best with that client. Each program is highly individualized and looks different from client to client.

Myth 5- ABA is not scientifically proven

The American Psychological Association considers Applied Behavior Analysis an evidence-based best practice treatment. When you hear evidence-based, think heavily tested. ABA has passed many scientific tests of its effectiveness and therefore IS scientifically proven. Several US state and federal agencies have also given ABA their endorsement including: the Surgeon General and the New York Department of Health.

If you or someone you know has questions about applied behavior analysis, feel free to reach out to a BCBA in your area by searching: “asd therapy near me”.


Meet the Experienced ABA Therapists at Capable Cubs ABA Therapy Center in Bergen County

At Capable Cubs, we believe that selecting an ABA therapy center near you is an incredibly critical decision with lasting consequences. As a leading ABA services provider in Bergen County, we encourage parents to always ask questions and evaluate our services and therapists without any hesitation. Our team of highly trained ABA clinicians includes experienced and qualified BCBAs and RBTs who specialize in combining various ABA methods for providing the most effective treatment to your child with ASD. We create a structured roadmap for every child, including extensive initial assessments, comprehensive ABA treatment plans, critical learning milestones and effective discharge plans to successfully transition out of our care. Our goal is to help your child build the skills needed to increase independence, build meaningful relationships, and connect with their community.

Select an ABA therapy center that works best for your family’s priorities, needs, and goals. Get in touch with the Autism specialists at Capable Cubs. Call 201-786-6280 or contact us online to learn more about our quick intake process.

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