Saturday, August 25, 2007
Clinic Notes: The Science Behind ABA
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is the most popular and effective therapy for autism. However, ABA also has it critics who say it is too rigid and creates kids who are robotic. (I have been working in ABA for nearly 40 years and have yet to see ABA produce a robotic child.) A second criticism states that the research behind ABA is modest. Well, I think these critics do not know the history of learning theory and the countless experiments with experimental animals and humans that can be traced back to Thorndike's trial and error experiments with cats in 1898. B.F. Skinner's Functional Analysis of Behavior, which is the backbone of ABA, examined human behavior using behavior principles tested on years of animal experiments. Even today, countless scientific journals publish peer-reviewed studies examining ABA with various clinical populations. Based on decades of research, ABA is recommended as the treatment of choice in treating autism by CDC and other health agencies. How much science do the critics want?