Misconceptions about ABA

Misconceptions about ABA

Hi! My name is Megan and I am the Lead BCBA for the ABA program here at TEAM 4 Kids. Let me tell you a little bit about myself. I began working with children with developmental delays including autism and sensory processing disorder in 2013. I  gained extremely valuable knowledge and experience from attending and participating in their therapy sessions including Speech, Feeding, PT, OT, and ABA. Working with these amazing kids, families, and therapists I was inspired to pursue a career as a BCBA. I earned my Master of Science in Human & Family Development and a Graduate Certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis from Arizona State University. Shortly after graduation, I received certification as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) and Arizona Licensed Behavior Analyst (LBA). I have worked across multiple settings including home and community based, clinic and center based, and school-based ABA. Over the past seven years I have worked with children and adolescents from ages 1-18 across varying abilities and diagnoses including: autism spectrum disorder, ADD/ADHD, Down syndrome, mood dysregulation disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, sensory processing disorder, and anxiety. I find such joy in teaching skills using an individualized approach and celebrating both big and small successes along the way. For years it has been my dream to be a part of a collaborative therapy center where ABA works in conjunction with Speech, OT, PT, and feeding therapy. That dream has finally come true with the addition of ABA therapy at T.E.A.M. 4 Kids!

Because ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) therapy is not as common or as widely known as other therapies such as Speech, OT, and PT, many misconceptions have been made over the years about what ABA is, what it does, and what it entails. Hopefully we can help debunk some of these myths.

Some of the most common misconceptions of ABA are:

  •       “ABA is experimental” Not so! ABA is considered an evidence-based best practice treatment by the US Surgeon General and by the American Psychological Association. “Evidence based” means that ABA has passed scientific tests of its usefulness, quality, and effectiveness and has been shown in research to work for over 40 years.
  • “ABA doesn’t work with older children” ABA works with individuals of all ages. Sometimes results take longer with older children or adults, but that’s true of any kind of learning.
  • “ABA relies too much on food rewards” In ABA therapy, all different types of rewards are used depending on each child. Some children are more food-motivated than others. Treatment and therapy are always tailored to the individual case.
  • “With ABA, children experience punishment all the time” Not at all.  ABA uses positive reinforcement, and the program is designed to help the child be successful and build on success.  Punishment and aversives are not used in our programs at T4K.
  • “ABA is a new therapy” ABA has been around since 1950 and has been shown to work since the 1970s.
  • “ABA can only be applied to “behavioral” problems” FALSE! Behavior Analysts consider behavior to be any observable and measurable act. This includes self-help skills, academic skills, or any functional behavior considered to be a life skill (i.e. tying shoes, speaking in complete sentences, using coping strategies, etc.).
  • “ABA is done at a table-top” ABA is not restricted to one environmental area. Sometimes the skill requires a table-top for easy manipulation of objects and/or for skills which require attending or classroom readiness behavior.  Many other skills are taught in a play-based or natural environment setting.
  • “ABA requires me to give up my other therapies”: Not true! At T.E.A.M. 4 Kids we truly believe in a collaborative team approach to therapy.  ABA will work in conjunction with Speech, OT, PT, Feeding or any other therapy your child receives.
  • “ABA therapy requires a 40-hour per week treatment plan” ABA therapy is personalized for every child and family. The time required depends on the needs of the individual child; typically, the recommendation will be between 10-40 hours of therapy per week. Research shows that 20 to 40 hours a week of ABA therapy produces the most significant outcomes.
  • Megan Merritt M.S. BCBA