Is ABA Therapy Harmful: ABA Controversy

What are the concerns for ABA therapy? Is ABA therapy harmful? Read on to find out.

reuben kesherim
Published By Ruben Kesherim
June 22, 2023

Is ABA Therapy Harmful: ABA Controversy

Overview of ABA Controversy

In recent years, ABA therapy has gained a lot of attention and a lot of close examination by many varied sources. If you have a child with autism or other kinds of developmental issues, you might have heard about a form of therapy known as ABA or Applied Behavior Analysis.

In recent years, ABA therapy has gained a lot of attention and a lot of close examination by many varied sources.

This form of therapy has become increasingly popular in recent years for a lot of good reasons. Many communities are choosing to fund therapists who use this kind of therapy to help children with autism and other kinds of disorders function better in daily life and avoid negative behaviors.

Some people believe that this form of therapy can be effective in helping children cope with their own needs. They also believe this kind of therapy can help children when it comes to recognizing the needs of others.

This kind of therapy has also been shown to have lasting positive effects for children. Adults and children alike report that this form of therapy helps them deal with frustrations and become better at integrating into the community around them.

Other people believe that the therapy can be harmful. They believe that it forces children to ignore their own natural boundaries.

They also believe that it can impair a child's ability to form judgments in the future and determine what is personally harmful to them. This kind of therapy has the potential to make it easier for some of society's most vulnerable children to be abused.

In the opinion of many people with autism it can also force them to behave in a way that feels unnatural and can increase their feelings of stress.

In the opinion of many people with autism it can also force them to behave in a way that feels unnatural and can increase their feelings of stress.

In the opinion of many people with autism it can also force them to behave in a way that feels unnatural and can increase their feelings of stress.

If you are considering this form of therapy, it's helpful to have a lot of information on hand. That way, you can understand the process and why it might be right for the needs of your children. Knowing the potential advantages as well as any potential drawbacks will help you make the right choice.

What is ABA Therapy?

ABA is a process that uses varied types of strategies. All of the strategies uses are about helping children. The goal of the therapy is to find ways to decrease behaviors that are not good and increase helpful, useful behaviors.

The process begins when the therapist examines the child closely and observes their behaviors. Then the therapist who has been trained in this method comes up with detailed strategies to help the child do better at different types of important life tasks.

The child with a developmental disorder works one-on-one with a trained therapist. The therapist models good behaviors and shows the child why certain behaviors are negative.

In general the good behaviors are broken down into steps. Positive reinforcement is applied when the child completes each step. This may include small treats or screen time for a favorite television program. Negative behaviors are firmly dissuaded using methods such as depriving the child of a favorite toy for a period of time.

Why Do Some Advocates Say That ABA Should Not Be Used?

Many parents and others in the field say that this method can yield impressive results. Others fault it. Some critics say that it ignores the highly specific needs of autistic children.

They believe it can treat children as if they were animals to be trained rather than people. In their opinion, it does not admit that not all children are alike.

In their opinion, society should do more to adapt to the needs of the autistic community rather than forcing unrealistic standards on children. That would be better for the children and make for a kinder and more tolerant society.

Is ABA Too Rigid and Systematic?

ABA is a very stylized system. The system inherently requires the use of established principles that have been shown to work.

The goal of this system is to teach children new behaviors they can use for the rest of their lives. Implementation of this kind of system has to be done carefully done using known, proven techniques in order to help the child reach their goals.

It is true that some therapists may be too rigid in carrying out this work. However, all children differ as do all therapists. Some students may benefit from a system that is as rigid as possible.

Varying routine can be confusing for children with autism. Creating a system they can rely on every day can help them feel safer and less confused as they learn from the therapist. Such children will thrive when given this kind of therapy.

Is ABA Too Tough And Demanding For Kids?

ABA therapy can involve a lot of repetition for the child and the therapist. This kind of therapy is known to be intense. It requires a high level of concentration from them and from the people who care for them.

As such, this kind of therapy may seem that it is inherently too tough and ultimately far too harsh on the child. Some people assert that the skills the child learns may not necessarily translate to other kinds of skills that a child will need in order to make a successful transition to adulthood.

People who have heard of this therapy may have heard that the net result is a therapy that is entirely too demanding on the children involved. They may also feel that the skills the child is taught cannot be readily translated to other types of situations that children will face as they go through life.

Therapists respond to these arguments by pointing out that therapists who choose to become certified to perform this type of therapy do so out of love of children. Their goal as therapists is to provide the best possible help for the child under their care. Many therapists tend to be very animated and very interested in the child's needs.

A few therapists may seem to be much too tough and too demanding. In that case, it can be helpful to think about if the fit between a specific therapist and the specific child is a good one. A child and a therapist must have a rapport to make the therapy successful in the long run.

If this isn't present, it may be a good idea to look for a new therapist. A good fit between the therapist and the child can insure the child gets the most from the treatment.

Is ABA Too Focused on Eliminating Bad Behaviors Rather Than Building Good Behaviors?

People who study ABA therapy from afar or even close up may have other concerns about the use of the therapy in the modern world. One of their perceptions may be that the therapy is far too focused on eliminating behaviors that are seen as negative.

While getting rid of such behaviors is important, it is not the only thing that a child needs to learn from a therapist. They believe this kind of focus may not help the children in the long term.

Instead, they suggest there may be a need to build skills that the child will need to use overall such as finding a way to care for themselves, complete their educational potential and ideally become self supporting.

Many therapists agree this can be a problem. They point to the fact that much of the therapy they give is about fulfilling the needs of the whole child. Therapists also point to the underlying aim of ABA therapy.

The goal of the therapy is about what the child should be doing each day. It's about being positive rather than focusing on the negative. Children can be taught to overcome their negative behaviors and focus on the good things they can do instead.

Does ABA Create Prompt Dependency?

Prompt dependency is a crucial term to understand when talking about ABA therapy. This is a term that means that a child in unable to respond to varied types of stimuli without the use of a prompt.

A child who is dependent on the prompt may be unable to respond to a simple request such as asking what they want without the caregiver having to help them. A prompt can help children with autism learn and respond in appropriate ways.

Some people believe that the use of ABA therapy relies far too much on the use of prompts. In their opinion, when a child is taught this method, they are taught a method that does not allow them to learn new behaviors on their own and without help from a therapist.

People who work in the field point out that the use of prompts creates structure that children can use to learn other skills.

The use of varied types of prompts helps children master basic, fundamental skills they need right now. As children master these skills, the therapist can make use of other methods.

These methods can help the children explore the world around them. These skills can also provide the children with access to a technique that has been shown to yield real world results.

A therapist using ABA can make use of other tools besides prompts that can help the children under their care.

They can make use of shorter prompts designed to lessen the potential for dependance. A therapist can also create a plan that will help the child wean off the use of prompts. That can insure the child can function well even when the therapist is not thee.

Why Do Practitioners Of ABA Say That It Is Helpful?

It's important to keep in mind that it can be hard to understand ABA therapy when looked at the from the point of view of a lay person. People who have not been trained in the use of this kind of therapy may not understand what is happening and why the therapist is using certain methods.

Many ABA therapists point to the fac that using ABA is helpful. It gets results.

The use of ABA is based on real world data. This is a method that has been examined closely and found to work. The therapy is about meeting the needs of the child.

Some children may need this kind of therapy for 40 hours a week in order to help them avoid self injury and engage in essential behaviors.

Other children may benefit from seeing an ABA therapist for help for 10 to 20 hours. Each case is different. The use of this kind of therapy is tailored to the needs of each individual child. It is flexible. As a child changes and grows, the child may develop the kinds of skills that allow them to reduce their reliance on ABA therapy.

ABA therapy has several different phases. This allows the therapist to focus on the needs of the specific child and look for the best possible ways to help them.

ABA therapists exam data about the child who is under their care.

They look closely at what happens before and after a behavior happens in the child's environment. They can understand the specific variables that impact that child.

In doing so they can manipulate the child's environment, ABA therapists can find multiple ways to change the likelihood of a negative response happening in the future.

ABA is about focusing on increasing good social behaviors such as the ability to communicate and removing barriers that children have that can harm them.

Final Thoughts

Like any other therapy method, it's important to do a lot of research before making any further decisions. All parents should have a good understanding of exactly what is involved in this method before they choose it for their child.

Speaking to a therapist can help. The therapist can clear up any concerns they have and help them make a decision. A simple trial is often a good idea to see if the child is responsive to the therapy.

If the parent feels comfortable with this method of therapy, they can arrange for further sessions from the ABA therapist. The number of sessions and duration can be varied according to a child's individual needs. A child may benefit form only a few sessions each week to help cope with stress and increase their good behaviors.

As a child learns or does not achieve these goals, the therapist can adjust their methods and help the child find out what works better instead. Knowing the overall aims of the therapy can help the child make the most of it.

References

  1. https://childmind.org/article/controversy-around-applied-behavior-analysis/ 
  2. https://www.spectrumnews.org/features/deep-dive/controversy-autisms-common-therapy/ 
  3. https://www.appliedbehavioranalysisprograms.com/faq/controversy-surrounding-aba/ 
  4. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s41252-021-00201-1 
  5. https://www.todaysparent.com/family/is-the-most-common-therapy-for-autism-harmful-or-helpful/