The European Misinformation Campaign Against ABA


By Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D

President, bSci21Media, LLC

Mickey Keenan recently wrote in The Conversation about the gulf in Applied Behavior Analysis services between the U.S. and Europe.

He highlighted, for example, that 41 states in the U.S. now have laws to provide ABA under health insurance.  However, the National Institute for Clinical Excellence, which advises the healthcare system in England and Wales, found no evidence to support ABA and would not recommend coverage under insurance.

He attributed this gulf to the lack of ABA training programs in Europe, which may contribute to the spread of misinformation from those without adequate training in the field.

Examples of such misinformation include labelling ABA as “controversial,” as promoting a “normalization agenda,” as a program aimed at “silencing the autistic voice” and as a “cult.”

Particularly in the UK, the misinformation goes straight to the top — influencing powerful policy makers to disregard ABA as “one of many commercially available interventions for children with autism.”

Dr. Keenan is hopeful that change will come soon through those most vigorous of advocates for children with autism — parents.

Please share this article with everyone you know to help get the word out about the European misinformation campaign, and contact Dr. Keenan with your support.

Also be sure to join bSci21 via email subscription to stay in the loop and receive new articles directly to your inbox!


Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D is President of bSci21 Media, LLC, which owns and  Todd serves as an Associate Editor of the Journal of Organizational Behavior Management and as an editorial board member for Behavior and Social Issues.  He has worked as a behavior analyst in day centers, residential providers, homes, and schools, and served as the director of Behavior Analysis Online at the University of North Texas.  Todd’s areas of expertise include writing, entrepreneurship, Acceptance & Commitment Therapy, Instructional Design, Organizational Behavior Management, and ABA therapy. Todd can be reached at [email protected].

2 Comments on "The European Misinformation Campaign Against ABA"

  1. Sorcha Parker | January 8, 2016 at 8:01 am | Reply

    The situation in the UK and the rest of Europe regarding access to ABA, as well as public policy and perception about ABA is certainly a grave concern. As a BCBA practicing in Canada, I think it’s important to note that we have the same problem in most areas of the country – both regarding public health coverage for ABA and for services bring covered by private insurance. There are a few areas of the country in which services are funded an available, but nowhere near the majority. We have a growing number of BCBAs, BCABAs and RBTs, but we are still not considered to be service providers for wh any coverage should be available. It is very hard on families who are trying acess intervention, as well as the practitioners themselves. Every year I see excellent clinicians leave Canada I order to practice in places where ABA is accepted.

  2. How can the UK oppose ABA yet imbrace “Behavioral Insights” – they are almost the same?

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