Three Common Myths of ABA

By Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D

Founding Editor,

Lauren Rabin, President & Founder of the Autism Family Center, recently wrote 3 Common Myths About Applied Behavior Analysis published in the Huffington Post.  In her work, she commonly hears parents’ concerns and perceived expectations in the beginning phases of ABA therapy, three of which are described below:

ABA is synonymous with “drilling.”  According to Lauren, the notion of drilling comes from a teaching method known as Discrete Trial Training (DTT).  DTT is a highly structured teaching method consisting of a discriminative stimulus (e.g., “do this…”, “what color?” etc…), which comes to evoke a specific learner response, which is followed by reinforcement (e.g., praise) or an error correction procedure such as least-to-most prompting.  Other methods, such as Incidental Teaching or Natural Environment Training, teach skills in a less structured setting, as opportunities present themselves.  For example, during play time, a teacher might ask a learner to identify the color of the toy he/she is playing with.

ABA will work regardless of family commitment.  As Lauren points out, the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) recommends 20-40 hours per week of ABA therapy for individuals diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.  For autism treatment, ABA consumes a significant amount of time, but the results are well worth the investment.

ABA will produce quick changes in my child’s behavior.  Not always, says Lauren.  Sometimes, yes, a well designed treatment program often produces noticeable gains in social and communication skills within a matter of days.  However, the speed of progression depends on a host of factors, including the client’s age and level of functioning, among many others.

If Lauren’s experiences resonate with your own work, be sure to check out the full article, and let us know your thoughts in the comments below.  Also, consider subscribing to bSci21 via email to receive the latest 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].

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