Behavior analysis focuses on the principles of behavior which provide us with a greater understanding of why we do what we do. Positive reinforcement is a key principle. When a behavior is followed by a reinforcer, the behavior is more likely to be repeated in the future. The field of behavior analysis has developed many techniques for increasing socially important behaviors and decreasing those that may cause harm or interfere with learning. These techniques have been proven for decades in numerous research studies.
Behavior analysts began working with young children with autism and related disorders in the 1960s. Since that time, techniques have been developed for building useful skills in learners with autism, from toddlers through adulthood, using the principles of ABA. Not only can these techniques be used in the classroom settings, but “everyday” situations such as grocery shopping, dinnertime or the local playground, as well. ABA therapy sessions can occur with one-on-one interaction between the behavior analyst and the participant or in group settings.
ABA has been endorsed by a number of state and federal agencies, including the American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics and U.S. Surgeon General. It is widely recognized as the most evidenced based intervention for persons with ASD. Studies have shown that up to three-quarters of families with children on the autism spectrum try alternative treatments, which are not typically covered by insurance. These alternative treatments are often promoted online, in books and at conferences.
How do I know when a therapy is not evidence-based?
There are some warning signs to pseudoscience therapies:
- High “success” rates are claimed.
- Rapid results are promised.
- The therapy is said to be effective for multiple symptoms.
- It is stated little training or expertise is needed to administer.
- Proven treatments are said to be unnecessary.
- No objective evidence is proven, only testimonies or personal accounts.
- Negative findings from scientific studies are dismissed.
How do I distinguish science from pseudoscience?
- What is the agenda?
- What is the source?
- Was there a scientific process involved?
- Is its success based on testimonials or actual research?