Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA) Therapy

Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA) Therapy

Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA) Therapy is one of the most commonly used early interventions for children with ASD in Australia.

Key points 

  • The therapy is a behavioural intervention utilising a range of techniques

  • ABA therapy aims to improve social behaviour, communication and learning skills.

  • The therapy is funded by the National Disability Insurance Scheme

What is ABA?

ABA therapy aims to improve social behaviour, communication and learning skills. It is currently considered an effective intervention for children with autism.

The therapy is a behavioural intervention utilising a range of techniques to help teach children with autism different skills, like communication, self-care, and play, and encourages them to manage their own behaviour.

ABA is also able to help reduce behaviours which can be challenging, like aggression or screaming.

The therapy was developed and published in 1987 after findings that human behaviour can be influenced by stimuli in the surrounding environment resulting in different reactions. The development of ABA Therapy was passed off of research that found behaviour that receives positive reinforcement will be likely repeated.

ABA uses the above idea to positively encourage children with autism to learn new behaviour.

What are the benefits of ABA therapy?

There has been proven evidence that ABA has resulted in children with autism showing more interest in people and the environment around them, and are able to communicate well with people.

A child with autism, after ABA therapy, is also able to articulate themselves and what they want, can focus at school or on tasks, manages challenge behaviours, like tantrums, and reduces or stops harmful behaviours.

Is it NDIS funded?

Yes, the therapy is funded by the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).  However, a minimum of 20 hours of one on one therapy with an ABA therapist is often necessary to be effective, which can be difficult because the NDIS only funds half of this.

Why the controversy?

Recently, ABA therapy has become a hot topic within the ASD community. 

While ABA therapy does get results, a lot of adults with autism are saying that it perpetuates the idea that children need to act neurotypical or more “normal”.

It is also considered a strict and, in the words of advocates, “cruel”, form of therapy to normalise children with different behaviours.

Many adults with autism are advocating for neurodiversity and the acceptance of that neurodiversity.

What are your thoughts on ABA therapy? Tell us in the comment section below. 

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