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Is ABA Therapy Harmful? Myths About ABA Therapy

ABA therapy is a known technique that has been applied to children suffering from Autism Spectrum Disorder(ASD) and is known to help them correct the developmental disorders effectively.

Is Autism Spectrum Disorder very common?

As per the CDC , a whopping 75 million people have Autism worldwide, while the symptoms vary from person to person. From age 3-17, every 1 in 6 individuals has Autism. Thankfully, ABA therapy exists, and it helps individuals with developmental disorders due to Autism fix their disorders and behavioral patterns. It is the most sound therapy to counter symptoms of Autism.

CDC Report Graph

A study in 2018 shows the increase in Autism rate in the US from 6.7% to 16.8% in 14 years.

There were some haters!

However, as it got more popular, it got a negative perception from people too.

There have certainly been some myths surrounding ABA therapy and this blog is aimed at debunking those myths and setting the record straight.

Who Can Perform ABA Therapy?

At most points in our daily lives, we see individuals performing ABA therapy without realizing it. A mother promising her children to take them out on a vacation if they get good grades is an example of positive reinforcement. Teachers also use principles of ABA therapy when they reward the students or allow them more play time after class if they perform well.

As far as formal ABA therapy is concerned, not just anyone can perform it. ABA therapy can be performed by a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) only.

Myths About ABA Therapy That You Need to Get Off Your Head

ABA therapy has been around for some time now, but still, to this day, some myths revolve around the minds of people when ABA therapy is mentioned. Some of these myths are:

Myth #1: ABA therapy is just some therapy with no evidence of its results.

This is purely a myth. ABA therapy is an evidence-based therapy that is known to have a positive impact on those with developmental disorders. Techniques applied in ABA therapy are backed by a great deal of research and this therapy is evidence-based. American Psychological Association has deemed this as the best practice for correcting developmental disorders since this is evidence-based and backed by science.

Myth #2: Not Everyone Qualifies For ABA Therapy

A lot of individuals have this misconception that ABA therapy is only applicable to those with Autism Spectrum Disorder(ASD) or other developmental issues. This myth has been around for a while now. ABA therapy can also be beneficial for those who don’t have Autism or have no developmental disorders diagnosed. It can help many parents shape their children’s decision-making ability, etc.

Myth #3: ABA Therapy Is Like a Bribe

A main principle of ABA therapy is using positive reinforcement smartly to encourage children for certain tasks. In positive reinforcement, a child is rewarded for certain behaviors after their likings are judged. Once a child knows that they are rewarded, they will engage more in that particular act. ABA therapy is not bribing your children; it’s just a myth.

Myth #4: Anyone Can Provide ABA Therapy.

ABA therapy is not something that anyone can provide to someone with Autism Spectrum Disorder(ASD). ABA therapy can only be provided by Board Certified Behavioral Analysts (BCBA), Registered Behavior Technicians (RBTs), Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analysts (BCaBAs), and paraprofessionals.

Myth #5: ABA Therapy Punishes Children.

ABA therapy does not encourage punishing children, as many of the critics claim. This is just a myth, as in ABA therapy positive behavior is rewarded. As per various sources, the punishment was used during ABA therapy in the 1950s but with time, and with more research, it was removed from the therapy.

Myth #6: ABA therapy Is All About Behavioral Issues Only

ABA therapy does not work to correct behavioral issues only. When people think of ABA therapy, they think of helping children with behaviors such as tantrums, etc, but it is totally just a myth. ABA therapy also reinforces daily life skills as well as social skills, etc.

Myth #7: ABA Therapy Is The Cure Of Autism

Although ABA therapy helps with behavioral issues, it is not the cure for it. There is no cure for Autism as people may think of ABA therapy as a cure. It is merely a way to reinforce positive behavior among children, especially those who have autism. ABA therapy is a powerful tool to improve communication skills as well as necessary skills for self-care.

How Many of These Myths Have You Heard?

If you know what ABA therapy is, you must have heard about these rumors once in your lifetime. It’s about time you get these myths off your head and know the reality that revolves around ABA therapy.

So, is ABA therapy harmful?

So to answer the hot question, “Is ABA therapy harmful?”, the answer would be a clear-cut NO. Some critics may claim that ABA therapy uses punishment, but it only existed in the previous versions of ABA therapy, which with time, evolved with research.

This therapy is not harmful at all, it helps people with developmental issues and helps them with their symptoms.